Artificial bug ‘lets scientist billionaire design new forms of life’

Bugs capable of everything from curing diseases to mopping up pollution are a step closer after scientists created an artificial lifeform in a lab.

The new bug, nicknamed Synthia 3.0, has fewer genes than any other bacterium, making it the most basic form of life.

Its creation in a Californian lab, by cowboy boot-wearing “showman scientist” Craig Venter, paves the way for bugs customised with genes that allow them to churn out clean biofuels, soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and pump out vaccines in industrial quantities.

Dr Venter said: “I think it’s the start of a new era.”

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