Last week I hoped Scorpion, the new CBS show about a team of geniuses that assists the Department of Homeland Security, would focus on an infectious diseases as well as other problems. Well, this week they granted my wish and they were immersed in responding to a pathogen, related to the common cold virus, synthesized specifically to infect the California governor's daughter and a few others.
What the Scorpion team was facing was a biohacker who employed synthetic biology for a sinister purpose. Synthetic biology, the realm of biology that deals with the creation of novel genetic sequences, holds tremendous promise for curing disease, specifically targeting therapy as part of personalized medicine, and revolutionizing biotechnology.
However, just like almost every trade, there are dual-use concerns with the rise of synthetic biology, the biohacker movement, and DIY biology. I share some of these concerns but have an overriding fundamental belief that all these developments are essentially good and representative a major advice for mankind.
While the show requiring some suspension of disbelief--an antidote was made in two hours--it is good to see these issues penetrating into popular culture.