New Synthetic Bacteria Is Immune to Infection

New Synthetic Bacteria Is Immune to Infection

( – Escherichia coli (E. coli) are bacteria that exists virtually everywhere — in food, the environment, and inside human and animal digestive tracts. While most people associate it with infections and sickness, most of the strains are harmless. According to the CDC, the most talked about strain of the bacteria is the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), which can make people very ill. Scientists recently created a completely synthetic strain of bacteria that cannot be infected with viruses.

On March 30, the UK scientists shared the creation of Syn61, which has three less codons than a typical E. coli bacteria strain. The trio removed included two that made amino acid serine encoding possible, and the other that was responsible for stopping the protein assembly. After some tinkering, the result meant the new strain would not only resist viruses but would not be able to transfer unwanted genetic material from organism to organism.

The changes to the bacteria could help the biotechnology industry lower safety concerns and increase the consistency of products. Eurogentec reported that scientists use E. coli to produce proteins and plasmid DNA, so making a safe synthetic strain of the bacteria could potentially change the biotech industry for the better.

Harvard University researcher Akos Nyerges stated bacteriophages are very diverse all over the globe. In fact, “bacterial viruses” exist everywhere, from the bottoms of shoes to our waterways and backyards. The design of the new Syn61 limits its growth and makes it dependent on an unnatural amino acid for survival, stopping it from escaping into the wild and replicating.

University of Leuven researcher Rob Lavigne told The Scientist that this revolutionary breakthrough could provide a blueprint for creating other synthetic genomes for other organisms. He didn’t give any idea of what that could mean exactly but indicated the technology could be used for more complex structures.

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