Craig Venter creates synthetic life form

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117 Responses to “Craig Venter creates synthetic life form”

  1. Anonymous says:

    So, how long until it escapes, mutates, becomes super-exponential and infiltrates the cells of all higher lifeforms?

  2. Anonymous says:

    How long before the time travelers from the future show up to put the kibosh on this?

  3. tvterry says:

    Whatever happened to working out really FAST ways to end civilization. Lately, its all horribly slow,gooey, icky ones. I’m starting to get nostalgic for that warm neutron flash.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So, how long until it escapes, mutates, becomes super-exponential and infiltrates the cells of all higher lifeforms thus killing them?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Tastes like chicken. Imagine engineering the flavor and texture of chicken and loading it up into a genomic replicator. Feed it algae and it grows into Biotic McNuggets. Or gengineer a microbe that loves to eat low density lipoproteins, inject them in your blood stream, your arteries are 10 years younger in 1/2 a day.

    Bill Joy’s grey goo is nonsense. This field will be the source of the rebirth of invention.

    • eviladrian says:

      “Imagine engineering the flavor and texture of chicken and [...] inject them in your blood stream”

      You could have that KFC taste wherever you go!

  6. Anonymous says:

    About “Logarithmic Growth” — you’re basically right about most growth curves being logistic curves. For some reason, possibly to take the terrifying mathematics out of it, that’s been simplified into three phases for biologists — exponential early on, then linear, then logarithmic. Saying something is capable of logarithmic growth is basically saying it will get to that phase: grow to take up as much space as you give it.

    What I feel has been left out of the whole “Synthetic Biology” craze is the long, long history of bioengineering and breeding experiments. Even on a DNA level, Venter used known building blocks and stitched them together to “create” his cell — if a new function is needed the best methods for creating it are almost always copying or speeding up evolutionary processes in some way: artificial selection, the same thing that brought us cows, dogs, corn, and roses. That this selection occurs now at the level of molecules using complex technological systems like phage display instead of on the level of organisms doesn’t make it a new process – it means we have tools to speed up and fine-tune the old process. What will be truly impressive in Synthetic Biology would be creating, a priori and without homology-based methods, a functional protein that performs a novel task. It might not sound as cool as “Creating Synthetic Organisms” but it is much more novel, in my opinion.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Now what is next for us?

  8. napstimpy says:

    I, for one, welcome our new chemically synthesized overlords…

  9. duck says:

    Not to be anal but it really bugs me how Edge.org referred to the bacterium as “microplasma”… it’s MYCOplasma, little buggers are everywhere and cell biologists’ nightmare.

  10. Ichabod says:

    Ladies and Gentle men in this corner the undisputed super duper heavy weight champion THE GREY GOO!!! and in This Corner, all the way from J.C Venter Institute the Master of Disaster, The Incredible Inedible self-replicating synthetic Lifeform!

    Let’s Get ready to Rummmmble!!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    To All:
    Don’t be so arrogant to assume you are not part of nature’s evolutionary system. We are part of all life that evolves lives propagates (creates) and dies. You are accepting tales from religion that was created by man to give a reason for death, death in war, death for a system etc. This is part of our species evolutionary process. We are genetically program to die and give back to nature so all life can continue. Enjoy the time you have.

  12. dculberson says:

    “self replicating and capable of logarithmic growth”

    That’s eerily close to a sound bite from the intro to a horror movie. An effective and creepy sound bite.

    But I’m excited nonetheless, this is awesome stuff.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Amazing news! But very troubling… a physicist called Freeman is involved at some point? Asking for trouble, if you ask me…. #oblighalflifemention

  14. Anonymous says:

    Was pretty sure this was a promotional stunt for the release of the new sci-fi movie “Splice.”

    Turns out it was real. Now I’m totally creeped out.

  15. Tsubasa no Kami says:

    I ROBOT TIME!

  16. Rindan says:

    I don’t think that people fully realize the implications. What they have done is mad badass, especially if the code was fully and correctly copied. They had some code in a computer, they made the DNA based off that code, shot it into a cell, and boom, the cell was using it.

