Ultra-safe cells resistant to natural viruses announced as first GP-write major project

NEW YORK, May 1, 2018 – The Center for Excellence in Engineering Biology and the leadership of Genome Project-write (GP-write) today announced its first grand-scale community-wide project, to develop “ultra-safe cells” that resist natural viruses and potentially radiation, freezing, aging and cancer.

“The ultra-safe cell lines, made using technologies broadly applicable to plant, microbial and mammalian species, are aimed at complete resistance to all viruses and prions, and partial resistance to senescence and cancer, plus biocontainment–significantly updating the goals in the GP-write 2016 paper, in Science magazine,” said Professor Jef Boeke, Ph.D., director, Institute for Systems Genetics, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, NYU Langone Medical Center, and one of four members of the GP-write Leadership Group.

“Ultra-safe cells could have a major impact on human health,” said another organizer, Professor George Church, core faculty of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Medical School and one of four members of the GP-write Leadership Group. For example, some medicines are manufactured in specialized cellular factories. Viruses can contaminate the cells, in one case causing an estimated $1 billion in losses and cutting off patients from their medicine. Because of the risk, companies must undertake costly monitoring for viruses. “Ultra-safe cells could


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