Saturday, January 26, 2008

Synthetic life closer!

A US team reports in Science magazine how it built the entire DNA code of a common bacterium in the laboratory using blocks of genetic material. The group hopes eventually to use engineered genomes to make organisms that can produce clean fuels and take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Some researchers have expressed ethical concerns. These critics are calling for a debate on the risks of creating "artificial life" in a test tube. But Dr Hamilton Smith, who was part of the Science study, said the team regarded its lab-made genome - a laboratory copy of the DNA used by the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium - as a step towards synthetic, rather than artificial, life. Dr. Smith has said "We like to distinguish synthetic life from artificial life." With synthetic life, we're re-designing the cell chromosomes; we're not creating a whole new artificial life system."

Thanks to Shaun Sauders for the post from BBC News

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