Synthetic proteins that sustain life created

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Washington: In what could help "build" new biological systems in the future, scientists claim to have created for the first time artificial proteins that enable the growth of living cells.

A team at Princeton University has constructed genetic sequences never before seen in nature and showed that they can produce substances which sustain life in cells as readily as proteins produced by nature`s own toolkit.

"What we`ve here are molecular machines that function quite well within a living organism even though they were designed from scratch and expressed from artificial genes.

"This tells us that the molecular parts kit for life need not be limited to parts -genes and proteins -that already exist in nature," said Prof Michael Hecht, who led the research.

He added: "Our work suggests that the construction of artificial genomes capable of sustaining cell life may be within reach."

Nearly all previous work in synthetic biology has focused on reorganising parts drawn from natural organisms.

In contrast, the results described by the team show that biological functions can be provided by macromolecules that were not borrowed from nature, but designed in the laboratory, says Hecht.

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