Researchers Say They Created a Synthetic Cell


Researchers Say They Created a Synthetic Cell
By NICHOLAS WADE Published: May 20, 2010 nytimes

[sb: I love language. By using "say they" we see that the nytimes is reporting what the scientists say about their own discovery, and that the nytimes does not have certainty about the claim]

The genome pioneer J. Craig Venter has taken another step in his quest to create synthetic life, by synthesizing an entire bacterial genome and using it to take over a cell.

Dr. Venter calls the result a synthetic cell and is presenting the research as a landmark achievement that will open the way to creating useful microbes from scratch to make products like vaccines and biofuels. At a press conference Thursday, Dr. Venter described the converted cell as the first self-replicating species weve had on the planet whose parent is a computer.

This is a philosophical advance as much as a technical advance, he said, suggesting that the synthetic cell raised new questions about the nature of life.

Other scientists agree that he has achieved a technical feat in synthesizing the largest piece of DNA so far a million units in length and in making it accurate enough to substitute for the cells own DNA.

But some regard this approach as unpromising because it will take years to design new organisms, and meanwhile progress toward making biofuels is already being achieved with conventional genetic engineering approaches in which existing organisms are modified a few genes at a time.

[use link for rest of article]


Senior Member
Logan, Queensland, Australia
Hi shrewbury

So much of life is bound up in cell structures and chemistry that I regard this as a modified life form rather than new life. The real value of this, which seems to be overlooked, is that it opens up a long predicted path to nanological engineering, with huge ramifications, some of them scary.