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Synthesis Security Sought

Lawmakers in California are considering a bill that would require gene synthesis companies to adopt security protocols to prevent people with nefarious intent from obtaining dangerous stretches of DNA, Stat News reports.

As Stat News notes, scientists routinely order genes from manufacturers that synthesize them at scale for use in a range of studies. But as NPR reported in 2019, there are also concerns that people could use synthetic genes to piece together pathogens or develop bioweapons.

Rudy Salas, a Democratic California Assembly member who introduced the new bill, tells Stat News he was concerned to learn there was limited oversight of the field. The new bill would require gene synthesis companies in California to join the International Gene Synthesis Consortium, a trade group, and follow its criteria for which genes can be synthesized and to whom they can be sold, it adds.

"It's hard to argue against it," Emily Leproust, CEO of Twist Bioscience, which is an IGSC member, tells Stat News. She adds that it is "work to catch the extreme edge cases, but it's worth the effort because the downside is pretty high."

The Scan

More Boosters for US

Following US Food and Drug Administration authorization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, the Washington Post writes.

From a Pig

A genetically modified pig kidney was transplanted into a human without triggering an immune response, Reuters reports.

For Privacy's Sake

Wired reports that more US states are passing genetic privacy laws.

Science Paper on How Poaching Drove Evolution in African Elephants

In Science this week: poaching has led to the rapid evolution of tuskless African elephants.