Virtual Cell Biology
A friend of mine sent me an interesting link to an article about a new company's mission to enter the market of 'biotech' pets. GeneDupe consists of a team of biologists and computer scientists who have created a virtual cell that represents the real thing right down to the mitochondria, Golgi bodies, etc. They then 'load' the genome of a particular species, which turns into a fertilized egg and ultimately grows into an adult. To make matters interesting, it seems as though GeneDupe also employs image recognition/processing. The software is able to take a picture of a mythical creature (ie centaur, dragon, griffin, or what have you) and it finds genomes of similar animals, splices the genes together, allows mutation, and then lets evolution take control. Much like the evolutionary algorithms we studied, GeneDupe will eventually have a pool of cross-bred animals. After natural selection, only those who closely resemble the mythical creature will remain. What's even more intriguing is that GeneDupe hopes to use this model in order to attempt real-life cross-breeding. I can't find a website for the company, so I don't have any knowledge about them aside from this article. I did manage to find this article about their failed attempt to develop a fish capable of producing gold skin cells. The reason why the project fell through, surprisingly, was because the gold weighed the fish down. I'm curious to see how far/successful this company gets.