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First Reproducing Artificial Virus Created

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the this-is-just-swell dept.

Science 741

jrrl writes "USAToday is reporting that Craig Venter's research group has synthesized a virus from scratch and that it "became bioactive" (started reproducing). Particularly interesting is that it only took them two weeks to build, rather than several years that previous attempts had taken."

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GREASED UP YODA DOLL SHOVED UP MY ASS IS PATRIOTIC (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474480)







I pledge Allegiance to the Doll
of the Greased Up States of Yodarica
and to the Republic for which it shoves,
one nation under Yoda, rectal intrusion,
with anal lube and ass grease for all.






IRAQ soon cleaned from USA faggot troops (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474483)

.. Everyday a handful of them, until the last one is fone.

I for one... (0, Offtopic)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474486)

...salute our new

Oops, there goes another kitty.

Should we really be doing things like this? (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474487)

What kind of precautions do these people take?

Re:Should we really be doing things like this? (5, Insightful)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474614)

You would hope that they take great pains to make access to the virii as secure as possible.

But, things like this are very important in the fight to create vaccines to illnesses. Anyone who has taken apart and built a car, computer, or whatever will tell you that thier level of understanding is now MUCH greater than it was before they did it. Knowing how to assemble a virus, will hopefully allow us to defend ourselves against them.

Re:Should we really be doing things like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474677)

That's like saying knowing how to assemble a computer will protect us from hackers and computer viruses.

Re:Should we really be doing things like this? (1, Funny)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474656)

My first thought on reading the headline was 'Cue the Luddites.'

We're all going to die! Nanobot virus AIs created from stem cells and feeding on the bodies of Monarch butterflies slain by the pollen from genetically engineered corn are going to destroy the world!

Re:Should we really be doing things like this? (5, Funny)

oniony (228405) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474664)

Yeah, I agree -- these people really need to start wearing condoms.

Re:Should we really be doing things like this? (5, Insightful)

f97tosc (578893) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474685)

Probably the same as in handling any other virus.

Which is perfectly reasonable. People seem to be exremely afraid of anything made in a lab, but fail to recognize that the greater danger (by far) is from natural evolution of new viruses.

By the same token, the dangers of bio-weapons seem to be greatly excaggerated, when compared to natural pathogens. Some anthrax letters that killed half a dozen people seemed to get more attention and resources than the flu and aids, which kill tens of thousands of people per year in the US alone.

Tor

I thought all viruses were artificial (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474489)

Didn't the government create AIDS?

Re:I thought all viruses were artificial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474629)

A nice article on this can be found here: Uncle Sam is trying to Kill You [jerryesmith.com] .

Plenty of good references to fuel your conspiracy theories...

Great! (-1, Redundant)

nmg196 (184961) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474491)

Great - as if the artifically occuring ones weren't enough.

Nick...

you mean naturally occurring? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474507)

English am teh hard!

eesh (2, Funny)

devphaeton (695736) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474492)

Anymore these days, i have to re-read titles like this one to try to determine if it's a organism-disease virus, or a computer-disease virus.

heh.

These guys are writing fork bombs with DNA

Re:eesh (5, Interesting)

jon787 (512497) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474545)

Thinking on the computer virus side I like this Hawking quote:
"I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We've created life in our own image."
-- Stephen Hawking

Re:eesh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474602)

Nothing is ever destroyed in the Universe, it is transformed into other forms, but not destroyed.

Hawking should know this before making ascinine comments such as this!

Re:eesh (4, Informative)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474701)

Horsefeathers. Matter is not the essence of a thing. Form and function usually (but not always) are. Transformation into another form may not destroy the mass but it most certainly destroys the thing that existed before.

Resident Evil anyone? (2, Funny)

Orien (720204) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474496)

Are we sure this wasn't put out by the Umbrella corporation?

Re:Resident Evil anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474565)

I'm sure the Canopy Group would have a bit of interest in it.

