Archive for the ‘bioengineering’ category: Page 11

Jun 30, 2022

It’s Alive, But Is It Life: Synthetic Biology and the Future of Creation

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

For decades, biologists have read and edited DNA, the code of life. Revolutionary developments are giving scientists the power to write it. Instead of tinkering with existing life forms, synthetic biologists may be on the verge of writing the DNA of a living organism from scratch. In the next decade, according to some, we may even see the first synthetic human genome. Join a distinguished group of synthetic biologists, geneticists and bioengineers who are edging closer to breathing life into matter.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

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Jun 29, 2022

Ten Years of CRISPR

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

This month marks ten years since CRISPR-Cas9 was repurposed as a gene editing system, so we’re looking back at what has been accomplished in a decade of CRISPR editing.

Jun 28, 2022

What is synthetic biology and what’s its potential? These stories explain

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological

Synthetic biology is the engineering and redesign of biological systems and could have a range of applications in modern day life.

Jun 28, 2022

Artificial photosynthesis can produce food without sunshine

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological, chemistry, food, solar power, sustainability

Photosynthesis has evolved in plants for millions of years to turn water, carbon dioxide, and the energy from sunlight into plant biomass and the foods we eat. This process, however, is very inefficient, with only about 1% of the energy found in sunlight ending up in the plant. Scientists at UC Riverside and the University of Delaware have found a way to bypass the need for biological photosynthesis altogether and create food independent of sunlight by using artificial photosynthesis.

The research, published in Nature Food, uses a two-step electrocatalytic process to convert , electricity, and water into acetate, the form of the main component of vinegar. Food-producing organisms then consume acetate in the dark to grow. Combined with to generate the electricity to power the electrocatalysis, this hybrid organic-inorganic system could increase the conversion efficiency of sunlight into , up to 18 times more efficient for some foods.

“With our approach we sought to identify a new way of producing food that could break through the limits normally imposed by biological photosynthesis,” said corresponding author Robert Jinkerson, a UC Riverside assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering.

Jun 28, 2022

Toward Cardiac Regeneration: Combination of Pluripotent Stem Cell-Based Therapies and Bioengineering Strategies

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

Circa 2020 Immortality of the heart and heart regeneration.

Cardiovascular diseases represent the major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Multiple studies have been conducted so far in order to develop treatments able to prevent the progression of these pathologies. Despite progress made in the last decade, current therapies are still hampered by poor translation into actual clinical applications. The major drawback of such strategies is represented by the limited regenerative capacity of the cardiac tissue. Indeed, after an ischaemic insult, the formation of fibrotic scar takes place, interfering with mechanical and electrical functions of the heart. Hence, the ability of the heart to recover after ischaemic injury depends on several molecular and cellular pathways, and the imbalance between them results into adverse remodeling, culminating in heart failure. In this complex scenario, a new chapter of regenerative medicine has been opened over the past 20 years with the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). These cells share the same characteristic of embryonic stem cells (ESCs), but are generated from patient-specific somatic cells, overcoming the ethical limitations related to ESC use and providing an autologous source of human cells. Similarly to ESCs, iPSCs are able to efficiently differentiate into cardiomyocytes (CMs), and thus hold a real regenerative potential for future clinical applications. However, cell-based therapies are subjected to poor grafting and may cause adverse effects in the failing heart. Thus, over the last years, bioengineering technologies focused their attention on the improvement of both survival and functionality of iPSC-derived CMs. The combination of these two fields of study has burst the development of cell-based three-dimensional (3D) structures and organoids which mimic, more realistically, the in vivo cell behavior. Toward the same path, the possibility to directly induce conversion of fibroblasts into CMs has recently emerged as a promising area for in situ cardiac regeneration. In this review we provide an up-to-date overview of the latest advancements in the application of pluripotent stem cells and tissue-engineering for therapeutically relevant cardiac regenerative approaches, aiming to highlight outcomes, limitations and future perspectives for their clinical translation.

Cardiovascular diseases represent the major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, accounting for 31% of all deaths (Organization WH 2016). Myocardial infarction (MI) is associated with necrosis of the cardiac tissue due to the occlusion of the coronary arteries, a condition that irrevocably diminishes oxygen and nutrient delivery to the heart (Thygesen et al., 2007). While effective therapies, including surgical approaches, are currently used to treat numerous cardiac disorders, such as valvular or artery diseases, available therapeutic treatments for the damaged myocardium are still very limited and poorly effective. Furthermore, after an ischaemic insult, the formation of fibrotic scar takes place, interfering with mechanical and electrical functions of the cardiac tissue (Talman and Ruskoaho, 2016).

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Jun 28, 2022

Building better brains—a bioengineered upgrade for organoids

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

A few years ago, Jürgen Knoblich and his team at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA) have pioneered brain organoid technology. They developed a method for cultivating three-dimensional brain-like structures, so called cerebral organoids, in a dish. This discovery has tremendous potential as it could revolutionize drug discovery and disease research. Their lab grown organ-models mimic early human brain development in a surprisingly precise way, allowing for targeted analysis of human neuropsychiatric disorders, that are otherwise not possible. Using this cutting-edge methodology, research teams around the world have already revealed new secrets of human brain formation and its defects that can lead to microcephaly, epilepsy or autism.

