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Published on 12 December 2018

The ultimate aim of the XENOME team is to design and engineer novel cellular components to elaborate safe GMOs (genetically modified organisms) whose in vivo generation and functionality can be strictly controlled, and which therefore allow the development of new and advanced applications in biotechnology.

​Imperatively, such components should be completely hazardless for their surrounding by their inability to genetically spread into existing ecosystems. As the natural genetic code for all life on our planet is solely recognized in the form of DNA and RNA polymers, a robust approach is being development of a truly orthogonal nucleic acid which is chemically distinct from DNA and RNA, but which can harbour structural and/or sequence information that is essential for the viability and phenotype of the cell. 

Obviously, such a “xeno”-nucleic acid (XNA) will be genetically inert, unless it can be accommodated by artificially evolved enzymes and synthesized from its xeno-nucleotide (XN) precursors. The latter, however, are not present in nature and need to be chemically synthesized and explicitly provided to the cell.