The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will hold a proposers day on Sept. 30 regarding a program that aims to develop tools that will work to mitigate potential safety risks and advance the potential of gene-editing technologies.
DARPA said Wednesday the Safe Genes program aims to address safety gaps in the field of genome editing using biosafety and biosecurity tools.
“Gene editing holds incredible promise to advance the biological sciences, but right now responsible actors are constrained by the number of unknowns and a lack of controls,” said Renee Wegrzyn, DARPA program manager.
“DARPA wants to develop controls for gene editing and derivative technologies to support responsible research and defend against irresponsible actors who might intentionally or accidentally release modified organisms.”
The agency added Safe Genes looks to integrate biosafety with new biotechnologies, provide options to address synthetic genetic threats and build understanding of gene-editing technologies.
The program’s three technical objectives center on the development of genetic constructs to control genome editors, small molecule and molecular countermeasures to genome editing and ways to eliminate unwanted engineered genes.
Safe Genes will also work to respond to risks from the democratization of gene-editing tools due to lower costs and increased accessibility as well as pursue more opportunities to experiment with genetic modifications, DARPA said.