Page last updated at 17:57 GMT, Thursday, 20 May 2010 18:57 UK

Scientists create synthetic life

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Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first synthetic living cell.

The researchers constructed a bacterium's "genetic software" and transplanted it into a host cell.

The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species "dictated" by the synthetic DNA.

The advance, published in Science, has been hailed as a scientific landmark, but critics say there are dangers posed by synthetic organisms.

Pallab Ghosh explains.

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