The Synthetic Bestiary – Synthetic Biology, Genetic Engineering, and The Future

Video of the Week #6: The Biotech Revolution

The Biotech Revolution

This week’s video of the week comes from the 2007 BBC TV documentary series, “Visions of the Future”. In this episode, The Biotech Revolution, host Michio Kaku goes through a wide variety of technologies changing or emerging due to our recent advances in biology. The documentary covers the technologies as well as ethical considerations behind each. Check it out after the break.

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Video of the Week #5: RiAus Explains Synthetic Biology

RiAUS

For this week’s video of the week we have a short “scinemation” which visually explains the basics of Synthetic Biology. This video was produced by RiAUS, a non-profit Australian science-outreach organisation. Check it out after the break!

 

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BioPrinting Human Ears

Printing Human Ear

 

Printing a human ear sounds like a far away application of modern biology, however it is here a lot sooner than we might have thought! Thanks to researchers in the Bonassar lab at Cornell University and utilising 3D printing technology this technology is now a reality. The printers work by layering cells into a complex 3D lattice, where they can grow into a living ear. It can only be a short time before we see other body parts also being created in a similar fashion to this! Check out a video about this work after the break or read more here.

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Genetic Logic Systems and Living Computers

Cellular Computer

 

Scientists from MIT have engineered a set of logic gates using DNA and cellular machinery. In short, they have turned living cells into working computers! Core logical functions are the basis of all modern computation, and developing this system is a huge step towards larger scale “biocomputers”. The applications are many and varied, the ability to having living organisms respond to programming has seemingly limitless potential. One example could be a medical colony of healthy bacteria programmed to produce and excrete medicine inside you at regular intervals before killing themselves at the end of your treatment. But thats just one basic idea.

Cell LogicThe logic gates within the cell store their results in DNA itself, giving each logic gate its own personal “memory”, something electrical logic gates don’t currently have. This result history can remain for up to 90 generations and can be retrieved even after the cells carrying the switches are dead! Find out more about the exciting work in this Nature News piece, or in the original paper.

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Bioprinting Introductory Infographic

Bioprinting is the very fancy new technique of “printing” organs (or perhaps even a whole organism!) rather than growing them the traditional way. This process is fast but difficult – however it has been making huge leaps and bounds recently. After the break you will find a very useful infographic explaining the basics of this new technology (created by printerinks in collaboration with organovo ).

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