If some time in the future, we can know exactly what a cell (for example simple prokaryote bacteria) contains, (I mean, exactly which molecules, the shape of them, the density of each, everything), Then can we create a new cell (not from another cell)?

I mean, if we have such technology, then create a soup just like what that cell contains, and a DNA exactly same as that bacteria cell, and then put some of it inside a Cell membrane, will it start living?

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    $\begingroup$ This has -at least partly- been done by Craig Venter's group: sciencemag.org/content/329/5987/52.abstract However, they did not recreate the entire cell, "just" the genome which they reimplanted in a recipient cell. Recreating a whole cell would be much much much much [...] much more complicated. $\endgroup$ – nico Sep 18 '12 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ @nico But will it be possible in the future? $\endgroup$ – Mahdi Ghiasi Sep 18 '12 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ I should check in my crystal sphere... :D Jokes aside, I think 10 years ago Creig Venter's experiment would have raised a lots of eyebrows and would have been said to be impossible. I think we cannot do it right now, but possibly in the future we will have the technology to do it. Synthetic biology is a brand new branch of biological sciences so we should not expect too much too soon! My knowledge on the topic is quite anecdotal however, I will leave the answer to someone more knowledgeable than me! $\endgroup$ – nico Sep 18 '12 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ So, is it believable that some day, we may can create Two primary cells of a human so we can create a complete person?! $\endgroup$ – Mahdi Ghiasi Sep 18 '12 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ Again, we are extremely far away from creating a whole bacterium, a yeast cell already will be WAY more complex, let alone a human cell. Ethics aside, right now we are not even able to clone a human using preexisting cells. $\endgroup$ – nico Sep 18 '12 at 17:51

I think it could feasible to assemble complete synthetic cells in future. One of the first successes will probably be a simple bacteria. The synthetic genome is already on the road, so here, I'm pointing to other technologies that can be helpful. Feel free to add/edit/complete.

Inorganic chemistry. Self-replicating inorganic cells can be already obtained from polymer emulsions: optimistically, one may try in future to work with organic macromolecules.

3D printing technology may also evolve to the point that it will be possible to assemble cells by printing microscopic 'ink' molecules with the correct cellular organization. 3D printing works by serially printing one layer on the top of the other: to prevent molecular layers to mix, a technology to serially froze the printed layer will help in obtain a frozen synthetic cell.

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Many of the parts of a cell, which perform its basic functions, such as transcription, translation, DNA replication, etc. have been already isolated and successfully recreated in a test tube. So if we obtain a complete list of all the parts we need and know how to make those parts and mix them together, we can make a cell from scratch.

However, this will probably be very time-consuming and costly and will serve no other purpose than showing that it can be done. It is much more time- and cost-efficient to create a genome only, transplant it into an existing cell, and wait for the cell to replicate and synthesize new molecules until it changes in a way that completely fits the new genome.

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