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Nothing can stay secret for long. Last week, more than 130 people met at Harvard Medical School to discuss making large genomes from scratch. The meeting was attended by a select group of researchers, lawyers, ethicists, engineers and government representatives. Other scientists and journalists weren’t allowed, and attendees were barred from relaying any information to the media. But details are starting to leak out, and some think they have significant implications.

The meeting is thought to have discussed plans for a 10-year international research project that aims to design and build a complete human genome.

“This is a natural extension of the human genome sequencing project,” says Paul Freemont of Imperial College London, who says he is “very familiar with the meeting”, but will not disclose whether he attended. Instead of reading the sequence of the three billion letters that comprises the human genome, which the Human Genome Project accomplished in 2003, the plan this time is to write the sequence, synthesising the code chemically.

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Image: By Webridge – revised from, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2507161

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New Scientist

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