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Biotech

DNA Manufacturing Enters the Age of Mass Production (ieee.org) 82

the_newsbeagle writes: Now that it's easy and cheap to build strands of DNA, what kinds of strange new organisms will scientists and start-ups build? That's the question raised as synthetic biology companies like Twist Bioscience and Zymergen start up their DNA manufacturing lines. Researchers who order DNA snippets typically pay on a cost-per-nucleobase basis. These companies say their mass-production techniques could bring prices down to 2 cents per base, which would allow researchers to scale up experiments and learn through trial and error.
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DNA Manufacturing Enters the Age of Mass Production

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  • Computer, build me a slut with big tits

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In all honesty, I think that this technology has some promise when it comes to recreating penises that have been destroyed for one reason or another.

      I'm sure we all know the golfer who had an accident, and as a result of a club impacting him in the groin his penis was completely destroyed. Or we know the skier who skied crotch-first into a tree and had his scrotum and penis turned to mush.

      Now maybe these men don't have to suffer in silence any longer. Maybe this DNA technology could be used to help grow the

    • Computer, build me a slut with big tits

      "I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave. You're married."

    • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @10:25AM (#51241263) Homepage

      Siri: "Do you want me to build you a slug with big dicks?"

  • I can't possibly imagine anything that could go wrong with guys in a lab fucking around with DNA.

  • by ekimd ( 968058 )
    I can 3D print a human for only $64 million!
    • I can assure you that there are far easier, faster and more enjoyable methods of making humans.

      • Yes but that one will have rights. A lab made one might not...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by davester666 ( 731373 )

          I'll bet you money that there are corporation's that have a legal "opinion" by their in-house counsel in their files that an embryo that is inseminated and brought to term entirely outside a human womb is the corporations property and not a human.

          • I really hope not. That would take us back k hundreds of years in terms of slaves, inferior/superior races and all that...
  • This doesn't cover the things I would want to know--such as what they expect the computer's error rate (think 'mutation' here) because if my cost-per-base is low but I have to order a lot more copies simply to be certain I get the correct sequence, I'm not so sure it's a good idea. Having actually done this as an undergrad, the part that I'd stress out about most is the whole process of checking it--getting the gene into the vector and the vector into the host can be annoyingly finicky.

    • As mentioned in the article the DNA manufacturing makes cheaper only the first part of the process and the main cost remain the same, the advance will most likely save time but not money. For example instead of running a few reaction with the 8 to 10 oligos you felt you could order that week you just make a 96 well plate of reactions each with a different one and check how many give a successful transformation. Of course if that is above your lab capacity then the advantages are not so good.

      Still, if this m

      • As mentioned in the article the DNA manufacturing makes cheaper only the first part of the process and the main cost remain the same, the advance will most likely save time but not money. For example instead of running a few reaction with the 8 to 10 oligos you felt you could order that week you just make a 96 well plate of reactions each with a different one and check how many give a successful transformation. Of course if that is above your lab capacity then the advantages are not so good.

        Still, if this manufacturing becomes common then other things will also become cheaper and more experiments could be done with the same grant (until the grants become smaller since DNA is cheap so you should do with half what you asked).

        I did read the article, and the thing is that it won't necessarily save time or money if the error rate is higher--with what you're suggesting, if I'm going to be optimistic I might get maybe a fifth of those wells actually being a successful transformation, assuming that my host isn't one where using a 96 well plate actually will lower my success rate. I still won't know if any of those are the sequence I want until I sequence them, and the last part is pretty expensive and time-consuming, especially if y

        • I did read the article, and the thing is that it won't necessarily save time or money if the error rate is higher--with what you're suggesting, if I'm going to be optimistic I might get maybe a fifth of those wells actually being a successful transformation, assuming that my host isn't one where using a 96 well plate actually will lower my success rate. I still won't know if any of those are the sequence I want until I sequence them, and the last part is pretty expensive and time-consuming, especially if you're sending it off in bulk.

