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Biotech

Scientists Create Bacteria With Expanded DNA Code 85

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-could-go-wrong? dept.
perryizgr8 (1370173) writes "Biologists have managed to create a bacteria with DNA made of the usual A-T, C-G plus an artificial third base pair, thus encoding more data in DNA. From the article: 'The scientists behind the work at the Scripps Research Institute have already formed a company to try to use the technique to develop new antibiotics, vaccines and other products, though a lot more work needs to be done before this is practical. The work also gives some support to the concept that life can exist elsewhere in the universe using genetics different from those on Earth. “This is the first time that you have had a living cell manage an alien genetic alphabet,” said Steven A. Benner, a researcher in the field at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Fla., who was not involved in the new work.'"
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Scientists Create Bacteria With Expanded DNA Code

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  • Obligatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by Circlotron (764156) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:02PM (#46955675)
    I for one, welcome our new bacteria overlords.
    • Congratulations for the first first post in stereo!
    • by umghhh (965931)
      does this have anything to do with IQ strengthening gene?
    • To Quote a major cultural influence and perhaps some of the greatest minds of our time:

      "History shows again and again how nature points out the follies of man..... GODZILLA!" - Blue Oyster Cult
  • I, for one, welcome our new alien-genetic infections.
    • Congratulations to the first first post in stereo!
    • by kheldan (1460303)
      ..yeah, unfortunately, this.
      I harp on Monsanto quite a bit for their rushing inadequately-tested GMO shit to market, but them splicing insect DNA into tomatoes is amateur night/grade school science fair-level compared to what they'll do to life on Earth when they start creating shit from scratch using what is for all intents and purposes alien DNA.
      • If you're going to moan and groan about GMO food, at least learn what you're moaning and groaning about. Nobody anywhere ever splices insect DNA, or DNA from any other species for that matter, into any food that lands on your plate. Those stories you hear the contrary are one of three things:

        1) A sci-fi movie
        2) An urban myth
        3) Experimentation to better understand genetics

        The third item has never made it to your dinner plate. Concepts derived from it may have, but the actual act of copying genes from one spe

  • None of which I am in position or inclination to refute, seeing how we can't program the hardware we make ourselves all that great...

    • by sinij (911942)
      It compiled! If you still don't like it you can code the god damned A-T, C-G plus an artificial third base pair DNA yourself!
      • If you can code two extra genes, dozens, even millions more aren't either untenable or impossible. Artificial base pairs may end up becoming great suites and symphonies of behavior.

        Alternately, bio-engineering becomes the discipline where YOU're the actual compiler.

        make me

        • God@Multiverse:~/$ cd /Universe_Aleph001/Milky_way/Sol/Earth

          God@Multiverse:~ /Universe_Aleph001/Milky_way/Sol/Earth$ make postbigbang

          God@Multiverse:~ /Universe_Aleph001/Milky_way/Sol/Earth$ you need to be root to perform this command

          God@Multiverse:~ /Universe_Aleph001/Milky_way/Sol/Earth$ sudo make postbigbang

          God@Multiverse:~ /Universe_Aleph001/Milky_way/Sol/Earth# warning: overriding recipe for target 'postbigbang'

    • From TFA:

      Dr. Romesberg dismissed concern that novel organisms would run amok and cause harm, saying the technique was safe because the synthetic nucleotides were fed to the bacteria. Should the bacteria escape into the environment or enter someone’s body, they would not be able to obtain the needed synthetic material and would either die or revert to using only natural DNA.

      “This could never infect something,” he said. That is one reason the company he co-founded, Synthorx, is looking at using the technique to grow viruses or bacteria to be used as live vaccines. Once in the bloodstream, they would conceivably induce an immune response but not be able to reproduce.

      Sorry to say, but I think the apocalypse has been postponed yet again.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      You mean "cue"?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You mean "cue"?

        No, don't presume he is uneducated. He literally wants people to make a list of salient apocalyptic predictions for him.

  • “This is the first time that you have had a living cell manage an alien genetic alphabet,” said Steven A. Benner, a researcher in the field at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Fla., who was not involved in the new work, and who is so totally not bitter about that.'"
  • 'The scientists behind the work at the Scripps Research Institute have already formed a company to try to use the technique to develop new antibiotics, vaccines and other products.'

    Step 1: Use public funds to do innovative research into expanding the genetic code in microbes.

    Step 2: Patent everything to make sure no one else can build on your discoveries.

    Step 3: Create a company that promises all the keywords for a biotech e.g. antibiotics, vaccines, etc.

    Step 4: Get bought [bloomberg.com] out [nytimes.com]

    Step 5: ? Profit was Step 4.

    Remember when science was about discovery and standing on the shoulders of giants [wikipedia.org]?

    • You can't patent things invented from government research money. The whole point is that other people *can* build on your discoveries.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kwyjibo87 (2792329)

        You can't patent things invented from government research money. The whole point is that other people *can* build on your discoveries.

        Wrong. [wikipedia.org]

        The key change made by Bayh-Dole was in ownership of inventions made with federal funding. Before the Bayh–Dole Act, federal research funding contracts and grants obligated inventors (where ever they worked) to assign inventions they made using federal funding to the federal government. Bayh-Dole permits a university, small business, or non-profit institution to elect to pursue ownership of an invention in preference to the government.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You *can*. Getting NIH to spend money on the patent process is awkward, even if you want to spend the money yourself to get the patent on your resume. I had grounds for *three* hardware patents from work I did, but couldn't get my lab to even allow me to pay for the patent process. We did publish the work, so that it established "prior art" in cae anyone wanted to argue about it. And the designs are in use around the world.

