“Kill Switch” successfully inserted into genetically engineered organisms
A “kill-switch” which causes genetically engineered organisms to self-destruct has been successfully inserted into a custom-made microbe. This type of mechanism is considered critical in the ongoing development of genetically engineered organisms for medical applications, as well as a last-resort mechanism for Dr. Frankenstein’s monster.
GENETICALLY ENGINEERED MICROBES OFFER GREAT POTENTIAL
Genetically engineered microbes are on the way. Some of these organisms are being developed to treat medical conditions, while others are being designed to eat toxic waste. However, such organisms typically have a limited useful lifetime before they can cause problems in the patient (or environment) being treated.
Researchers have designed various mechanisms that let them terminate an engineered organism once it has outlived its usefulness to combat these fears. Unfortunately, many such “kill switches” have failed to work on time, or the microorganisms programmed with the kill switch evolve too quickly and find a way to bypass it altogether.
Now, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis have designed a four-tiered kill switch that they say is virtually foolproof.
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