Scientists Create Organism From Artificial DNA

Scientists Create 1st Living Organism From Artificial DNA:

Scientists Create 1st Living Organism From Artificial DNA

Scientists Create 1st Living Organism From Artificial DNA

 

A team of researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, Calif., has created a brand-new bacteria based on a genetic structure found nowhere on Earth.

According to lead researcher Floyd Romesberg, the feat involved artificially engineering a unique combination of DNA material — a combination not found in any living creature — and then successfully inserting it into a living cell that usually contains only natural combinations of DNA.

“Life on Earth in all its diversity is encoded by only two pairs of DNA bases, A-T and C-G,” Romesberg explained in an institute news release. “And what we’ve made is an organism that stably contains those two plus a third, unnatural pair of bases.”

“This shows that other solutions to storing [genetic] information are possible,” he added, “and, of course, takes us closer to an expanded-DNA biology that will have many exciting applications — from new medicines to new kinds of nanotechnology.”

Romesberg and his colleagues discuss their handiwork — funded in part by the U.S. National Institutes of Health — in the May 7 online edition of Nature.

The product of more than 15 years of work, the current effort builds on a proof-of-concept study conducted in 2008. At that time, investigators had shown that hooking up natural and unnatural pairings of DNA was possible in a test-tube setting.

The next challenge was to replicate the process inside a living cell. The cell chosen by the TSRI team was the common E. coli bacterium, and into it they inserted what they considered to be the best unnatural DNA pairing they could construct: a combination of two molecules called “d5SICS” and “dNaM”.

After leaping through a series of highly complex technical problems, the study authors finally managed to pull off their goal: the fashioning on a half-synthetic organism that could actually replicate its unnatural self as long as scientists continuously supplied it with the necessary molecular material.

Romesberg said that, in principle, his team’s high-concept work has a very practical purpose: to gain a “greater power than ever” to fashion new treatments by harnessing the power of genetics.

 

Source: health.usnews.com

3D printed synthetic biological material

Biological material could be 3D printed to create self-healing shoes:

Biological material could be 3D printed to create self-healing shoes

Biological material could be 3D printed to create self-healing shoes

Shoes as we know them are a pretty modern invention, and a lot of research has gone into creating more comfortable, high-performance materials to cover one’s feet. Even the most advanced rubber-soled shoe can’t compare to the concept being proposed by London designer and researcher Shamees Aden. These shoes would be 3D printed from synthetic biological material for the perfect fit, and they could repair themselves overnight.

The process would start with a 3D scan of the wearer’s foot. This would be used to print the “shoe,” which should conform perfectly to all the curves and lines of the scanned appendage. As for the material that it’s being printed with, that’s what makes the idea so intriguing.

Aden is working with Dr. Martin Hanczyc from the University of Southern Denmark. Dr. Hanczyc works with protocells, one of the most basic biological constructs. A protocell is not quite alive — it’s essentially a lipid membrane containing a collection of organic molecules that may have some biological activity. These structures can self assemble under the right circumstances, so there is great interest in the roll these almost-cells could have played in the appearance of life on Earth, a process known as abiogenesis.

protocell

Printing a foot covering out of protocells would allow for precise control of cushioning and support. The shoes could also react to different situations as they come by puffing up in places for added comfort. At the end of the day, the protocell shoe could be soaked in a solution the help the structures repair themselves.

This is obviously still just a concept — we don’t even have industrial scale biological printing. Even when we do, printing a semi-living shoes probably won’t be high on the to-do list.

Genes from roses and celery create superflower

Scientists splice genes from roses and celery to create superflower:

 

Scientists splice genes from roses and celery to create superflower

Scientists splice genes from roses and celery to create superflower

 
 
The idea of offering celery as a Valentine’s Day gift to your loved one instead of chocolate might send the wrong message, but scientists working to improve the rose genome could make the low-calorie stem a popular Feb. 14 present after all. 
 
It turns out that one particular gene from celery — the one that controls the enzyme mannitol dehydrogenase — greatly improves the life and quality of rose petals when that gene is spliced into the rose genome. So in an effort to help you get more value from your Valentine’s Day gifts, North Carolina State horticultural scientists Dr. John Dole and Dr. John Williamson are leading an effort to insert that gene into roses to create a new superflower less prone to wilt and more resistant to disease, according to PhysOrg.com. 
 
