Enzymes stitch together non-natural DNA Guided evolution and HIV help create man-made stuff of life. 24 February 2004 PHILIP BALL Researchers have found new ways to string together artificial DNA bases. The techniques could aid the creation of altered genetic material for applications in medicine and technology. Floyd Romesberg and co-workers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, have harnessed the principles of evolution to find an enzyme capable of assembling non-standard DNA. In a second study, Steven Benner of the University of Florida in Gainesville and colleagues used an enzyme made by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to do the same job. Benner's enzyme is even capable of making multiple copies of non-natural DNA, opening up the possibility that the code could eventually evolve on its own. All natural DNA is made up of just four bases, but researchers have created non-natural bases. These can be used to make forms of DNA that are more robust than the natural kind and do not break apart when exposed to high temperatures. Such super-DNA could be useful in a wide range of medical and technological applications. Read the rest at Nature http://www.nature.com/nsu/040223/040223-2.html Comment: Kids of the distant future will not mess with Meccano or Lego, they won't waste time with computer games of our era: they'll create their own custom pets from a raw base splicer - six legged fluffy dogs with pink wings are just around the corner Posted by Robert Karl Stonjek.