One of the most authoritative and entertaining books on synthetic biology is Regenesis written by George Church. Dr Church is a Harvard professor who easily fits into the top 5 humans alive today on Genetics.

His lab has many ground breaking inventions / developments in genetics, synthetic life and disease treatment. Earlier this year I had a thrilling opportunity to have lunch with George Church. Over the course of an hour he left me speechless on 3 separate occasions – the advancements they were developing were simply that profound. (see below)

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Regenesis provides insight into how evolution made us who we are today. It takes it one step farther by engineering what we have learned from nature and making it better. Much much better.

If you interesting is in resurrecting long lost species, a later chapter is devoted to it.

A good analogy is housing. Historically speaking humankind used to live in caves. With advancements in building materials, construction techniques, and modelling, our living environment is engineered to meet our needs. The same is about to happen with life, we will soon engineer life with the ease that we engineer buildings.

The last chapter really shows what is possible. The book, after it was published, it was encoded entirely in DNA. In other words every word and every page was written in a strand of DNA. A strand that could be read, copied and stored in a cell.

I highly recommend this book.

The 3 things that left me speechless were:

1. Images and Video: Using DNA to images and even video. You could create a paint that is full of cells that act like cameras. To read the image, simple sequence the genome. An image is mega pixels in size, a genome is giga base pairs (1000 times the size) – its plausible. Imagine a wall that remembers everything.

2. Cure Cancer: Using high precision DNA replacement techniques to cure cancer. By sequencing many cancer genomes, it you could create a short list of critical mutations and target them with deletion. I proposed a similar approach in my article on cancer/RNA, but George’s solution is better.

3. New Classes of Life – This is a little technical – There are 20 codon to amino acids mapping in humans. However, there are 64 (4*4*4) codon combinations, many are redundant. Using DNA replacement, you could remove one codon mapping in DNA entirely (switching it to a redundant copy). Freeing up a codon mapping. That means you could assign it to a entirely new synthetic amino acid (tRNA mapping to be exact). Allowing you to create entirely new classes of life.


Categories: Books, Genetics

Author:Geoffrey Shmigelsky

Technology Entrepreneur, Angel Investor


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