Scientists Produced The World’s First Artificial Organism Using Synthetic DNA Structure

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A team of researchers has managed to create the first living organism with a completely synthetic DNA structure. The organism is a modified version of a bacteria which is usually encountered in the human digestive system, but unlike the original version, it can survive with the use of simplified genetic instructions set.

The successful development of this organism proves that life can survive with a limited genetic code, marking a huge milestone in the quest to develop customized organisms which can be used to deliver drugs or increase the resistance to a particular virus.

The organism is the result of a two-year project coordinated by researchers from Cambridge University. The scientists used advanced molecular biology techniques to access, read, and recode the DNA structure of a well-known bacteria called Escherichia Coli (also known as E Coli). The data obtained from this process was used to create cells which carry a synthesized version of the genome.

Researchers created the first fully artificial organism using synthetic DNA structure

Even though it contains the miniature 4m base pars, the artificial genome is quite complicated. If the units of the genetic code, which contains the letters C, T, A, G, were to print, no less than 970 A4 pages would be required to complete the task. When the project began, the experts didn’t know if such a goal could is completed since major alterations were needed to make the artificial genome functional.

Genetic instructions stored within DNA are an essential part of the development and functioning of a cell. For example, if a cell requires more protein during the early stages, it will access the DNA which contains relevant information. DNA patterns are organized and read in the form of codons, which consist of associations of three letters, like TCA or TCG.

More than 18,000 edits were needed before the team managed to completely replace a specific codon with one that can perform the same role. The results of the project were published in a peer-reviewed journal.