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Comment by Zac Kimmer on June 28, 2012 at 7:54pm

I feel like that this is not that impressive. We have long been able to put smaller pieces dna into the cells. this is really just a lager version of that technique. I, right now and easily, can make cells that can produce almost any protein that I have the dna sequence for. Frankly while extremely impressive I do not think this is very important discovery, it reminds me of the recent discovery of arsenic based dna. 

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on June 28, 2012 at 8:05pm

Way to be a party pewper, Zac!  With all your knowledge, and education, and skills and stuff.  I could be as smart as you if I had all that and the same IQ, so there!

Comment by Doc Feral on June 28, 2012 at 9:34pm

Reg.. Now, that is just first gen for the most part.. Going to play Devil's Advocate for a moment by asking the question ---  Will the 'signature' still be intact thousands of generations later or will it be like a game of whisper-down-the-lane with each generation slightly changing that signature? 

I can see theists saying something like  -- oh the signature is there, but it's been changed through the generations. 

Comment by James Cox on June 28, 2012 at 9:46pm

To me it is a bio-nanomachine that borrows most of its material from another life form, membrane, organels, and genetic info. Going form raw materials to life would be more a feat of high class chemical engineering. With more deep understanding of the genome, genetic encoding of specific defined instructions would be next. If you could write computer code, compile it to DNA, and then inject into a suitable membrane/organels, this might be the really scary moment. Reseguencing with existing code seems just one step removed from this. 

Comment by James Cox on June 28, 2012 at 9:58pm

The scientist in me is intreged, but the environmentalist in me is deeply concerned. We take so much for granted about the 'stability' of the natural world. Adding more 'experiments' for the planet to process is pushing it even more.

The literature about the 'what if' us of nanomachines is rather large. Science Fiction seems to offer examples, that could be alarmist. Anywhere from extracting materials from the environment to the sanitary cleanup of a war, or more benign options like repair of brain damage to enhancement of brain function.

If we could redesgn the cell membranes to interfer with rejection or even enhance it, where would it end?

Comment by Michael on June 28, 2012 at 11:44pm

@Reg The Fronkey Farmer

If you think a strand of DNA is living you have a incorrect notion.  You can not support that with anything in the literature nor on the internet. Abiogenesis is still a mystery.

Comment by Zac Kimmer on June 29, 2012 at 3:41am


I meant that while replacing a cells chromosome is cool, the practical applications are limited because putting smaller pieces of DNA into cells to manipulate them is easy and has been around for a while. E coli have been making insulin since 1978. Sorry to be a party pooper but this is not creating artificial life, it is a proof of concept that an organisms DNA does not have to come from a living source.

@Reg and Michael

Micheal is right. DNA is a nonliving chemical, an acid specifically. It can not reproduce on its own, which is a requirement for living. Also, if the DNA was living then why would it be impressive to create an artificial life (although they didn't really) if we already make starns of DNA? Wouldn't those be artificial life, too?

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on June 29, 2012 at 3:58am

Ok Michael – I will back track a bit. When I say “Alive” I do not mean it in the context of it being a conscious entity. However when this 100% man-made DNA was created and injected into an empty (not alive) cell it booted up and began to divide (Evolve).

Yes Abiogenesis is still a mystery. Whether Life began in a puddle of hot mud or proteins from a meteorite impact or even by the hands of one of the many gods we have credited it with in our short history as a species is irrelevant to the fact that Evolution is a fact and that is what happened to this man-made life form.

Comment by Michael on June 30, 2012 at 12:59pm

No the cell was neither empty nor dead. It simply had it's DNA switched.

Unfortunately the headline is not commensurate with the deed. Sensationalism in the media strikes again.

Comment by Michael on June 30, 2012 at 1:02pm

The marvel is the building of DNA from scratch and reprogramming the cell. This is a remarkable achievement in it's own right and should not be compromised by misreporting the facts.


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