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Drug Delivery by Tattooing to Treat Cutaneous Leishmaniasis

Drug Delivery by Tattooing to Treat Cutaneous Leishmaniasis | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
This study establishes a proof-of-concept that a tattoo device can target intra-dermal drug delivery against cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL). The selected drug is oleylphosphocholine (OlPC) formulated as liposomes, particles known to be prone to macrophage ingestion. We first show that treatment of cultured Leishmania-infected macrophages with OlPC-liposomes results in a direct dose-dependent killing of intracellular parasites. Based on this, in vivo efficacy is demonstrated using a 10 day tattooing-mediated treatment in mice infected with L. major and L. mexicana. In both models this regimen results in rapid clinical recovery with complete regression of skin lesions by Day 28. Parasite counts and histopathology examination confirm high treatment efficacy at the parasitic level. Low amount of drug required for tattooing combined with fast clinical recovery may have a positive impact on CL patient management. This first example of tattoo-mediated drug delivery could open to new therapeutic interventions in the treatment of skin diseases.
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Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology’s Designs on Nature

Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology’s Designs on Nature | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
*This forthcoming tome looks like it oughta be pretty happening. *It's a press release. *******************************************************************
Gerd Moe-Behrens's insight:

by
Bruce Sterling

"Synthetic Aesthetics

Investigating Synthetic Biology’s Designs on Nature
By Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Jane Calvert, Pablo Schyfter, Alistair Elfick, and Drew Endy
Publication date: March 31, 2014
Synthetic biology manipulates the stuff of life. For synthetic biologists, living matter is programmable material. In search of carbon-neutral fuels, sustainable manufacturing techniques, and innovative drugs, these researchers aim to redesign existing organisms and even construct completely novel biological entities. Some synthetic biologists see themselves as designers, inventing new products and applications. But if biology is viewed as a malleable, engineerable, designable medium, what is the role of design and how will its values apply?
In this book, synthetic biologists, artists, designers, and social scientists investigate synthetic biology and design. After chapters that introduce the science and set the terms of the discussion, the book follows six boundary-crossing collaborations between artists and designers and synthetic biologists from around the world, helping us understand what it might mean to ‘design nature.’ These collaborations have resulted in biological computers that calculate form; speculative packaging that builds its own contents; algae that feeds on circuit boards; and a sampling of human cheeses. They raise intriguing questions about the scientific process, the delegation of creativity, our relationship to designed matter, and, the importance of critical engagement. Should these projects be considered art, design, synthetic biology, or something else altogether?
Synthetic biology is driven by its potential; some of these projects are fictions, beyond the current capabilities of the technology. Yet even as fictions, they help illuminate, question, and even shape the future of the field."

 http://wrd.cm/1fkByOa

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Material ecologies for synthetic biology: Biomineralization and the state space of design

Material ecologies for synthetic biology: Biomineralization and the state space of design | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
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Martyn Dade-Robertsona,  Carolina Ramirez Figueroaa, Meng Zhang

"This paper discusses the role that material ecologies might have in the emerging engineering paradigm of Synthetic Biology (hereafter SB). In this paper we suggest that, as a result of the paradigm of SB, a new way of considering the relationship between computation and material forms is needed, where computation is embedded into the material elements themselves through genetic programming. The paper discusses current trends to conceptualize SB in traditional engineering terms and contrast this from design speculations in terms of bottom up processes of emergence and self organization. The paper suggests that, to reconcile these positions, it is necessary to think about the design of new material systems derived from engineering living organisms in terms of a state space of production. The paper analyses this state space using the example of biomineralization, with illustrations from simple experiments on bacteria induced calcium carbonate. The paper suggests a framework involving three interconnected state spaces defined as: cellular (the control of structures within the cell structures within a cell, and specifically DNA and its expression through the process of transcription and translation); chemical (considered to occur outside the cell, but in direct chemical interaction with the interior of the cell itself); physical (which constitutes the physical forces and energy within the environment). We also illustrate, in broad terms, how such spaces are interconnected. Finally the paper will conclude by suggesting how a material ecologies approach might feature in the future development of SB."

