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Biotech Science

Photoshop for DNA 208

pafischer writes "Forbes is reporting on a Biotech startup company trying to make DNA manipulation as easy as Photoshop. From the article: 'The goal is to move from having to merely tweak the proteins that are used as biotech drugs to being able to design them, even taking material from multiple organisms and using them to create new, functional genes.'"
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Photoshop for DNA

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  • Oh No! (Score:5, Funny)

    by justforaday ( 560408 ) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @10:56AM (#12704694)
    Judging from the quality of some of the Photoshopped images I've seen out there, I really don't want to see what people will create with this...
    • Re:Oh No! (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gadgetfreak ( 97865 )
      You'll just get people having a competition for who can manipulate the most amusing biological result.

      Although I can't say that was much different than the goals of my friends in high school bio class.

    • Certainly nothing as good as the DNA sequence I will make with MS Paint........
    • Re:Oh No! (Score:3, Funny)

      by MikeDX ( 560598 ) *
      DNA?? What on earth does the National Dyxlesia Association have to do with Photoshop???
    • "Judging from the quality of some of the Photoshopped images I've seen out there, I really don't want to see what people will create with this..."

      And with the clone tool I made... a monkey with four asses. Huh.
      • Slightly OT, but one of my favorite pinball machines is the South Park machine. One of the game objectives is to hit targets to increase your number of asses on your monkey. Each time you hit the target in the bonus phase, the machine cries out "[x] ASS MONKEY"

        Great Game.

  • if this is true then they're probably gonna need this neat photoshop plugin i just found...

    Plugin name: DNA (deoxyribose nucleic acid): "The genetic material of inheritance, undoubtedly has the most well-known molecular structure of all time. This tutorial describes how to make it."

    http://www.nextdesigns.net/modules.php?name=Photo s hop_Tutorials&file=dna [nextdesigns.net]
  • Plugins! (Score:4, Funny)

    by jolyonr ( 560227 ) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @10:57AM (#12704704) Homepage
    It's going to be fun writing plugins for this!

    Ultra-Sharp-Teeth Plugin

    Breathe Underwater Plugin

    Bigger Breasts Plugin

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 02, 2005 @10:58AM (#12704711)
    that those tards at fark don't get ahold of this program.
  • Mark me as a FOB (Fan of Bill), but kudos to him and his foundation for their contribution to science....
    • That'd be even worse -- MSPaint for DNA... *shudder*
    • Mark me as a FOB (Fan of Bill), but kudos to him and his foundation for their contribution to science...

      Of course, he has a motive. He's donating money to help develop a user-friendly gene manipulation tool in hopes that it will cut into the market of the Open Source gene manipulation. Then, when people become dependent on the new gene manipulation, Microsoft will buy the company and merge it with their next version of windows, leaving geeks as the only ones doing gene manipulation the old way (by hand
    • For all Microsoft's unethical business behaviour, that foundation does a hell of a lot of good, and Bill should be given credit for it. He's far more generous than a lot of the super-rich.
      • I don't know...a lot of the super-super rich are very generous.

        It's been that way since the first super-super rich.

        Ever heard of Carnagie Melon university? Or Carnagie hall? Vanderbilt? And yet these men were called robber barons.

        The list of generous donations goes on and on for the super-rich.

        It's still not as big a sacrifice as me donating $5 to a local charity.

        Also, does the good they do outweigh the harm they do to society? Doubtful. It's equally doubtful for most super-rich men. I think it's
        • Also, does the good they do outweigh the harm they do to society? Doubtful. It's equally doubtful for most super-rich men. I think it's a way to ease their conscience about all the horrible things they've done.

          I'd be interested to hear how you think Microsoft's antitrust violations are more significant than the hundreds of millions of dollars the B&M Gates foundation donates to AIDS research, education, health initiatives, and technology.

          I mean, I'm sure you hate Bill with a passion, but the causes t
  • by geoffspear ( 692508 ) * on Thursday June 02, 2005 @10:59AM (#12704725) Homepage
    The title of the linked article is the only part that even mentions Photoshop. Nowhere in the article does anyone claim that the process would be as easy as using Photoshop, or any other software programming.

    They do compare the advance in genetic manipulation to the difference between editing with Wite-Out and editing with a word processor, but that's what we call an analogy. They're not claiming that producing genes would be something anyone with no training can do with their home computer.

    • Curses! My plans for creating a race of radioactive supermen to conquer the world are foiled again.

      I'll get you next time, Mister Spear!!!

