Biosingularity

Archive for the ‘Biotech’ Category

The GelSpray Liquid Bandage is a major advance in the management and care of combat casualty and civilian wounds. Much like epoxy is dispensed in household kits, the dressing is applied with a dual syringe that releases two polymer ingredients. These polymers react rapidly upon mixing to form a gel-based dressing that frontline combat soldiers can apply to their own wounds. The dressing conforms to the wound geometry, adheres to intact skin but not directly to the injured tissue, and resists abrasion.n.2-8-08-spray-bandages-cr.jpg  Read the rest of this entry »

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A team of 17 researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) has created the largest man-made DNA structure by synthesizing and assembling the 582,970 base pair genome of a bacterium, Mycoplasma genitalium JCVI-1.0. This work, published online today in the journal Science by Dan Gibson, Ph.D., et al, is the second of three key steps toward the team’s goal of creating a fully synthetic organism. In the next step, which is ongoing at the JCVI, the team will attempt to create a living bacterial cell based entirely on the synthetically made genome.
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A new imaging technique developed at MIT has allowed scientists to create the first 3D images of a living cell, using a method similar to the X-ray CT scans doctors use to see inside the body.

The technique, described in a paper published in the Aug. 12 online edition of Nature Methods, could be used to produce the most detailed images yet of what goes on inside a living cell without the help of fluorescent markers or other externally added contrast agents, said Michael Feld, director of MIT’s George R. Harrison Spectroscopy Laboratory and a professor of physics.

 Images of a cervical cancer cell Read the rest of this entry »

The ability to regenerate nerve cells in the body could reduce the effects of trauma and disease in a dramatic way. In two presentations at the NSTI Nanotech 2007 Conference, researchers describe the use of nanotechnology to enhance the regeneration of nerve cells. In the first method, developed at the University of Miami, researchers show how magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) may be used to create mechanical tension that stimulates the growth and elongation of axons of the central nervous system neurons. The second method from the University of California, Berkeley uses aligned nanofibers containing one or more growth factors to provide a bioactive matrix where nerve cells can regrow.
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Scientists reported for the first time that hemangioblast precursor cells derived from human embryonic stem (hES) cells can be used to achieve vascular repair.

The research, which appears today online (ahead of print) in the journal Nature Methods, by Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) and its collaborators, describes an efficient method for generating large numbers of bipotential progenitors–known as hemangioblasts–from hES cells that are capable of differentiating into blood vessels, as well as into all blood and immune cell lineages.
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Research teams at Yale University and the University of Rhode Island have demonstrated a new way to target and potentially treat tumors using a short piece of protein that acts like a nanosyringe to deliver “tags” or therapy to cells, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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pHLIP accumulation in a mouse breast tumor grown on the right flank of a mouse. (Credit: Engelman/Reshtnyak)
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Using a new type of drug that targets a specific genetic defect, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, along with colleagues at PTC Therapeutics Inc. and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, have for the first time demonstrated restoration of muscle function in a mouse model of Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy (DMD). The research appears ahead of print in an advanced online publication of Nature.

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A new category of drug has shown promising results for HIV/AIDS patients who failed to respond to other treatments, a study to be shows.

Especially when combined with other medications, raltegravir — the first in a new class of anti-retroviral drugs called integrase inhibitors — dramatically reduced the presence of the HIV virus and boosted immunity in clinical-trial patients, according to the study in the British journal The Lancet.
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Are you always on the hunt for a way to iron out the time lines etched in your face? Behold: a new study has found that multiple injections of Restylane, a popular “skin filler” believed to temporarily zap lines by literally filling them in, actually stimulates the skin to produce collagen, a protein that keeps it firm and supple but dwindles with age and sun exposure causing sagging and wrinkling.

“We found that in addition to filling up space, these injections induce robust production of collagen, thought to give rise to the smooth contour of the skin,” says Frank Wang, co-author of the study published in the February issue of Archives of Dermatology.

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Read rest of this story on Scientific American site.

A newly designed porous membrane, so thin it’s invisible edge-on, may revolutionize the way doctors and scientists manipulate objects as small as a molecule.

The 50-atom thick filter can withstand surprisingly high pressures and may be a key to better separation of blood proteins for dialysis patients, speeding ion exchange in fuel cells, creating a new environment for growing neurological stem cells, and purifying air and water in hospitals and clean-rooms at the nanoscopic level.