“This gene is naturally found in many plants, but it’s uncertain whether the rose already has it,” said Williamson. “If it does, it doesn’t produce enough enzyme to help the plant fight against petal blight.”
 
Petal blight, or botrytis, is a common post-harvest disease in roses that produces wilty, mushy petals. It’s caused by invading fungal pathogens that break down the flower’s defenses by producing a sugar alcohol called mannitol. Plants that produce enough mannitol dehydrogenase enzyme, like celery, can better break down this sugar alcohol and thus maintain their form for longer.
 
Roses that contain the celery gene don’t smell any different than normal roses, according to the N.C. State researchers. The only noticeable difference between normal roses and these superflowers should be their vase life.
 
The research is part of a larger effort by Dole and Williamson to build a better rose. Besides implanting the celery gene, the researchers are also examining the types of sugars best suited for mixture with water to keep the plants thriving after they’ve been harvested. They are even studying how variance in water quality across the country affects the life expectancy of cut roses.
 
The ultimate goal, according to Dole, is to get roses to survive for up to three to four weeks after they’ve been harvested. If they succeed, before long your loved one may be able to cherish her Valentine’s Day gift well into spring.

Drugs Create Super-Soldier

5 Drugs Used to Create a Super-Soldier:

 

5 Drugs Used to Create a Super-Soldier

5 Drugs Used to Create a Super-Soldier

Even though Super-Soldiers might sound like a bad narrative from a sci-fi film, they are more real than ever in a world obsessed with technological and biological advancement. Forget about crazy scientists in abandoned castlesthese drugs are real and they really work too. These drugs aren’t locked away in Area 51 type secret government bases either, a lot of these drugs are actually available right now for anyone to buy.

 

1. XBD173 : Anxiety Killer

Shell shock, post traumatic stress, different names but the same meaning. XBD173 is a drug that can not only eradicate anxiety and fear but it can do it instantly without any side effects or withdrawal symptoms. In total 1 in 8 soldiers, who’ve fought in the Iraq war, suffer from post traumatic stress disorder which is over 10% of the armed forces. Removing anxiety would create fearless and unstoppable soldiers who wouldn’t be affected by any of war’s brutalities or cruelties.

2. Provigil : No More Sleep

Imagine a soldier that didn’t need to sleep or rest half as much as a ‘normal’ soldier did? Completely possible with Provigil (AKA Modafinil) which was initially created to deal with narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness. The drug radically improves work rate and alertness which means even with less sleep or rest, a soldier can work harder and more effectively.

3. D-IX : Nazi Cocaine

D-IX is a cocaine based drug originally created by the Nazis under Hitler’s evil reign. Criminologist and expert Wolf Kemper said “It was Hitler’s last secret weapon to win a war he had already lost long ago”. The drug was initially tested on prisoners at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, they were given 20kg packs to carry and which marched with for 90km without rest.

4. Valproic Acid : Super Survivors

When a soldier suffers an injury that causes rapid blood loss, the body’s reaction is to go into shock which will sustain life for a short time however, if the body stays in shock for more than a short time, it can lead to organ failure, and death can soon follow. Valproic acid causes 87% of blood loss victims to survive (well in cows at least) which means that it could be possible to survive for prolonged hours after a bad injury.

5. Select Androgen Receptor Modulators : Instant Muscle Mass

Anabolic steroids are simply concentrated amounts of testosterone that rapidly build muscle mass but scientists have never been able to completely rid undesired side effects, until now. SARMs are a new and improved version of anabolic steroids that allows huge muscle growth without any side effects, whilst a potential super soldier wouldn’t be the size of the Incredible Hulk or nearly as green, this almost overnight treatment could turn a scrawny bunch of boys into a bulky troop of men.

Gasoline made from thin air

Engineers create gasoline from thin air:

 British engineers create gasoline from thin air


British engineers create gasoline from thin air

Experts hailed the breakthrough as a potential “game-changer” as scientists seek to solve the world’s energy crisis. The small company from the north England has developed “air capture” technology which creates synthetic petrol with only air and electricity. Company chiefs say they have produced five litres of petrol in less than three months at a small refinery in Stockton-on-Tees, Teesside by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They now hope to build a large plant generating more than a tonne of petrol per day within two years – and a REFINERY size operation within the next 15 years. The fuel works in any petrol tank and promises to be “completely carbon neutral” so long as renewable energy is used to provide the electricity. The technology, pioneered by company Air Fuel Synthesis, was presented to a London engineering conference this week. It mixes sodium hydroxide with carbon dioxide before zapping the resulting sodium carbonate with electricity, to form pure carbon dioxide. At the same time, hydrogen is produced by electrolysing water vapour captured with a dehumidifier.

