Synthetic Genomics has developed a digital-to-biological converter for fully automated, versatile and demand-based production of functional biologics starting from DNA sequence information. Specifically, DNA templates, RNA molecules, proteins and viral particles were produced in an automated fashion from digitally transmitted DNA sequences without human intervention.
Researchers at SG have used the device to remotely synthesize viruses and claim they are on the cusp of doing the same with a so-called minimal cell, a major step toward remotely printing material for creating living organisms. But first, they have to fix what they describe as an unacceptable rate of mutations.
In their paper and announcement, the company highlights the positive uses for the machine, but notably avoid mentioning the negative—the ability to use the machine to produce a virus at a given location that could be released as a biological weapon.
Concept of on-demand production of biologicals on the DBC.