COMMUNITY SITE: Life From Scratch

Science  09 Jun 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5779, pp. 1447
DOI: 10.1126/science.312.5779.1447c

So-called synthetic biologists have already reconstructed the polio and 1918 pandemic flu viruses and someday might be able to design and build bacteria that pump out drugs or hunt down cancer cells. The effort to craft new biological components and systems or refine existing ones intrigues scientists, but it also raises questions about whether artificial bugs could harm human health or the environment. Tended by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and other universities, this meeting place for synthetic biologists features a news roundup and listing of recent research and policy papers, including ones that led up to a meeting last month that pondered self-regulation of the field (Science, 26 May, p. 1116). The tools section offers a long list of software, Web sites, and other resources for working with DNA, RNA, and proteins. For instance, you can link to MIT's Registry of Standard Biological Parts, a catalog of cellular building blocks such as DNA sequences that stop the production of messenger RNA.

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