Will Synthetic DNA Start the Zombie Apocalypse?

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Are synthetic DNA zombies around the corner?

Synthetic DNA has been all over the news lately.  A synthetic DNA vaccine that may stop MERS (a SARS-like virus) was just announced. In addition, several research companies have found ways to add BRAND NEW nucleotides to DNA, eventually making GATC a thing of the past. All of this sounds suspiciously like the start of a zombie virus, doesn’t it?

synthetic DNA, radioactive fallout
A zombie virus might come from synthetic DNA, not radioactive fallout.

Could a Synthetic DNA Vaccine Start It All?

We don’t want to sound alarmist, but could a synthetic DNA vaccine start us down the road toward zombies? News across the country and world has described the discovery of a MERS vaccine made from synthetic DNA. MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) is similar to SARS, which we’ve heard about a lot more.

Well, the new vaccine has worked so far in rhesus macaques and even camels. Because the vaccine isn’t live, it won’t pose a risk of infecting humans… Or will it?

OK, we’re actually pretty happy about this vaccine. But that doesn’t mean that another more widespread synthetic DNA vaccine won’t pose a threat down the line. Especially if it learns to replicate and change human DNA… (cue scary music! )

Synthetic DNA Has More Nucleotides, Possibly Ushering In Apocalypse?

Several research groups are working on synthetic DNA that will have more nucelotides than regular ol’ Earth-bound DNA. You know how DNA is typically made up of combinations of GTAC (remember the movie GATTACA?) Well, that could be a thing of the past. Not kidding.

It’s exciting but also scary…

In May 2014, the journal Nature announced that researchers at a chemistry lab at the Scripps Research Institute had invented a bacterium with two base pairs in addition to GTAC. The new base pairs were X and Y.

And just last month (yes last month!) it was announced that a completely different group created two completely different nucleotides. A chemist at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Florida had created two nucleotides called P and Z that “fit seamlessly” with our current DNA’s GTAC helical structure. And not only that, but THESE DNA sequences can evolve like traditional DNA and spread the new alphabet.

Sooooo…. Zombie virus or just a completely new alien life form? The apocalypse, or heck maybe the singularity, might be around the corner.

Social Media Users Have Been Asking These Questions for Quite Awhile

Alert folks on social media have been talking about this possibility for YEARS. Here are just a few examples:

Look, we’ll be honest. We love science and love scientific advancement. This synthetic DNA could usher in a new scientific era that might be absolutely amazing. But we’re not going to discount the possibility that it might usher in a bunch of zombies too.

What do you think?

    Stephanie Dwilson started Post Apocalyptic Media with her husband Derek. She's a licensed attorney and has a master's in science and technology journalism. You can reach her at [email protected].

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