They're located down the street from me (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474506)

I really hope that virus doesn't mutate and escape from their *cough* lab. It could mean the end of life as we *gag*

SWEET! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474508)

man made virii must be better than god made virii! oh wait this is slashdot god died a long time sgo here...

Re:SWEET! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474618)

Virii is not a word stop saying it. It's viruses.

Re:SWEET! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474679)

I keep my virii in my boxen.

Scared now (5, Funny)

Daikiki (227620) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474509)

Well, not really terrified I guess, but the whole "We've created life and it's procreating" thing is something that doesn't exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy,. And why did it have to be a virus. Why not a cute little kitten or something?

Re:Scared now (3, Funny)

Feyr (449684) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474523)

why not a cute little virus? nothing wrong with em

Re:Scared now (1)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474581)

Just wait until they evolve into a humanoid-like species.
You do know what we did to the Neanderthals?

Re:Scared now (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474567)

Because "the T-Kitten" doesn't sound nearly as interesting to venture capitalists.

Re:Scared now (2, Interesting)

monadicIO (602882) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474575)

Why not a cute little kitten or something?
All cute kittens have a fair number of virii inside their bodies. I guess they are just starting with those. Then they'll make the bacteria in their guts, the ticks/germs on their fur, and finally the kitten.

Is this REALLY the first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474590)

I was always told that AIDS [jerryesmith.com] was created in a Lab!

You know, an accident in some US chemical warfare program.

Cue X-Files music...

Re:Scared now (1)

Java Pimp (98454) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474596)

And why did it have to be a virus. Why not a cute little kitten or something?

Do we have another candidate for the Darwin Awards [darwinawards.com] perhaps?

Re:Scared now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474670)

Do we have another candidate for the Darwin Awards perhaps?

The entire human race?

Re:Scared now (1)

mrtroy (640746) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474608)

I think they should try and make some new organic stuff.

Now that we have created some procreating life, lets go a little bigger here.

What about making some mini-human race, so we can use them as slaves. I would like about 20 little guys running around doing everything for me. And I could make them , cuz im bigger! Also, make them eat old tires or garbage or something, so they dont steal my pretzels. If you have any more questions regarding this mini race, please email me at god@slashdot thnx.

PS> They can also be used for entertainment...like cock fighting. And you can gamble on these little guys over just about anything they do. "20$" says he humps my secretary's leg in under 5 minutes!

Re:Scared now (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474649)

$5 says I hump your secretary's leg in 5 minutes or less.

Re:Scared now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474613)

the whole "We've created life and it's procreating" thing is something that doesn't exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy
Most grandparents would not agree with you.

Re:Scared now (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474700)

Yah, so the terrorist unleash a cloud of "Cute little kittens" tm. Not going to be exactly a red alert situation now is it?

Anyway smuggling kittens is hard as they set off the sniffer dogs.

Remember weapons of war must look hard and menacing, not cute and fluffy.

Re:Scared now (5, Funny)

greechneb (574646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474708)

Because you have to start simple. Viruses first, then ameoba, then lawyers....

No, wait, that's viruses, lawyers, ameoba..

89 comments... (0, Offtopic)

TheMidget (512188) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474717)

... and not a single one containing the word Outlook... Slashdotters, I am disappointed!

Chilling (3, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474510)

Yeah I know. Luddite reaction. Yadda yadda yadda.

I still don't really think the benefits (gene expression research, gene therapy in general) are good enough, considering the potential problems.

I'd like to know who's funding them. Is it civilian or military?

As if there weren't enough virii on the planet already, we have to go making more. Fantastic academic achievement, but wish they hadn't done it. A bit like a nuclear bomb, in its own way...

Simon.

Re:Chilling (1)

PhoenixFlare (319467) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474546)

I'd like to know who's funding them. Is it civilian or military?

I know it's too much to ask around here sometimes, but maybe you could at least glance at the article?

- The project was funded in part by the Department of Energy

Re:Chilling (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474570)

Maybe.

