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Special Features | World

WATCH | Moving tantalizingly closer to synthesized life

Genetic engineering work in the laboratory. Reuters file photograph
The online news portal of TV5

LONDON - Scientists have taken a big step toward designing complex forms of life from scratch. They have synthesized five new artificial chromosomes of baker's yeast, representing a third of the micro-organism's genome, or genetic blueprint.

The international team used computers to create laboratory-made versions of the threadlike structures that carry genetic code inside cells.

Synthesizing genomes may alarm some who see biotechnologists "playing God" but scientists view it as a logical extension of existing genetic engineering that is already used routinely to make drugs like insulin, as well as genetically modified crops.

New strains of synthetic yeast could be put to work to produce novel medicines, chemicals and biofuels.

The work also serves as a foundation for a more ambitious project to synthesize a human genome in the next 10 years.

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