US scientists today announced theta they have successfully developed the first synthetic living cell, a world first. The team of scientists and researches claim to have successfully added to a host cell a synthetic bacterium’s genetic software. The end result of this experiment was a host cell that looked and behaved like the impregnated synthetic DNA, which was effectively being dictated.
This scientific advance which is published in science, has been billed as a scientific landmark; however critics suggest that there could be dangers posed by developing synthetic organisms.
Researchers hope to further develop the breakthrough to eventually create cells that can provide fuels, medicine and even combat and absorb harmful greenhouse effect gasses.
Dr Craig Venter of the J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) based in Maryland and California led the team. He has previously led his scientific colleagues to make another synthetic based genome, which was successfully transplanted from one bacterium to another.
However the scientists have now been able to put together both methods 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.
Once the transplant was completed the bacteria went on to replicate itself over a billion times and in doing so it produced copies of itself that controlled the host cell. The team of scientists hopes to further develop their methods in the hope they can develop a cell that can then perform functions of some value.
Dr Venter and his team of scientists are currently already collaborating and working with some pharmaceutical and fuel development companies in a bid to design and develop cell chromosomes for bacteria that could hopeful produce some useful methods of fuel and new vaccines and medicines.