Artificial Life Created!

Artificial Life Created!

A truly historic achievement, for the first time in history Artificial life has been created by man. Researchers led by Dr Craig Venter of the J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Maryland and California have managed to construct a bacterium's "genetic software" (called Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0) and transplanted it into a host cell.

The resulting microbe behaved and looked identical to the species dictated by the completely synthetic DNA.

The researchers hope that they will eventually be able to design and create bacteria which will perform useful functions such as absorbing greenhouse gases, acting as a fuel or even a medicine. Dr Venter believes this will create a new industrial revolution but critics say there are dangers posed by synthetic organisms.

On the JCVI website, Dr Venters explains:

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 field is already having an impact in some of these areas and will continue to do so as long as this powerful new area of science is used wisely. Continued and intensive review and dialogue with all areas of society, from Congress to bioethicists to laypeople, is necessary for this field to prosper.

The possibilities for this bio-technology are endless, imagine in the future a machine that can write a new medicine based upon an analysis of the illness. Machines that can mass-produce vaccines and even clean the environment (like cleaning up the massive oil-spill in the Gulf of Mexico for example). The potential power though can be quite humbling too though, and in the wrong hands could be potentially deadly.