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Tracking the Future
Explore the most important technology and science trends! News, Analysis, Interviews, Presentations, Documentaries. All in one place at Tracking the future magazine
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Building Artificial Cells Will Be a Noisy Business

Building Artificial Cells Will Be a Noisy Business | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Engineers like to make things that work. And if one wants to make something work using nanoscale components—the size of proteins, antibodies, and viruses—mimicking the behavior of cells is a good place to start since cells carry an enormous amount of information in a very tiny packet. As Erik Winfree, professor of computer science, computation and neutral systems, and bioengineering, explains, "I tend to think of cells as really small robots. Biology has programmed natural cells, but now engineers are starting to think about how we can program artificial cells. We want to program something about a micron in size, finer than the dimension of a human hair, that can interact with its chemical environment and carry out the spectrum of tasks that biological things do, but according to our instructions."

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Dave Kuhr's curator insight, February 26, 2014 7:53 PM

Pretty interesting, while I am sure this is still a very long way off, being able to print a cure for a disease could be the ultimate medical advancement.

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CRISPR and Other Genome Editing Tools Boost Medical Research and Gene Therapy’s Reach

CRISPR and Other Genome Editing Tools Boost Medical Research and Gene Therapy’s Reach | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Over the last decade, as DNA-sequencing technology has grown ever faster and cheaper, our understanding of the human genome has increased accordingly. Yet scientists have until recently remained largely ham-fisted when they’ve tried to directly modify genes in a living cell. Take sickle-cell anemia, for example. A debilitating and often deadly disease, it is caused by a mutation in just one of a patient’s three billion DNA base pairs. Even though this genetic error is simple and well studied, researchers are helpless to correct it and halt its devastating effects.

Now there is hope in the form of new genome-engineering tools, particularly one called CRISPR. This technology could allow researchers to perform microsurgery on genes, precisely and easily changing a DNA sequence at exact locations on a chromosome. Along with a technique called TALENs, invented several years ago, and a slightly older predecessor based on molecules called zinc finger nucleases, CRISPR could make gene therapies more broadly applicable, providing remedies for simple genetic disorders like sickle-cell anemia and eventually even leading to cures for more complex diseases involving multiple genes. Most conventional gene therapies crudely place new genetic material at a random location in the cell and can only add a gene. In contrast, CRISPR and the other new tools also give scientists a precise way to delete and edit specific bits of DNA—even by changing a single base pair. This means they can rewrite the human genome at will.

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BigField GEG Tech's curator insight, February 15, 2014 6:51 AM

In little more than a year, CRISPR has begun reinventing genetic research.


http://geg-tech.com

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Geraldine Hamilton: Body parts on a chip

It's relatively easy to imagine a new medicine, a better cure for some disease. The hard part, though, is testing it, and that can delay promising new cures for years. In this well-explained talk, Geraldine Hamilton shows how her lab creates organs and body parts on a chip, simple structures with all the pieces essential to testing new medications -- even custom cures for one specific person.

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Richard Platt's curator insight, December 16, 2013 12:26 AM

We think this is an aweeome video, Geraldine Hamilton is totally awesome she is really geting at the heart of issues in the big pharma and healthcare field and addressing the issues intelligently, nothing but right on the lady, well worth every minute of this short video. Check it out it also has play in the semiconductor realm as well, (also why we like this too)

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3rd Annual Seymour Benzer Lecture - Aliens, computers and the bio-economy - An introduction to synthetic biology

Our capacity to partner with biology to make useful things is limited by the tools that we can use to specify, design, prototype, test, and analyze natural or engineered biological systems. However, biology has typically been engaged as a "technology of last resort" in attempts to solve problems that other more mature technologies cannot. This lecture will examine some recent progress on virus genome redesign and hidden DNA messages from outer space, building living data storage, logic, and communication systems, and how simple but old and nearly forgotten engineering ideas are helping make biology easier to engineer.

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J Craig Venter sequenced the human genome. Now he wants to covert DNA into a digital signal

J Craig Venter sequenced the human genome. Now he wants to covert DNA into a digital signal | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

J Craig Venter has been a molecular-biology pioneer for two decades. After developing expressed sequence tags in the 90s, he led the private effort to map the human genome, publishing the results in 2001. In 2010 the J Craig Venter Institute manufactured the entire genome of a bacterium, creating the first synthetic organism.
Now Venter, author of Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life, explains the coming era of discovery.

