by George Touloumes figures by Brad Wierbowski Would you ever consider eating meat that was grown in a lab instead of raised on a farm? What if it were both healthier and more sustainable than conventional meat? Silicon Valley venture capital firms and major meat companies like Tyson Foods are now investing tens of millions of dollars in bioengineering research to produce exactly that kind … Continue reading Making Steak out of Spinach: How bioengineering could change meat production
3D printing is poised to become a major technological advancement in treating injuries and illnesses that cause tissue damage. For scientists, creating artificial tissue with 3D printing has been a challenge. As the 3D printed structure grows in size, cells often move and compromise the tissue’s structural integrity. New work from Oxford University addresses this problem. By encasing cells in nanoliter sized droplets of fat molecules, researchers are able … Continue reading Scientists Learn to 3D Print Cells One Drop at A Time
Over 17,000 Americans are currently waiting for liver transplants, with millions more living with chronic liver disease. There simply aren’t enough healthy organs to go around. So why not engineer them? Growing a liver “from scratch” by using its constituent cells could replace the need for whole organ transplants. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology generated hydrogels containing three different types of human cells, … Continue reading From Seed to Organ: Growing a Liver
As mosquitoes develop resistance to insecticides used to control their populations, scientists have been developing new tools. The latest idea: infecting mosquitoes with a fungus genetically engineered to produce arachnid toxins. After infecting the mosquitoes with fungal spores, the bugs showed increase mortality within 2.5 days after exposure and fed less in the days before their death, compared to their healthy counterparts. Continue reading The war on malaria gets a new weapon: a toxic fungus
Scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute have created a fast-growing bacterial cell with a nearly-minimal number of genes necessary for survival – just 473 in total. These genes were entirely synthesized – not transplanted from a grown organism – and the creation of such a cell may allow big steps forward in gene function identification and efficient mass-production of biological molecules. Continue reading Streamlined 473-Gene Bacteria May Lead to Discoveries, Biochemical Production
Recent drug discoveries promise new treatments and cures for many diseases. However, getting a drug to work, not only in experiments with cells in the lab, but also in the human body, is difficult. One challenge? Getting past the body’s line of defense, the immune system, which fights foreign invaders that make it into the body. In September, a news article reported that scientists have … Continue reading Friend or Foe? Getting the body to make peace with bioengineered drug delivery systems
by Heather Landry Summary: The vast diversity in gene sequences are what create the large variety of plants and animals we see today. Genetic diversity is crucial for adapting to new environments, as more variation in genes leads to more individuals of a population having favorable traits to withstand harsh conditions. Low genetic diversity, on the other hand, can be very problematic during changing environments, … Continue reading Challenging Evolution: How GMOs Can Influence Genetic Diversity
by James Angstman images courtesy of Calyxt Dr. Dan Voytas, PhD. Courtesy of Calyxt. “I just got a text from my 14-year-old niece the other day, and she said, ‘Thought of a good idea for your next genetically modified treat,’” he told me. “So, you see, there’s a difference in the language, right? It’s a GMT. ‘Broccoli and asparagus in one vegetable. It should look … Continue reading Not Your Grandfather’s GMOs: An Interview with Dr. Dan Voytas
Ever wonder how we can relay messages to future populations? So do scientists. Recent news suggests DNA embedded in glass might be the answer to efficiently storing information for millions of years! Yet, storing large amounts of information is still limited by the price of DNA synthesis. And who knows what infrastructure we’ll have to read DNA millions of years from now? DNA is currently … Continue reading Can we send a message to the future with DNA?
Scientists offer an alternative method to fight bacteria in an effort to combat antibiotic resistance. They generated liposomes, or very small particles that look much like cell membranes. Because of this similarity, liposomes, instead of the host cells, can draw in bacterial toxins and allow the resulting non-toxic bacteria to be defeated by the body’s natural immune defense. However, this is just the beginning- for … Continue reading An Alternative to Antibiotics?