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Archive for the ‘bioengineering’ category: Page 117

Aug 18, 2016

Modifying a living genome with genetic equivalent of ‘search and replace’

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

Researchers including George Church have made further progress on the path to fully rewriting the genome of living bacteria. Such a recoded organism, once available, could feature functionality not seen in nature. It could also make the bacteria cultivated in pharmaceutical and other industries immune to viruses, saving billions of dollars of losses due to viral contamination. Finally, the altered genetic information in such an organism wouldn’t be able to contaminate natural cells because of the code’s limitations outside the lab, researchers say, so its creation could stop laboratory engineered organisms from genetically contaminating wildlife. In the DNA of living organisms, the same amino acid can be encoded by multiple codons — DNA “words” of three nucleotide letters. Here, building on previous work that demonstrated it was possible to use the genetic equivalent of “search and replace” in Escherichia coli to substitute a single codon with an alternative, Nili Ostrov, Church and colleagues explored the feasibility of replacing multiple codons, genome-wide. The researchers attempted to reduce the number of codons in the E. coli code from 64 to 57 by exploring how to eradicate more than 60,000 instances of seven different codons. They systematically replaced all 62,214 instances of these seven codons with alternatives. In the recoded E.coli segments that the researchers assembled and tested, 63% of all instances of the seven codons were replaced, the researchers say, and most of the genes impacted by underlying amino acid changes were expressed normally. Though they did not achieve a fully operational 57-codon E. coli, “a functionally altered genome of this scale has not yet been explored,” the authors write. Their results provide critical insights into the next step in the genome rewriting arena — creating a fully recoded organism.

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Aug 18, 2016

Engineers program human cells to store complex histories in their DNA

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

Luv this.


MIT biological engineers have devised a way to record complex histories in the DNA of human cells, allowing them to retrieve “memories” of past events, such as inflammation, by sequencing the DNA.

This analog memory storage system—the first that can record the duration and/or intensity of events in human cells—could also help scientists study how cells differentiate into various tissues during embryonic development, how cells experience environmental conditions, and how they undergo genetic changes that lead to disease.

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Aug 16, 2016

Gary Johnson Wants Driverless Secret Service Cars and a US-Led Gene Editing Revolution

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, geopolitics, life extension, robotics/AI, transhumanism

My exclusive interview with Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson on some hard science & tech issues, including transhumanism, longevity, AI, and gene editing. This is also my first story for Futurism. For the record, I am trying, along with millions of others, to get Gary Johnson into the Presidentia l debates! No matter who you plan to vote for, it would be good for America to have him in the debates so a third voice is heard:


Libertarian Presidentia l candidate Gary Johnson wants humans to live a lot longer and isn’t worried about AI becoming the Terminator. Here, Futurist Zoltan Istvan gains an exclusive interview with Johnson, who is polling double digits nationally and hopes to be in the Presidentia l debates with Trump and Clinton in October.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Futurism or its affiliates.

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Aug 15, 2016

Anti-inflammatory drug reverses memory loss in Alzheimer’s-disease-model mice

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

(credit: NIH National Institute on Aging)

Anti-inflammatory drug mefenamic acid completely reversed memory loss and brain inflammation in mice genetically engineered to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and amyloid beta-induced memory loss, a team led by David Brough, PhD, from the University of Manchester has discovered.

The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) drug targets an important inflammatory pathway called the NLRP3 inflammasome, which damages brain cells, according to Brough. This is the first time a drug has been shown to target this inflammatory pathway, highlighting its importance in the disease model, Brough said.

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Aug 15, 2016

Progress toward real life super-soldiers

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, computing, military

For three years ago U.S. Special Operations Command and DARPA announced they had started work on a super-soldier suit called TALOS (Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit) unlike anything in the history of warfare. It is engineered with full-body ballistics protection; integrated heating and cooling systems; embedded sensors, antennas, and computers; 3D audio (to indicate where a fellow warfighter is by the sound of his voice); optics for vision in various light conditions; life-saving oxygen and hemorrhage controls; and more.

It aims to be “fully functional” by 2018. “I am here to announce that we are building Iron Man,” President Barack Obama said of the suit during a manufacturing innovation event in 2014. When the president said, “This has been a secret project we’ve been working on for a long time,” he wasn’t kidding.

In 1999 DARPA created the Defense Sciences Office (DSO) and made Michael Goldblatt its director. Goldblatt saw the creation of the super-soldier as imperative to 21st-century warfare.

