Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Blunk and Myst

As part of my continuing microhobby of asking interesting(?) questions on AskABiologist, a recent query I made on a Soviet experiment on Artificial Selection pointed me at a very significant advance in genetic engineering four months ago that I somehow missed. Using established techniques (on the small scale) that I learned about when I took a BioInformatics class here a few years ago, they took digitised DNA and built an entire sequence to spec, which they then dropped into a real cell (replacing its original genetics), which was viable. (Their process involved more trial-and-error, of course). It's not a feat of science so much as of engineering, but it remains an impressive feat - to the extent that suitable host cells can be found (or eventually engineered), it means that we will have the ability to resurrect species (provided we collect digital DNA samples to last the meantime) after losing all physical traces of them - digital is now enough.

With the same provisions, it clears one of the smaller hurdles towards large-scale manipulation of DNA (figuring out how to do that sensibly will be a much greater feat).

It's interesting how little coverage this kind of thing gets. Maybe people don't want to think about it?

There are times when I think I would rather go into BioInformatics than CogPsy. Perhaps if no grad schools take the worm, I'll apply for those programs too. It's hard to decide which to be more excited about - the secrets of the brain or the secrets of life.

Tags: science
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