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New project could herald cheaper and more efficient biotechnology
Date:2/21/2012

at a bacterial cell can copy and read a strand of DNA that has been 'clicked' together, and enzymes can also use it to make RNA. It seems that cells don't notice the unusual 'click' linkages and so process the click-linked DNA normally.

Scientists are currently exploring whether we can use DNA to treat a whole range of diseases including certain cancers and HIV. We know that people who possess certain genes are more susceptible to these diseases so if we can turn off the appropriate gene we might be able to help combat the disease. One of the problems holding back this approach is that long strands of DNA are more effective at turning off genes than shorter ones, but are less readily taken up by the cells in our bodies. Using 'click' chemistry it might be possible to send in a series of short strands which then self-assemble in the cell and turn off the disease gene.

Professor Andrew Turberfield of the University of Oxford is another leading researcher on the project. He said "This new technology is an important addition to the toolbox of molecular techniques that is allowing researchers to explore how biological systems function by creating simplified and modified biomolecular machinery."

"We're really excited by the possibilities that this project could open up" said Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of BBSRC. "The 'click' technique could make DNA production cheaper, quicker and more efficient and deliver a range of useful new clinical and commercial molecules. However, we also need to be aware of the implications of making DNA assembly more widespread and accessible. BBSRC ran a public dialogue in 2010 on 'synthetic biology' which encompassed new technologies like these. The dialogue aimed to gauge people's hopes and fears for these new technologies so as to make sure that we, and the scientists engaged in this research, don't lose sight of the social and ethical dimensions of their work. This grant illustrates our commitment to in
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Contact: Tracey Jewitt
press.office@bbsrc.ac.uk
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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