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October 30, 2010

Craig Venter's Talks replacing your bacteria for better health, no infections and no cavities

Transterrestrial Musings covered the Craig Venter talk

His team has synthesized a megabyte chromosome. Everything in the cell was derived from the chromosome and the natural traces were all deleted. They are digitizing biology.

There is 1-3% difference between unrelated humans, which is ten times more than previously thought.

Had hoped for first synthetic species last year, but was wrong. Needed proofreading software. Had a sequence that could boot with ten synthetic sections and one natural one, so they knew where the problem was.

Parabolic Arc also has coverage of Craig's talk.



Every person who goes to ISS is bringing maybe 10 million bacteria, genes, etc. with him/her

Synthetic Metabiome - replace bacteria that are on a person

* replace the thousands of microbes on and in humans preparing for long-term space flight or habitation with a defined microbial community
* microbial community could eliminate disease organisms, methanogens, sulfur producers
* microbial community could add cells to produce certain vitamins and proteins needed for long-term space missions.
* eliminate future infections, tooth decay

– Can only define essential and non-essential genes based on the environment you are in
– 40 million genes discovered to date are design components for future organisms…could eventually discover 300 million genes
– try to build a robot that can make thousands to millions of genes per day

Fuel, Food and Vaccines

– Fuel from algae…a partnership with Synthetic Genomics (Venter founded company)
– could get 10 years to get to commercial quantities…needs synthetic genomics to make the algae produce fuel properly
– could use synthetic biology with algae to produce food for space exploration
– also turn waste into drinking water
– new vaccine company to use genomics to produce viable vaccines

Conclusions

– Start looking at genetic code of people to see how to adapt them to spaceflight
– Human metobiome to understand role of body microbes in human physiology
– Synthetic genomes for food, water, renewable fuel production and recycling waste
– Synthetic genomes to increase nutrition, decrease waste products, and provide radiation protection, etc.

Q&A Session

– Synthetic genomes could really change the way NASA does its operations
– Leap from selection to engineering is a complicated one

Hobby space (space transport news) has coverage as well

Humans are born without microrganism but quickly acquire them
- Don't really understand what these thousands of microorganism do
- Each involves billions of base pairs
- Human microbiome and immunity
- Esophageal cancers has been fastest growing cancer in the US. Environmental issue. Microbes might be involved.
- 450-550 chemicals in blood plasma
- Approximately 60% human, 30% diet, 10% bacterial
- Quite difficult to deliberately produce a pathogen.
- Currently insure that the organisms cannot grow outside of lab.
- Rate of applications for space or something else depends a lot on the funding available.
- Can't think of an organization that could do more with artificial organisms than NASA

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