Sat. Jan 19th, 2019

The radical possibilities of man-made DNA | Floyd E. Romesberg

The radical possibilities of man-made DNA | Floyd E. Romesberg

Every cell that’s ever lived has been the result of the four-letter genetic alphabet: A, T, C and G — the basic units of DNA. But now that’s changed. In a visionary talk, synthetic biologist Floyd E. Romesberg introduces us to the first living organisms created with six-letter DNA — the four natural letters plus two new man-made ones, X and Y — and explores how this breakthrough could challenge our basic understanding of nature’s design.

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21 thoughts on “The radical possibilities of man-made DNA | Floyd E. Romesberg

  1. Much more research is needed.
    Every DNA ever has a tendency to mutate with unexpected results.
    The near term practical implementation for the semi-synthetic organisms would be drug research with molecular based drugs as a result. Not ejecting yourself with or releasing into the environment a whole new type of organism with 3 base pair DNA.

  2. it's sad how many people in the comments are just afraid of this. Reminds me of the first people to ever ride a train. They thought they suffocate because of the "high-speed". It wasn't even fast.
    So please – he just presented us a possible cure for cancer. This man devoted his life to this and he made a very good choice. His work is astounding and I'm amazed on how many years of hard work went into this.

  3. He spoke as though releasing bacteria like these into the ocean to clean up an oil spell could be controlled by controlling their access to chemicals X and Y. This is eerily similar to the Lysene contingency from Jurassic Park where the dinosaurs were engineered to lack the ability to produce the enzyme lusene that they need to live so can only live off the food the handlers provide them which is infused with it. Except the dinosaurs got around that a variety of ways. I think only the carnivores lacked lysene since the herbivores just ate whatever plants were around, and the freed carnivores ate those herbivores and got lysene that way.

    Now of course that was fiction, but life is adaptable, none faster than bacteria. Did you know there is a species of bacteria today that can only live by consuming nylon? It was discovered in the waste of a Nylon factory in Japan. This species evolved within a fairly short span to require manmade materials to live, similar to x and y. Also we know that various illnesses continue to evolve to evade medicines we make to stop them. It is not that hard to imagine with two additional chemicals in it's DNA to work with that this new bacteria could quickly evolve beyond our control if let loose. If that happens, we may not be able to stop it. For that reason we need to be extremely careful moving forward.

  4. There's no assumption that we are perfect or optimal. Even evolutionary theory holds that evolution has no goal. Man's ability to create such synthetic life is itself proof of man's uniqueness and specialness. The fruity professor does pose interesting applications, but should stick to his specialty, and leave religion and philosophy alone.

  5. Both ai and next genration gentics thingies look on par currently. If ai gets there first would it want to stop man from being physically better and smarter even then what diffrence could such aguments make againts an ai god. If genetics gets there first them would we favour cyborgs androids type over perusing ai. I doubt it. Regadless of who wins which is irrelevant perhaps the future will be full of mutants and robots

  6. Fascinating and scary at the same time. Both good things and bad things can come out of this. It can possibly improve or totally obliterate life as we know it. What I fear the most is that this might be weaponized by the military and used to kill people with a specific gene structure.

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