Friday, March 28, 2014

LIFE AS WE GROW IT

For better or for worse, scientists keep on playing god.

A breakthrough in synthetic biology means man is that much closer to creating artificial life.

An international team of scientists have inserted a custom-built chromosome into brewer's yeast to create a life form  that also passes down its man-made genes to its offspring!

Scientists have made chromosomes for bacterias and viruses  but this is a first for eukaryotic chromosomes found in plants, animals and humans.

It involved stitching together 273,871 individual building blocks of DNA – the nucleotide bases of the yeast’s genes – in the right order, and removing about 50,000 repeating sequences of the chromosome that were considered redundant.

I do not know if this successful example of biological reveres engineering is exciting or scarey.   How long until we are building living machines like Vorlon technology and Cylons?

Among the potential positive applications of bioengineered microorganisms  include pharmaceuticals production, detection toxic chemicals, breaking down pollutants, destroying  cancer cells and even energy sources.

However, a life form that can hand pass down its man made genes its offspring is unnerving. Does this mean they are self replicating and capable of evolution? What are the risks? Can we even anticipate the risks?  

The perils and possibilities are staggering.




No comments: