Creating operating systems for cells is the aim of a project described in a University of Nottingham press release 7 November 2011. A group of computer scientists, biologists and chemists at Nottingham University, along with colleagues in Scotland, the US, Spain and Israel, are working to develop a “reprogrammable cell” which they hope will enable scientists “to create completely new and useful forms of life”. The project has been named “Towards a Biological Cell Operating System (AUdACiOuS)” and will start by working on E.coli bacteria to make them easier to re-program. Natalio Krasnogor, who heads the project explained: “Currently, each time we need a cell that will perform a certain new function we have to recreate it from scratch which is a long and laborious process. Most people think all we have to do to modify behaviour is to modify a cell’s DNA but it’s not as simple as that — we usually find we get the wrong behaviour and then we are back to square one. If we succeed with this AUdACiOuS project, in five years’ time we will be programming bacterial cells in the computer and compiling and storing its program into these new cells so they can readily execute them. Like for a computer, we are trying to create a basic operating system for a biological cell”.

University of Nottingham

Editorial comment: We are not sure how they got the acronym AUdACiOuS from for the project’s title, but we are sure it took some creativity. That is appropriate, as the word “create” is used six times in the University press release, and the word “creation” four times. The words “evolve” and “evolution” do not appear. The scientists involved in this project know very well that if it succeeds, it will be the result of creative design and intelligent engineering of biological molecules and systems, and not the result of any chance random evolutionary processes. Chance random processes will only ruin things, and we are sure they will go to a lot of trouble to protect any of their creations from the effect of any random processes. In other words, they will be providing practical proof that making life requires creative processes, not evolutionary processes. The computer scientists in this project know that operating systems for computers do not write themselves. Therefore, if they discover anything resembling an operating system in a cell they are without excuse for ignoring the Creator who made the original living cells they are studying. (Ref. design, creativity, biochemistry, synthetic biology)

Evidence News 16 November 2011