    Yeah, they didn’t give humans gills or anything, but they certainly showed a technique that might one day be used to screw with the genetic code of says mommy’s egg and daddy’s sperm. Imagine if they could store the genetic code in an egg, cut out say a few cancer inducing genes, synthesize a new sequence and shoot it back into the egg. You get a kid with no cancer gene. You don’t need to think too long or hard about all the scary and awesome things that could be done with such tech.

    So, they have not done anything other than prove out a technique, but the technique has some horrifically awesome power. It certainly should be causing people to ponder how we want to deal with the ethics of screwing with our own genetic code.

  17. das memsen says:

    yet we still haven’t figured out how to stop beating each other up.

  18. JohnByron says:

    Building synthetic bacteria with only limited understanding of the genetic code — no, that’s no reason to become very, very afraid.

  19. MollyMaguire says:

    Wait, he’s named his institute after himself? That’s the scary part.

    • william says:

      Actually, he just changed his name to have “Institute” at the end. It just sounded more scientific to him.

  20. william says:

    I really hope they remembered to reenact this bit from Young Frankenstein:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8GRQHsAVjI

    • Scixual says:

      Pretty sure that’s an homage to something older.

      Any old-school movie buffs out there dig that up? Mel Brooks was a big pop-culture-user. Like South park. Only no one remembers “Badges? We don’t need not stinking badges!” and the like in their original moments.

      re: the article: Hooray for living in a science fiction world!

      • Anonymous says:

        Uh… that would be… old frankenstein, eh?

        Geez, you kids today. Probably never heard of William Henry Pratt, eh? Stage name, Boris Karloff. Worked with Dr. Suess.

        Honestly though Gene did it better than Vincent…

        • Scixual says:

          Excuse me, at least I knew there WAS a predecessor!

          And I know who Karloff was, thank you very much. :P

  21. Anonymous says:

    As a microbiologist, I’m insulted by the title of this post. J. Craig Venter hasn’t so much as held a pipettor in two decades. I have no doubt that there was an extensive and talented team of bench scientists and technitians who did all of the heavy lifting on this poject. Maybe we should give them a little credit and remember that JCV simply paid for the work to be done.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Maybe they can make something to clean up that oil spill, and then it can go wildly out of control and self replicate until the whole world is covered in gray goo.

  23. Anonymous says:

    #2: if you really wonder why we “haven’t figured out how to stop beating each other up” you should re-read the Origin of Species.

  24. Anonymous says:

    now if only we could figure out how to get kfc’s absurd double down sandwich to self replicate

  25. hassenpfeffer says:

    The Cylons were created by man…

  26. Anonymous says:

    So, can we finally build ‘Jurassic Park?’ How is Jeff Goldblum involved in this?

  27. Snig says:

    Anon #85

    Agree that BRCA1 & BRCA2 were bad things to patent, but last month they declared the patent invalid in court.

  28. funkadelic73 says:

    Cool! How long until we can weaponize it?

  29. Xenu says:

    $20 says this is totally or at least partially a fraud.

    At any rate, let me know when I can write organisms in a high level language like Python or something.

    • Anonymous says:

      It was on Discovery Channel.

    • Snig says:

      He’s like a gajillionaire from his other companies. He’s also self-important (the first DNA his company sequenced was Craig’s). He wouldn’t risk doing this unless he thought it was legit.

      • Lobster says:

        I don’t know if that’s necessarily self-importance rather than having a steady supply and the rights to use it.

        • Snig says:

          He does have that rep. Most science institutes aren’t named after the grand Poobah. I love the “reddish brown” bit. I also wonder how long before the apocalyptic biblical conspiracy buffs start freaking out that his initials are “J.C.”

    • Jonathan Badger says:

      Sorry, you lose the bet. It’s very real (I work at the JCVI, although this isn’t my project). The only real question is whether this approach is going to be the way forward for designing synthetic life or whether it’s a dead end — and we won’t know that until the future.

  30. NDanger says:

    The important question, of course, is how can we use this technology to kill people?

