A new company called Genome Compiler is planning to make DNA synthesis available to anyone via its software that pieces together chunks of DNA chosen by the user. The company would allow synthetic biology enthusiasts to design novel genomes at will.
Although there are many DNA synthesis companies that generate the sequences specifed by an ordering laboratory, Omri Amirav-Drory, the company’s founder and CEO told The Wall Street Journal that “they don’t have the design tools, the combine and debug tools, like you have in [the Genome Compiler] software.” The new program acts like a drag-and-drop puzzle to simplify the process.
To anyone worried that the venture might result in rogue designers creating deadly or harmful organisms, Amirav-Drory responds that there are checks in place. “You have to start with one of nature’s designs,” he told WSJ. The submitted sequences are also run through the databases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will flag those that resemble “bad things,” Amirav-Drory said, such as highly infectious viruses or bacteria. “Every synthesis company is required to send all their orders through this database to check it.”
(Hat tip to GenomeWeb)