In a new study published in Nature Biotechnology, scientists from Cambridge and Vienna present a new method that combines the organoid method with bioengineering. The researchers use special polymer fibers made of a material called PLGA) to generate a floating scaffold that was then covered with human cells. By using this ground-breaking combination of engineering and stem cell culture, the scientists are able to form more elongated organoids that more closely resemble the shape of an actual human embryo. By doing so, the organoids become more consistent and reproducible.

“This study is one of the first attempts to combine organoids with bioengineering. Our new method takes advantage of and combines the unique strengths of each approach, namely the intrinsic self-organization of organoids and the reproducibility afforded by bioengineering. We make use of small microfilaments to guide the shape of the organoids without driving tissue identity, ” explains Madeline Lancaster, group leader at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge and first author of the paper.

Jun 27, 2022

Self-sensing artificial muscle-based on liquid crystal elastomer and low-melting point alloys

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, cyborgs, food, life extension, robotics/AI, security

Materials scientists and bioengineers at the intersection of regenerative medicine and bioinspired materials seek to develop shape-programmable artificial muscles with self-sensing capabilities for applications in medicine. In a new report now published in Science Advances, Haoran Liu and a team of researchers in systems and communications engineering at the Frontier Institute of Science and Technology, Jiaotong University, China, were inspired by the coupled behavior of muscles, bones, and nerve systems of mammals and other living organisms to create a multifunctional artificial muscle in the lab. The construct contained polydopamine-coated liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) and low-melting point alloys (LMPA) in a concentric tube or rod. While the team adopted the outer liquid crystal-elastomer to mimic reversible contraction and recovery, they implemented the inner low-melting point alloy for deformation locking and to detect resistance mechanics, much like bone and nerve functions, respectively. The artificial muscle demonstrated a range of performances, including regulated bending and deformation to support heavy objects, and is a direct and effective approach to the design of biomimetic soft devices.

Soft robotics inspired by the skeleton–muscle–nerve system

Scientists aim to implement biocompatibility between soft robotic elements and human beings for assisted movement and high load-bearing capacity; however, such efforts are challenging. Most traditional robots are still in use in industrial, agricultural and aerospace settings for high-precision sensor-based, load-bearing applications. Several functional soft robots contrastingly depend on materials to improve the security of human-machine interactions. Soft robots are therefore complementary to hard robots and have tremendous potential for applications. Biomimetic constructs have also provided alternative inspiration to emulate the skeleton-muscle-nerve system to facilitate agile movement and quick reaction or thinking, with a unique body shape to fit tasks and perform diverse physiological functions. In this work, Liu et al were inspired by the fascinating idea of biomimicry to develop multifunctional artificial muscles for smart applications.

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Jun 25, 2022

Lipid nanoparticles carry gene-editing cancer drugs past tumor defenses

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

As they grow, solid tumors surround themselves with a thick, hard-to-penetrate wall of molecular defenses. Getting drugs past that barricade is notoriously difficult. Now, scientists at UT Southwestern have developed nanoparticles that can break down the physical barriers around tumors to reach cancer cells. Once inside, the nanoparticles release their payload: a gene editing system that alters DNA inside the tumor, blocking its growth and activating the immune system.

The new , described in Nature Nanotechnology, effectively stopped the growth and spread of ovarian and liver tumors in mice. The system offers a new path forward for the use of the gene editing tool known as CRISPR-Cas9 in , said study leader Daniel Siegwart, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry at UT Southwestern.

“Although CRISPR offers a new approach for treating , the technology has been severely hindered by the low efficiency of delivering payloads into tumors,” said Dr. Siegwart, a member of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Jun 24, 2022

The Age of Superhumans — Gene Editing Through CRISPR & AI

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

Superhumans are coming! Various technological advances in the field of medicine through AI and CRISPR are going to radically alter our understanding of what it means to be human. AI and Crispr technology have been making revolutionary changes to the field of medicine. Artificial intelligence is being applied in identification of harmful genes and treatment of disease.

Multiple new gene editing technologies in addition to artificial intelligence will cause major changes in healthcare.
The gene-editing tool CRISPR, short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, could help us to reprogram life. It gives scientists more power and precision than they have ever had to alter human DNA.

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Jun 24, 2022

The Rise of Supersoldiers — How AI Changes Everything

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

Artificial Intelligence is touching almost every aspect of our lives. It’s reasonable to expect AI influence will only increase in the future. One of many fields heavily influenced by AI is the military. Particularly in the development of Supersoldiers. The notion of super-soldiers enhanced with biotechnology and cybernetics was once only possible in the realm of science fiction. But it may not be too long before these concepts become a reality.

A new worldwide arms race is pitting countries against each other to be the first to successfully create real genetically modified super soldiers by using tools such as CRISPR. Understandably many of these human enhancement technologies raise health and safety questions and it is more likely these enhancements will first gain traction in countries that do not place as much weight on ethical concerns.

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