Scientists have made history by creating the first living cell with two artificial DNA building blocks in its genetic makeup.
This development could eventually lead to the engineering of new organisms with the ability to make medicines that cells with standard DNA can’t, according to The Huffington Post.
It also suggests that life could exist on Earth using genetics different from every known organism on the planet.
These findings are sort of like a freaky Sci-Fi movie.
“What we have now is a living cell that literally stores increased genetic information,” says Floyd Romesberg, a chemical biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, who led the 15-year research expedition.
To break it all down, basically every organism has a DNA code made up of four molecular bases (G,C, A and T), but Romesberg’s team created two entirely new nucleotides (X and Y).
Romesberg’s team inserted these new nucleotides into the bacteria E. coli along with normal DNA.
The bacteria then produced offspring that had the same genetic code featuring the X and Y nucleotides.
This means that the new bacteria has a genetic code of six letters, as opposed to the standard four, which could lead to a production of proteins that function completely different from those we know.
Don’t be alarmed, there’s no crazy alien bacteria running around.
The synthetic DNA doesn’t really do anything inside the cell and the bacteria that carries it can only survive with a continuous dose of chemicals.
This eliminates the risk of the bacteria causing harm to a human being should it enter the body.
Rosemberg intends to continue his research in hopes of potentially growing viruses or bacteria to be used for vaccines.
Ideally, this would manifest in the creation of a protein that would be created to kill only cancer cells.