Posts Tagged ‘Biotechnology’

Posted: January 7, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Tissue engineering research at MIT is now largely focused on creating tissue that can be used in the lab to model human disease and test potential new drugs. MIT professor Sangeeta Bhatia recently developed the first stem-cell-derived liver tissue model that can be infected with the hepatitis C virus. She has also designed thin slices of human liver tissue that can be implanted in mice, enabling rapid studies of potential drugs. Like other human tissues, liver is difficult to grow outside the human body because cells tend to lose their function when they lose contact with neighboring cells. “The challenge is to grow the cells outside the body while maintaining their function after being removed from their usual microenvironment,” says Bhatia, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Human on a chip In a large-scale project recently funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration, several MIT faculty members are working on a “human-on-a-chip” system that scientists could use to study up to 10 human tissue types at a time. The goal is to create a customizable system of interconnected tissues, grown in small wells on a plate, allowing researchers to analyze how tissues respond to different drugs. “If they’re developing a drug for Alzheimer’s, they may want to examine the uptake by the intestine, the metabolism by the liver, and the toxicity on heart tissue, brain tissue or lung tissue,” says Linda Griffith, the S.E.T.I. Professor of Biological and Mechanical Engineering at MIT and leader of the (via Tissue engineering at MIT: where it’s going | KurzweilAI)

Posted: January 1, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Will advances in biotechnology usher humanity through the glass ceiling of auto-evolution? Might science be moving faster than Darwin bargained for? Is the concept of a uniquely evolved hominid species too much to imagine? The completion of the human genome project eight years ago sparked an explosion in biological curiosity that hasn’t been seen before. The examination of the informational code that each one of us carries has undoubtedly brought us one step closer to finding out who we are. But a core of scientists, ears firmly to the ground, are beginning to concern themselves with a question that, they believe, will become more and more relevant in an age of accelerating biotechnologies. The genome has brought us some way in understanding what humanity is. But, did Darwin predict that knowing more of who we are, might drastically change who we’re going to be? “There are weeks when decades happen. And there are decades when weeks happen,” explained Juan Enriquez, the co-author of Homo Evolutis, at a conference in spring of this year. Enriquez believes that we are occupying a period of immense change. With a rich bed of evidence harvested from the achievements of biomedical science and gene research, who is to say he’s wrong? Enriquez paints a vision of a human race subject to control over its own evolutionary destiny. Now that we are equipped with the knowledge, and in many cases, technology to do this, will there be anything there to stop us? (via THE RISE OF NEO-EVOLUTION | MONOLITH MAGAZINE)

Posted: December 20, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Turning vast amounts of genomic data into meaningful information about the cell is the great challenge of bioinformatics, with major implications for human biology and medicine

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and colleagues have proposed a new “network-extracted ontology” (NeXO) method that creates a computational model of the cell from large networks of gene and protein interactions, discovering how genes and proteins connect to form higher-level cellular machinery. “Our method creates [an] ontology, or a specification of all the major players in the cell and the relationships between them,” said first author Janusz Dutkowski, PhD, postdoctoral researcher in the UC San Diego Department of Medicine. It uses knowledge about how genes and proteins interact with each other and automatically organizes this information to form a comprehensive catalog of gene functions, cellular components, and processes. “What’s new about our ontology is that it is created automatically from large datasets. In this way, we see not only what is already known, but also potentially new biological components and processes — the bases for new hypotheses,” said Dutkowski. Ontologies Originally devised by philosophers attempting to explain the nature of existence, ontologies are now broadly used to encapsulate everything known about a subject in a hierarchy of terms and relationships. Intelligent information systems, such as iPhone’s Siri, are built on ontologies to enable reasoning about the real world. Ontologies are also used by scientists to structure knowledge about subjects like taxonomy, anatomy and development, bioactive compounds, disease, and clinical diagnosis. (via A new ‘network-extracted ontology’ model of the cell | KurzweilAI)

