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
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
Pre-historic tokens used in conjunction with cuneiform
2014 07 22
An archaeological dig in southeast Turkey has uncovered a large number of clay tokens that were used as records of trade until the advent of writing, or so it had been believed. But a new find of tokens, dates from a time when writing was commonplace – thousands of years after it was previously assumed this technology had become obsolete.
Are immigration opponents Nazis?
2014 07 22
It seems the usual suspects are calling anyone who opposes unlimited immigration to be a "Nazi". The Left seems to be in constant fear of "Nazis" that lurk in public policy discussions and I assume under their beds. If you oppose any Leftist position, you are a.... take a wild guess...wait for it.... a NAZI! Tim Wise recently went ...
What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?
2014 07 22
Exclusive: The U.S. media’s Ukraine bias has been obvious, siding with the Kiev regime and bashing ethnic Russian rebels and Russia’s President Putin. But now – with the scramble to blame Putin for the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down – the shoddy journalism has grown truly dangerous, says Robert Parry.
In the heat of the U.S. media’s latest war hysteria – rushing to ...
Oh, Great: Robots Are Set to Conduct National Security Clearance Interviews
2014 07 22
Advancing a career in the US government might soon require an interview with a computer-generated head who wants to know about that time you took ketamine.
Psychologists at the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA) are developing an interview system that uses a responsive on-screen avatar for the first stage of the national security clearance process.
Initial screening for a variety ...
Is Anything on the Internet Real Anymore?
2014 07 22
Is there anybody…out there?
I promise I’m a real person asking this question and typing this article…but beyond that, I can’t promise much else about anything you or I see on the Internet.
This article on ZDNet, “GCHQ’s dark arts: Leaked documents reveal online manipulation, Facebook, YouTube snooping,” confirms — beyond a shadow of any possible doubt — that a barrage of ...
|More News » |