Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Disquieting and Awesome Prospect.

Scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute have apparently produced the first synthetic cell.

The chromosome they assembled has a special "watermark" sequence of base pairs to identify it as synthetic. And after the DNA strand was injected into a bacterium, that cell made copies of itself and the first cells descended from a computer were born.

According to Popular Science:
The researchers are already planning to create a specially engineered algae designed to trap carbon dioxide and convert it to biofuel. Other applications could include medicine, environmental cleanup, and energy production.

While there may be many beneficial applications for this technology in the future, it could also open the door to producing DNA sequences of terrible consequence... a super disease, for instance. We must be cautious.

The New York Times has additional details.

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