Sign up FAST! Login

The next generation nanomachines are already inside you, and will be created through genetically engineering ribosomes.

Stashed in: Science!, Awesome, Singularity!, The Singularity, Nanotechnology, Nanotech!

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Scientists have genetically engineered unique, experimental ribosomes (the molecular factories in all cells) to make Ribo-T. 

This is a big step toward "custom biological nano-machines of the future" because they allow scientists "to tinker with ribosomes in living organisms... without worrying about killing them."

I'm thinking CRISPR will make this process much easier:

Inside every living cell are molecule-building factories called ribosomes. These tiny machines read blueprints of genetic information and fabricate the molecules that make up all life. They are hugely important to genetic engineers and researchers, because controlling ribosomes could be the way to synthesize the custom-made biological nano-machines of the future—ones that could make anything from therapeutic human antibodies to the next generation of unfathomably complex super-materials.

There's a problem: Engineering a ribosome to do interesting tricks often means paralyzing and killing its parent cell. But today, a team of biologists and biological engineers at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois have made a fascinating breakthrough that could help scientists get around this roadblock. As they report in a new study in the journal Nature, the scientists have created unique, experimental ribosomes they're calling Ribo-T that are the first ever to passively co-exist with a living cell's natural ribosomes. It means that for the first time, researchers will be able to tinker with ribosomes in living organisms, such as bacteria, without worrying about killing the lifeforms they're studying.

"You can think of it like this: Imagine you only have one family car and you want to start modifying it, say, putting a truck bed in," says Alexander Mankin, a biologist with the team at  the University of Illinois. "With each modification, you risk breaking down important processes, like losing the back seat your kids need. This is the same with these ribosomes. But here, [having Ribo-T] is a bit like having two cars, instead of one." So you can modify Ribo-T in any way you want without worrying about destroying the whole setup, he says.

You May Also Like: