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Archive for the ‘bioengineering’ category: Page 103

Jun 10, 2016

Living Bacteria Can Now Store Data

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

Using the CRISPR gene-editing tool, scientists from Harvard University have developed a technique that permanently records data into living cells. Incredibly, the information imprinted onto these microorganisms can be passed down to the next generation.

CRISPR/Cas9 is turning into an incredibly versatile tool. The cheap and easy-to-use molecular editing system that burst onto the biotech scene only a few years ago is being used for a host of applications, including genetic engineering, RNA editing, disease modeling, and fighting retroviruses like HIV. And now, as described in a new Science paper, it can also be used to turn lowly microorganisms into veritable hard drives.

http://io9.gizmodo.com/5935415/why-dna-is-the-future-of-data-storage

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Jun 9, 2016

Engineered pathogen-binding protein enables rapid isolation of infectious bacteria from joint fluids

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

Very cool.


Pinpointing the type of bacteria that are at the root of an infection in clinical samples removed from living tissues, such as blood, urine or joint fluids, to quickly identify the best anti-microbial therapy still poses a formidable challenge. The standard method of culturing can take days to reveal pathogens, and they often fail to bring them to light altogether.

A team lead by Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University now reports a method in PLoS, which enables the rapid isolation and concentration of infectious bacteria from complex clinical samples to help speed up bacterial identification, and it should be able to accelerate the determination of antibiotic susceptibilities as well.

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Jun 8, 2016

Slime mold gives insight into the intelligence of neuron-less organisms

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, neuroscience

How do organisms without brains make decisions? Most of life is brainless and the vast majority of organisms on Earth lack neurons altogether. Plants, fungi and bacteria must all cope with the same problem as humans — to make the best choices in a complex and ever-changing world or risk dying — without the help of a simple nervous system in many cases.

A team of researchers from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), the University of Sydney, the University of Sheffield and the University of Leeds recently studied this problem in the unicellular slime mold, Physarum polycephalum, a single-cell organism that can grow to several square meters in size. This giant cell, which typically lives in shady, cool and moist areas of temperate forests, spreads out to search its environment like an amoeba, extending oozy tendrils along the forest floor in search of its prey of fungi, bacteria and decaying vegetable matter.

Neither plant, animal nor fungus, P. polycephalum has become an unlikely candidate for studies of cognition, due to its spectacular problem-solving abilities. In recent studies, Physarum has been shown to solve labyrinth mazes, make complicated trade-offs, anticipate periodic events, remember where it has been, construct transport networks that have similar efficiency to those designed by human engineers and even make irrational decisions — a capability that has long been viewed as a by-product of brain circuitry.

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Jun 7, 2016

Sources of longevity genes for genetic engineering

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

There are various animals that can live for centuries or millenia.

Genetic engineering technology is rapidly improving and genome wide genetic engineering could become a reality within 10–20 years. It could be possible to replicate in humans the longevity genes and cancer immunity in certain animals.

The longest lived mammal is the bowhead whales. Some confirmed sources estimate bowhead whales to have lived at least to 211 years of age.

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Jun 5, 2016

We can now ‘cut and paste’ RNA in addition to DNA, and it could disable viruses

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

You’ve probably heard of CRISPR — the gene editing tool that essentially lets scientists cut and paste DNA, removing things like HIV and muscular dystrophy from our cells — and now scientists have discovered a way to edit RNA with just as much precision.

RNA is DNA’s close biological cousin, responsible for translating messages from the nucleus to the rest of the cell, and being able to change it could open up all-new disease-fighting possibilities.

Just like CRISPR/Cas9 editing, the new procedure selectively cuts up RNA, which gives us microscopic control over genetic information, and the researchers behind it say it could open up the method could be used to block viruses and halt disease in its tracks.