 http://bit.ly/PkQNl6

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How to Make a Microscope Out of Paper in 10 Minutes

How to Make a Microscope Out of Paper in 10 Minutes | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
A new microscope can be printed on a flat piece of paper and assembled in less than 10 minutes. And the parts to make it cost less than a dollar.
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Gene Editing of CCR5 in Autologous CD4 T Cells of Persons Infected with HIV — NEJM

Gene Editing of CCR5 in Autologous CD4 T Cells of Persons Infected with HIV — NEJM | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
Original Article from The New England Journal of Medicine — Gene Editing of CCR5 in Autologous CD4 T Cells of Persons Infected with HIV
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Harvard professor Sophia Roosth examines how synthetic biology is remaking life

Harvard professor Sophia Roosth examines how synthetic biology is remaking life | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
Gerd Moe-Behrens's insight:

*Biological Time Travel*

"FROM GLOWING FISH to bacteria that can count, synthetic biologists are now able to create life forms never before seen on earth. “Historians and Ecclesiastes be damned,” says Sophia Roosth, assistant professor in the history of science. “In the first decades of the twenty-first century, a number of things are new under the sun.”

In a lecture last Wednesday drawn from her forthcoming book, Synthetic: How Life Got Made, Roosth, a Joy Foundation Fellow this year at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, described her analysis of recent attempts at “de-extinction,” the effort to recreate extinct or endangered species using modern technologies. In 2003, scientists employing a technique similar to that used to create Dolly the sheep were able, if only temporarily, to resurrect the extinct bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex, by inserting its DNA into the eggs of its closest living relatives—goats—and then implanting the resulting embryos in the wombs of 57 goats. (The only clone born alive died minutes after birth.) “Participating researchers treat these biotechnologies…as forms of biological time travel that weave past, present, and future,” Roosth said.
Other de-extinction efforts take a different approach, she noted. Although some scientists are working to resurrect the passenger pigeon through cloning, for example, others have focused on breeding and genetically modifying rock pigeons to exhibit passenger-pigeon-like traits. The second approach, said Roosth, brings up the complex question of what biologists consider a species. “For de-extinction scientists, purity of phenotype—things like morphology and behavior—trumps genetic equivalence or continuous lineage,” she explained. “An animal that looks and flocks like a passenger pigeon is a passenger pigeon, even if it harbors rock pigeon DNA.”
Roosth ended by describing Pleistocene Park, a nature reserve in Siberia where scientists are working to restore the steppe ecosystem characteristic of the last Ice Age. Current efforts focus on reintroducing large herbivores like musk oxen, bison, and moose, and, eventually, their predators, such as wolves and bears. The park hopes to become home one day to resurrected woolly mammoths as well. Roosth quoted Winthrop professor of genetics George Church, a leader of the mammoth de-extinction effort, who wrote in his book Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves, “It would be the closest thing to time travel: a return to the flora and fauna of the Pleistocene epoch, a sort of latter-day Siberian Eden.”
Ironically, there is nothing natural about the reconstructed wilderness, Roosth points out. Appearance and verisimilitude, the hallmarks of a resurrected passenger pigeon, become the defining characteristics of an entire ecosystem. “[These] interventions seek to produce wholly synthetic creatures that will stand in, counterintuitively, as semblances of untouched nature,” she declared, “a latter-day Garden of Eden seemingly unsullied by human hands, albeit generated by the most recent bioengineering techniques.”
..."


 http://bit.ly/1g3jI6G

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Cell-autonomous correction of ring chromosomes in human induced pluripotent stem cells