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Biology's Brave New World

Biology's Brave New World | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

All the key barriers to the artificial synthesis of viruses and bacteria have been overcome, spawning a dizzying array of perils and promises. But as the scientific community forges ahead, the biosecurity establishment remains behind the curve.

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Mario Gonzalez's curator insight, January 6, 2014 12:32 AM

Reading this article astounded me and reasured my intrest in Biology and is just ridiculously interesting

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Craig Venter Will Teleport Your DNA

Craig Venter Will Teleport Your DNA | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

In his newest book, Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life, out Oct. 17, Venter explains the history of the synthetic field and describes how biological engineering could lead to drastic advances in energy generation, food production, and even evolution. PM sat down with Venter to discuss teleportation, alien life, and the future of the human species.

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Turning biologists into programmers

Turning biologists into programmers | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

For more than half a century scientists have looked on the DNA molecule as life's blueprint. Now biological engineers are beginning to see the molecule not as a static plan, but more like a snippet of life's computer code that they can program.

Penn State researchers are unraveling the mystery of how nature codes and recodes this program to address some of the world's biggest challenges, says Howard Salis, assistant professor of biological engineering and chemical engineering.

"You can engineer DNA to reprogram the metabolism of simple organisms and you can program them to make what you want, or to make it more efficiently, says Salis. "The trick is to understand how the organism interprets its DNA, and then to optimize new DNA sequences to rationally control its behavior."

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Margarida Sá Costa's curator insight, October 16, 2013 12:08 AM

Natural Code? 

artificial inteligence and human inteligence too near? 

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UW engineers invent programming language to build synthetic DNA

UW engineers invent programming language to build synthetic DNA | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Similar to using Python or Java to write code for a computer, chemists soon could be able to use a structured set of instructions to “program” how DNA molecules interact in a test tube or cell.
A team led by the University of Washington has developed a programming language for chemistry that it hopes will streamline efforts to design a network that can guide the behavior of chemical-reaction mixtures in the same way that embedded electronic controllers guide cars, robots and other devices. In medicine, such networks could serve as “smart” drug deliverers or disease detectors at the cellular level.

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jakiydom's curator insight, October 7, 2013 8:19 AM

good program !

 

jumping jack flash's curator insight, October 7, 2013 3:25 PM

Singularity is close

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In the Future, We'll Program Cells Like Computers

In the Future, We'll Program Cells Like Computers | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Researchers developing method to program human cells to combat HIV, cancer, Alzheimer’s—even aging


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Christopher Whelan's curator insight, October 28, 2013 4:43 PM

Time and time again, technology has shown to shine brightest when it is for the sake of mankind as a whole. Programming cells is such an advancement. The ability to do so could revolutionize how we view any type of illness, from the most common bacterial infection, to deadly viruses, to learning disabilities. It could eliminate the need for certain drugs without some of the severe side effects, as the body will be fighting its own battles, but doctors will be the generals in command. Is this technology a scary thought? Yes. Many questions would exist concerning what would happen if something went wrong. However, these questions have always existed, merely in different forms. The idea that a man could cut open another individual and manually repair an issue is terrifying, yet surgeries have become routine and are hardly given a second thought. Opening our minds to this kind of technology is the only way to move forward.

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Google vs. Death

Google vs. Death | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

At the moment Google is preparing an especially uncertain and distant shot. It is planning to launch Calico, a new company that will focus on health and aging in particular. The independent firm will be run by Arthur Levinson, former CEO of biotech pioneer Genentech, who will also be an investor. Levinson, who began his career as a scientist and has a Ph.D. in biochemistry, plans to remain in his current roles as the chairman of the board of directors for both Genentech and Apple, a position he took over after its co-founder Steve Jobs died in 2011. In other words, the company behind YouTube and Google+ is gearing up to seriously attempt to extend human lifespan.

