The Creation of Synthetic Life Forms

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The creation of synthetic life forms: the science, benefits, risks and ethics.

The creation of a synthetic life form is the production of an artificial autonomous self-replicating organism under in-vitro conditions from biochemicals. Synthetic life experiments and creation of synthetic cells gives us an unparalleled insight into the origin of life, the fundamental genes and essential genetic functions required for life and may someday allow the manipulation of the roles of cells and organisms to benefit humanity and the environment. Advancements into synthetic life remain a controversial topic among today’s leaders in bioethics, pioneers in the synthetic biology field and the general public. They also raise the heated issue in today’s society about biosecurity.
The creation of synthetic life is encompassed by two fundamental disciplines, synthetic biology and synthetic genomics. Although it is challenging constricting synthetic biology to a singular definition it is best broadly described as an “aims to design and engineer biologically based parts, novel devices and systems as well as redesigning existing, natural biological systems.” (The Royal Academy of Engineering, 2009). Synthetic genomics however has been defined succinctly from genetic engineering as the chemical synthesis of DNA, the manipulation and assembly of genes, gene pathways or whole genomes via computational techniques, allowing the synthetic design of all the chromosomes. (Montague, Lartigue and Vashee,
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