  31. mgfarrelly says:

    This is all wonderful and fascinating but I’m afraid it’s rather anti-climactic as the announcement is not coming from a cackling madman in a black zeppelin hovering over the White House demanding a billion of our HOO-MAN dollars or he will unleash the SYNTHO-LIFE upon us all.

  32. Stefan Jones says:

    This won’t really interest the public as a whole until they synthesize a life form you can have sex with. Or keep your neighbor from having sex with.

  33. MrJM says:

    Grandpa: Where were you when you heard that Pearl Harbor was attacked?

    Dad: Where were you when you heard that Kennedy had been shot?

    Me: Where were you when you heard… uh… this?

  34. Anonymous says:

    This isn’t going to end well.

  35. theawesomerobot says:

    Go team Venter!

  36. uricacid says:

    it’s more of a proof of concept than anything, I think. they synthesized a copy of an extant bacterial genome through known molecular biology techniques, made some changes so that they could identify the “synthetic” version, and put it inside a bacterium, and were able to show after a few generations that the cells were alive and replicating using solely their synthetic copy as its genome.

    so basically they built something that already exists, but from scratch, chemically.

    which is not to diminish the achievement. from perusing the Science paper it looks like they went through hell trying to quality-control each step of the way.

  37. poolaka says:

    Hey, if Dr. Mindbender could create Serpentor…

  38. Snig says:

    Cory should hate this guy, as he was the original genetic patent troll. Billions of years of evolution synthesize unique DNA strands. Craig comes along, and, no clue what they code for, sequences a small chunk of them, and applies for patents. Not on the process, on the DNA sequences from extant organisms, including humans, that he identified. Other scientists who want to use them must pay Venter. Could have been very bad for innovation, had the rest of the molecular biology community not shown up en masse with torches and pitchforks.

    yeah, yeah he’s an important genius, but it doesn’t mean I have to like him. He has talked about using his powers for good, and might solve the energy crisis if the money’s good.

    • firstbakingbook says:

      I don’t believe that is an accurate portrayal of Venter’s actions or beliefs wrt gene patents.

      • Snig says:

        I don’t know him personally, and my portrayal of him as a weasel is likely hyperbole based entirely on my readings of the science news at the time. I was in the lab a lot in those days, and was likely exposed to a lot of fumes, so my cognition may be doubted. I am, however, not the only person who was concerned he had dubious motives. Of course, now he can send some of his newly patented clone armies to round me up for speaking out against him.

  39. Lobster says:

    There’s nothing wrong with playing God. God shouldn’t have made us so smart if he wasn’t interested in competition.

  40. bjacques says:

    Let me be the first to hail our synthetic overlords.

    Sorry.

  41. Anonymous says:

    ME AM PLAY GODS!

  42. Anonymous says:

    I, for one, welcome ….

    This is great stuff, more faster. Call me an optimist.

  43. Sea Daddy says:

    And all it takes to escape into the wild is for some schmuck to plug in a cat5 cable to try to get on the internet. Bam! Instant electronic Armageddon! It replicates, clogs, modifies, LEARNS……………….

  44. Dave Faris says:

    Well, this sort of thing always ends well in the movies, doesn’t it?

  45. Anonymous says:

    I’m with uricacid on this one. The technical accomplishment is very impressive – a genome was synthesized to spec from a string of letters on a disk and successfully booted in a living cell.

    Dyson’s computer code analogy exaggerates the current technology. Venter et al. didn’t “code” novel functions into the cells (people have been doing that sort of metabolic engineering with mixed results for a decade). He took one existing, biologically evolved genome and put it in an empty cell. The achievement is that the cell didn’t die outright.

  46. lifeandtechie says:

    This work by Venter is no doubt a superb technological feat, but after 15 years and 40 million bucks, it’s a bit underwhelming to realize that it’s only a proof-of-concept/control experiment and a bit superfluous when compared to what someone like Jay Keasling did a few years ago. http://mattersoflifeandtech.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/genesis-2-0/

  47. hjoab says:

    Ok. The real new specie is the computer. And we used it to create another (non – artificial) lives. We can even use it to improve our own genetics, that could be great (but dangerous?). Computers are the real new specie (but not alive) that not need food or sleep. They are, right now, designing new computer architectures with few or none human intervention
    and correcting humans in their decisions. And of course creating new genetics for living things. And we cannot unplug them cos we need them. We are really their slaves, not the other way. Funny NO?

