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Inexpensive, mass-produced genes core of synthetic biology advances at UH

We ran a similar gene synthesis story earlier; progress in this area is made in the UK, too. It'll open tons of research avenue, speeding the slow (and tedious) process of gene cloning, or gene modification (mutations, deletions, etc). Devices the size of a pager now have greater capabilities than computers that once occupied an entire room. Similar advances are being made in the emerging field of synthetic biology at the University of Houston, now allowing researchers to inexpensively program the chemical synthesis of entire genes on a single microchip. Xiaolian Gao, a professor in the department of biology and biochemistry at UH, works at the leading edge of this field. Her recent findings on how to mass produce multiple genes on a single chip are described in a paper titled “Accurate multiplex gene synthesis from programmable DNA microchips,?appearing in the current issue of Nature, the weekly scientific journal for biological and physical sciences research.

“Synthetic genes are like a box of Lego building blocks,?Gao said. “Their organization is very complex, even in simple organisms. By making programmed synthesis of genes economical, we can provide more efficient tools to aid the efforts of researchers to understand the molecular mechanisms that regulate biological systems. There are many potential biochemical and biomedical applications.?Most immediately, examples include understanding the regulation of gene function. Down the road, these efforts will improve health care, medicine and the environment at a fundamental level. Using current methods, programmed synthesis of a typical gene costs thousands of dollars. Thus, the prospect of creating the most primitive of living organisms, which requires synthesis of several thousand genes, would be prohibitive, costing millions of dollars and years of time. The system deve
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Source:University of Houston


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