News | Oct. 3, 2017

Options for Synthetic DNA Order Screening, Revisited

By Diane DiEuliis

DNA synthesis is a valuable research tool in the design of new biological products for medicine and manufacturing, and the ability to chemically synthesize long tracts of DNA has allowed for the development of influenza vaccines and diagnostic tests. As with many powerful technologies, however, it is vulnerable to misuse: using DNA synthesis technologies, a nefarious actor would not need direct access to certain pathogens but could chemically synthesize them using sequence information freely available on the Internet. Once synthesized, they could be “booted up” to become infectious. That many viruses can be made from scratch has been demonstrated repeatedly, including in the construction of poliovirus, 1918 influenza virus, and most recently, the virus that causes horsepox (1). READ MORE >>