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DNA Roundup

September 29, 2006

DNA carries all of the information needed to make a complex organism. But can it also make crack-resistent eyeglasses?


Using DNA to improve plastics. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The twisted ladder shape of the DNA molecule has rungs made of a pair of compounds called nucleotides. If pulled apart, these compounds are able to reconnect to each other just as they were. Now scientists at Virginia Tech are trying to design them into plastics. The idea is to make windshields, eyeglasses and other plastics that, like DNA, can repair themselves when damaged.

In other DNA news, scientists at Texas A&M and the University of Glasgow have a discovered that a type of virus that inserts itself into the DNA of many mammals may be essential to their reproduction. They found that sheep that didn’t have these viruses were unable to form a placenta. It’s possible that other mammals require similar viruses to conceive.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.