Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hardy Bacterium's DNA Repair Process Shows Way to Immortality

By Aussiegirl

BECAUSE I could not stop for Death--
He kindly stopped for me--
The Carriage held but just Ourselves--
And Immortality.

We slowly drove--He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labour and my leisure too,
For His Civility--

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess--in the Ring--
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain--
We passed the Setting Sun--

Or rather--He passed Us--
The Dews drew quivering and chill--
For only Gossamer, my Gown--
My Tippet--only Tulle--

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground--
The Roof was scarcely visible--
The Cornice--in the Ground--

Since then--'tis Centuries--and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses Heads
Were toward Eternity--
Emily Dickinson

An interesting article about a very unusual ability of a lowly bacterium. Here's a provocative quote from the article: "Radman believes his team's findings open up the possibility of resurrecting dead cells in our own bodies, specifically those in our brains. 'It allows us now, legitimately, to dream of bringing back to life dead, or close-to-dead, neurons,' he said."

FOXNews.com - Hardy Bacterium's DNA Repair Process Shows Way to Immortality - Science News | Current Articles

Hardy Bacterium's DNA Repair Process Shows Way to Immortality
By Ker Than

Scientists have discovered a novel genetic repair process that allows a hardy desert microbe to die and resurrect itself over and over again.

The finding, detailed in the Sept. 28 issue of the journal Nature, could lead to new forms of regenerative medicines and might even allow scientists to one day bring dead cells in our own bodies back to life.

Deinococcus radiodurans is a so-called extremophile bacterium that can survive intense bouts of heat and ultraviolet radiation, the latter of which shatters its genome into hundreds of DNA fragments.

Without a genome, the microbe is effectively dead because it can't synthesize the proteins necessary for life.

In only a few hours, though, Deinococcus can reassemble its genome and return to life.

"This is the first case, I think, of a living cell that clinically dies — its DNA is chopped into little pieces and it has no metabolism — when desiccated, and yet, as long as it can reconstitute its genome, it reconstitutes its own life," said study team member Miroslav Radman of the University of Paris.

The microbe is able to perform its remarkable feat because, like other bacteria, it carries at least two, sometimes more, copies of its genome and also because radiation damages DNA randomly.

So even if both genome copies are damaged, they likely aren't damaged in the same spots.

With the right tools, a microbe can piece together what the original sequence was. [....]


At 1:14 PM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

I am awed; nature is far stranger and more wonderful than anything Man can imagine.

Imagine a ``genome bank`` where we keep copies of OUR genetic traits in triplicate, and we can be reconstituted when we get sick (or dead)! We could live forever.

Of course, the monthly fee for the bank`s service would keep us working until we were old and gray, which means forever since we would be continually reconstituted. Oh well, nothing`s perfect...


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