In a major step toward creating artificial life, U.S. researchers have developed a living organism that incorporates both natural and artificial DNA and is capable of creating entirely new, synthetic proteins.

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Floyd Romesberg, is a chemical biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla and founder of Synthorx Inc, which is working on developing new protein-based treatments. 

In 2014, Romesberg and colleagues created a strain of E. coli bacteria that contained two unnatural letters, X and Y.

In latest work by Floyd and team has shown that this partially synthetic form of E. coli can take instructions from this hybrid genetic alphabet to make new proteins.

“This is the first time ever a cell has translated a protein using something other than G, C, A or T,” Romesberg told Reuters Inc.

Romesberg is interested in using this expanded genetic alphabet to create new types of proteins that can be used to treat disease.


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