Synthetic Biological Life

See on Scoop.itTracking the Future

The idea of producing artificial or synthetic life has long fascinated mankind and from ancient times many human and animal-imitating “automata” or self-operating machines have been created for entertainment, instructional, and sometimes religious purposes. The creation of actual synthetic biological life only became possible with the discovery of the structure of DNA, the genetic code, and the development of the basic tools of molecular biology, such as the ability to isolate, sequence, and join different DNA sequences. Especially important has been the recently developed ability to artificially synthesize relatively long DNA molecules with designed sequences. Although the creation of completely synthetic biological life was first accomplished in 2010, the field is already yielding significant information concerning the core gene groups or genetic “chassis” indispensible for life and how these gene products (proteins, RNAs, and lipids) function as an integrated unit. With the identification of these chassis, exogenous natural or synthetic gene sequences can be integrated into organisms designed for specific purposes and applications.

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