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Triple Helix — Designing a New Molecule of Life

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the now-with-fifty-percent-more-helix dept.

Biotech 152

Anti-Globalism sends in this quote from Scientific American about attempts to synthesize molecules that function as well or better than the natural building blocks of life: "A molecule that some researchers study in pursuit of this vision is peptide nucleic acid (PNA), which mimics the information-storing features of DNA and RNA but is built on a proteinlike backbone that is simpler and sturdier than their sugar-phosphate backbones. ... Many studies have demonstrated PNA's suitability for modifying gene expression, mostly in molecular test-tube experiments and in cell cultures. Studies in animals have begun, as has research on ways to transform PNA into drugs that can readily enter a person's cells from the bloodstream. ... Some scientists have suggested that PNAs or a very similar molecule may have formed the basis of an early kind of life at a time before proteins, DNA and RNA had evolved. Perhaps rather than creating novel life, artificial-life researchers will be re-creating our earliest ancestors."

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152 comments

Sounds like razors (4, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013483)

Soon we will have the "quatro helix DNA" and then 5 helixes and so on.

Re:Sounds like razors (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26013513)

That pretty much sums it up.

Attempts to create novel "life forms" using this rather than DNA are not coming any time soon. We can't even make life forms de novo using the established DNA codons.

Re:Sounds like razors (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014601)

I'd say that's because the easiest way to make RNA based life forms is to start with something simpler and work your way up - RNA does not an organism make, it needs an established cell to back it up.

The article suggests that this may be something closer to the first self-replicating molecules to emerge from the primordial soup. In order to have DNA or proteins evolve, you need some sort of proto-DNA or proto-protein like this that is more complex, but a self-contained unit capable of autonomous replication given some sort of energy input.

Re:Sounds like razors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26013871)

Personally, I won't be satisfied until my DNA Quattro has a moisturizing strip.

Re:Sounds like razors (5, Funny)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014031)

Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of genetics in this country. The double helix was the DNA strand to own. Then the other guy came out with a 3 HELIX STRAND. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the DNA Turbo. That's three helixes and an aloe strip. For moisture. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened--the bastards went to four strands. Now we're standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three DNA strands and a strip. Moisture or no, suddenly we're the chumps. Well, fuck it. We're going to five helixes. Sure, we could go to four helixes next, like the competition. That seems like the logical thing to do. After all, three worked out pretty well, and four is the next number after three. So let's play it safe. Let's make a thicker aloe strip and call it the Mach3Super DNA Turbo. Why innovate when we can follow? Oh, I know why: Because we're a business, that's why!

Re:Sounds like razors (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26014225)

"we're standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three DNA strands and a strip. " ... "Mach3Super DNA Turbo"

Since you're talking about cocks in hands, multi "DNA strands" and strips, I think the name should probably have "bukkake" somewhere.

Re:Sounds like razors (2, Funny)

somnolent49 (1254770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015415)

What part of this don't you understand? If two helixes are good, and three helixes are better, obviously five helixes would make us the best fucking dna that ever existed. Comprende? We didn't claw our way to the top of the dna game by clinging to the two-helix industry standard. We got here by taking chances. Well, five helixes is the biggest chance of all. Here's the report from Engineering. Someone put it in the bathroom: I want to wipe my ass with it. They don't tell me what to inventâ"I tell them. And I'm telling them to stick two more helixes in there. I don't care how. Make the helixes so thin they're invisible. Put some on the RNA. I don't care if they have to cram the fifth Helix in perpendicular to the other four, just do it!

Re:Sounds like razors (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014457)

Soon we will have the "quatro helix DNA" and then 5 helixes and so on.

That's nothing- I heard AMD are doing their own research with 8 helixes!

Er. (2, Insightful)

Futile Rhetoric (1105323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013503)

If PNA functions "as well or better", then what exactly was the reason that RNA and DNA evolved in the first place?

Re:Er. (5, Insightful)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013555)

Don't make the mistake of anthropomorphizing evolution. There is no committee that considers all possible solutions and states "This is the best one". Evolution is a case of what happens happens and what doesn't die out is what's left and so considered successful.

