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For US$16,818.50 would you want a synthetic human virus?

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In the media aftermath of the H5N1 transmission debate we've been hearing an awful lot about the possibilities of bringing synthetic biology to the field of virology. In fact, one of the best analyses of this situation is Carl Zimmer's piece in the New York Times. In it, Carl explores the capabilities of DIY, amateur biologists to investigate how viruses infect and cause disease. The pro's and con's of utilizing synthetic DNA to make viruses versus the more traditional methods are looked at briefly but really how easily can it be done? and how different is this new wave of synthetic virology versus earlier methods?
 
 

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