“Playing God” -Scientists in Final Stage of Creating Man-made Life

Humangenome_2Dr Craig Venter, who has led the private sector effort to sequence the human genome, has been working for years to create a man-made organism. He says his company Synthetic Genomics Inc, has nearly completed the journey to create the world’s first free-living artificial organism. According to Venter, it will only be a few more weeks before manmade life is unveiled in his very own laboratory. “It will be one of the bright milestones in human history, changing our conceptual view of life.” Said Venter.

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Notable Films on Fate of Mankind

Genome010625Geneticists often endow DNA with a nearly spiritual importance. Their own language -- describing the human genome as the "Book of Man," the "essence of life" or the "Holy Grail" -- plays directly into popular belief in the sanctity of the human genome. This spiritual language about the human genome helps fuel the anti-technology aspects of human gene manipulation in science fiction cinema: How can scientists consider our genome humanity's "soul," and then commit sacrilege by manipulating a "holy object?"  Don't miss this brilliant essay on Hollywood's treament of the fate of the human genome. Posted by Jason McManus.

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China's Scientists Vote World's 10 Great Scientific Advances of '06

Darkallz0_1 The 10 most significant developments in science and technology in the world last year, reported the People's Daily Online, were voted as follows by members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering: ranging from "Stardust" comet samples, to growing organ samples from stem cells, first nano generator, first direct sample of dark matter (image on left), to a "connectivity map" linking drug to diseases.

Top 10 '06 Scientific Advances

Sea Urchin Genome Similar to Humans -Shares Common Ancestors

Sea urchins are small and spiny, they have no eyes and they eat kelp and algae. Still, the sea creature’s genome is remarkably similar to humans’ and may hold the key to preventing and curing several human diseases.

Urchins_1 Sea urchins are echinoderms, marine animals that originated more than 540 million years ago. The reason for the intense interest in sequencing the sea urchin genome is because it shares a common ancestor with humans. Sea urchins are closer to human and vertebrates from an evolutionary perspective than other more widely studied animal models, such as fruit fly or worms. The sea urchin, in fact, has 7,000 genes in common with humans, including genes associated with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases and muscular dystrophy.

"Another surprise is that this spiny creature with no eyes, nose or hears has genes involved in vision, hearing and smell in humans," said University of Central Florida professor, Cristina Calestani, a member of the Sea Urchin Genome Sequencing Group. "The comparison of human genes with their corresponding ancestral sea urchin genes may give important insight on their function in humans."

"Considering that sea urchins have a long life span -- some can live up to 100 years -- their immune system must be powerful," Calestani said. "Sea urchins could very well provide a new set of antibiotic and antiviral compounds to fight various infectious diseases."

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