  48. Eric Ragle says:

    Shouldn’t we have a way to leave the planet before we start creating things that could potentially take over?

    • dagfooyo says:

      We humans are always so worried that we can doom the planet by creating some genetically anomalous creature. But we fail to consider that nature has been randomly creating new mutant creatures for billions of years – and the only ones alive today are the baddest of badasses. No way are we gonna accidentally create something in a lab that can beat out billions of years of evolution and take over the planet. I mean unless we somehow combined influenza, velociraptors and cockroaches to create a constantly reproducing and mutating vicious intelligent killing machine that is impossible to kill. THEN we’d be in trouble.

      • sally599 says:

        The thing is its not that hard to do—people use antibiotic resistance in order to make genetic changes, making a multi-drug resistant bacteria is something a grad student does everyday, but there are regulations in place which prevent people from creating certain combinations which could prove potentially catastrophic. I don’t want to get into all of the possibilities what with all the yahoos on the net but seriously as a scientist you can be so focused on answering a certain question that you don’t stop to think, hey I’m creating a killing machine, hope this never makes it out of the lab. Thus oversight.

      • niten says:

        Yes, exactly! We’re not THAT much smarter than three billion years of evolution.

        Man, you guys are paranoid. This is an incredibly cool development, and will very likely save your life at some point.

      • hassenpfeffer says:

        >…unless we somehow combined influenza, velociraptors and cockroaches to create a constantly reproducing and mutating vicious intelligent killing machine that is impossible to kill…

        I’d pay to see that movie, unlike “The Human Centipede.”

      • scifijazznik says:

        Velociroachfluenza? Influcockraptor? Rapcockflu?

        I can’t come up with a name that conveys the scary awesomeness of your particular combobulation.

  49. Daedalus says:

    “Cool! How long until we can weaponize it?”
    Weaponize? How long until we can copyright it.

    “Disney holds the rights to Humanity( due to the creativity involved in making a specific genetic code. Replicating Humanity infringes on Disney’s copyright. Thus, you can’t make a new Human without paying Disney for the rights to do so.”
    – US Supreme Court Decision, March 2020.

    • AnthonyC says:

      There were legal challenges to Disney’s attempt to patent/copyright humanity, but the courts were unable to determine whether mankind was prior art of a natural phenomenon.

      After this, legislators were tempted to make a special exemption to the laws naming mankind Prior Art to appeal to popular opinion. This initiative failed when they could not decide what being should hold the patent. The representatives of the various candidates (who declined to appear in person) refused a proposed “shared cooperative creation” bill.

  50. Oren Beck says:

    There is a less than zero “Risk” inherent in all Biological alteration experiments. Which needs to be weighed against the reality of what we have gained from all the prior risks we’ve taken. Yes, mistakes have been made in how we use what might be termed “daring to take risks” type research.

    Nothing risked, nothing gained has been an essential reality for longer than we’ve had words to describe the concept. That’s the WHY we risk creating projects like this. This step ahead for our control of biotech, seems to me at least- both worthy of earned honors and sober appraisal of the real world risks. I am wondering how many of Venter’s crew have actually read the SF classics that arguably might be a damned good starting point for containment strategies.

    Perhaps we might all consider the wisdom of those writers and simply require such research to be done in “less risky” locations. Like in orbital facilities placed to have a zero chance of ever re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. Risk doing the research work- of course. Just not anywhere there’s a chance of it escaping. To me, that’s the sane response to Venter’s project.

  51. Anonymous says:

    God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another

  52. Paulwh80 says:

    And so, God is no longer alone…

  53. Anonymous says:

    I, for one, welcome our new synthetic overlords.

  54. Anonymous says:

    still no cure for cancer…

  55. Anonymous says:

    Why is this not the top story on most of the major news sites?

  56. Gordon Stark says:

    In order to be alive, an organism must be interfaced with life.

