MIT Technology Review: Biological Teleporter Could Speed Outbreak Response

Synthetic Genomics Inc. linked a group of machines, including a DNA printer and robots, to transmit digital code and print viruses. The digital-to-biological converter, working with pre-loaded chemicals, is reported to have manufactured DNA of the flu virus. “Though still a prototype, instruments like it could one day broadcast biological information from sites of a disease outbreak to vaccine manufacturers, or print out on-demand personalized medicines at patients’ bedsides,” reports Brian Alexander for MIT Technology Review. The company’s founder suggests the converter could eventually transmit life forms between planets. Work on the device began in 2013. The pharmaceutical firm Novartis, wanted to quickly develop seed viruses that are used to make vaccines, and China posted H7N9 DNA sequence data online, Alexander explains: “Two days later, without direct access to any specimens, only the digitized sequences, SGI had synthesized the H and N genes on Gibson’s DNA printer. Those DNA strands were shipped to Novartis, which used them to generate virus stocks containing the new genetic information - the kind used in vaccine production.” Challenges include random mutations from the conversion process and the need to grow seed stock in many chicken eggs to produce a vaccine supply. Still, the makers envision such converters in hospitals around the globe to make antidotes for local viruses. - YaleGlobal

MIT Technology Review: Biological Teleporter Could Speed Outbreak Response

Starting with just a digital file, scientists crafted a machine and DNA printer to manufacture the common flu virus
Brian Alexander
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
MIT Technology Review © 2017

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