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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Brand New Prometheus

Is there something odd (and threatening) about this article?

The Guardian
Organisms created with synthetic DNA pave way for entirely new life forms
E coli microbes have been modified to carry an expanded genetic code which researchers say will ultimately allow them to be programmed
The need to supply the bugs with the X and Y molecules is meant to ensure that the cells will die should they somehow get out of the lab. But Romesberg said that despite the protective measure, he still gets asked if he has seen Jurassic Park. In the 1993 movie, Jeff Goldblum questions whether the park’s dinosaurs might breed in the wild despite the failsafes built into their genetic makeup. “What the movie depicted is very different to our failsafe,” Romesberg said. “Our failsafe is based on the availability of X and Y and the cell could never make them.”


Over the past two years, his team worked out how to make the microbes hardier and pass on their synthetic genetic bases more faithfully when they divided. If the X and Y are not passed on, the bugs’ DNA quickly reverts to the standard four letter genetic code, he said.

It took three crucial fixes for the microbes to survive and reliably pass on their new genetic material. In one key improvement, Romesberg modified the microbe’s immune system so that it destroyed any DNA that was missing the synthetic X and Y bases. The end result, he says, is that the bugs can hold the new genetic material indefinitely. “Now you throw the switch and the light stays on,” he told the Guardian...

Read the whole article.

I mean, I get the impression that although the present day microbes cannot do this horse-and-pony-DNA show, their descendants may very well be able to use the new forms and have a go at creating new life forms.

The argumentum ex Jurassic Park is nonsensical.


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