It's funded by Dept of Energy,
One of the things they're hoping to do is produce improved versions of the bacteria which eat nuclear waste.

Re:Chilling (1)

gujju (626201) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474597)

If the virus could be designed to attack cancer cells, there might be an enormous benefit to it. Though, how they are going to invent a virus that does that, I don't know...
Maybe this is "One small step for "a virus-developer " but one giant leap for "cancer eating virus kind" "

Re:Chilling (2, Insightful)

TomV (138637) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474641)

Can't remember where I found it, but there's a lovely quote about Nikola Tesla's idea for a resonator capable of splitting the planet: "The scary thing isn't that he was crazy enough to think of it, the really scary thing is that he was smart enough that it might well have worked".

Sometimes it feels like this might apply to Craig Venter. I mean his intellectual achievements are staggering, world-class, unimpeachably brilliant. but his choice of topics is sometimes very unnerving.

An software anecdote (2, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474521)


Just to find a metaphor that will bring this home to some of us...

I once had a prolonged discussion on the pros and cons of GM food and the mixing of seperate genetic organisms (as has produced this virus) with a Phd in Computer Science. Eventually I grabbed a textbook on UML from his desk and waved it at him. "Look," I cried, "they're breaking encapsulation!" My friend immediately reversed his stance on Genetic Engineering and wanted more testing.

Oh no! (5, Funny)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474522)

Quick! Lets blacken the skies, they won't be able to live without light!

Re:Oh no! (3, Funny)

Gettin'_Fatter (701671) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474654)

If we blacken the skies they'll just figure out a way to use us as an source of energy and food...oh wait- that's what virii do.

Its ALIVE! (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474525)

Great! Now lets make this barbie doll "bio-active" in the shape of Kelly Le Brock!

nah, screw that. Let's just get Kelly Le Brock!

Re:Its ALIVE! (1)

Hayzeus (596826) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474620)

Let's just get Kelly Le Brock!

Not to burst your bubble, but I think she's like 70 years old by now and likely incontinent. I know I am.

wow (0, Redundant)

satanicat (239025) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474530)

Thats actually pretty neat.
imagine all the possibilities with this type of technology. The article refered to things like cleaning the environment.

. . . though I wonder what types of biological weapons could come from this. .
its both scary and exciting at the same time.=)

Now.... (3, Funny)

Terov (79502) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474533)

If they can get it down to seven days then we'll have something ;)

mod parent up (0)

glassesmonkey (684291) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474619)

this is astute

yes, but does it run Linux? (-1, Offtopic)

BigGerman (541312) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474539)

could not resist

Re:yes, but does it run Linux? (1)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474600)

When they get to the stage of building multicellular organisms from scratch, would it count as a Beowulf cluster?

Sigh, too easy (-1)

fred_sanford (678924) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474617)

Imagine a Beauwolf cluster of these

Viruses and weapons (4, Insightful)

Fux the Penguin (724045) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474540)

I think the wonder of any scientific advance should be tempered by a clear-headed analysis of the dangers it might create.

I don't think anybody should be making any new life forms or modifying any existing life forms, at least until we've had a serious societal discussion regarding its possible role and impact on terrorism and biowarfare.

Imagine a scenario where terrorists could alter a disease or organic biological weapon gene by gene to make it immune to current antidotes. Beyond that, I worry that the US itself might use it for its own cache of new-age weapons.

If WE convert it to a weapon, what's the difference? We can claim we're the good guys and we won't use it. But we can look at Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

I hope I'm not fear-mongering here, but, I worry.

Well... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474593)

If they use it to kill your sorry ass, I'm all for it.

Re:Viruses and weapons (4, Insightful)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474627)

You're not. This is a valid point that is all but ignored by scientists seeking continual funding and rationalizing that if they don't do it someone else will.

However, I think this sort of research is as or more likely to radically benefit society as it is to create catastrophe. Look at the genie released when we first split the atom; I'd argue that the current and future benefits from nuclear power alone outweigh the concern about the misuse of this knowledge. But I feel that ethical concerns must become a stronger part of scientific research and funding, not only because of this breakthrough but because of the ones we're about to make (nanotechnology will present similar worrying potential...)