    Replicating and animating an organism is not life any more than building a robot were making a living being.

    It does not matter if one is building organisms out of analog robotics (biological genetics) or if one is building organisms out of solid-state robotic hardware…

    Unless it is interfaced with life, it has none…

    Life is information animated by love, or spirit, as religious people are known to call IT, in the past.

    Congratulations to those scientists who have made and are animating a synthetic organism on their computer.

  57. Anonymous says:

    This is nothing but a publicity stunt. They synthesized a very large fragment of DNA, by synthesizing smaller ones and connecting them. The smaller fragments, including genomes of viruses, have been made in the lab for decades. Nothing new here. They also did not create any new functions, only deleted several pieces, which are believed to be responsible for pathogenic effects of this bacterium. The same could be easily done by manipulating the bacterium using conventional tools of genetic engineering. There is nothing to fear: the “new” bacterium is just a “dumbed down” form of the natural one, and it has no better chance of becoming smart and conquering the world than any other bacterium in the world. Trust me: I am a professor of molecular biology.

  58. Anonymous says:

    Various parts of genomes, including the human genome have already been patented. Including genes that indicate genetic disorders and pre-disposition to diseases. The one that pisses me off the most is breast cancer screening (BRCA1 & BRCA2) which is only testable under licence from the patent holders, how many women have died in the name of one company’s profits?

  59. Anonymous says:

    So what’s the point? This accomplishes nothing save to establish some priority for future patents on useful innovations. This fellow Venter stands as much chance to be remembered as the Hitler of the 21st century as the Salk.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Zombie Apocalypse here we come!

  61. Anonymous says:

    “The new techniques build on existing capabilities.”

    how is this different than evolution… or say, how a virus replicates itself using a host cell?

  62. Anonymous says:

    Based on the article, taking a Honda civic and then flashing the electronic software chip equals: COMPLETELY NEW SYNTHETIC CAR that did not come out of Honda’s factory, and the whole car can be patented to the technician who installed the chip.

  63. NDanger says:

    What this little organism needs is a a litterbox and an evolution-friendly environment where it can reproduce, spawning a race of monstrous, intelligent, fire-breathing creatures who will wage war against their evil masters.

    Then you’ve got yourself a news story.

  64. numerion says:

    As a rule, raw natural material is generally rejected for patent approval by the USPTO. It is only after a DNA product is isolated and purified (or modified) that a patent is considered. Over three million gene related patents have been applied for in the United States alone. (All pending applications are made public at 18 months after filing unless otherwise requested by the applicant.)[3]

    As of 2010, 40,000 patents exist on an estimated 2,000 human genes, or about 20 percent.[

    In his decision handed down March 29, 2010, Judge Robert W. Sweet of the United States District court of the Southern District of New York, rejected the legal equivalency between 'chemical compositions' like purified adrenaline and DNA. In his opinion [4] Judge Sweet said: “The information encoded in DNA is not information about its own molecular structure incidental to its biological function, as is the case with adrenaline or other chemicals found in the body…this informational quality (of DNA) is unique among the chemical compounds found in our bodies, and it would be erroneous to view DNA as ‘no different’ than other chemicals previously the subject of patents….DNA, in particular the ordering of its nucleotides, therefore serves as the physical embodiment of laws of nature – those that define the construction of the human body…the preservation of this defining characteristic of DNA in its native and isolated forms mandates the conclusion that the challenged composition claims are to unpatentable products of nature.”

    And Disney has many friends who would like a piece of the DNA pie.

    • Daedalus says:

      “As a rule, raw natural material is generally rejected for patent approval by the USPTO.”

      …at least until someone with deep pockets and a lobbyist figures out a business model based on creating life-forms.

      Besides, this is IP, not patents! IP just needs to be created to be secured. Well, and lawyer’d to be defended. ;)

      Hmmm….maybe the USDMCA can prevent us from breaking the locks put on our DNA by the companies we work for (after signing contracts that specify that all things we create while employed by the company are owned by the company).

      “Only pirates have babies! Making a human is theft. You are depriving Sony of employees and market share! You wouldn’t steal a car, so don’t pirate genetic material!”