It is entirely possible that there are much more efficient ways for life to exist or function, but are different than the way life happened to happen here on earth. Or it could be that life DID happen that way but the methodology was not optimal for the environment at the time so the DNA/RNA based forms outlived them.

Re:Er. (1)

Futile Rhetoric (1105323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013603)

Who anthropomorphised evolution? If PNA had existed earlier, then clearly it did not function "as well as or better than" RNA or DNA, and now it's gone. Did woolly mammoths function better than elephants? Did neanderthals function better than homo sapiens sapiens?

I might be nitpicking the blurb, but whatever.

Re:Er. (4, Informative)

spud603 (832173) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013713)

There's nothing in evolutionary theory that says that natural selection results in 'progress'. Nothing that says that homo sapiens are more 'progressed' than neanderthals. Same goes for elephants vs woolly mammoths. This is one of the biggest and most frustrating misconceptions out there about evolution by natural selection. I think this is what GP was referring to when mentioning anthropomorphization -- don't apply human rationality to evolutionary processes.

That said, I agree that it seems unlikely that such a fundamental shift as switching from PNA to DNA/RNA seems unlikely to have fluked itself into existence unless there's some tradeoff in, eg, efficiency of producing the molecules, or the difference is really pretty minor after all.

Re:Er. (4, Insightful)

Futile Rhetoric (1105323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013765)

How is "evolutionary progress" not "progress"? This is the only measuring stick I've used. If PNA had indeed existed before DNA or RNA (as the article seems to suggest), and was snuffed out, then clearly it didn't function better than RNA/DNA when it came to surviving in a particular environment, or evolving. What is the "functionality" of an organism if not survival and procreation?

Re:Er. (4, Insightful)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013801)

in a particular environment, or evolving

This is the exact point i'm trying to make that you seem to be missing. Survival in a particular environment does not mean a life form is best at surviving in any environment. If there was a long enough period where the stimuli and environmental pressures involved made RNA/DNA based life the most efficient, then there would be none of the alternative life forms remaining when the pressures change.

Just because a species goes extinct does not mean that that species was not "fit for survival" at all. It simply means that the species was not fit for survival given the pressures and stimuli of the time they went extinct.

The only measuring stick that matters to evolution is procreation, you're right about that. The part people forget is everything else that happens is just rolls of the dice with no specific desired outcome. If it helps the species survive the current pressures, the trait remains. If not, it either dies out or falls recessive within the species gene pool.

Re:Er. (4, Insightful)

Kagura (843695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015475)

If it helps the species survive the current pressures, the trait remains.

Oops! You mean, "If it doesn't hurt the species' survival under the current pressures, the trait remains."

Re:Er. (1)

spud603 (832173) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013885)

Right.
But my point is that talking about the absolut 'functionality' of an organism isn't really productive or meaningful, at least not in terms of natural selection. Evolution by natural selection is a pretty good optimization technique in isolation, but an ecosystem is immensely complex, every element changing all the time (including not just climate, but every other species in proximity and even just incidentals of geography and configuration).

Natural selection is like a hill-climbing algorithm on the choppy surface of the ocean. In most cases the climbing can't even keep up with the shifting environment. Ends up looking more like a random walk. Complexity may increase but trying to talk about some sort of objective 'functionality' or 'progress' just ends up being misleading.

But was it ever there? (2, Insightful)

pentalive (449155) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013905)

The big if in your statement is "If PND had existed" perhaps it never expressed in any species and so was never around to compete.

Re:But was it ever there? (1)

Futile Rhetoric (1105323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013919)

From the article (in fact, it's right there in the summary):

Some scientists have suggested that PNAs or a very similar molecule may have formed the basis of an early kind of life at a time before proteins, DNA and RNA had evolved. Perhaps rather than creating novel life, artificial-life researchers will be re-creating our earliest ancestors.

Re:But was it ever there? (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014005)

I can conceive of a situation where such a molecule might actually be selected against. If the molecule were "too" stable and inhibited molecular evolution, it's quite possible that early life with essentially a "broken" system like RNA, which made events like transcription errors and insertions more likely, then it's quite possible that RNA could have won out over the technically "better" molecule simply out-evolving it.

