The “J. Craig Venter Institute” (JCVI) has announced the creation of a synthetic cell. The institute created a 1 million base-pair circular piece of DNA, removed the natural DNA from a bacterium, and inserted the synthetic DNA. The bacterium adopted the synthetic DNA and replicated normally.
While this research represents a huge leap forward in synthetic biology, it raises several legal and ethical questions. In particular, questions over intellectual property (“Can anyone own a lifeform?”) and ethics (“Is it ethical to create new species?”) will surely be debated for years into the future.
Original news story from Science can be found here.
Alex B. Berezow is a microbiology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington.