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In the Miller–Urey experiment they produced several amino acids. I'm not sure if there were other similar experiments that got further.

http://www.jcvi.org/cms/press/press-releases/full-text/article/first-self-replicating-synthetic-bacterial-cell-constructed-by-j-craig-venter-institute-researcher/ is a reference to making a cell, but they really injected an engineered genome into an existing cell (which is pretty amazing!)

But I'm interested in work to make completely synthetic life with no preexisting biological components.

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  • $\begingroup$ Since you're discussing the boundary between living and non-living matter, can you provide a concrete definition for what you consider life for the purpose of this question? $\endgroup$ – p.s.w.g Jan 28 '15 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ a self replicating cell - but I'm open to other definitions if they exist. And I'm also not looking only for creation of complete life - just the furthest we've gotten. Lets imagine is the goal to make (even in lab conditions) a single self-replicating bacteria from raw materials, how far along are we? 1%, 5% 70%, etc. I'm interested in what we've made until now and where the next steps are to go further. $\endgroup$ – Yehosef Jan 28 '15 at 0:11
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    $\begingroup$ This might interest you: biology.stackexchange.com/questions/19316/… $\endgroup$ – canadianer Jan 28 '15 at 0:35
  • $\begingroup$ Modern bacteria are extremely complex (they've been evolving for about 4 billion years) and probably look very little like the first organisms on earth. We're not even sure if early life used DNA. Whatever we can produce in a lab from no pre-existing components, is bound to be hard to recognize as life as if it had evolved on an entirely different planet. $\endgroup$ – p.s.w.g Jan 28 '15 at 0:48
  • $\begingroup$ I think the simple answer is that no one has come anywhere close to doing what you ask for, under any commonly accepted definition of "life". Jack Szostak's work (molbio.mgh.harvard.edu/szostakweb) is a good place to start researching this. $\endgroup$ – Leon Avery Jan 28 '15 at 14:41

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