The Scripps Research Institute - At The Forefront

June 2014

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The First Organism with Artificial DNA

Synthetic biologists have been trying to expand the natural code of DNA, which provides the genetic instructions for all life using just four nucleosides. However, researchers haven't been able to make the artificial DNA work in a living organism until recently.

A team of scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has engineered a bacterium whose genetic material includes an added pair of DNA letters not found in nature.
The advance could one day lead to the development of new antibiotics and other products that cells with the natural genetic code cannot make.

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Peter Kuhn

TSRI Associate Professor Floyd E. Romesberg

TSRI's collaborative approach to research results in major breakthroughs to better treat the diseases and disorders that affect millions each day, including HIV and autism. Help us continue our life-saving work.

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Marisa Roberto

Shown here is an electron microscopic reconstruction of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein trimer (pale blue) with antibodies representing each site of vulnerability in different colors.

milestones in medical science:
A New Point of Attack on HIV for Vaccine Development

Attempts to design an effective HIV vaccine have failed because the virus mutates so rapidly and generally conceals sites that are vulnerable to antibodies under a dense layer of sugars. However, efforts to design a vaccine have been reinvigorated in recent years by the discovery of broadly neutralizing antibodies produced in rare individuals who resist HIV.

Scientists from TSRI and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) have discovered
a new vulnerable site on HIV's viral protein "envelope" that allows broadly neutralizing antibodies to attack it to prevent HIV infection.

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Srini Subramaniam

TSRI Assistant Professor Damon Page (right), shown here with co-author Research Associate Amy E. Clipperton-Allen.

Other News:
Linking a Gene Mutation to Key Autism Symptoms

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition with a range of symptoms including communication difficulties, repetitive behaviors and cognitive delays. Scientists have long known that abnormal brain growth is associated with autism spectrum disorders. However, the exact relationship between the two has not been well understood.

Now, scientists from Scripps Florida have shown that
mutations in a specific gene that is disrupted in some individuals with autism results in too much growth throughout the brain. The mutation was also linked to social interaction problems associated with autism.

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Consider Giving Your Home to TSRI

Did you know you can transfer ownership of your home, farm or vacation property to TSRI while reserving the right to live there for the rest of your life? Also known as a retained life estate, you will receive an immediate income tax deduction and make a significant impact on TSRI's life-saving research without disturbing your income or your living arrangements. Click here to learn more.

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facts & figures

Eventually, scientists could use an expanded genetic code to design living cells that could make new antibiotics and other products beyond the scope of current biotechnology. The market for biological and protein-based therapies is expected to grow to $165 billion a year by 2018.

The Scripps Research Institute

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