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In a groundbreaking achievement that could help scientists "build" new biological systems, Princeton University scientists have constructed for the first time artificial proteins that enable the growth of living cells. The team of researchers created genetic sequences never before seen in nature, and the scientists showed that they can produce substances that sustain life in cells almost as readily as proteins produced by nature's own toolkit.
"What we have here are molecular machines that function quite well within a living organism even though they were designed from scratch and expressed from artificial genes," said Michael Hecht, a professor of chemistry at Princeton, who led the research. "This tells us that the molecular parts kit for life need not be limited to parts -- genes and proteins -- that already exist in nature."