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Monthly Archives: September 2009

Synthetic Bio Startup Gains a Foothold

Ginkgo Bioworks, a two-year-old parts-and-services provider for the burgeoning synthetic biology community founded by MIT alumni, has moved out of its “virtual” phase and into a new brick-and-mortar lab space occupying 3,400 square feet in the Marine Industrial Park on the South Boston waterfront, thanks to a $150,000 loan from Boston’s LifeTech initiative. As Xconomy […]

Journalism’s “Mad Men” Days, With Gay Talese


Keasling, Endy, and More in the New Yorker

Well, it looks like the New Yorker has discovered synthetic biology. The first time Jay Keasling remembers hearing the word “artemisinin,” about a decade ago, he had no idea what it meant. “Not a clue,” Keasling, a professor of biochemical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, recalled. Although artemisinin has become the world’s […]

You Can’t Make This Sh*t Up

I’m a huge fried-chicken fan and believe that over-the-top indulgence has its place in an otherwise-healthy diet, but … still … KFC’s new Double Down “sandwich” gives me pause. Forget bread — here two boneless fried chicken breasts sandwich melted cheese (two kinds), bacon, and some unholy “special sauce” devised by the Colonel from the […]

Synthetic Biology Breakthrough at UCSF

For the first time, researchers at UCSF have succeeded in importing a light-controlled “on-off switch” from plants into mouse cells, creating engineered cells that can be trained to follow a beam of light or to stop and start on command. The findings were first reported in the September 13 online publication of Nature, along with […]

DNA Sequencing Gets Faster, Cheaper

So-called third-generation gene sequencing company Complete Genomics Inc. announced earlier this week that it has sequenced and delivered 14 human genomes to customers since March 2009, more than doubling the number of complete human DNA sequences published in the world to date. (The blog Fierce Biotech has a good analysis of the news.) Complete Genomics’ […]

Actually, All Men Are Islands

“Scientists estimate that there are about 1,000 different species of microbes living in the human gut and about as many more separate species on human skin,” reports this story from the Sacramento Bee. The microbes form colonies that settle in different areas of the body, which Jeffrey Gordon, a microbiologist at Washington University in St. […]

“Life from Scratch”? Not So Fast.

The breathless media coverage of the J. Craig Venter Institute’s latest synthetic biology breakthrough, published in Science, is somewhat puzzling, but given Venter’s Barnumesque self-promotion gene, not totally surprising. What’s a bit disappointing, though, is the uncritical repetition of Venter’s claim that his group’s latest accomplishment — transferring the genome of one type of bacteria […]