World's first DNA factory gets underway
Facility makes DNA parts for biologists to use in experiments.
Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 08:11 PM
Biologists are about to receive a boon in DNA. Naturenews.com reports that the world’s first “factory” for professional-grade DNA parts is moving forward. Soon, researchers will have an abundance of synthetic sequences of DNA to use in their experiments from the staff at the International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology (BIOFAB). Recently, scientists came together to discuss the long-term implications of this use.
Strictly defined, DNA is the hereditary material found in most living organisms. Also known as deoxyribonucleic acid, it resides in the cell’s nucleus or mitochondria. Genetic information is contained in bases, and the order of these bases determines how a being maintains and builds itself. Experts describe this sequence as being similar to how the alphabet comes together to make words, sentences, and eventually, complete works of literature.
Now, biologists are hoping to use the manufactured DNA sequences to insert into cells during experiments. As Naturenews.com reports, these sequences can boost the production of a protein or make it sensitive to a toxin. Researchers say these new cells can ultimately be used to produce biofuel or create new types of machines.
Further, BIOFAB plans to provide free biological parts to researchers. At present, BIOFAB is a small-scale operation of only 10 researchers. The same DNA sequences can react differently in different cells, and it has been difficult for scientists to come up with a consistent formula. Therefore, researchers are sharing their information in hopes of finding a standardized comparison of how different parts are working. Richard Kitney is a systems biologist from Imperial College London who is doing the same research in the United Kingdom. As he told Naturenews.com, "We want to be able to say if we can replicate parameters across the Atlantic.”
Researcher hope that this new shared information will solve basic problems for researchers, such as categorization, measurement, improved performance and basic protocol. As one researcher told Naturenews.com, "I don't think there is a single biological part today that would work in any environment you give it."
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