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Scientists create a living organism

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Scientists have turned inanimate chemicals into a living organism in an experiment that raises

profound questions about the essence of life.

Craig Venter, the US genomics pioneer, announced on Thursday that scientists at his laboratories

in Maryland and California had succeeded in their 15-year project to make the world’s first

“synthetic cells” – bacteria called Mycoplasma mycoides.

“We have passed through a critical psychological barrier,” Dr Venter told the FT. “It has

changed my own thinking, both scientifically and philosophically, about life and how it works.”

The bacteria’s genes were all constructed in the laboratory “from four bottles of chemicals on

a chemical synthesizer, starting with information on a computer,” he said.

The research – published online by the journal Science – was hailed as a landmark by many

independent scientists and philosophers.

“Venter is creaking open the most profound door in humanity’s history, potentially peeking

into its destiny,” said Julian Savulescu, ethics professor at Oxford University. “This is a

step towards ... creation of living beings with capacities and natures that could never

have naturally evolved.”

The synthetic bacteria have 14 “watermark sequences” attached to their genome – inert

stretches of DNA added to distinguish them from their natural counterparts. They behaved

and divided in lab dishes like natural bacteria.

M mycoides was chosen as a simple microbe with which to develop and prove the technology.

It has no immediate application.

But scientists at the J Craig Venter Institute and Synthetic Genomics, the company funding

their research, intend to move quickly on to more useful targets that may not exist in nature.

They are particularly interested in designing algae that can capture carbon dioxide from

the air and produce hydrocarbon fuels.

Last year Synthetic Genomics signed a $600m agreement with Exxon Mobil to make algal

biofuels. “We have looked hard at natural algae and we can’t find one that can make the

fuels we want on the scales we need,” Dr Venter said.

The researchers built up the synthetic genome of M mycoides, with its million chemical

letters, by stitching together shorter stretches of DNA, each about 1,000 letters long.

They then transferred the completed genome into the shell of another bacterium M capricolum

whose own DNA had been removed.

The transplanted genome “booted up” the host cell and took over its biological machinery.

After 30 cell divisions, there were billions of synthetic bacteria in the lab dishes –

all of them making exclusively the biological molecules associated with M mycoides.

Experts warn of the risks as well as the benefits of synthetic biology. “We need new

standards of safety evaluation for this kind of radical research and protections from

military or terrorist misuse and abuse,” said Prof Savulescu.

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Filed: Lift. Cond. (apr) Country: Egypt
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Don't just open your mouth and prove yourself a fool....put it in writing.

It gets harder the more you know. Because the more you find out, the uglier everything seems.

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IF "sea monkeys" count as creating life, I got them beat.


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Filed: Citizen (pnd) Country: Hong Kong
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Notice it took intelligent beings to accomplish this...


Scott - So. California, Lai - Hong Kong

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Re: the "God, schmod" comment, the Vatican doesn't seem to have any big objections to this. Looks like they do not feel threatend by it.

Vatican calls synthetic cell creation 'interesting'

By the CNN Wire StaffMay 22, 2010 9:58 a.m. EDT

Rome, Italy (CNN) -- The Vatican had praise Saturday for this week's announcement that scientists had created the world's first synthetic cell, calling it an "interesting result" that could help cure disease.

In an article Saturday, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano called it "important research" and "the work of high-quality genetic engineering." But it said the scientists who created the cell had not created life, just "replaced one of its motors."

The response may appear to mark a turn for the Vatican, but in fact the church does not officially oppose genetic engineering as long as the science avoids embryonic stem cells, cloning or anything else that fiddles too much with the re-creation of human life.

"Genetic engineering can do good: It is enough to think that it could heal chromosome-related diseases," the article said.

However, scientists must "join courage with caution," it said.

"They touch a very fragile territory where the environment and manipulation play a role that cannot be underestimated," the article said.

....

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/05/22/vatican.synthetic.cell/index.html

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I should probably keep open minded that humans were made by an intelligent being.

Yes, you should. To dismiss the idea out of hand is hardly good science.


Scott - So. California, Lai - Hong Kong

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Our timeline:

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Optimist: "The glass is half full."

Pessimist: "The glass is half empty."

Scott: "I didn't order this!!!"

"Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." - Ruth 1:16

"Losing faith in Humanity, one person at a time."

"Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save." - Ps 146:3

cool.gif

IMG_6283c.jpg

Vicky >^..^< She came, she loved, and was loved. 1989-07/07/2007

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