      *escapes in emergency hovercraft*
    • What the company seems to do is this:

      Currently, it's easy to 1) amplify large chunks of DNA verbatim and 2) change individual nucleotides. What is difficult is making large blocks of novel or heavily modified sequence, as it's expensive or impossible to synthesize them from nucleotides. Codon Devices seems to have a way to generate large chunks of customized sequence.

      How important that turns out to be, we'll see, but the company does have some really smart people behind it. Anyway, that's how I understand

      • Being able to make long synthetic DNA sequences would be immensely valuable. Right now practicality limits synthtic DNA to less than 100 bases. Genes are kilobases long even in bacteria. You need megabases for animals if you want to keep the introns intact (scary - a single animal gene can approach an entire bacterial genome in length).

        What the article lacks is one critical detail - how exactly they plan on doing all this.

        Imagine I started a new company designed to revolutionize computing, pointing out
  • So this is how they framed OJ with all that DNA "evidence".
  • The first time I read
    even taking material from multiple organisms and using them to create new, functional genes.

    I thought, "what do multiple orgasms have to do with DNA research?"

  • Gimp (Score:5, Funny)

    by suso ( 153703 ) * on Thursday June 02, 2005 @11:02AM (#12704753) Homepage Journal
    How about making it as easy as Gimp instead. I like the interface better.

  • We'll make a GIMP for DNA, and rule the world! It'll run on more platforms too: all variants of primates, birds, farm animals, and Slashdot nerds. :)
  • "multiple organisms"

    I almost had a blockbusters [ukgameshows.com] moment there...

    What a suprise they removed the dumbass human-check. a-holes. Finished reading "Dumb ideas for dummies" have you?
  • designer genes.
  • DNA manipulation as easy as Photoshop Have these peoples even tried Photoshop recently?
  • Torres was trying to remove the brow ridges from her fetus using something like that.
  • They are writing a program to compute the results of manipulating genes. How does that relate to photoshop, other than there will probably be a picture you edit using your mouse. That is like saying Autocad and Photoshop are the same since you are creating pretty pictures in both.

    If they pull this off, it has way more to do with biology and math than the interface they use. Not to mention that even if this application simulates gene manipulation, they will still have to do the same thing by hand to tes
  • I can't begin to imagine the DNAShop contests that will happen on Fark [fark.com] or Something Awful [somethingawful.com]...
    • I can't begin to imagine the DNAShop contests that will happen on Fark or Something Awful...
      The latter site is going to be renamed "Someone Awful" to fit the new artistic direction.
  • onslaught of fake nude DNA ensues.
  • ...Imagine if you could photochop your DNA.

    X-ray vision here I come!!!
  • And as OS races to catch up with this new Photoshop feature can you imagine some of the freaks that will be created at people struggle with the GIMPs interface. Now I understand why they called it gimp.
  • Wake me when they've got it so it's as easy as Blender.
  • A lot of people have photoshop... doesn't mean they know how to use it properly!
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @11:19AM (#12704939)
    Designing DNA to create a given protein is no big deal. The hardest problem is figuring out how the new gene/protein will act inside the organism. Biological systems don't have a nice layered OSI model for what connects to what -- its like nearly everything is a global-accessible variable so side-effects are a real problem. New drugs require huge amounts of R&D in the testing phase, not the synthesis phase.

    I'd be more impressed if someone created an accurate in silico system for testing new drugs, rather than just designing new DNA sequences that MIGHT make useful new proteins that MIGHT make a useful new drug.
    • If you could do that the next step would be using genetic algorithms. You just plug in what you want to happen and then let the computer run test after test.
      could get freaking scary.
    • Designing DNA to create a given protein sequence is no big deal. Designing a new sequence to yield a desired structure is a huge problem, which has only be solved for special cases - google the "protein folding problem". Designing a structure with a desired function is practically impossible at the current level of theoretical knowledge.
      If we have solved all of that, then we might think about interactions in the organism. Nearly no drug design is done by rational approaches today, it is all mass screening.
  • Other than being a computer application in which you can "do things" the choice of Photoshop as the analogous software tool seems to be picked entirely at random, and a lazy choice.

    A more appropriate pick would probably been from under the CAD umbrella, or string manipulation tools like lex.

    Hell, maybe even:

    vi dna.txt

  • Is editing genes something we want to make easier? I shudder to think of do-it-yourself genetic engineering kits.
    • Don't worry too much. They'll get shut down by Homeland Security as soon as it becomes obvious that terrorists could splice'n'dice some *really* nasty bugs. Not just biological warfare, either. Imagine someone cooking up an organism that craps plastic explosive... Drop that in a bag of sugar along with a bug that decomposes exothermically after a predetermined time. Hmmm.... Could bake up some Combat Muffins (apologies to pterry). Good times.

