Artificial cells

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Scientists have been working for years to attempt to create artificial cells, with mixed success. While they have been successful in replicating some of the functions of the cell, such as the cell membrane [1], nobody has yet successfully produced a fully-functional artificial cell.

History

The technology of artificial cells is relatively new. The first person to develop a rudimentary artificial cell was Thomas Chang, a student at McGill University. In 1957, Chang developed a simple synthetic cell that mimicked the primary function of a red blood cell (transporting hemoglobin.)

Since that time, artificial cells have been utilized for a variety of medical purposes. For instance, cells which can locate centers of disease in the human body have been developed. These cells, called leuko-polymersomes, are used as a sort of cellular syringe, traveling to the site of a disease and secreting medicine. [2]

In May, 2010, scientists from the J. Craig Venter Institute successfully installed an artificial genome into a cell without DNA, a success which has been hailed as the first fully-functional "artificial cell." While this is a significant step forward--and a powerful illustration of the concept that intelligence can design the code necessary for life--it should be remembered that the cell itself was not artificial; merely the controlling code. [3]

Implications

Many of those who deny the validity of Intelligent Design claim that the development of an artificial cell will undercut the theory of design. However, a closer examination reveals that quite the opposite is true; the development of a fully-functional, living artifical cell would be a tremendous argument in favor of design.

Historically, when confronted with the fact that nobody has ever observed a cell forming spontaneously and without the benefit of an intelligent creator, opponents of design have been able to retort that nobody has ever observed a cell being formed under the guidance of such a creator, either.

Venter's success has severely undercut this argument. We now have observable evidence that an intelligent creator can produce a cell...and there would still be no observable evidence that a cell can form without such a creator.

References

  1. http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2003/29may_polymersomes.htm
  2. http://www.rsc.org/Publishing/ChemTech/Volume/2008/09/artificial_cells.asp
  3. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37256799/ns/technology_and_science-science
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