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Biotechnology


Latest significant advancements in biotechnology. Reporting on the far-reaching impacts of biotechnology on society and humanity.

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Healthy Mice Born From Same-Sex Parents For the First Time

When scientists made immature human egg cells from donated blood, some speculated that human reproduction was on the verge of a massive disruption. The future is now. Last week, a team from China completely overhauled natural...

Human Immature Eggs Made From Blood Cells for the First Time

We all know how babies are made: sperm meets egg, molecular magic happens, and an entire human comes to life from a single cell. But is that the only way? For a decade, scientists have been...

New Technique Heals Wounds With Reprogrammed Skin Cells

People with severe burns, bedsores, or chronic diseases such as diabetes are at risk for developing wounds known as cutaneous ulcers, which can extend through multiple layers of the skin. Apart from being extremely painful,...

Eternal Life Is No Good Without Eternal Youth

Longer lives seem attractive, but as we age we become susceptible to a host of late-life diseases that can prevent us from enjoying our later years. But science is beginning to create ways to...

Would You Eat ‘Meat’ from a Lab? Consumers Aren’t Necessarily Sold on ‘Cultured Meat’

It’s been a busy summer for food-based biotech. The US Food and Drug Administration made headlines when it approved the plant-based “Impossible Burger,” which relies on an ingredient from genetically modified yeast for its...

Landmark FDA Approval Brings Powerful Gene Silencing Method to Market

Earlier this month, the FDA approved an entirely new family of drugs, one so powerful that it could put CRISPR-based gene therapy to shame. Backed by two decades of research and a Nobel Prize,...

Newly-Decoded Wheat Genome Opens the Door to Engineering Superfoods

Tweaking the DNA of crops to make them hardier and more productive is one of the most promising applications of gene-editing technology. That’s not been possible with wheat because its complex genome has proved...

If We Made Life in a Lab, Would We Understand It Differently?

What is life? For much of the 20th century, this question did not particularly concern biologists. Life is a term for poets, not scientists, argued the synthetic biologist Andrew Ellington in 2008, who began...

CAR-T May Be a Silver Bullet Against Cancer—and Here’s What Else It Can Do

CAR-T is the super-soldier serum of cell therapy: you pluck out an immune cell soldier, inject it with a dose of new genes, and send the enhanced cell back into the host body—bam! Suddenly...

Successfully Transplanted Lab-Grown Pig Lungs Take Us Closer to Custom Organs

Being able to grow new organs from a patient's own cells could revolutionize both the safety and availability of transplants. Scientists have now overcome major hurdles in the realization of the technology—but in pigs. Someone...

DNA Computing Gets a Boost With This Machine Learning Hack

As the master code of life, DNA can do a lot of things. Inheritance. Gene therapy. Wipe out an entire species. Solve logic problems. Recognize your sloppy handwriting. Wait, What? In a brilliant study published in...

New Study Sounds a Note of Caution in the Development of CRISPR Gene Therapies

The discovery of CRISPR gene editing technology led many to believe we may soon be able to tweak our DNA with ultra-high accuracy. But a new study has found it can cause more unintended...

This Drug Combo Extends Lifespan and Healthspan in Mice by Killing ‘Zombie’ Cells

Aging may seem like the most natural—and inevitable—thing in life. Yet according to a new study in Nature Medicine, rejuvenating an aging body may be as easy as kitchen renovations. Simply swap drill and...

New DNA Synthesis Method Could Soon Build a Genome in a Day

Synthetic biologists are the computer programmers of biology. Their code? DNA. The whole enterprise sounds fantastical: you insert new snippets of DNA code—in the form of a chain of A, T, C, G letters—into an...

Three Huge Ways Tech Is Overhauling Healthcare

We are on the brink of a revolution in healthcare. AI is making the drug discovery process >100X faster and cheaper, and 90 percent more likely to succeed in clinical trials. Mobile health is...

What Makes People Distrust Science? Surprisingly, Not Politics

Today, there is a crisis of trust in science. Many people—including politicians and, yes, even presidents—publicly express doubts about the validity of scientific findings. Meanwhile, scientific institutions and journals express their concerns about the...

Pioneering Stem Cell Trial Seeks to Cure Babies Before Birth

Even before she was born, Elianna Constantino had already cheated death. Elianna has a rare inherited blood disorder called alpha thalassemia major, which prevents her red blood cells from forming properly. The disease, which has...

How Cyanobacteria Could Help Save the Planet

It’s very easy to forget that complex life on Earth almost missed the boat entirely. As the Sun’s luminosity gradually increases, the oceans will boil away, and the planet will no longer be in...

5 Sci-Fi Books Biotech Geeks Should Read Right Now

From space colonization to resurrection of dinosaurs to machine intelligence, the most awe-inspiring visions of humanity’s future are typically born from science fiction. But among an abundance of time travel, superheroes, space adventures, and so...

Microbes in Space: Bioengineered Bugs Could Help Colonize New Planets

As humans spread out into the cosmos in search of life, the most alien organisms we encounter may be those we bring with us. Researchers at NASA and elsewhere are engineering microbes so they...

Living Neanderthal ‘Mini-Brains’ May Reveal What Makes Our Brains Special

He isolated DNA from Egyptian mummies. He discovered the Denisovans, an extinct ancient human species, by sequencing DNA from a tiny bone fragment. He led a massive study that reconstructed the Neanderthal genome—and found...

CRISPR-on-a-Chip For Diagnosing Cancer May Soon Be a Thing

Oh CRISPR, how you’ve grown. From an obscure part of the bacterial immune defense system, you’re now on track to cure genetic diseases, thwart superbugs, boost global food production, and wipe out disease-carrying pests. And...

