The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is seeking information on potential tools and methods that can be used to detect evidence of genome editing in biological organisms, including viruses.
While genome editing technology will enable new biological breakthroughs, the unintentional or deliberate misuse of genome editing tools may have adverse economic, health, and national security implications.
The fundamental components of many genome editing tools are found in nature, so detection requires an ability to distinguish engineered organisms from naturally-occurring background.
Areas of interest include:
- Research aimed at identifying direct or indirect signatures of genome editing in biological organisms
- Applications associated with edited microorganisms, plants and animals, especially those of economic importance or those that serve as infectious disease reservoirs
- Research efforts, including those in genomics, proteomics and metabolomics, that can better distinguish organisms that are engineered from those that occur naturally
- Scalable or high-throughput approaches for detection of organisms, that, if altered, have health or economic implications
- Methods to estimate the longitudinal stability of modifications once moved from a laboratory setting to the environment, and factors that determine if a modification is entirely lost or if markers of the modification still exist
- Methods for predicting or anticipating environmental effects resulting from a release of an engineered organism; and determination of provenance of genome editing tools and techniques
IARPA requests that respondents submit ideas related to this topic for use by the government in formulating a potential program. Statements should briefly and clearly describe the potential approach or concept, outline critical technical issues, describe how the approach may address those issues/obstacles and comment on the expected performance and robustness of the proposed approach.
Further details are available via Solicitation Number: IARPA-RFI-17-02. The response deadline is March 3, 2017.
Editor also recommends:
- Gene drives thwarted by emergence of resistant organisms (Nature)
- It’s time to modernize the bioweapons convention (BOTAS)
- Obama’s Science Advisors Are Worried About Future CRISPR Terrorism (Motherboard)
- The future of genome editing and how it will be regulated (Phys.org)
- Gene drives: The good, the bad, and the hype (BOTAS)