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Man-made species grows closer with gene research

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Chinese scientists have succeeded in combining multiple yeast chromosomes into one, taking humanity one step closer to creating new man-made species, the research leader said on Sunday.

Led by Qin Zhongjun, a research fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences' Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the team combined 16 chromosomes by cutting non-essential pieces and editing the genetic material, UK-based scientific journal Nature reported on Thursday.

The goal of the research was to find cures for early aging, the formation of tumors, gene mutation and other human diseases, he noted.

The length of a chromosome end - a telomere - is related to such diseases, Qin said.

Qin's team used a CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing tool to remove DNA from the ends of the chromosomes.

Qin and his colleagues fused two, then joined another, until only one chromosome was left.

"Experimenting with lower organisms and getting a theoretical breakthrough shows the potential of creating a species," Qin said. "But it is still a long way to go to create higher beings," Qin said.

"It is also not allowed to experiment with humans or other higher beings. We must not alter life in a way that may result in disease."



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