 

Scientists hope it could help solve the energy crisis

Breakthrough … scientists hope it could help solve the energy crisis

The carbon dioxide and hydrogen are then used to produce methanol which in turn is passed through a gasoline fuel reactor, creating petrol. The £1.1m project has been in development for the past two years and is being funded by a group of anonymous philanthropists. They unnamed sponsors hope it could prove to be a lucrative way of creating renewable energy. Stephen Tetlow, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers chief executive, hailed the breakthrough as “truly groundbreaking”. “It has the potential to become a great British success story, which opens up a crucial opportunity to reduce carbon emissions,” he said. “It also has the potential to reduce our exposure to an increasingly volatile global energy market.”

 

New spin on Single-Atom quantum computer

Researchers create single-atom silicon-based quantum computer:

Researchers create single-atom silicon-based quantum computer

Researchers create single-atom silicon-based quantum computer

A team of Australian engineers is claiming it has made the first working quantum bit (qubit) fashioned out of a single phosphorous atom, embedded on a conventional silicon chip. This breakthrough stems all the way back to 1998, when Bruce Kane — then a University of New South Wales (UNSW) professor — published a research paper on the possibility of phosphorous atoms, suspended in ultra-pure silicon, being used as qubits. For 14 years, UNSW has been working on the approach — and today, it has finally turned theory into practice. To create this quantum computer chip, the Australian engineers created a silicon transistor so small that “electrons have to travel along it one after the other.” A single phosphorous atom is then implanted into the silicon substrate, right next to the transistor. The transistor only allows electricity to flow through it if one electron from the phosphorus atom jumps to an “island” in the middle of the transistor. This is the key point: by controlling the phosphorus’s electrons, the engineers can control the flow of electricity across the transistor.

An artist's rendition of the single phosphorous atom (red circle) surrounded by its electron cloud

 

A team of Australian engineers is claiming it has made the first working quantum bit (qubit) fashioned out of a single phosphorous atom, embedded on a conventional silicon chip. This breakthrough stems all the way back to 1998, when Bruce Kane — then a University of New South Wales (UNSW) professor — published a research paper on the possibility of phosphorous atoms, suspended in ultra-pure silicon, being used as qubits. For 14 years, UNSW has been working on the approach — and today, it has finally turned theory into practice. To create this quantum computer chip, the Australian engineers created a silicon transistor so small that “electrons have to travel along it one after the other.” A single phosphorous atom is then implanted into the silicon substrate, right next to the transistor. The transistor only allows electricity to flow through it if one electron from the phosphorus atom jumps to an “island” in the middle of the transistor. This is the key point: by controlling the phosphorus’s electrons, the engineers can control the flow of electricity across the transistor. At this point, I would strongly recommend that you watch this excellent video that walks you through UNSW’s landmark discovery — but if you can’t watch it, just carry on reading. To control the phosphorus atom’s electrons, you must change their spin, which in this case is done by a small burst of microwave radiation. In essence, when the phosphorus atom is in its base state, the transistor is off; it has a value of 0 — but when a small burst of radiation is applied, the electrons change orientation, one of them pops into the transistor, it turns on; it has a value of 1. For more on electron spin and how it might impact computing. Now, we’ve written about quantum computers before — the University of Southern California has created a quantum computer inside a diamond, for example — but the key breakthrough here is that UNSW’s quantum transistor has been fashioned using conventional silicon processes. Rather than beating its own path, UNSW is effectively riding on the back of 60 years and trillions of dollars of silicon-based electronics R&D, which makes this a much more exciting prospect than usual. It is now quite reasonable to believe that there will be readily available, commercial quantum computers in the next few years.