Cell-autonomous correction of ring chromosomes in human induced pluripotent stem cells | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
Ring chromosomes are structural aberrations commonly associated with birth defects, mental disabilities and growth retardation. Rings form after fusion of the long and short arms of a chromosome, and are sometimes associated with large terminal deletions. Owing to the severity of these large aberrations that can affect multiple contiguous genes, no possible therapeutic strategies for ring chromosome disorders have been proposed. During cell division, ring chromosomes can exhibit unstable behaviour leading to continuous production of aneuploid progeny with low viability and high cellular death rate. The overall consequences of this chromosomal instability have been largely unexplored in experimental model systems. Here we generated human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from patient fibroblasts containing ring chromosomes with large deletions and found that reprogrammed cells lost the abnormal chromosome and duplicated the wild-type homologue through the compensatory uniparental disomy (UPD) mechanism. The karyotypically normal iPSCs with isodisomy for the corrected chromosome outgrew co-existing aneuploid populations, enabling rapid and efficient isolation of patient-derived iPSCs devoid of the original chromosomal aberration. Our results suggest a fundamentally different function for cellular reprogramming as a means of /`chromosome therapy/' to reverse combined loss-of-function across many genes in cells with large-scale aberrations involving ring structures. In addition, our work provides an experimentally tractable human cellular system for studying mechanisms of chromosomal number control, which is of critical relevance to human development and disease.
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iPS cells: a game changer for future medicine

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A great review by Yamanaka et al

http://bit.ly/1ndpIM4

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How to Make a Synthetic Multicellular Computer

How to Make a Synthetic Multicellular Computer | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
Gerd Moe-Behrens's insight:

by
Macia J, Sole R

"Biological systems perform computations at multiple scales and they do so in a robust way. Engineering metaphors have often been used in order to provide a rationale for modeling cellular and molecular computing networks and as the basis for their synthetic design. However, a major constraint in this mapping between electronic and wet computational circuits is the wiring problem. Although wires are identical within electronic devices, they must be different when using synthetic biology designs. Moreover, in most cases the designed molecular systems cannot be reused for other functions. A new approximation allows us to simplify the problem by using synthetic cellular consortia where the output of the computation is distributed over multiple engineered cells. By evolving circuits in silico, we can obtain the minimal sets of Boolean units required to solve the given problem at the lowest cost using cellular consortia. Our analysis reveals that the basic set of logic units is typically non-standard. Among the most common units, the so called inverted IMPLIES (N-Implies) appears to be one of the most important elements along with the NOT and AND functions. Although NOR and NAND gates are widely used in electronics, evolved circuits based on combinations of these gates are rare, thus suggesting that the strategy of combining the same basic logic gates might be inappropriate in order to easily implement synthetic computational constructs. The implications for future synthetic designs, the general view of synthetic biology as a standard engineering domain, as well as potencial drawbacks are outlined."


http://bit.ly/NseMxD

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Bob's curator insight, April 15, 2014 12:51 PM

synthetic multicellular computer

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Fungal extrolites as a new source for therapeutic compounds and as building blocks for applications in synthetic biology

Gerd Moe-Behrens's insight:

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Ana Lúcia Leitãoa,  Francisco J. Enguita

"Secondary metabolic pathways of fungal origin provide an almost unlimited resource of new compounds for medical applications, which can fulfill some of the, currently unmet, needs for therapeutic alternatives for the treatment of a number of diseases. Secondary metabolites secreted to the extracellular medium (extrolites) belong to diverse chemical and structural families, but the majority of them are synthesized by the condensation of a limited number of precursor building blocks including amino acids, sugars, lipids and low molecular weight compounds also employed in anabolic processes. In fungi, genes related to secondary metabolic pathways are frequently clustered together and show a modular organization within fungal genomes. The majority of fungal gene clusters responsible for the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites contain genes encoding a high molecular weight condensing enzyme which is responsible for the assembly of the precursor units of the metabolite. They also contain other auxiliary genes which encode enzymes involved in subsequent chemical modification of the metabolite core. Synthetic biology is a branch of molecular biology whose main objective is the manipulation of cellular components and processes in order to perform logically connected metabolic functions. In synthetic biology applications, biosynthetic modules from secondary metabolic processes can be rationally engineered and combined to produce either new compounds, or to improve the activities and/or the bioavailability of the already known ones. Recently, advanced genome editing techniques based on guided DNA endonucleases have shown potential for the manipulation of eukaryotic and bacterial genomes. This review discusses the potential application of genetic engineering and genome editing tools in the rational design of fungal secondary metabolite pathways by taking advantage of the increasing availability of genomic and biochemical data."


