Soon, '3D printed' artificial organisms

Published: 06th October 2013 02:45 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th October 2013 02:45 PM   |  A+A-


Humans may soon be able to design and "print" synthetic organisms using the biological equivalent of a 3D printer, a leading scientist has predicted.

According to Craig Venter, the US pioneer who helped to map the human genome, the synthetic microbes or cells would be designed on a computer.

This, in turn, would allow scientists to incorporate features in the DNA that would make them useful in medicine or industry, Venter said.

"In years to come it will be increasingly possible to create a wide variety of (synthetic) cells from computer-designed software. The creation of cells from scratch will open up extraordinary possibilities," Venter wrote in his latest book, 'Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life'.

Venter suggests such advance could provide us with crops that are resistant to draught and diseases and 'artificial' animals that could yield both food and medicines, 'The Sunday Times' reported.

The revolutionary technique could also transform human brains and bodies and boost intelligence and longevity, Venter said.

Venter's prediction stems from the idea that cells are simply machines and DNA is no more than a kind of software that tells cells what to do, meaning life is just a complex set of chemical reactions.

In his book, Venter describes how his team developed the world's first synthetic life form in 2010, the report said.

Venter admits that a lot of research is required before scientists can mass-produce entirely synthetic organisms – but the advantages could be huge.

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