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RawBert
May 20, 2010, 09:12 PM
Link (http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20005533-1.html)

Scientist today created a synthetic cell that actually reproduces. A living cell! :eek:
http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim//2010/05/20/Cell_480x360.jpg
Scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute have created a synthetic cell that can survive and reproduce itself according to an artificial DNA sequence, promising designer genomes with which researchers can produce sophisticated artificial organisms.
The new bacterial cell, "Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0," is the result of a 15-year, $30 million effort by genetics pioneer Craig Venter. The study, led by the institute's Dan Gibson, is reported in the May 21 edition of the journal Science.

The team of 25 researchers took Mycoplasma capricolum bacteria and completely rewrote its genetic code of more than 1 million base pairs of DNA. The data was sequenced as chemical DNA fragments and sewn together using yeast and E. coli bacteria.
The synthetic genome was transplanted into empty Mycoplasma mycoides bacteria, which were transformed into a new species. The creature's software-like name, JCVI-syn1.0, reflects its status as the first of its kind.
To prove the genome is synthetic and to assert their ownership, the scientists even "watermarked" it by forming encoded words with the alphabet of genes and proteins. They included three quotations, among them a line from "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" by James Joyce: "To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life." They also added a URL and e-mail address to allow researchers who decode the words to notify the institute.
Venter intends to patent the new cells, produced with funding from Synthetic Genomics, a genomics company that he founded in 2005.
Although the cell is primitive and lacks its own membrane, the techniques developed to create it promise groundbreaking advances in gene engineering and the rise of designer genomes. The achievement also raises ethical questions, not only about the creation of artificial life but the legitimacy of patenting it.
"The ability to routinely write the software of life will usher in a new era in science, and with it, new products and applications such as advanced biofuels, clean water technology, and new vaccines and medicines," the institute, located in Rockville, Md., and San Diego, said on its Web site.
Scientists who were not involved in the study are cautioning that the new species is not a truly synthetic life form because its genome was put into an existing cell. But they are also hailing the results. Quoted in The Wall Street Journal, biologist Richard Ebright of Rutgers University called it "a turning point in the relationship between man and nature."

citizenzen
May 20, 2010, 09:43 PM
Those nutty scientists... they're always coming up with something.

pukifloyd
May 21, 2010, 12:24 AM
Thats pretty cool...a living and reproducing cell:eek:

Dagless
May 21, 2010, 06:10 AM
This is both awesome and scary, like all good science.

GroundLoop
May 21, 2010, 06:14 AM
This is both awesome and scary, like all good science.

Can you say "ridiculously powerful biological weapons"?

Hickman

Dagless
May 21, 2010, 06:30 AM
Can you say "ridiculously powerful biological weapons"?

Hickman
From the BBC website-
The risks are unparalleled, we need safety evaluation for this kind of radical research and protections from military or terrorist misuse

Julian Savulescu
Oxford University ethics professor
This has to happen.

mags631
May 21, 2010, 08:18 AM
How is this materially different from mucking about with the DNA of a non-synthetic cell?

Schtumple
May 21, 2010, 09:40 AM
God I hope people actually move forward with this, this should not be used for weapons and should be used only for the purpose of enhancing life, not killing it off.

Aren't biological weapons banned internationally anyway?...

roadbloc
May 21, 2010, 09:46 AM
This time next year, we will all be zombies.

abijnk
May 21, 2010, 10:15 AM
How is this materially different from mucking about with the DNA of a non-synthetic cell?

I'm sure I won't explain this well, but it is different because before what people were doing was manipulating the existing DNA sequence in a cell to get it to turn into something else. This time, they removed all genetic material from the cell, built their own genetic code (not necessarily from the stuff they removed) and put this new, previously nonexistent sequence back into the cell and got it to reproduce.

danielcox
May 21, 2010, 10:43 AM
Essentially what they did was get a bacterium (I forget the species) and build up entirely synthetic DNA using a computer and then insert it into the host bacterium.
Although this DNA is created and not modified it is nearly exactly the same as the host bacterium DNA.

