September 22, 2012

Regenesis Highlights

George Church has written a new book Regenesis. I have bought it and read it. It is a fantastic book and essential reading for anyone interested in the future of science and humanity. It is like a new Engines of Creation in the boldness of its goals but with near term objectives that already have companies and labs working towards the goals. The author George Church is actively driving much of key research and companies.

George Church has indicated that we are years from successful regeneration and anti-aging. He has also talked about radically altering human DNA on a genomic scale to achieve increased intellectual, health and physical capabilities.

George's work towards a synthetic self replicating self sustaining minimal cell will enable many of the functions of Drexler's assembler. It will be a milestone in synthetic biology that will take it to another level of productivity and capability. The synthetic minimal cell would enable the production of materials tool large or otherwise incompatible with the more elaborate functioning systems of a complex cell. The cell will have all parts controlled and understand by its makers.

First here is what George has done and why when he talks about what can be done with genomics and synthetic biology, he is credible.

Wikipedia - George Church is an American molecular geneticist. He is currently Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and MIT, and a core faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. He's widely regarded as a pioneer in personal genomics and synthetic biology.

With Walter Gilbert he developed the first direct genomic sequencing method in 1984 and helped initiate the Human Genome Project in 1984 while he was a Research Scientist at newly formed Biogen Inc. He invented the broadly applied concepts of molecular multiplexing and tags, homologous recombination methods, and DNA array synthesizers. Technology transfer of automated sequencing & software to Genome Therapeutics Corp. resulted in the first commercial genome sequence, (the human pathogen, Helicobacter pylori) in 1994.

He initiated the Personal Genome Project (PGP) in 2005, and, in 2007, he founded the U.S. personal genomics company Knome (with Jorge Conde and Sundar Subramaniam). He does research on synthetic biology and is director of the U.S. Department of Energy Center on Bioenergy at Harvard & MIT and director of the National Institutes of Health (NHGRI) Center of Excellence in Genomic Science at Harvard.

He has been advisor to 22 companies, co-founding (with Joseph Jacobson, Jay Keasling, and Drew Endy) Codon Devices, a biotech startup dedicated to synthetic biology, which produces DNA sequences to order. With Chris Somerville, Jay Keasling, Noubar Afeyan, and David Berry he founded LS9, which is focused on biofuels or renewable petroleum technologies.

In 2009 he founded Pathogenica, with Yemi Adesokan, in order to pioneer commercial applications for pathogen sequencing technology.

He has authored and co-authored more than 270 publications and 50 patent

Full blown Genomic Engineering for resurrection the Wooly Mammoth

This could be done with MAGE (Multiplex automated genomic engineering) technology. MAGE was also developed by George. Genomic Engineering works a few nucleotides at a time. MAGE works in a wholesale fashion.

1. Take the elephant genome
2. Break it into 30,000 pieces of 100,000 DNA units in length
3. Use a reconstructed Mammoth genome as a template
4. Select the important changes to make the elephant genome
5. Reassemble the changed pieces
6. Transfer into the egg cell for the female elephant to give birth to the new Mammoth clone

The same can be done for the Neanderthal.

However, the important thing is that if the technology of genomic engineering can do these kinds of miracles then other radical biological will also be possible.

He has a specific list of genetic changes that would enable immunity to viruses, transgenic copying to extend human life, and other enhancements. There are animals that can get younger and there are life forms with very long lifespans.

DNA encoded data is 100,000 times cheaper than Bluray disk

A Hong Kong iGem team developed the method for encoding books and information into DNA.

At 1 base pair per cubic nanometer. 53 Gigabytes of all language Wikipedia would fit into a 5 micron diameter sphere (the size of a human red blood cell) at 100 times redundancy would cost $1 for 100,000 copies. 1 50 Gigabyte Bluray disk would cost $1 in bulk.

Synthetic self replicating self sustaining minimal cell

A genome of perhaps 151 genes (113,000 base pairs long) could be enough for minium viable fully synthetic cell. The plan is to make the genome an then put it into a lipid-bilayer membrane sphere filled with the macromolecular enzymes encoded by the 151 genes and minimal small inventory of small molecules needed for life. The entire system would be bootstrapped into existence by the addition of synthetic ribosomes, translation factors, and other structures inspired by E. coli.

It will have deliberate dependence on nutrients that do not exist in nature.

The synthetic minimal cell would enable the production of materials tool large or otherwise incompatible with the more elaborate functioning systems of a complex cell.

It would be milestone in taming biology. A fully domesticated synthetic biology. It would be a biological version of the molecular nanotech assembler.

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