World’s First Fully Synthetic Life Form

4 Jun

Back in May, researchers at the J Craig Venter Institute announced the creation of the “first synthetic life form”. Many have shown excitement at such a jump in technology; others have shown concern; others have cautioned us to not get our hopes up too high—these new cells may not be as miraculous as we think.

Researchers in charge of the project, including Dr. Craig Venter himself, hope that this development will open the way to custom-made bacteria able to synthesize medicine and different forms of biofuel—perhaps even absorb greenhouse gases!

The project was based on two previous experiments led by the centre: synthesizing an entire bacterial genome and transplanting one bacterium’s genome into another.

After synthesizing a chromosome from the known sequence of a bacterial strain, Dr, Craig Venter’s team was able to successfully transplant it into an existing bacteria, allowing the synthetic DNA to completely take over the cell.

To counteract all the hype from the announcement, critics have appeared to warn us of the unpredictable. Despite being aware of all the possible benefits, sceptics fear we are overlooking any possible negative side effect of releasing a new bacterium into the environment: no one knows how they will react. For all we know, they say, we could be releasing a new form of pollution, despite our intent of cleaning.

There has been a drive for discussions and evaluations for the method and how it could impact our world.


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