APR 13, 2016 4:43 AM PDT

A Life Form from Synthetic Cells


While it may seem like something out of a science fiction movie, in 2010 researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute created a bacteria that was entirely from lab-created DNA. Essentially this was the world's first synthetic life form. The process has been refined since then, stripping the bacteria down to only what is necessary and in March the research team behind the project published the results of the work done since 2010. The journal Science published the paper by lead author Clyde A. Hutchison, III, Ph.D., senior author J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., and senior team of Hamilton O. Smith, MD, Daniel G. Gibson, Ph.D., and John I. Glass, Ph.D.

The bacteria created has the minimum number of genes for a life form to function, precisely 473. It's called the JCVI-syn 3.0 and the possibilities for its use seem limitless. Researchers hope that by creating a bacteria, from scratch they can understand how life came to exist on earth. Bacteria that is custom made can also be used to convert grass to biofuels, to treat disease and even to ward off pests from important crops. The process of creating the custom cellular material was essentially like writing code for a computer, only in the field of cell biology the results can have a significant impact on life as we know it.
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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