Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Synthesis of Four New DNA Letters

Steven Benner, a synthetic biologist, and his team have synthesized four new letters of DNA. The study was published in the journal of Science. The new eight letter genetic system is being called "hachimoji." Researchers used the four natural letters of DNA as a model, then used chemistry to design and synthesize four new letters that are the same size and shape as the originals. According to the researchers, the new genetic system meets four of the five requirements for life. The four they meet are; information storage, information transfer, selection, and evolvability. The researchers also synthesized a RNA molecule that transcribes their synthetic DNA. The fifth requirement that the system does not meet is self-sustainability. It does not reach this requirement because it does not exist in an organism, it exists only in a test tube in their lab that must be maintained by a graduate student. This also means it does not pose any harm outside of the laboratory.

I believe this discovery is very important in the field of genetics, as well as the field of medicine. The researchers have already began testing the new system to bind to cancer cells and anthrax toxins. With further studies and more time to work on the molecules, this new genetic system could bind to toxins in the body and destroy pathogens.

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