It's like something right out of a Sci-Fi movie: For the first time scientists have created a synthetic cell that can survive and reproduce.
The discovery is being called a turning point in science, and of course it's already raising all kinds of ethical issues.
The really exciting or really creepy part about all this, depending on how you look at it: the cell these scientists created, can reproduce itself.
Literally - that's life, folks.
Introducing JCVI syn 1.0. That's its name. The scientists used a computer to sequence the genes, and then, very basically, mixed four chemicals together.
Now the bacteria isn't completely man-made. The cell walls were cobbled together from yeast and E Coli cells. Makes you think of Frankenstein , maybe, But the team that created this guy had another famous book in mind. They actually embedded a quote from James Joyce in the gene sequence. And that's not all...
"This is the first man-made cell that can reproduce itself," said Dr. Craig Venter. "And the first cell that has its own website embedded in the gene sequence."
Now, the implications for genetically engineered medicine are vast. But the ethical implications are, of course, troubling. Among those, the scientists want a patent on their new microscopic creature.So some judge is going to have to decide if you can copyright life.
The experimental one-cell organism cost thirty million dollars, and took 15 years to create. You can read more about it in the journal "science."