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What Is Synthetic Biology, Really?

Over at Freelancing Science, Pawel Szczêsny tries his best to clarify what synthetic biology actually means. "My enormous frustration with this field comes from the fact that most of so-called synthetic biology is nothing else than genetic engineering with more systematic approach," he writes. Instead of trying to break biological machines apart and label the pieces, he thinks systems biologists should step in and figure out how all these parts are working together and actually "build a compiler that transforms an abstract description of biological system into sequence understandable by the particular architecture (organism)."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.