New Approach For Synthetic Biology Controls Bacteria
Artificial Cells have been made that can control bacterial cells. This opens up an entirely new approach to synthetic biology and genetic engineering.
Synthetic biology has been all the rage for years. Genetically modifying existing biological systems or even creating entire genomes from scratch; all to make cells perform useful functions never before seen in nature.
A new approach however is testing the creation of artificial cells that can control the behavior of normells (my word for normal cells) like bacteria.
The artificial cells have two special properties. They can sense a chemical that bacteria cannot, plus they hold a reservoir of another chemical that the bacteria can sense. When the artificial cell senses the former, they release the latter. This attracts the bacteria causing it to process the undetected chemical in one of the numerous useful ways that bacteria normally do such things.
Using this methodology then, bacteria can have its behavior modified to find a contaminant like oil. Once found, they could then process it into a benign form that won’t harm the environment.
There is no need then to genetically modify the bacteria or create one from scratch to find oil. This removes considerable technical challenges and unforeseen side-effects that could occur such as creating a bacteria that takes over the planet, for example.
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Related Video: You Tube- Synthetic Biology Primer