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 Post subject: Man Plays Creator
PostPosted: May 21st, 2010-- 4:01 pm 
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Man plays creator: Indian-origin scientists help create artificial life
Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN, May 22, 2010, 12.22am

WASHINGTON: A team of scientists in the United States, including three researchers of Indian origin, has created life in the laboratory.

In a profound - and some would say provocative - work, the 24-member team at the privately-held J Craig Venter Institute has created bacterial cells that are completely controlled by genes manufactured in the lab. The cells can multiply.

The successful construction of the first self-replicating bacterial cells opens the way for making and manipulating life on a previously unattainable scale, calling into question some of the very basis of creation.

Previously, scientists have altered and manipulated DNA piecemeal to produce a variety of genetically engineered plants and animals. But the ability to artificially design an entire genome - the `book of life' that controls an organism's functions - puts a different spin on the meaning of terms such as creation, evolution and life.

The J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), which is a not-for-profit genomic research organization based in Rockville outside Washington DC and in San Diego, California, did not say when exactly its team synthesized the 1.08 million base pair chromosomes of a modified Mycoplasma mycoides, a parasite bacteria that lives in cattle and goats.

But it said the synthetic cell, called Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0, "is the proof of principle that genomes can be designed in the computer, chemically made in the laboratory and transplanted into a recipient cell to produce a new self-replicating cell controlled only by the synthetic genome".

The most remarkable thing about the synthetic cell, a JCVI scientist explained, is that its "genome was brought to life through chemical synthesis, without using any pieces of natural DNA."

The implications of the breakthrough was not lost on the founder of the institute J Craig Venter, the maverick American biologist and entrepreneur who is most famous for his role in sequencing one of the first human genomes.

"We have been consumed by this research, but we have also been equally focused on addressing the societal implications of what we believe will be one of the most powerful technologies and industrial drivers for societal good. We look forward to continued review and dialogue about the important applications of this work to ensure that it is used for the benefit of all," he said in a statement.

The 24-member team includes three scientists of Indian origin - Sanjay Vashee, Radha Krishnakumar and Prashanth P Parmar.

The first synthetic cell did not come cheap or easy. The process of constructing and booting up the cell took nearly 15 years and cost upwards of $30 million, the institute said.

Ethicists called the breakthrough a "turning point in the relationship between man and nature" when humankind had generated life from scratch in a lab with the ability to pre-determine its properties.

But JCVI scientists were careful to point out the positives in the breakthrough, maintaining it would "undoubtedly" lead to the development of many important applications and products including biofuels, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, clean water and food products.

Dr Venter said he and the team at JCVI continue to work with bioethicists, outside policy groups, legislative members and staff, and the public to encourage discussion and understanding about the societal implications of their work and the field of synthetic genomics generally.

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 Post subject: Re: Man Plays Creator
PostPosted: May 21st, 2010-- 4:03 pm 
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For some reason I in the mood to play Resident Evil... Can't figure out why? :]

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 Post subject: Re: Man Plays Creator
PostPosted: May 22nd, 2010-- 1:59 am 
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This is actually amazing... They could make loads of stuff with this!

(Non-scientist idiot Marill ftw!)

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