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Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology's Designs on Nature: Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Jane Calvert, Pablo Schyfter, Alistair Elfick, Drew Endy: 9780262019996: Amazon.com: Books

Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology's Designs on Nature

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mRNA translation and protein synthesis: an analysis of different modelling methodologies and a new PBN based approach

mRNA translation involves simultaneous movement of multiple ribosomes on the mRNA and is also subject to regulatory mechanisms at different stages. Translation can be described by various codon-based models, including ODE, TASEP, and Petri net models. Although such models have been extensively used, the overlap and differences between these models and the implications of the assumptions of each model has not been systematically elucidated. The selection of the most appropriate modelling framework, and the most appropriate way to develop coarse-grained/fine-grained models in different contexts is not clear.
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The Mammoth Cometh

The Mammoth Cometh | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
Gerd Moe-Behrens's insight:

by
ATHANIEL RICH

"The first time Ben Novak saw a passenger pigeon, he fell to his knees and remained in that position, speechless, for 20 minutes. He was 16. At 13, Novak vowed to devote his life to resurrecting extinct animals. At 14, he saw a photograph of a passenger pigeon in an Audubon Society book and “fell in love.” But he didn’t know that the Science Museum of Minnesota, which he was then visiting with a summer program for North Dakotan high-school students, had them in their collection, so he was shocked when he came across a cabinet containing two stuffed pigeons, a male and a female, mounted in lifelike poses. He was overcome by awe, sadness and the birds’ physical beauty: their bright auburn breasts, slate-gray backs and the dusting of iridescence around their napes that, depending on the light and angle, appeared purple, fuchsia or green. Before his chaperones dragged him out of the room, Novak snapped a photograph with his disposable camera. The flash was too strong, however, and when the film was processed several weeks later, he was haunted to discover that the photograph hadn’t developed. It was blank, just a flash of white light.

In the decade since, Novak has visited 339 passenger pigeons — at the Burke Museum in Seattle, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Harvard’s Ornithology Department, which has 145 specimens, including eight pigeon corpses preserved in jars of ethanol, 31 eggs and a partly albino pigeon. There are 1,532 passenger-pigeon specimens left on Earth. On Sept. 1, 1914, Martha, the last captive passenger pigeon, died at the Cincinnati Zoo. She outlasted George, the penultimate survivor of her species and her only companion, by four years. As news spread of her species’ imminent extinction, Martha became a minor tourist attraction. In her final years, whether depressed or just old, she barely moved. Underwhelmed zoo visitors threw fistfuls of sand at her to elicit a reaction. When she finally died, her body was taken to the Cincinnati Ice Company, frozen in a 300-pound ice cube and shipped by train to the Smithsonian Institution, where she was stuffed and mounted and visited, 99 years later, by Ben Novak.
The fact that we can pinpoint the death of the last known passenger pigeon is one of many peculiarities that distinguish the species. Many thousands of species go extinct every year, but we tend to be unaware of their passing, because we’re unaware of the existence of most species. The passenger pigeon’s decline was impossible to ignore, because as recently as the 1880s, it was the most populous vertebrate in North America. It made up as much as 40 percent of the continent’s bird population. In “A Feathered River Across the Sky,” Joel Greenberg suggests that the species’ population “may have exceeded that of every other bird on earth.” In 1860, a naturalist observed a single flock that he estimated to contain 3,717,120,000 pigeons. By comparison, there are currently 260 million rock pigeons in existence. A single passenger-pigeon nesting ground once occupied an area as large as 850 square miles, or 37 Manhattans.
The species’ incredible abundance was an enticement to mass slaughter. The birds were hunted for their meat, which was sold by the ton (at the higher end of the market, Delmonico’s served pigeon cutlets); for their oil and feathers; and for sport. Even so, their rapid decline — from approximately five billion to extinction within a few decades — baffled most Americans. Science magazine published an article claiming that the birds had all fled to the Arizona desert. Others hypothesized that the pigeons had taken refuge in the Chilean pine forests or somewhere east of the Puget Sound or in Australia. Another theory held that every passenger pigeon had joined a single megaflock and disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle...."



