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Offline goodsamaritan

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DNA startup wants to let customers create creatures
« on: January 22, 2015, 12:36:27 pm »
Maybe this is how the various creatures on earth got so plenty and varied. Humans can now be life creators.

Controversial DNA startup wants to let customers create creatures
By Stephanie M. Lee
Updated 7:03 pm, Saturday, January 3, 2015

In Austen Heinz’s vision of the future, customers tinker with the genetic codes of plants and animals and even design new creatures on a computer. Then his startup, Cambrian Genomics, prints that DNA quickly, accurately and cheaply.

“Anyone in the world that has a few dollars can make a creature, and that changes the game,” Heinz said. “And that creates a whole new world.”

The 31-year-old CEO has a deadpan demeanor that can be hard to read, but he is not kidding. In a makeshift laboratory in San Francisco, his synthetic biology company uses lasers to create custom DNA for major pharmaceutical companies. Its mission, to “democratize creation” with minimal to no regulation, frightens bioethicists as deeply as it thrills Silicon Valley venture capitalists.

http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Controversial-DNA-startup-wants-to-let-customers-5992426.php
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Offline goodsamaritan

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Re: DNA startup wants to let customers create creatures
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2015, 12:41:42 pm »
...

'Totally new organisms’

But few founders are pushing the technical and ethical boundaries of science as far as Heinz, who told the Wall Street Journal, “I can’t believe that after 10 or 20 years people will not design their children digitally.” At a recent conference in Vienna, he said, “We want to make totally new organisms that have never existed.”

His 11-person team has raised $10 million from more than 120 investors, including Peter Thiel’s venture firm Founders Fund. “It’s a fundamentally new technology that can open up a whole new industry,” said partner Scott Nolan.

Venture capitalist Timothy Draper, another investor, praises Heinz as an “exceptional leader with a unique passion for his business.”

“I love Cambrian,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The company is literally printing life. Can’t wait to see all the great things that come of it.”

To be clear, Cambrian isn’t printing designer babies or dinosaurs — yet. Still, its rhetoric alarms critics. Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, a bioethics watchdog group in Berkeley, sums up Heinz’s belief that “every problem can be solved by engineering” as as a kind of “techno-libertarianism.”

“We have to take seriously people like Austen Heinz who say they want to modify future generations of human beings and upgrade the human species,” she said. “I think that technical project is far more complicated than they acknowledge. Nonetheless, their story about what we should be striving for as human beings, as a society, I think is very troubling.”

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And THIS should wake people up and seriously READ UP on the annunaki human origins as a slave species thread possibility... the possibility that humans were genetically upgraded from homo erectus or something... to human... why we cannot find the "missing link"... http://www.rawpaleodietforum.com/spirituality/what-if-human-origins-from-sumerians-annunaki-and-nibiru-view-movie/

« Last Edit: January 22, 2015, 12:48:30 pm by goodsamaritan »
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Offline goodsamaritan

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Re: DNA startup wants to let customers create creatures
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2015, 10:17:39 am »
http://venturebeat.com/2014/10/29/cambrian-genomics-ceo-were-going-to-design-every-human-on-a-computer-and-make-your-poop-smell-like-bananas/

October 29, 2014 11:53 AM
Chris O'Brien

VIENNA, Austria — Say this for Austen Heinz: His vision for the future will either thrill you or leave you fearing for the future of humanity. There’s not really any room in the middle.

In a pair of interviews, on and off the stage at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna today, the CEO of San Francisco-based Cambrian Genomics explained the mission of his company, which is often benignly described as “laser-printing DNA.”

So what does that mean?

“We want to make everything that is alive on the planet,” he explained. “Everything that is alive is not optimal. It can be made better.”

But he doesn’t have plans for replication: “We want to make totally new organisms that have never existed,” he said. “And replace every existing organism with a better one. It just seems obvious that eventually every human will be designed on a computer.”

Lest you think these are the ravings of a mad scientist, or the opening scene of a new sci-fi dystopian thriller, well, it’s not. Heinz is calm and rational in his view. And while his company has not disclosed its total fundraising, it’s backed by such notable Silicon Valley names as Peter Thiel.

The technology at work here is complex, but essentially Cambrian Genomics says it has found a way to dramatically reduce the cost of printing a strand of DNA. Sequencing of the genome is so advanced, Heinz explained, that basically people can take DNA code from libraries and create organic mash-ups, much the way any programmer can pull computer code from code libraries. That new code is then laser printed for a fraction of what it used to cost.

The most notable example of this technology at work was the “glowing plants” campaign on Kickstarter. Using these synthetic biology techniques, the campaign promised to take bioluminescence genes from bacteria and fireflies and insert them into several plants to make them glow in the dark.

The backers raised $484,013 from 8,433 backers. But then Kickstarter responded by changing its rules by banning genetically modified organisms from its platform.

Now Heinz is fighting back. He said on stage that the company will soon launch its own crowd-funding platform for GMOs, called “creature creators.” Cambrian will also help other people create slick videos to promote their synthetic biological creations.