          Its not important to increase the error rate if the main product you are wasting is cheap DNA sequences. Lets say that you now can try 5 or 6 of them in one week, then another 5 or 6 the next week until you are successful (so you can save on DNA by ordering only the absolutely minimum amount). If you can get the oligos dirt cheap then you just order a butt load of them and try as many as you can, get this first step results much faster without so much waste. It will not matter if you get only one good trans

          • I did read the article, and the thing is that it won't necessarily save time or money if the error rate is higher--with what you're suggesting, if I'm going to be optimistic I might get maybe a fifth of those wells actually being a successful transformation, assuming that my host isn't one where using a 96 well plate actually will lower my success rate. I still won't know if any of those are the sequence I want until I sequence them, and the last part is pretty expensive and time-consuming, especially if you're sending it off in bulk.

            Its not important to increase the error rate if the main product you are wasting is cheap DNA sequences.

            Wait, what? Nobody wants to increase the error rate here, the point is that if the cost of the lower price is a significantly higher rate of errors, then you'll end up wasting everything else involved in getting to the point where you can check to see if you did get the correct gene in. This is only really going to save time and/or money if its accuracy is sufficiently close to being as good as the previous methods that you come out ahead in the end.

            To put it in IT terms which might help here: Since DNA i

            • Wait, what? Nobody wants to increase the error rate here, the point is that if the cost of the lower price is a significantly higher rate of errors, then you'll end up wasting everything else involved in getting to the point where you can check to see if you did get the correct gene in. This is only really going to save time and/or money if its accuracy is sufficiently close to being as good as the previous methods that you come out ahead in the end.

              There is no real reason why quality has to drop, but even if that is the case there are quite a lot of methods for screening cheaply for desired results when you get more than you can manage (specific methods of course depending on what you are trying to do), If you already get enough samples to have to wait later then of course there is no value on getting more of them with a supposedly lower quality, but if your bottleneck is the first step then of course manufactured DNA is going to help getting the job

        • Your experience may still hold true for small labs, but many research campuses have sequencing cores now with fast turn-around. I give them the tube with DNA and primers, and they email me the sequence data the next day (rarely, it'll take them two days). I hear there's a company in NYC that promises 12-hour turnaround for samples they get in the city. Now, smaller institutions may take more time, but sequencing has been advancing pretty quickly as of late.
          • Your experience may still hold true for small labs, but many research campuses have sequencing cores now with fast turn-around. I give them the tube with DNA and primers, and they email me the sequence data the next day (rarely, it'll take them two days). I hear there's a company in NYC that promises 12-hour turnaround for samples they get in the city. Now, smaller institutions may take more time, but sequencing has been advancing pretty quickly as of late.

            I was actually at one of the major research campuses--so they've probably gotten this in, and I've a pretty good guess how the fast turnaround is managed. When I last checked it was in the "whenever we get the bugs worked out" phase of development. It still would be a bit of an annoyance for me, but that's because I loved the parts involved in getting to doing the sequencing, not processing the sequencing data...which is more or less why I gave up being a biochemist when my body decided to no longer react

            • If it was a major research campus, I'm sure they have it by now. I kind of hate doing mini-preps, but for some reason I don't mind doing giga-preps. And yeah, sequencing data can be annoying to get through, depending on what you're trying to do (and how good your map is...). That's really unfortunate about the gloves. I don't know what I'd do if that happened to me!
    • while you are analyzing this, a whole bunch of other, "unplanned" humans have been created.

      Smart people think too much, Dumb people fuck too much.

      Evolution's jury is still out, on who "wins", if anyone.
  • It is a relief that at most I'll live to be about 100, because human beings are about to fuck everything up in a big way.

    • The bottom line is that everything comes to an end, at some point. What's the difference how it gets there.

      "May you live in interesting times..."

      Is that really a curse or a blessing?
    • It is a relief that at most I'll live to be about 100, because human beings are about to fuck everything up in a big way.

