'Artificial life' breakthrough announced by scientists


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spy beef

The researchers constructed a bacterium's "genetic software" and transplanted it into a host cell.

The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species "dictated" by the synthetic DNA.

The advance, published in Science, has been hailed as a scientific landmark, but critics say there are dangers posed by synthetic organisms.

The researchers hope eventually to design bacterial cells that will produce medicines and fuels and even absorb greenhouse gases.

Theteam was led by Dr Craig Venter of the J Craig Venter Institute in Maryland and California.

He and his colleagues had previously made a synthetic bacterial genome, and transplanted the genome of one bacterium into another.

Now, the scientists have put both methods together, to create what they call a "synthetic cell", although only its genome is truly synthetic.

Dr Venter likened the advance to making new software for the cell.

The researchers copied an existing bacterial genome. They sequenced its genetic code and then used "synthesis machines" to chemically construct a copy.

Dr Venter told BBC News: "We've now been able to take our synthetic chromosome and transplant it into a recipient cell - a different organism.

Source: BBC News

I can't wait for Left 4 Dead Real Life.

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killa_chain

Next they'll be able to turn you into a zombie with this.

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BoredBozirini

Impressive indeed. I hope they can achieve true artificial life before I die, that would be something amazing to see.

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mudslag

some would almost call that "God" like

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Phenom II

But they still need a living cell as the host to begin with, so it is not 100% artificial - they cant make this synthetic life form without a real cell to take over with their artificial DNA

When they manage that, complete artificial everything, then we are playing God for real

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BoredBozirini

But they still need a living cell as the host to begin with, so it is not 100% artificial - they cant make this synthetic life form without a real cell to take over with their artificial DNA

When they manage that, complete artificial everything, then we are playing God for real

We need to start at something. I say this is a great step.

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PixilEyes

I'll be able to live to age 500 :D

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Phenom II

We need to start at something. I say this is a great step.

Oh I totally agree, and if they ever create a creature / person from this breakthrough..... wow

Ripley's Clones from Aliens comes to mind

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Lexcyn

Oh great, the Geth are coming!

*Mass Effect reference*

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.Markus

Exciting times are indeed ahead! yes.gif

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qdave

Oh great, the Geth are coming!

*Mass Effect reference*

:yes:

Time to pack bags for a pilgrimage :D

Anyway impressive achievement!

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Rob2687

Hello future!

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lamminium

Here is the original article (free). I doubt most people here can read it though. :/

http://www.sciencema...etic_genome.dtl

lol

It's not that hard to read...

But anyway, this is the kind of things that make me excited.

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Crompee

Problem with scientific research these days, the scientists who managed to do this.. are patenting every process to give them a monopoly on genetic engineering practises.

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zhangm

Problem with scientific research these days, the scientists who managed to do this.. are patenting every process to give them a monopoly on genetic engineering practises.

I'll argue that patents are necessary because it takes a lot of resources to bring a product from a test tube into a market. Patents protect people that are willing to invest those resources on the condition that they'll see some return.

Lets live for a moment in some "ideal" world without patents, and pretend that you synthesize a miracle compound that cures tuberculosis with a single treatment. You magically found Company A to fund your efforts to bring the drug to market: you need funding for drug trials in animals and humans, employees and facilities with which to conduct the testing, a factory to produce the drug, and a large distribution network to make the drug accessible. All this is expensive, and for the sake of argument, lets say it costs 500 million dollars.

Company B comes along after you've brought the drug to market. It copies your compound and sells it at a lower price. Company B can afford to do this because 1). It is legal; you cannot sue them because the drug isn't really yours; there is no patent infrastructure that protects your invention, and 2). Company B did not make an initial investment of 500 million dollars to develop and market the drug, therefore, they can operate at a greater loss than you. Furthermore, in this simplified case, we'll assume that people will always choose to buy the cheaper of two equivalent products, therefore, you will earn no income whatsoever, since Company B sells at a lower price than you. Company B makes revenue, and Company A sinks. You lose.

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+M2Ys4U

I'll argue that patents are necessary because it takes a lot of resources to bring a product from a test tube into a market. Patents protect people that are willing to invest those resources on the condition that they'll see some return.

Lets live for a moment in some "ideal" world without patents, and pretend that you synthesize a miracle compound that cures tuberculosis with a single treatment. You magically found Company A to fund your efforts to bring the drug to market: you need funding for drug trials in animals and humans, employees and facilities with which to conduct the testing, a factory to produce the drug, and a large distribution network to make the drug accessible. All this is expensive, and for the sake of argument, lets say it costs 500 million dollars.

Company B comes along after you've brought the drug to market. It copies your compound and sells it at a lower price. Company B can afford to do this because 1). It is legal; you cannot sue them because the drug isn't really yours; there is no patent infrastructure that protects your invention, and 2). Company B did not make an initial investment of 500 million dollars to develop and market the drug, therefore, they can operate at a greater loss than you. Furthermore, in this simplified case, we'll assume that people will always choose to buy the cheaper of two equivalent products, therefore, you will earn no income whatsoever, since Company B sells at a lower price than you. Company B makes revenue, and Company A sinks. You lose.

Even though this isn't correct - drug companies only spend circa 15% of their revenues on research - there are alternative ways to find drug research such as subsidising R&D in pharmaceuticals. All developed countries (except the USA for some silly reason) have socialised medical care and are thus massive customers of the drug companies. The state can increase the subsidies from the money saved by having lower drug costs as a result.

Everyone benefits, as more drugs are available at cheaper prices at the point of purchase, there's a lower cost of entry to R&D so more research (and more diverse research) will take place and the research still gets funded!

Take a look at this article on pharmaceutical patents.

As for patenting this genetic creation technology, that's analogous to patenting how to create any drug at the moment. They should, possibly, have the ability to copyright any entire genomes that they create (it's strings of base pairs, just like strings of alphabetic characters), but they shouldn't have copyright or patents on single genes or small groups of genes just like you can't copyright words or small phrases/sentences/tweets.

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