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Archive for the ‘bioengineering’ category

Jan 18, 2023

New Nuclear Rocket Design to Send Missions to Mars in Just 45 Days

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, military, nuclear energy, space

We live in an era of renewed space exploration, where multiple agencies are planning to send astronauts to the Moon in the coming years. This will be followed in the next decade with crewed missions to Mars by NASA and China, who may be joined by other nations before long. These and other missions that will take astronauts beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and the Earth-Moon system require new technologies, ranging from life support and radiation shielding to power and propulsion. And when it comes to the latter, Nuclear Thermal and Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NTP/NEP) is a top contender!

NASA and the Soviet space program spent decades researching nuclear propulsion during the Space Race. A few years ago, NASA reignited its nuclear program for the purpose of developing bimodal nuclear propulsion – a two-part system consisting of an NTP and NEP element – that could enable transits to Mars in 100 days. As part of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program for 2023, NASA selected a nuclear concept for Phase I development. This new class of bimodal nuclear propulsion system uses a “wave rotor topping cycle” and could reduce transit times to Mars to just 45 days.

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Jan 17, 2023

Study finds that UV-emitting nail polish dryers damage DNA and cause mutations in cells

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, chemistry, health

The ultraviolet nail polish drying devices used to cure gel manicures may pose more of a public health concern than previously thought. Researchers at the University of California San Diego have studied these ultraviolet (UV) light emitting devices, and found that their use leads to cell death and cancer-causing mutations in human cells.

The devices are a common fixture in nail salons, and generally use a particular spectrum of UV light (340-395nm) to cure the chemicals used in gel manicures. While use a different spectrum of UV light (280-400nm) that studies have conclusively proven to be carcinogenic, the spectrum used in the nail dryers has not been well studied.

“If you look at the way these devices are presented, they are marketed as safe, with nothing to be concerned about,” said Ludmil Alexandrov, a professor of bioengineering as well as cellular and at UC San Diego, and corresponding author of the study published in Nature Communications. “But to the best of our knowledge, no one has actually studied these devices and how they affect at the molecular and cellular levels until now.”

Jan 17, 2023

RNA lipid nanoparticle engineering stops liver fibrosis in its tracks, reverses damage

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

Since the success of the COVID-19 vaccine, RNA therapies have been the object of increasing interest in the biotech world. These therapies work with your body to target the genetic root of diseases and infections, a promising alternative treatment method to that of traditional pharmaceutical drugs.

Lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) have been successfully used in for decades. FDA-approved therapies use them as vehicles for delivering messenger RNA (mRNA), which prompts the cell to make new proteins, and small interfering RNA (siRNA), which instruct the cell to silence or inhibit the expression of certain proteins.

The biggest challenge in developing a successful RNA therapy is its targeted delivery. Research is now confronting the current limitations of LNPs, which have left many diseases without an effective RNA therapy.

Jan 10, 2023

Developmental and Synthetic Biology featuring Dr. Michael Levin | The Stem Cell Podcast

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

In episode 220 of the Stem Cell Podcast, we chat with Dr. Michael Levin, the Director of the Allen Discovery Center and a Distinguished Professor of Biology at Tufts University. He talks about regenerating frog legs, using bioelectricity to direct development, and the potential applications of xenobots.

Roundup Papers:
1) https://go.nature.com/3NR8aaG
2) https://go.nature.com/3NFeGkT
3) https://bit.ly/39tYFiM
4) https://bit.ly/3HrKY0g.

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Jan 10, 2023

How bio-inspired materials might inform the design of next-generation computers

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological, computing, health, nanotechnology

Ralph Lydic, professor in the UT Department of Psychology, and Dmitry Bolmatov, a research assistant professor in the UT Department of Physics and Astronomy, are part of a UT/ORNL research team studying how bio-inspired materials might inform the design of next-generation computers. Their results, published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could have big implications for both edge computing and human health.

Scientists at ORNL and UT discovered an artificial is capable of long-term potentiation, or LTP, a hallmark of biological learning and memory. This is the first evidence that a cell alone—without proteins or other biomolecules embedded within it—is capable of LTP that persists for many hours. It is also the first identified nanoscale structure in which memory can be encoded.

