"As biologists continue the decades-long race to map the genomes of living things, a group of forward-thinking BU engineers is asking the kind of questions that engineers can’t help but ask: what if we built a different genome?
Known as synthetic biologists, they believe that with some skillful genomic tweaks, living organisms, such as cells and microbes, can be put to work doing things that are too dangerous or not even possible for higher life-forms like ourselves.
.....Traditionally, as much as anything can be traditional in a field that is just a few years old, finding the correct DNA sequences would be a painstakingly slow and error-prone process, but Densmore has some help in the form of a software tool suite called Clotho. He describes Clotho, named for the youngest of the Three Fates in Greek mythology and the one who spins the thread of life, as an app environment, similar to the iPhone software platform, where a variety of tools can perform specific yet interconnected tasks. In this case, however, the tools connect to repositories of biological “parts” organized in such a way that they can be used to transform descriptions readable by humans into gene networks, designing DNA assembly commands for liquid-handling robots or archiving designs to share with other labs. Densmore admits that he’s a big fan of Clotho—and he should be. He built it.
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