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Pod cast, "(So-Called) Life" -- do what?

  1. Mar 6, 2016 #1
    Eye opening (for me) pod cast, "(So-Called) Life". They can do what!

    Third segment, (?), they can type in a DNA sequence into a machine and it synthesizes a DNA sequence of your choice!

    http://www.radiolab.org/story/91596-so-called-life/
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 6, 2016 #2

    Ygggdrasil

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    Custom gene synthesis has been around for quite a while, and it is routinely used in many biology laboratories. About six years ago, researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute were able to chemically synthesize a complete bacterial genome, then boot up bacteria from that custom-made genome to create a form of "synthetic life." Here's an old PF thread from back then discussing the study.

    https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/bacterial-cell-with-a-chemically-synthesized-genome.404603/

    Probably the biggest roadblock here is that we don't understand the connection between DNA sequence and biological function as well as we would like. Often, taking genes that perform one function and putting them into a new organism requires some trial and error to get the genes to work correctly, and designing genes with entirely new functions is very difficult. This is especially true when we think about applying gene editing technologies to humans. It's as if we have a modern printing press, but we have only a basic and incomplete knowledge of how grammar works.
     
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