http://nyti.ms/1csjod1

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Characterizing bacterial gene circuit dynamics with optically programmed gene expression signals

Characterizing bacterial gene circuit dynamics with optically programmed gene expression signals | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
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Evan J Olson, Lucas A Hartsough, Brian P Landry, Raghav Shroff & Jeffrey J Tabor
"Gene circuits are dynamical systems that regulate cellular behaviors, often using protein signals as inputs and outputs. Here we have developed an optogenetic 'function generator' method for programming tailor-made gene expression signals in live bacterial cells. We designed precomputed light sequences based on experimentally calibrated mathematical models of light-switchable two-component systems and used them to drive intracellular protein levels to match user-defined reference time courses. We used this approach to generate accelerated and linearized dynamics, sinusoidal oscillations with desired amplitudes and periods, and a complex waveform, all with unprecedented accuracy and precision. We also combined the function generator with a dual fluorescent protein reporter system, analogous to a dual-channel oscilloscope, to reveal that a synthetic repressible promoter linearly transforms repressor signals with an approximate 7-min delay. Our approach will enable a new generation of dynamical analyses of synthetic and natural gene circuits, providing an essential step toward the predictive design and rigorous understanding of biological systems."
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*Rice synthetic biologists shine light on genetic circuit analysis*
by
Jade Boyd
"Bioengineers invent ‘light tube array,’ ‘bioscilloscope’ to test, debug genetic circuits
In a significant advance for the growing field of synthetic biology, Rice University bioengineers have created a toolkit of genes and hardware that uses colored lights and engineered bacteria to bring both mathematical predictability and cut-and-paste simplicity to the world of genetic circuit design.
“Life is controlled by DNA-based circuits, and these are similar to the circuits found in electronic devices like smartphones and computers,” said Rice bioengineer Jeffrey Tabor, the lead researcher on the project. “A major difference is that electrical engineers measure the signals flowing into and out of electronic circuits as voltage, whereas bioengineers measure genetic circuit signals as genes turning on and off.”
In a new paper appearing online today in the journal Nature Methods, Tabor and colleagues, including graduate student and lead author Evan Olson, describe a new, ultra high-precision method for creating and measuring gene expression signals in bacteria by combining light-sensing proteins from photosynthetic algae with a simple array of red and green LED lights and standard fluorescent reporter genes. By varying the timing and intensity of the lights, the researchers were able to control exactly when and how much different genes were expressed.
“Light provides us a powerful new method for reliably measuring genetic circuit activity,” said Tabor, an assistant professor of bioengineering who also teaches in Rice’s Ph.D. program in systems, synthetic and physical biology. “Our work was inspired by the methods that are used to study electronic circuits. Electrical engineers have tools like oscilloscopes and function generators that allow them to measure how voltage signals flow through electrical circuits. Those measurements are essential for making multiple circuits work together properly, so that more complex devices can be built. We have used our light-based tools as a biological function generator and oscilloscope in order to similarly analyze genetic circuits.”
...."
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"Post-Myriad Genetics Copyright of Synthetic Biology and Living Media" by Michael D. Murray

"Post-Myriad Genetics Copyright of Synthetic Biology and Living Media" by Michael D. Murray | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
This Article addresses copyright as a viable form of intellectual property protection for living, organic creations of science and art. The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.[1] narrowed patent-eligible protection over living components of humans or other organisms. Synthetic biologists are expected to look with renewed focus on copyright law for the intellectual property protection of biological creations. The contribution of this Article is to reveal that the same issues are raised with regard to the copyrightability of the works of synthetic biology as are raised by pictorial, graphic, and sculptural arts that use and produce living media as their works. The current contours of copyrightability present four identical questions that are particularly relevant to and difficult to answer in the context of science and art that purports to create works of living media:
Is living media copyrightable subject matter?
What is authorship (or who is an author) of living media?
What does it mean to create a fixed and tangible work of living media?
What constitutes an original creation of living media under the originality doctrines of merger and scenes a faire?
This Article will provide an analytical framework for rethinking the contours of copyright so as to answer these questions by comparing contemporary scientific methods of creation with artistic methods in order to determine the copyright narratives and metaphors of subject matter, authorship, creation, and originality that best address the concerns underlying these four questions and allow copyright protection over the works.
[1] Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 133 S. Ct. 2107 (Jun. 13, 2013) (isolated DNA sequences not patentable).
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Chemical synthetic biology

