Synthetic Life: The new discipline of Biology

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London, Apr 20 (UNI) Synthetic biology, the new discipline involving stripping microbes to their basic genetic constituents so they can be reassembled and manipulated to create new life forms can also battle aginst global warming.

The microbes in this new technology can then be used to manufacture drugs and fuels or to act as bio-sensors inside the body.

However, some researchers warn that synthetic biology - accelerating at a dramatic pace - also poses dangers. Its feared that it might be possible to create deadly pathogens, such as polio or smallpox viruses, from pieces of synthetic DNA.

In future, completely new and highly dangerous microbes could be made this way.

''The major biotechnology companies that sell these DNA segments are careful to try to monitor their sale,'' the Guardian quoted Dr Philipp Holliger, from Cambridge University as saying.

''Synthetic biology represents a new approach to engineering.

It has brought us to the cusp of a new industrial revolution in which new fuels, drugs, medical treatments and sensors can be created from biological materials,'' said Professor Richard Kitney from Imperial College London.

One of the idea is the creation of organisms that could soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into hydrocarbon biofuels.

Scientists stress that engineering life is not new and is the basis of the biotechnology and GM crop industries.

''Novel circuitry has already been constructed inside a cell to generate biological devices that can act as sensors or which can help in the treatment of diseases such as malaria or the production of biofuels,'' said Professor John McCarthy from the Manchester University.

UNI XC PD BST1949

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