The Molecular Revolution Continues: 2 Synthetic Genetic Bases Added to Nature’s Standard 4 Ba
The molecular revolution continues to expand. Last week, researchers at Scripps published an open access article on the creation of a stable organism with 2 human made genetic bases named X and Y that now exist alongside the usual bases A, C, G and T. By stable, they mean the organism was able to replicate itself at least 60 times, including replicating the synthetic bases. That means, yes, very simple, tiny life forms built in part by humans. Today’s children and grand children will see some amazing developments. And there will be some fascinating issues for manufacturers and pharma of tomorrow, along with judges, trial lawyers and legislatures.
The research work is summarized in a January 24, 2017 article at GEN News. The article introduction is pasted below; the whole article is worth reading just to get a more of a sense of the scale of the profound new knowledge now exploding in molecular science. It’s a very readable article with helpful analogies and explanations in actual English.
“Investigators at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) report the development of the first stable semisynthetic organism. Building on their 2014 study in which they synthesized a DNA base pair, the researchers created a new bacterium that uses the four natural bases (A, T, C, and G) but that also holds as a pair two synthetic bases called X and Y in its genetic code. Floyd Romesberg, Ph.D., and his colleagues have now shown that their single-celled organism can hold on indefinitely to the synthetic base pair as it divides. Their research (“A Semisynthetic Organism Engineered for the Stable Expansion of the Genetic Alphabet”) is published online ahead of print in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “We’ve made this semisynthetic organism more life-like,” said Dr. Romesberg, senior author of the new study.While applications for this kind of organism are still far in the future, the researchers say the work could be used to create new functions for single-celled organisms that play important roles in drug discovery and much more.”