Gerald L. Epstein

Articles by Gerald L. Epstein

19 May 2008

The challenges of developing synthetic pathogens

Gerald L. Epstein

The announcement in January 2008 that a team of researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute had constructed the first complete bacterial genome, and that they intend to create a viable bacterium from it, has spotlighted the power of gene synthesis technology. As the ability to design, construct, and biologically activate long strands of genomic material improves, the benefits in terms of research in medicine, energy, materials, and other applications will grow. However, so could concerns that the technology might lead to accidental or deliberate harm.