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by
Chiarabelli, Cristiano; Luisi, Pier Luigi

"Although both the most popular form of synthetic biology (SB) and chemical synthetic biology (CSB) share the biotechnologically useful aim of making new forms of life, SB does so by using genetic manipulation of extant microorganism, while CSB utilises classic chemical procedures in order to obtain biological structures which are non-existent in nature. The main query concerning CSB is the philosophical question: why did nature do this, and not that? The idea then is to synthesise alternative structures in order to understand why nature operated in such a particular way. We briefly present here some various examples of CSB, including those cases of nucleic acids synthesised with pyranose instead of ribose, and proteins with a reduced alphabet of amino acids; also we report the developing research on the “never born proteins” (NBP) and “never born RNA” (NBRNA), up to the minimal cell project, where the issue is the preparation of semi-synthetic cells that can perform the basic functions of biological cells."

 http://bit.ly/1crgtqj

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Why Synthetic Biology Is the Field of the Future

Why Synthetic Biology Is the Field of the Future | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
Gerd Moe-Behrens's insight:

by
Jay Keasling 

"Most Americans may not be familiar with synthetic biology, but they may come to appreciate its advances someday soon. Synthetic biology focuses on creating technologies for designing and building biological organisms. A multidisciplinary effort, it calls biologists, engineers, software developers, and others to collaborate on finding ways to understand how genetic parts work together, and then to combine them to produce useful applications.

Synthetic biology is a relatively young field, begun only about ten years ago. But in that time, we have made some astonishing progress. This is due, in part, to the enormous improvements in our ability to synthesize and sequence DNA. But we’ve also gained a much greater understanding of how the various parts of the genome interact. We now can reliably combine various genetic pieces to produce a range of consumer products, from biofuels to cosmetics.

In medicine, the synthetic biology community is pushing the boundaries by designing microbes that will seek and destroy tumors in the body before self-destructing. Synthetic biology also provides us a way to clean up our environment. We can build organisms to consume toxic chemicals in water or soil that would not otherwise decompose, for example. It can also help us to better understand flu strains and create vaccines. Synthetic biology will even help us feed the world. At MIT, researchers are working to build a process that will allow plants to fix nitrogen. If successful, farmers will no longer require fertilizer for their crops.
That’s not all we’re doing with plants, either. At the Joint BioEnergy Institute in California, scientists have found a way to expand the sugar content of biomass crops to increase their density and decrease the cost of biofuels produced from them. We envision that eventually we will be able to build just about anything from biology. Don’t be surprised if one day your computer has biological parts.
The recently released National Bioeconomy Blueprint notes that the field is already making an important contribution to the U.S.’s technological innovation and will be a key to our shift to a bioeconomy, or economic activity powered by research and innovation in the biosciences.
We still have many challenges to overcome, but we have laid a very strong foundation for the field. We believe that one day we will be able to fully utilize biology’s manufacturing capability. As one of my colleagues, Harvard scientist Pam Silver noted, the field is poised to explode, both in terms of what scientists can accomplish and what the public realizes is possible.
A Significant Advancement
A landmark of synthetic biology will launch this spring. It is an anti-malarial drug made from synthetic chemicals, artemisinin. It’s an important event for those threatened by the disease; each year, malaria kills more than one million people and infects an additional 300–500 million people. That’s over seven percent of the world’s population.
Synthetic biology has learned much from the past.
Artimisinin is not a new treatment for malaria, but our ability to produce the substance in a lab is. Traditionally, the drug is isolated from a plant, Artemisia annua. But by moving production into the lab, we’re liberated from the vicissitudes of the plant’s growth cycle as well as the fluctuations in global supplies and prices. Artemisinin is a milestone in science, too. It represents a watershed moment in particular for the emerging field of synthetic biology.
Managing the Risks
Like many things we do, synthetic biology comes with risks, especially when it comes to safety and security. But consider this: We fly airplanes, we drive cars, we treat cancer with poison— all of these activities could be dangerous, but they also have benefits that far outweigh the risks. We believe this is true of synthetic biology as well. As Laurie Zoloth, a bioethicist at Northwestern University, once said, “Synthetic biology is like iron: You can make sewing needles and you can make spears. Of course, there is going to be dual use.”
Here, I would say that synthetic biology has learned much from the past—at conferences such as Asilomar, we carefully considered how we can pursue our research responsibly. We work closely with regulatory agencies and adhere to our own institutional requirements. In fact, much of our work is with what are called Biosafety Level 1 organisms—the safest organisms known. We also have developed a robust partnership with the FBI to ensure that we are utilizing the best practices for lab security.
In addition to discussing approaches to risk and risk assessment, synthetic biologists are also working hard to minimize potential adverse effects. For example, Silver’s lab is working to create genetic self-destruct traits, termed “auto-delete,” as a way to ensure that genetically modified organisms don’t escape into the environment.
Along with the practical matters of safety and security, there are profound moral and ethical issues involved in our research. Many of us, especially our colleagues at the Hastings Center and the Wilson Center, are grappling with building a framework for all of us to use in our work. There are no easy answers, but I can assure you that we all want our work to benefit the public, solving global challenges, and making sure that we are well-equipped to live in the future bioeconomy...."


