Synthetic DNA Genome

1:44 AM
Getting techie once in a while wouldn't be a grave crime !! With the hope that I am not driving you guys berserk, here's something that I had perceived to see in the near future and now a reality !

U.S. scientists have taken a major step toward creating the first ever artificial life form by synthetically reproducing the DNA of a bacteria, according to a study published Thursday.
The move, which comes after five years of research, is seen as the penultimate stage in the endeavor to create an artificial life form based entirely on a man-made DNA genome -- something which has tantalized scientists and sci-fi writers for years.
"Through dedicated teamwork we have shown that building large genomes is now feasible and scalable so that important applications such as biofuels can be developed," said Hamilton Smith, from the J. Craig Venter Institute, in the study published in Science. The research has been carried out at the laboratories of the controversial celebrity scientist Craig Venter, who has hailed artificial life forms as a potential remedy to illness and global warming. However, the prospect of engineering artificial life forms is highly controversial and is likely to arouse heated debate over the ethics and potential ramifications of such an advance. You can see the rays of light shining through the DNA double helix in the picture above.
It is one of the Holy Grails of science, but also one that stirs deep fears as foreseen in Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel "Brave New World" in which natural human reproduction is eschewed in favor of babies grown artificially in laboratories. This extraordinary accomplishment is a technological marvel that was only made possible because of the unique and accomplished team.
The researchers had dedicated the last several years to designing and perfecting new methods and techniques that we believe will become widely used to advance the field of synthetic genomics. The team had completed the second step in a three-step process to create a synthetic organism. In the final stage of their research which they are already working on, the Maryland-based team will attempt to create a bacteria based purely on the synthetic genome sequence of the Mycoplasma genitalium bacteria.
The bacteria, which causes certain sexually transmitted diseases, has one of the least complex DNA structures of any life form, composed of just 580 genes. In contrast, the human genome has some 30,000. The chromosome which the team has created is known as Mycoplasma laboratorium and, in the final step of the process, will be transplanted into a living cell where it should "take control," effectively becoming a new life form. The new bacteria will therefore be largely artificial, though not entirely, because it is composed of building blocks from already existing organisms.
It's a type of genetic engineering which would allow people to make much bigger genetic changes, which means that in the future you could create organisms with new gene sequences. Now, this is something that we all should watch for..



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