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Artificial DNA Replicates and 'Evolves'

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the cylons-were-created-by-man dept.

Biotech 126

ananyo writes "Scientists have demonstrated that several lab-made variants of DNA can store and transmit information much like the genuine article. DNA is made up of nucleic acid bases — labelled A, C, G and T — on a backbone made of phosphates and the sugar deoxyribose. The artificial polymers, dubbed XNAs, carry the normal genetic 'alphabet' on a backbone made using different sugars. The researchers engineered enzymes that transcribed DNA into the various XNAs, then back into new DNA strands. Faithful genetic transmission over successive DNA-to-XNA cycles allowed researchers to select for only those XNAs that attached to certain target proteins from a pool of random samples — a process akin to evolution over multiple generations (abstract). The research confirms for the first time that replication, heredity and evolution can take place in artificial DNA-like molecules."

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Alan Turing's last words... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746433)

Alan Turing's last words: Can you fuck my arse one last time, love?

Skinjobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746447)

So is this the first step to create human form Cylons?

Re:Skinjobs (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746599)

Only if we combine it with toasters.

Re:Skinjobs (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747559)

Current theory holds that it took about 3 billion years to go from nucleic acids to complex multicellular organisms. So I'm not going to worry about it until at least after they gain a plasma membrane.

Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746469)

Possible to store all written knowledge in a cat?

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

mfh (56) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746559)

Possible to store all written knowledge in a cat?

Perhaps one day we'll realize that everything our alien forefathers knew was written in our DNA -- or cats (you know those Egyptians sure loved them). The code said that we had to overcome the religious superstitions and start venturing into space as a species or risk total annihilation.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746635)

The code says "this organism evolved naturally"

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746675)

I find it interesting that this shows that both Creationism and Evolution can co-exist ... minus the Sky Wizard part.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746807)

By removing the "Sky Wizard part" you remove creationism. This is genetic/biochemical engineering. There is as much creationism here as there is in designing a car.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746883)

I designed it and built it = I created it? Granted I didn't make its final form, so the strict adherents to the 6000 year old Earth thing are still wrong, but those of us who choose to believe the sky wizard set the wheels in motion at some point in the past are being sort of vindicated.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (2)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747709)

No, you still aren't. In fact, it's the opposite. By showing that we can create DNA from scratch, we're showing that no supernatural intervention is necessary.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39748337)

This proves nothing of the sort. The fact that researchers had to take an active hand and work under specific conditions to engineer XNA (itself nothing more than a form of biomimicry) is in itself proof that intelligence is required to kickstart the process.

You want to provide proof of spontaneous self-replicating protein generation? Go find some XNA laying around outside.

While you're at it, go to IKEA, buy a bookshelf, then take the contents and jostle them around in a big box and see how long before it self-assembles.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (3, Insightful)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748981)

You want to provide proof of spontaneous self-replicating protein generation? Go find some XNA laying around outside.

There's no need, the Miller-Urey experiment neatly showed that protein building blocks can self-assemble in nature. The leap to self-replication isn't as far a leap as that between nothing and amino acids.

The fact that these people have created a synthetic analogue to DNA does not prove that a creator diety created the real stuff any more than a Tesla coil making long electrical arcs would lead one to believe that Thor throws every natural lightning bolt.

For my two penneth worth, both you and the parent are wrong, though frankly you're the more wrong of the two. kurzweilfreak is correct for the wrong reasons while you are wrong, but for equally wrong reasons. In essence, the parent is saying that a creator deity need not exist because humans can create X; you are saying that because humans made X there must be a creator. There's nothing to say a creator and human ingenuity in recreating His/Her/Its creations are mutually exclusive, and there's nothing to say that because certain complex creations have not been seen to arise in nature in human timescales they couldn't without divine intervention.

Still, I'm talking out of my arse; It's not like a have a doctorate in biochemistry (I really don't). I just get irritated by people taking interesting but relatively small - as compared to, say, DNA itself - discoveries and using them to "prove" the existence of $GOD. Personally I don't see a problem in using a deity to explain how the Universe in all its splendour was set in motion; I confess that the idea of a cosmic finger flicking the first atoms like dominoes appeals to my love of whimsy. I do, however, say that you can't reconcile evolution with a deity creating - hence creationism the Earth and all creatures thereon in their current form, since there's a more than ample fossil record that says otherwise. I'm not going to get into the cop-out that is ID, mainly because it's just that - a cop-out for school boards - but also because I have difficulty in believing in any "intelligent" designer that would reinvent the wheel. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748821)

No, you still aren't. In fact, it's the opposite. By showing that we can create DNA from scratch, we're showing that no supernatural intervention is necessary.