Fixation (1)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014453)

Even if it was just as good as DNA at some point, evolution is a historical science. An arbitrary 'choice' made in the past can steer the future of a system away from what would be a more fit state.
The choice between left- and right- handed amino acids was one such decision that was fixed by the system freezing into using one handedness over the other.
A slight difference in the proportion of DNA:PNA could have been amplified by feedback until only one survived.

Re:Er. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26015559)

There's nothing in evolutionary theory that says that natural selection results in 'progress'. Nothing that says that homo sapiens are more 'progressed' than neanderthals.

It annoys me when people anthropomorphize evolution, but you're the first one I've seen that erred in the other direction.

There's nothing in evolutionary thing that says natural selection will improve anything, true. However, natural selection does most certainly, absolutely, assure that in a competing environment, the best adapted organism for that environment will be the one to survive. It doesn't assure the other one will go extinct, but the best one won't die out while the inferior one survives

Now we go into how to define "best" and "inferior". It depends on the environment. In th ecase of homo sapiens and neanderthals, we were certainly "better" than them, because we made sure they're gone. In the case of an environment with a small amount of humans near predatory animals, unless we can build shelter and weapons fast enough before we're eaten, our intelligence doesn't make us "better" than the other animal's sheer strength. So we're food.

Natural selection is always ensure that the best survives. It's just that sometimes what we think of as "best" isn't necessary what is actually best for survival in the given environment.

Re:Er. (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013721)

you did when you were wondering how PNA could have existed if it wasnt the "best".

Do not forget that time frame is everything. just because PNA didnt survive does not mean that it was less efficient period full stop end of story. All it means is that it may have been less efficient for the pressures of that period in time

We like to think of ourselves as "advanced" creatures. Think how well OUR genes would have done if we had arisen in say...the middle of an Ice age.

No trees, no tools, no sticks, tiger food.

Re:Er. (1)

Futile Rhetoric (1105323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013825)

So, to say that PNA functions "as well as or better than" DNA or RNA, full stop, end of story, is nonsense. Thanks. Exactly what I was driving at.

Technically, our genes did arise during an ice age, which started 2.6 million years ago and is still ongoing. We survived the last glacial period perfectly fine, as well; plenty of species did not. In fact, I would say that homo sapiens sapiens is very well equipped to survive glacial periods, and to claim that there would be no sticks around is silly.

Re:Er. (1)

wormBait (1358529) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013971)

PNA may function "as well as or better than" DNA or RNA today. In fact, it may always have functioned better. It might have been that PNA never evolved in the first place or that the newly evolved PNA organisms got hit by an asteroid (or some other random event that had no relation to properties of the organism). On the other hand, it may not. But without significantly more evidence, any claim you make is extremely naive.

Re:Er. (4, Interesting)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014027)

PNA might function better than DNA/RNA, but its cost (resources, time to create) is higher and couldn't be afforded by the first organisms.

By your logic humans who wouldn't survive a nuclear war are less efficient than roaches that would survive it.
Just, roaches will never start a nuclear war in the first place.

Re:Er. (1)

Futile Rhetoric (1105323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014061)

Absolutely. Roaches are awesome, and may very well beat us at life. On the other hand, roaches will never get off this rock without hitch-hiking, whereas we might. The game isn't over yet.

Re:Er. (2, Interesting)

mikiN (75494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015333)

Which is better (from a selfish point of view)?

If your goal is to get off this rock quick, why wait until you've evolved and amassed enough science and tech to go into space (tanking the economy in the process) when you can just hitch a ride?

Earth-born bacteria that hitchhiked along with Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity possibly are now living on Mars. We (humans) are not.

Re:Er. (1)

xonar (1069832) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013821)

It is entirely possible that there are much more efficient ways for life to exist or function, but are different than the way life happened to happen here on earth. Or it could be that life DID happen that way but the methodology was not optimal for the environment at the time so the DNA/RNA based forms outlived them.

