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Scientists learning to program "synthetic life" with DNA
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Written by Daniel   
Monday, 16 February 2009 12:29

Three experts at AAAS Chicago 2009 detail recent advances in “synthetic life,” the field that may someday bring you wonder drugs and super materials, all made in microbial factories.

By Tim De Chant | Last updated February 16, 2009 10:15

 Much of the success of modern personal computers can be boiled down to a few basic concepts: modularity, standardization, and off-the-shelf components. Hard drives fit into standard-sized slots, connect to motherboards via nearly ubiquitous, industry-standard connections, etc. Now, genetic engineers and synthetic biologists are using those same principles to foster discoveries and hurdle engineering obstacles in their fields.



Three scientists detailed recent advances in “synthetic life” at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting on Friday. This is the field that many hope will bring you wonder drugs and super materials all made in microbial factories. To get there, researchers have closely following the road paved by computer scientists decades ago, giving cellular functions logical operators and abstracting parts of the development process from the (chemical) hardware.

Fortunately for us, the scientists pushing the boundaries of synthetic life are not hoping to recreate Frankenstein’s monster, or even its single-celled equivalent. Right now, they are more interested in using the machinery of the cell—DNA, RNA, and other molecular machinery—to manufacture compounds otherwise unavailable en masse. [ARS Technica...]  [Comments...]

 

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