DALLAS (February 4, 2013) Imagine what it would be like if we could create a microorganism that would clean up pollution, or a new kind of algae that produces jet fuel. What if we could program cells to fight disease? Synthetic biologists are predicting all of this and more… and some of it is already possible.
Synthetic biology is a new field of study that some scientists believe will prove just as important to our society as the technological revolution that brought us personal computers and the Internet. It hinges on one vital element… our accelerating ability to manipulate DNA.
In Hollywood, DNA helps sleuths solve crimes… or allows mad scientists to recreate dinosaurs. What synthetic biologists are achieving is no less scientifically amazing-and a lot more practical. Already, they are doing things like reprogramming the DNA inside cells to produce lifesaving drugs, paving the way for an entirely new way for our civilization to produce the things it needs.
“You don’t want to be harvesting the entire rainforest to get a small quantity of a great anti-cancer drug,” explains Jay Keasling, a professor of bio-engineering at the University of California Berkley. “You’d like to take a little piece of that tree that does it, find the genes in there, put them into a microbe and brew that, just like you’re brewing beer. And get that drug out. That’s the promise of synthetic biology.”
But medical uses are only the start for this new frontier in modern science. Industrial giants like DuPont and Goodyear are programming microbes to create improved products. And everyone from Exxon Mobil to the US Department of Energy is betting that synthetic biology holds the key to making clean, renewable fuel.
Tune in tomorrow night for all of the latest and fascinating news about this new frontier in modern science. “Dan Rather Reports: The Cutting Edge” airs Tuesday, February 5 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT only on AXS TV.
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