Archive for the ‘bioengineering’ category: Page 10

Nov 1, 2022

Scientists Engineered Super Bacteria That Are Alien to All Life on Earth

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, genetics

On the other, because organisms share the same universal code, they’re vulnerable to outside attacks from viruses and other pathogens—and can transfer their new capabilities to natural organisms, even if it kills them.

Why not build a genetic firewall?

A recent study in Science did just that. The team partially reworked the existing genetic code into a “cipher” that normal organisms can’t comprehend. Similarly, the engineered bacteria lost its ability to read the natural genetic code. The tweaks formed a powerful language barrier between the engineered bacteria and natural organisms, isolating each from sharing genetic information with the other.

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Oct 31, 2022

Biotechnology is creating ethical worries—and we’ve been here before

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

Matthew Cobb is a zoologist and author whose background is in insect genetics and the history of science. Over the past decade or so, as CRISPR was discovered and applied to genetic remodeling, he started to get concerned—afraid, actually—about three potential applications of the technology. He’s in good company: Jennifer Doudna, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020 for discovering and harnessing CRISPR, is afraid of the same things. So he decided to delve into these topics, and As Gods: A Moral History of the Genetic Age is the result.

Summing up fears

The first of his worries is the notion of introducing heritable mutations into the human genome. He Jianqui did this to three human female embryos in China in 2018, so the three girls with the engineered mutations that they will pass on to their kids (if they’re allowed to have any) are about four now. Their identities are classified for their protection, but presumably their health is being monitored, and the poor girls have probably already been poked and prodded incessantly by every type of medical specialist there is.

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Oct 29, 2022

Biohacking with Stem Cell Therapy

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

Biohacking is a relatively new practice that focuses on studying and learning about living beings and looking for ways to improve their function.

Oct 29, 2022

Breakthrough in CRISPR research may lead to more effective and safer gene editing

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

10 years ago we saw a breakthrough in modern biology.

An American scientist discovered that manipulation of the Cas9 protein resulted in a gene technology worthy of a sci-fi film: CRISPR.

Think of it as a pair of molecular scissors capable of cutting and editing the DNA of humans, animals, plants, bacteria and viruses.

Oct 27, 2022

A hackable, multi-functional, and modular extrusion 3D printer for soft materials

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, cybercrime/malcode, food, robotics/AI

Researchers have developed a hackable and multi-functional 3D printer for soft materials that is affordable and open design. The technology has the potential to unlock further innovation in diverse fields, such as tissue engineering, soft robotics, food, and eco-friendly material processing—aiding the creation of unprecedented designs.

Oct 23, 2022

UT Austin scientists design safer Cas9 with improved CRISPR gene editing accuracy

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

The CRISPR system, which involves a Cas enzyme to cut DNA, is a powerful tool for gene editing. But the genetic scissors sometimes make changes at the wrong place, creating a major safety problem that could limit their therapeutic use.

Now, scientists at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin have refined the Cas9 protein used in the Nobel Prize-winning CRISPR-Cas9 tool. The new version, dubbed SuperFi-Cas9, was thousands of times less likely to perform off-target editing but just as efficient at on-target editing as the original version, the team said in a paper published in Nature.

“This really could be a game-changer in terms of a wider application of the CRISPR-Cas systems in gene editing,” Kenneth Johnson, Ph.D., the study’s co-senior author, said in a statement.

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Oct 21, 2022

Weird ‘Borg’ DNA May Have Assimilated Microbes For Billions of Years

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

Strange libraries of supplementary genes nicknamed “Borg” DNA appear to supercharge the microbes that possess them, giving them an uncanny ability to metabolize materials in their environment faster than their competitors.

By learning more about the way organisms use these unusual extrachromosomal packets of information, researchers are hoping to find new ways of engineering life to take a big bite out of methane emissions.

In the wake of a study publicized last year (and now published in Nature), researchers have continued to analyze the diversity of sequences methane-munching microbes store in these unusual genetic depositaries in an effort to learn more about the evolution of life.

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Oct 20, 2022

3D Printing With A Drone Swarm?

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, bioengineering, drones, robotics/AI

The goal is to enable the printing of large, complex shaped structures, on any surface, using a swarm of drones, each depositing whatever material is required. It’s a bit like a swarm of wasps building a nest, into whatever little nook they come across, but on the wing.

Even in technical disciplines such as engineering, there is much we can still learn from nature. After all, the endless experimentation and trials of life give rise to some of the most elegant solutions to problems. With that in mind, a large team of researchers took inspiration from the humble (if rather annoying) wasp, specifically its nest-building skills. The idea was to explore 3D printing of structures without the constraints of a framed machine, by mounting an extruder onto a drone.

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Oct 19, 2022

#eNeuro: Researchers from Utrecht University introduce CAKE, a method for achieving double protein labeling using gene editing in neurons, making it possible to determine localization, interaction and dynamics of endogenous neuronal proteins with fluorescence microscopy

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

Oct 17, 2022

Michael Levin: Intelligence Beyond the Brain

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, chemistry, ethics, genetics, robotics/AI

*Intelligence Beyond the Brain: morphogenesis as an example of the scaling of basal cognition*

Each of us takes the remarkable journey from physics to mind: we start life as a quiescent oocyte (collection of chemical reactions) and slowly change and acquire an advanced, centralized mind. How does unified complex cognition emerge from the collective intelligence of cells? In this talk, I will use morphogenesis to illustrate how evolution scales cognition across problem spaces. Embryos and regenerating organs produce very complex, robust anatomical structures and stop growth and remodeling when those structures are complete. One of the most remarkable things about morphogenesis is that it is not simply a feed-forward emergent process, but one that has massive plasticity: even when disrupted by manipulations such as damage or changing the sizes of cells, the system often manages to achieve its morphogenetic goal. How do cell collectives know what to build and when to stop? Constructing and repairing anatomies in novel circumstances is a remarkable example of the collective intelligence of a biological swarm. I propose that a multi-scale competency architecture is how evolution exploits physics to achieve robust machines that solve novel problems. I will describe what is known about developmental bioelectricity — a precursor to neurobiology which is used for cognitive binding in biological collectives, that scales their intelligence and the size of the goals they can pursue. I will also discuss the cognitive light cone model, and conclude with examples of synthetic living machines — a new biorobotics platform that uses some of these ideas to build novel primitive intelligences. I will end by speculating about ethics, engineering, and life in a future that integrates deeply across biological and synthetic agents.

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