Synbio Newsreel, January 2018 (pretty late)

Hi folks! Sorry we haven’t updated in a while but we’re back with more synthetic biology news! Here’s some of what we talked about at our January meeting.

Podcast news- we have a great new episode of the GeneMods Podcast in case you missed it! Here’s a SoundCloud link, but you can also find it wherever you get your pods by searching “GeneMods” (and be sure to subscribe!). We have decided to split up the news and interview sections so we can bring you more content. This month, Isaac Larkin and Adam Silverman square off and answer Jordan Harrison’s questions–we will likely rotate who’s competing on each episode.

There was some great pop-sci attention to synthetic biology in the news in January/late December:

  • Here’s a great article in the New York Times about David Baker’s designed, “artisanal” proteins.
  • I’m generally a fan of The Atlantic’s science writing. This article talks about a new method of eliminating primer bias in sequencing 16S rRNA to identify new microbes. (We’ve only sequenced about .0002 percent of the microbial diversity on Earth.)

In policy news, the FDA issued a somewhat stern warning to biohackers in a press release emphasizing that the sale of untested, self-administered gene therapy kits is illegal.

And finally, here’s some research news:

  • A team led by Farren Isaacs got MAGE working in yeast for the first time.
  • Oxford Nanopore directly sequenced RNA without needing reverse transcription.
  • Uh oh. A preprint from the Porteus group claims CRISPR provokes an immune response in humans.
  • Here’s a cool paper about using biochemically-altered indigo as a greener, less toxic dye for garments.
  • Mike Jewett and Chris Voigt wrote a commentary in Nature Chemical Biology about needing an orthogonal framework for central dogma (with a lot of computer analogies) to solve the problems of transferring biological “programs” between organisms and reworking central dogma processes themselves in a way that doesn’t upset the balance of the whole system.

That’s all for now, we’ll see you at the next meeting!

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