Darpa's Latest Project: Synthetic Creatures That Can Never Die

Darpa, the Pentagon's crazypants research arm, is taking shit to a whole new level: they're pumping money into developing synthetic organisms immune to death. Oh, except for the built-in genetic kill switch. Yikes.

Danger Room reports that Darpa is investing $6 million into the project, called "BioDesign."

As part of its budget for the next year, Darpa is investing $6 million into a project called BioDesign, with the goal of eliminating "the randomness of natural evolutionary advancement." The plan would assemble the latest bio-tech knowledge to come up with living, breathing creatures that are genetically engineered to "produce the intended biological effect." Darpa wants the organisms to be fortified with molecules that bolster cell resistance to death, so that the lab-monsters can "ultimately be programmed to live indefinitely."

Of course, Darpa's got to prevent the super-species from being swayed to do enemy work - so they'll encode loyalty right into DNA, by developing genetically programmed locks to create "tamper proof" cells. Plus, the synthetic organism will be traceable, using some kind of DNA manipulation, "similar to a serial number on a handgun." And if that doesn't work, don't worry. In case Darpa's plan somehow goes horribly awry, they're also tossing in a last-resort, genetically-coded kill switch.

Of course, this is no small task. Not only do you have the laws of nature to contend with, but you'll have an angry God tossing lightning bolts down upon you for trying to do his job for him. But really, this is some crazy ambitious science we're talking here. Be sure to read the full piece at Danger Room for the entire story. [Danger Room]