ABSTRACT – Drop-on-demand bioprinting allows the controlled placement of living cells, and will benefit research in the fields of tissue engineering, drug screening and toxicology. We show that a bio-ink based on a novel microgel suspension in a surfactant-containing tissue culture medium can be used to reproducibly print several different cell types, from two different commercially available drop-on-demand printing systems, over long printing periods. The bio-ink maintains a stable cell suspension, preventing the settling and aggregation of cells that usually impedes cell printing, whilst meeting the stringent fluid property requirements needed to enable printing even from many-nozzle commercial inkjet print heads. This innovation in printing technology may pave the way for the biofabrication of multi-cellular structures and functional tissue.The team printed cells in specific patterns onto collagen hydrogel, a soft and wet substrate that acts as a cushion for the cells as well as preventing dehydration. ‘In getting going practically with this or any other cell printing process, someone has to work out how to load the cells into cartridges and keep them alive until they are printed,’ says Paul Calvert, an expert in regenerative biomaterials from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, US. ‘During printing, they need to be fed (by the medium) and given oxygen (not sure how that will work) and then be printed without settling down to block the nozzles. This work addresses the last problem. They show that the cells don’t die and go on to differentiate normally. This part has been shown before, but before this, people had to keep shaking the cartridge to keep the cells suspended.’ Inkjet printing of living cells is an important step towards in het Panhuis’s team’s goal of developing techniques for an all-printing approach to materials and devices for bionics and tissue engineering applications.

New bio-ink formulated to print living human tissue

Posted: October 24, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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As with the discovery and commercialization of recombinant human growth hormone,[9] it’s not unreasonable to assume we could gain control over various neurological growth control mechanisms in the near term. Moreover, these growth controls could be augmented with mechanical controls. We might couple the use of a neurological growth factor with removal of a section of the cranium to permit an expansion of the cortex. Even though vast gaps might remain in our understanding of how the cortex actually encodes information and processes stimuli, the innate plasticity of neural functions could enable an enlarged cortex to function in a coherent manner.[10] The self-organizing nature of neural networks is a crucial element that will enable an Organic Singularity to occur prior to a Technological Singularity.[11]

Could the Organic Singularity Occur Prior to Kurzweil’s Technological Singularity?

Posted: October 9, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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In order to assemble novel biomolecular machines, individual protein molecules must be installed at their site of operation with nanometer precision. LMU researchers have now found a way to do just that. Green light on protein assembly! The finely honed tip of the atomic force microscope (AFM) allows one to pick up single biomolecules and deposit them elsewhere with nanometer accuracy. The technique is referred to as Single-Molecule Cut & Paste (SMC&P), and was developed by the research group led by LMU physicist Professor Hermann Gaub. In its initial form, it was only applicable to DNA molecules. However, the molecular machines responsible for many of the biochemical processes in cells consist of proteins, and the controlled assembly of such devices is one of the major goals of nanotechnology. A practical method for doing so would not only provide novel insights into the workings of living cells, but would also furnish a way to develop, construct and utilize designer nanomachines. In a major step towards this goal, the LMU team has modified the method to allow them to take proteins from a storage site and place them at defined locations within a construction area with nanometer precision. “In liquid medium at room temperature, the “weather conditions” at the nanoscale are comparable to those in a hurricane,” says Mathias Strackharn, first author of the new study. Hence, the molecules being manipulated must be firmly attached to the tip of the AFM and held securely in place in the construction area.

All systems go at the biofactory – LMU Munich

Andemariam Beyene sat by the hospital window, the low Arctic sun on his face, and talked about the time he thought he would die. Two and a half years ago doctors in Iceland, where Mr. Beyene was studying to be an engineer, discovered a golf-ball-size tumor growing into his windpipe. Despite surgery and radiation, it kept growing. In the spring of 2011, when Mr. Beyene came to Sweden to see another doctor, he was practically out of options. “I was almost dead,” he said. “There was suffering. A lot of suffering.” But the doctor, Paolo Macchiarini, at the Karolinska Institute here, had a radical idea. He wanted to make Mr. Beyene a new windpipe, out of plastic and his own cells. Implanting such a “bioartificial” organ would be a first-of-its-kind procedure for the field of regenerative medicine, which for decades has been promising a future of ready-made replacement organs — livers, kidneys, even hearts — built in the laboratory.

Scientists Make Progress in Tailor-Made Organs – NYTimes.com