Saturday science subject: Synthetic DNA

— 12:32 PM on July 12, 2008

Chemical Biology Professor Masahiko Inouye and his team at the University of Toyama in Japan have developed the first DNA molecule using almost nothing but synthetic parts, according to a report on Science Daily. The article explains:

As the genetic blueprint of all life forms, DNA uses the same set of four basic building blocks, known as bases [cytosine, guanine, adenine, and thymine], to code for a variety of proteins used in cell functioning and development. Until now, scientists have only been able to craft DNA molecules with one or a few artificial parts, including certain bases.

The researchers used high-tech DNA synthesis equipment to stitch together four entirely new, artificial bases inside the sugar-based framework of a DNA molecule. This resulted in unusually stable, double-stranded structures resembling natural DNA.

The team says its work could lead to gene therapy improvements as well as "futuristic nano-sized computers, and other high-tech advances." You can grab Inouye's full paper here, although you'll apparently need to cough up $25 for the privilege.

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