Re:Viruses and weapons (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474665)

too late, biological warfare is nothing new, both the Americans and Russians manufactured Viruses & Germs that are incredibly deadly and immune to known cures...

Re:Viruses and weapons (1)

herrvinny (698679) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474671)

Not to be a troll or flamebait, but look at Pearl Harbor.

If any country had to be in possession of these things, it should be the US. You don't want it to be the US? Well, let's look at the alternatives:

1. Middle Eastern countries? Yeah, right. Entire place is a hellhole.

2. Russia? If that place is secure, then a kid holding a slingshot and a stone is wielding a WMD. [cbsnews.com]

3. Asia? Countries like Pakistan, India and China? Malaysia? Forget it. Pakistan or India would likely use the bioweapon against each other. China? Not the most friendly to human rights.

4. European countries? Well, maybe, but I'm not terribly happy with that idea.

5. Any country in Africa/South America? You must be joking, right?

Re:Viruses and weapons (0, Troll)

mrtroy (640746) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474691)

You mean virii and weapons?

Sorry, could not resist!

doesn't anyone remember? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474544)

16 years ago, we (biotech) created the first virii that reproduced itself. It took us about 14 months to create it, but yes, it was a working virii. I would just like to point out that my cock has been itching for the past 16 years.

Interesting thoughts... (-1, Offtopic)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474547)

In its own way, this seems to validate some scientific theories I've heard about recently that struck me as being somewhat far-fetched but become all the more possible now that this breakthrough has been made.

As I understand it, evolution/natural selection is the natural effect when beings are subjected to adversity: only the strong survive. Thinking about this, it becomes clear that in a model where evolution is the sole factor traits that affect survival are gradually weeded out over time because those without such traits are more likely to survive. So too beings that experienced beneficial mutation are likely to preserve such traits.

But this article [arn.org] raises an interesting consideration. When I was in junior high, we took a brief field trip to collect pond water to view under microscopes, and one of the most interesting things was how those little critters with the thing called a flagellum would zoom around. This article brings up the point that this device, which is not exclusive to pond scum, is "irreducibly complex": it is made up of several parts, none of which separately would be of beneficial use to the creature employing it (in fact, such a creature would probably die off under natural selection.) The odds of a mutation creating all parts simultaneously are astronomical, and consequently, the only accepted theory that can sanely describe such a thing is intelligent design, which has been hinted at in many different real-life examples as well as probabistically explained by Pascal's Wager.

This theory is currently derided and discriminated against in favor of older theories, mind you, much as Galileo was in favor of the theory that the Earth was flat, because it threatens to dredge up the uncomfortable unknown. But like any theory, the more evidence that is found to support it particularly to the exclusion of existing theories, the more likely it is correct. So as skeptical as I am of intelligent design, I can't help but notice how much of our biological model it predicts. Has anybody heard anything more about this?

Re:Interesting thoughts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474637)

Science: Truth is unknowable. Therefore, we should eternally strive to attempt to create a worldview which, while a mere approximation, is as close to Truth as humanly possible.

Religion: Truth is unknowable. Therefore, we should not think about it, and instead select some thesis which is inherently neither provable nor disprovable, eternally believe in it blindly, and then try to use it to explain *everything*.

-----

Please explain to me how the intelligent design theory is predictive? If it is not predictive, what use is it from a scientific standpoint?

-- Super Ugly Ultraman

Re:Interesting thoughts... (1)

47F0 (523453) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474647)

Sigh, Do you people ever get tired. Here's an idea - Maybe evolution IS intelligent design. At it's heart, these creation so-called science arguments have one fundamental flaw - because we cannot comprehend anything more complex than ourselves, we make our creator as dumb as we are. Evolution happens all around you - it's real, it works, get over it. "Man is certainly stark mad: He cannot make a flea, yet he makes gods by the dozens." - Montaigne

"irreducibly complex"? not accordin to talk.origin (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474669)

Claim CB200.1:

Bacterial flagella and cilia are irreducibly complex, indicating that they must have been designed.

