Saturday, April 01, 2006
Here be dragons
Mar 30th 2006 | SAN MELITO
From The Economist print edition
With luck, you may soon be able to buy a mythological pet
PAOLO FRIL, chairman and chief scientific officer of GeneDupe, based in San Melito, California, is a man with a dream. That dream is a dragon in every home.
GeneDupe's business is biotech pets. Not for Dr Fril, though, the mundane cloning of dead moggies and pooches. He plans a range of entirely new animals—or, rather, of really quite old animals, with the twist that even when they did exist, it was only in the imagination.
Making a mythical creature real is not easy. But GeneDupe's team of biologists and computer scientists reckon they are equal to the task. Their secret is a new field, which they call “virtual cell biology”.
Biology and computing have a lot in common, since both are about processing information—in one case electronic; in the other, biochemical. Virtual cell biology aspires to make a software model of a cell that is accurate in every biochemical detail. That is possible because all animal cells use the same parts list—mitochondria for energy processing, the endoplasmic reticulum for making proteins, Golgi body for protein assembly, and so on.
Uhmmm.... I guess you haven't been to the 8th level subbasement of the HRL recently. They are not very domesticated yet and they didn't interact well with the Roswell alien DNA. Remember that missing summer intern from last year.....?