La Jolla Lab Creates Fake Life

View Comments ()
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    "We are very excited about this breakthrough," Sheng Ding, an associate professor at Scripps. "Scientists have been dreaming about this for years."

    Some San Diego scientists could be one step closer to creating more advanced forms of artificial life.

    Famed geneticist J. Craig Venter-- who operates labs in La Jolla and Maryland-- says his team have created the first organism controlled completely by man-made DNA.

    The world's first self-replicating, synthetic bacterial cell was designed on a computer, chemically made in a laboratory and transplanted into a recipient cell.

    According to the institute, the synthetic cell could lead to the development of bio-fuels, vaccines, pharmaceuticals and clean water and fuel, among other applications.

    The discovery also creates the danger of an increased risk of bioterrorism, according to one bioengineer.

    James Collins, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute-supported bioengineer at Boston University, spoke of the increased risk to Businessweek.

    “They sent out chunks of the genetic code to companies and asked them each to synthesize parts of it,” Collins said. “You don’t want bad guys to order 10 parts of a nasty virus from 10 different groups and then put them together.”

    The decade and a half effort to make the synthetic cell reportedly cost about $40 million, about $30 million of which was provided by Synthetic Genomics Inc.

    The research was published in the current edition of Science Express and will appear in an upcoming issue of Science.