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Archive for the ‘bioengineering’ category: Page 10

Sep 14, 2023

Imprisoned scientist who gene-edited babies wanted to transform the human species

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

The idea that genetic modification can improve humanity isn’t new, but it has taken some interesting turns within the scientific community over the past few years. One of the most notable comes from the mind of He Jiankui, a Chinese scientist whose gene editing of human babies led to infamy and a prison sentence. Now, He, known as JK to friends, thinks that gene-edited humans could be the future of our species.

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Sep 11, 2023

Making life friendlier with personal robots

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

“As a child, I wished for a robot that would explain others’ emotions to me” says Sharifa Alghowinem, a research scientist in the Media Lab’s Personal Robots Group (PRG). Growing up in Saudi Arabia, Alghowinem says she dreamed of coming to MIT one day to develop Arabic-based technologies, and of creating a robot that could help herself and others navigate a complex world.

In her early life, Alghowinem faced difficulties with understanding social cues and never scored well on standardized tests, but her dreams carried her through. She earned an undergraduate degree in computing before leaving home to pursue graduate education in Australia. At the Australian National University, she discovered affective computing for the first time and began working to help AI detect human emotions and moods, but it wasn’t until she came to MIT as a postdoc with the Ibn Khaldun Fellowship for Saudi Arabian Women, which is housed in the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering, that she was finally able to work on a technology with the potential to explain others’ emotions in English and Arabic. Today, she says her work is so fun that she calls the lab “my playground.”

Alghowinem can’t say no to an exciting project. She found one with great potential to make robots more helpful to people by working with Jibo, a friendly robot companion developed by the founder of the Personal Robots Group (PRG) and the social robot startup Jibo Inc., MIT Professor and Dean for Digital Learning Cynthia Breazeal’s research explores the potential for companion robots to go far beyond assistants who obey transactional commands, like requests for the daily weather, adding items to shopping lists, or controlling lighting. At the MIT Media Lab, the PRG team designs Jibo to make him an insightful coach and companion to advance social robotics technologies and research. Visitors to the MIT Museum can experience Jibo’s charming personality.

Sep 11, 2023

An Immunotherapy Strategy Against All Blood Cancers

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

In the study, published today in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers used engineered CAR T cells to target CD45—a surface marker found on nearly all blood cells, including nearly all blood cancer cells. Because CD45 is found on healthy blood cells too, the research team used CRISPR base-editing to develop a method called “epitope editing” to overcome the challenges of an anti-CD45 strategy, which would otherwise result in low blood counts, with potentially life-threating side effects. The early results represent a proof-of-concept for epitope editing, which involves changing a small piece of the target CD45 molecule just enough so that the CAR T cells don’t recognize it, but it… More.


A broad new strategy could hold hope for treating virtually all blood cancers with CAR T cell therapy, which is currently approved for five subtypes of blood cancer. A new preclinical, proof-of-concept study details the “epitope-editing” approach.

Sep 11, 2023

Base editing demonstrates favorable results over CRISPR-Cas9 for treating hemoglobinopathies

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

Recent advancements in gene editing technologies may lead to a cure for hemoglobinopathies, including sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia.

A collaborative study between researchers from St Jude Children’s Research Hospital (TN, USA) and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (MA, USA) has shown that adenosine base editing could be more effective than other gene editing approaches such as CRISPR/Cas9 for treating sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia. Comparing five different gene editing strategies utilizing either Cas9 nucleases or adenine base editors in hematopoietic and progenitor stem cells, the team found that base editing yielded more favorable results.

Sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia arise due to mutations in the β-globin subunit of hemoglobin, resulting in defective red blood cells. Previous studies have shown that restoring the function of γ-globin, a hemoglobin submit expressed during fetal development, could hold therapeutic advantages for patients with sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia. During fetal development, γ-globin combines with α-globin to form fetal hemoglobin. Following birth, expression of γ-globin ceases as it is replaced by β-globin to form adult hemoglobin. The researchers sought to see whether fetal hemoglobin expression could be restored in post-natal red blood cells to counter the effects of the disease, offering a potentially universal therapeutic approach for the disease.

Sep 10, 2023

Chinese scientists report gene editing tool better than CRISPR

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

The new tool has the capacity to undertake strand-specific gene editing without any cuts.

Chinese researchers claim to have created a new gene-editing technique called CyDENT that is more effective than Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) technology.

This is according to a report by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) published on Saturday.

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Sep 8, 2023

Engineered E. coli to generate electricity from wastewater

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological, genetics

The organism fared better at converting organic waste to electricity than even some famous and exotic electricity producing microbes.

Scientists at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have successfully engineered E.coli.

Escherichia coli, commonly known as E.coli, is a rod-shaped bacterium commonly found in the lower gut of organisms. However, it has become a favorite of microbial researchers worldwide for the ease with which its genetic structure can be manipulated. It has, therefore, become an indispensable part of research and industrial projects.

