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Scientists Used CRISPR to Engineer a New ‘Superbug’ That’s Invincible to All Viruses


A team at the University of Cambridge recently used CRISPR to replace over 18,000 codons with synthetic amino acids that don’t exist anywhere in the natural world. The result is a bacteria that’s virtually resistant to all viral infections—because it lacks the normal protein “door handles” that viruses need to infect the cell.


But that’s just the beginning of engineering life’s superpowers. Until now, scientists have only been able to slip one designer amino acid into a living organism. The new work opens the door to hacking multiple existing codons at once, copyediting at least three synthetic amino acids at the same time. And when it’s 3 out of 20, that’s enough to fundamentally rewrite life as it exists on Earth.

长期以来,我们一直认为,“重新分配生物的密码子子集,可以提高遗传密码扩展技术的实用性和通用性,”来自波士顿学院的Delilah Jewel和Abhishek Chatterjee博士,他们没有参与这项研究。“这项工作巧妙地将梦想变成了现实。”

We’ve long thought that “liberating a subset of…codons for reassignment could improve the robustness and versatility of genetic-code expansion technology,” wrote Drs. Delilah Jewel and Abhishek Chatterjee at Boston College, who were not involved in the study. “This work elegantly transforms that dream into a reality.”