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Creating "dinosaurs" with MAGE

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The world of genome editing is expanding massively. It is expected to be used in the future in the world of medicine (gene therapy, pharming), agriculture (GM crops), and many other uses.

In the world of de-extinction, I found out about a device that could be of good use to it. Meet MAGE, or Multiplex Automated Genomic Engineering.

The MAGE device is still a prototype, but so far, it has been able to make bacteria produce five times the normal quantity of lycopene. The device can perform up to 50 genome alterations at a time, meaning that a genome could be altered drastically in a few days or weeks. This means that we don't have to synthesize an organism's genome from scratch.

This is good news for creating "dinosaurs" (I do not call it recreating dinosaurs because the result would not be a true non-avian dinosaur). Let's say we knew what genes make teeth, hands and tails in chickens, and we knew how to alter their size to make them as large as turkeys, and we wanted to create something similar to a Velociraptor. We could culture some chicken germ cells, and have MAGE edit the chicken genome so that these genes can be expressed (this is different from Jack Horner's current chickenosaurus method, which simply involves altering embryonic development). Then we could implant those germ cells into turkey embryos, wait for the turkey embryos to grow up and mate, and they will produce eggs containing the new creature.

Such a feat would be useful for demonstrating the potential of "designer organisms", one of many possibilities of the emerging field of synthetic biology, and finding out how the features of Velociraptor were experienced in life, and of course, making a dinosaur park. It would also be useful in other animals to introduce more genetic diversity into endangered species (which the money used to create the "raptor" could perhaps be better spent on). 

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