The Internet is full of suggestions, scenarios, possibilities, theories, and projects that revolve around complex artificial life. However, such a mission has never been successfully conducted yet. Nonetheless, scientists are excited about this task. Their high hopes have been ignited by a 2008 achievement. This is when researchers managed to recreate an artificial genome for the first time. The next step in this scientific breakthrough is now in the hands of a Chinese team that is about to create the first synthetic yeast genome.
On Thursday, the journal Science published the good news in the scientific realm. The collaboration of over 200 researchers called Synthetic Yeast 2.0 has finally discovered the recipe for five chromosomes of baker’s yeast. The ambitious main plan is to create an additional number of 10 chromosomes and integrate them into the very first synthetic yeast genome.
The director of the Synthetic 2.0 project, Jef Boeke, stated that this breakthrough would finally be able to satisfy important needs in the medical industry. The research paper proves that the latest software and systems can understand the complexity of genetic machinery and reproduce chromosomes in living cells. Chromosomes are organized structures that can host the genetic material of a living organism. This material is encrypted in four base pairs of DNA. Yeasts are eukaryotic cells which are single-celled microorganisms and have its chromosomes packed inside its nucleus.
The project evolved to success through baby steps. First of all, scientists had to copy good DNA sequences that exist in yeast. They left behind the bad DNA that usually does not serve to any utility. Furthermore, they proceeded to obtain these sequences in the laboratory. The final step was to integrate this synthetic material into yeast cells by replacing the natural chromosomes with artificial ones.
Scientists supervised the evolution of the altered yeast cells. To their surprise, the cells behaved as usually as if they didn’t have imperfect copies of chromosomes. While it can take a while until researchers manage to create all 16 chromosomes and integrate them into a cell, the success of such a project can revolutionize medical industry. Such a synthetic yeast genome can function as factories in miniature that can produce new drugs.
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