Or that it simply hasn't come to that point in our evolution. Why assume that the human genome is at its peak?

Re:Er. (4, Insightful)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013845)

Where did I assume that? What i'm saying is there IS no way to define a peak, since its variable dependant on the time frame and environmental pressures as to what is considered "optimal".

Also (2, Insightful)

MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013831)

There's no such thing as a universal 'better'. What's better has all to do with circumstances, environment - It's the driving force of evolution.
So what's 'better' about PNR? Well, what immediately springs to mind is that it'd be similar to amino acids. And for life, amino acids and proteins are necessary. PNR could be considered 'more primitive' in the sense that it'd be more minimal - it could reuse a lot of the chemical pathways that would need to exist for amino acids.

What's 'worse' about it? I don't know. One likely reason that comes to mind is that it may not be stable enough for long chains, and hence, more complex life. That's the case for RNA. And the RNA-to-DNA transition in nature wasn't an easy one for sure: It's an very energy-demanding reaction that requires radical-formation. (in fact, chemists didn't even think radical reactions occured in biological systems until a decade or two ago)

Re:Er. (1)

phosphorylate this (1412807) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015119)

For all intents and purposes evolution has done this. The DNA on your chromosomes are PACKED with proteins running all along the major groove of the DNA, just like in this "triple-helix".

The difference here is that this version is simple and pure - a continuous protein helix intertwined within the DNA's double helix. In your own body the protein component consists of smaller parts that are highly dynamic, constantly jumping on and off.

Re:Er. (2, Funny)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015397)

So why not dump a whole lot of this newfangled triple helix stuff in the environment and wait a few billion years? Let's see who's the winner then! Will it be DNA or PNA? SMS your prediction to 999-HELIX and win a spaceship!

PNA Too stable? (4, Interesting)

crow (16139) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013575)

Perhaps PNA is too stable, so that life forms based on it couldn't evolve through mutations quickly enough to adapt to changes.

Re:PNA Too stable? (5, Insightful)

Futile Rhetoric (1105323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013637)

An excellent point; possibly the same reason why we're stuck with bodies which break down far too quickly -- an immortal organism simply wouldn't evolve.

Re:PNA Too stable? (4, Funny)

spud603 (832173) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013723)

Heh, good point. The immortal 'species' are still stuck in the self-reproducing-chemical-chains-in-a-pool-of-hot-mud phase...

Re:PNA Too stable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26013925)

mmmmm.... Hot mud... mmmm....

Re:PNA Too stable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26015011)

Actually, evolution is tied to reproduction. If you're immortal, but you have lots of offspring who spread out (so they don't compete for resources with the immortal parents), and mutations happen at mitosis, you could have an immortal, evolving species. Of course, at some point this would probably lead to wars since you can't expand infinitely and there's no other competitive pressure.

Re:PNA Too stable? (1)

JDevers (83155) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014121)

The problem isn't just mutation but also crossover events and other more common ways to "mix and match" genetics, a more stable backbone would decrease the chance of that happening.

Re:PNA Too stable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26014217)

It's an interesting notion, but not what they're referring to here... They're talking about stability of the double helix, and the difficulty of unwinding it to do replication, not reproductive stability, e.g. how likely one base is to mutate to another two generations down the line. The former just means that something needs to be hotter or have better enzymes to be replicated, the latter would mean what you're talking about.

Re:PNA Too stable? (2, Insightful)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014447)

Unlikely... Given the hoops the cell jumps through to keep DNA somewhat stable, it would have to be quite a few orders of magnitude more stable to be below the current rate of mutations that survive the different repair mechanisms.

Re:PNA Too stable? (1)

jackchance (947926) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014781)

I agree with your insight. Too much stability in DNA could be disadvantageous. In fact, it is well known that bacteria increase their rate of mutation when they are stressed (due to toxins or lack of food) in a desperate attempt to 'find a solution'.

Perhaps in the post-apocalyptic radioactive earth, when the rate of mutation will skyrocket, PNA, or another stable genetic molecule, will emerge as the dominant genetic molecule.