I'm not particularly worried about biological weapon creation with this - aside from being illegal diseases are generally infectious or deadly and not both - think the common cold (very highly infectious) vs. Ebola.

iShater
May 21, 2010, 10:44 AM
This time next year, we will all be zombies.

or Cylons.

dukebound85
May 21, 2010, 10:45 AM
It's ALIVE!

chrmjenkins
May 21, 2010, 10:59 AM
Great potentials for alternative fuels, curbing effects of global warming, creating organisms that eat oil from oil spills, etc. They'll need to regulate the heck out of it though.

Cabbit
May 21, 2010, 12:26 PM
Lets make Godzilla. Or something else large and terrifying.

chrmjenkins
May 21, 2010, 12:29 PM
Lets make Godzilla. Or something else large and terrifying.

One Oprah is enough.

dmr727
May 21, 2010, 01:09 PM
Excuse me while I go lock myself in the basement.

Mal67
May 22, 2010, 02:39 AM
Great potentials for alternative fuels, curbing effects of global warming, creating organisms that eat oil from oil spills, etc. They'll need to regulate the heck out of it though.

I think it's fantastic news :) I can't wait to see how this gets used 5, 10 years down the track. Environmental applications, materials science, alternative fuels, medical science..... you name it. I just hope this doesn't get regulated out of existence. Hiding down in the basement I don't think so.

11800506
May 23, 2010, 06:22 PM
Heh Rockville, MD, that's where I live!

appleguy123
May 23, 2010, 06:28 PM
Can they regenerate aged cells and make people immortal with it? Obviously thismwould take awhile.

danielcox
May 24, 2010, 05:50 AM
Can they regenerate aged cells and make people immortal with it? Obviously thismwould take awhile.

I doubt it - for one this is a bacterium cell and not a human cell.
Ageing encompasses all sorts of effects not just cell death, it's a complicated issue but one I hope gets sorted before I die.

appleguy123
May 24, 2010, 09:39 AM
I doubt it - for one this is a bacterium cell and not a human cell.
Ageing encompasses all sorts of effects not just cell death, it's a complicated issue but one I hope gets sorted before I die.

What I mean is; in the future could they manufacture cells that the could retrofit into humans. Most aging occurs because of DNA's failure to copy correctly every time, right? Could these commuter generated cells be perfect DNA thAt would never fail at copying correctly?

MattSepeta
May 24, 2010, 01:45 PM
God I hope people actually move forward with this, this should not be used for weapons and should be used only for the purpose of enhancing life, not killing it off.

Aren't biological weapons banned internationally anyway?...

Reminded me of a quote from my favorite book... "...Being against war is like being against glaciers..." -K.Vonnegut

Re: The breakthrough... I think it is great. I think that the positives that come about from this will far outweigh the negatives. Maybe they can implement this technology and methodology in a way that they tried to do with embryonic stem cells. This way we can get the research and the benefits without the anti-stem cell people impeding the progress?

RawBert
May 24, 2010, 02:24 PM
I think those same stem cell research opposers aren't so thrilled with this breakthrough. Probably for the same reasons. They think we're playing God. :rolleyes:

Don't panic
May 24, 2010, 04:39 PM
How is this materially different from mucking about with the DNA of a non-synthetic cell?

it's different because this way Venter makes a lot more money and can be on the first pages of all newspapers.

this "breakthrough' doesn't introduce any ethical issue that have not been there for many many years already.
there is obviously some technological improvement in what they achieved compared to what is already done in hundreds of labs around the world every day, but nothing earth-shattering.

Don't panic
May 24, 2010, 04:53 PM
Great potentials for alternative fuels, curbing effects of global warming, creating organisms that eat oil from oil spills, etc. They'll need to regulate the heck out of it though.

we aren't any closer to any of those than we were before.
the technological issues of manufacturing and inserting synthetic DNA into a host are completely different from designing the sequence to perform custom functions.

don't get me wrong, what venter group did is an important technical milestone in biotechnology, and there are a few fantastic touches in the project (like emails embedded in the primary DNA sequence), but a lot of the supposed implications are just hype.