Source:

Behe, Michael, 1996. Darwin's Black Box, The Free Press, New York, pp. 59-73.

Response:

This is an example of argument from incredulity, because irreducible complexity can evolve naturally. Many of the proteins in the flagellum are similar to each other and/or to proteins for other functions. Their origins can easily be explained by a series of gene duplications, which obviates irreducible complexity's challenge to evolution.

One plausible path for the evolution of flagella goes through the following steps:

A secretory system evolved. The type III secretory system forms a structure identical to the rod and ring structure of the flagellum [Hueck, 1998].
A proto-flagellar filament arose as part of the protein secretion structure.
An ion pump with another function in the cell fortuitously became associated with the structure, giving it some mobility.
Further refinements make the flagellum more efficient for motility.

The flagellum is not irreducible. One third of the 497 amino acids of flagellin have been cut out without harming its function [Kuwajima, 1988]. Behe claims that 240 proteins are necessary for the flagellum to function, yet only 256 genes are necessary to produce an entire survivable bacterium [ref. in Ussery, 1998]. Different bacteria have different numbers of flagellar proteins (in Helicobacter pylori, for example, only 33 proteins are necessary to produce a working flagellum), so the particular example which Behe considers might be reducible [Ussery, 1998]. Behe himself suggests (pg. 72) that taking 40 of the 240 proteins out of a flagellum leaves a working cilium.

Eubacterial flagella, archebacterial flagella, cilia, and undulopodia use entirely different designs for the same function. That is to be expected if they evolved seperately, but it makes no sense if they were the work of the same designer.

Links:

Dunkelberg, Pete, 2003. Irreducible Complexity Demystified http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/icdmyst/ICDmyst.htm l

Musgrave, Ian, 2000. Evolution of the Bacterial Flagella. http://www.health.adelaide.edu.au/Pharm/Musgrave/e ssays/flagella.htm

References:

Hueck, C.J., 1998. Type III Protein Secretion Systems in Bacterial Pathogens of Animals and Plants. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 62: 379-433.
Kuwajima, G, 1988. Construction of a minimum-size functional flagellin of Escherichia coli. Journal of Bacteriology 170: 3305-3309.
Ussery, D. (see below)

Further Reading:

Ussery, David, 1998. A biochemist's response to "The biochemical challenge to evolution". Bios (July 1998). http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/staff/dave/Behe.html

--------------

Re:Interesting thoughts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474678)

"Intelligent design" is just another way of saying "we have no idea what's going on."

Don't misconstrue a lack of evidence as indicative of some larger, 'intelligent', sentient force.

All that it is indicative of is our own ignorance.

Holy Troll, Batman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474687)

Funny Sheetrock, I would have thought that you had your question answered in this thread [slashdot.org] .

Coming back for more?

Re:Interesting thoughts... (1)

TheCrazyFinn (539383) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474705)

Except that non-detrimental mutations tend to stick around, if useless. Witness Human Hair.

So, the necessary mutations don't have to happen at the same time, merely in sequence, as long as the individual mutations do not adversely affect survival.

Inteligent Design is merely a pseudo-scientific handwaving over Creationism.

Intelligent Design? Don't think so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474716)

Yes I have heard of ID. It is a claim that since we don't understand something right now, GodDidit. Which IMO is a horrible place to put god. Also known as God of the Gaps.
As for you're example,
You point to flagella, not irreducibly complex, do some research. eye's, not irreducibly complex, do the research, wings, not irreducibly complex, do the research.

if you're interested in actual mainstream scientific views go to talkorigins. They have actual archeologists/anthropologists/biologists etc. to help explain things to you. I still find it interesting that most proponents of ID are usually Engineer's or some other profession with zero background in biology.

http://talkorigins.org/

Hmmm (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474548)

Really, someone must bomb that fucking country of retards to dust now. They're becoming increasingly frightening.

