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Scientists Are Now Closes To Creating Artificial Life

E. coli.VeeDunn/Flickr

Most lifeforms on Earth are made up of natural DNA. However, scientists are now much closer to creating artificial creatures using synthetic methods. They did this by basically making additions to DNA in ways that nature has yet to achieve. By doing so, the researchers are able to provide the organism certain traits that their natural counterparts do not have.

This isn’t the first time that the researchers from Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California have managed to progress in creating synthetic life. Their latest study was published in Nature, explaining how far the scientists have managed to go this time. It would seem that the semi-synthetic E. coli that they managed to create are now able to express proteins it wasn’t able to before.

“The results demonstrate that interactions other than hydrogen bonding can contribute to every step of information storage and retrieval. The resulting semi-synthetic organism both encodes and retrieves increased information and should serve as a platform for the creation of new life forms and functions,” the study’s Abstract reads.

Project head chemical biologist Floyd Romesberg also spoke to Reuters recently and explained exactly how significant this development is. By adding X and Y to the E. coli DNA, the researchers rewrote something that’s been part of the natural order since the dawn of time.

“This is the first time ever a cell has translated a protein using something other than G, C, A or T,” Romesberg said.

For those who might be concerned that this could lead to a catastrophic explosion of new synthetic life-forms, Romesberg assures that this is not impossible. He and his team have no intention to create a hybrid species and then let them propagate. More to the point, the semi-synthetic organisms can’t bond with natural DNA and they would not be able to survive anywhere other than a laboratory setting.

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