Eight Synthetic Biology Experts Talk about Life After the First Synthetic Cell

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Nature has a three page feature with the opinions of eight prominent synthetic biology experts about life after the first replicating synthetic cell.

Nature asked eight synthetic-biology experts about the implications for science and society of the “synthetic cell” made by the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI). The institute’s team assembled, modified and implanted a synthesized genome into a DNA-free bacterial shell to make a self-replicating Mycoplasma mycoides

George Church Says we Need to Lower Costs

What we now need are ways to construct and test billions of genome combinations using protein and RNA biosensors for many or all metabolic intermediates and cell-signalling states. In combination with the sort of techniques that the JCVI has just demonstrated — but at much lower cost — this would enable researchers to select for important products such as pharmaceuticals, fuels, chiral chemicals and novel materials.

Steen Rasmussen -Bottom up will be more Important

The top-down community seeks to rewrite the genetics program running on the ‘hardware’ of the modern cell, as Venter and his colleagues have done. Bottom-up researchers, such as myself, aim to assemble life — including the hardware and the program — as simply as possible, even if the result is different from what we think of as life.

Other Opinions

* The end of vitalism Arthur Caplan
* Synthesis drives innovation, Steven Benner
* Nature’s limits still apply, Martin Fussenegger
* Got parts, need manual Jim Collins
* Origin of life just got closer, David Deamer
* The power and the pitfalls, Mark Bedau

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