Can synthetic biology protect us from coronavirus? And the next one?

The National Institutes of Health hopes synthetic biology can engineer vaccines that outperform nature.

(Photo: U.S. Department of State)
  • The first coronavirus vaccines will enter Phase 2 testing soon but won't be ready for another 18 months.
  • Synthetic biology may offer a "universal coronavirus vaccine" that can be quickly modified to combat future mutated forms.
  • Despite promising lab tests, synthetic vaccines remain speculative; we'll need to live with COVID-19 during the interim.
Keep reading Show less

'One among millions': DNA is not the only genetic molecule

A recent computer analysis found that millions of possible chemical compounds could be used to store genetic information. This begs the question — why DNA?

Shutterstock
  • The central dogma of biology states that genetic information flows from DNA to RNA to proteins, but new research suggests that this may not be the only way for life to work.
  • A sophisticated computer analysis revealed that millions of other molecules could be used to function in place of the two nucleic acids, DNA and RNA.
  • The results have important implications for developing new drugs, the origins of life on Earth, and its possible presence in the rest of the universe.
Keep reading Show less

Serious problem found with gene-edited celebrity cows

The FDA calls out creators of genetically tweaked hornless bulls.

Image source: prochasson frederic/Shutterstock
  • Hornless bull clones turn out to have questionable genomes.
  • Scientists were so confident they didn't even look for transgenic DNA.
  • No one's sure what to do with the offspring.
Keep reading Show less

The writing on the wall: The coming collapse of the industrial livestock industry

A new report sees a major disruption in where we get our food.

Image source: Celiafoto / Shutterstock
  • We're just a few years from the tipping point in engineered food.
  • Traditional agriculture's 10,000-year-run is about over.
  • Better foods, tastier foods, and cheaper foods are on the way.
Keep reading Show less

Read a Harvard geneticist's plan for redesigning humans

Professor George Church creates a gene "wishlist" that can lead to superhuman abilities.

  • Harvard geneticist George Church makes a list of genes that could be modified to enhance human abilities.
  • The list tracks both positive and negative effects.
  • Redesigning humans can lead to posthumans or transhumans.
Keep reading Show less