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Archive for the ‘bioengineering’ category: Page 5

Jul 9, 2020

Spider silk made by photosynthetic bacteria

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

Spiders produce amazingly strong and lightweight threads called draglines that are made from silk proteins. Although they can be used to manufacture a number of useful materials, getting enough of the protein is difficult because only a small amount can be produced by each tiny spider. In a new study published in Communications Biology, a research team led by Keiji Numata at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS) reported that they succeeded in producing the spider silk using photosynthetic bacteria. This study could open a new era in which photosynthetic bio-factories stably output the bulk of spider silk.

In addition to being tough and lightweight, silks derived from arthropod species are biodegradable and biocompatible. In particular, spider silk is ultra-lightweight and is as tough as steel. “Spider silk has the potential to be used in the manufacture of high-performance and durable materials such as tear-resistant clothing, automobile parts, and aerospace components,” explains Choon Pin Foong, who conducted this study. “Its biocompatibility makes it safe for use in biomedical applications such as drug delivery systems, implant devices, and scaffolds for tissue engineering.” Because only a trace amount can be obtained from one spider, and because breeding large numbers of spiders is difficult, attempts have been made to produce artificial spider silk in a variety of species.

The CSRS team focused on the marine photosynthetic bacterium Rhodovulum sulfidophilum. This bacterium is ideal for establishing a sustainable bio-factory because it grows in seawater, requires carbon dioxide and nitrogen in the atmosphere, and uses solar energy, all of which are abundant and inexhaustible.

Jul 9, 2020

Researchers develop soft electromagnetic actuators with medical potential

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

Rigid electromagnetic actuators have a variety of applications, but their bulky nature limits human-actuator integration or machine-human collaborations. In a new report on Science Advances, Guoyong Mao and a team of scientists in soft matter physics and soft materials at the Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria, introduced soft electromagnetic actuators (SEMAs) to replace solid metal coils with liquid-metal channels embedded in elastomeric shells. The scientists demonstrated the user-friendly, simple and stretchable construct with fast and durable programmability.

They engineered a SEMA based soft miniature shark and a multi-coil flower with individually controlled petals, as well as a cubic SEMA to perform arbitrary motion sequences. The team adapted a to support device miniaturization and reduce with increased mechanical efficiency. The SEMAs are electrically controlled shape-memory systems with applications to empower soft grippers for minimally invasive medical applications. The scientists highlighted the practicality of small size and multi-coil SEMAs for promising applications in medicine, much like in the classic sci-fi movie “Fantastic Voyage,” in which a miniature submarine destroyed a blood clot to save a patient’s life. In reality, Mao et al. aim to develop and deploy SEMA-based advanced microrobots for such futuristic medical applications, including drug delivery and tissue diagnostics with nano-precision.

Jul 7, 2020

Plant tissue engineering improves drought and salinity tolerance

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, genetics

By genetically engineering thale cress, scientists have made it grow like a succulent, more than doubling the plant’s water-use efficiency.

Jul 6, 2020

Indie Comics Spotlight: Biohacking, transhumanism, and gender identity in ‘The Dark’

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, cyborgs, government, military, privacy, transhumanism

Sable co-created the story with artist Kristian Donaldson (Unthinkable, The Guild) and Mey Rude, a transgender woman who served as a consulting editor on the project. Sable took some time to talk to SYFY WIRE about biohacking, transhumanism, and how science fiction often predicts the future.


The Dark, by screenwriter and playwright Mark Sable (Unthinkable, Godkillers), is a graphic novel about a world plunged into chaos when a biotech virus pulls everything offline. The plot twists around government conspiracies, techno warfare, biohacking, and the unlikely pair out to stop it before another world war breaks loose. To make it all the scarier, Sable bases his fiction on fact. As a futurist who has consulted with think tanks and The Art of Future Warfare Project, he is well versed in techno warfare scenarios.

The Dark begins in 2035 and follows Master Sergeant Robert Carter, a N.E.O. (Networked Exoskeleton Operator) Marine whose power armor links him to the world’s technology, and whose implants mentally connect him to his unit. He feels what they feel, which proves torturous when his unit is attacked. The Dark takes on a double meaning as the experience leaves him both physically and technologically blind as the world’s tech crashes.

