Artificial life is only months away, says biologist Craig Venter

From The Times Online:

Artificial life will be created within four months, a controversial scientist has predicted. Craig Venter, who led a private project to sequence the human genome, told The Times that his team had cleared a critical hurdle to creating man-made organisms in a laboratory.

“Assuming we don’t make any errors, I think it should work and we should have the first synthetic species by the end of the year,” he said.

Dr Venter, who has been chasing his goal for a decade, is already working on projects to use synthetic biology to create bacteria that transform coal into cleaner natural gas, and algae that soak up carbon dioxide and turn it into hydrocarbon fuels. Other potential applications include new ways of manufacturing medicines and vaccines.

Dr Venter’s prediction came after scientists at his J. Craig Venter Institute, in Rockville, Maryland, announced that they had developed a new method of transplanting DNA into bacteria, promising to solve a problem that has held up the artificial life project for two years.

Read the rest:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article6804599.ece

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