Biologists and scientists from all over the world are gathering together to create, for the first time, synthetic yeast. Just like builders, they will construct the genome “brick by brick”. They will start by creating the DNA and then assembling the DNA together to form the essence of the cell, which will then be inserted into a yeast cell, previously stripped of its own DNA.
The first man-made synthetic cell was created in 2010: however, it was only a bacteria cell. In comparison, a yeast cell is much more complex to replicate. In fact, for the first time, the cell will have a man-assembled nucleus.
The project, financed also by the UK government, is due to be concluded by 2017. But why would anyone try to do this? The answers are multiple: first of all, if you replicate something from scratch, you can most certainly modify it however you want. For example, scientists are thinking to replicate the yeast overall, but tweaking its ability to resist to some particular chemicals. Also, yeast is a starting point as, being similar to human and plants, it can give us an in-depth assessment of what it would mean to replicate cells that are even more complex (i.e. with a larger number of genes). It would also help research on cancer, and highlight the relationship between the genome and its genes.
For more information on this astounding project, feel free to read the related article from the BBC.