August 24, 2009

Report: Scientists behind genome project will be able to create life in a few months

Scientists will be able to create life in a few short months, a world-famous and controversial researcher predicted.

Craig Venter, who helped map the human genetic code, claimed Friday that his scientists had scored a major breakthrough in their effort to create a man-made form of bacteria.

The discovery could allow scientists to create biofuels out of algae, clean up toxic waste and slow global warming through carbon sequestration.

The application could also be used to create vaccines and antibiotics.

"Assuming we don't make any errors, I think it should work and we should have the first synthetic species by the end of the year," Venter told the Times of London.

Venter's team of scientists at Maryland's J. Craig Venter Institute succeeded in creating a new genetic code for a bacterium, the journal Science reported.

They have now unlocked a new technique to allow them to swap genes into existing bacteria, they said.

"There is an urgent need for vaccines," the scientists wrote. "This technology could accelerate the construction of live vaccine strains."

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