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June 9, 2010 / Martijn

What’s next for synthetic life?

J. Craig Venter and his colleagues recently announced that they had created the first cell to run on a fully artificial genome. So what’s next for this synthetic strain of microscopic Mycoplasma mycoides and the new technology?

The “synthetic cell” achievement has been lauded, condemned and undercut, but it has yet to fully demystify life’s underlying code, the genome. “It’s amazing how little we know about genomics,” Venter said June 1 at the Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology in Cold Spring, N.Y.

Researchers built much of the bacterium’s genome without fully understanding the function of many of the million-plus base pairs involved. About half of the genes, in fact, are still “a complete black box,” said Richard Roberts of New England Biolabs, Inc., in a commentary after Venter’s talk.

via Observations: What’s next for synthetic life?.

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