BioVoice News June 2016 Issue 2 Volume 1 - Page 29

on a common platform ( Singh and Dhar 2013 ).

One of the major outcomes of synthetic biology research has been the development of ‘ long DNA synthesis ’ technology .
For the last ten years , the cost of chemically synthesizing DNA bases has dropped at least 10 times - from a dollar a base to 10 cents a base . Some companies are claiming a much higher drop in the cost of DNA synthesis . Along with a significant reduction in the cost of synthesizing DNA , the ability to cook up longer DNA sequences has increased remarkably . From a primer level ability to synthesize DNA sequences , the current technology allows chemical synthesis of whole microbial genomes !
The power of low cost DNA synthesis combined with the power of synthesizing long DNA sequences opens up a realm of unimaginable possibilities . Suddenly the term “ responsible innovation ” starts ringing the bell !
One consciously looks for trenches and caveats that may not be visible to an innocent eye . The attention moves from a network of applications to a network of responsibilities . Given that Synthetic Biology community is largely based on a slippery slope of self-regulation , it could lead to scenarios that are detrimental to life on this planet impacting biodiversity and health .
On one side , societal needs require innovations to improve the quality of life . On the other side , dual use technologies , if left undiagnosed and untreated can cause disturbance of delicate balance and irreversible damage to environment and human health .
The long and short of DNA Synthesis
The first evidence of chemical DNA synthesis came from HG Khorana ’ s lab in 1950s leading to the cracking of genetic code .
Fast forward technological advancements to 2016 and we see chemically synthesized genome sequences coming at a fraction of cost and time . Though long DNA synthesis has helped speed up recombinant DNA research , we visualize a scenario where synthesizing zika virus can merely cost of a desktop and Herpes Virus cost a sedan ! Thus , a thin line that exists between available technology and emergence of a deadly virus , may be that of an intent .
Recently , a discreet meeting of scientists at Boston ( revealed by the press ) talked about making of synthetic cell line with a complete
human genome that can , with further research , lead to creation of designer human babies . This raises serious ethical questions which , until now , have not been properly addressed at the societal level and may lead to detrimental effect on human lives .
This is not to say that long DNA synthesis should be stopped on its tracks . The key word really is ‘ responsibility ’. This technology can help scientists quickly arrive at results leading to useful products . What used to take months can now be achieved in a matter of weeks . This technology has the power to transform several industries - be it biopharma , agriculture or biomaterials .
For industries , this technology is a potential asset worth billions of dollars . However , for legal luminaries , it is an opportunity for writing new laws at the boundary of fundamental right to human health and responsible scientific explorations .
For academicians from sciences and social sciences it ’ s a mirror image scenario . The former looks at an exciting gift of a technology to the society and the latter ( social scientists ) try to study the convergence and foresee uncomfortable folding ’ s or grey areas , which can be a threat to the society . In our view , finding the right balance
BIOVOICENEWS . COM 29
on a common platform (Singh and Dhar 2013). One of the major outcomes of synthetic biology research has been the development of ‘long DNA synthesis’ technology. For the last ten years, the cost of chemically synthesizing DNA bases has dropped at least 10 times - from a dollar a base to 10 cents a base. Some companies are claiming a much higher drop in the cost of DNA synthesis. Along with a significant reduction in the cost of synthesizing DNA, the ability to cook up longer DNA sequences has increased remarkably. From a primer level ability [\^HB\]Y[\H\[XB[[ZX[[\\وBZXܛؚX[[Y\BH\وH[\\˜X[Y]H\ق[\^[ۙH\]Y[\›[\HX[Hو[[XY[XBX[]Y\ˈY[HH\B'\ۜXH[ݘ][۸'H\œ[[H[BۙHۜ[\H܈[\˜[]X]]X^HH\XH˜[[[^YKH][[ۈ[ݙ\™HH]ܚو\X][ۜB]ܚو\ۜX[]Y\ˈ][][]X[H[][]H\›\[H\YۈH\\HHق[\Y[][ۋ][XYœ[\[]\H][Y[[YBۈ\[][\X[[]\]B[X[ ۈۙHYKY][YY\]Z\B[ݘ][ۜ[\ݙHH]X[]HقYKۈH\YKX[\BXY\YY[XYۛY[[X]Y[]\H\\[Hق[X]H[[H[\]\XB[XYH[\ۛY[[[X[X[ Hۙ[ܝوB[\\‚H\]Y[Hو[ZX[B[\\[YHHܘ[x&\›X[ NMLXY[HܘX[ق[]XK\ܝ\XX[Y[[Y[ M[HYB[ZX[H[\^Y[YB\]Y[\Z[]HX[ۈو[[YKYۙH[\\š\[YYY\XX[[H\X\ H\X[^HH[\[\H[\^[ZH\\[Y\[HوH\[\\•\\HY[H\H[[B]^\]Y[]Z[XBXH[[Y\[HوHXYB\\X^HH]و[[[ X[KH\ܙY]YY][قY[\]ۈ ]X[YHB\H[YX]XZ[ق[]X[[H]H\]B[X[[YH][]\\\X\ XYܙX][ۈو\Yۙ\[X[XY\ˈ\Z\\\[\™]X[]Y\[ۜX [[]HY[\HY\Y]HY][][[X^HXY™][Y[[YXۈ[X[]\˂\\^H]ۙB[\\[HYۈ]XˈH^HܙX[H\¸&\ۜX[]x&K\XH[[Y[\]ZXH\]H]\[›XY[\Y[Xˈ]\YZH[۝[HXY]Y[HX]\وYZˈ\XB\H\[ٛܛH]\[[\Y\ HH][\XKYܚX[\H܈[X]\X[˂܈[\Y\\XH\˜H[X[\]ܝ[[ۜق\ˈ]\܈Y[[Z[\Y\]\[ܝ[]B܈ܚ][]]]B[\Hو[[Y[[Yš[X[X[[\ۜXBY[YX^ܘ][ۜ˂܈XY[ZXX[HY[\[X[Y[\]8&\HZ\܈[XYB[\[ˈHܛY\][^][YوHXHBY]H[H]\ X[Y[\HHYHB۝\[H[ܙ\YB[YܝXH[&\܈ܙ^H\X\X[HHX]HY]K[\Y][[HY[[BSՓPSUːBB