Next steps for access to safe, secure DNA synthesis
Where do technology, security, and the DNA synthesis market intersect? Most notably is the need for minimizing biological risks and maximizing the safety and security of DNA synthesis practices around the world. Diggans and Leproust of Twist Bioscience highlight this major intersection and discuss what they and the International Gene Synthesis Consortium (IGSC) view as the most important aspects of DNA synthesis to address in order to mitigate risks and improve global safety and security. Using the IGSC's Harmonized Screening Protocol as a base, the authors provide background on the subject and address current industry best practices and how they could be improved using cybersecurity and strong software testing methodologies. They also address how research funding priorities should be addressed to build and maintain databases, reduce risks, and "democratize access to sequence screening." The authors conclude that a multi-faceted approach of practices such as "red teaming," stronger investments in screening—particularly with oligonucleotide pools—and stronger efforts to "teach and promote the evaluation of the security implications of new synthetic biology techniques or materials" to practicing synthetic biologists will yield positive results for the future of DNA synthesis.