Sep 7, 2023

Researchers develop a protocol to extend the life of quantum coherence

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, computing, quantum physics

For years, researchers have tried various ways to coax quantum bits—or qubits, the basic building blocks of quantum computers—to remain in their quantum state for ever-longer times, a key step in creating devices like quantum sensors, gyroscopes, and memories.

A team of physicists from MIT have taken an important step forward in that quest, and to do it, they borrowed a concept from an unlikely source—noise-cancelling headphones.

Led by Ju Li, the Battelle Energy Alliance Professor in Nuclear Engineering and professor of materials science and engineering, and Paola Cappellaro, the Ford Professor of Engineering in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering and Research Laboratory of Electronics, and a professor of physics, the team described a method to achieve a 20-fold increase in the coherence times for nuclear-spin qubits.

Sep 4, 2023

Artificial Intelligence: Transforming Healthcare, Cybersecurity, and Communications

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, bioengineering, cybercrime/malcode, economics, genetics, information science, robotics/AI, sustainability

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More remarkably, the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning-based computers in the next century may alter how we relate to ourselves.

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Sep 4, 2023

Molecular assembler

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological, chemistry, food, nanotechnology, particle physics, robotics/AI

A molecular assembler, as defined by K. Eric Drexler, is a “proposed device able to guide chemical reactions by positioning reactive molecules with atomic precision”. A molecular assembler is a kind of molecular machine. Some biological molecules such as ribosomes fit this definition. This is because they receive instructions from messenger RNA and then assemble specific sequences of amino acids to construct protein molecules. However, the term “molecular assembler” usually refers to theoretical human-made devices.

Beginning in 2007, the British Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has funded development of ribosome-like molecular assemblers. Clearly, molecular assemblers are possible in this limited sense. A technology roadmap project, led by the Battelle Memorial Institute and hosted by several U.S. National Laboratories has explored a range of atomically precise fabrication technologies, including both early-generation and longer-term prospects for programmable molecular assembly; the report was released in December, 2007. In 2008 the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council provided funding of 1.5 million pounds over six years for research working towards mechanized mechanosynthesis, in partnership with the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing, amongst others. Likewise, the term “molecular assembler” has been used in science fiction and popular culture to refer to a wide range of fantastic atom-manipulating nanomachines, many of which may be physically impossible in reality. Much of the controversy regarding “molecular assemblers” results from the confusion in the use of the name for both technical concepts and popular fantasies. In 1992, Drexler introduced the related but better-understood term “molecular manufacturing”, which he defined as the programmed “chemical synthesis of complex structures by mechanically positioning reactive molecules, not by manipulating individual atoms”.This article mostly discusses “molecular assemblers” in the popular sense. These include hypothetical machines that manipulate individual atoms and machines with organism-like self-replicating abilities, mobility, ability to consume food, and so forth. These are quite different from devices that merely (as defined above) “guide chemical reactions by positioning reactive molecules with atomic precision”.
Because synthetic molecular assemblers have never been constructed and because of the confusion regarding the meaning of the term, there has been much controversy as to whether “molecular assemblers” are possible or simply science fiction. Confusion and controversy also stem from their classification as nanotechnology, which is an active area of laboratory research which has already been applied to the production of real products; however, there had been, until recently, no research efforts into the actual construction of “molecular assemblers”.
Nonetheless, a 2013 paper by David Leigh’s group, published in the journal Science, details a new method of synthesizing a peptide in a sequence-specific manner by using an artificial molecular machine that is guided by a molecular strand. This functions in the same way as a ribosome building proteins by assembling amino acids according to a messenger RNA blueprint. The structure of the machine is based on a rotaxane, which is a molecular ring sliding along a molecular axle. The ring carries a thiolate group which removes amino acids in sequence from the axle, transferring them to a peptide assembly site. In 2018, the same group published a more advanced version of this concept in which the molecular ring shuttles along a polymeric track to assemble an oligopeptide that can fold into a α-helix that can perform the enantioselective epoxidation of a chalcone derivative (in a way reminiscent to the ribosome assembling an enzyme). In another paper published in Science in March 2015, chemists at the University of Illinois report a platform that automates the synthesis of 14 classes of small molecules, with thousands of compatible building blocks. In 2017 David Leigh’s group reported a molecular robot that could be programmed to construct any one of four different stereoisomers of a molecular product by using a nanomechanical robotic arm to move a molecular substrate between different reactive sites of an artificial molecular machine. An accompanying News and Views article, titled ‘A molecular assembler’, outlined the operation of the molecular robot as effectively a prototypical molecular assembler.

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Sep 3, 2023

The functional connectome across temporal scales

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, chemistry, neuroscience

Sepideh Sadaghiani, Associate Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, & Bioengineering at Illinois, lectured on “The functional connectome across temporal scales” at 4:00 pm in 2,269 Beckman Institute and on Zoom. Introduction by Ryan Miller, MBM trainee and PhD candidate in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering.

For more information on the lecture and Dr. Sadaghiani: https://publish.illinois.edu/minibrain/2022/07/26/sepideh-sa…s-lecture/

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