Switch off biological organisms using a light switch

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Synvivia develops biomolecular ON-OFF switches to make synthetic biology safe for use outside of the laboratory. Genetically engineered microorganisms can cure diseases, but biological complexity can make them unsafe for treating humans. Synvivia’s ON-OFF switches can literally switch off organisms.

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Nick Abouzeid
Nick AbouzeidPro@nickabouzeid · Content @ Emergence Capital
YC never ceases to make chuckle. Sure, let's just turn off organisms with the flip of a switch. Excited to see what implications this might have in biotech.
Anna Filou
Anna Filou@anna_0x · Tech Geek, Web Designer, Illustrator
I'm confused as to how this works. At first I took the word "switch" to be meant metaphorically and thought "nice, they genetically engineer the organisms to be able to live only when they have a certain other element/molecules in their environment" (for example we have organisms that cannot live without X in their environment. The organism are put in fields (agriculture). X is not naturally present in the fields. The organisms can only live if you water the field with a solution containing X. Stop watering with the solution and they die. That way they don't spread to other fields either). But it kinda seems like they are talking about LITERAL switches?? The website is pretty vague... Does anybody know more?
_pAuL_@pjcoffer · Professorof Cell Biology, UMC Utrecht
@anna_0x I think you are pretty much correct Anna. It seems to be a simple system where you need a particular molecule to be available and prevent a 'suicide gene' being switched on.
Anna Filou
Anna Filou@anna_0x · Tech Geek, Web Designer, Illustrator
@pjcoffer that would make sense but it's a bit confusing, the way they use the word switch...