Synthetic biology spawns fresh approach to antibiotics

The amazingly hot field of synthetic biology has now spawned an engineered virus that attacks bacteria. Timothy Lu, a doctoral student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, says he and colleagues created the virus by drawing from a library of genes. In this particular case, the researchers took a gene that produced the enzyme dispersin B and inserted it into the genome of the T7 virus. The enzyme is known to degrade bacteria's molecular "scaffolding." At a later stage, he says, the scientists should be able to design new viruses engineered to attack specific bacteria. And these new viruses could be used to create a new generation of antibiotics--as well as industrial cleaners.

- read the report from MSNBC

ALSO: The New York Times' Nicholes Wade reviews the potential of synthetic biology after J. Craig Venter announced plans to develop new forms of synthetic life. At MIT, one program's to-do list includes "grow a house." Article