Scientists creating genetically engineered synthetic supermicrobe

bacteria
Image: Flickr/BrightonPiers, via Independent

It’s not finished yet. But if it is, it will be the greatest feat of genetic engineering by far.

A team in the US is part-way towards recoding the E. coli bacterium to work with a different genetic code from all other organisms on Earth. That means making more than 62,000 changes to its genome.

The recoded E. coli could have all kinds of industrial uses. It should be better in several ways: resistant to all existing viruses, unable to swap genes with other organisms and capable of producing proteins unlike any found in nature.

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[George] Church ultimately wants to make farm animals and human stem cells that are resistant to all viruses. Such cells could be used for producing vaccines and for transplants. It is very difficult to make people resistant to viruses, cancer and ageing, Church says, but we could create tissues and organs for transplant with these properties.

[Now,] a group of biologists including Church are trying to raise $100 million to synthesise the entire human genome from scratch.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Synthetic supermicrobe will be resistant to all known viruses

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