http://to.pbs.org/Z0UEAQ

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Dr. James J. Collins, a Pioneer in Synthetic Biology, Joins the Scientific Advisory Board of Agilis Biotherapeutics

Agilis Biotherapeutics, LLC, a synthetic biology-based company focused on developing DNA-based therapeutics for rare genetic diseases, announced today
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Synthetic Biology - Global Strategic Business Report | SYS-CON MEDIA

SYS-CON Media, NJ, The world's leading i-technology media company on breaking technology news.
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DNA interrogation by the CRISPR RNA-guided endonuclease Cas9 :

DNA interrogation by the CRISPR RNA-guided endonuclease Cas9 : | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
Gerd Moe-Behrens's insight:

by
Samuel H. Sternberg, Sy Redding, Martin Jinek, Eric C. Greene & Jennifer A. Doudna

"The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-associated enzyme Cas9 is an RNA-guided endonuclease that uses RNA–DNA base-pairing to target foreign DNA in bacteria. Cas9–guide RNA complexes are also effective genome engineering agents in animals and plants. Here we use single-molecule and bulk biochemical experiments to determine how Cas9–RNA interrogates DNA to find specific cleavage sites. We show that both binding and cleavage of DNA by Cas9–RNA require recognition of a short trinucleotide protospacer adjacent motif (PAM). Non-target DNA binding affinity scales with PAM density, and sequences fully complementary to the guide RNA but lacking a nearby PAM are ignored by Cas9–RNA. Competition assays provide evidence that DNA strand separation and RNA–DNA heteroduplex formation initiate at the PAM and proceed directionally towards the distal end of the target sequence. Furthermore, PAM interactions trigger Cas9 catalytic activity. These results reveal how Cas9 uses PAM recognition to quickly identify potential target sites while scanning large DNA molecules, and to regulate scission of double-stranded DNA."


