Posts Tagged ‘Synthetic Biology’

Posted: November 22, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized

Synthetic biologists write code. But when their code is compiled, it doesn’t become an app. It becomes, or at least changes, life.

“It’s quite literally the same thing [as lines of code], once we get to the point where it’s all electronic,” J. Christopher Anderson, a synthetic biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, tells me. “It’s a code that is A-T-C-Gs instead of 0s and 1s.”

Synthetic biology, the newer, cooler branch of genetic engineering, has gained a lot of attention in recent years because of its innovative take on biology, as well as for its similarities with the hugely successful software industry — programs to automate DNA sequencing used to write new genetic code — but in roughly a decade of existence, the field hasn’t achieved much of what it promises. Engineered microbes that produce sustainable fuels or turn carbon dioxide into plastic, bacteria that makes blood or antimalarial drugs, and organisms designed to attack cancer cells are just a handful of the potential applications from the biologically generated software.

(ht Digitag

Posted: November 22, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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A new biological robot has been made from rat heart cells and synthetic materials, a new study says—and the machine could someday lead to others that will attack diseases inside the human body. (See “Animal-Robot Pictures: Marine Machines Made in Nature’s Image.”) The centimeter-long “biobot” was made by attaching heart muscle cells onto a flexible structure, or body, of hydrogel—the same material used to make contact lenses for human eyes. (via Crawling Bio-Robot Runs on Rat Heart Cells)

Posted: October 9, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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MIT team builds most complex synthetic biology circuit yet

New sensor can detect four different molecules, could be used to program cells to precisely monitor their environments.
Using genes as interchangeable parts, synthetic biologists design cellular circuits that can perform new functions, such as sensing environmental conditions. However, the complexity that can be achieved in such circuits has been limited by a critical bottleneck: the difficulty in assembling genetic components that don’t interfere with each other.

Unlike electronic circuits on a silicon chip, biological circuits inside a cell cannot be physically isolated from one another. “The cell is sort of a burrito. It has everything mixed together,” says Christopher Voigt, an associate professor of biological engineering at MIT.

Because all the cellular machinery for reading genes and synthesizing proteins is jumbled together, researchers have to be careful that proteins that control one part of their synthetic circuit don’t hinder other parts of the circuit.

Synthetic biology combines science and engineering in the pursuit of two general goals: to design and construct new biological parts, devices, and systems not found in nature; and redesign existing, natural biological systems for useful purposes. For synthetic biologists a key goal is to use RNA to automatically engineer synthetic sequences that encode functional RNA sequences in living cells. While earlier RNA design attempts have mostly been developed in vitro or needed fragments of natural sequences to be viable, scientists at Institut de biologie systémique et synthétique in France have recently developed a fully automated design methodology and experimental validation of synthetic RNA interaction circuits working in a cellular environment. Their results demonstrate that engineering interacting RNAs with allosteric behavior in living cells can be accomplished using a first-principles computation.

From vitro to vivo: Fully automated design of synthetic RNA circuits in living cells

Posted: June 27, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Russian Scientists Successfully Transplant a Synthetic Larynx

The latest graft is different, because it involves a synthetic structure rather than a graft from a cadaver.

Before implantation, the part was seeded with stem cells from the patient’s own bone marrow, so that once transplanted it would grow its own layers of native surface cells. The coating was performed in a special reactor by Harvard Bioscience, a company in Holliston, Massachusetts.

“We see this as the beginning of growing synthetic organs,” says the company’s president, David Green. “It’s the stuff of scientific fiction becoming medical reality.” Last year, a man received the first synthetic windpipe, a Y-shaped appendage that was also covered with the patient’s own stem cells.

(via First synthetic larynx part transplanted – health – 27 June 2012 – New Scientist)

Posted: June 13, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Synthetic Biology Explained

From selective breeding to genetic modification, our understanding of biology is now merging with the principles of engineering to bring us synthetic biology.

Written, animated and directed by James Hutson, Bridge8.

Transcript can be found here:

ht singularityhub

(by techNyouvids)

Posted: April 2, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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The epicure of the future is to dine upon artificial meat, artificial flour, and artificial vegetables…Wheat fields and corn fields are to disappear from the face of the earth, because flour and meal will no longer be grown, but made…Coal will no longer be dug, except perhaps with the object of transforming it into bread or meat. The engines of the great food factories will be driven, not by artificial combustion, but by the underlying heat of the globe. (via Foods in the Year 2000 | Oscillator, Scientific American Blog Network)