Actually, this has no bearing on supernatural intervention or not. It simply means that scientists were able to make organic molecules that replicate like DNA does. It speaks nothing to the actual process that took place for that to happen in nature.

It is just as valid to argue that since man was able to do it, there is not supernatural intervention required as it is to argue that since man is outside the parameters of the created environment, man acted as the supernatural intervention. In other words, the research and results have no bearing, whatsoever as to whether or not there was or is supernatural intervention.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

silverdr (779097) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747107)

Isn't there in designing and producing a car enough creationism?

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

flirno (945854) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748093)

No because creationism specifically refers to the belief that the universe was created by a non-natural being. This has nothing to do with the realm of human artifice of any realm/genre.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (4, Funny)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746693)

My codes says "Be sure to drink your ovaltine"

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746853)

+1 Funny

But why this obsession with saving the species? Why not try to save the family or order?

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

RussR42 (779993) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746955)

Because saving our species means saving a lot of others as well? And if we do bother to save ourselves then the best evolutionary strategy for all other (earth) life suddenly becomes "Be useful to humans."

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746993)

But why this obsession with saving the species? Why not try to save the family or order?

We're humans. We consider ourselves more valuable than the rest of the Earth's creatures combined. If we do not survive then the rest of it doesn't matter because we won't be around to see it.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

flirno (945854) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748353)

At the least the idea is that the other critters are still interesting examples of genetics and of working organisms that we are still learning things from both of ourselves and of how organisms can be designed/engineered and exhibit good and bad points of different types of genetics.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748841)

But why this obsession with saving the species? Why not try to save the family or order?

We're humans. We consider ourselves more valuable than the rest of the Earth's creatures combined. If we do not survive then the rest of it doesn't matter because we won't be around to see it.

Of course, if the rest doesn't survive, we won't be around to see it, either. We really do have a symbiotic relationship with the rest of the planet.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39747019)

The last time I tried to help a chimpanzee, it tore my face off. Sorry, after that, I'm a one-species guy.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747755)

Because we don't see any other species that is concerned with saving the family, order or even their own species. We are the only species that will even consider trying to save any species. It is also that we try to save the animals that we consider "family". At one time that was a very small group. Now, most people see all humans as being related. We are also seeing this attitude move to other species as more people start seeing their dog or cat as a "person" or even a "family member". The save "family" idea is likely why some people consider it evil to eat meat, but feel no remorse in raising plants in a captive unnatural environment with forced breeding where their lives end with being ripped from their homes and eaten alive.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746943)

Somewhere, deep in our DNA, we will one day find the hidden message from our creators... a copyright notice.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39748391)

I think I have seen this plot [dresdencodak.com] before...

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (4, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747299)

The code said that we had to overcome the religious superstitions and start venturing into space as a species or risk total annihilation.

Incorrect; the actual message is as follows:

We

Apologize

For

The

Inconvenience

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

Evtim (1022085) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748119)

Well done, you beat me to it! But why you are not modded up is a mystery....

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748285)

Well, either I've made a sufficient number of enemies, or the reference was too nerdy even for /.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748861)

The day when Hitchhiker's Guide is 'to nerdy' for /. will be a sign of the end times.

(At least the end times of this site.)

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748149)

Or maybe the code was more like "Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels--bring home for Emma."

You never know.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748245)

Nah, it's just a video of an ugly female alien who tells us to try and just all get along.

Needless to say, everyone ignores her.

P.S. Are you still the original asshat who bought the account in order to get instinctive upmods from the mouth-breathers, or has he resold it?

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746903)

No. Unless there's a selective advantage towards maintaining a specific stretch of DNA you can expect it to accumulate mutations or deletions and be selected out of the genome.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746995)

You can only "expect" it to be selected out of the genome over an infinite period of time. Over a finite period, even if it is not beneficial, it is just as likely to stay as it is to go.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747231)

This is not true. DNA replication isn't perfect. Mutations will accrue.

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#39749503)

Umm, aren't you agreeing with him? You said "mutations will accrue", he said "..accumulate mutations...".

