An anonymous reader writes from a report via The New York Times, summarized by Gizmodo: Earlier this week, over a hundred scientists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs held a secret meeting to discuss the possibility of creating a synthetic human genome. Creating a synthetic human genome differs from gene editing as scientists would use chemicals to manufacture all the DNA contained in human chromosomes, instead of patching a gene here and there. Synthetic genomics, unlike genetic modifications, in that it doesn't use naturally occurring genes. Instead, it relies on the custom-designed base pair series. Currently, customers view synthetic genomics as a way to build novel microbes and animals, but with humans it raises the prospect of custom-designed humans, without any parents.
George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and one of the organizers of the proposed project, says the characterization was a misunderstanding
, and that the project was aimed to generally improve the ability to synthesize long strands of DNA, which could be applied to various types of animals, plants and microbes. "They're painting a picture which I don't think represents the project," Dr. Church said in an interview. The project was initially called "HGP2: The Human Genome Synthesis Project." However, the name was later changed to "HGP-Write: Testing Large Synthetic Genomes In Cells." Why the change? Because the original headline was suppose to be headline-grabbing, or so they say.