Researchers Report Breakthrough in Creating Artificial Genetic Code - NYTimes.com:
"But the research, published online by the journal Nature, is bound to raise safety concerns and questions about whether man is playing God. The new paper could intensify calls for greater regulation of the budding field known as synthetic biology, which involves the creation of biological systems designed for specific purposes."
“It took some clever problem-solving to get where they got,” said Eric T. Kool, a professor of chemistry at Stanford who is also doing research in the area. “It is clear that the day is coming that we’ll have stably replicating unnatural genetic structures.”
Besides any possible practical applications, the research into the field, which is sometimes called xenobiology, could shed light on why living things evolved to have four nucleotides and whether there could be true alien life with other arrangements. It could be that four is the most efficient number, in which case organisms with expanded genetic codes might not function very well.
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