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Category: biotechnology

Robotics | IoT

How Engineered Nanoparticles Gave Mice Infrared Vision

Efforts to use technology to enhance humans’ natural capabilities are moving out of the scientific fringes. A recent study on mice suggests it may eventually be possible to imbue people with infrared vision by injecting nanoparticles into their eyeballs. The visual range of mammals encompasses a tiny sliver of the electromagnetic spectrum referred to as […]

Graphene Shows Promise for Repairing Broken Bones

When you were a kid, did you ever sign a classmate’s cast after they broke an arm or a leg? Your name would be on display there for the rest of the semester. Broken bones are one of the worst trade-offs in childhood—a few seconds of calamity followed by months of boring rest and recovery. […]

Scientists Just Added Four New Letters to the Genetic Code

A four-letter alphabet might seem limited, but it’s all nature needed to write the instructions for all life on the planet. News that researchers have added four letters to the genetic alphabet opens the door to new possibilities in synthetic biology, data storage, and even the search for life beyond our planet. The genetic code […]

Demystifying GMOs: New Research Shows Unexpected Changes in Plant DNA

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are one of the most contentious topics in science today. But a study from the Salk Institute, published last month in PLOS Genetics, may help clear up some of the confusion. Using a combination of techniques known as nanopore sequencing and optical mapping, researchers believe they have a clearer picture of […]

Gene Drives Survived a Proposed UN Ban in 2018—What’s Next?

In September 2018, a lab-based study published in Nature Biotechnology confirmed what many had long believed possible. The experiment involved cages of a few hundred mosquitoes, free to fly around and reproduce—but with a twist. Half of the male mosquitoes had their genomes modified using CRISPR-Cas9. The genome modification made little visible difference to the […]

Disrupting Reproduction: Two New Advances in Tech-Assisted Baby-Making

Last week, news of CRISPR-engineered babies launched a firestorm of debate on the future of human reproduction: Is it safe? Is it ethical? Do we now have the ability to “play God”? But even as scientists, ethicists, and the general public struggled with the implications of a fundamentally-altered reproductive future, other teams released results that […]

CRISPR Babies: Stumbling Over Mankind’s Next Giant Leap

During the last weekend in November, MIT Tech Review broke a world-changing story: the birth of the first children to have undergone gene editing as embryos. The Associated Press swiftly followed with a longer report on the small Chinese clinical trial in which seven couples, all including HIV-positive men, donated eggs and sperm that Dr. […]

Welcome to the CRISPR Baby World—Here’s What You Should Know

Last week, the gene editing world was hit by news the equivalent of a nuclear bomb. In a video on YouTube, Dr. Jiankui He at Southern University of Science and Technology in China revealed that the first CRISPR babies—a pair of twin girls named Nana and Lulu—had been born. Engineered to resist HIV infections, the […]

Ears Grown From Apples? The Promise of Plants for Engineering Human Tissue

Inspiration for game-changing science can seemingly come from anywhere. A moldy bacterial plate gave us the first antibiotic, penicillin. Zapping yeast with a platinum electrode led to a powerful chemotherapy drug, cisplatin. For Dr. Andrew Pelling at the University of Ottawa, his radical idea came from a sci-fi cult classic called The Little Shop of […]

Science vs. Superbugs: A New Wave of Solutions Is On the Way

Hollywood is chockablock with movies about zombie apocalypses caused by some uncontrollable infection, while alarming real-world headlines proclaim the next superbug is just around the corner. It’s a wonder we’re not all germaphobes on the scale of Howard Hughes, the billionaire aviator and movie producer who famously wore tissue boxes on his feet (among other […]