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Archive for the ‘bioengineering’ category: Page 91

Mar 21, 2016

Treating disease at stage zero

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, health, information science, nanotechnology

It sounds really obvious, but hospitals aren’t for healthy people. The world’s entire health system is really there to react once people get ill. If doctors are able to catch an illness at stage one that’s great, but if it reaches stage three or four there’s often not that much that can be done. So what if we could treat patients at stage zero and predict the likelihood of contracting diseases? We could then get treatment to people who need it much earlier and take preventative steps to avoid illness altogether.

Currently, when we think of monitoring in healthcare we’re usually referring to monitoring patients’ reactions to drugs or treatments, but this is changing. No amateur runner’s uniform is complete these days without a Fitbit or some kind of analytics tool to monitor progress, so the idea of monitoring the healthy is becoming ingrained in the public’s consciousness. But Fitbits only scrape the surface of what we can do. What if the data from fitness trackers could be combined with medical records, census data and the details of supermarket loyalty cards to predict the likelihood of contracting a particular disease?

With big data we can move from reacting to predicting, but how do we move beyond just making predictions; how do we prevent disease from occurring altogether? Up until now all of our monitoring technology has been located outside of the body, but nano-sized entities made of DNA could one day patrol the body, only acting when they come into contact with specific cells – cancer cells, for example. The technology that would turn tiny machines – roughly the size of a virus – into molecular delivery trucks that transport medication is already being worked on by bioengineers. If this kind of technology can be used to treat cancer, without needing to release toxic agents into the body, can the same technology be inserted into a healthy person and lie in wait for the opportunity to fight disease on its host’s behalf?

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Mar 15, 2016

Fish and insects guide design for future contact lenses

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, electronics, information science, materials

Making the most of the low light in the muddy rivers where it swims, the elephant nose fish survives by being able to spot predators amongst the muck with a uniquely shaped retina, the part of the eye that captures light. In a new study, researchers looked to the fish’s retinal structure to inform the design of a contact lens that can adjust its focus.

Imagine a that autofocuses within milliseconds. That could be life-changing for people with presbyopia, a stiffening of the eye’s that makes it difficult to focus on close objects. Presbyopia affects more than 1 billion people worldwide, half of whom do not have adequate correction, said the project’s leader, Hongrui Jiang, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. And while glasses, conventional contact lenses and surgery provide some improvement, these options all involve the loss of contrast and sensitivity, as well as difficulty with night vision. Jiang’s idea is to design contacts that continuously adjust in concert with one’s own cornea and lens to recapture a person’s youthful vision.

The project, for which Jiang received a 2011 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (an initiative of the NIH Common Fund) funded by the National Eye Institute, requires overcoming several engineering challenges. They include designing the lens, algorithm-driven sensors, and miniature electronic circuits that adjust the shape of the lens, plus creating a power source — all embedded within a soft, flexible material that fits over the eye.

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Mar 14, 2016

Light illuminates the way for bio-bots

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, genetics, health, robotics/AI

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A new class of miniature biological robots, or bio-bots, has seen the light — and is following where the light shines.

The bio-bots are powered by muscle cells that have been genetically engineered to respond to light, giving researchers control over the bots’ motion, a key step toward their use in applications for health, sensing and the environment. Led by Rashid Bashir, the University of Illinois head of bioengineering, the researchers published their results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Light is a noninvasive way to control these machines,” Bashir said. “It gives us flexibility in the design and the motion. The bottom line of what we are trying to accomplish is the forward design of biological systems, and we think the light control is an important step toward that.”

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Mar 13, 2016

CRISPR Gene Editing Has Even More Potential Than We Thought, According to a New Study

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

Some of the things that we can do with Gene Editing.


This list just gets cooler and cooler.

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Mar 13, 2016

Welcome to Major Mouse Testing Project | Major Mouse Testing Project

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

SENS has kindly commented about MMTP and the impact our research should have on aging. We launch a fundraiser in April to test senolytics (ApoptoSENS) with a planned follow up to combine this with stem cell therapy (RepleniSENS). It is time to put the engineering approach to aging to the test!


Some drugs tested have been found to increase mouse lifespan such as Metformin and Rapamycin for example and are considered for human testing. Many more substances have never been tested and we do not know if they might extend healthy lifespan.

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Mar 12, 2016

Craig Venter: Future Pathways for Synthetic Genomics

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological, chemistry, computing

Life’s chemistry, it appears, is quite kludgy. Such computer metaphors help explain Dr. Venter’s perspective on synthetic biology. Is a genomic version of Moore’s Law in the offing?

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Mar 12, 2016

Desktop Genetics: Now You Can Do Genetic Engineering Without Ever Entering a Lab

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

CRISPR may be revolutionary; however, it’s not nearly as easy as it’s made out to be. But thanks to this company, individuals can alter the source code of life without ever needing to enter a lab.

A new genome editing technique is allowing us to alter DNA—the source code of life—with unprecedented precision. It is known as CRISPR, and with it, we can target and change a gene from any cell of any species without interfering with any other genes. If that’s not enough, we are able to edit these genes at just a fraction of the cost of previous methods.

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Mar 11, 2016

Dramatic remissions in blood cancer in immunotherapy treatment trial

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

It won’t be long now before cancer is nothing but a terrible, terrible memory.

Never soon enough, though.

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Mar 7, 2016

Newly developed model of DNA sheds light on molecule’s flexibility

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

Knowledge of how DNA folds and bends could offer new perspective on how it is handled within cells while also aiding in the design of DNA-based nano-scale devices, says a biomedical engineer at Texas A&M University whose new motion-based analysis of DNA is providing an accurate representation of the molecule’s flexibility.

The model, which is shedding new light on the physical properties of DNA, was developed by Wonmuk Hwang, associate professor in the university’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, and his Ph.D. student Xiaojing Teng. Hwang uses computer simulation and theoretical analysis to study biomolecules such as DNA that carry out essential functions in the human body. His latest model, which provides a motion-based analysis of DNA is detailed in the scientific journal ACS Nano. The full article can be accessed at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsnano.5b06863.

In addition to housing the genetic information needed to build and maintain an organism, DNA has some incredibly interesting physical properties that make it ideal for the construction of nanodevices, Hwang notes. For example, the DNA encompassed within the nucleus of one human cell can extend to four feet when stretched out, but thanks to a number of folds, bends and twists, it remains in a space no bigger than one micron – a fraction of the width of a human hair. DNA also is capable of being programmed for self-assembly and disassembly, making it usable for building nano-mechanical devices.

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Mar 5, 2016

As Technology Barrels Ahead—Will Ethics Get Left in the Dust?

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological, drones, encryption, ethics, finance, robotics/AI, security

Interesting Question to ask.


The battle between the FBI and Apple over the unlocking of a terrorist’s iPhone will likely require Congress to create new legislation. That’s because there really aren’t any existing laws which encompass technologies such as these. The battle is between security and privacy, with Silicon Valley fighting for privacy. The debates in Congress will be ugly, uninformed, and emotional. Lawmakers won’t know which side to pick and will flip flop between what lobbyists ask and the public’s fear du jour. And because there is no consensus on what is right or wrong, any decision they make today will likely be changed tomorrow.

This is a prelude of things to come, not only with encryption technologies, but everything from artificial intelligence to drones, robotics, and synthetic biology. Technology is moving faster than our ability to understand it, and there is no consensus on what is ethical. It isn’t just the lawmakers who are not well-informed, the originators of the technologies themselves don’t understand the full ramifications of what they are creating. They may take strong positions today based on their emotions and financial interests, but as they learn more, they too will change their views.

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