Re:Info library for the ages stored in organisms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39747213)

Cool... the index would be "the map of the cat" ol richard wanted.

Replication (1)

mfh (56) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746481)

Take it one step further, if we start breeding some computers, they could evolve to become more and more powerful while we all just relax and play video games. As we all get lazier and lazier, this is the eventual outcome; we will become obsolete when we stop adapting and the key limitation for any computer system is that the system is not able to improve itself. With this kind of DNA replication theory tested and proved, we now can use this to facilitate a computer chip that improves itself.

Fear Not (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746615)

With this kind of DNA replication theory tested and proved, we now can use this to facilitate a computer chip that improves itself.

What is the learning environment that defines what "improves" means?

I've studied artificial intelligence extensively and there's a whole lot of effort going into reinforcement learning, genetic annealing, etc. But the key thing to remember with DNA is that the Earth provided this environment for it to be tested in and be given feedback. The feedback was and still is exceptionally harsh in that you either died or adapted. On top of that, the DNA lead to things that eventually competed with each other.

The problem with computer chips is that there is no fundamental death/life reward system unless we as humans implement it. And there will always be a need for us to do this because nature doesn't care about logic gates, we do. If you make a set of chips to provide an environment for incubating and reward or punishing the first set of chips, you merely have another layer where humans must evaluate and instruct the chips as to what it is that we want.

Faithful genetic transmission over successive DNA-to-XNA cycles allowed researchers to select for only those XNAs that ...

Unfortunately, in order to impose your will (no matter how lazy you wish to be) you still must define your will. And I think you'll see that it becomes a major effort when trying to set up automated systems like you propose.

Simply said: define "improves." Putting the chips outside and pitting them against each other in nature isn't gonna do it. The ability to direct harmful radiation will probably win out over gigahertz or logic gates per area.

Re:Fear Not (2)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747307)

The metric of improvement will probably be its ability to kill all humans. It's an understudied area of AI that is full of potential advances.

Re:Fear Not (1)

lpp (115405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747821)

For any AI to substantially compete in the arena of killing humans, they must first overtake the leader in that arena -- humanity.

Re:Fear Not (1)

flirno (945854) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748143)

They wouldn't even have to 'kill' all humans. For example they could just prevent human reproduction.

Re:Fear Not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39747949)

- make a lot of it
- shoot it to venus
- ???
- venusians

Don't despair (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748505)

"The problem with computer chips is that there is no fundamental death/life reward system unless we as humans implement it. And there will always be a need for us to do this because nature doesn't care about logic gates, we do. If you make a set of chips to provide an environment for incubating and reward or punishing the first set of chips, you merely have another layer where humans must evaluate and instruct the chips as to what it is that we want."

Don't despair, this is how humans have hade breeding programs for the domestic animals like cattle, goats, sheep, horses, cats, and dogs for millennia.

So, of course we will have evaluate them at some points before we can hope to use them.

Impressed (2)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746489)

The research confirms for the first time that replication, heredity and evolution can take place in artificial DNA-like molecules.

That is pretty impressive. Up til now I was firmly of the opinion that chemistry only worked properly in natural molecules.

Re:Impressed (2)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746543)

I think this might count as biology, not chemistry... (Although it's right at the overlap.)

Re:Impressed (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746751)

It's both, just because a chemical process takes place in a biological context doesn't mean it stops being chemistry.

Re:Impressed (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746821)

It's physics~

Re:Impressed (2)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746935)

It is Mathmatics ...

Re:Impressed (1)

flirno (945854) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748367)

When you get far enough all of the different natural sciences are just pieces of the puzzle of how stuff has been working.

Re:Impressed (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748467)

You're all wrong. It's turtles, all the way down.

Re:Impressed (1)

RussR42 (779993) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746983)

This thread is starting to sound like the early script for an episode of "The Big Bang Theory"...

Re:Impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746909)

Relevant XKCD...?

http://xkcd.com/435/

Re:Impressed (1)

hemo_jr (1122113) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746925)

Thus the term, "biochemistry."

That's abiogenesis (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747209)

The researchers just created a very simple life form (if it evolves, it is alive for any usefull pourpose here) from molecules that are expected to be created at random at the earlier times of our planet. Now somebody just needs to calculate the probability of those molecules appearing and interacting anywhere on the planet, and we have a lower value for the probability of life appearing on Earth.

