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Archive for the ‘bioengineering’ category

Mar 27, 2017

Scientists convert spinach leaves into human heart tissue — that beats

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, food

If an overhyped vegetable existed before marketers coined the term superfood — and long before Oprah Winfrey chatted up acai berries with Dr. Oz — look no further than spinach. (Here’s to Popeye, eating the stuff by the can to inflate his biceps.) Spinach alone, of course, won’t pump anyone up. But it does have a few physical properties of the type that excite biomedical engineers. Spinach grows a network of veins, for instance, that thread through its leaves in a way similar to blood vessels through a human heart.

These leafy veins allowed researchers at Massachusetts’s Worcester Polytechnic Institute to give a new meaning to heart-healthy spinach. The tissue engineers, as they reported recently in the journal Biomaterials, stripped green spinach leaves of their cells. The spinach turned translucent. The scientists seeded the gaps that the plant cells left behind with human heart tissue. Heart cells, in clusters, beat for up to three weeks in this unusual environment.

The inspiration for the human-plant fusion came over lunch — and, yes, the leafy greens were involved — when WPI bioengineers Glenn Gaudette and Joshua Gershlak began to brainstorm new ways to tackle a deadly medical problem: the lack of donor organs. Of the more than 100,000 people on the donor list, nearly two dozen people die each day while waiting for an organ transplant.

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Mar 24, 2017

Scientists have grown heart tissue on a spinach leaf

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

What have you accomplished this week? Did you have a productive work meeting? Make a healthy dinner? Match your socks?

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Mar 19, 2017

Super Humans: Scientists Rewrote a Bacteria’s Genome From Scratch

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

Model of the human genome.

A special nutrient must be fed to these bacteria or else they die off. Unless they find this selfsame nutrient in the environment, which Church says is unlikely, they would not be able to survive. Another fail-safe is a special barrier which has been erected to make it impossible for the bacteria to mate or reproduce, outside of the lab. But other experts wonder how “unbeatable” Church’s fail-safe’s actually are. Carr says that instead of discussing these measures as foolproof, we should be framing it in degrees of risk.

The next step is further testing of the artificial genes that have been made. Afterward, Church and colleagues will take this same genome and produce an entirely new organism with it. Since DNA is the essential blueprint for almost all life on earth, being able to rewrite it could give humans an almost god-like power over it. That capability is perhaps decades away. Even so, combined with gene editing and gene modification, and the idea of a race of super humans is not outside the realm of possibility.

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Mar 15, 2017

George Church, Lumosity want those with good memory to ‘share it, not hoard it’

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics, neuroscience

George Church is very interested in your memories now.


Harvard researcher George Church is looking for people with exceptionally good memory to take part in a study aimed at finding genetic mechanisms that boost memory in research that could one day result in better drugs or diagnostic tests.

Church and other researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Harvard Medical School’s Personal Genome Project, in collaboration with Lumos Labs — the makers of the brain-training game Lumosity — will look for common genetic markers in individuals with exceptional memories, attention and reaction speeds.

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Mar 13, 2017

Pain in the Neck: Using CRISPR to Prevent Tissue Damage and Neck Pain

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

Bowles says. “We’re not changing what is in your genetic code. We’re altering what is expressed. Normally, cells do this themselves, but we are taking engineering control over these cells to tell them what to turn on and turn off.”

Now that researchers know they can do this, doctors will be able to modify the genes via an injection directly to the affected area and delay the degeneration of tissue. In the case of back pain, a patient may get a discectomy to remove part of a herniated disc to relieve the pain, but tissue near the spinal cord may continue to breakdown, leading to future pain. This method could stave off additional surgeries by stopping the tissue damage.

So far, the team has developed a virus that can deliver the gene therapy and has filed a patent on the system. They hope to proceed to human trials after collecting initial data, but Bowles believes it could be about 10 years before this method is used in patients.

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Mar 7, 2017

Zoltan Istvan Wants to Create Superpeople —Oh, and Also Be California’s Governor

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, economics, governance

I did a long-form interview on Medium’s Defiant of my run for California Governor. It covers many subjects (Trump, gene editing, basic income), as well as why I think technology is ready to change politics and governance forever:


By AJAI RAJ

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. It’s 2015, and the ever-humming machinery of American presidential politics is picking up steam. The American political machine runs on steam, okay? It’s very old.

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Mar 6, 2017

Nanoengineers 3D print biomimetic blood vessel networks

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, bioengineering, bioprinting, biotech/medical

The new research, led by nanoengineering professor Shaochen Chen, addresses one of the biggest challenges in tissue engineering: creating lifelike tissues and organs with functioning vasculature — networks of blood vessels that can transport blood, nutrients, waste and other biological materials — and do so safely when implanted inside the body.

Researchers from other labs have used different 3D printing technologies to create artificial blood vessels. But existing technologies are slow, costly and mainly produce simple structures, such as a single blood vessel — a tube, basically. These blood vessels also are not capable of integrating with the body’s own vascular system.

“Almost all tissues and organs need blood vessels to survive and work properly. This is a big bottleneck in making organ transplants, which are in high demand but in short supply,” said Chen, who leads the Nanobiomaterials, Bioprinting, and Tissue Engineering Lab at UC San Diego. “3D bioprinting organs can help bridge this gap, and our lab has taken a big step toward that goal.”

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Mar 4, 2017

Transhumanist Wants to Run for California Governor Under Libertarian Banner

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, economics, genetics, geopolitics, transhumanism

The Libertarian Republic covering my libertarian run for California Governor:


By Kody Fairfield

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Mar 3, 2017

Researchers remotely control sequence in which 2-D sheets fold into 3D structures

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, nanotechnology, satellites, solar power, sustainability

Inspired by origami, North Carolina State University researchers have found a way to remotely control the order in which a two-dimensional (2-D) sheet folds itself into a three-dimensional (3D) structure.

“A longstanding challenge in the field has been finding a way to control the sequence in which a 2-D sheet will fold itself into a 3D object,” says Michael Dickey, a professor of chemical and at NC State and co-corresponding author of a paper describing the work. “And as anyone who has done origami — or folded their laundry—can tell you, the order in which you make the folds can be extremely important.”

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Mar 3, 2017

Want more crop variety? Researchers propose using CRISPR to accelerate plant domestication

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, food, genetics, sustainability

The more crops we cultivate, the less chance our food supply wil get wiped out by a disease.


Out of the more than 300,000 plant species in existence, only three species—rice, wheat, and maize—account for most of the plant matter that humans consume, partly because in the history of agriculture, mutations arose that made these crops the easiest to harvest. But with CRISPR technology, we don’t have to wait for nature to help us domesticate plants, argue researchers at the University of Copenhagen. In a Review published March 2 in Trends in Plant Science, they describe how gene editing could make, for example, wild legumes, quinoa, or amaranth, which are already sustainable and nutritious, more farmable.

“In theory, you can now take those traits that have been selected for over thousands of years of crop domestication—such as reduced bitterness and those that facilitate easy harvest—and induce those mutations in plants that have never been cultivated,” says senior author Michael Palmgren, a botanist who heads an interdisciplinary think tank called “Plants for a Changing World” at the University of Copenhagen.

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