      Better yet, modify human gut bacteria to turn human crap in

  • Guys, with the new GTA:DNA, you can walk up to a sexy celebrity stud and jack their DNA. You too can be a vapid, overpaid prick and have television cameras point at you when you babble senselessly about geopolitical paradigms of which you lack even a basic conceptual understanding!

    Gals, with GTA:DNA, you can walk up to a sexy celebrity starlet and, well, actually, all you can do is find out what they really look like under all that make up, plastic surgery, silicone, botox and advanced composite material

  • I'll wait for the "Easy as GNU/Gimp or GNU/KolourPaint".
  • In fact, a friend of mine did two major variants just this quarter at the Baker labs down the hall, one with a luminescent rocker switch and one with a ligand-activated toggle.

    Just making it all pretty doesn't mean you know what it will do. It's more important to understand how it will work and how the whole chain will be impacted than it does being able to just visualize it.

  • Ain't gonna happen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nanoakron ( 234907 ) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @11:35AM (#12705089)
    Hate to say it, but this sounds like a pipedream. They want to 'take the proteins and tweak them' an dthen have a computer program spit out the DNA required to make that protein.

    Well whoop-de-do. I'd like to make a computer that can generate wormholes. Doesn't mean it's going to happen.

    Firstly, protein modelling is notoriously complex. Remember folding@home? http://folding.stanford.edu/ [stanford.edu]
    That's right - hundreds of thousands of computers cracking the problem of 12 amino acid chains. That's an oligopeptide, sort of like a 'protein lite'. Real proteins are hundreds to thousands of amino acids long.

    IBM's Blue Gene supercomputers were even specifically designed with protein folding simulations in mind - read http://www.research.ibm.com/bluegene/ [ibm.com].

    So this company seems to be doing the following

    1 Come up with nifty, but blindingly obvious, idea
    2 Crack the age-old problem of accurately simulating protein folding
    3 Profit!!!

    It's just that step one is literally so obvious that you could ask a kid. And step 2 is so notoriously complex that I don't expect this company to amount to anything more than a plughole for research grants.

  • There is a better parallel with CAD programs than, with art design tools like Photoshop.

    A better even better parallel could be with languages and toolkits.

    Consider DNA as a binary code
    Consider RNA memory access lines
    Consider Ribosomes as the processing units.

    Let"s add a DNA code assembler and a high level language to design the DNA code, access protocols and interactions vith chemicals input / output.

    Use real cells as factory or use nanotechnology.
  • Are you kidding? This has been shipping with the default load of MovieOS [everything2.com] for YEARS!
  • Now I can photoshop my dreamgirl *for real*

  • You can MAKE the celbrity yourself! For your very own :)
  • in the hands of the wrong person, this allows any idiot to design a better plague. Why do people always see these things in the light of how it will be GOOD and never the downside. Do we really need easier bioterrorism?
    • Like most advances in biotechnology, "any idiot" has no hope of using the technique (whatever the hell it actually is). Heck, half the molecular biologists out there will be incapable of using it properly if it's anything like other research tools.

      And one more thing... this is all expensive. Very, very expensive. Even a basic (and I mean BASIC, as in you could maybe do three experiments) molecular bio lab starts at many tens of thousands of dollars. That's with teaching grade supplies and equipment, no
      • BUT all those people bent on doing it will have that much easier a time as well. Terrorists seem to be well funded and this lowers the bar from the person needed being a one of a kind researcher to a one in a million person. it DOES make it more achieveable
  • The first thing I thought of is how this might affect DNA used in criminal cases. If it becomes simple to manipulate DNA, would it be possible for a forensic analyst to, say, grease the wheels a bit on finding the "right" DNA on a particular item? It seems that if the DNA on an object were manipulated to mirror another's DNA, the switch wouldn't be so easily traceable. Then again, the analyist could always clean the item and tamper with it in a variety of other ways too.
  • Great, now I can be one of those deep-sea fangly fish with a party deck on the back ... or Sterance.
  • Thank goodness for the Edit/Undo button.
  • Now we can look forward to FARK Gene Manipulation contests. How will they link the NSFW entries?
  • DNAhack.Com [dnahack.com] is the website for amateur genetic engineering. This would be great for that!
  • Unless all they plan to produce is pretty pictures of DNA... I wonder if it will incorporate the physical and chemical properties of the agents or will they just be able to string together whatever sequences they want?
  • It gives a whole new meaning to the term "to photoshop a moustache on a woman's face".

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.