US scientist heralds ‘artificial life’ breakthrough
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Controversial celebrity US scientist Craig Venter has announced he is on the verge of creating the first ever artificial life form which he hails as a potential remedy to illness and global warming.
Venter told Britain’s The Guardian newspaper Saturday that he has built a synthetic chromosome using chemicals made in a laboratory, and is set to announce the discovery within weeks, possibly as early as Monday.
Pat Mooney, director of the Canadian bioethics organization ETC Group, told the paper that Venter was creating “a chassis on which you could build almost anything.
The chromosome which Venter and his team has created is known as Mycoplasma laboratorium and, in the final step of the process, will be transplanted into a living cell where it should “take control,” effectively becoming a new life form.
The single cell organism, which ETC has coined “Synthia,” is piloted by a chromosome with just 381 genes, the limit necessary to sustain the life of the bacteria so it can feed and reproduce.