Feeds

Genetics boffins on the verge of artificial bacteria

The other Second Life

The next step in data security

Genetics entrepreneur Craig Venter claims his team is on the verge of creating the first artificial lifeform.

In an interview with The Guardian this weekend, Venter said his company, Synthetic Genomics, has completed an artificial chromosome that will carry all necessary genes for a viable bacterium.

It's planned that the DNA will be transplanted into a living cell and take over the molecular reins. An announcement is reckoned to be imminent and Venter says he is 100 per cent confidence of success.

The resulting organism will only be part synthetic, but a huge breakthrough for the 20-strong team of top boffins specially assembled by Venter. He's betting on artificial organisms delivering a bonanza for medicine, renewable energy, and anti-climate change efforts.

He has already applied for a patent for this first, dubbed Mycoplasma laboratorium. His past attempts to make researchers pay for access to its work sequencing the human genome were a failure, and its data was eventually subsumed into the public database.

Venter cuts a maverick figure at the vanguard of biotech, and divides scientists in praise and criticism of his bullish approach to research and commercialisation.

Bioethics groups have expressed concerns that regulations have failed to keep pace with developments in synthetic genetics and warn that the technology coold be abused by terrorists. Venter said: "We are not afraid to take on things that are important just because they stimulate thinking.

"[This is] a very important philosophical step in the history of our species. We are going from reading our genetic code to the ability to write it." ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.