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Biotech Science

Evolution Machine Accelerates Genetic Engineering 161

chrb writes "New Scientist has an article about the Evolution Machine — a device which can accelerate directed artificial evolution to discover desirable DNA changes in days rather than years. One of the aims of these researchers is to create an organism that is genetically immune to all viruses."
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Evolution Machine Accelerates Genetic Engineering

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  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @12:51PM (#36642102)
    Actually, what they (Church and Jacobsen) are proposing, long term, is to create bacteria/cells/whatever that use a different DNA coding -- meaning they wouldn't be able to exchange DNA with anything that uses "natural" DNA coding, meaning anything already alive, even viruses. Basically a built-in firewall to prevent cross-contamination in either direction. Pretty ingenious, really. If you look at the "Changing the genetic code" diagram here [] you'll get the idea. Of course, I suspect we'd find that we'd soon get new viruses that also used this new coding, and contaminated these new cell lines.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 02, 2011 @12:56PM (#36642122)

    How do Gödel's incompleteness theorems apply to creating an organism immune to all viruses?

    Gödel's incompleteness theorem states, in relevant part, that no Slashdot discussion is complete without someone vaguely referring to a theory they know little to nothing about in the desperate hope of getting modded up.

    (Thanks in advance for the answer).

    No problem.

  • by V-similitude ( 2186590 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @05:22PM (#36643622)

    But viruses are already mostly immune to other viruses. Most (or all?) antivirals try to stop the virus from either entering or reproducing in the host cell; not to outright kill the virus If the virus itself doesn't use standard DNA/RNA replication, it's not going to be able to replicate in a normal host cell, so it would be pretty much harmless (unless you also had an organism that used that type of replication).

    And a bacteria-like organism that uses a new type of replication, while it could be as deadly as any current bacteria, it's not going to be particularly more immune to antibacterial drugs, given that these don't usually work by interacting directly with the bacteria's RNA. (Nor do we ever, that I know of, send in viruses to attack bacteria . . .)

    The real fear would be that they accidentally evolve a new bacteria that has all sorts of immunities to our various anti-bacterial drugs, regardless of its method of replication.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner