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Biological Engineering on a large scale

by Max.Planck
Tags: biological, engineering, scale
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Max.Planck
#1
Feb26-12, 06:39 PM
P: 127
Why aren't we still able to create/alter organisms for energy and food production,
since we can easily sequence and cut and paste DNA?
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Biosyn
#2
Feb28-12, 11:18 PM
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Because PETA is watching. lol.
Pythagorean
#3
Feb28-12, 11:26 PM
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Quote Quote by Biosyn View Post
Because IACUC is regulating. lol.
fixed!

Biosyn
#4
Feb28-12, 11:31 PM
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Biological Engineering on a large scale

Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
fixed!
Oh right right!



Just the link from PETA I was reading..
http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/alternatives-testing-without-torture.aspx
SW VandeCarr
#5
Feb29-12, 06:56 AM
P: 2,501
Quote Quote by Max.Planck View Post
Why aren't we still able to create/alter organisms for energy and food production,
since we can easily sequence and cut and paste DNA?
Because biologists are too proud to ask the physicists to come in and show them how the Einstein Stress-Energy Tensor or QFT can describe the proteome.
thorium1010
#6
Feb29-12, 07:06 AM
P: 200
in the news recently - Growing meat in a petridish

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15402552
PVastro
#7
Feb29-12, 02:50 PM
P: 24
Well we do alter DNA all the time with things like plants for food. Some plants even have insect and bacteria DNA put into their genetic sequence.
penta-d
#8
Feb29-12, 05:49 PM
P: 12
I am not sure I understand the question. We are able to alter organisms for energy and food production, and it is done on a large scale all the time. If you are asking why biotechnology has not led to an end to hunger or to independence from fossil and other fuel sources, that is a complex question which probably depends as much upon politics, economics and social factors as on science.

Regarding QFT description of the proteome, have at it. Why would physiscists wait for an invitation if they believe it could be productive?
SW VandeCarr
#9
Feb29-12, 06:44 PM
P: 2,501
Quote Quote by penta-d View Post
I am not sure I understand the question. We are able to alter organisms for energy and food production, and it is done on a large scale all the time. If you are asking why biotechnology has not led to an end to hunger or to independence from fossil and other fuel sources, that is a complex question which probably depends as much upon politics, economics and social factors as on science.

Regarding QFT description of the proteome, have at it. Why would physiscists wait for an invitation if they believe it could be productive?
I was not being serious. Going by the OP's username. I thought he/she might have some association with or interest in physics. However, I seriously doubt understanding the proteome is going to occur at the level of QFT (or whatever replaces it) anytime soon. Certainly, the stress energy tensor is not going to be of use afaik, but it sounds impressive.

While the genome is better understood, understanding how genes exert their effect via coding of proteins is going to take a while. Of course, anyone who wants to try can apply for funding, but don't mention QFT in your application.
penta-d
#10
Feb29-12, 06:51 PM
P: 12
They do sound very impressive!

And I agree that understanding how genes exert their effects is going to take quite some time.
Ryan_m_b
#11
Mar2-12, 02:08 AM
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Quote Quote by Max.Planck View Post
Why aren't we still able to create/alter organisms for energy and food production,
since we can easily sequence and cut and paste DNA?
We do alter organisms all the time for both food and scientific research and are starting for fuel. Problems with both of them being public/political/economical opposition (some of which is legitimate) and that genetic modification is totally non-trivial. Sure you can cut and paste DNA but that's little more effective than taking a passage from one book that you really like and slapping it randomly in another and hoping the new story will take on the attributes of the older.

The problem with thinking about genetic engineering in this way is that it works on the assumption that analogies about genes being codes and genomes blueprints being correct. In actual fact this is not the case. Genes code for RNA that (most of the time) is converted to protein. These molecules interact with each other and others from the environment to create a metabolism that determines cell (and by extension organism) behaviour. So for the most part genes do not really map to defined traits, you can't just take the gene from one organism, put it in and expect it to work the same way. Whilst our knowledge and capability of genetic modification continues to grow and will continue to be useful (especially in the emerging field of synthetic biology) it wont be until we've started cracking the proteome, the transcriptome, the glycome and the metabolome that we could really begin radical engineering/creation of organisms for specific purposes. In fact once we have all those we may be able to seriously attempt to crack the phenome though I'm sceptical.
Max.Planck
#12
Mar2-12, 10:22 AM
P: 127
Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
The problem with thinking about genetic engineering in this way is that it works on the assumption that analogies about genes being codes and genomes blueprints being correct. In actual fact this is not the case. Genes code for RNA that (most of the time) is converted to protein. These molecules interact with each other and others from the environment to create a metabolism that determines cell (and by extension organism) behaviour. So for the most part genes do not really map to defined traits, you can't just take the gene from one organism, put it in and expect it to work the same way. Whilst our knowledge and capability of genetic modification continues to grow and will continue to be useful (especially in the emerging field of synthetic biology) it wont be until we've started cracking the proteome, the transcriptome, the glycome and the metabolome that we could really begin radical engineering/creation of organisms for specific purposes. In fact once we have all those we may be able to seriously attempt to crack the phenome though I'm sceptical.
Thanks for the post. Isn't it possible to simulate metabolism using computer simulation, or are the models incomplete?
Ryan_m_b
#13
Mar2-12, 11:17 AM
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Quote Quote by Max.Planck View Post
Thanks for the post. Isn't it possible to simulate metabolism using computer simulation, or are the models incomplete?
I'm afraid not. We can't even accurately simulate protein folding which is a very routine part of basic biochemistry (though there are interesting novel approaches to that problem). In addition there are a few other problems:
  • We haven't identified all the biochemical components of any organism and its environment.
  • There are far too many variables to compute with current computational power.
  • We don't understand/can't build models of all the physical laws governing biochemical interactions.
  • If this was ever done for a conscious animal we would run into ethical issues.
We'll be doing things like this in vitro rather than in silico for a long time yet.
Pythagorean
#14
Mar2-12, 11:38 AM
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but you can help figure it out with this fun protein folding game!

http://fold.it/portal/
Ryan_m_b
#15
Mar2-12, 11:42 AM
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Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
but you can help figure it out with this fun protein folding game!

http://fold.it/portal/
Beat you to it
Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
...though there are interesting novel approaches to that problem...
I haven't played the game yet but it's an excellent idea. I'd be really interested to see what other types of problem could be solved with gamified software outsourced to the crowed.
Pythagorean
#16
Mar2-12, 11:44 AM
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doh!

I played around with it for a while; it's not as exciting as Skyrim, but it's neat to see how proteins work. The basic premise is that a computer can't perform the solving algorithm but human visual system/mind can.
Ryan_m_b
#17
Mar2-12, 11:47 AM
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Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
doh!

I played around with it for a while; it's not as exciting as Skyrim, but it's neat to see how proteins work. The basic premise is that a computer can't perform the solving algorithm but human visual system/mind can.
Cool, I might give it a go at some point. Is it that computers aren't powerful enough to solve the problem or that an algorithm hasn't been produced that can solve it do you know?
Ryan_m_b
#18
Mar2-12, 11:52 AM
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Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
but you can help figure it out with this fun protein folding game!

http://fold.it/portal/Beat you to it
Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
...though there are interesting novel approaches to that problem...
I just remembered of another project which works by members of the public downloading some software (IIRC a screensaver) that then links together with all the other computers and works to compute folding:

http://folding.stanford.edu/


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