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Designer Genes Closer to Reality After Scientists Create New Chromosome

Update Date: Mar 31, 2014 09:28 AM EDT

The day is not very far when geneticists will be able to design a flawless set of human genes in a laboratory. In the related development, scientists have built a designer chromosome which they inserted into a cell. 

The chromosome which was heavily altered version had to undergo around 500 changes in its genetic base. 

"When you change the genome, you're gambling," said geneticist Jef Boeke from New York University who also led the project, according to CNET. "One wrong change can kill the cell."

However the cell survived making use of its new chromosome. It even took part in reproduction and subsequent cells carried the new chromosome forward. 

"The complete design and synthesis of [this gene]... establishes [brewer's yeast] as the basis for designer eukaryotic genome biology," researchers wrote in the accompanying article

The project started seven years ago with a program called Build-a-genome in which over 100 students each assembled tiny pieces of genetic code and sent their creations to Boeke. 

Reportedly, researchers were already able to duplicate a chromosome on a computer four years ago which could be built in the lab and inserted into a cell. 

"Biology is now undergoing a similar transition from the age of deciphering DNA sequence information of the genomes of biological species to a synthetic genome age," researchers wrote on the project website.

Researchers said he new development could lead to bio-factories that are capable of quickly manufacturing chemical that includes medicines and fuels. 

"We didn't know ahead of time whether it was going to work out or not. We know of many instances where we make one single base change and it will kill the yeast dead," Boeke said according to press release.

The findings of the study has been also published in the journal Science

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