Safety by Design: Biosafety and Biosecurity in the Age of Synthetic Genomics

Stefan A. Hoffmann, James Diggans, Douglas Densmore, Junbiao Dai, Tom Knight, Emily Leproust, Jef D. Boeke, Nicole Wheeler*, Yizhi Cai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Technologies to profoundly engineer biology are becoming increasingly affordable, powerful, and accessible to a widening group of actors. While offering tremendous potential to fuel biological research and the bioenconomy, this development also increases the risk of inadvertent or deliberate creation and dissemination of pathogens. Effective regulatory and technological frameworks need to be developed and deployed to manage these emerging biosafety and biosecurity risks. Here, we review digital and biological approaches of a range of technology readiness levels suited to address these challenges. Digital sequence screening technologies already are used to control access to synthetic DNA of concern. We examine the current state of the art of sequence screening, challenges and future directions, and environmental surveillance for the presence of engineered organisms. As biosafety layer on the organism level, we discuss genetic biocontainment systems that can be used to created host organisms with an intrinsic barrier against unchecked environmental proliferation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106165
Early online date10 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Feb 2023


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