Of course, it would first emerge in bacteria, but perhaps over millions of years complex life based on PNA could come to rule over earth and tell stories about the old days when the strange 'humans' ruled the earth. And the religious PNAers will say that the earth is a few thousand years old and that god put human bones in the earth to test their faith

Re:PNA Too stable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26015153)

So if I ever wanted my DNA in a Raid-1 configuration, I want to convert my DNA to PNA? Are the required PNA controller molecules on sale?

Also, Would PNA limit my choices in a mate?...

Oh wait, I'm reading /. I'll never procreate...

But jokes aside, if I convert my DNA to PNA, Would that be like a form of birth control until my spouse converts her DNA?

Re:Er. (4, Insightful)

dfm3 (830843) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013665)

Possibly because evolution requires a molecule that is not too stable.

I'm just speculating here... the basis of evolution is random changes in DNA which result in a phenotype which may confer an advantage to one individual over another. If you have an absolutely error-proof system of DNA replication, you effectively limit evolution. But you don't want too many changes at one time, which would actually be detrimental. The ideal balance is somewhere in between... and it may be that a DNA double-helix with a sugar backbone is the ideal molecule for allowing just the right frequency of random changes for evolution to progress.

Good for engineered organisms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26014593)

And if your speculation held true, then the same traits bad for evolution would be ideal for engineered organisms. I would imagine you would not want your engineered organisms to evolve to do something you hadn't intended.

Re:Er. (1)

cpricejones (950353) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014491)

if you are interested in the proposed evolutionary reasons for the evolution of RNA & DNA, I would recommend The RNA World, 3rd ed. -- you can find it on Amazon. It's a fantastic book that discusses the hypothesis that self-replicating molecules appeared that could perform functions and simultaneously serve as the information for the creation of new copies of themselves. One of the difficulties in this hypothesis is the problem that an ancient RNA would have in self replicating, and that is separating the new strand from the old strand. Others note that PNA would likely have an even worse time at this because PNA-PNA interactions are stronger than RNA-RNA interactions (which interestingly, are stronger than DNA-DNA). RNA has a greater ability to form complex secondary structures than DNA, so it would be interesting to see if PNA has an even greater ability than RNA to do so.

Re:Er. (4, Insightful)

BytePusher (209961) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014799)

"A synthetic molecule called peptide nucleic acid (PNA) combines the information-storage properties of DNA with the chemical stability of a proteinlike backbone."

I see two possible reasons PNA was not selected.

First, as others have said, it's stable. Evolution requires a bit of mutation to move forward. Out of a billion mistakes, maybe 1(or less) will cause an organism to be more 'fit.' So, you have a balancing act between errors and fitness, where too many errors reduce an organisms fitness and two few reduce it's adaptability.

Second, the protien backbone is possibly biologically expensive. There are many who believe advances in human intellegence is linked very closely with the availability of massive amounts of protein provided by cooking our food. So, the availability and neccesity of protein could be limiting factors in evolution. So any process which provides the same function with significantly less biological cost, even if slightly inferior in other ways, may be selected.

Re:Er. (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015193)

Assuming the protein = intelligence theory to be true, then wouldn't a child raised in a vegan household have a lower intelligence than a child who grew up on, say, a ranch, where red meat was the primary food source?

Re:Er. (1)

goarilla (908067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015019)

they do mentions it's sturdier maybe
DNA's relative malabillity
eg its vulnerablities to mutations caused by external situations
was what made it that evolutionary and easier to work with

Good (2, Interesting)

damnfuct (861910) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013539)

I don't care if people build bio-"machines" out of components that are similar to ours. My objection, though, is if they *DO* use the same components as what we are made of. We have no idea how these "parts" would interact with our own physiology, so best that we aim for systems that use as little as possible from our own systems. Using something that is similar but is based in a different manner is good!

Re:Good (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26013877)

Yeah sugar-phosphate is just too scary. Lets create life based on stuff we aren't made of like lead and mercury.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26014871)

Wow, you're dumb.

Triple helix... finally (2, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013561)

This will be how science finally gets us to 6-asses. I am pre-ordering my 6-assed monkey right now.

