Comprendre la tradition Frankestein

PALO ALTO – «amp#160;Elle est vivante, elle bouge, elle est vivante… ELLE EST VIVANTEamp#160;!amp#160;» S’est exclamé le Dr Victor Frankenstein lorsque sa «amp#160;créationamp#160;» fut terminée. Les chercheurs sont depuis longtemps fascinés par l’idée de créer la vie, mais ils ont du se contenter de fabriquer des variations d’organismes vivants par le biais de mutations ou d’autres techniques d’ingénierie génétique.

En mai dernier, les chercheurs de l’Institut J. Craig Venter, avec à leur tête le Dr Venter lui-même, ont synthétisé le génome d’une bactérie à partir de rien en utilisant des briques de construction chimiques et l’ont introduit dans une cellule d’une autre variété de bactérie. La nouvelle information génétique a «amp#160;réinitialiséamp#160;» la cellule hôte lui permettant de fonctionner, de se reproduire et d’adopter les caractéristiques du «amp#160;donneuramp#160;». En d’autres termes, on peut dire qu’une espèce d’organisme synthétique a été créé.

Les réactions de la communauté scientifique ont été diverses, qualifiant ces travaux soit de légèreavancée ou dénonçant une menaceapocalyptique. La plus appropriée serait la première : la création de Venter est évolutionnaire, non révolutionnaire.

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