In the coming months, scientists may be able for the first time to create a new form of artificial life.This was made possible thanks to the remarkable breakthrough: able to transform one bacterium to another.
experiment caused as much excitement as the alarm.US scientists have a complete set of genes - the genome - of a bacterial cell and transplanted it bacterium closely related species.This cell in the lab began to grow and divide, eventually becoming a kind of bacterium source.
Researchers carried out the first operation on the "species transplant", said that in the coming months are going to do the same with a synthetic genome manufactured in the laboratory "from scratch."
If this experiment succeeds, it will mark the creation of artificial life forms.
Scientists want to create a new species of bacteria, and based on them - a new species of living organisms, which can be used as a "green" fuel instead of oil and coal for the processing of toxic waste or absorb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse
But these pioneering studies parallel to awaken concern, should not restrict the activities of scientists and inevitable fear that another person might do, "likening himself to God."In addition, the newly awakened a terrible fear that one day this technology anyone can use for evil purposes - to create a new generation of biological weapons.
Creating living cells from synthetic genome consisting of lab-made DNA, requires the development of methods for moving the entire genomes and manipulation.
today passed an important milestone on this path.Merit belong to a group of scientists led by Craig Venter - the first man, whose genome was decoded in its entirety.The group also includes Nobel laureate Hamilton Smith.
Venter said that after this success, which crowned ten years of work, he tries to make an unprecedented operation to transplant "of the genome of the tube" and in the "coming months" for the first time to create artificial life.
"We definitely look forward to over the next ten years - and maybe five - to create the first fuel from artificial organisms" - said Venter.
scientific breakthrough occurred at the Institute of John. Craig Venter in Rockville (Maryland), a group of scientists reported today in the journal Science.One of the scientific editors called it "a milestone in the field of biological engineering."
Since the 1970s scientists have carried out the movement of genes - that give some sort of instructions for the production of proteins - among different living organisms.
But it is the first time that was transplanted whole "set of instructions", with more than a million "letters" of DNA, and thus the bacteria of one species evolved into another type of bacterium.
Scientists are trying to create a micro-organism with a minimal set of genes needed to sustain life.A further task - to equip it with other useful genes, such as those who are responsible for the production of biofuels.
Group Venter recently filed an application to patent methods of creating artificial genomes of lab-made DNA.
Pre scientists develop method of transfer of the whole genome of a living cell.To do this, they chose the most simple and little variety - the bacterium.In total, of the millions of bacteria that scientists have tried to transplant the genome successfully completed only one attempt to 150,000.
Craig Venter vividly described this process as "the transformation of the computer" Mac "into the PC by installing a new program," and said that in the application to other types of cells of the process will be more difficult, since they contain enzymes that destroy the DNA of invaders.
But, as noted by Venter, do focus on the transformation of one bacterium to another, using nothing but pure DNA - "it's a huge step, opening new horizons."
"This is an important and unexpected achievement", - said Robert Holt of the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre in Vancouver, Canada.
"This is a necessary step toward creating artificial life," - adds Fred Blettner microbiologist from the University of Wisconsin.
Antoine Danshen from the Pasteur Institute in Paris called the experiment "unprecedented technical achievement."
But, as he explained to Science, "lacks the set of control mechanisms."That is, as acknowledged by Hamilton Smith, has prevented research group Glass truly understand how to reprogram the DNA introduced from outside the cell, "master."
"We are one step closer to artificial organisms" - said Marcus Schmidt of the Organization for International Dialogue, based in Vienna.He said that the experiment will lead to new discussions about security issues related to biological synthesis and its implications for society.
Venter stressed that the work had been suspended for a certain time in order to ensure their ethics.He acknowledged the unfounded fears that the biological synthesis may pave the way for the creation of new models of biological weapons.