  65. SamSam says:

    This is pretty amazing. The question is: can he take ANY viable code and stick it into a cell, and have the cell accept it?

    Is so, that means that ANY creature can be recreated from a computer. Polar bears becoming extinct? Record the DNA and recreate them at a later date? Want to see what dodos really looked like? Gather some DNA from some dodo bones.

    The possibilities are stunning. And possibly not too far off.

    The more likely direction, though, at least for the near future, is the increase in ease of developing synthetic organisms. Genetic engineers are already creating crazy single-celled organisms that, for instance, convert sugars into electricity. Currently, they have to do it by slicing together little building blocks of existing genetic code, a process that is difficult and expensive. Being able to simply upload the DNA to Craig Venter’s thousand-dollars-a-cell system is going to be way easier, and possibly even cheaper, for most big labs.

    • chenille says:

      This is pretty amazing. The question is: can he take ANY viable code and stick it into a cell, and have the cell accept it?

      No. As important as DNA is, it only defines what the cell can produce, and its structure also plays an important role. As an obvious example, bacteria only have one main chromosome, and without a nucleus it would be hard to keep track of more. Nuclei aren’t formed from scratch, so you need to start off with one.

      Apparently sometimes even having the right kind of cell isn’t enough. For instance, a fly egg knows which end should become the head based on a protein the mother puts there. Without it, the embryo won’t end up differentiating properly.

      Living things are subtle, and aren’t purely digital. Being able to swap DNA at all is fairly impressive to my thinking.

  66. Anonymous says:

    Perfect juxtaposition of the story, btw, directly beneath Caterpillar Man.

  67. Anonymous says:

    Dear SIr

    First of all i would like to no is there any chance to increase the life span without concern of taking the genome as it’s takes a lot of time . in my view every cell tend to increase it’s lifespan the whole concept of every cell is immortality in the lines of that it is possening genome which can be transfered, as the cancer are i think an evolutionary change in the cell itself and are going be checked through nature as in terms of natural selection and they are in lines of to achieve immortality but by them they are not getting the full aim as they are proliferrating so in my view can we achieve immortality in terms of them as stopping the cell division. please could you clarify

  68. elvis says:

    Just looking at the picture tells me that this is a publicity hound. Does anyone remember Jeremy Rifkin, and his claim to have “witnessed” the cloning of an unnamed billionaire?

    This guy is trying to make himself into the worlds foremost authority on something, (he briefed the White House!!!!). Look for him on CNN, FOX, MSNBC, maybe even on the cover of a news magazine. It will last until Lindsay Lohan gets busted for something…

  69. Anonymous says:

    Not creating life, replicating it with modifications.

    A lot of articles ive seen on the net use the word created wrongly. It should be noted that there is a big difference!

  70. Anonymous says:

    So does this mean humans are technically retroviruses now?

  71. Anonymous says:

    [I really hope they remembered to reenact this bit from Young Frankenstein:]

    Well, personally I’m hoping they don’t end up reenacting the ‘burn room’ scene from Species (I). Logarithmic growth can be bad! lol

  72. dhalgren says:

    well for what’s worth, “EPIC WIN!”

  73. daen says:

    I am going to reserve judgement until I’ve read the paper. Without doubt, this is an extraordinary technical achievement – synthesising megabase oligos is no mean achievement, and I suspect Venter’s work in shotgun sequencing will have informed his success here. But synthetic life? No.

    Read the opinions of a selection of experts interviewed by Nature here (PDF).

  74. Anonymous says:

    I copied a Windows DVD. Then, I formatted the hard-drive of a computer, and installed the DVD I copied. That means I made a computer from scratch!

    Also, I now own the patent on ‘computers’ and ‘Windows’.

  75. Anonymous says:

    I feel like the human race considers technology to be “dirty” in general. I think we just went from dirty to infected.

  76. Anonymous says:

    “Captain Trips” keeps coming to mind

  77. Anonymous says:

    “This guy,” for those who don’t know, is the same scientist whose team worked on the Human Genome Project a few years ago. He’s kind of like a rock star in the Biology world (and yes, that includes the egotism and narcissism of a rock star).

