Science News December 2017

Design your own organism, new genetic code bases made

Elementary genetics: The genetic code contains four bases which pair up (C:T, A:G) and using these, every living organism has been made. But imagine there was a new genetic code. New organisms could be designed, never seen before on our planet. Crazy idea? Stuff of science fiction?

Science fiction is becoming closer to reality. Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in the USA have made two new bases that they have called ‘X’ and ‘Y’. In 2014, a new bacterium was made which contained these new bases, but they were lost over time as the bacteria replicated. That problem has now been overcome. Wow! The potential of this technology is out of this world, literally. One potential area is in making unique organisms that can generate new antibiotics, a very urgent problem. What organism would you design if you had a new genetic code? What problem would you try to solve? Now is your chance. Let us know your thoughts – best ideas will be published here.

Read more at : A semisynthetic organism engineered for the stable expansion of the genetic alphabet Zhang et al, PNAS. Published online January 23 2017 doi:10.1073/pnas.1616443114

Comments are closed