Scientist Claims to Have Created First Synthetic Life Form

A team led by geneticist J. Craig Venter claims to have created a synthetic life form. This process involved building a genome from pre-existing fragments and then placing the resulting product inside a single-celled organism. The cell then accepted the genome and began replicating:

A few years ago, the researchers transplanted an entire natural genome — the genetic code — of one bacterium into another and watched it take over, turning a goat germ into a cattle germ.

Next, the researchers built from scratch another, smaller bacterium's genome, using off-the-shelf laboratory-made DNA fragments.

Friday's report combines those two achievements to test a big question: Could synthetic DNA really take over and drive a living cell? Somehow, it did.

"This is transforming life totally from one species into another by changing the software," said Venter, using a computer analogy to explain the DNA's role.[...]

That fixed, the transplant worked. The recipient cell started out with synthetic DNA and its original cytoplasm, but the new genome "booted up" that cell to start producing only proteins that normally would be found in the copied goat germ. The researchers had tagged the synthetic DNA to be able to tell it apart, and checked as the modified cell reproduced to confirm that new cells really looked and behaved like M. mycoides.


Link via DVICE | Photo: University of Florida

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R word? Did you really just say "R word?" On the internet, no less? I thought it was really awesome when PC types started referring to the "N word" and "C word" but this one is new and hilarious. Thanks for that Lauren, you just made my day a little brighter.
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Wow lex, and I hate individuals who make themselves appear even MORE ignorant with the usage of the R word. Get a grip and learn about how the titles you use in a negative way could affect certain groups of people with intellectual disabilities.
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Why is it that so many people think progress is doom? I just don't understand it.

Ok, maybe this could lead to something bad. Maybe it will. But what if it doesn't? What if the research is something that winds up saving or extending millions of lives? Something like... oh... the practice of modern medicine did.

Does everyone think that there were no risks involved in the study of that, or in other scientific fields? Things that have added a wealth of knowledge and have helped enrich the lives of practically everything in the world?

Really, I say bravo to this breakthrough. Being able to replace cells in a living organism could be what we need to find the cure for cancer (which are, as one person above explained, mutated cells) and to no longer require painful and expensive chemotherapy while only hoping the patient will get better. Not to mention all the other potential uses.

Also as mentioned above, while this could be used to hurt or kill people, it would serve a much greater purpose for healing. And if you really wanted to mess with a population, chemical warfare would be so much easier and less expensive.

So I say, let the scientists continue doing their work advancing technology and enhancing our lives, and start complaining when something that could actually be humongously dangerous to society begins to occur.

P.S. Keep in mind that for this technology to pose any threat to humans to begin with, it would have to be injected/transplanted/whatever-other-synonym-you-want-to-use. If it is transferred any other way, it's just a different form of chemical warfare, which as we all know already exists.
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