Scientists are reporting that they have made a living cell from DNA that was originally synthesized in a lab. This isn’t quite a synthetic organism. But the result is an important, and some would say troubling, step on the road to creating life in the lab.
Craig Venter is the scientist behind the effort. Many scientists have strong opinions about Venter, but even his detractors will admit he’s a man who thinks big.
Venter and his team have been working to create a synthetic cell since 1995. The idea is to use the four chemical constituents of DNA — named A, T, C and G — to put together a synthetic genome. Then they would put that synthetic genome into a cell, and have it direct the cell as it grew and multiplied. Now they’ve succeeded.