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For the first time, scientists have engineered yeast cells capable of producing a broad repertoire of recombinant therapeutic proteins with fully human sugar structures (glycosylation). These sugar structures ensure a glycoprotein’s biological activity and half-life and to date, have necessitated the expression of therapeutic glycoproteins in mammalian hosts. The accomplishment reported today has the potential to eliminate the need for mammalian cell culture, while improving control over glycosylation, and improving performance characteristics of many therapeutic proteins. Read the rest of this entry »

An experimental therapy that battles drug resistance in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) has proved "extremely effective" in fighting cancer, giving patients for whom all conventional therapies have failed another option, researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center reported.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb therapy, Sprycel (dasatinib), treats CML that has mutated and becomes resistant to the leukemia pill Gleevec, said Dr. Charles Sawyers, a professor of hematology/oncology, a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher and lead author of the study, published in the June 15, 2006 issue of the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine.
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A bacterium that lives in rivers, streams and human aqueducts uses nature's strongest glue to stay in one place, according to new research by Indiana University Bloomington and Brown University scientists reported in next week's (April 11) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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University of Texas at Dallas nanotechnologists have made alcohol- and hydrogen-powered artificial muscles that are 100 times stronger than natural muscles, able to do 100 times greater work per cycle and produce, at reduced strengths, larger contractions than natural muscles. Among other possibilities, these muscles could enable fuel-powered artificial limbs, “smart skins” and morphing structures for air and marine vehicles, autonomous robots having very long mission capabilities and smart sensors that detect and self-actuate to change the environment.

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Over a decade ago, a team led by Professor Axel Ullrich at Max Planck insitute discovered that by interrupting the oxygen and nutrient supply to tumour cells, it is possible to inhibit cancer development. The Max Planck scientists showed that tumour tissue just a few cubic millimetres in size can create vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which triggers blood vessel development. This fundamental principle led to the development of SUTENT®, whose active ingredient is Sunitinib.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now approved SUTENT to treat two advanced cancers, if standard therapies fail. The cancers are renal cell carcinoma (RCC; kidney cancer) and gastro-intestinal stromal tumours (GIST, a rare form of gastro-intestinal cancer). This is the first time FDA has approved a medication for two kinds of advanced cancers. Read the rest of this entry »

In research that could significantly advance the pace of drug discovery in the fight against breast cancer, Harvard Medical School investigators announce in today’s online Journal of Proteome Research that they have created the first publicly available library of reliably expressible proteins of a human disease, in this case for breast cancer.

Perhaps more significantly, these researchers expressed a subset of the 1,300 protein-expressing complementary DNAs in the library into a model system mimicking cells of a human breast, allowing them to study on a broad scale how these proteins might contribute to the development of breast cancer. Through this comprehensive approach, they identified potentially novel functional activities for both well known and lesser-known breast cancer-associated proteins.
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Researchers from Germany announce they have finished the first complete analysis of the “molecular machines” in one of biology’s most important model organisms: S. cerevisiae (baker’s yeast).

The study combined a method of extracting complete protein complexes from cells (tandem affinity purification, developed in 2001 by Bertrand Séraphin at EMBL), mass spectrometry and bioinformatics to investigate the entire protein household of yeast, turning up 257 machines that had never been observed. It also revealed new components of nearly every complex already known.
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Scientists at Virginia Tech have developed a single-step process for creating nonwoven fibrous mats from a small organic molecule – creating a new nanoscale material with potential applications where biocompatible materials are required, such as scaffolds for tissue growth and drug delivery. Read the rest of this entry »

Scientists have developed a new technique for crystallising proteins, a discovery which could help speed up the development of new medicines and treatments.

Crystallisation is the process which converts materials, such as proteins, into three dimensional crystals, thus enabling their atomic structure to be studied. The three dimensional structure of the crystals indicates the proteins function, and from this, researchers hope to be able to develop more effective treatments.
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For the more than 18 million Americans who suffer from depressive illnesses, the best pharmacological treatments are those that increase levels of serotonin, the brain chemical that regulates mood, sleep and memory. New research by an international team of scientists, led by Rockefeller University researchers in Nobel prize winner Paul Greengard’s laboratory, shows that a gene called p11 is closely related to serotonin transmission in the brain — and may play a key role in determining a person’s susceptibility to depression.

The newly discovered link between depression and the serotonin system, reported in the January 6 issue of the journal Science, could lead to new treatments for these mental disorders.

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Scientists working at the WiCell Research Institute, a private laboratory affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have developed a precisely defined stem cell culture system free of animal cells and used it to derived two new human embryonic stem cell lines.

The new work, which is reported at Jan. 1, 2006 issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology, helps move stem cells a small step closer to clinical reality by completely ridding the culture medium in which they are grown of animal products that could harbor viruses or other deleterious agents.