Of course, that's different life from we, as we likely come from the evolution of RNA molecules.

Labeled A, G, C, T (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746497)

Is it that hard to type out adenine guanine cytosine and thymine? Even my cereal box has thymine written on the side!

So It Has Come To This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746505)

so it has come to this

Spongiform cure? (1, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746509)

The ability to "breed" chemicals that bond to specific proteins sounds like it could cure a boatload of previously incurable diseases. I'm not sure that is what the researchers are going for, but to me, this sounds like "miracle cure" type stuff.

Bacteria/virus/tumor cells/prions go in, perfectly tailored antibody components come out. Attach some highly reactive oxides/chlorides and you have a targeted antibiotic. At least that's how the science fiction version of this would go.

Re:Spongiform cure? (1)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746753)

At the same time, you have some incredibly well targeted toxins. Imagine a researcher discovering the unique enough markers for certain families or racial groups (if such a thing exists).

Re:Spongiform cure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39747505)

Sssh, we can't let Time Hitler get wind of this.

Re:Spongiform cure? (3, Informative)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746775)

We can already tailor antibodies to particular protiens. The issue is that cancer cells, bacteria and viruses are complicated. Their populations change under selective pressure from antibodies so that the protiens that were useful targets beocome useless, etc. While we are finding highly conserved genes to target it is non trivial.

Re:Spongiform cure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39747215)

Whatever could go wrong with lab-made DNA?
We're just beginning to learn how to do this while the real thing has been working on it for millions (if not billions) of years (or maybe just 6500 years if that is your belief).

I, for one (1, Funny)

Loughla (2531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746549)

welcome our new Descoladores overlords.

Grab your popcorn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746565)

Here's proof that intelligent beings can induce evolution. That should blow the minds of both creationists and evolutionists.

The resulting debate should be VERY entertaining.

Re:Grab your popcorn! (1)

Empiric (675968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747389)

Well, at least we were forewarned.

Jesus said, "When you see your likeness, you are pleased. But when you see your images which came into being before you, and which neither die nor become manifest, how much you will have to bear!

--Thomas

Re:Grab your popcorn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39748197)

You do not 'induce' evolution. You create an environment in which evolution may be observed to take place.

Re:Grab your popcorn! (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748235)

The resulting debate should be VERY entertaining.

I'm leaning more towards 'stupid' than entertaining.

I don't think so (1)

Evtim (1022085) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748463)

Since when science says that intelligence cannot induce evolution? I don't think any scientist would be surprised as you suggested. God-like intelligence will certainly be aware of the laws of nature and be able to create whatever....the issues with the God hypothesis lie elsewhere. Who is the evolutionist who says that "intelligence did it" is not a hypothesis to be considered? Of course it is - this is where Darwin (and the ones before him) started. "Argument of design" rings a bell? It used to be called proof, not argument, that should tell you a great deal. The important thing is that evolution offers simpler explanation, supported by facts and does not require meddling intelligence, thus avoiding the other issues of introducing creator with a capital "c". Besides, the whole history of the universe is a story of complexity bred from simplicity (few forces, matter/energy) and time. Life is no exception. No surprises, really..

Anyway, soon we will see Ridley Scott's view on this issue. As far as I understood Prometheus is exactly about intelligence meddling with biology/evolution.

more like intelligent design than evolution... (1)

thegreatemu (1457577) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746569)

FTFS: "...allowed researchers to select for only those XNAs that attached to certain target proteins from a pool of random samples — a process akin to evolution over multiple generations."

It sounds overreaching to call this "evolution" if the researchers are selecting the better-performing samples. Incredibly cool, amazing breakthrough, but not evolution...

Re:more like intelligent design than evolution... (3, Insightful)

JazzHarper (745403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746689)

It sounds overreaching to call this "evolution" if the researchers are selecting...

Artificial selection and natural selection are equally valid ways of inducing evolution. Without some selection process, it's just random variation, with no trend.

Re:more like intelligent design than evolution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746901)

Artificial selection and natural selection are equally valid ways of inducing evolution. Without some selection process, it's just random variation, with no trend.

You do realize that this statement says evolution and intelligent design are not mutually exclusive, right?

