Scientist Has Created Artificial Life

geochem1st

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"There has been some question over what exactly comprises "artificial life". In this case the researchers have created an organism with new genes inserted, and are claiming the organism to be a new artificial species (which notably they are trying to patent).

The grounds for calling the organism synthetic or artificial is that it was produced from non-living material, in this case a cloned genome which was non-living when removed from the yeast cell that produced it (i.e. it would be nonviable if not carefully prepped and implanted by the researchers).

This genome was created in vivo with enzymes that could, in theory, also be used in vitro. Some, however, define synthetic/artificial life as being artificial intelligence, non-carbon based life, or life resulting from non-enzymatic production reactions. This discovery does not meet these criteria. Thus while the discovery can be billed as "artificial or "synthetic" life, it is important not to take it out of context. "



Man can indeed create life, vitalism arguments laid to rest

Throughout the centuries vitalism remained the dominant philosophy. Many reasoned that there was something inherently unique to life, impossible to recreate. Modern science, however, has shown that the makeup of a living organism is nothing more than a complex mix of biochemicals.

Now a major scientific breakthrough has been made that may have profound impact on scientific research, and even how we view life itself. John Craig Venter, founder of the The Institute for Genomic Research and the J. Craig Venter Institute, has, at last, achieved what he has been trying to do for over a decade -- create artificial life.

The most basic definition of being alive, when it comes to bacteria is being able to sustain the biological process to survive and reproduce. Neither is possible without DNA, the genetic material of living organisms.

Professor Venter began by trying to clone DNA from a bacterial species, with the hopes of eventually transplanting it into a receptive bacterial membrane and creating a viable cell. He started with trying to use E. Coli bacteria to clone incorporated DNA from Mycoplasma mycoides subspecies capri, a tiny bacteria. The E. Coli proved to not have the perfect cloning machinery, only able to replicate stretches of DNA up to a quarter of M. mycoides' total genome.

So Professor Venter turned to the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae -- interestingly, a eukaryote (M. mycoides is a eubacteria) -- to carry out the cloning. Using the yeast, complete 1.1-Megabase M. mycoides genomes were cloned and harvested.

The next challenge was implanting the harvested genome into a receptive bacterial membrane. As bacteria lack organelles, in a traditional sense, this membrane primarily served as protection and to provide the appropriate biochemical environment. It also offered specialized membrane environments needed for certain reactions, like respiration.

Preparing receptor organelles -- from M. mycoides and a similar species, Mycoplasma
capricolum subspecies capricolum -- a new roadblock was encountered. Enzymes preexisting in the membrane would destroy the unmethylated DNA, cloned in the yeast. Fortunately, the solution to this problem was relatively simple, albeit intensive -- Venter's team used methylating enzymes from M. mycoides to protect the clone DNA harvested from the yeast.

Using this technique, or other methylation techniques, Craig Venter's team succeeded in creating viable organisms. In the case of the M. capricolum implant, the results were exceptionally notable, as it demonstrates that an artificially created organism can be generated using the shell (membrane bound cell) of an appropriate similar organism.

The groundbreaking success was reported in the September edition of the journal Science, with Carole Lartigue, S. Vashee, and M. Algire listed as the first three authors (J. Venter was later listed). Surprisingly, this potentially Nobel-worthy achievement has drawn relatively little press in the last month.

Thus, at long last, man has succeeded in a long standing dream -- the creation of artificial life. It has been done using the efficient molecular tools that nature has evolved (enzymes). Using these tools in vivo to create target vesicles and cloned DNA, a new era of bioengineered artificial organisms is launched.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Professor Venter continues to work on developing methods of in vivo and in vitro DNA replication and assembly. His team also continues to explore creating more artificial organisms and modified artificial organisms. Venter's organization holds, or has filed for, patents on many of the techniques he has used to create the artificial life.

With these tools incredible achievements may one day be possible. We may be able to take individual genes and tailor-make bacteria as a starting point for induced evolution to produce the perfect fermenter for biofuels, or the perfect cleaner to break down or isolate oil or other toxins from the environment. In short, it's a brave new world now that the ability to biochemically create new life is in the hands of man.