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Synthetic Genomics, Inc., a company founded by the genome sequencing pioneer Dr. J. Craig Venter, is developing new scientific processes to enable industry to design and test desired genetic modifications. Using the genome as a bio-factory, a custom designed, modular “cassette” system will be developed so that the organism executes specific molecular functions. Synthetically produced organisms with reduced or reoriented metabolic needs will enable new, powerful, and more direct methods of bio-engineered industrial production.

According to Dr. Venter: “Work in creating a synthetic chromosome/genome will give us a better understanding of basic cellular processes. Genome composition, regulatory circuits, signaling pathways and numerous other aspects of organism gene and protein function will be better understood through construction of a synthetic genome. Not only will this basic research lead to better understanding of these pathways and components in the particular organisms, but also better understanding of human biology. The ability to construct synthetic genomes may lead to extraordinary advances in our ability to engineer microorganisms for many vital energy and environmental purposes.”

This is a very exciting new step towards biosingularity. Dr. Venter is a true visionary who has been relentlessly pushing the technology to decode the complex program of biological systems.
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Need a skin graft? A new trachea? A heart patch? Turn on your printer, and let it spit one out. A group of researchers hope printers’ whirs and buzzes will soon be saving lives.
Researchers at three universities have developed bio-ink and bio-paper that could make so-called organ printing a reality. So far, they’ve made tubes similar to human blood vessels and sheets of heart muscle cells, printed in three dimensions on a special printer.

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The Johns Hopkins scientists who first created “mighty mice” have developed, with pharmaceutical company Wyeth and the biotechnology firm MetaMorphix, an agent that’s more effective at increasing muscle mass in mice than a related potential treatment for muscular dystrophy now in clinical trials.

The new agent is a version of a cellular docking point for the muscle-limiting protein myostatin. In mice, just two weekly injections of the new agent triggered a 60 percent increase in muscle size, the researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online Dec. 5 and available publicly through the journal’s website.
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Uncoiled strands of DNA, organized in precise patterns, one day might become the backbone of biologically based electronics and medical devices, according to L. James Lee, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio State University. His team of scientists has made the first step in creating the nanowires of the future by uncoiling and organising long strands of DNA.

In the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Lee and postdoctoral researcher Jingjiao Guan describe how they used a tiny rubber comb to pull DNA strands from drops of water and stamp them onto glass chips.
Other labs have formed very simple structures with DNA, and those are now used in devices for gene testing and medical diagnostics. But Lee and Guan are the first to coax strands of DNA into structures that are at once so orderly and so complex that they resemble stitches on a quilt.
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FDA approved Nexavar, a drug that officials described as “a major advance” in treating kidney cancer.
The manufacturer of Nexavar, Bayer, used X-rays to determine that the drug doubled the time, to 167 days from 84, before tumors grew substantially in number or size, a finding called “progression-free survival.”
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A counterintuitive experiment has resulted in one of the longest recorded life-span extensions in any organism and opened a new door for anti-aging research in humans.

Scientists have known for several years that an extra copy of the SIR2 gene can promote longevity in yeast, worms and fruit flies. That finding was covered widely and incorporated into anti-aging drug development programs at several biotechnology companies. Now, molecular geneticists at the University of Southern California suggest that SIR2 instead promotes aging.
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A team of scientists at Yale University has completed the first comprehensive map of the proteins and kinase signaling network that controls how cells of higher organisms operate, according to a report this week in the journal Nature.

The study is a breakthrough in understanding mechanisms of how proteins operate in different cell types under the control of master regulator molecules called protein kinases. Although protein kinases are already important targets of cancer drugs including Gleevec and Herceptin, until recently, it has been difficult to identify the proteins regulated by the kinases.
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Two kidney dialysis patients from Argentina have received the world’s first blood vessels grown in a laboratory dish from snippets of their own skin, a technique that doctors hope will someday offer a new source of arteries and veins for diabetics and other patients.
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hermal Gradient, Inc., a company based in the suburbs of Rochester, has made strides with the demonstration of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) that can be performed much faster and with far less equipment than today’s standard DNA process, according to Joel Grover, president and chief executive officer of the company.

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Robots using artificial polymer “muscles” are real slowpokes, as the polymers react a hundred times slower than human muscle. But in the future, robots could run circles around humans, with synthetic muscles 1000 times faster than ours.

The possible breakthrough comes from work showing how the polymer muscles work at a fundamental level, and suggests a way of triggering them that could make the muscles less bulky and vastly quicker.
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