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“Life, itself.”

March 30, 2021

Work continues apace on cells with entirely synthetic genomes, now producing cells that can divide. Presumably, that is an active cell line, not one that dies out after a few generations — the paper is behind a paywall. In any case, reproduction is a significant step, holding all sorts of promising potential. And worrisome — any self-sustaining cell that escapes and somehow survives adds to the world’s microbiome.

Speaking of reproduction, two different teams now have produced human blastocysts — or at least, what look quite a bit like blastocysts — from somatic cells. (Cite and cite.) Previous cloning technology started with germ cells. Of course, creating human embryos in the lab raises some ethical issues. And as the technology to do that expands, those who view conception as some magical event seem ever more silly.  

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