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Not These Sequences

Because scientists can synthesize DNA much more quickly, NPR reports there are also concerns that some people who shouldn't might try to generate sequences from dangerous pathogens.

Patrick Boyle tells NPR that when he was a graduate student, he and his colleagues were lucky to synthesize six genes, but now his company, Ginkgo Bioworks, can make more than 100,00 genes a month. Emily Leproust, the CEO of Twist Bioscience, estimates that the global synthetic DNA industry generates some 3 billion basepairs of DNA each year.

But companies may decline certain requests to synthesize sequences they deem dangerous, NPR says. James Diggans, Twist's director of biosecurity, tells it that they have said no to some orders.

As NPR notes, some DNA synthesis firms are part of a consortium that has pledged to follow certain US biosecurity protocols, but others are not, so there is a range of standards they conform to. Diggans and others say, though, that even those guidelines are out of date as the technology has evolved since they were drawn up.

A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson tells NPR that it is reviewing the guidelines for synthetic DNA manufacturers.

The Scan

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Algorithm Teases Out Genetic Ancestry in Individuals at Biobank Scale

Researchers develop an algorithm known as Rye to tease apart ancestry fractions in admixed individuals at a biobank-scale, applying it to 488,221 UK Biobank participants in Nucleic Acids Research.

Multi-Ancestry Analysis Highlights Comparable Common Variants at Complex Trait-Linked Loci

Researchers in Nature Genetics examine common variants implicated in more than three dozen conditions, estimating genetic effect similarities across ancestry tracts in admixed individuals.

Sick Newborns Selected for WGS With Automated Pipeline

Researchers successfully prioritized infants with potential Mendelian conditions for whole-genome sequencing or rapid whole-genome sequencing, as they report in Genome Medicine.