 

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Nanotechnology solutions to combat superbugs

Nanotechnology solutions to combat superbugs | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

The emergence of superbugs has made it imperative to search for novel methods, which can combat the microbial resistance. Thus, application of nanotechnology in pharmaceuticals and microbiology is gaining importance to prevent the catastrophic consequences of antibiotic resistance. Nanotechnology based approaches are advantageous to improve various preventive measures such as coatings and filtration. Similarly, diagnosis using efficient nanosensors or probes can speed up the treatment process at an early stage of disease. Nano-based drug carriers for existing antibiotics enhance their bioavailability and make them more targets specific. Also the combination of nanoparticles (NPs) along with antibiotics makes them more lethal for micro-organisms.

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Pedro Barbosa's curator insight, September 11, 2013 10:19 AM

Nanotecnologia vesus resistência so micróbios.Esta é uma tendência que importa acompanhar, tanto na área do desenvolvimento cintífico, como na necessidade de alteração de hábitos na presecrição médica e sobretudo na automedicamentação.

A introdução de nanosensores na área preventiva é uma de muitas microevoluções que fazem desta área do desenvolvimento uma importante tendência para o futuro de médio prazo.

Pedro Barbosa | www.pbarbosa.com  |www.harvardtrends.com

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Artifice Earth: Adam Rutherford on the Promises of Synthetic Biology

Artifice Earth: Adam Rutherford on the Promises of Synthetic Biology | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

In the basement recording studio of the journal Nature scientist and broadcaster Adam Rutherford sat down with speculative architect Liam Young to discuss the mythical beasts of synthetic biology. Rutherford recently worked with the BBC on a series called the ‘Gene Code’ which explored the consequences of decoding the human genome. Recognizing the potential externalities of communicating science poorly, Rutherford works at conveying the poorly understood field of synthetic biology to a broader audience.

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Gabor Forgacs: "We live in a time when it is really difficult to say: "This is impossible!""

Dr. Gabor Forgacs is a theoretical physicist turned tissue-engineer turned entrepreneur. His companies are pioneering 3D bio-printing technologies that will produce tissues for medical and pharmaceutical uses, as well as for consumption, in the form of meat and leather.

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New Pills Deliver Bacteria, Not Drugs, To Cure Us

New Pills Deliver Bacteria, Not Drugs, To Cure Us | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

It seems that nearly every day, scientists connect another medical condition to atypical gut bacteria populations. Researchers have claimed that gut bacteria play a role not just in digestive health but even in basic brain function and mental health.
Certain bacteria are so clearly good for us that several companies are looking to market pills filled not with chemical drugs, but with bacteria.
A few pharmaceutical startups have already begun testing bacterial medicines in hopes of finding the right strain or stains of bacteria to cure widespread and still mysterious illnesses.

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Ji-Wei's curator insight, January 17, 2014 1:02 AM

New pills are being developed that cure us by using something different. These new pills are not using drugs but are using help bacteria. Scientists are testing these new drugs to find cures for widespread and mysterious diseases. I am wondering when these pills will become more widespread?

 

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Grow a new brain: First steps to lab-made grey matter

Grow a new brain: First steps to lab-made grey matter | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Bioengineers dream of growing spare parts for our worn-out or diseased bodies. They have already succeeded with some tissues, but one has always eluded them: the brain. Now a team in Sweden has taken the first step towards this ultimate goal.

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Powerful tool for genetic engineering

Powerful tool for genetic engineering | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Viruses cannot only cause illnesses in humans, they also infect bacteria. Those protect themselves with a kind of 'immune system' which -- simply put -- consists of specific sequences in the genetic material of the bacteria and a suitable enzyme. It detects foreign DNA, which may originate from a virus, cuts it up and thus makes the invaders harmless.
Scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig have now shown that the dual-RNA guided enzyme Cas9, which is involved in the process, has developed independently in various strains of bacteria. This enhances the potential of exploiting the bacterial immune system for genome engineering.

