Jump to content
Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Still Waters

'Artificial life' breakthrough announced by

Recommended Posts

Still Waters
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.

The researchers hope eventually to design bacterial cells that will produce medicines and fuels and even absorb greenhouse gases.

The team was led by Dr Craig Venter of the J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Maryland and California.

He and his colleagues had previously made a synthetic bacterial genome, and transplanted the genome of one bacterium into another.

Now, the scientists have put both methods together, to create what they call a "synthetic cell", although only its genome is truly synthetic.

arrow3.gifRead more...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 
Belial

If this is true then the guy will make some serious money over the next few years. Things like artificial oil/skin/hair the mind boggles at the potential.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Torgo

This really isn't much of a breakthrough. They took a slightly pared-down genome sequence from one living species of bacteria, "printed" it chemically, and inserted it into a different species of bacterium that had its own DNA removed. They had done something else with the exact same result before, except they extracted the pared down genome from a living bacterium of a different species rather than making it from scratch. It is the combination of the techniques of bacterial genome transplant and DNA printing - two things that are not exactly new anymore.

Edited by Torgo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RamblingRebel

Still scary though! :hmm:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DigitalSentinal

Heh - so when will Arnold Schwarzeneagger get the call to go into action?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
WoIverine

Heh - so when will Arnold Schwarzeneagger get the call to go into action?

I dunno, he'd probably have to team up with Chuck Norris this time...

Just wait till the "Adult" industry get's hold of this technology, scary thought. lol

Edited by SpiderCyde

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ginger

Hmm so how can the creationists explain how this is possible? :P Can't use the "it's impossible for life to be created, scientists can't do it, so god did."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Almeisan

Hmm so how can the creationists explain how this is possible? :P Can't use the "it's impossible for life to be created, scientists can't do it, so god did."

this is how ( not that ID proponents are the'creationists' that you may be thinking of) :

link to article below

Has Craig Venter Produced Artificial Life?

"Artificial life, the stuff of dreams and nightmares, has arrived." So proclaimed The Economist on May 20th, after a team of scientists headed by J. Craig Venter [2] announced that it had replaced the natural DNA in a bacterial cell with DNA they had artificially synthesized.

According to University of Pennsylvania philosopher and bioethicist Arthur Caplan, "Venter and his colleagues have shown that the material world can be manipulated to produce what we recognize as life. In doing so they bring to an end a debate about the nature of life that has lasted thousands of years. Their achievement undermines a fundamental belief about the nature of life that is likely to prove as momentous to our view of ourselves and our place in the Universe as the discoveries of Galileo, Copernicus, Darwin and Einstein."

Whoa! Wait a minute!

What Venter and his team did was to determine the sequence of the DNA in one of the world’s simplest bacteria, use the sequence information to synthesize a copy of that DNA from subunits sold by a biological supply company, then put the synthetic copy of DNA into a living bacterial cell from which the natural DNA had been removed.

As Nicholas Wade pointed out in The New York Times, Eckard Wimmer and his colleagues did something similar in 2002 by synthesizing poliovirus RNA. Wimmer and his colleagues then used that synthetic RNA to make functioning polioviruses. But viruses are not living cells. No one has ever been able to make a living cell from its DNA—not even Craig Venter.

A virus is just RNA or DNA in a protein capsule. The viral RNA or DNA can’t make more of itself, nor can it make the capsule. Viral RNA or DNA must first be put into a living cell (or, in the case of Wimmer’s experiment, into an extract carefully prepared from living cells), because only the cell (or its extract) contains the complex molecular machinery needed to make more RNA or DNA and to manufacture the protein capsule.

By themselves, however, RNA and DNA are biologically inert. Only a living cell is alive, and in our experience, life always comes from life. That’s why spontaneous generation doesn’t happen. That’s why origin-of-life researchers have not even come close to solving their problem. And that’s why Venter and his team couldn’t create life; they had to start with it. There is much more to living cells—even relatively simple cells—than is dreamt of in Arthur Caplan’s philosophy.

In contrast to Caplan’s exaggerated claims, CalTech biologist and Nobel laureate David Baltimore said that Venter has "overplayed the importance" of his results, which represent "a technical tour de force" rather than a scientific breakthrough. Venter "has not created life, only mimicked it," Baltimore said.

Boston University bioengineer James Collins called Venter’s work:

an important advance in our ability to re-engineer organisms, not make new life from scratch. Frankly, scientists don't know enough about biology to create life. Although the Human Genome Project has expanded the parts list for cells, there is no instruction manual for putting them together to produce a living cell. It is like trying to assemble an operational jumbo jet from its parts list—impossible. Although some of us in synthetic biology have delusions of grandeur, our goals are much more modest.

These realistic assessments probably wouldn’t impress the anonymous author of The Economist article. "Pedants may quibble," the writer complains, that "the researchers had to use the shell of an existing bug to get that DNA to do its stuff."

Shell? But oh, what an amazing shell it is! And from that shell of life, what discoveries may come? Ay, there’s the rub.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Solid Skeptic

You never know, if we do eventually reach the level of being able to engineer life as we see fit we might do a better job than God apparently did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Superglobe

Must we really turn this into another petty "believers vs skeptics" debate?

As I said in the other thread, I'm completely fine with this, and I'm religious. I don't see why everyone is getting their knickers in a twist.

Look at it this way, if God created us (ID position) , and we created this, than God created this too. There ya go, problem solved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.