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Easily 're-programmable cells' could be key in creation of new life forms
Date:11/7/2011

Scientists at the University of Nottingham are leading an ambitious research project to develop an in vivo biological cell-equivalent of a computer operating system.

The success of the project to create a 're-programmable cell' could revolutionise synthetic biology and would pave the way for scientists to create completely new and useful forms of life using a relatively hassle-free approach.

Professor Natalio Krasnogor of the University's School of Computer Science, who leads the Interdisciplinary Computing and Complex Systems Research Group, said: "We are looking at creating a cell's equivalent to a computer operating system in such a way that a given group of cells could be seamlessly re-programmed to perform any function without needing to modifying its hardware."

"We are talking about a highly ambitious goal leading to a fundamental breakthrough that will, -- ultimately, allow us to rapidly prototype, implement and deploy living entities that are completely new and do not appear in nature, adapting them so they perform new useful functions."

The game-changing technology could substantially accelerate Synthetic Biology research and development, which has been linked to myriad applications -- from the creation of new sources of food and environmental solutions to a host of new medical breakthroughs such as drugs tailored to individual patients and the growth of new organs for transplant patients.

The multi-disciplinary project, funded with a leadership fellowship for Professor Krasnogor worth more than 1 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), involves computer scientists, biologists and chemists from Nottingham as well as academic colleagues at other universities in Scotland, the US, Spain and Israel.

The project -- Towards a Biological Cell Operating System (AUdACiOuS) -- is attempting to go beyond systems biology -- the science behind understanding how living organis
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Contact: Emma Thorne
emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk
44-011-595-15793
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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