WASHINGTON—U.S. scientists said they have taken an important step
toward making an artificial life form by making a ribosome -- the
The ribosome makes the proteins that
carry out key business for all forms of life. Messenger RNA carries
DNA's genetic instructions to a cell's ribosome, which then cooks up
the desired protein. Every living organism from bacteria to humans uses
a ribosome, and they are all strikingly similar.
It is not quite artificial life, but an important step in that direction,
said George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School,
who directed the research with a single graduate student.
"If you going to make synthetic life that is anything like current life ...
you have got to have this ... biological machine," Church told
reporters in a telephone briefing.
And it can have important industrial uses, especially for manufacturing drugs and proteins not found in nature.
Church stressed his research has not been published in a scientific journal,
the usual route for reporting such work. He presented it over the
weekend to a seminar of Harvard alumni.
Church's group is not seeking to make life in a test tube, but instead to make designer proteins in lab dishes