“When facilities were shut down as a result of COVID, this led us to pivot away from our usual membrane research,” said John Katsaras, a biophysicist in ORNL’s Neutron Sciences Directorate specializing in neutron scattering and the study of biological membranes at ORNL. “Together with postdoc Haden Scott, we decided to revisit a system previously studied by Pat Collier and co-workers, this time with an entirely different electrical stimulation protocol that we termed ‘training.’”.

Jan 8, 2023

Ep. 102: Genetic engineering and the biological basis of intelligence. | Steven Hsu

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

Since the discovery of genetics, people have dreamed of being able to correct diseases, select traits in children before birth, and build better human beings. Naturally, many serious technical and ethical questions surround this endeavor. Luckily, tonights’ guest is as good a guide as we could hope to have.

Dr. Steve Hsu is Professor of Theoretical Physics and of Computational Mathematics, Science, and Engineering at Michigan State University. He has done extensive research in the field of computational genomics, and is the founder of several startups.

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Jan 7, 2023

Aging Is Linked to More Activity in Short Genes Than in Long Genes

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

Our DNA is made up of genes that vary drastically in size. In humans, genes can be as short as a few hundred molecules known as bases or as long as two million bases. These genes carry instructions for constructing proteins and other information crucial to keeping the body running. Now a new study suggests that longer genes become less active than shorter genes as we grow older. And understanding this phenomenon could reveal new ways of countering the aging process.

Luís Amaral, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University, says he and his colleagues did not initially set out to examine gene length. Some of Amaral’s collaborators at Northwestern had been trying to pinpoint alterations in gene expression—the process through which the information in a piece of DNA is used to form a functional product, such as a protein or piece of genetic material called RNA—as mice aged. But they were struggling to identify consistent changes. “It seemed like almost everything was random,” Amaral says.

Then, at the suggestion of Thomas Stoeger, a postdoctoral scholar In Amaral’s lab, the team decided to consider shifts in gene length. Prior studies had hinted that there might be such a large-scale change in gene activity with age—showing, for example, that the amount of RNA declines over time and that disruptions to transcription (the process through which RNA copies, or transcripts, are formed from DNA templates) can have a greater impact on longer genes than shorter ones.

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Jan 7, 2023

Learn about CRISPR & Genome Editing

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

CRISPR-Cas9 is a revolutionary gene editing tool that has wide spread implications for research, medical treatments, the environment, and ethics. In this pla…

Jan 5, 2023

Stimulating axon regrowth after spinal cord injury

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

A new study by Burke Neurological Institute (BNI), Weill Cornell Medicine, finds that activation of MAP2K signaling by genetic engineering or non-invasive repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) promotes corticospinal tract (CST) axon sprouting and functional regeneration after spinal cord injury (SCI) in mice.

RTMS is a noninvasive technique that evokes an electrical field in via electromagnetic induction. While an increasing body of evidence suggests that rTMS applied over motor cortex may be beneficial for functional recovery in SCI patients, the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie rTMS’ beneficial effects remains unclear.

A new study published in Science Translation Medicine showed that high-frequency rTMS (HF-rTMS) activated MAP2K signaling and enhanced axonal regeneration and functional recovery, suggesting that rTMS might be a valuable treatment option for SCI individuals.

Jan 5, 2023

The Failures and Opportunities of Immortality | Peter Ward, Feedback Loop, ep 75

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, business, cryonics, life extension, media & arts

This week our guest is business and technology reporter, Peter Ward. Earlier this year, Peter released his book The Price of Immortality: The Race to Live Forever, where he investigates the many movements and organizations that are seeking to extend human life, from the Church of Perpetual Life in Florida, to some of the biggest tech giants in Silicon Valley.

In this episode, we explore Peter’s findings, which takes us on a tour from cryonics to mind uploading, from supplements to gene editing, and much more. Along the way, we discuss the details of how one might actually achieve immortality, the details of senescent cells and telomeres, whether it’s better to live healthy than to live long, the scams and failures that seem to dominate the space, as well as the efforts that seem most promising.

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