Re:more like intelligent design than evolution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39747001)

Oh dear, you had to go and say that. Now we'll have to listen to more of each side's fanaticists going on and on instead of them sitting down and doing some real scientific work. Reminds me of climate change. *ducks*

Re:more like intelligent design than evolution... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39747421)

Oh dear, you had to go and say that. Now we'll have to listen to more of each side's fanaticists going on and on instead of them sitting down and doing some real scientific work. Reminds me of climate change. *ducks*

No, really - the summary did that. This is not akin to evolution over multiple generations. It might fit Darwin's definition, but today we would just call this "selection". Evolution has come to be known as something much different and highly political. Selection (artificial or natural) is just a basic process that can be readily observed by anyone.

Re:more like intelligent design than evolution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39747617)

What is the functional difference between artificial and natural selection?

Re:more like intelligent design than evolution... (1)

flirno (945854) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748259)

Functionally? No difference. The only difference is in how the execution of the function happens. In the case of artifical selection, the selection is deliberately designed whereas in natural selection the system and the results over time are not deliberately designed.

Re:more like intelligent design than evolution... (1)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748375)

Exactly. Breeding of dogs must be proof of the God of Abraham!

Re:more like intelligent design than evolution... (1)

flirno (945854) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748663)

Another way to put it is artifical selection is staged (by people :P). Natural selection happens in the wild.

Re:more like intelligent design than evolution... (1)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747859)

No, we don't, because it doesn't say that and you are an idiot. Artificial selection != intelligent design.

Re:more like intelligent design than evolution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746729)

the "god of the gaps" expression is perfectly mapped to this example.

once we thought it was only possible for this to happen through god, then we realised it was a biological process, but didnt know how, now we understand better the how, we don't know the conditions it can happen automatically.

so I'd say that gap just closed a little bit more, where are you hiding now Mr Holy Trinity....

:)

Re:more like intelligent design than evolution... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746977)

Yes, evolution, it's just that instead of natural environmental forces determining fitness, it's the scientist. Darwin certainly saw artificial selection (animal breeding) as a form of evolution, and even used it as an example.

Here's a hint. Genes have no brains. They have no way of knowing that they're being selected for or against by, say, colder winters, or because a scientist is invoking an arbitrary set of standards. In either case, it is evolutionary forces shaping the hereditary units.

Re:more like intelligent design than evolution... (2)

cpricejones (950353) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747637)

In their experiment, selection is not hand choosing in the sense that you are selecting which apple to buy at the supermarket. The selections usually performed in these types of experiments are binding interactions or some form of catalysis. All of the XNAs (random pool) that bind to a target molecule or perform the desired reaction are taken to the next step of the process. This pool of "winners" is then amplified to create a new random pool for the next selection. Over many rounds of selection, you get the best binders back, and you can study their properties and so on. There is no guarantee that if you perform the selection all over again that you will end up with the same XNAs due to the randomness inherent in the pool and the selection process. "Intelligent design" (fictional characters in the sky aside) would be to start out designing the XNA to bind the target molecule from scratch. This is very difficult to do as is rational drug design in general because we don't know enough yet about molecular interactions.

Faithful genetic transmission and evolution. (2)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746587)

Faithful genetic transmission over successive DNA-to-XNA cycles allowed researchers to select for only those XNAs that attached to certain target proteins from a pool of random samples — a process akin to evolution over multiple generations

No, faithful genetic transmission is the exact opposite of the mutation necessary for a process akin to evolution.

Re:Faithful genetic transmission and evolution. (3, Interesting)

kubernet3s (1954672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746757)

You need a certain degree of faithfulness: if you lose too much information each transcription, there's no selection. I think geneticists have math for this that I'm not perfeclty versed in, but if you, say, lose 50% of your genome each generation, the increased chance that the next generation gets your good genes is negligible compared to the chance that they would have received that gene randomly. The news here is that they got transcription good enough to "evolve" their XNA, that is a high enough proportion of each generation was viable that they could be cycled through to the next population.

DNA XNA (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746721)

So if we can engineer different forms of XNA that are compatible with DNA replication, we can build some additional functions into them. Like the ability to pattern match strings of XNA based on magnetic or electrical properties. Think about genetic RFID tags.

Since it might be possible to introduce these tagged sugar molecules through the food supply, the day will come when the TSA contracts to supply all your kids their school lunches.

Re:DNA XNA (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746949)

I'm far more worried what companies like Monsanto could do with this.

However, if they can be easily engineered, and not just replicate existing DNA through a selection process, which seems to be the first step, I see some pretty radical possibilities for medicinal use, replacing or augmenting faulty or damaged DNA.
Until the religious get their panties in a knot about messing with creation, that is.

