Jamie Hale

Jamie Hale

Friday, May 21, 2010

Venter's Synthetic Genome

There is big news in the world of biology- researchers have created the first “Synthetic Cell”. The idea will surely excite many people, but at the same time, I suspect strong opposition from some groups.

Geneticist discusses synthetic life breakthrough (Craig Venter briefly discusses some implications of this remarkable breakthrough- video is a little over one minute)

"a bright line in the history of synthetic biology...also at the same time its a baby step'

'this cell is the first one on the planet that it's parent came from a computer"

The Journal Science Interviews J. Craig Venter About the first "Synthetic Cell" (posted yesterday- video is approximately 13 minutes)

"...well this is an important step...um we think both scientifically and philosophically it certainly changed my views on definitions of life and how life works'

'life is basically a result of an information process"

Letter from Obama

"As you know, scientists have announced a milestone in the emerging field of cellular and genetic research known as synthetic biology. While scientists have used DNA to develop genetically modified cells for many years, for the first time, all of the natural genetic material in a bacterial cell has been replaced with a synthetic set of genes.

'Given the importance of this issue, I request that the Commission consult with a range of constituencies, including scientific and medical communities, faith communities, and business and nonprofit organizations."

My thoughts: Why is there a need to consult with faith communities? They should have zero input into matters concerning science. Scientific progress concerning this issue will probably be slowed if faith communities have any say in the matter.

Now ain't that special? The implications of creating the first synthetic bacteria

"For many, the wondrous nature of what permits something to be alive has been a mystery that science never, ever could penetrate. Life is sacred, special, ineffable and beyond human understanding. Except it isn’t.'

'... they created a living thing from man-made parts. Or, in more important words, they created a novel lifeform from man-made parts."

Researchers start up cell with synthetic genome

"The success clears the way for developing and testing new variants of existing organisms.

'With this approach we now have the ability to start with a DNA sequence and design organisms exactly like we want,' says Gibson. 'We can get down to the very nucleotide level and make any changes we want to a genome." http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100519/full/news.2010.253.html

What do you think? Should religious groups have input on this scientific endeavor? Should their opinions influence scientific progress?

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