Thursday, May 20, 2010

Uh, so you can create life...?

Does this strike anyone else as absolutely amazing?

Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first synthetic living cell.

The researchers constructed a bacterium's "genetic software" and transplanted it into a host cell.

The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species "dictated" by the synthetic DNA.

The advance, published in Science, has been hailed as a scientific landmark, but critics say there are dangers posed by synthetic organisms.


Richard said...

Incoming ban on all creation of "synthetic life". Or perhaps that will have to wait until the Republicans gain control.

Anonymous said...

This is a pretty big deal. Now that they have the technology working, they can start tinkering with the genome. More than just tinkering, really; wholesale swapping in and out and modification of different enzymes, promoters, etc. Potentially transformational technology, but it will need to be tightly controlled. There will eventually exist the possibility of creating something extremely dangerous; maybe to humans, maybe to the whole biosphere. You can expect to see the bioethicists out in force. (Paging Art Caplan...) Expect the followers of Mr. Ludd to go nuts. I have to hand it to Craig Venter. He kicked ass on the human genome, has done some impressive analysis of the collective genome of marine bacteria, and now this.

Doug Reich said...

I'm curious, they are using it now to create bacteria and microbes, but what are the ulimate implications? Could they create a frankenstein human type deal? What are the tech barriers to doing this?

Anonymous said...

Well there is in vitro fertilization (test tube babies), so if they can engineer sperm and egg cells with synthetic DNA they should be able to make (the word strikes me as somewhat inappropriate but I can't think of a better one) a human from it. There are probably practical barriers to it though.

Dean Kriegel said...

"Have created life." Would you really need any additional qualifications listed on your resume?