XNAs (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746735)

I've dabbled with XNAs before. They start out cornflower blue, and eventually evolve into video games.

Replicants (1)

Iniamyen (2440798) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746963)

Replicants are like any other machine - they're either a benefit or a hazard. If they're a benefit, it's not my problem.

Are we Gods now? (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747039)

Man has become God.

God want his share of the profits now....

Incoming lawsuit from Microsoft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39747047)

Oh you best believe they will destroy any attack on their platform.

Who do these guys think they are stealing Microsofts highly rated and award winning development platform?
Only Apple are allowed to do that.

artificial DNA (1)

danielpauldavis (1142767) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747189)

Completely ignoring the elephant in the room: the assiduous intelligence needed to assemble the stuff.

Re:artificial DNA (1)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748061)

The obvious loud-roaring mouse in the room says that no supernatural intervention was required, only natural processes. Intelligence assembled THESE molecules. It was not shown that intelligence was required to assemble DNA in general. Creationist fail again, as usual.

This doesn't sound so great: (1)

spads (1095039) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747407)

"Faithful genetic transmission over successive DNA-to-XNA cycles allowed researchers to select for only those XNAs that attached to certain target proteins from a pool of random samples — a process akin to evolution over multiple generations."

A material's just being "sticky" is no kind of confirmation of the sequence uniformity. They would have to be sequenced to confirm this.

The article only provides the most superficial description, and this is Science and Nature, though it also smacks of some (by no means atypical these days) grand-standing.

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39747457)

In other news scientists working on lab made DNA variants were hit with a multi-trillion dollar lawsuit. The lawsuit claims that the scientists infringed on several patents held by an entity that is only identified by the initials G.O.D. According to lawyers for G.O.D. the scientists' work has allowed others to cheaply develop counterfeit products that utilize various copyright protected procedures in DNA. Lawyers for G.O.D. stress that the quality of these products are grossly inferior to the originals and that further development continues to impact the ability of artists like G.O.D. from creating new works. G.O.D. could not be reached for comment, but various religious leaders who claim to be close friends to G.O.D. claim that G.O.D. is really upset. According to them, G.O.D. is having a hard time as it is making a living while those pirating G.O.D's work are making millions.

More on this as the story unfolds....

Click below to comment:

Re:In other news... (1)

Evtim (1022085) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748809)

MAFIA shill:
- I think that G.O.D. is fully entitled to receive the fruits of His work! And surely his product is way superior to any cheap derivatives! I mean, look at "insert name of hot celebrity here"!

Anti-MAFIA dude:
- G.O.D. should do well to promote his products without the help of the corporations! That is why He is starving - have you seen the contracts? Go indie, G.O.D. !

Anonymous coward (agent from the North Korean propaganda center):
- G.O.D. does not exists! This is a plot of the imperialists to destroy our perfect society!

Anonymous coward (die-hard right-wing):
- The case with G.O.D. is going to be used by the government to enact more control and further slide us into Communism!

(former) Atheists:
- I did not believe in G.O.D. But now that He has manifested Himself through His lawyers I find the situation outrageous! We find Him destitute; His work stolen by pirates! I ask: where are all those "religious" leaders now! They claimed for thousands of years that they they were doing His work and they could not protect the dearest possessions of every intelligent being - His Intellectual Property?! Ridiculous! I demand that all due compensations as defined by the lawyers be paid by all religious organizations in the world!

Religious organizations:
- Holy shit!

You call this science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39747935)

The article is worthless without a description of the chemical structure of the "XNA". The abstract doesn't describe it, and the full paper is paywalled.

Proof of Syn Life (1)

glorybe (946151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39747939)

A higher order being created with 100% XNA would be stark proof to the doubters that man can create life or better said they would be forced to confront "unreal" life forms.

Here it comes (1)

DancesWithRobots (903395) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748009)

Beware of Shoggoths.

Oh no, here comes Micro$oft and Nathan (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748035)

Geez Louise! Just wait until M$'s litigation division hears someone using their "XNA" brand --- holy shyster hell is about to break loose, with Nathan Myrvold's Intellectual Ventures' scam not far behind.........

XNA is awesome, can't wait to see silverlight ver (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39748231)

:p

Beautiful science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39748689)

See, this is what I call beautiful science.

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