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Archive for the ‘bioengineering’ category

Feb 7, 2023

First-of-its-kind instrument officially ushers in new era of X-ray science

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, computing, health, science

Arizona State University has officially begun a new chapter in X-ray science with a newly commissioned, first-of-its-kind instrument that will help scientists see deeper into matter and living things. The device, called the compact X-ray light source (CXLS), marked a major milestone in its operations as ASU scientists generated its first X-rays on the night of Feb. 2.

“This marks the beginning of a new era of science with compact accelerator-based X‑ray sources,” said Robert Kaindl, who directs ASU’s Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser (CXFEL) Labs at the Biodesign Institute and is a professor in the Department of Physics. “The CXLS provides hard X-ray pulses with high flux, stability and ultrashort durations, in a very compact footprint. This way, matter can be resolved at its fundamental scales in space and time, enabling new discoveries across many fields — from next-generation materials for computing and information science, to renewable energy, biomolecular dynamics, drug discovery and human health.”

Building the compact X-ray light source is the first phase of a larger CXFEL project, which aims to build two instruments including a coherent X-ray laser. As the first-stage instrument, the ASU CXLS generates a high-flux beam of hard X‑rays, with wavelengths short enough to resolve the atomic structure of complex molecules. Moreover, its output is pulsed at extremely short durations of a few hundred femtoseconds — well below a millionth of one millionth of a second — and thus short enough to directly track the motions of atoms.

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Feb 5, 2023

Engineering Cyborg Bacteria Through Intracellular Hydrogelation

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, cyborgs, genetics, robotics/AI

Synthetic biology has made major strides towards the holy grail of fully programmable bio-micromachines capable of sensing and responding to defined stimuli regardless of their environmental context. A common type of bio-micromachines is created by genetically modifying living cells.[ 1 ] Living cells possess the unique advantage of being highly adaptable and versatile.[ 2 ] To date, living cells have been successfully repurposed for a wide variety of applications, including living therapeutics,[ 3 ] bioremediation,[ 4 ] and drug and gene delivery.[ 5, 6 ] However, the resulting synthetic living cells are challenging to control due to their continuous adaption and evolving cellular context. Application of these autonomously replicating organisms often requires tailored biocontainment strategies,[ 7-9 ] which can raise logistical hurdles and safety concerns.

In contrast, nonliving synthetic cells, notably artificial cells,[ 10, 11 ] can be created using synthetic materials, such as polymers or phospholipids. Meticulous engineering of materials enables defined partitioning of bioactive agents, and the resulting biomimetic systems possess advantages including predictable functions, tolerance to certain environmental stressors, and ease of engineering.[ 12, 13 ] Nonliving cell-mimetic systems have been employed to deliver anticancer drugs,[ 14 ] promote antitumor immune responses,[ 15 ] communicate with other cells,[ 16, 17 ] mimic immune cells,[ 18, 19 ] and perform photosynthesis.

Feb 4, 2023

Gene editing company plans to resurrect the dodo

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

Colossal Biosciences, a genetic engineering company focused on de-extincting past species, has announced $150 million in Series B funding, which it plans to use for bringing back the iconic dodo.

The resurrection of several extinct species is predicted to occur within the next five years. One company aiming to make that a reality is Texas-based startup Colossal Biosciences, founded in 2021 by some of the world’s leading experts in genomics. In May 2022, it appeared in the World Economic Forum’s list of Technology Pioneers and it won Genomics Innovation of the Year at the BioTech Breakthrough Awards.

Feb 4, 2023

A cnidarian parasite of salmon (Myxozoa: Henneguya) lacks a mitochondrial genome

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

Year 2020 This type of parasite that feeds on salmon actually doesn’t need oxygen to live. Which means eventually there could be even gene editing that could essentially allow humans to not need as much air or could be independent of oxygen but only need anaerobic metabolisms perhaps. Really this can only expand our understanding of new ways to evolve humans to the next level.


Although aerobic respiration is a hallmark of eukaryotes, a few unicellular lineages, growing in hypoxic environments, have secondarily lost this ability. In the absence of oxygen, the mitochondria of these organisms have lost all or parts of their genomes and evolved into mitochondria-related organelles (MROs). There has been debate regarding the presence of MROs in animals. Using deep sequencing approaches, we discovered that a member of the Cnidaria, the myxozoan Henneguya salminicola, has no mitochondrial genome, and thus has lost the ability to perform aerobic cellular respiration. This indicates that these core eukaryotic features are not ubiquitous among animals. Our analyses suggest that H. salminicola lost not only its mitochondrial genome but also nearly all nuclear genes involved in transcription and replication of the mitochondrial genome. In contrast, we identified many genes that encode proteins involved in other mitochondrial pathways and determined that genes involved in aerobic respiration or mitochondrial DNA replication were either absent or present only as pseudogenes. As a control, we used the same sequencing and annotation methods to show that a closely related myxozoan, Myxobolus squamalis, has a mitochondrial genome. The molecular results are supported by fluorescence micrographs, which show the presence of mitochondrial DNA in M. squamalis, but not in H. salminicola. Our discovery confirms that adaptation to an anaerobic environment is not unique to single-celled eukaryotes, but has also evolved in a multicellular, parasitic animal. Hence, H. salminicola provides an opportunity for understanding the evolutionary transition from an aerobic to an exclusive anaerobic metabolism.