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The DNA for the new organism was cloned in yeast. The membrane was produced by a similar cell. The result is a viable, artificially created organism. (Source: Science)
 
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PapaSquash

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I say meh. He has to make his own DNA from scratch before I'll give him "artificial life"

more impressive would be to create a different encoding system altogether, that resulting in a self-propogating entity.

Right now I'd grant that he has created artificial species.
 

Hamtone

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I say meh. He has to make his own DNA from scratch before I'll give him "artificial life"

more impressive would be to create a different encoding system altogether, that resulting in a self-propogating entity.

Right now I'd grant that he has created artificial species.

All in due time, I think
 

geochem1st

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I say meh. He has to make his own DNA from scratch before I'll give him "artificial life"

more impressive would be to create a different encoding system altogether, that resulting in a self-propogating entity.

Right now I'd grant that he has created artificial species.


Whether you use Betty Crocker's Cake Mix to save time, or grow your own wheat, harvest and grind your own flour, then get eggs from the chickens you hand raised, and milk from the cows that you personally bred... all to get the ingredients to make your cake..... the end result from both ways is still a cake.
 

TOMMYTHUNDERS

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Whether you use Betty Crocker's Cake Mix to save time, or grow your own wheat, harvest and grind your own flour, then get eggs from the chickens you hand raised, and milk from the cows that you personally bred... all to get the ingredients to make your cake..... the end result from both ways is still a cake.

uh, you didn't say sugar.
geo, i think your cake probably blows.
 

Lyrica

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and of course they patented it. and if they manage to create some sort of thinking "life" they'll patent that too. a whole new era of slavery. if it's alive, you probably shouldn't be able to patent it in my opinion.
 

geochem1st

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"I always like the comic strip where some scientists approach God and state that they can now create life from soil and therefore they are just as great as God.

God replies, "show me".

One of the scientist reaches down and grabs a handful of dirt, and God stops him saying, "no, you get your own dirt, that's my dirt."

I think this sums up the religious debate. I just find the technology and implications of this process which Nicole hit upon fascinating.
 

Lyrica

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"I always like the comic strip where some scientists approach God and state that they can now create life from soil and therefore they are just as great as God.

God replies, "show me".

One of the scientist reaches down and grabs a handful of dirt, and God stops him saying, "no, you get your own dirt, that's my dirt."

I think this sums up the religious debate. I just find the technology and implications of this process which Nicole hit upon fascinating.

:laugh2::laugh2::laugh2::laugh2:
 

FrankieOliver

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and of course they patented it. and if they manage to create some sort of thinking "life" they'll patent that too. a whole new era of slavery. if it's alive, you probably shouldn't be able to patent it in my opinion.
Interesting, Nicole. And being the cynic that I am, aren't we all, human beings and just about every living thing on this planet, already essentially patented? Someone or better still, some people have their name(s) on each and everyone of us. From the moment we are born. Human nature, I suppose, but then again...I wonder what it would be like to not have to answer to the leaders of the village. :hmm:

Good stuff as usual, paisan, Geo.

:)
 

Lyrica

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Interesting, Nicole. And being the cynic that I am, aren't we all, human beings and just about every living thing on this planet, already essentially patented? Someone or better still, some people have their name(s) on each and everyone of us. From the moment we are born. Human nature, I suppose, but then again...I wonder what it would be like to not have to answer to the leaders of the village. :hmm:

Good stuff as usual, paisan, Geo.

:)

are you referring to our family names? i don't think that makes a case for a patent or for ownership. thinking beings, and even any kind of being with some kind of emotion, should probably not be patented.
 

hipofutura

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I believe the breakthrough will be when the grow a biological computer.
 

FrankieOliver

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are you referring to our family names? i don't think that makes a case for a patent or for ownership. thinking beings, and even any kind of being with some kind of emotion, should probably not be patented.
Family names were not what I was referring to. Our names and our lives are owned and so we are not free and that is the bottom line. I'll leave it at that. Agree or not -I do not care.
 

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