Craig Venter creates first synthetic life form
2010 05 21

By Ian Sample | Guardian.co.uk


Craig Venter and his team have built the genome of a bacterium from scratch and incorporated it into a cell to make what they call the world’s first synthetic life form

Scientists have created the world’s first synthetic life form in a landmark experiment that paves the way for designer organisms that are built rather than evolved.

The controversial feat, which has occupied 20 scientists for more than 10 years at an estimated cost of $40m, was described by one researcher as "a defining moment in biology".

Craig Venter, left, the pioneering US geneticist behind the experiment, said the achievement heralds the dawn of a new era in which new life is made to benefit humanity, starting with bacteria that churn out biofuels, soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and even manufacture vaccines.

However critics, including some religious groups, condemned the work, with one organisation warning that artificial organisms could escape into the wild and cause environmental havoc or be turned into biological weapons. Others said Venter was playing God.

The new organism is based on an existing bacterium that causes mastitis in goats, but at its core is an entirely synthetic genome that was constructed from chemicals in the laboratory.

The single-celled organism has four "watermarks" written into its DNA to identify it as synthetic and help trace its descendants back to their creator, should they go astray.

"We were ecstatic when the cells booted up with all the watermarks in place," Dr Venter told the Guardian. "It’s a living species now, part of our planet’s inventory of life."

Dr Venter’s team developed a new code based on the four letters of the genetic code, G, T, C and A, that allowed them to draw on the whole alphabet, numbers and punctuation marks to write the watermarks. Anyone who cracks the code is invited to email an address written into the DNA.

The research is reported online today in the journal Science.

"This is an important step both scientifically and philosophically," Dr Venter told the journal. "It has certainly changed my views of definitions of life and how life works."

The team now plans to use the synthetic organism to work out the minimum number of genes needed for life to exist. From this, new microorganisms could be made by bolting on additional genes to produce useful chemicals, break down pollutants, or produce proteins for use in vaccines.

Julian Savulescu, professor of practical ethics at Oxford University, said: "Venter is creaking open the most profound door in humanity’s history, potentially peeking into its destiny. He is not merely copying life artificially ... or modifying it radically by genetic engineering. He is going towards the role of a god: creating artificial life that could never have existed naturally."

This is "a defining moment in the history of biology and biotechnology", Mark Bedau, a philosopher at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, told Science.

Dr Venter became a controversial figure in the 1990s when he pitted his former company, Celera Genomics, against the publicly funded effort to sequence the human genome, the Human Genome Project. Venter had already applied for patents on more than 300 genes, raising concerns that the company might claim intellectual rights to the building blocks of life.

Article from: Guardian.co.uk


Video from: YouTube.com



Also tune into:

Aaron Franz - The Age of Transitions

Lenon Honor - The Borg Agenda & The Sexualization of Technology

Sonia Barrett - Immortality and the Quest for Eternal Life

Michael Mautner - Panspermia, Seeding the Universe with Life

H.P. Albarelli Jr. - Germ Warfare, CIA, LSD and the Murder of Dr. Frank Olson

Aaron Franz - TransAlchemy, Save the Humans!

Aaron Franz - Transhuman Fundamentalism

Kevin Warwick - "I, Cyborg": Implants, RFID, Microchips & Cybernetics

Kevin Warwick - Artificial Intelligence & The Rise of the Machines in 2020

Michael Tsarion - The Post Human World



Related Articles
Maryland´s Prometheus
Craig Venter: How to make a new life form (Video)
Did Craig Venter Just Create Synthetic Life? The Jury Is Decidedly Out
Craig Venter: Programming algae to pump out oil
Craig Venter: On the verge of creating synthetic life (Video)
Craig Venter: A voyage of DNA, genes and the sea (Video)
Geneticist Craig Venter Creating Life Form That Turns CO2 to Fuel
Dr. J. Craig Venter - A DNA-Driven World from The Richard Dimbleby Lecture 2007 (Video)
’Darth Venter’ (J. Craig Venter) & The Archon Genomics X Prize
Pentagon Looks to Breed Immortal ‘Synthetic Organisms,’ (Molecular Kill-Switch Included)
Could a ’Synthetic Tree’ Be Better than the Real Thing?
British scientists to create synthetic blood
Who’s afraid of a synthetic human?
Patent sought on ’synthetic life’


Latest News from our Front Page

French separatists want Scots to say "yes"
2014 09 17
Separatist leaders in Brittany, Corsica and the French Basque Country will watch with interest as Scotland votes on independence next week, but they don’t expect France to follow the UK’s lead any time soon. Pro-independence activists point to the fact they have their own languages and cultural identities. France, however, remains a deeply centralized country and any talk of a negotiated ...
Devil’s Deal: US-Backed Syrian Rebels Already Signed Pact with ISIS Prior to Haines Beheading
2014 09 17
While Washington considers appropriating half a billion in funds to the Syrian rebels, we now learn that opposition groups the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and al Qaeda affiliate ‘al Nusra Front’, have officially aligned themselves with ISIS… Despite grand words by US President Obama and British PM David Cameron, here’s what’s really behind their plan to bomb ISIS in Syria… In a ...
World War III for Dummies
2014 09 16
A Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding the Present World Situation. 1998 - 2000 Powerful elites and influential think tanks forecast a coming period of American aggression. Zbigniew Brzezinski speaks for the Globalist faction of the western PRC (Predatory Ruling Class) in ’The Grand Chessboard’, a book in which he openly advocates for bolder American action in dominating the Eurasian land mass. During this ...
Rotherham child-sex victim confronts her alleged abuser in the street... but SHE is arrested
2014 09 16
A victim of Rotherham’s child sex abuse scandal confronted a man she says groomed her - but was left shocked when she was the one arrested. The woman was shocked when she saw the man walking through the town’s centre on Friday and decided to challenge him over the allegations. But she was tackled by two police officers and pushed up against ...
Slaves of Charleston - Beyond Wealth of Jewish South Carolina
2014 09 15
Founded in 1749 in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, the Beth Elohim Synagogue is one of the very earliest synagogues in America. While other synagogues and congregations are also now a part of Charleston city life, Beth Elohim Synagogue is the oldest one in the area and serves as the repository for certain historical artifacts of Jewish life in the city. ...
More News »