http://bit.ly/1cdwW1l

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Craig Venter Tackle Aging

Craig Venter Tackle Aging | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
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MAGGIE FOX
"Craig Venter, who managed to make science both lucrative and glamorous with his pioneering approach to gene sequencing and synthetic biology, is taking on a new venture: aging.
He has joined forces with the founder of the X Prize and an expert in cell therapy to launch on Tuesday a new company called Human Longevity Inc. The man who once took off on his personal yacht to sample all the microscopic life in the seas plans to leverage some of the most fashionable new scientific approaches to figure out what makes us sick and old.
The San Diego-based company will tackle aging using gene sequencing; stem cell approaches; the collection of bacteria and other life forms that live in and on us called the microbiome; and the metabolome, which includes the byproducts of life called metabolites.
They’ll start out with what they are calling the largest human sequencing operation in the world.
“We are building a lab to a scale never attempted (before),” Venter told NBC News.
Venter first shot to fame when he raced with government scientists to finish the first map of all human DNA, called the human genome. Venter, himself a former government scientist, annoyed his former colleagues with a brash new approach to gene sequencing that was much faster but far less accurate, in their opinion.
“We are building a lab to a scale never attempted (before).”
The two teams joined forces, the partnership worked, and they finished their first draft in 2001.
Venter later parted ways with the company he founded to sequence genes and went on to tackle other challenges, including a venture that included weeks on his personal yacht sequencing the DNA of microbial life in the ocean.
He also took a crack at creating artificial life, making a synthetic bacterium of sorts, and making more controversy with that.
For the new company, Venter is teaming up Dr. Robert Hariri, who directs cell therapy operations at Celgene, a biopharmaceutical company, and engineer Dr. Peter Diamandis, chairman of the X Prize Foundation. Karen Nelson, who headed the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), will lead the microbiome team.
Studies — including projects at JCVI — have shown the bacteria, fungi and other creatures living in and on the human body affect diseases from cancer to eczema and dandruff. Hariri says their byproducts may also affect how well we age. “If you eliminate these various diseases, you eliminate the things contributing to unhealthy aging,” Hariri said.
"We believe the key to … make 100 the new 60, is something well within our grasp.”
Stem cells, the body’s master cells, secrete compounds that affect tissues and may be able to turn back the clock on some diseases associated with aging, he added.
It’s just a good time to tackle these kinds of projects, said Diamandis. The science is there, for one. “There is also this explosion of massive computational power,” said Diamandis, whose first X Prize challenge offered $10 million in 1996 to inspire commercial space ventures. (Burt Rutan won in 2004 with SpaceShipOne, a piloted rocket plane.)
“The time for creating extended high-performing humans genetically is now. We believe the key to … make 100 the new 60, is something well within our grasp.”
The new company doesn’t aim to extend human life so much as to help keep people healthy as they get older.
“The challenge is when you live into your 80s, 90s, to 100, living in a way that is decrepit and old is of zero value,” Diamandis said.
So, the goal is to battle all the diseases of aging, Venter said.
Is there a magic number? “I am hoping it is bigger than 68,” joked Venter, who is 67..."
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Introduction of a Synthetic CO2-Fixing Photorespiratory Bypass into a Cyanobacterium

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Patrick M. Shi1, Jan Zarzycki, Krishna K. Niyogi and Cheryl A. Kerfeld

"Global photosynthetic productivity is limited by the enzymatic assimilation of CO2 into organic carbon compounds. Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO), the carboxylating enzyme of the Calvin-Benson (CB) cycle, poorly discriminates between CO2 and O2, leading to photorespiration and the loss of fixed carbon and nitrogen. With the advent of synthetic biology, it is now feasible to design, synthesize and introduce biochemical pathways in vivo. We engineered a synthetic photorespiratory bypass based on the 3-hydroxypropionate bi-cycle into the model cyanobacterium, Synechococcus elongatus sp. PCC 7942. The heterologously expressed cycle is designed to function as both a photorespiratory bypass and an additional CO2-fixing pathway, supplementing the CB cycle. We demonstrate the function of all six introduced enzymes and identify bottlenecks to be targeted in subsequent bioengineering. These results have implications for efforts to improve photosynthesis, and for the "green" production of high-value products of biotechnological interest."

 http://bit.ly/1kvbwPS

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Fluorescent in situ sequencing

George Church, Ph.D., a Core Faculty member at the Wyss Institute and Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, explains how fluorescent in situ sequencing…
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Nanotube twins - Coupled carbon and peptide nanotubes achieved for the first time

Nanotube twins - Coupled carbon and peptide nanotubes achieved for the first time | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
Nanotube twins - Coupled carbon and peptide nanotubes achieved for the first time
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James Collins Podcast: Quantitative Approaches to Genetic Networks

James Collins Podcast: Quantitative Approaches to Genetic Networks | SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute | Scoop.it
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 http://bit.ly/1mO1fwx

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