Category: Biotechnology

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

Scientists, led by the University of Michigan Medical School, coax stem cells to form mini lungs, 3-D structures that mimic human lungs and survived in the lab for 100 days.
Scientists have coaxed stem cells to grow the first three-dimensional mini lungs.

Almost all patients with a group of blood cancers called B-cell malignancies have two prominent "fingerprints" on the surface of leukemia and lymphoma cancers, called CD22 and CD19, Vallera explained. To develop the drug, Vallera and colleagues chose two antibody fragments that each selectively bind to CD19 and CD22. They used genetic engineering to attach these two antibodies to a potent toxin, the bacterial diphtheria toxin. When the antibody fragments bind to the two targets on the cancer cell, the entire drug enters the cell, and the toxin kills the cell.

BiotechnologyMarch 12, 2015 07:06 PM

A new "app" for finding and mapping chromosomal loci using multicolored versions of CRISPR/Cas9, one of the hottest tools in biomedical research today, has been developed by scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. This labeling system, details of which were published in PNAS and first presented at the American Society for Cell Biology/International Federation for Cell Biology annual meeting in Philadelphia in December, could be a key to understanding the spatial and temporal regulation of gene expression by allowing researchers to measure the precise linear distance between two known points on different chromosomes or two locations on the same chromosome in live human cells.

NanoLive, an EPFL spin-off, has brought to the market a new MRI-like microscope that can "see " into living cells without any previous processing.
The major limitation of microscopy is light itself: if we want to see an object smaller than the wavelength of visible light, we cannot use conventional optics. When it comes to imaging cells, the problems compound, since cells often require chemical processing beforehand in order to make them suitable for viewing under a microscope. This processing essentially kills the cell in order to preserve it. An EPFL spin-off company, NanoLive, has developed the 3D Cell Explorer first-ever microscope that allows users to see inside living cells without any prior sample preparation, by using MRI-like technology and proprietary software that uses holographic algorithms.

For the first time, CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology has been employed in a whole organism model to systematically target every gene in the genome. A team of scientists at the Broad Institute and MIT's David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research have pioneered the use of this technology to "knock out," or turn off, all genes across the genome systematically in an animal model of cancer, revealing genes involved in tumor evolution and metastasis and paving the way for similar studies in other cell types and diseases. The work appears online March 5 in Cell.

When it comes to gene expression - the process by which our DNA provides the recipe used to direct the synthesis of proteins and other molecules that we need for development and survival - scientists have so far studied one single gene at a time. A new approach developed by Harvard geneticist George Church, Ph.D., can help uncover how tandem gene circuits dictate life processes, such as the healthy development of tissue or the triggering of a particular disease, and can also be used for directing precision stem cell differentiation for regenerative medicine and growing organ transplants.

Inside the cell, calcium ions are released from a structure called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Forces applied to the bead cause ion channels in the ER to open mechanically (shown...
After using optical tweezers to squeeze a tiny bead attached to the outside of a human stem cell, researchers now know how mechanical forces can trigger a key signaling pathway in the cells.

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego have tested a temporary tattoo that both extracts and measures the level of glucose in the fluid in between skin cells.
Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego have tested a temporary tattoo that both extracts and measures the level of glucose in the fluid in between skin cells. This first-ever example of the flexible, easy-to-wear device could be a promising step forward in noninvasive glucose testing for patients with diabetes.

23andMe, Inc., the leading personal genetics company, today announced an agreement with Pfizer Inc. that will provide Pfizer with access to 23andMe's research platform, including services and Research Portal analysis of 23andMe's genotyped population of over 800,000 individuals, of which more than 80 percent have consented to participate in research. 23andMe's Research Portal enables qualified and approved scientists outside of 23andMe the opportunity to leverage the company's unique research model while still protecting the privacy and security of 23andMe's customers. Researchers can now fully benefit from the largest dataset of its kind, running queries in minutes across more than 1,000 different diseases, conditions and traits. With this information researchers can identify new associations between genes and diseases and traits more quickly than ever before.

