Man creates life 3

A man said, “Let there be life,” and there is life.

For the first time, living cells have been created in a laboratory.

Behold Synthia, the first laboratory-created life-form on earth.

Why is it not making major headlines in all media everywhere?

See this report in the Telegraph, from which we quote:

Dr Craig Venter, a multi-millionaire pioneer in genetics, and his team have managed to make a completely new “synthetic” life form from a mix of chemicals.

They manufactured a new chromosome from artificial DNA in a test tube, then transferred it into an empty cell and watched it multiply – the very definition of being alive.

The man-made single cell “creature”, which is a modified version of one of the simplest bacteria on earth, proves that the technology works.

Now Dr Venter believes organism, nicknamed Synthia, will pave the way for more complex creatures that can transform environmental waste into clean fuel, vaccinate against disease and soak up pollution. …

Dr Venter, a pioneer of genetic code sequencing and his team at the J Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, have been chasing the goal for more than 15 years at a cost of £30m.

First they sequenced the genetic code of Mycoplasma genitalium, the world’s smallest bacteria that lives in cattle and goats, and stored the information on a computer.

Then they used the computer code to artificially reproduce the DNA in the laboratory, slightly modifying it with a “watermark” so it was distinguishable from the original natural one.

Finally they developed a technique of stripping bacteria cells of all original DNA and substituting it with the new artificial code.

The resulting “synthetic cell” was then “rebooted” and it started to replicate. The ability to reproduce or replicate is considered the basic definition of life. …

“This is the first synthetic cell that’s been made, and we call it synthetic because the cell is totally derived from a synthetic chromosome, made with four bottles of chemicals on a chemical synthesizer, starting with information in a computer,” said Dr Venter.

“This becomes a very powerful tool for trying to design what we want biology to do. We have a wide range of applications [in mind],” he said. …

While a major technological leap forward the life form is still incredibly simple in natural terms. Its DNA is made up of 485 genes, each strand of which is made up of one million base pairs, the equivalent of rungs on a ladder.

A human genome has 20,000 genes and three billion base pairs.

Nevertheless it is the beginning of the process that could lead to creation of much more complicated species, and into a world of artificial animals and people

Professor Julian Savulescu, an expert in Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, said: “Venter is creaking open the most profound door in humanity’s history, potentially peeking into its destiny. …

“He is going toward the role of a god: creating artificial life that could never have existed naturally.

“The potential is in the far future, but real and significant: dealing with pollution, new energy sources, new forms of communication. But the risks are also unparalleled.

“We need new standards of safety evaluation for this kind of radical research and protections from military or terrorist misuse and abuse.

These could be used in the future to make the most powerful bioweapons imaginable.

Dr David King, director of the watchdog Human Genetics Alert, said: “What is really dangerous is these scientists’ ambitions for total and unrestrained control over nature, which many people describe as ‘playing God’.

We look forward to hearing what spokesmen for “God” will say about this.

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  • GodRulZ

    “The man-made single cell “creature”, which is a modified version of one of the simplest bacteria on earth, proves that the technology works.”

    The bacteria already existed, so in effect he has created nothing all he did was change the DNA coding, that is a million light years from creating LIFE!

  • Ananth

    You did notice the quotes around the word synthetic right? What the quotes are trying to tell you is that “synthetic life” is just a misnomer. What the scientists have done is taken a living cell, emptied it of it's dna and injected new dna of their choice. Thus the resulting cell loses all its original attributes and becomes a totally new one as according to the rules of the new dna.

    The 'life' part of the cell though is still borrowed from the original living cell. It is only the DNA structure that's synthetic.

    I suppose that also answers your question of why this little development is not making big news?