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#34445 - 05/21/10 12:59 AM Synthetic Life is Created
Mike Kremer Offline

Megastar

Registered: 10/16/04
Posts: 1696
Loc: London 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.

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".
The result after $40m (28m) and more than a decade is the first microbe that thrives and replicates with only a synthetic genome to guide it. Every "letter" of its genetic code was made in the laboratory and stitched together, forming an artificial chromosome 1m characters long.
This 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, manufacture vaccines, and directly grow food and meat.

This single-celled, synthetic organism has had four "watermarks" deliberately written into its DNA to identify it in the future as a human made organism, which will enable its future descendants to be traced back to their creator, .....should they mutate, go astray, or otherwise get lost.
"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."
VIDEO BELOW

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/video/2010/may/20/craig-venter-new-life-form

But critics say that the potential benefits of synthetic organisms have been overstated.

Dr Helen Wallace from Genewatch UK, an organisation that monitors developments in genetic technologies, told BBC News that synthetic bacteria could be dangerous.

"If you release new organisms into the environment, you can do more harm than good," she said.

"By releasing them into areas of pollution, [with the aim of cleaning it up], you're actually releasing a new kind of pollution.
"We don't know how these organisms will behave in the environment."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/may/20/craig-venter-synthetic-life-genome

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/05/scientists-create-first-self-replicating-synthetic-life/

***Thoughts
I notice that everything was made in the laboratory, I belive most of the DNA was synthetic.
Apart from a small amount that was taken from the Bacterium, Mycoplasma Mycoides.
But that should not detract from this world shattering Creation by Man, of a Self Replicating Life Cell,
that is destined to take its place alongside the existing life of the Universe.
_________________________
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"You will never find a real Human being - Even in a mirror." ....Mike Kremer.



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#34450 - 05/21/10 02:32 AM Re: Synthetic Life is Created [Re: Mike Kremer]
kallog Offline
Megastar

Registered: 03/17/10
Posts: 1100
Bloody Jesus!

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#34452 - 05/21/10 05:49 AM Re: Synthetic Life is Created [Re: kallog]
Amaranth Rose II Offline

Superstar

Registered: 12/16/06
Posts: 962
Loc: Southeast Nebraska, USA
Methinks the genie has been released from the bottle. Now let us hope this new technology can be put to peaceful uses and not to any harm. I can see potential for both. I hope this can be steered to the good, by good people.
_________________________
If you don't care for reality, just wait a while; another will be along shortly. --A Rose


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#34457 - 05/21/10 06:42 PM Re: Synthetic Life is Created [Re: Amaranth Rose II]
Mike Kremer Offline

Megastar

Registered: 10/16/04
Posts: 1696
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: Amaranth Rose II
Methinks the genie has been released from the bottle. Now let us hope this new technology can be put to peaceful uses and not to any harm. I can see potential for both. I hope this can be steered to the good, by good people.


Originally Posted By: Mike Kremer

Yes, you are right, lets hope the released genie is able grant all the wishes that Mankind desires.

"Synthetic Biology" as this new technology is known, will have its adherents as well as its detractors.
Each of us, what ever our ethnicity, origin or religion will probably have to adopt a 'wait and see' attitude, comensurate with our thoughts and upbringing, to see what side of the fence we finally sit on.
'Synthetic Biology' is moving forward, hand in hand with conventional Biology, and Nano-Engineering.
Making Synthetic Biology the method that will allow Mankind to step into the future with as big a leap as was the invention of the Transistor and Computer
Soon, differently constructed Synthetic Life cells, will grow our food, ....other types will purify our water, and air.
Our future might yet be known as "The Cornucopia of Plenty"
relying upon aspects of living life, whos only desire is to make and reproduce whatever substance we have programmed it to grow, all for our use.......and all without the benefit of the Sun!
_________________________
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"You will never find a real Human being - Even in a mirror." ....Mike Kremer.



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#34588 - 05/27/10 05:57 PM Re: Synthetic Life is Created [Re: Mike Kremer]
redewenur Offline
Megastar

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
PZ MYERS
(Biologist, University of Minnesota; blogger, Pharyngula)

"...is Venter's technological tour de force a threat to humanity, another atom bomb in the hands of children?

No"

"...to worry over a development that is far less immediately dangerous than, say, site-directed mutagenesis, is to have misplaced priorities and to be basically recoiling from the progress of science."

http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge319.html
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#34590 - 05/27/10 07:31 PM Re: Synthetic Life is Created [Re: redewenur]
ImagingGeek Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/19/10
Posts: 410
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: redewenur
PZ MYERS
(Biologist, University of Minnesota; blogger, Pharyngula)

"...is Venter's technological tour de force a threat to humanity, another atom bomb in the hands of children?

No"

"...to worry over a development that is far less immediately dangerous than, say, site-directed mutagenesis, is to have misplaced priorities and to be basically recoiling from the progress of science."

http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge319.html


That's a pretty accurate summary. The only real difference between synthetic life and "real" life is that the DNA for synthetic life is custom-made in the lab. In many cases you could get the exact same DNA (and thus exact same organism) by removing and adding genes to an existing cell.

The real cool part about synthetic life is in the not-so-distant future you may be able to acquire a "base model" synthetic organism has only those genes needed for its replication. To that "base model" you would then add the genes you need to produce whatever products it is you desire. If designed properly, that base model could be built such that survival outside of a fermenter is impossible, thus eliminating the dangers of accidental release.

The later would actually be quite simple to do - don't give the cells the ability to synthesize amino acids, nor produce usable amino acids from proteins acquired from their growth media. Thus, the base models could only grow in media containing all 22 standard amino acids in a free form.

Bryan
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