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Humans create life

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
Take that God. :D
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.

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Until the Cylons take us on...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    katralla wrote: »
    Until the Cylons take us on...

    Which would be bother scary and fracking cool at the same time.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    MrG wrote: »
    Which would be bother scary and fracking cool at the same time.

    Awesome! :thumb:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species "dictated" by the synthetic DNA.

    Ah, but who dictates the DNA? :confused::)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Teagan wrote: »
    Ah, but who dictates the DNA? :confused::)

    A computer.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I've got a bad feeling about this....
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    i think its cool
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Yesterday one of the media translated this news to put on their website. The headline was:

    "Humans create a living orgasm"

    :D
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Some of the outraged responses to this in the news made me chuckle. In terms of ethics, it's really not that different to the kinds of genetic manipulations scientists have been carrying out for years - adding genes, removing genes and changing their function. We've been creating and altering organisms in the lab for a long time.

    I don't necessarily agree with calling this "artificial life". All this group did was to start with the base sequence of a relatively simple bacterial genome, synthesise a copy in vitro, and transplant the completed genome into a recipient cell. This represents the first fully-synthesised bacterial genome, but it isn't really anything new. Whole genes have already been created and put into organisms - this was just done on a much larger scale.

    If this is artificial life, where do we draw the line? Would we call an organism that has received one or several artificially-synthesised genes "semi-artificial"? For me this is more a proof-of-principle that shows it's possible to synthesise and construct genetic material on a large scale.

    I personally think Venter's other work, which aims to isolate the minimal required genes for survival, and use them as building blocks to create a new organism, is more deserving than this work of the term "artificial life".
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It's life because they programmed the DNA to tell it to self-replicate, which is the definition of life. The news here is the bit where they made the DNA (from scratch, I believe) and the organism behaved in the way that they'd programmed.

    Oh, and the outraged responses make me chuckle, because you don't hear people complaining about "playing God" at crufts every year, or refusing to drink the milk of these "artificial" cows that produce it. Of course there are people who aren't best pleased with those things, but they don't tend to be the same ones that complain at every new scientific advancement.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think that this is crazy cool. I understand that people are apprehensive about entering this whole "imagination is the only limit' era that we seem to be moving towards, but come on... they created life!

    There are so many good things that they could potentially do with this kind of science, from repairing some of the damage to the environment, to finding cures for diseases that are currently incurable.

    Sure, they could go too far and create some kind of mutant species that take over Earth and wipe out the human race.... but at least everyone will be disease-free. Right?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It's life because they programmed the DNA to tell it to self-replicate, which is the definition of life. The news here is the bit where they made the DNA (from scratch, I believe) and the organism behaved in the way that they'd programmed.
    Not sure if I understanding your meaning, but they didn't 'program' the DNA - they copied the sequence from another species of bacteria. Nothing 'new' was really created - just a new way of doing things. Here is the pdf of the paper if anyone's interested in reading it, and a commentary from the same issue of Science.

    We had an interesting conversation at work about the PR and media attention surrounding this work. For Venter any publicity is probably a good thing, which is why the study has been described in such extreme terms. From some of the news stories, it's clear the facts haven't really propagated through - either that, or the facts are ignored in favour of the agenda. It's annoying that for many people, the continuing media narrative, that scientists are evil and dangerous, will only be reinforced by this story.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    TintedLens wrote: »
    Sure, they could go too far and create some kind of mutant species that take over Earth and wipe out the human race.... but at least everyone will be disease-free. Right?

    What could go wrong ?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The lifeforms created by humans could go to war with us, forcing us to scram to spaceships and flee. Keep up!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    katralla wrote: »
    The lifeforms created by humans could go to war with us, forcing us to scram to spaceships and flee. Keep up!

    Remember to send me a postcard.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I will suspect that you are one of them, a model that looks like humans and... try to kill you.
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