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Aug 14, 2016

Novel Approach to Biological Circuit Design Allows Scientists to Track Cell Lineages

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

By Kevin Kang

A recent article in ScienceDaily reviews a new approach in Synthetic Biology that allows cells to respond to a series of input stimuli and simultaneously remember the order of these stimuli over many generations. As noted by the senior investigator, Timothy Lu from MIT, combining computation with memory creates complex cellular circuits that can perform logic functions and store memories of events by encoding them in their DNA (1,2). In their current work, Dr. Lu and his colleagues created cells that can remember and respond to three different inputs, including chemical signals in a particular order, and in the future may be able to incorporate even more inputs (1,2,3). The cellular machines thus created are referred to as biological “state machines” because they exist in different states depending on the identity and order of inputs that they receive. The state machines rely on enzymes called recombinases. When activated by a specific input, recombinases either delete or invert a particular segment of DNA depending on the orientation of two DNA target sequences known as recognition sites. The segment of DNA between these sites may have recognition sites for other recombinases that respond to different inputs. Flipping or deleting these sites permanently changes what will happen if a second or third recombinase is later activated. Therefore, a cell’s history is determined by sequencing its DNA. In a version of this system with just two inputs, there are five possible states for this circuit: states corresponding to no input, input A alone, input B alone, A followed by B, and B followed by A. Dr. Lu’s team in MIT has designed and built circuits that record up to three inputs, in which sixteen states are possible (1,2).

Besides creating circuits that record events in a cell’s life and then transmit these memories to future generations, the researchers from MIT also placed genes into the array of recombinase binding sites along with genetic regulatory elements. In these circuits, when recombinases rearrange the DNA, the circuits record the information as well as control which genes get turned on and off. Lu’s lab tested this work in bacteria by color coding the identity and order of input stimuli, so input A followed by B would would lead to bacteria fluorescing red and green, but input B followed by A would lead to red and blue fluorescence. Hence, these techniques can be used not only to record the states that the cells experience over time, but also to deploy in state-dependent gene expression programs (1,2).

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Aug 13, 2016

UK scientists create biological lightbulbs

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological, genetics

They discovered genetically engineered bacteria’s response to shocks.

Genetically engineered E coli bacteria responds to electric shocks by producing a fluorescent protein that can be used as a light source. A team of undergraduate scientists at Newcastle University have created a lightbulb made up of living matter.

Like any other electric bulb, the living light glows to illuminate a room, but is made by replacing some of the traditional electric components in a lightbulb circuit with biological parts.

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Aug 13, 2016

Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything Forever – CRISPR

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics, media & arts

Designer babies, the end of diseases, genetically modified humans that never age. Outrageous things that used to be science fiction are suddenly becoming reality. The only thing we know for sure is that things will change irreversibly.

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Aug 13, 2016

Directly reprogramming a cell’s identity with gene editing

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

Researchers have used CRISPR—a revolutionary new genetic engineering technique—to convert cells isolated from mouse connective tissue directly into neuronal cells.

In 2006, Shinya Yamanaka, a professor at the Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences at Kyoto University at the time, discovered how to revert adult , called fibroblasts, back into immature stem cells that could differentiate into any cell type. These so-called induced won Yamanaka the Nobel Prize in medicine just six years later for their promise in research and medicine.

Since then, researchers have discovered other ways to convert cells between different types. This is mostly done by introducing many of “master switch” genes that produce proteins that turn on entire genetic networks responsible for producing a particular cell type.

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Aug 11, 2016

Remote control of the brain is coming: how will we use it?

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

Controlling the minds of others from a distance has long been a favourite science fiction theme – but recent advances in genetics and neuroscience suggest that we might soon have that power for real. Just over a decade ago, the bioengineer Karl Deisseroth and his colleagues at Stanford University published their paper on the optical control of the brain – now known as optogenetics – in which the firing pattern of neurons is controlled by light. To create the system, they retrofitted neurons in mouse brains with genes for a biomolecule called channelrhodopsin, found in algae. Channelrhodopsin uses energy from light to open pathways so that charged ions can flow into cells. The charged ions can alter the electrical activity of neurons, influencing the animal’s behaviour along the way.

Soon researchers were using implants to guide light to channelrhodopsin in specific neurons in the brains of those mice, eliciting behaviour on demand. At the University of California the team of Anatol Kreitzer worked with Deisseroth to disrupt movement, mimicking Parkinson’s disease and even restoring normal movement in a Parkinsonian mouse. Deisseroth and his colleague Luis de Lecea later demonstrated that it was possible to wake up mice by activating a group of neurons in the brain that control arousal and sleep.

But optogenetics has been challenging. Since light does not easily penetrate dense fatty brain tissue, researchers must implant a fibre-optic cable to bring light into the brain. This limitation led to the development of another, less intrusive technique known as DREADD (designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs). In this case, a receptor normally activated by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine is modified to respond to a designer drug not normally found in the body. When the designer drug is delivered, neurons can be manipulated and behaviour changed over a number of hours. The major drawback here: the slow course of drug administration compared with the rapid changes in brain activity that occur during most tasks.

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