According to Big Think, Harvard geneticists rewrote the entire genome of a synthetic E. coli bacteria, calling it a significant feat of genetic engineering that could potentially allow scientists to "create any kind of life form we wanted, reprogram organisms, and even create synthetic proteins and compounds." The article further theorises that in a few decades the human genome itself may be rewritten to better suit our needs.
In the near term, scientists are excited about the prospect of creating bacteria that is invulnerable to viruses. Usually, a virus infects a living cell by adding its own DNA to the host’s genome. In this way, it replicates itself. Genetically recoded organisms (GROs) would have a genome so different, the virus wouldn’t be able to read it and so couldn’t inject its DNA, making it unable to replicate.
One possible use for GROs is manufacturing. By rewriting a bacterium’s genetic code, it would change what kind of protein it makes. Synthetic bacteria could become living factories, programmed to produce whatever amino acid wished for. These would then churn out the next generation of synthetic materials, perhaps even medicines. Such engineered bacteria could also become reliable test subjects for future scientific research.
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