Continue reading “Indie Comics Spotlight: Biohacking, transhumanism, and gender identity in ‘The Dark’” »

Jun 26, 2020

Building a Factory for Human Organs

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

Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, is currently spearheading a project to convert part of the old New Hampshire textile plant into a factory for lab-grown lungs, livers, and other organs for transplantation — and he doesn’t think it’ll take long to do it.


The nonprofit is like a club for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine researchers. Groups must have something to offer in order to join (money, equipment, experience), but once a part of ARMI, they gain access to the other members’ research and resources.

Jun 25, 2020

CRISPR gene editing in human embryos wreaks chromosomal mayhem

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

Three studies showing large DNA deletions and reshuffling heighten safety concerns about heritable genome editing.

Jun 24, 2020

Can synthetic biology help deliver an AI brain as smart as the real thing?

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological, robotics/AI

To create artificial general intelligence, we need to study the brain.

Jun 20, 2020

CRISPR-engineered T cells in patients with refractory cancer

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

:oooooo.


CRISPR-Cas9 is a revolutionary gene-editing technology that offers the potential to treat diseases such as cancer, but the effects of CRISPR in patients are currently unknown. Stadtmauer et al. report a phase 1 clinical trial to assess the safety and feasibility of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing in three patients with advanced cancer (see the Perspective by Hamilton and Doudna). They removed immune cells called T lymphocytes from patients and used CRISPR-Cas9 to disrupt three genes (TRAC, TRBC, and PDCD1) with the goal of improving antitumor immunity. A cancer-targeting transgene, NY-ESO-1, was also introduced to recognize tumors. The engineered cells were administered to patients and were well tolerated, with durable engraftment observed for the study duration. These encouraging observations pave the way for future trials to study CRISPR-engineered cancer immunotherapies.

Science, this issue p. eaba7365; see also p. 976.

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Jun 17, 2020

CAR T cells beyond cancer: Targeting senescence-related diseases

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

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells have transformed the treatment of refractory blood cancers. These genetically engineered immune cells seek out and destroy cancer cells with precision. Now, scientists at Memorial Sloan Kettering are deploying them against other diseases, including those caused by senescence, a chronic “alarm state” in tissues. The scope of such ailments is vast and includes debilitating conditions, such as fibrotic liver disease, atherosclerosis, and diabetes.

Key to the success of CAR T cell therapy has been finding a good target. The first US Food and Drug Administration-approved CAR T cells target a molecule on the surface of blood cancers called CD19. It is present on but few other , so side effects are limited.

Taking their cue from this prior work, a team of investigators including Scott Lowe, Chair of the Cancer Biology and Genetics Program in the Sloan Kettering Institute, and Michel Sadelain, Director of the Center for Cell Engineering at MSK, along with their trainees Corina Amor, Judith Feucht, and Josef Leibold, sought to identify a target on senescent cells. These cells no longer divide, but they actively send “help me” signals to the immune system.

Jun 16, 2020

Scientists made 1 small edit to human embryos. It had a lot of unintended consequences

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

A human embryo editing experiment gone wrong has scientists warning against treading into the field altogether.

To understand the role of a single gene in early human development, a team of scientists at the London-based Francis Crick Institute removed it from a set of 18 donated embryos. Even though the embryos were destroyed after just 14 days, that was enough time for the single edit to transform into “major unintended edits,” OneZero reports.

Human gene editing is a taboo topic — the birth of two genetically modified babies in 2018 proved incredibly controversial, and editing embryos beyond experimentation is not allowed in the U.S. The scientists in London conducted short-term research on a set of 25 donated embryos, using the CRISPR technique to remove a gene from 18 of them. An analysis later revealed 10 of those edited embryos looked normal, but that the other eight revealed “abnormalities across a particular chromosome,” OneZero writes. Of them, “four contained inadvertent deletions or additions of DNA directly adjacent to the edited gene,” OneZero continues.

Continue reading “Scientists made 1 small edit to human embryos. It had a lot of unintended consequences” »

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