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Friday, October 18, 2013

Researchers rewrite an entire genome—and add a healthy twist

Scientists from Yale and Harvard have recoded the entire genome of an organism and improved a bacterium's ability to resist viruses, a dramatic demonstration of the potential of rewriting an organism's genetic code.


"This is the first time the genetic code has been fundamentally changed," said Farren Isaacs, assistant professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at Yale and co-senior author of the research published Oct. 18 in the journal Science. "Creating an organism with a new genetic code has allowed us to expand the scope of biological function in a number of powerful ways."

The creation of a genomically recoded organism raises the possibility that researchers might be able to retool nature and create potent new forms of proteins to accomplish a myriad purposes—from combating disease to generating new classes of materials.

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