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Jun 3, 2016

Scientists want to perfect humanity with synthetic DNA

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, economics, ethics, health

Following a controversial top-secret meeting last month, a group of scientists have announced that they’re working on synthesizing human genes from scratch. The project, currently titled HGP-Write, has the stated aim of reducing the cost of gene synthesis to “address a number of human health challenges.” As the group explains, that includes growing replacement organs, engineering cancer resistance and building new vaccinations using human cells. But in order for all of that to happen, the scientists may have to also work on developing a blueprint for what a perfect human would look like.

In some ways, the concept is just an extension of current gene editing (CRISPR) techniques that are proving their worth by saving lives. CRISPR has already been used to save the life of a one-year-old girl with a terminal case of drug-resistant leukemia. Other initiatives using the system involve curing hemophilia and HIV, although the latter has proven capable of fighting back against attempts to kill it. This new project, meanwhile, will devote time and resources to examining the ethics and economics of how far we should go with gene editing.

HGP-Write is being led by DNA pioneer George Church, a Harvard biologist who is already working on various projects to tweak humanity. In a profile, Stat revealed that the scientist published a paper in 2014 pushing “de novo synthesis,” the concept of creating perfect genes from scratch. In early 2015, he used CRISPR to implant wooly mammoth DNA into a living Asian elephant as the first step toward bringing extinct animals back from the dead. Which, when you write it down like that, makes him sound like a less plausible version of John Hammond, the fictional creator of Jurassic Park.

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Jun 2, 2016

Odds are we’re living in a simulation, says Elon Musk

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, bioengineering, cosmology, Elon Musk, robotics/AI, sustainability, transportation

This is one of those “therotical” topics that many of us have had at some point in our lives with our engineering team pals, or with our research department/ lab buddies. Fun to see Elon Musk share his views on this topic. Who knows; maybe? Last week, we learned that black holes may be nothing more that a multi-layer hologram in space.


“There’s a billion to one chance we’re living in base reality,” Elon Musk said tonight on stage at Recode’s Code Conference, meaning that one of the most influential and powerful figures in tech thinks that it’s overwhelmingly likely we’re just characters living inside a simulation.

The Verge co-founder Josh Topolsky got half-way through asking Musk if he thought our existence was simulated before the Tesla CEO jumped in to finish his question for him. “I’ve had so many simulation discussions it’s crazy,” Musk explained. “You’ve thought about this?” Topolsky asked. “A lot,” Musk replied. “It got to the point where every conversation was the AI / simulation conversation, and my brother and I agreed that we would ban such conversations if we were ever in a hot tub.”

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Jun 2, 2016

Fully synthetic humans? Proposed project could make it a reality

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

A group of scientists on Thursday proposed an ambitious project to create a synthetic human genome, or genetic blueprint, in an endeavour that is bound to raise concerns over the extent to which human life can or should be engineered.

The project, which arose from a meeting of scientists last month at Harvard University, aims to build such a synthetic genome and test it in cells in the laboratory within 10 years. The project was unveiled in the journal Science by the experts involved.

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Jun 2, 2016

Bacterial RNA-editing tool could disable viruses or halt disease

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

Precision medicine’s new friend.


CRISPR gene editing can now target RNA as well as DNA, which could be a way to treat infectious diseases and cancer and track RNA as it moves around cells.

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Jun 2, 2016

Ageing breakthrough: Scientists create “hyper-long” telomeres without gene editing

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

Scientists have successfully created mice with significantly longer telomeres than normal, resulting in a drop in molecular ageing, without using genetic manipulation.

Telomeres, which are found at the end of all animals’ chromosomes, are thought to be vital to ending ageing, as their shortening as we age is a key factor in cellular ageing and the onset of age-related disease. However, when they are lengthened beyond normal levels in mice, they have the precise opposite effect, protecting against ageing and related diseases, and increasing lifespan.

The mice, which are chimeras carrying both regular and “hyper-long” telomeres, were created using a technique based on epigenic changes, where embryonic stem cells are expanded in vitro, prompting changes to telomeres.

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