  78. cartman says:

    Yaaaawn. This is more of the same old overblown stuff from Craig Venter. He’s his own marketing machine – the Lindsey Lohan of Science. First he says he creates new life by COPYING the sequence from a virus (technology that has been around for 15 years). Now he claims to have created the first living cell. We still have little/no idea how cells work. We have absolutely no idea how gene expression is choreographed to provide protein products at the appropriate time to service cellular needs.

    When Venter can design a genome from first principals, which when deployed, can initiate and deploy self organizing pathways that carry out tasks that do meaningful tasks (work), then I’ll spend the energy necessary to make it to the end of his news brief. There are much more exciting developments going on in ribozyme biology.

    • gerta says:

      Cartman is spot-on. Venter is good at what he does, but most of what he does is talk about how awesome he is. This is not “big news,” it’s actually just scaling up a bunch of old news. Whole bacterial genomes have been used to replace one another in a live cell, whole virus genomes have been generated from scratch, and frankly, molecular biologists have been modifying genomes and stitching them together every which way for decades.

      As several folks have commented, Venter can only make a meaningful claim to synthesizing life de novo if he can generate a cell (or other life form) from first principles. This stunt isn’t “making life,” but merely another technical exploit in copying life. That isn’t to say it’s bad or unimportant work, but it’s not nearly as important (and certainly not as creative) as Craig wants the world to believe.

      And to emphasize another set of previous comments, human-made superbugs aren’t going to come eat your babies. Mother nature has been hard at work making superbugs long before we got and the scene, and will continue to do so long afterwards. We’re simply not as important to the microbial world as we like to imagine.

  79. Patrick Dodds says:

    What happened to that Korean guy who claimed to have cloned a baby or whatever it was? Is he still inside The Big House?

  80. Anonymous says:

    Your accomplishment is beyond any thing in human history has accomplished. Congratulation Sir! With this quantum leap, your colleagues and you have discovered the creation of synthetic DNA and recreate a new form of life. As our planet and all living thing has multiplied exponentially, it put so much stress on our planet natural resources. I can only imagine how big the capability of this brand new genome technology can help humanity, and our planet in need. Thank you for your hard work and determination. The risk can be big, but the benefit to humanity can be mind boggling.

    Best regards,
    Woodypecker

  81. Dotcommer says:

    Well see if you guys can create a Cell organism that breaks down oil on the sea and eats plastic and emitting oxygen a byproduct waste! That would solve some big problems right now!

    • TheMadLibrarian says:

      Been there, done that. Read the series by Scott Westerfeld beginning with Uglies. One of the main reasons for the Apocalypse was the release into the wild of a plastic/oil eating bacteria. It ate ALL the plastic before dying out.

  82. bbbaldie says:

    Apologies for not reading the thread, I’m swamped. But just want to say that this doesn’t sound like the creation of a synthetic life form, more like the tweaking of an existing life form, albeit on a grander scale than ever accomplished beforehand.

  83. Anonymous says:

    Hello, is there anybody out there..? that can understand the difference between Science and buffoonery? Science is about information and using it to advance knowledge. In this case, its about the human genome and what Advances!…can be made to improve the human condition. Longer healthier lives and robust old age. Perhaps, but not certain, a solution to the action of teleomeres, which when you run out of them, you stop living, say, life extension and all that could mean. Think!, why would Mr.Venter create this living reproducible cell? Certainly not to create a scifi nightmare or a ‘chiller’ channel entertainment. You ‘wise acres’ out there should learn to appreciate other peoples efforts instead of denigrating achievement that involves intelligence, get it! question: where would we be, right now, if Science hadn’t evovoled from thinkng men & womens minds? Uhmm, I beleive that starts with the first hominids that walked the earth, they thought about things and developed answers so that we could enjoy what we have, and that is so much more than what was had in the prior century, lwt alone preceding Millenia! For the sake of your children, wake up and stop being silly. IMIOH (Irate old irascible hominid).

  84. Anonymous says:

    SHOGGOTHS AWAY!

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