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Make 'Em Resistant to Viruses

The leaders of the Genome Project–write (GP-write) want to spur the community to develop cells that are resistant to viruses, Science reports.

GP-write had an inauspicious start in 2016 when leaders, who include New York University Medical Center's Jef Boeke and Harvard Medical School's George Church, held a closed-door meeting to discuss the possibility of developing synthetic human genomes. This led critics like Stanford University's Drew Endy and Laurie Zoloth from Northwestern University to say such discussions should be "[p]luralistic, public, and deliberative," as they argued at Cosmos. The project leaders said the meeting was private because they had a publication in the works.

That publication, which came out June 2016 in Science, outlined the group's plan to work up to its synthetic genome goal by reducing the cost of genome engineering and testing large genomes through a number of pilot projects.

In the new proposal — which Science says was released in advance of a meeting today — GP-write leaders say "ultrasafe" cells could be developed by making some 400,000 changes to the human genome. In addition to building collaborations between synthetic biology labs, Science notes the resulting cells could have a practical use, as resistant cells could help drug companies avoid the pause in production that arises when their cells become infected.

The Scan

Not Yet a Permanent One

NPR says the lack of a permanent Food and Drug Administration commissioner has "flummoxed" public health officials.

Unfair Targeting

Technology Review writes that a new report says the US has been unfairly targeting Chinese and Chinese-American individuals in economic espionage cases.

Limited Rapid Testing

The New York Times wonders why rapid tests for COVID-19 are not widely available in the US.

Genome Research Papers on IPAFinder, Structural Variant Expression Effects, Single-Cell RNA-Seq Markers

In Genome Research this week: IPAFinder method to detect intronic polyadenylation, influence of structural variants on gene expression, and more.