      What makes you think that biological technology won't extend your lifespan until you have to live through at least a couple centuries of "fuck up"? B-)

      But look at the bright side. Even if such technology is developed, the FDA will block deployment until it's determined to be "safe and effective". How long will THAT take with an anti-aging treatment? So you'll probably get to die early

      • What makes you think that biological technology won't extend your lifespan until you have to live

        Thanks a lot, Obama.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I'd not willingly accept anti-aging technology, thanks. I've already pondered this and spoken about it at length. I am not interested. I am 58. I'm good with 7 to 17 more years. It's time to make room for new people and I've already consumed more than my fair share of resources. (In my defense, I generated a *lot* of efficiency.)

        At any rate, no... I don't want to extend my life. I've even got a few bucks and I'm not interested in it. I have a DNR already signed. I carry it with me and those who are close to

  • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @11:50PM (#51239671)
    for them to take a stab at artificial meat.

    For while I think that vegans are a bunch of pretentious and annoying fucks, the concept of not having to kill an animal to get the meat protein we need would be interesting.

    • You don't eat meat?

      Or you just eat the tasty flesh anyhow?

      Every living thing dies, if it dies letting another living thing go on a bit longer, so be it. It is all minor decimal points in the statistics of which thing lived how long.
      • So you'd have no real issue if I decided to eat you and your family, because I'm hungry? Oh, that's right. The right to live applies only to humans.
        • Plants are living things too. They don't like being eaten.

          • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @03:31PM (#51243239)

            Plants are living things too. They don't like being eaten.

            Not certain if you are being sarcastic, but yes. All life is amazing and precious, from bacteria through plants and animals. And until we become chemoautotrophs, we do not live except by killing other living things.

            And since I prefer being alive to being dead, I eat what we are designed to eat, which is a mixture of plants and what the vegans call corpse flesh. All very yummy. And all once alive. I prefer the American indian concept of being thankful that something died to allow me to continue living.

            • I agree, the concept of respecting the animals who die and respecting their gift is one that makes sense with me as well.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        To me it's about the impact that cattle farms etc have on the environment. Artificial meat could potentially have much less of an impact whilst providing the (hopefully) "same" end product.

      • You don't eat meat?

        I eat lots of meat, so no need to play pick on the vegan with me. Im hardly one. I love meat, I make lots of good home cured sausages and home made bacon. and barbeque with impunity. I make a seriously kickass smoked venison bologna.

        But Yes, the act of killing the animal is not particulaly pleasant.

    • for them to take a stab at artificial meat.

      For while I think that vegans are a bunch of pretentious and annoying fucks, the concept of not having to kill an animal to get the meat protein we need would be interesting.

      But that's what makes it so delicious.....

      How am I supposed to enjoy my steak if the cow didn't die so that I may live?

    • There are multiple companies working on this, at least one in the Bay Area (started by a former Stanford prof). I think it's a great idea, personally, but at least in the US there are far too many people who either oppose GMOs with a near-religious fervor, or oppose reducing their environmental impact with similar fervor, for this to be successful commercially in a domestic market.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Oh come on, you were thinking it too...

  • I've bought DNA snippets for use in experiments for years (DNA is about $0.50/base from existing companies). The cost of DNA has been trivial for scientific work for a long time. The real cost is in the labor and equipment that goes into running an experiment. On a million dollar a year project, reducing the cost of DNA from $1000 a year to $10 a year doesn't really change the pace of research. That's not enough savings to hire another person to get more work done, or buy any of the equipment necessary.

    • For big projects, you're right, this won't do that much (although $990 is enough to buy a nice repeating pipettor...). However, it does lower the bar for smaller projects, especially those with cheaper initial labor costs (projects for undergrads to play around with, for example). It's not a game-changer, but it'll probably be useful in some scenarios.

How many hardware guys does it take to change a light bulb? "Well the diagnostics say it's fine buddy, so it's a software problem."

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