Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves

George Church and Ed Regis. . Basic, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-0-465-02175-8
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Exhilarating and scary facts suffuse this book about bioengineering by leading Harvard genetics professor and entrepreneur Church. The book, written with veteran science writer Regis (What Is Life?), may start slowly for general readers, with its talk on chirality (futuresque virus-resistant mirror-image cells that make new proteins). But when Church describes current work building microbes with minimal genes, the book takes off—and eventually soars. Microbes are natural factories. With genetic tweaking, they pump out drugs, biofuels, and green chemicals more efficiently than bricks-and-mortar factories. Church’s award-winning firm LS9 makes fuel by inserting genes from four other organisms into E. coli (“the world’s fastest machines”) that double every 20 minutes. Other researchers have rapidly “evolved” microbes that make electricity—while cleaning waste. Geneticists can boost drug production a billion-fold, and more than 2,000 genes can predict illness. Genetically tweaked “bugs”” can be more dangerous than bombs. And since technology bans don’t work, regulation is key, But “redesigning nature” should not frighten us: it is “an inherent part of life,” Church argues in this stimulating book. Illus. Agent: John Brockman, Brockman Inc. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/23/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 294 pages - 978-0-465-07570-6
Ebook - 305 pages - 978-0-465-03329-4
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