FutureTracker| US scientists have succeeded in developing the first synthetic living cell, a landmark achievement hailed by many and condemned, too, saying that synthetic bacteria can be dangerous.
The team was led by Dr Craig Venter of the J Craig Venter Institute in Maryland and California, a group that previously made a synthetic bacterial genome, transplanting it from one bacterium into another.
“As soon as this new software goes into the cell, the cell reads [it] and converts into the species specified in that genetic code.” Dr Venter told BBC News.
Dr Venter stresses that has worked closely with all the ethical and protective agencies that exist to govern the development of this frontier of scientific research. After the inability of the federal government to monitor safeguards to prevent the BP oil spill, we’re not sure that it is capable of monitoring the development of this enlightened but also potentially treacherous to humankind new science.
This is not the first genetic engineering development to make organisms.
Professor Julian Savulescu, from the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, said the potential of this science was “in the far future, but real and significant”.
“But the risks are also unparalleled,” he continued. “We need new standards of safety evaluation for this kind of radical research and protections from military or terrorist misuse and abuse.
“These could be used in the future to make the most powerful bioweapons imaginable. The challenge is to eat the fruit without the worm.” via BBC News