Animal’s Genetic Code Redesigned

_54557832_nematode Roland Pease in the BBC:

Researchers say they have created the first ever animal with artificial information in its genetic code.

The technique, they say, could give biologists “atom-by-atom control” over the molecules in living organisms.

One expert the BBC spoke to agrees, saying the technique would be seized upon by “the entire biology community”.

The work by a Cambridge University team, which used nematode worms, appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The worms – from the species Caenorhabditis elegans – are 1mm long, with just a thousand cells in their transparent bodies.

What makes the newly created animals different is that their genetic code has been extended to create biological molecules not known in the natural world.

Genes are the DNA blueprints that enable living organisms to construct their biological machinery, protein molecules, out of strings of simpler building blocks called amino acids.

Just 20 amino acids are used in natural living organisms, assembled in different combinations to make the tens of thousands of different proteins needed to sustain life.

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