BiotechnologyDecember 10, 2014 06:09 PM

Using a gene-editing system originally developed to delete specific genes, MIT researchers have now shown that they can reliably turn on any gene of their choosing in living cells.

Taking a sample from the synthesis plant: professor Jörg Sauer, spokesman of the bioliq® project (right), with the operations manager of the synthesis plant, Ulrich Galla (left), and Daniel Richter...
The pilot project funded by the Federation, State, and EU was implemented by KIT in cooperation with several industry partners. The investment totals EUR 64 million.

A team of scientists from Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute and IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center have developed a prototype DNA reader that could make whole genome profiling an everyday practice in medicine.

New techniques in electron microscope reveal new information about viruses, for example on the location of the variable V2 loop of HIV Env protein (red). This could give new insight...
UC Davis researchers are getting a new look at the workings of HIV and other viruses thanks to new techniques in electron microscopy developed on campus.

In the on-going effort to develop advanced biofuels as a clean, green and sustainable source of liquid transportation fuels, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have identified microbial genes that can improve both the tolerance and the production of biogasoline in engineered strains of Escherichia coli.

'Our premise is that mechanics play a role in almost all biological processes, and with these DNA-based tension probes we're going to uncover, measure and map those forces,' says biomolecular...
Adherent cells, the kind that form the architecture of all multi-cellular organisms, are mechanically engineered with precise forces that allow them to move around and stick to things. Proteins called integrin receptors act like little hands and feet to pull these cells across a surface or to anchor them in place. When groups of these cells are put into a petri dish with a variety of substrates they can sense the differences in the surfaces and they will "crawl" toward the stiffest one they can find.

Encapsulated toxin-producing stem cells (in blue) help kill brain tumor cells in the tumor resection cavity (in green).
Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital have devised a new way to use stem cells in the fight against brain cancer. A team led by neuroscientist Khalid Shah, MS, PhD, who recently demonstrated the value of stem cells loaded with cancer-killing herpes viruses, now has a way to genetically engineer stem cells so that they can produce and secrete tumor-killing toxins.

Molecular studies of plants often depend on high-quantity and high-quality DNA extractions. This can be quite difficult in plants, however, due to a diversity of compounds and physical properties found in plants. "Tannins, tough fibrous material, and/or secondary compounds can interfere with DNA isolation," explains Dr. Thomas Givnish, principal investigator of a new study published by Jackson Moeller et al. in the October issue of Applications in Plant Sciences (available for free viewing at

Printing whole new organs for transplants sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but the real-life budding technology could one day make actual kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs for patients who desperately need them. In the ACS journal Langmuir, scientists are reporting new understanding about the dynamics of 3-D bioprinting that takes them a step closer to realizing their goal of making working tissues and organs on-demand.

Viruses designed to target and kill cancer cells could boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy to the arms and legs and help avoid amputation, a new study reports.

CRISPR, a system of genes that bacteria use to fend off viruses, is involved in promoting antibiotic resistance in Francisella novicida, a close relative of the bacterium that causes tularemia. The finding contrasts with previous observations in other bacteria that the CRISPR system hinders the spread of antibiotic resistance genes.

QUT Distinguished Professor James Dale's research has resulted in provitamin A-enriched bananas that are about to undergo a world-first human trial in the US.
The world's first human trial of pro-vitamin A-enriched banana, expected to lift the health and well-being of millions of Ugandans and other East Africans will start very soon.

The 3-D lung tumor model helps researchers to test medications.
Lung cancer is a serious condition. Once patients are diagnosed with it, chemotherapy is often their only hope. But nobody can accurately predict whether or not this treatment will help. To start with, not all patients respond to a course of chemotherapy in exactly the same way. And then there's the fact that the systems drug companies use to test new medications leave a lot to be desired. "Animal models may be the best we have at the moment, but all the same, 75 percent of the drugs deemed beneficial when tested on animals fail when used to treat humans," explains Prof. Dr. Heike Walles, head of the Würzburg-based "Regenerative Technologies for Oncology" project group belonging to the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB.

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