That’s exactly what you read. The first organism with fully synthetic DNA was created! The historic feat of the time leads to the genius of experts at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. With the help of genetic engineering, the team redesigned the Escherichia Coli bacteria , common in insect intestines.
With 4 million nitrogenous base pairs as units of the genetic code, the artificial genome is the largest ever built by scientists. If transcribed on A4 sheets, it would occupy 970 pages.
“It wasn’t clear whether it was possible to make such a large genome and whether it was possible to change it so much,” said Jason Chin, a synthetic biology expert who led the project.
Just out of curiosity, inside the nucleus of a cell is DNA. In turn, it is made up of codons. These are combinations of three different nitrogenous bases. And these trios are coded and transmit the information necessary for the complete and effective functioning of the organism.
From there, we have that there are four nitrogenous bases (or nucleic acids – adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine). There are 64 possible codon combinations present in living things from living water to humans.
Of those, 61 codons produce 20 natural amino acids that can be linked together, building any protein found in nature. The three remaining codons are the “stop signals”, that is, they notify the cells when the protein has already been fully encoded.
From this information, scientists began to develop the modification of some of these trios of hydrogenated bases. With a considerable number of attempted editions, something around 18,000, the group of scholars chemically synthesized the material. In addition, the group added to the genetic information of E Coli.
The result of this sequence of edits, experiments and tests was a microbe known as Syyn61. With a completely synthetic DNA code, but a little longer than normal and considerably slower growing. However, still with the DNA completely synthetic and absolutely alive.
This is undoubtedly good news for genetics. And above all, it’s good news for researchers who devote time and effort to the goal of editing organisms to produce synthetic materials. Or, program them to invade certain types of bacteria or viruses.
“They have taken the field of synthetic genomics to a new level, not only successfully building the largest synthetic genome to date, but also making the most important genome changes to date,” said Tom Ellis, synthetic biology researcher at Imperial College London.
In the midst of excitement, and mixed with the conquest for the evolution of the scientific and geneticist community, the first organism with totally synthetic DNA brings with it countless possibilities of innovations in terms of chances fr research and work.
In addition, it would be a good start on the path towards the study and treatment of health issues. These issues still threaten human life directly and indirectly. In other words, we have a great genetic milestone in our historical moment. A milestone that can still give us advances that we didn’t even imagine.