In 2010, scientists plopped the genetic material of one Mycoplasma bacterium into another type to create the self-replicating cells shown above. Six years later, they've come out with an even simpler synthetic organism that has fewer genes. Thomas Deerinck, NCMIR/Science Source hide caption

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Scientists Build A Live, No-Frills Cell That Could Have A Big Future
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Cambrian Genomics says that what it calls a DNA printer is essentially a DNA sorter — it quickly spots and collects the desired, tailored stretch of DNA. Courtesy of Cambrian Genomics hide caption

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DNA 'Printing' A Big Boon To Research, But Some Raise Concerns
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Biohazard suits used to handle dangerous microbes hang in a laboratory at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Md. Patrick Semansky/AP hide caption

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An outbreak of bird flu in India in 2008 prompted authorities to temporarily ban the sale of poultry. Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Biologists Choose Sides In Safety Debate Over Lab-Made Pathogens
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Being able to insert the two man-made letters into DNA, alongside the usual four-letter alphabet, could teach old cells new tricks and lead to better drugs, researchers say. courtesy of Synthorx hide caption

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Chemists Expand Nature's Genetic Alphabet
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The research team used yeast chromosome No. 3 as the model for their biochemical stitchery. Pins and white diamonds in the illustration represent "designer changes" not found in the usual No. 3; yellow stretches represent deletions. Lucy Reading-Ikkanda hide caption

toggle caption Lucy Reading-Ikkanda
Custom Chromo: First Yeast Chromosome Built From Scratch
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