Post-biological proof of concept lab experiments and genetic anomalies.

Yesterday afternoon I posted an article about synthetic nucleic acids and processing of arbitrary information from the field of synthetic biology. To recap briefly, by adding synthetic components to bioengineered bacteria researchers have been able to represent and manipulate information with XNA, a variant of DNA which involves synthetic compounds in addition to the four naturally found in DNA. One of the commenters on that post is working somewhere in that field and mentioned a few of the things that can be done with those custom-designed nucleic acids. This reminded me of another article I've had in my to-write queue …

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Electrical stimulation of tissue regeneration in xenopus laevus.

Researchers at the Forstyth Centre for Regenerative and Developmental Biology in Boston, Massachusetts, lead by Dr. Michael Levin have figured out how to trigger tissue regeneration in xenopus tadpoles past the age when they are normally capable of it. After a certain age, the tadpoles are unable to regrow their tails or other organs after amputation, but some nicely nonlinear research shows that it is possible to duplicate the weak electrical field that builds up around sites of major trauma that heralds the regenerative process. This is a phenomenon found in many higher lifeforms, from frogs to deer (the males …

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It's not quite a new body but they're working on it.

Tissue regeneration therapies in mammals is progressing at an impressive pace. Everyone who's ever looked into the field knows that vertebrates lower on the evolutionary ladder are capable of regrowing lost limbs and organs, like salamanders and axolotls, but higher lifeforms really can't. The best that humans can do is putting things back more or less they way they were, a process that we all know as healing. Once something's gone, though, it's gone (save for the liver, which can infact regrow if a small portion of liver tissue remains and the rest of the body is properly cared for …

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