  • I dug down to the source material because I wanted to see if they just managed to put this in the DNA or if it actually passes it down and it does.

    But "alien" = no

    From the article:

    "the unnatural nucleoside triphosphates must be available inside the cell; endogenous polymerases must be able to use the unnatural triphosphates to faithfully replicate DNA containing the UBP within the complex cellular milieu; and finally, the UBP must be stable in the presence of pathways that maintain the integrity of DN
    • by dave420 (699308)
      "Alien" can mean many things, "foreign" and "unknown" are two which aptly describe a base-pair not found in nature.
    • In my comment, I used the term "alien" in the article's sense of "genetics different from anything found on Earth". Like calling any ethnic food by the ethnic-country name even though the restaurant serving them is in NYC and all of the ingredients came from the US.
  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:47PM (#46955913)

    So does this bacteria grown into a supermodel with orange hair?

    • by wasteoid (1897370)
      Yes, but he's a dude.
    • by Type44Q (1233630)

      So does this bacteria grown into a supermodel with orange hair?

      "So does this bacteria grow into a supermodel with orange hair who looks like a dude and has no tits? ('Cause, you know, we all hate tits...)

      FTFY

      /sarc :p

  • by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:55PM (#46955953)

    In a hundred years, there will be nothing but abandoned cities under flood waters. Humans and many other animals will be dead. But there will be some bacteria with this extra base pair.

    In a hundred million years, there will be no other evidence we were even here. Perhaps a future intelligent species will look back and wonder why some bacteria has more DNA than other life. They will make many interesting theories. Some will theorize that a previous intelligent species created the third base pair. And those that do will be called crackpots.

    • by Jesrad (716567)

      In a hundred years, bigsexyjoeJr will be ranting on ./v3 how in a hundred years the world will be nothing but abandoned cities encased in ice with no life left anywhere.

    • by Dasher42 (514179)

      In a hundred years, there will be nothing but abandoned cities under flood waters. Humans and many other animals will be dead. But there will be some bacteria with this extra base pair.

      That would be one interesting outcome - but in order to replicate, the bacteria needs these proteins that it won't get in nature. Take it outside the lab, and it won't last long. That has intriguing implications.

    • In a hundred years, there will be nothing but abandoned cities under flood waters.

      You seem unaware that even the worst-case forecasts for AGW don't include enough sea-level rise to do this.

      Humans and many other animals will be dead

      You also seem unaware that even the worst-case for AGW don't include human extinction either....

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      "In a hundred years, there will be nothing but abandoned cities under flood waters" No in the worst case many cities will not have any issues with flooding. Think Denver, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Phoenix, and so on, none are going to flood. ."Humans and many other animals will be dead." Nope that is extremely unlikely. Not impossible but I super unlikely.
      "But there will be some bacteria with this extra base pair." Maybe but again not likely.
      In other words wll in to crazy.

  • by hoggy (10971) on Friday May 09, 2014 @03:13AM (#46957139) Journal

    Dr. Romesberg dismissed concern that novel organisms would run amok and cause harm, saying the technique was safe because the synthetic nucleotides were fed to the bacteria. Should the bacteria escape into the environment or enter someone’s body, they would not be able to obtain the needed synthetic material and would either die or revert to using only natural DNA.

    Yeah, and we all know how well that worked out with the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.

    Thanks, Obama!

    • I agree. How did the life on earth develop with very little amino acids available? It happened slowly, over time. A puddle of this bacteria could conceivably grow, absorbing and utilising the needed elements from rocks around the place. That's what life does. Yeah, millions of years, but don't say this can be 100% controlled. Not that I'm concerned either.
      • Well bacteria DO evolve. We can watch it happen in petri dishes, apply a bit of antibiotic every day, at first only a few colonies will survive but then you'll get a carpet of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

        All it takes is the one bacteria who figures out how to synthesize the new protiens and it could go viral (pardon the pun).

        Of course, we don't know what would happen. It could cause the end of civilization, or it could just be that DNA is taught as having "an extra base pair in some bacteria do to the o

        • by sudon't (580652)

          Kudzu. Just sayin'. And for a novel lifeform, the whole World is its oyster, (or Zebra Mussel), since it would essentially be an invasive species everywhere in the World. The Law of Unintended Consequences, and all that....

  • Now with 1.58x the data per digit!
    • Binary is base 2 (0,1), DNA is base 4 (A,T,G,C), and this new version would be base 6 (A,T,G,C,X,Y). The data storage is astronomically more.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday May 09, 2014 @09:33AM (#46959121)
    This would be most inert DNA.
    • by Goldsmith (561202) on Friday May 09, 2014 @09:44AM (#46959237)

      This is the most insightful comment here.

      This work is part of the Living Foundries program at DARPA (or at least, related to it). There are collaborating labs working on developing ribosomes to interpret new types of DNA, and other groups working on new amino acids to work with those ribosomes. The whole idea is to change what bio-manufacturing (think fermenting) can do, expanding into materials (drugs, fuels...) existing biology can't work with. This whole effort is going to be going on for many more years.

      • by Thagg (9904)

        Actually, yours is by far the most insightful comment. Please mod up!

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