Francis Crick and James Dewey Watson mailed brief article on the double-helix structure of DNA to Nature in 1953. More recently, scientists have designed of a new type of DNA.
In a dramatic rewrite of the recipe for life, scientists from Florida have described the design of a new type of DNA with 12 chemical letters instead of the usual four. Presented at the 237th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), this artificial genetic system already is helping to usher in the era of personalized medicine for millions of patients with HIV, hepatitis and other diseases.
The research may also shed light on how life arose on Earth, by producing a self-sustaining molecule capable of Darwinian evolution and reproduction, much like one that many scientists suggest arose at the dawn of life on Earth nearly four billion years ago.
Led by Steven Benner, Ph.D., this team is rewriting the rulebook that Nobel laureates James Watson and Francis Crick started when they described DNA’s structure in 1953. One of the crowning discoveries of 20th century science, Watson and Crick’s discovery established how the four chemical “letters” of DNA — A, T, C and G — pair up.
These pairing rules, for instance, make it very difficult for researchers to develop multiplexed diagnostic tests for viral diseases — tests that require identification and tagging of viral DNA. Old methods used regular DNA to bind and tag foreign genetic material. But natural DNA would often bind with non-disease DNA and generate confusing false positive and false negative results.
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