Skip to main content

Startup in biotech adds two base pairs to genetic code — and life on earth may never be the same

Startup in biotech adds two base pairs to genetic code — and life on earth may never be the same

Amidst the staggering diversity that is life on earth, there is a surprising thread of commonality. That shared ground is the language of genetics. Prior to the discovery of DNA, few suspected that a single molecular code could underpin such a panoply of biological forms – everything from viruses to talking apes. Even more startling was the discovery that this code consisted of a molecular language only four base pairs in length. It took evolution a billion years to devise this four-letter chemical code. Now for the first time in recorded history, organisms with a new, expanded, genetic code are taking shape in the laboratory. It’s no exaggeration to say that life on earth will never be the same.
While the playboy of biology, Craig Venter, has stolen many of the recent headlines in regards to synthetic biology, the more interesting advances in the field are occurring with surprisingly little fanfare. And not without good reason: many of the corporate labs pursuing synthetic biology have little cause to draw excess attention to themselves. They’ve learned all too well from the disastrous backlash against genetically modified foods that the public is not necessarily the wisest arbiter of scientific advancement. If we were to ban GMO crops tomorrow, half the population of the world would starve in short order. Yet this seems to be precisely what a large percentage of the “well-fed” in places like the United States are angling for. But I digress.
In a development sure to have far reaching repercussions, scientists working at the drug discovery company called Synthorx quietly announced that it is using an expanded version of the genetic alphabet, one that includes two novel base pairs dubbed X and Y, to create a type of E. coli bacteria never before seen on the face of the earth. While the potential for using these new, hybrid life forms to create wonder drugs is indeed enormous, that is merely the tip of the iceberg. The addition of two base pairs to the four letter DNA code effectively raises the number of possible amino acids an organism could use to build proteins from 20 to 172.
Scientists at Synthorx, where synthetic biology is being employed for drug discovery
Scientists at Synthorx, where synthetic biology is being employed for drug discovery
To gain an appreciation for the scope of this difference, just imagine that the entire array of life on the planet was increased eightfold. If you thought those freakish-looking deep sea fish dredged up by ocean vessels looked alien, those are practically our brothers and sisters compared with an organism that would employ a six-letter DNA code.
While the potential benefits to humanity and indeed the earth’s ecosystem are enormous, the dangers are equally staggering. On one hand, earth is flirting with its sixth extinction event, and an expanded genetic code has the potential to greatly revitalize the store of diversity found across on the globe. On the other side of the equation, these new hybrid species could have the effect that many non-native organisms often do when introduced to a new eco-system, obliterating the indigenous life forms.
While the scientists involved promise they are taking adequate measures to ensure these new organisms don’t break out of the lab and run amok, it’s always possible they will evolve some means for escaping their environmental confines and colonize new and uncharted territory. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened, just look at the emergence of one biped ape out of Africa.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hidden Wiki

Welcome to The Hidden WikiNew hidden wiki url 2015 http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion Add it to bookmarks and spread it!!!
Editor's picks Bored? Pick a random page from the article index and replace one of these slots with it.
The Matrix - Very nice to read. How to Exit the Matrix - Learn how to Protect yourself and your rights, online and off. Verifying PGP signatures - A short and simple how-to guide. In Praise Of Hawala - Anonymous informal value transfer system. Volunteer Here are five different things that you can help us out with.
Plunder other hidden service lists for links and place them here! File the SnapBBSIndex links wherever they go. Set external links to HTTPS where available, good certificate, and same content. Care to start recording onionland's history? Check out Onionland's Museum Perform Dead Services Duties. Introduction PointsAhmia.fi - Clearnet search engine for Tor Hidden Services (allows you to add new sites to its database). DuckDuckGo - A Hidden S…

fix idm integration on chrome

Chrome Browser IntegrationI do not see IDM extension in Chrome extensions list. How can I install it? 
How to configure IDM extension for Chrome?Please note that all IDM extensions that can be found in Google Store are fake and should not be used. You need to install IDM extension manually from IDM installation folder. Read in step 2 how to do it.

1. Please update IDM to the latest version by using "IDM Help->Check for updates..." menu item

2. I don't see "IDM Integration module" extension in the list of extensions in Chrome. How can I install it?

Press on Chrome menu (arrow 1 on the image), select "Settings" menu item (arrow 2 on the image) and then select "Extensions" tab (arrow 3 on the image). After this open IDM installation folder ("C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Download Manager" by default, arrow 4 on the image) and drag and drop "IDMGCExt.crx" (arrow 5 on the image) file into "Extensions" page opened in…

Explainer: The nico-teen brain

Explainer: The nico-teen brain The adolescent brain is especially vulnerable to the addictive effects of nicotine BY  TERESA SHIPLEY FELDHAUSEN 7:00AM, AUGUST 19, 2015 Nicotine (black triangle towards center left) tricks the nerve cell (neuron) into sending a message to release more dopamine (yellow dots). Those molecules enter the space (synapse) between one nerve cell and the next. When they get picked up by neighboring cells, this gives users a feel-good high. It also creates the risk of addiction and other health problems.  EMail Print Twitter Facebook Reddit Google+ NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DRUG ABUSE, ADAPTED BY J. HIRSHFELD Nicotine is the addictive chemical in tobacco smoke and e-cigarette vapors. And doctors say the teenage brain is no place for it to end up. Nicotine can reach the brain within seven seconds of puffing on a cigar, hookah, cigarette or electronic cigarette.
The area of the brain responsible for emotions and controlling our wild impulses is known as the prefrontal c…