Feb 2, 2023

Genetic engineering sheds light on ancient evolutionary questions

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, climatology, genetics, sustainability

Cyanobacteria are single-celled organisms that derive energy from light, using photosynthesis to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and liquid water (H2O) into breathable oxygen and the carbon-based molecules like proteins that make up their cells. Cyanobacteria were the first organisms to perform photosynthesis in the history of Earth, and were responsible for flooding the early Earth with oxygen, thus significantly influencing how life evolved.

Geological measurements suggest that the atmosphere of the early Earth—over three billion years ago—was likely rich in CO2, far higher than current levels caused by , meaning that ancient had plenty to “eat.”

But over Earth’s multi-billion-year history, atmospheric CO2 concentrations have decreased, and so to survive, these bacteria needed to evolve new strategies to extract CO2. Modern cyanobacteria thus look quite different from their ancient ancestors, and possess a complex, fragile set of structures called a CO2-concentrating mechanism (CCM) to compensate for lower concentrations of CO2.

Feb 2, 2023

AAV Manufacturing Sees Big Opportunities in Synthetic Biology

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, chemistry, genetics

My recently published perspective paper has been featured by GEN Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News!

#biotechnology #genetherapy #syntheticbiology


Synthetic biology has the potential to upend existing paradigms of adeno-associated virus (AAV) production, helping to reduce the high costs of gene therapy and thus make it more accessible, according to a recent paper.

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Feb 2, 2023

Healthier hearts? Research advances potential treatment for cardiac conditions

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological

A team of researchers from Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Washington is trying to change the way that the field of biology understands how muscles contract.

In a paper published on January 25, 2023, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled “Structural OFF/ON Transition of Myosin in Related Porcine Myocardium Predict Calcium Activated Force,” Illinois Tech Research Assistant Professor Weikang Ma and Professor of Biology and Physics Thomas Irving—working in collaboration with Professor of Bioengineering Michael Regnier’s group at Washington—make the case for a second, newly discovered aspect to muscle contraction that could play a significant role in developing treatments for inherited cardiac conditions.

The consensus for how muscle contraction occurs has been that the relationship between the thin and thick filaments that comprise was a more straightforward process. When targets on thin filaments were activated, it was thought that the myosin motor proteins that make up the thick filaments would automatically find their way to those thin filaments to start generating force and contract the muscle.

Jan 31, 2023

Scientists Develop a Cancer Vaccine to Simultaneously Kill and Prevent Brain Cancer

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, neuroscience

Cancer vaccines are an active area of research for many labs, but the approach that Shah and his colleagues have taken is distinct. Instead of using inactivated tumor cells, the team repurposes living tumor cells, which possess an unusual feature. Like homing pigeons returning to roost, living tumor cells will travel long distances across the brain to return to the site of their fellow tumor cells. Taking advantage of this unique property, Shah’s team engineered living tumor cells using the gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 and repurposed them to release tumor cell killing agents. In addition, the engineered tumor cells were designed to express factors that would make them easy for the immune system to spot, tag, and remember, priming the immune system for a long-term anti-tumor response.

The team tested their repurposed CRISPR-enhanced and reverse-engineered therapeutic tumor cells (ThTC) in different mice strains, including the one that bore bone marrow, liver, and thymus cells derived from humans, mimicking the human immune microenvironment. Shah’s team also built a two-layered safety switch into the cancer cell, which, when activated, eradicates ThTCs if needed. This dual-action cell therapy was safe, applicable, and efficacious in these models, suggesting a roadmap toward therapy. While further testing and development is needed, Shah’s team specifically chose this model and used human cells to smooth the path of translating their findings for patient settings.

Jan 31, 2023

After a decade, CRISPR gene editing is a ‘revolution in progress.’ What does the future hold?

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, food

But every once in a while, an idea is so powerful and so profound its effects are felt much faster.

That’s been the case with CRISPR gene editing, which celebrates a 10th anniversary this month. It has already had a substantial impact on laboratory science, improving precision and speeding research, and it has led to clinical trials for a handful of rare diseases and cancers.

Over the next decade, scientists predict, CRISPR will yield multiple approved medical treatments and be used to modify crops, making them more productive and resistant to disease and climate change.

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Jan 30, 2023

How Our Brains Turn Into Smarter Disease Fighters

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, neuroscience

CRISPR gene editing created the G795A amino acid which was introduced to microglia derived from human stem cells. Researchers were able to transplant the donor microglia immune cells into humanized rodent models while administering an FDA-approved cancer drug called pexidartinib. The inclusion of the amino acid cause the donated microglia to thrive and resist the drug, while the host microglia died. The findings open the door for new methods of using microglia to treat a range of neurodegenerative disorders.

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