A team of 25 Scientists on 2 June 2016 published their proposal to synthesize entire human genome from scratch under the project called the Human Genome Project-Write (HGP-Write) in Science Magazine.
The aim of the project is to reduce the cost of engineering DNA segments in the laboratory.
Its proponents envision a project on the same scale as the Human Genome Project-Read (HGP-Read) under which human genome was sequenced in 2003.
Human Genome Project-Write (HGP-Write)
• The Project was named Human Genome Project-write because synthesizing would amount to writing rather than reading the genetic code.
• HGP-write will be implemented through a new, independent nonprofit organization, the Center of Excellence for Engineering Biology.
• The proposal could make it possible to grow human organs for transplant and speed up the development of vaccines.
• The initiative could take 10 years and a minimum of 100 million dollar just to get started.
• Potential applications include growing transplantable human organs and engineering immunity to viruses in cell lines via genome-wide recoding.
• Other potential benefits include engineering cancer resistance into new therapeutic cell lines and accelerating high-productivity, cost-efficient vaccine and pharmaceutical development using human cells and organoids.
The human genome is the genetic blueprint of every organism which is the complete set of DNA containing the instructions it needs to survive and thrive. Sequencing the human genome requires decoding the exact order of about three billion base pairs of DNA packed into 30000 genes.
Genome synthesis is a logical extension of the genetic engineering tools that have been used safely within the biotech industry for more 40 years and have provided important societal benefits and it could revolutionise the field of biotechnology.
However, it raises troubling ethical concerns due to the potential of one day creating children with no biological parents, and also due to the secrecy surrounding a recent closed-door meeting on the subject.
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When: 2 June 2016