According to recent public announcement’s, a biotechnology company in California has succeeded in adding new synthetic components to the genetic alphabet of DNA. This new addition of synthetic components can potentially lead to the creation of new never seen before life forms on Earth.
DNA is an organic molecule that carries the genetic structural information for all life forms. DNA is made up from limited chemical alphabet.
DNA can be thought of as a molecular code containing exactly four nitrogen-containing nucleobases — cytosine (C), guanine (G), adenine (A), or thymine (T). All known living organisms on the planet, from bacteria to biologists, are based on combinations of this four-letter molecular code: C-G-A-T.
This molecular code has remained the same for several billion years, but as of now, the biotechnology company known has Synthorx has announced their development of a synthetic pair of nucleobases. They have been abbreviated to “X-Y”, this new synthetic pair will be used to expand the original genetic code.
From the company website: “Adding two new synthetic bases, termed X and Y, to the genetic alphabet, we now have an expanded vocabulary to improve the discovery and development of new therapeutics, diagnostics and vaccines as well as create innovative products and processes, including using semi-synthetic organisms.”
The additions to the four letter DNA code effectively raises the number of possible amino acids an organism could use to build proteins from 20 to 172. That opens up entire new vistas of possibilities, including a completely new class of semi-synthetic life forms using a six-letter DNA code instead of a four-letter code.
Synthorx’s most recent announcement concerns the successful production of proteins containing the new synthetic base pair, building on the research published last year: “Since the publication, Synthorx has developed and validated a protein expression system, employing its synthetic DNA technology to incorporate novel amino acids to create new full-length and functional proteins.”
According to various reports, Synthorx has even started creating new organisms with the technology, including a type of E. coli bacteria “never before seen on the face of the Earth.”