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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Scientists have learned how to program GM bacteria

Engineers from mit have developed a language for DNA programming, which will allow people without extensive knowledge of biology to create bacteria with the desired properties. Article with the results published in the leading scientific journal Science.

Their mission: to provide convenient tools for the construction of a biological analogue of logical circuits inside living cells. Every such scheme, which consists of DNA components can be placed in bacteria to give them the ability to react to certain environmental conditions.

First, the user, as in other programming languages, needs to write a text code that compiles, that is translates the language of nucleic acids. The text describes the logical components that are needed to perform the desired function, and the compiler selects the appropriate DNA molecules. According to scientists, this approach will allow us to design a bacterial cell capable of producing cancer drugs, and also the yeast to stop the fermentation process, if there are too many toxic products.

Over the last decade, biologists and engineers have developed many genetic devices: sensors, memory, biological clocks, and many others. All of them can be combined in various schemes to improve the functions within cells or even add new ones. Developed by scientists at the language of DNA programming allows you to create such schemes even for non-special education.

At the heart of the Verilog language is the programming environment for computer chips. To obtain the version of cells, engineers have created computational elements and biological sensors that can be coded by DNA. The sensors may be sensitive to various substances like oxygen or glucose, as well as to light, temperature or pH environment.

Scientists have managed to create 60 circuits with different functions, with 45 of them correctly already in the first test. One of the schemes is the largest artificial biological circuits that includes 12 thousands of paired bases in the DNA.

The researchers plan to improve the language, to obtain bacteria that could help a person to digest lactose, to live in plant roots and to produce an insecticide if plants are attacked by pests, and many other useful organisms.

Last year the American Management on control of quality of foodstuff and medicines for the first time approved the use in food of genetically modified salmon. Also considering the approved sales of mosquitoes that are vectors of dangerous tropical diseases.

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