Perhaps this is a good thing... (1)

LegendOfLink (574790) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474549)

Think about it, if you can build a virus (kind of like coding it like you code a computer program) could you then be able to set it to beneficially help the human body instead of harm it?

Maybe this could be used to create a kind of "police" virus that will destroy the HIV virus in infected patients. I dunno, people scorn new technology, but in my opinion, this might be a step in the right direction for cures of current diseases that are only treatable.

Re:Perhaps this is a good thing... (1)

glassesmonkey (684291) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474660)

Sure, the number one thing scientist will is make 'helpful' viruses.. Maybe YOU should review the US annual expenditures [cdi.org] in the areas of research..

Re:Perhaps this is a good thing... (1)

krin (519611) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474699)

As a living organism could it not mutate into something harmful?

I definitely see the pros to what they have done. Man made viruses could help us fight diseases we don't know how to otherwise.

But really, how do you control something like this once it's released into the wild (human body)? Send more man made viruses after it?

We're all gonna die! (1)

raider_red (156642) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474551)

Okay, probably not, but I do worry over the implications that this kind of breakthrough will have on us. I'm sure that there are lots of beneficial appliccations yada yada, blah blah blah, but the unintended consequences have the potential to be devastating.

how long will it be before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474555)

time to update your norton bio-antivirus,

this new virus will make you spout out something like news and carry the virus via your bad breath. ...

this new virus will make you remember peoples CC numbers and report them to a hard coded phone number for no apparent reason. ...
will make you say what you type, even when typoing your password/passphrase. ...
will make you want to use irc alot more and do what the user 'M11110nD011arMan' tells you to do, no matter how dumb it would seem to an observer.

I thought bill gates and co. (1)

bushboy (112290) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474563)

... had cornered that field of research ?

duh.. I guess humans will do it themselves (1, Insightful)

glassesmonkey (684291) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474592)

What is wrong with people!!?!

I saw a news report on goats the made to have genetic information of silk spinning spiders.. They are milking the goats to extract commericial production levels of silk!!!!

What happens when they engineer a virus and design it to only activate (attack) a specific genetic sequence (or genetic defect common in certain races).. tinfoil hat people are right, the Nazi's didn't disappear.. they are just working for the US military.

Nanotechnology + Artifical Virii merging... (1)

scovetta (632629) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474607)

I think that this is actually a Good Thing. Sure, there are dangers of creating super-viruses, but then we can make super-anti-viruses to beat up the super-viruses, ya know? Imagine injecting AIDS-infected people with a virus that targets infected cells and destroys the cell, or even replaces the DNA with "good" DNA. The possibilities really ARE endless. As soon as we can create a Thing that you put in your body and you can manipulate your cells at the genetic or even molecular level, things open up. You've got SoftICE running on the human body.

Re:Nanotechnology + Artifical Virii merging... (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474706)

>Imagine injecting AIDS-infected people with a virus that targets infected cells and
>destroys the cell, or even replaces the DNA with "good" DNA.

Imagine infecting non-AIDS infected peopel with a virus called AIDS.

Wait, that's been done. Check out "A Higher Form of Killing: The Secret Story of Chemical and Biological Warfare" by R. Harris and J. Paxman (Yes, *that* Paxman, if you're from the UK).

At a House Appropriations hearing in 1969, the Defense Department's Biological Warfare (BW) division requested funds to develop through gene-splicing a new disease that would both resist and break down a victim's immune system. "Within the next 5 to 10 years it would probably be possible to make a new infective micro-organism which could differ in certain important respects from any known disease-causing organisms. Most important of these is that it might be refractory to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious diseases." The funds were approved.

AIDS appeared within the requested time frame, and has the exact characteristics specified.

Playing God (1)

jetkust (596906) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474609)

Should we be playing God? Does the potential for good that new life forms may have outweigh the harm they could do?

