Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Venter Claims "Artificial" Life

I'm a little surprised there hasn't been more news about this -- Craig Venter will shortly claim the creation of artificial life. This is the kind of story most media outlets would lap up like Gatorade.

My thoughts about this "claim" to have created artificial life.

I don't deny it's a big milestone on a long path. Synthesizing a chromosome this size is quite a feat.

It might be more accurate to say, "We have given a living organism a completely different genetic blueprint." Redirecting an existing organism is not the same as creating one from scratch.

I will be curious to see how stable the chromosome is to mutations and failures. They've worked very hard to minimize the gene structure. But scientists have often discovered the value of heretofore "junk" DNA when they see what happens when it's removed.

You have to love the global warming angle (to attract funding, perhaps?): "we'll make bacteria that fix CO2!" Uhm, that's what trees are really good at.

The difficulty of this steps simply underscores how special life is, and how little we truly understand. This is is still working with a single-celled organism.

No comments: