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E coli with synthetic DNA

Scientists successfully create first living organism with synthetic DNA

By the earnest effort of scientists, the world’s first ever living organism with completely synthetic DNA has been created. The ambitious project finally proved that life can exist in certain controlled conditions. This can be used to make drugs such as insulin for diabetes and other medical compounds for multiple sclerosis, heart attacks and eye diseases.

Since the inception of heredity and evolution, life on earth shares a common code of resemblance that’s called DNA. The four nucleic acid letters of adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine– or A, C, G and T can be strung into 64 combinations of 3 letters called codons.

Nearly, in all life forms from jellyfish to humans, there are 64 codons. But many of them do the same job. In total, 20 amino acids which are natural are synthesised by 61 codons, which can be binded together like a necklace. Three more codons are in effect stop signs. They inform the cell when the protein is done like a full stop mark marking the ending of a sentence.

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The Laboratory of Molecular Biology of Medical Research Council in Cambridge, read and redesigned the DNA of the bacterium E.Coli. Experts were in a fix whether it would be possible or not. The Cambridge team worked hard to redesign the E.coli genome by going through its DNA while working on a computer. Scientists made a whopping 18000 edits to the DNA, stitched the whole DNA together and exchanged it with the original DNA of the bacteria. The result was a microbe with a completely synthetic and radically altered DNA code known as SYN61. The bug was showing unusual characteristics such as a little longer than normal while showing slower growth.

This edited variation SYN61 isn’t quite a red alert for its ancestors as the cells were a touch longer and were virus resistant. Now, it can be thought that how it would act as a resistance to a virus. The answer is simple, as their DNA is different, invading viruses will struggle to spread inside them making them virus resistant.

Efforts were made earlier too like the bug Mycoplasma Mycoides but it has smaller genome than E Coli and was also not redesigned. But as “records are made to be broken” and in that sense, other researchers are persistently working on bacterial genomes with more coding changes.

Finally, scientists have taken the field of synthetic genomes to a new level by building the largest ever synthetic genome to date. It is a landmark step of completely novel life form. The invention of this remarkable life will be a milestone in the history of heredity and evolution.

Would you like to get your gene edited and get some changes in your body? Tell us what changes would you like to get with a quick and short comment.

About the author: Kalpit Veerwal
Kalpit Veerwal is a second year Computer Science undergraduate at IIT Bombay. He is well known for being the only person to score 360/360 in JEE (Main). He is registered in the Limca Book of Records for the same. A blogger in his free time, he has also secured top ranks in various exams held in India and the world.

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