Craig Venter sure knows how to grab headlines and set the life science world on its ear. He’s the one who turned the human genome project into a horse race by developing automated techniques to sequence (take apart) the DNA in genes in a rapid and lower cost way.
Now he’s evidently closing the loop by developing techniques to synthesize (put together) whole genomes of simple organisms, again rapidly and, presumably, more cheaply than before. He synthesized the genetic code of a virus from basic constituents in a couple of weeks. Evidently the basic molecular biology was not new, but the speed was. That’s not trivial. To make techniques useful and real in the world of science and medicine, lowering cost and speeding it up is very important.
Expect bigger things to follow:
Even though the experiment involved a simple organism, the researchers suggested their work demonstrated the ability to quickly and accurately synthesize long segments of DNA that can serve as “a stepping stone to manipulating more complex organisms.”