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Synthetic biology: How advanced are we?

Synthetic biology potentially offers solutions to some of our most intractable environmental problems, such as air and water pollution, biodiversity loss, or even to reduce the effect of climate change on food production. A new article from the Earth Institute at Columbia University explores several synbio technologies in place or under research, including the use of gene drive for environmental conservation purposes.

Scientists from Revive & Restore, for example, are working to identify the genes that make the domestic ferret resistant to sylvatic plague. By inserting those genes into black-footed ferret’s genome, researchers believe that it could be possible to save this species from extinction. The article also mentions the work of other scientists that are trying to modify coral genomes to increase their resistance to raising ocean temperatures, water acidification, and pollution.

Read more about these and other examples about potential application and benefits of synthetic biology at Columbia University’s website.

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