Friday, April 03, 2009

Robot scientist 'Adam' solves genetic problems

Published by The Times on 03/04/09

A robot has become the first of its kind to make a scientific discovery by solving a problem that human researchers have failed to crack for decades. The robot, called Adam, was able to work out where an important gene would be located and to develop experiments to prove its theory. It had been challenged to identify a gene in yeast for which its human counterparts had been searching since at least the 1960s. The robot, devised at Aberystwyth University, was able to identify the gene, which controls an enzyme crucial to the production of lysine, an amino acid essential to growth. It is thought that robots like Adam, and its successor, Eve, which is soon to be switched on at Aberystwyth, offer new hope in the battle against disease. Professor Ross King, who led the project, said that malaria and schistosomiasis, an infection caused by a parasitic worm, were among the diseases that robots should be able to help to defeat. Adam’s discovery, he said, was likely to play an important role in developing new treatments for fungal diseases such as athlete’s foot. [Click for more...]

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