Viruses have a horrible reputation. Most people believe they’re universally bad, that they all cause diseases. In fact, only a small number of viruses are harmful to us. They’re the most abundant organism on the planet. They’re major drivers of evolution. There are millions of virus species but they share one commonality: they can deliver new genetic code into host cells. Essentially, viruses are biological USB sticks. With the tools of synthetic biology, viruses can now be computer-designed and synthesized from scratch, fast and cheap. Reprogramming cells or organisms to have new functions has never been easier. This has exciting applications for breakthrough research and development.
Andrew is the founder of Humane Genomics, an early-stage company developing fully synthetic personalized anti-cancer viruses. He is also the co-founder of the Genome Project-write (GP-write), the US-led international effort to design, build, and test large genomes including the human genome. He is a fellow at the University of Ottawa, Institute for Science, Society, and Policy and faculty at Singularity University. His talks and articles help people understand the rapid changes that are happening in life technologies.