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Category: Biotechnology

Advances in 3-D printing have led to new ways to make bone and some other relatively simple body parts that can be implanted in patients. But finding an ideal bio-ink has stalled progress toward printing more complex tissues with versatile functions -- tissues that can be loaded with pharmaceuticals, for example. Now scientists, reporting in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, have developed a silk-based ink that could open up new possibilities toward that goal.

Scientists have developed a method, using a double layer of lipids, which facilitates the assembly of DNA origami units, bringing us one-step closer to DNA nanomachines.
Scientists have been studying ways to use synthetic DNA as a building block for smaller and faster devices. DNA has the advantage of being inherently "coded". Each DNA strand is formed of one of four "codes" that can link to only one complementary code each, thus binding two DNA strands together. Scientists are using this inherent coding to manipulate and "fold" DNA to form "origami nanostructures": extremely small two- and three-dimensional shapes that can then be used as construction material to build nanodevices such as nanomotors for use in targeted drug delivery inside the body.

The study, published today at Nature Methods (the most prestigious journal for the presentation of results in methods development), proposes the use of two plant protein epitopes, named inntags, as the most innocuous and stable tagging tools in the study of physical and functional interactions of proteins.

A UCSF-led team has developed a technique to build tiny models of human tissues, called organoids, more precisely than ever before using a process that turns human cells into a biological equivalent of LEGO bricks. These mini-tissues in a dish can be used to study how particular structural features of tissue affect normal growth or go awry in cancer. They could be used for therapeutic drug screening and to help teach researchers how to grow whole human organs.

This is a composite image of a growing experimental mustard plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, along with a luminescence-based image of the root system of the same plant.
Plants form a vast network of below-ground roots that search soil for needed resources. The structure and function of this root network can be highly adapted to particular environments such as desert soils where plants like Mesquite develop tap roots capable of digging 50 meters deep to capture precious water resources. Excavation of root systems reveals these kinds of adaptations but is laborious, time consuming, and does not provide information on how growing roots behave.

After a decade's work a team led by Stanford bioengineer Christina Smolke succeeded in finding more than 20 genes from five different organisms and engineering them into the genome of...
For thousands of years, people have used yeast to ferment wine, brew beer and leaven bread.

BiotechnologyAugust 5, 2015 04:50 AM

Two single computer-model modules are used by BioLEGO to characterize a two-step/two-organism fermentation process. Any two building blocks can be used, assuming they are represented in compatible model formats.
The composition of feedstock biomass and the selection of fermenting microorganisms are critical factors in biorefinery design. Once biomass feedstock is identified, depending on local conditions, biorefinery designers need to select optimal fermenting organisms. Using organism communities has theoretical advantages but also leads to problems in the context of species competition, process design and modelling, in turn resulting in insufficient process control. This study presents the optimization control that is possible when using a serial fermentation approach. Using one organism after the other - in serial fermentation, rather than in a community configuration allows maximal process control, while benefiting from organism diversity to maximize feedstock conversion rates. This study introduces a freely available web-based application, BioLEGO, which provides access to computer-assisted single and two-step multiorganism fermentation process design. BioLEGO also supports the evaluation of possible biomass-to-product yields for biomass mixes or general media and recommends media changes to increase the process efficacy. BioLEGO is accessible via a simple and intuitive user interface.

The concept of walking on water might sound supernatural, but in fact it is a quite natural phenomenon. Many small living creatures leverage water's surface tension to maneuver themselves around. One of the most complex maneuvers, jumping on water, is achieved by a species of semi-aquatic insects called water striders that not only skim along water's surface but also generate enough upward thrust with their legs to launch themselves airborne from it.

Some DNA sequences appear multiple times in the genome. Here, an RNA guide probe labels repetitive regions in the nucleus of a Xenopus laevis sperm.
University of California, Berkeley, researchers have discovered a much cheaper and easier way to target a hot new gene editing tool, CRISPR-Cas9, to cut or label DNA.

CRISPR/Cas9 is a gene-editing tool that can target a particular segment of DNA in living cells and replace it with a new genetic sequence.
Researchers at Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego, have developed a new user-friendly resource to accompany the powerful gene editing tool called CRISPR/Cas9, which has been widely adopted to make precise, targeted changes in DNA. This breakthrough has the potential to facilitate new discoveries in gene therapies and basic genetics research. The research was published in the July 13 issue of Nature Methods.

A simple, lower-cost new method for DNA profiling of human hairs developed by the University of Adelaide should improve opportunities to link criminals to serious crimes.

This is a graphic showing a process for producing large numbers of activated, customized T cells using magnetic nanoparticles and a column.
In recent years, researchers have hotly pursued immunotherapy, a promising form of treatment that relies on harnessing and training the body's own immune system to better fight cancer and infection. Now, results of a study led by Johns Hopkins investigators suggests that a device composed of a magnetic column paired with custom-made magnetic nanoparticles may hold a key to bringing immunotherapy into widespread and successful clinical use. A summary of the research, conducted in mouse and human cells, appears online July 14 in the journal ACS Nano.

