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Science & Technology

Scientists create 'alien' organism in a lab

By T.K. Randall
May 8, 2014 · Comment icon 26 comments

The microbe's DNA differs from that of other life forms. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Christoph Bock
The first ever 'semi-synthetic' micro-organism is very different from all other life on Earth.
While very much terrestrial in origin, the genetically modified microbe possesses a unique genetic code thanks to the addition of an extra artificial piece of DNA that makes it completely unlike anything else alive.

Created from an E. coli bacterium, the micro-organism is potentially the first step towards a future in which microbial life-forms can be custom-built to possess key medical or industrial properties. While currently capable of replicating and passing on its new genetic information, the microbe has not yet been able to use it to produce any novel proteins.
"In principle, we could encode new proteins made from new, unnatural amino acids, which would give us greater power than ever to tailor protein therapeutics and diagnostics and laboratory reagents to have desired functions," said Professor Floyd Romesberg.

"Other applications, such as nanomaterials, are also possible."

Source: Independent | Comments (26)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #17 Posted by toast 10 years ago
What's the purpose of genetically modifying bacteria for thrills, because we don't know what we're doing...playing "god" is a slippery slope for scientists. I would not support creating "superbugs" which can pose harm to humanity when it gets released to the world. One of the, how do you call it misleadingly "thrills" but I call it applied science, has lead to mass production of human insulin originated from insulin of animal origin, using genetic modified E.Coli bacteria. Your "superbug" paranoia is C-movie stuff and unobjective. For example of a scientific mistake: African "killer" bees spre... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by cyclopes500 10 years ago
This is probably just the stuff the US government's decided to allow the civilians to know about. I dread to think what their "advanced" muck's like.
Comment icon #19 Posted by White Crane Feather 10 years ago
Mary Shelly wrote about this I think.
Comment icon #20 Posted by White Crane Feather 10 years ago
And here we go again with all the "science is scary" people. Na we shouldn't worry about a thing.
Comment icon #21 Posted by XenoFish 10 years ago
The first ever 'semi-synthetic' micro-organism is very different from all other life on Earth. Isn't this how most horror movies start? Now the question is "what's the point?". If they engineer a life form that can turn a harsh planetary environment into a livable one. Then I'm all for that. Something like turning Mars into a lush green planet.
Comment icon #22 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 10 years ago
Na we shouldn't worry about a thing. And yet no mention of nuclear energy nor medicine. Just focus on the negative and hope that scary science goes away.
Comment icon #23 Posted by AZDZ 10 years ago
Oh god, here comes Planet Of The Apes. Na we shouldn't worry about a thing. Come on, forgetaboutit. It's Friday! [media=]
Comment icon #24 Posted by taniwha 10 years ago
Come on, forgetaboutit. It's Friday! Your song is eerily similar to I am Legend, you know, the movie where the synthetic bug wipes out humanity?
Comment icon #25 Posted by qxcontinuum 10 years ago
And i bet it will escape somehow out in the real world , becoming after a quick evolution to some powerful superior being destroying humans , making place to a new superior race.
Comment icon #26 Posted by Mr Supertypo 10 years ago
you people should stop watching movies, cartoons and playing videogames....obviously you cant handle them


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