But will this really be an improvement? I don't even want to think about how many razor blades will be needed to shave all those asses. They'll probably have to come out with a 12-bladed disposable razor or something...

Re:Triple helix... finally (1)

w3n-a (1424741) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013587)

Yes i'm stupid, i'm stupid, i'm stupid. You're the man, You're the man, You're the man.

Binding Affinity (5, Informative)

Cinnamon Whirl (979637) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013563)

Several years ago, I worked as a chemist for a small biochemical company in the UK, making modified olignucleotides and PNA.
IIRC, PNA had one outstanding feature: It binds to a complementary DNA strand much stronger than DNA itself (due in part to the lack of repulsion in the protein backbone. DNA's phosphate backbone is negatively charged).
Sadly, this means that two stands of PNA will bind extremely strongly to each other, and the forces required to unpair (part of the replication process) them would require different, "stronger" enzymes - so no chance of cell division, and no chance of life. (Still sounds cool though!)

Re:Binding Affinity (2, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013619)

I don't have much of a biology background but what you say makes sense. If the chemical bonds are stronger in PNA then you have to have other higher energy state free radicals floating about to break them apart which would likely be ractive with other chemical structures in cells that are not reactive chemically with the enzymes that unzip DNA. You might have a more stable "code of life" with PNA but It might not lend itself to the complexities of a eukarotic cell.

Re:Binding Affinity (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014775)

I think it would be better for making immortal beings. Except they can't heal themselves.

See: a life-based computer that is like a brain.

Re:Binding Affinity (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013661)

I am not a bio-engineer and I'm only partially good at skydiving analogies, but I had wondered how plans for using bio-computers would function. I get how they have been using cells with inputs to control things experimentally, but if you want to use biology based memory storage there must be some way to control what is being stored. Again, might be talking out of an orifice, but wouldn't something like this lead to methods of storing bits?

Even if you could only store 256Kb per cell, that's still a lot of information in the space of a pencil point. Not sure how it would all work, but it is definitely interesting.

Re:Binding Affinity (2, Interesting)

xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013983)

The problem with storing in DNA (or other biological molecules) is that none of your memory is addressable. There are tricks you can use (e.g., enzymes) that will help you fish out DNA strands of a particular length, or containing a particular sequence as a subword, etc. Essentially the data itself would have to carry some address information in it (i.e., it would have to know how to be found).

Re:Binding Affinity (2, Interesting)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014211)

Isn't this how all data sent across the internet works? We would just have to store the data in memory the way that we send data across the internet. In packets with self identifying markers.

Re:Binding Affinity (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015433)

Queue prediction of Google moving into biotech.

I just hope that Bio-Google won't turn into grey goo-gle.

Re:Binding Affinity (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015557)

http://www.biogoogle.com/search?q=life+the+universe+and+everything [biogoogle.com]

Results 1-10 of 1.7E39 strands of PNA (1.41912E17 seconds)

Tip: Search BioGoogle in Vogonic

42 [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:Binding Affinity (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015567)

Currently, BioGoogle reports:

There was a problem loading this page. Please try again later.

java.rmi.ServerException: RemoteException occurred in server thread; nested exception is: java.rmi.RemoteException: Connection refused. Check that the hostname and port are correct and that the postmaster is accepting TCP/IP connections.

Translation: We Apologize For The Inconvenience.

Re:Binding Affinity (3, Interesting)

spud603 (832173) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013753)

Out of curiosity, does that make PNA kind of dangerous in quantity for all of us DNA-based lifeforms?
That is, do DNA-based cells exposed to PNA stop being able to reproduce themselves? (DNA unzips, PNA wiggles in and binds, everything shuts down)

Re:Binding Affinity (4, Informative)

wormBait (1358529) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013915)

Chances are that the PNA would only bind if there was a match in sequence (just like DNA only binds to complementary sequence). However, if it did bind, it would probably get stuck there and thus be effectively toxic. Nevertheless, large molecules like PNAs would be very difficult to get into a cell and would most likely be less toxic than a myriad of other well-known DNA-binders that are very toxic (eg, ethidium bromide).

