Cambrian Genomics has figured out how to print DNA in a process that greatly reduces the cost. They make the first hardware/systems for laser printing DNA. As company CEO, Austen Heinz puts it “We print life. Life is very simple, it’s just code. Four letters — we print that.” He invented a 3D laser printer that prints custom DNA sequences. The idea behind the company is that everything that’s alive is simply code. If you remember back to your biology class, the primary nucleobases — adenine (A), cytosine (C), thymine (T), and guanine (G) — form base pairs in a specific order to create strands of DNA.
Cambrian Genomics uses proprietary process to assemble ACTG to create custom DNA for customers. The process is truly revolutionary. You can either alter current DNA to create characteristics like a plant that glows in the dark, or create brand new DNA. The process lets you play God in creating things that don’t currently exist in nature.
It’s currently much easier to alter existing DNA than to create new DNA into a new lifeform, but the possibility exists. As you can imagine, there are significant government clearances that are needed for these processes, and Cambrian Genomics leaves that part to the customers to deal with.
However, think about the possibilities. Heinz proposes “Plants can be made to take out much more carbon out of the atmosphere. We can make humans that are born without disease that can live much longer. We can make humans that can interface directly with computers by growing interfaces into the brain.”
3D DNA printing is not without its obvious controversy though. There is a larger movement dedicated to banning all GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). There is also significant concern about what effects there could be of releasing GMOs into the environment–also known as the Jurassic Park Effect. There are current government safeguards in effect to help prevent this now. All GMO products must first go through a rigorous approval process before a project can be started. Then, there is government testing that occurs after the product is created to assure that there no ill effects of creating such a product.
Heinz explains how the current regulatory environment in America is fairly open for plant life, but locked down for animal and human life. However, in Europe they are locked down on plant life, but much more open on human life. In the UK has the first 3 parent child which is in a sense a GMO. Heinz presented the possible paradox that GMO people could be anti-GMO activists in the future, but ironically be a GMO themselves.