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Healing Damaged Hearts With Stem Cell Implants Gets New Technique

Healing Damaged Hearts With Stem Cell Implants Gets New Technique | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

We’re much better at saving the lives of those who suffer a heart attack these days. Sadly, many people survive a heart attack only to later succumb to heart failure from the damage it caused. Modern methods help heal the heart somewhat after a heart attack, but cardiologists think stem cell therapy might one day offer a far superior alternative.
Stem cells aren’t just good for growing new organs, they can also heal old or damaged ones from the inside. Thousands of patients whose hearts were damaged in a heart attack have undergone some form of stem cell therapy worldwide, and the results are promising. But there’s a problem. Once in the heart, the cells don’t tend to stay put.
Dr. W. Robert Taylor, professor of medicine at Emory and Georgia Tech and director of Emory’s cardiology division, recently co-authored a paper on a new technique that may significantly increase the efficacy of stem cell therapy in the heart.

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Biology Confronts Data Complexity

Biology Confronts Data Complexity | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

New technologies have launched the life sciences into the age of big data. Biologists must now make sense of their informational windfall.

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Gary Bamford's curator insight, October 21, 2013 1:53 AM

The very definition of 'complexity'!

Germán Morales's curator insight, October 22, 2013 11:26 AM

Tratar la vida como un cumulo de datos... qué se yo... estamos yendo a eso.

tatiyana fuentes's curator insight, October 24, 2013 8:49 AM

It was difficult to find sequence the human genome, but now it’s comparatively simple to compare genomes of the microorganisms living in our bodies, the ocean, the soil, and everywhere because of the new technologies. Life scientists are embarking on countless other big data projects, including efforts to analyze the genomes of many cancers, to map the human brain, and to develop better biofuels and other crops. Compared to fields like physics, astronomy and computer science that have been dealing with the challenges of massive datasets for decades, the big data revolution in biology has also been quick, leaving little time to adapt. Biologists must overcome a number of hurdles, from storing and moving data to integrating and analyzing it, which will require a substantial cultural shift.

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What Are Genetically Recoded Organisms?

What Are Genetically Recoded Organisms? | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Researchers have developed a new kind of genetic engineering that may be safer, with the power to make never-before-seen types of protein.

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Nick Roberts's curator insight, October 17, 2013 11:55 PM

Genetically, all of life on Earth speaks the same language. Our genetic material is essentially made up of our DNA. All living things on Earth can see that the same way. Cells from other species are able to read each other's DNA. Example: biologists put the human gene for eyes on a fruit fly's leg and the fruit fly's cells made a fruit fly eye.

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Craig Venter: 'This isn't a fantasy look at the future. We are doing the future'

Craig Venter: 'This isn't a fantasy look at the future. We are doing the future' | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

The pioneering American scientist, who created the world's first synthetic life, is building a gadget that could teletransport medicine and vaccines into our homes or to colonists in space

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NIH Grant to Develop New Nanotechnology for Better Cancer Treatment

NIH Grant to Develop New Nanotechnology for Better Cancer Treatment | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it
UB researcher Jonathan Lovell has received a five-year, $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to work on a new nanotechnology that could greatly improve how doctors treat and understand cancer.
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Finally, the War on Aging Has Truly Begun

Finally, the War on Aging Has Truly Begun | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

To paraphrase Churchill’s words following the Second Battle of El Alamein: Google‘s announcement about their new venture to extend human life, Calico, is not the end, nor even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. - by Dr.  Aubrey de Grey

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Growing human brain tissue: The organoid without a face

Scientists have coaxed stem cells to form a glob of tissue that resembles a developing human brain, and they are using it to study disease

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Molecular threading: A powerful tool for DNA sequencing

Molecular threading: A powerful tool for DNA sequencing | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Familiar to us as building blocks of life, DNA molecules have also proven themselves as versatile building blocks for a wide variety of new nanostructures. While solution-phase chemistry lets millions of parallel DNA reactions be performed simultaneously in a beaker, manipulating single molecules of DNA is still a formidable challenge. A new technique, known as molecular threading, now lets researchers grab onto a single gnarled strand of DNA in solution, draw it out into thin air, and neatly fix it to a substrate where it can be accessed.

The process was developed several years ago by Halcyon Molecular, and has attracted significant funding from illustrious investors including Elon Musk and Peter Thiel. The intellectual property is now owned by Aeon Biowares, a company which develops, among other things, heavy metal labels to visualize large biomolecules like DNA. Exotic DNA structures and devices, including things like 3D DNA origami, have many potential applications. Right now, though, the most practical application is sequencing.

 

 

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