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A secret meeting at Harvard that will change the human race forever

Yahya Hameed 04:51 PM | 14 Jun, 2016
A secret meeting at Harvard that will change the human race forever
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts: Last month, 150 scientists and entrepreneurs held a closed door meeting at Harvard University in Cambridge. The goal of the meeting was to develop a plan to artificially synthesize all 3 billion base pairs in the human genome in the next ten years.

The Human Genome Project started in the 1990s led to the sequencing of the first human genomes. The difference proposed this time, was that instead of “reading” genetic codes, which is what sequencing does, the scientists would be “writing” them, explaining the initiatives name, “Genome Project-write".

HGP-write will be launched in 2016 with $100 million in committed support, from public and private donors, and academic sources around the world. Most of the funding outlay will be used in the assembly, integration, and evaluation of the modified genomes.

Thanks to new production techniques developed since 2003, the cost of assembling the genetic material encoding genes, the “building blocks” of life, has decreased from $4.00 to just three cents per individual letter, or “base pair” of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). As a result, the estimated cost of printing the DNA fragments encoding a three billion base pair human genome has dropped from $12 billion to $90 million.

Attendees were instructed not to contact the news media or to post on Twitter during the meeting. A Twitter screenshot appearing to be a message from the meeting organizers said: "We intentionally did not invite the media, because we want everyone to speak freely and candidly without concerns about being misquoted or misinterpreted as the discussions evolve."

The New York Times cited organizers as saying that they wanted to avoid publicity so as to not jeopardize publication of the project in a peer reviewed scientific journal.

After receiving a flurry of criticism over the effort's secrecy, participants have made a statement of intent, declaring that the project has been launched to radically reduce the cost of synthesizing genomes.

Potential applications, they said, include "growing transplantable human organs and engineering immunity to viruses in cell lines via genome-wide recoding."

Other potential benefits include "engineering cancer resistance into new therapeutic cell lines and accelerating high-productivity, cost-efficient vaccine and pharmaceutical development using human cells and organoids."

It might also be possible to make organisms resistant to all viruses, for instance, or make pig organs suitable for transplant into people.

The prospect has also generated debate within the life sciences community. The meeting has raised concerns of scientists going too far with synthetic life. According to an organizer of the event, the idea is to go beyond "reading" genetic material to actively "writing" it.

Scientists strongly agree that sustained improvements in DNA construction tools are essential for advancing basic biological science and improving public health but some are skeptical that synthesizing a human genome is an appropriate demand driver.

Writing the human genome could have serious religious and ethical implications as well. Although the researchers are clear that the goal of the Human Genome Project-Write (HGP-Write) is to synthesize a human genome in a lab dish—not to create a baby—many bioethicists and other experts remain skeptical about this assertion.

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KARACHI - Following are the foreign currency exchange rates for US Dollar, Saudi Riyal, UK Pound Sterling, U.A.E. Dirham, European Euro, and other foreign currencies in Pakistan open market on February 4, 2023 (Saturday).

Source: Forex Association of Pakistan. (last update 09:00 AM)

Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar ‎USD 279.9 283.2
Euro EUR 300.98 301.58
UK Pound Sterling GBP 337.01 337.71
U.A.E Dirham AED 75.14 75.44
Saudi Riyal SAR 73.55 73.85
Australian Dollar AUD 189 192
Bahrain Dinar BHD 712.72 720.69
Canadian Dollar CAD 200 202.2
China Yuan CNY 39.67 39.73
Danish Krone DKK 39.33 39.73
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 34.19 34.54
Indian Rupee INR 3.28 3.39
Japanese Yen JPY 2.5 2.54
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 878 887
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 62.83 63.43
New Zealand Dollar NZD 173.25 175.25
Norwegians Krone NOK 26.79 27.09
Omani Riyal OMR 696.08 704.08
Qatari Riyal ‎QAR 73.62 74.32
Singapore Dollar SGD 204 206
Swedish Korona SEK 25.61 25.91
Swiss Franc CHF 291.69 294.19
Thai Bhat THB 8.15 8.30

KARACHI – The price of a single tola of 24-karat gold in Pakistan is Rs 205,200 on Saturday. The price of 10 grams of 24k gold was recorded at Rs175,930.

Likewise, 10 grams of 22k gold were being traded for Rs167,318 while a single tola of 22-karat gold was being sold at Rs 195,157.

Note: The gold rate in Pakistan is fluctuating according to the international market so the price is never been fixed. The below rates are provided by local gold markets and Sarafa Markets of different cities.

City Gold Silver
Lahore PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Karachi PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Islamabad PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Peshawar PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Quetta PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Sialkot PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Attock PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Gujranwala PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Jehlum PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Multan PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Bahawalpur PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Gujrat PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Nawabshah PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Chakwal PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Hyderabad PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Nowshehra PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Sargodha PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Faisalabad PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Mirpur PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430

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