Scientists plan to synthetically create human genome

Twelve years after the completion of the Human Genome Project sequenced the human genome in 2004, a group of scientists seeks to create a synthetic genome.

The scientists announced their project in the magazine Science.

"Genome synthesis is a logical extension of the genetic engineering tools that have been used safely within the biotech industry for [approximately] 40 years and have provided important societal benefits," the scientists wrote in the perspective.

The scientists refer to the original Human Genome Project as HGP-read, and their proposed project is called HGP-write.

Although they acknowledge the ethical concerns that surround creating a synthetic genome — including selective engineering and other social, ethical and legal implications — the researchers write they are steadfast in maintaining "responsible innovation," which will require the support of and open dialogue with scientists and the wider public about HGP-write.

Scientists hope to address human health challenges with a synthetic genome, including growing transplantable human organs, engineering immunity to viruses, engineering cancer resistance and pharmaceutical development.

They hope to launch HGP-write this year with $100 million in dedicated support funding. While they can't project total costs, scientists estimate HGP-write will be less than the total $3 billion HGP-read required.

More articles on the genome:

A new use for genomics: Using DNA to find wine preferences 
Gene sequencing infants with rare diseases speeds diagnosis time 
7 genome sequencing, biobank projects in the news 


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