 

Self-healing protective coating

Scientists create self-healing protective coating, deliver killing blow to screen protectors:

Scientists create self-healing protective coating, deliver killing blow to screen protectors

Scientists create self-healing protective coating, deliver killing blow to screen protectors

 

Dutch researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology have created a non-stick protective plastic coating that heals itself when scratched. As far as I can tell, as long as the new coating isn’t completely penetrated, it should continue to heal itself almost indefinitely. From non-stick frying pans to antibacterial coatings on clothes, and from anticorrosion coatings on cars to the oleophobic coating on the iPhone 4, coatings are a very important part of modern day life. The problem is, coatings also tend to be expensive, and so they’re usually applied very thinly. As a result, as soon as you sustain that first scratch, all bets are off — as your old, scratched, non-stick frying pan can attest. Now, the science behind this self-healing coating is fairly tricky, but here’s the basic gist. The Dutch material scientists came up with a coating formulation that separates itself into three layers: A top layer that repels water, a middle layer of polymer “stalks,” and a lower layer reservoir of the coating’s active ingredient. When the top layer is scratched, the active ingredient automatically climbs the stalks and self-heals, returning the non-stick surface to its former glory.

An oleophobic iPhone screen protectorWhat isn’t clear is whether this same approach can be used for other kinds of coating, but considering most coatings are polymer-based, and that the research paper explicitly sets out to find a way of producing self-healing coatings of different varieties, I would be cautiously optimistic. As far as gadgets are concerned, self-healing coatings could replace screen protectors on smartphones and tablets, and possibly provide better protection against dirt and fingerprint smudges. There is also interest in self-healing circuit boards, but micro metal capsules that break open and fill any cracks are a better solution in this case. Beyond gadgets, this self-healing coating will probably be used be on cars (never wash it again!), airplanes (less dirt, less air resistance), ships (less algae/barnacles, less water resistance), frying pans, and possibly plastic tools and appliances, such as self-healing contact lenses.

Scientists create genetic polymer replacing DNA

Scientists create DNA alternative– expected to reveal how molecules first replicated and drive biotechnology research:

Scientists create DNA alternative

Scientists create DNA alternative

 

Scientists have created artificial genetic material that can store information and evolve over generations in a similar way to DNA – a feat expected to drive research in medicine and biotechnology, and shed light on how molecules first replicated and assembled into life billions of years ago.  Ultimately, the creation of alternatives to DNA could enable scientists to make novel forms of life in the laboratory.  Researchers at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, in Cambridge, developed chemical procedures to turn DNA and RNA, the molecular bases for all known life, into six alternative genetic polymers called XNAs.  The process swaps the deoxyribose and ribose (the “d” and “r” in DNA and RNA) for other molecules. It was found the XNAs could form a double helix with DNA and were more stable than natural genetic material.  In the journal Science the researchers describe how they caused one of the XNAs to stick to a protein, an ability that might mean the polymers could deployed as drugs working like antibodies.  Philipp Holliger, a senior author on the study, said the work proved that two hallmarks of life – heredity and evolution – were possible using alternatives to natural genetic material.  “There is nothing Goldilocks about DNA and RNA,” Holliger told Science. “There is no overwhelming functional imperative for genetic systems or biology to be based on these two nucleic acids.”  Vitor Pinheiro, a co-author on the paper, said the research could help scientists unpick how DNA and RNA became so crucial in the evolution of life, and perhaps even help in the search for extraterrestrial organisms. “If a genetic system doesn’t have to be based on DNA and RNA, what then do you define as life? How do you look for life?” he said.  In an accompanying article, Gerald Joyce, of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, says the study heralds an “era of synthetic genetics, with implications for exobiology [which deals with extraterrestrial life], biotechnology and understanding life itself”. He adds: “Construction of genetic systems based on alternative chemical platforms may ultimately lead to the synthesis of novel forms of life.”  Other scientists, including a team at the J Craig Venter Institute , in Rockville, Maryland, are hoping to make synthetic organisms from scratch, but the majority of the work so far has used conventional DNA.  In his article on the Cambridge study Joyce alludes to the potential dangers of synthetic genetics. He writes: “As one contemplates all the alternative life forms that might be possible with XNAs and other more exotic genetic molecules, the words of Arthur C Clarke come to mind. In 2010: Odyssey Two, HAL the computer tells humanity, ‘all these worlds are yours’, but warns – ‘except [Jupiter’s moon] Europa, attempt no landings there’. Synthetic biologists are beginning to frolic on the worlds of alternative genetics but must not tread into areas that have the potential to harm our biology.”