A group led by Assistant Professor Dan Ohtan Wang from Kyoto University's Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) in Japan successfully visualized RNA behavior and its response to drugs within the living tissue brain of live mice by labeling specific RNA molecules with fluorescent probes. Their study, published in Nucleic Acids Research, can potentially lead to faster, and more accurate screening processes for the discovery and development of new drugs.

The quality of waters can be assessed using of the organisms occurring therein. This approach often results in errors, because many species look alike. Therefore, new methods focus on DNA analyses instead. Biologists at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have optimised the process so that they are now able to identify many organisms at once in a quick and reliable manner using short DNA sequences. The results have been published in the PLOS ONE magazine.

In what may be a major leap forward in the quest for new treatments of the most common form of cardiovascular disease, scientists at Johns Hopkins report they have found a way to halt and reverse the progression of atherosclerosis in rodents by loading microscopic nanoparticles with a chemical that restores the animals' ability to properly handle cholesterol.

Scientists have developed a new tissue 'scaffold' technology that could one day enable the engineering of large organs.

This image shows two hands manipulating an IV for chemotherapy administration to a patient.
A new study published in IOP Publishing's journal 2D Materials has proposed using graphene as an alternative coating for catheters to improve the delivery of chemotherapy drugs.

UNSW Australia researchers have shown that changing just a single letter of the DNA of human red blood cells in the laboratory increases their production of oxygen-carrying haemoglobin - a world-first advance that could lead to a cure for sickle cell anaemia and other blood disorders.

Researchers have customized and refined a technique derived from the immune system of bacteria to develop the CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering system, which enables targeted modifications to the genes of virtually any organism. The discovery and development of CRISPR-Cas9 technology, its wide range of potential applications in the agriculture/food industry and in modern medicine, and emerging regulatory issues are explored in a Review article published in OMICS: A Journal of Integrative Biology. The article is available free on the OMICS website until June 5, 2015.

Recent evidence demonstrating the feasibility of using novel CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology to make targeted changes in the DNA of human embryos is forcing researchers, clinicians, and ethicists to revisit the highly controversial issue of altering the inherited human genome. A provocative Editorial exploring the current technical limitations, safety concerns, and moral acceptability of therapeutic germline gene editing is published in Human Gene Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Human Gene Therapy website until May 29th.

This image shows a schematic diagram of the highly efficient CRISPR/Cas system, which leads to super efficient targeted insertion (knock-in) of a long donor insert into mouse genome.
Genome editing using CRISPR/Cas system has enabled direct modification of the mouse genome in fertilized mouse eggs, leading to rapid, convenient, and efficient one-step production of knockout mice without embryonic stem cells. In contrast to the ease of targeted gene deletion, the complementary application, called targeted gene cassette insertion or knock-in, in fertilized mouse eggs by CRISPR/Cas mediated genome editing still remains a tough challenge.

BiotechnologyApril 28, 2015 06:32 PM

Emory scientists have adapted an antiviral enzyme from bacteria called Cas9 into an instrument for inhibiting hepatitis C virus in human cells.

Yale researchers successfully corrected the most common mutation in the gene that causes cystic fibrosis, a lethal genetic disorder.

Researchers from the Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (IBB-UAB) and from the University of Warsaw have developed a new computational method called AGGRESCAN3D which will allow studying in 3D the structure of folded globular proteins and substantially improve the prediction of any propensity for forming toxic protein aggregates. With this new algorithm proteins can also be modelled to study the pathogenic effects of the aggregation or redesign them for therapeutic means.

Cacao seeds after harvest. A mixture of lipids called cocoa butter makes up about half of each seed.
The discovery of a gene involved in determining the melting point of cocoa butter -- a critical attribute of the substance widely used in foods and pharmaceuticals -- will likely lead to new and improved products, according to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Access to high-quality medicine is a basic human right, but over four billion people live in countries where many medications are substandard or fake. Marya Lieberman of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame and Abigail Weaver a postdoctoral associate in the University's Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental and Earth Sciences took up the challenge of how people in developing countries could detect low quality antimalarial drugs without expensive equipment and without handling dangerous chemicals.

Michael Kessler, left, a professor in the Washington State University School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, has developed polyurethane based on plant oils.
Washington State University researchers have developed a new way to use plant oils like olive and linseed oil to create polyurethane, a plastic material used in everything from foam insulation panels to tires, hoses and sealants.

Researchers from Brown University and the University of Rhode Island have demonstrated a promising new way to increase the effectiveness of radiation in killing cancer cells.

These are heart tissue cells grown on a matrix, stained with fluorescent markers.
Genetically engineered fibers of the protein spidroin, which is the construction material for spider webs, has proven to be a perfect substrate for cultivating heart tissue cells, MIPT researchers found. They discuss their findings in an article that has recently come out in the journal PLOS ONE.

An experimental single-stranded oligonucleotide-based drug, MGN1703, comprised only of natural DNA components, stimulates the human immune system to fight infections and attack cancer cells without causing the harmful side effects associated with similar compounds that also contain non-natural DNA components. The design and structural characteristics of MGN1703, which is in clinical testing to treat a variety of cancers, affect its potency and toxicity, as described in an article in Nucleic Acid Therapeutics

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