Friday, May 21, 2010

The First Synthetic Cell

Yesterday, the creation of the first synthetic cell was announced by Craig Venter, one of the greatest biologists of our era. This is the first self-replicating organism on the planet whose parent is a computer.
After a fifteen year journey (during which he also decoded the human genome), Craig Venter's team successfully made a complete synthetic genome, transplanted it to a bacterial cell, and booted it up in the cell to produce a new species. The genome was designed on computers and created from four bottles of chemicals. Then, the chromosomes were assembled in yeast. One of the major obstacles was to boot up the genome in the bacterial cell, since the transplant chromosomes were rejected and destroyed by the recipient cells. Advances were made to remove restriction enzymes from recipient cells and insert chromosomes with methylated DNA in the cells.
Other problems in the project were debugging issues. Initially, the transplanted chromosomes did not support life because only one base pair was deleted. This led to the development of debugging programs that made the production of the life-supporting synthetic genome possible.

One interesting aspect of this genome is that it has watermarks embedded in it for identification. Using a specific code, the names of the authors and the website of the genome were spelled out in the genome.

This amazing breakthrough has vast implications. Firstly, it tells us about the basic recipes of life as well as the dynamic nature of it. It also provides technical advancements such as the production of vaccines and production of new and useful species, such as algae that can make oil out of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We can only begin to imagine what might come out of this astonishing revolution.

3 comments:

  1. oh shit yara you got a fking blog!!!!
    nice job lol

    and wtf this is sick yo, can't wait to see where this leads to.

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  2. lol yea thanks.
    I know, this is one of those things that opens up new doors in both science and technology. very exciting stuff...

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  3. As much it amazes me from a scientific point of view, I have to say that I am astounded by its philosophical impact.

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