Friday, 4 March 2011

Synthetic Cells - How close are we to creating life?

Only last year, Craig Ventner, a known Human Genome sequencer, managed to inject completely synthetic DNA, into another cell, which then managed to reproduce. The goal of his research was to create bacteria that could be used to control CO2 levels in the atmosphere by converting it to other non-greenhouse gases.

Creating life some would argue, while other say that really all he did was make a synthetic replicate of life, a copy. Regarding the actual production and creation of new life, research is at its beginning.
In the visions of Bio-engineers, there are truly amazing things yet to come. DNA code that instead of two basepairs contains three, an alternate, new genetic code, which could increase the amount of possible combinations massively. Completely new amino acids, and therefore proteins could be created.

There are other potential uses for bio-engineered cells. Researchers in Edinburgh presented microorganisms capable of detecting arson in drinking water, in 2006, ideas about biological circuits have been in discussion for a long time.

But there are of course also other more sinister uses for these kinds of manipulations of life. Extinct strains of long dead diseases could be brough back, or even worse modified. The horrible biological weapons that are possible with this kind of technology are hard to imagine.

As of yet, however most of what has been done is the synthetic recreation of existing DNA. Little original life has been made, also due to problems with the synthesising of other cell parts. While making cell proteins is less of a problem, making the different cell membranes and organelles is more difficult, and only recently a new experimental way was found to make them in a regular way.

Artist's rendering of cell structure. (Credit: iStockphoto/Sebastian Kaulitzki)


So since this is a bit of a long one:

Tl;dr: Synthetic cells, have not yet been made, but due to recent advances will probably soon be made.

Basically I will try to post once every two days, although I don't have much time during the week, due to school etc.

26 comments:

  1. With almost all scientific advances, you have the double edged sword effect. Hell, in all fields of research. Consider the The Paradox of Capitalism, as proposed by Adam Smith. Everything has good and bad sides.

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  2. Syntethic plant cells would definately fix some serious problems the planet is currently having... like CO2 emissions and such...

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  3. This is cool and all but I'm still waiting for my flying car...

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  4. I guess soon we all will have our own Pokemon.

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  5. awesome i hope we soon can replicate organs and body limbs

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  6. that would be insane if we could create life in my lifetime!

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  7. This would be very useful

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  8. wait till the bleeding heart liberals get hold of it and cry foul over Frankenstein science lol

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  9. big fan of science, very good post!

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  10. Nice Post!
    Science is Awesome!

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  11. I can't even begin to comprehend what life will be like if we can create synthetic life forms.

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  12. mmmm. this article reminds me of the arsenic based life that nasa found in mono lake last year. i can barely comprehend what dna base trios could even grow into but i do believe this all a part of the expanding universe.

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  13. cheers for the tl;dr note.

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  14. Science never ceases to amaze me

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  15. we can integrate these synthetic cells into our machines so they some day will turn on us and enslave us. I for one welcome our new synthetic overlords!

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  16. It amazes me, and yet with all the bad things that happen in the world I can't help but imagine that this will eventually destroy mankind.

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  17. Is it something that's truly necessary to develop though? I mean, why would we want to create a 'new life'?

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  18. i heard they are trying to make "synthetic meat" but all they can do now is a meat thinky thats roughly 1 cm in diameter and tastes like nothing

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  19. I feel that very soon we're going to be reading about scientists creating real synthetic cells... its all a matter of time...

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  20. I got chills reading this...

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  21. These cells sound pretty epic.. Followed!
    alphabetalife.blogspot.com

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  22. I heard about this. You know, if humans can create life. It isn't that big of a jump to think that life was created by a civilization similar to ours (except slightly more advanced due to space travel).

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  23. interesting stuff following :)

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    Electric Addict Set #3

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  24. you totally have my support!

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