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Complete Synthetic Genome Creation Within Reach

Dry Yeast.Ranveig/Wikimedia

Genetic manipulation is an incredibly touchy subject that many scientists would love to dive into headlong, but which the rest of the world has been preventing them from doing. As a result, researchers have had to make progress in an almost unbearably slow way. It seems at least one team’s efforts is close to bearing fruit, however, since they are within reach of creating a completely synthetic genome.

Before anyone gets too excited, the genome in question is based on yeast. So, no, scientists won’t be creating synthetic human DNA anytime soon. However, this progress could still have a significant impact on various industries. Among the fields that will get the most benefits from this development include the food and beverage sector, Futurism reports.

Yeast is used in all kinds of things, from making bread to brewing alcoholic beverages. By creating a synthetic genome of the organism, it opens up the possibility of making a few adjustments in order to bring out desirable characteristics.

The researchers published their findings in Science where the scientists reveal that they were able to synthesize five of the 16 chromosomes of yeast. In a prior attempt, the same group of researchers was only able to create one, which is already a huge leap. Their newest achievement brings the total number to 6, which means that they only need to create 10 more. As Synthetic Genomics vice president of DNA technologies Daniel Gibson explains, the implications of this achievement for cell growth and manipulation are staggering.

“This is really going to allow us to understand how to design cells from the bottom up that can be reprogrammed for many applications,” Gibson said.

While the researchers seem pleased with what they managed to accomplish, some scientists and ethics experts are worried. Questions about accidental creations of invasive species and illegal human experimentation are quite common when it comes to these topics.

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