Darpa to develop immortal organisms

Darpa, in a move that means to use bioweapons for good, has announced the investment of $6 million into a project that will create "synthetic organisms" that never die but can be killed with the flick of a molecular switch.

The project, labelled BioDesign, calls for the creation of living, breathing creatures that are genetically engineered to produce specific bi logical effects. The organisms, Darpa says, would be fortified with molecules to resit death.

The cells will be made tamper proof on the genetic level and traceable by means of DNA manipulation, much like a serial number. There will also be a self-destruct option for the organism hard wired into its creation.

According to Wired.com, the BioDesign project comes at a time when Darpa is putting $20 million into a new synthetic biology program and $7.5 million into speeding up the sequencing, analysis and functionality of editing cellular genomes.

The project aims to end what Darpa refers to as the "randomness of natural evolutionary advancement" by utilizing the newest biotech knowledge to create the synthetic organisms. Some, however, question the randomness of evolution.

NYU biology professor David Fitch told Wired.com, "Evolution by selection is not a random process at all, and is actually a hugely efficient design algorithm used extensively in computation and engineering."