14:20 GMT01 June 2020
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    Geneticists leading the new Genome Project claim they can develop virus-proof human cells invulnerable to cancer, radiation and aging in about a decade.

    A group of top scientists has launched a grand-scale Genome Project aimed at creating cells that are resistant to viruses, and potentially to radiation, freezing, cancer and aging. They believe the endeavor is plausible within ten years.

    The project is based on the scientists' recent discovery of a so-called DNA recording process. CRISPR pioneer Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School and his colleagues showed they could recode the bacteria E. coli. After making 321 changes to the bacterial genome, they could achieve viral resistance.

    But recoding the genome of a plant or mammal would be a much more complicated process. Recoding every protein in the human genome, for instance, would require 400,000 changes, according to Church. 

    READ MORE: Scientists Say Gene Editing Can Create Sweeter, Longer-Lasting Flowers

    Nevertheless, the team insists they can achieve the goal within only 10 years. Church stressed that ultra-safe cells could have a major impact on human health.

    "There is very strong reason to believe that we can produce cells that would be completely resistant to all known viruses," one of the team's leaders Professor Jef Boeke, director of the Institute for Systems Genetics at NYU Langone Medical Center, told STAT, adding that it could be an answer to the impending crisis of antibiotic resistance. 

    "It should also be possible to engineer other traits, including resistance to prions and cancer."   


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    viruses, aging, cancer, cells, genetics
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