Mini-Brains Just Grew Their Own Blood Vessels—Here’s Why That’s Great News

If you ever put a brain through a Picasso filter, you’d probably get something close to a brain ball. When brain balls first hit the neuroscience scene in 2013, they were just a curious oddity....

This Memory Prosthesis Boosts Recall in Humans by Roughly 40 Percent

This one’s for the books: in a jaw-dropping study, a team just turned the human brain from a read-only memory device to a rewritable one. "What?" you might ask. Of course the brain is rewritable....

Artificial Photosynthesis Is Solar Energy’s Forgotten Cousin—and It’s Making a Comeback

In an article in Science published in 1912, Professor Giacomo Ciamician noted that “Coal… offers solar energy to humanity in its most concentrated form… but coal is not inexhaustible. Is fossil solar energy the...

The Biggest Tech Takeaways From the 2018 World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland wrapped up last week. The WEF exists to improve the state of the world by fostering cooperation between governments, NGOs, and the private sector. In...

Enzyme Designed Entirely From Scratch Opens a World of Biological Possibility

Ann Donnelly was utterly confused the first time she examined her protein. On all counts, it behaved like an enzyme—a protein catalyst that speeds up biological reactions in cells. One could argue that enzymes,...

Chinese Scientists Just Cloned a Monkey—Here Are the Details

In 1996, Dolly the sheep became the first mammal to be cloned from a somatic cell. Twenty years later, scientists have succeeded in using the same technique on primates—as detailed in a study published...

If We Could Engineer Animals to Be as Smart as Humans—Should We?

Advances in neural implants and genetic engineering suggest that in the not-too-distant future we may be able to boost human intelligence. If that’s true, could we—and should we—bring our animal cousins along for the...

New Research Suggests Immunity to CRISPR Gene Editing Poses a Challenge

CRISPR-Cas9 is the talk of the town in biotechnology. There is a huge amount of public interest in the possibilities provided by this new genome editing technology, and many are hoping CRISPR could eventually...

Why the World Is Still Getting Better—and That’s Likely to Continue

If you read or watch the news, you’ll likely think the world is falling to pieces. Trends like terrorism, climate change, and a growing population straining the planet’s finite resources can easily lead you...

There’s Healing Power in the Secret Electrical Language of Our Cells

Why can we heal a wound, but not grow back a severed limb? Michael Levin thinks the key lies in the secret electrical language our cells use to talk to one another, and he...

The Enormous Promise and Peril of Bioengineering’s Pandora’s Box

We’re standing on the threshold of extraordinary capability in synthetic biology. CRISPR-Cas9, the genome editing technique discovered in 2014, is at the forefront of this newfound potential for innovation. These advancements provide an opportunity...

These Bacteria Use New DNA Bases to Make a Protein Not Found in Nature

All of nature’s bewildering complexity can be reduced to a four letter code—DNA’s four bases: A, T, C, and G. But now scientists have shown the language at the heart of life is not...

5 Wild Biotech Products That Will Touch Our Lives in the Near Future

From cultured meat to a “MicrobeMiner” for antibiotics and liquid biocomputers, a new wave of consumer biotechnology products is transforming the world — and your shopping cart. From inside the world’s largest pre-seed life sciences accelerator,...

This ‘Living Touch Screen’ Is Made out of Bacteria and Gold

When it comes to touch screen devices, “grow” isn’t the first verb that comes to mind. After all, smartphones and their silicon-based inorganic brethren are built. Growing, in contrast, is a superpower that graces...

Does Our Survival Depend on Relentless Exponential Growth?

Malthus had a fever dream in the 1790s. While the world was marveling in the first manifestations of modern science and technology and the industrial revolution that was just beginning, he was concerned. He...
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Now That Anyone Can Hack Biology—Should We Be Afraid?

Biohacking is a relatively new field of amateur and professional scientists conducting “do-it-yourself” biology experiments. The word “hacking”may bring up images of cybercrime, but the majority of biohacking projects are focused on helping society as...

This Radical New Method Regenerates Failing Lungs With Blood Vessels Intact

Save for the occasional burning pain that accompanies a run, most people don't pay much attention to the two-leafed organ puffing away in our chests. But lungs are feats of engineering wonder: with over 40...
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Tech-X-Planations | Introducing a New Original Weekly Video Series

We’ve all name-dropped a new technology that sounds awesome—like CRISPR/Cas9—without really knowing the basics. This is why we’ve created Tech-x-planations, Singularity Hub’s new weekly video series that explores fundamental ideas in science, technology, and the...

This Chip Uses Electricity to Reprogram Cells for Healing

It sounds like science fiction: with a light zap of electricity, a tiny stamp-like device transforms your skin cells into reservoirs of blood vessels or brain cells, ready to heal you from within. Recently, a...

3D Printed Blood Vessels Offer New Possibilities for Testing Drugs

Bioprinting enthusiasts envision a future where we’ll be able to print functional human organs on demand, putting an end to transplant waiting lists and health problems and deaths related to organ failure. That future isn’t...
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Biotechnology | Future of Everything With Jason Silva (Part 4)

In the latest installment of Singularity University’s new web series, Future of Everything With Jason Silva, Silva discusses the digitization of biology. The world has been transformed by information technology. Billion dollar businesses have formed out of...

Biocomputers Made From Cells Can Now Handle More Complex Logic

When it comes to biomolecules, RNA doesn’t get a lot of love. Maybe you haven’t even heard of the silent workhorse. RNA is the cell’s de facto translator: like a game of telephone, RNA takes...

The Age of Cyborgs Has Arrived

How many cyborgs did you see during your morning commute today? I would guess at least five. Did they make you nervous? Probably not; you likely didn’t even realize they were there. In a presentation...

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