Well, you can stop yourself from doing it. But can you stop your enemies?

Sometimes... (-1, Offtopic)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474612)

...it just all falls into place. It's funny how people can spend years and years worth of man hours on solving a problem, then one guy comes along with an intimate understanding and solves the problem in a few hours. It's especially fun when you *are* that person. :-)

One of my favorite examples of this is the System.out problem in Java. There's only one System.out stream, but you might be running multiple threads that should all have their own log. To date, I have seen people do everything from rewriting bytecode on the fly to replacing the System class. Then I run into a situation where I REALLY need this fixed, and I come upon the idea of using ThreadLocals. Very simply, I replaced the output stream with my own. My own stream uses a ThreadLocal for each thread (and its children) to get the proper output stream. All output written to my custom output stream is then redirected to the correct stream. Bam! Problem solved.

"I just love it when a plan comes together" -Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith

Re:Sometimes... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474667)

does it hurt when you pat yourself on the back ,or is it comforting?

Re:Sometimes... (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474704)

What is up with Mods these days? Apparently EVERY FRIGGIN THING is offtopic! Anyone else notice that?

Re:Sometimes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474710)

Oh my god, does it ever just hurt sometimes, realizing that you are so fucking smart?

Global death fun (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474615)


I studied biology and one of the lecturers was an expert in viruses. He is convinced that there is a high probability of a global, deadly flu-like virus sometime in the near-term future. (I remember one of his memorable phrases - be thankful that the HIV virus is so difficult to catch, you have to have sex with the carrier. Imagine if they just had to sneeze near you...)

Anyway, what do you do when this deadly virus breaks out? Apparently the thing to do is head for the hills - take a caravan somewhere remote, for instance, and live there for six months or so. With a shotgun, just in case things get really desperate.

Just so you know. Although perhaps I'm going to regret posting this on Slashdot. I'm not sure living in a world in which only the nerds survive would be worth it...

Envoke the DMCA! (1)

Ridgelift (228977) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474616)

"It's a very important technical advance," says Gerald Rubin, a molecular geneticist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "You can envision the day when one could sit down at a computer, design a genome and then build it. We're still inventing the tools to make that happen, and this is an important one."

Now imagine the parallels between modern computing and modern genetics & biology. I'm sure there will be DMCA-like legislation put in place to thwart attempts to infringe on corporate interests.

The problem with guarding knowledge is it prevents being able to "build on the shoulders of giants" [linuxtoday.com] , like Linus Torvalds and others have done. Copyright laws need to change to not only protect the short-term financial gains that are necessary for companies to invest in new ideas, but release those ideas back into the public so that they can be built back upon.

Hopefully our lawmakers will understand this.

throwing it all away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474626)

We are regarded as the generation "that had it all, but threw it away".

John Titor is becoming more plausible every day.

Not really new (3, Informative)

wes33 (698200) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474628)

More than a year ago live polio virus was constructed from component DNA. This is not a "artificial" virus but a working copy of phi X bacteriophage. Note that this is an infringement of God's copyrights and patents and trade secrets!

(from NY times, July 2002: Scientists construct virus from scratch for first time, synthesizing live polio virus from chemicals and publicly available genetic information; work was conducted by scientists at State University of New York at Stony Brook and financed by Defense Department as part of program to develop biowarfare) countermeasures ... )

Re:Not really new (1)

Jubedgy (319420) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474690)

This was in the article, they mentioned that the polio attempt took 3 years (for 7500 base pairs I believe) while phi X was created in only 2 weeks (containing 5000 base pairs).

Stop saying 'From Scratch' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474631)

Okay, this is cool, but not 'from scratch.' They sequenced a bacteriophage's genome and injected it into a bacterium. The bacteria still deserves credit. When we know enough to build a payload and cobble a viral shell around it, then we can say 'from scratch.' It is also a leap to mammalian cell types as our genetic structure has a complicated run-time environment composed of epigenetic states stored as DNA methylation and in states preserved in the chromatin. We still have much to learn in this area, as cloning and stem cells have shown us.

