Rooting around in Google news netted me with an amazing news item from The Guardian that astounded me. J. Craig Venter, Hamilton Smith and Clyde Hutchison along with others at the J. Craig Venter Institute have created a genetic sequence on a computer and then synthesized it in pieces from chemicals. Then, like lego blocks, they assembled the pieces into a 1 million plus base pair DNA strand and replaced the DNA of a living Mycoplasma mycoides bacterium with it. And the cell is replicating on its own. Incredible. The new organism is Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 and even though it is an organism with one of the shortest DNA genomes, it’s new synthetic DNA has, encoded within it, a self-identifying web page including the names of all the scientists who produced it.
This video explains the details far better than I could. Or you could use of the links above to learn more. Read this article about two of the key scientists to learn more of the human side behind this discovery.
Wow! This boggles the imagination at what could be in store in the next few decades. I’ve often heard it said that biology will be the revolutionary science in the 21st century. Breakthroughs like this could lead the way to that. Of course, we have to be very careful with containment and it sounds like the people at JCVI have been. Of course this exciting knowledge may be used by those less scrupulous. But, as always, with great power comes great responsibility.
If wishes were horses
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