Re:Binding Affinity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26014779)

I, for one, welcome our PNA.. oh, wait..

Evolving (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26013585)

This is a neat way of evolving. And some of you thought we were finished.

Counterargument (1)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014355)

This is a neat way of evolving. And some of you thought we were finished.

Have you watched any "reality TV?"

Cheers,
Dave

Wasn't this part of a movie plot? (2, Funny)

fortapocalypse (1231686) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013613)

In the beginning of The Fifth Element [imdb.com], Leeloo was created from triple-helix-structured nucleic acids. So does this mean the scientists are just trying to create a punk-haired girl? Typical.

Re:Wasn't this part of a movie plot? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26013749)

They are trying to solve genetic problems by going up on dimension. Typical of Mathematicians.

Re:Wasn't this part of a movie plot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26013787)

Nah, the system wasn't without its flaws.

For example, that chick had no tits. They could have at least engineered her some bigger titties. Even Asian chicks have bigger titties than Fifth-element Leeloo girl did.

Re:Wasn't this part of a movie plot? (5, Insightful)

game kid (805301) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014025)

They want to make a redheaded punk-haired girl, so it's a noble cause. ;)

Does It Self Correct (1)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013741)

As all science-accepting persons knew, when you accept Evolution by Natural Selection as the means of development of intelligent life, it up until now has required some faith because of the impression of 500,000 monkeys pounding away on typewriters, writing:

"To be or not to be, that is the ka;lija;kja"

As believers in the accumulation of complexity, we knew we were missing something. Recently, that missing piece became apparent in a behavior of certain cancers that would attack a human and then, almost miraculously, work themselves out and end the mutation while healthy tissue grew around it. A self-healing tumor, nearly.

In my view, that innate ability to auto-correct destructive mutations is a critical and fundamental requirement for the accumulation of beneficial mutations as must have occurred for intelligent life to exist on earth--excluding Hoboken, of course.

I for one... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26013751)

... salute our new triple helix overlords.
(somebody had to say it)

what could possible go wrong (1, Interesting)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014441)

This deserves a "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag. They will end up developing some horrible new superbug that will kill us all or create some other horrible disease, or mess something up. When dealing with these sorts of things there are unintended consequences and the results can be disasterous. Manipulating genetics is far too dangerous in my opinion, especially since organisms self reproduce. We could end up contaminating our food supply or unleashing mutants that invade the world. It has already been shown that some genetically altered organisms cause kidney and liver damage and cancer, since these genes can escape into the environment reversing this damage can be nearly impossible. It has been shown that genetic engineering leads to totally unexpected, and often deadly results yeilding toxic foods and highly deformed organisms. This is due to the sheer complexity of the genetic system that we will never be able to understand, and that humans have evolved and developed to be able to process and utililize certain naturally occuring chemicals proteins, genetic engineering creates proteins which have never been consumed before and are well outside the normal limits of what would be produced by natural conception processes, as the food we have eaten for millions of years has been so, it is not surprising that these artificial synthetic foods are causing problems in peoples bodies. We are best staying with what our bodies are naturally adapted to handle over millions of years of evolution and away from risky frankenstienian experiments, and messing with or altering living things. Technology is great in your ipod, but i dont want it on my plate.

They're waiting for you gordon ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26014529)

or unleashing mutants that invade the world

..... in the test chamber

Re:what could possible go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26015049)

Manipulating genetics is far too dangerous in my opinion, especially since organisms self reproduce. We could end up contaminating our food supply or unleashing mutants that invade the world.

I think that you're failing to see the difference between R&D in a lab and massive implementation to make a bunch of money without knowing what the adverse effects could be. I'll all for increasing human knowledge and investigating how everything works, experimenting and whatnot but am fully against companies like Monsanto.

5th Element? (1)

joshuao3 (776721) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014625)

How many helices are needed until we've created the 5th Element? :-) Sci-fi is so far ahead of actual science, it's almost scary.

Another successful example of intelligent design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26015137)

Note to the Darwinian zealots - these molecules are being designed.

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