Book Review: Regenesis


George Church is a huge name in genetics. He is at the fore-front of genomics and synthetic biology. Also, he is the greatest entrepreneurial geneticist. He has co-founded 9 companies, including Knome and Joule Unlimited, all of them after 2005. He serves at the board of almost every major Next-Gen Sequencing company, Oxford Nanopore, Roche Diagnostics, Illumina and Life Technologies to name a few. His book Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves co-authored with Ed Regis and published last year is a must-read for all synbio enthusiasts. Buy it on Amazon or Flipkart.

In brief

The prologue  highlights the recent achievements of synthetic biology, starting from bio-films to envisioning Homo sapiens v2.0. In each of the chapters, the book takes you through major checkpoints in our evolution from mere replicators to beings so sophisticated to being in possession of the technology to control the process of evolution itself. RegenesisThe book describes how the understanding of the syntax of the language that all organisms are coded in would allow us to write completely new programs from scratch. It also heralds understanding of emergence of the immune system in mammals as crucial to the future of genome engineering (I have earlier written a post on HLA typing in personalized medicine). One aspect straight out of sci-fi involves creation of extinct animals in the lab. Fossils with DNA would be rare, depending on the time past, and an estimate of their DNA sequence from phylogenetic trees could serve the purpose. Zooming into present, in what Dr. Church terms the Holocene, we see synthetic biology move from personal genomes to immortal human components. In the epigenetic epilogue, the duo outlines the promises of synthetic biology and the societal risks involved.

One more thing: To test the ability of DNA as a compact storage systems, this book was also encoded into a DNA sample.

You should read it because..

The book explains major breakthroughs in the field in words that do not require a degree to comprehend. Because, who would not fancy a peek into the future.

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