One such project he mentioned on stage was Petomics. The project essentially aims to take genetic material for the odor of bananas and inject it into E. coli bacteria. The modified bacteria would be introduced into pet food and the result would be … poop that smells like bananas.

“It’s a pretty strong smell, too,” Heinz said.

Heinz doesn’t appear to fear the potential backlash such biological tinkering could provoke. For him, there is a simple logic at work at makes such technology inevitable. People are essentially badly designed computers, he said.

“We are running a program that is designed for us to die,” he said. “I think obviously every organism will be designed synthetically. It’s not a stretch to take it to every human and everything that’s alive.”
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Re: DNA startup wants to let customers create creatures
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2015, 10:41:00 am »
http://kios.org/post/dna-printing-big-boon-research-some-raise-concerns

By ROB STEIN
Originally published on Thu May 7, 2015 6:21 pm

Here's something that might sound strange: There are companies now that print and sell DNA.

This trend — which uses the term "print" in the sense of making a bunch of copies speedily — is making particular stretches of DNA much cheaper and easier to obtain than ever before. That excites many scientists who are keen to use these tailored strings of genetic instructions to do all sorts of things, ranging from finding new medical treatments to genetically engineering better crops.

"So much good can be done," says Austen Heinz, CEO of Cambrian Genomics in San Francisco, one of the companies selling these stretches of DNA.

But some of the ways Heinz and others talk about the possible uses of the technology also worries some people who are keeping tabs on the trend.

"I have significant concerns," says Marcy Darnovsky, who directs the Center for Genetics and Society, a genetics watchdog group.

A number of companies have been taking advantage of several recent advances in technology to produce DNA quickly and cheaply. Heinz says his company has made the process even cheaper.

"Everyone else that makes DNA, makes DNA incorrectly and then tries to fix it," Heinz says. "We don't fix it. We just see what's good, what's bad and then we use the correct pieces."

The company does that by putting chunks of their DNA on tiny metal beads that emit different colors. That lets a computer scan millions of pieces of DNA to find the right ones.

"So we just take a picture, change a filter, take a picture, change a filter, take a picture, change a filter. And we read the sequences," he says.

It's basically a high-tech version of a spell-checker.

Then Cambrian chooses and "prints" the correct stretch of DNA by firing a computer-controlled laser beam at a glass tray holding millions of these tiny metal beads, each one coated with DNA. The impact of the laser propels the bead carrying the correct DNA into a tray.

"The DNA laser 'printer' is essentially a sorter," he says. It can produce any strand of DNA, made to order, and Heinz can crank out a lot of DNA this way.

So far, the company's main customers are drug companies, which use the strings of DNA Cambrian Genomics makes to do things like genetically engineer microbes to try to find new medicines.

"They may be interested in making a protein that attacks a cancer cell with some kind of killer payload," he says.

Other users are genetically engineering plants to try to make them grow better. But Heinz envisions a day when mass-produced DNA can genetically engineer people — or let anyone use DNA like computer code to design their own organisms.

"I think some people will find the process of designing and making organisms just fun, in and of itself," he says.

But this sort of talk makes some people nervous.

"Heinz talks openly about everybody being able to create entirely novel creatures," Darnovsky says. "Is that what we want? Do we want anybody, including potential terrorists, to be able to create entirely novel life forms — new creatures? Do we want the teenager next door to be creating Godzilla in the bathtub? I don't want that."

She also worries about genetically engineered plants running amok, ruining the environment. And, she says, genetically engineering people would be even worse.

"Many of the figures in the synthetic biology field are not shy at all about embracing that prospect that we're going to use synthetic biology to redesign humanity and to engineer the traits in our children," she says. "And that I find extremely disturbing."

But others say those kinds of fears are exaggerated.

"Like every other technology, we need to be paying attention to how it's used," says Rob Carlson, a biotechnology analyst at Seattle-based Biodesic. But "it is not intrinsically more dangerous than other technologies," he adds. "And, in fact, if you wanted to do harm, there are many easier ways to go about causing harm than using synthetic DNA."

Heinz says his company is being very careful. It won't sell DNA to just anyone. And the potential benefits to society, he thinks, are huge.

"We can make DNA that would be used to make a virus that could target your cancer cells. And I think it can be helpful for dealing with some of the problems that humans have created. If we can make plants that can suck more carbon out of the atmosphere, we can deal with global warming," he says.

In addition, Heinz says he thinks "in general most people want children that are healthier than they were — maybe better. I think as a race, or as a species we have a goal of improving who we are."

Already, Cambrian Genomics and other companies are scaling up their operations to meet what many expect to be a growing demand for synthetic DNA.
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Offline raw-al

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Re: DNA startup wants to let customers create creatures
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2015, 10:12:49 am »
Some of this theory is used to explain why we do not produce vitamin c. Ie. mistakes were made with the GE process.
Cheers
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Offline A_Tribe_Called_Paleo

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Re: DNA startup wants to let customers create creatures
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2015, 03:39:34 am »
following.

 

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