Finding a host . . . (1)

Varitek (210013) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474632)

Has it attacked Windows yet?

bill gates and co. (1)

bushboy (112290) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474635)

Cornered this artificial virus thing a long time ago - old news !

Sensationalist reporting again (1)

MSBob (307239) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474642)

While this is significant in its own way the life form created is not artificial in that it was made from a pre-existing virus. Build one from basic chemicals and I'll be impressed. Calling this artificial life is a stretch.

Journal Science link, NOT life (2, Informative)

mfago (514801) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474644)

The article starts out:
It is the stuff of science fiction and bioethical debates: The creation of artificial life.

A virus can reproduce, but does not consume energy -> they are not alive in a technical sense.

Also see this news from Science [sciencemag.org] .

Incredibly cool.

Full Article (1)

dannyelfman (717583) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474653)

Scientists create a virus that reproduces By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY It is the stuff of science fiction and bioethical debates: The creation of artificial life. Up until now, it's largely been just that.

But an important technical bridge towards the creation of such life was crossed Thursday when genomics pioneer Craig Venter announced that his research group created an artificial virus based on a real one in just two weeks' time.

When researchers created a synthetic genome (genetic map) of the virus and implanted it into a cell, the virus became "biologically active," meaning it went to work reproducing itself.

Venter cautioned that the creation of artificial human or animal life is a long way off because the synthetic bacteriophage -- the virus that was created -- is a much simpler life form. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria.

The project was funded in part by the Department of Energy, which hopes to create microbes that would capture carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, produce hydrogen or clean the environment.

But the questions ethicists have raised about such work are numerous: Should we be playing God? Does the potential for good that new life forms may have outweigh the harm they could do?

Arthur Caplan, who heads the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics, says yes. This technology "is impressive. It's powerful and it should be treated with humility and caution," Caplan says, "But we should do it."

A genome is made up of DNA "letters," or base pairs, that combine to "spell" an individual's chromosomes. The human genome project was completed in April.

This summer, researchers at Venter's Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives bought commercially available strands of DNA and, using a new technology, coaxed them together to form a duplicate of the genome of a bacteriophage called phi X.

"It's a very important technical advance," says Gerald Rubin, a molecular geneticist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "You can envision the day when one could sit down at a computer, design a genome and then build it. We're still inventing the tools to make that happen, and this is an important one."

Venter notes the synthetic bacteriophage has 5,000 base pairs in its genome. The human genome has 3 billion, so similar work in human form probably won't happen in this decade, he says.

To date, the largest genome that was synthesized was the 7,500-base-pair polio virus. But that was only semi-functional and took three years to complete.

The researchers chose to put the new technology into the public domain for all scientists to use. It will appear in the next few weeks on the Web site of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The technology raises safety issues, says David Magnus of Stanford's Center for Biomedical Ethics. Even putting it in the public domain is "a double-edged sword," he says. That presumes that allowing everyone access will keep the good guys ahead of the bad guys. "It's a gamble. ... It's a bet that everyone has a stake in," he says.

Not the first time (3, Informative)

Brahmastra (685988) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474657)

This story [bbc.co.uk] indicates that it was done more than a year ago.

heh (1)

alexandre (53) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474661)

Good to know that some people are preparing for the next genocide...
</sarcasm>

This virus is great (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474680)

FOR ME TO POOP ON!

I mean, to kill Iraqi sand niggers with.

I like the idea of tainted fried chicked and watermelon.

Uh Oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7474681)

Just wait until this thing gets loose. And then... ...MMMMMWAH! BRAAAAAINS!

Life? (2, Informative)

Izago909 (637084) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474686)

I thought the general agreement was that viruses aren't considered life because can't metabolize energy. A virus looks like a simple lego block compared to the complex architecture of a single bacterium.

Ibola Anyone? (1)

drosoph (664471) | more than 10 years ago | (#7474707)

How many base-pairs are in the ibola virus ?
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