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Scientists create artificial life in laboratory

NEWS
Scientists create artificial life in laboratory

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Science

••• U.S. scientists have developed the first cell controlled by a synthetic genome, in a breakthrough which may lead to creating bacteria to clean up environmental problems, a new study shows.
‘This is the first synthetic cell that’s been made,’ said lead researcher Craig Venter on Thursday.

‘We call it synthetic because the cell is totally derived from a synthetic chromosome, made with four bottles of chemicals on a chemical synthesiser, starting with information in a computer.’

Now the method could be used to design bacteria specifically to help produce biofuels or to clean up environmental hazards, said the study carried out by the J. Craig Venter Institute, and published in the journal Science.
‘This becomes a very powerful tool for trying to design what we want biology to do. We have a wide range of applications (in mind),’ said Venter, co-author of the first sequencing of the human genome in 2000.

Venter’s team announced in 2008 that it had chemically synthesised a bacterial genome, and transplanted the genome of one bacterium to another to recreate the complete genome of the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium.

Thursday’s announcement builds on the team’s earlier work.

Potential applications include producing algae to clean up carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, or making new clean energy hydrocarbons for refineries.

Researchers also hope to work on techniques to speed up the production of vaccines and to make new food ingredients and chemical substances.
Related: Venter team creates first synthetic living cell
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): John Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and Sky News / British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. (BSkyB) / News Corp.
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