Speculations about scientists one day creating life, are almost a thing of the past. The world is reeling to hear the announcement of self replicating RNA, one of the simple forms of Nucleotides. Ribonucleic Acid is thought to be one of the more primitive forms of DNA. It has a simpler form, and is used to construct the DNA as well as many proteins found in the cell. Creating a form that can self replicate, mutate, or breed in the lab is astounding.
For this to work the RNA must be able to replicate all the bases, and while they are not as long and highly structured as DNA, it is still quite a task, since it requires functional mutations to continue. One mutation resulting in an improper stop codon, or bases being put down improperly could cause self termination to the new RNA. This would have been hard to overcome in a laboratory setting. A full mapping of the strand and the bases would have been necessary. Since one of the major differences in RNA is Thiamine in place of Guanine. So this feat of great intellect must be celebrated. As well as the man hours that went into this designed RNA.
It was not too long ago, after all when scientists announced that they had created a self replicating cell in the lab. The world was shocked by that. One cell that could go into mitosis and create a complete replica. But what does this mean for the future? This kind of scientific breakthrough has the potential to aid in diseased tissues being replaced by healthy ones. Though one cell is not near enough for limbs to be replicated, using stem cells and healthy lab created DNA could potentially make for the regrowth of lost limbs, organs, and tissues due to surgical removal or loss. It can also pave the future for designer genes.
Also released this week was news that scientists have found a silencer protein for genes. This is another giant leap forward as we learn about our cells. Being able to activate and silence genes is about as close to god as we have come so far. The potential there is astounding. If you don’t want a gene causing a mess, shut it off. Though understanding which genes you shut off is vital to every living cell. Shutting off the wrong gene can cause other genes that it controls to shut off as well. This has the potential to cause cellular damage.
The current advances in Cell Biology are amazing. They hold a immense amount of potential for our future, as we move towards the ability to silence gene based diseases. The future might look nothing like the past, when humans can live for hundreds of years, overcome chronic illness, and replace vital organs that have become diseased or malfunctioned. Human mutations can be eliminated, and MS can become a thing of the past. There is always a secondary effect of playing with nature, but when well managed the environment can be right for amazing advances in medicine.
This discovery of course has negative potential. Since it would be easy to design, designer babies. Which is another argument altogether. But for now we have a wonderful advance in science. Some scientists thought that life came from an even more primitive form of RNA called TNA, which is not as complex as RNA. With replicating, competitive RNA going on in the lab it won’t be long before we have a second trend towards first life, again. Then we can watch the advances as it moves from primitive to advanced. Perhaps under the right conditions we can see a whole new evolution. Who knows what potential this leads to, since we know some 235 million years ago it lead to dinosaurs. Could this be the potential for evolution to run its course again?