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Biotechnology


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

How an Israeli Startup Is Using AI to Help People Make Babies

The first baby conceived using in-vitro fertilization (IVF) was born in the UK in 1978. Over 40 years later, the technique has become commonplace, but its success rate is still fairly low at around...

Scientists Made a Biohybrid Nose Using Cells From Mosquitoes

Thanks to biological parts of a mosquito’s “nose,” we’re finally closer to Smell-O-Vision for computers. And a way to diagnose early cancer. With the recent explosion in computing hardware prowess and AI, we’ve been able...

No Trees Harmed: MIT Aims to One Day Grow Your Kitchen Table in a Lab

You’ve likely heard the buzz around lab-grown (or cultured) meat. We can now take a few cells from a live animal and grow those cells into a piece of meat. The process is kinder...

This Artificial Heart Will Soon Be on the Market in Europe

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the world, particularly in the US and Western Europe. Medical science has come up with some ingenious solutions to common heart problems, like...

A Language AI Is Accurately Predicting Covid-19 ‘Escape’ Mutations

For all their simplicity, viruses are sneaky little life forces. Take SARS-Cov-2, the virus behind Covid-19. Challenged with the human immune system, the virus has gradually reshuffled parts of its genetic material, making it easier...

New Research Could Enable Direct Data Transfer From Computers to Living Cells

As the modern world produces ever more data, researchers are scrambling to find new ways to store it all. DNA holds promise as an extremely compact and stable storage medium, and now a new...

Fighting Covid-19 Brought These Lasting Breakthroughs to Science and Medicine

2020 was the year of the pandemic. But the arrival of Covid-19 in January not only threw an Earth-sized wrench into our lives, it also dictated the course of scientific discovery. Never before have...

2020 in Neuroscience, Longevity, and AI—and What’s to Come

Covid-19 sucked most of the oxygen out of science this year. But we still had brilliant wins. The pandemic couldn’t bring rockets or humans down: multiple missions blasted off to the red planet in the...

DeepMind’s AlphaFold Is Close to Solving One of Biology’s Greatest Challenges

DeepMind may just have cracked one of the grandest challenges in biology. One that rivals the discovery of DNA’s double helix. It could change biomedicine, drug discovery, and vaccine development forever. The actual achievement sounds...

Another Win for Senolytics: Fighting Aging at the Cellular Level Just Got Easier

Longevity research always reminds me of the parable of blind men and an elephant. A group of blind men, who’ve never seen an elephant before, each touches a different part of the elephant’s body...

Can We Wipe Out All Coronaviruses for Good? Here’s What a Group of 200 Scientists Think

One vaccine to rule them all. That was the blue sky goal for a new global collaboration with hopes to beat coronaviruses. I’m not just talking about SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for our current...

How Machine Learning Made Hops-Free Hoppy Beer (and Other SynBio Wonders) Possible

Synthetic biology is like a reality-altering version of Minecraft. Rather than digital blocks, synthetic biology rejiggers the basic building blocks of life—DNA, proteins, biochemical circuits—to rewire living organisms or even build entirely new ones....

Oxford Scientists: These Are Final Steps We’re Taking to Get Our Coronavirus Vaccine Approved

Of the hundreds of potential Covid-19 vaccines in development, six are in the final stages of testing, known as phase three clinical trials. One of these—ChAdOx1 nCoV-19—is the vaccine we’re developing at the University...

Stream or Skip? A Synthetic Biologist’s Review of ‘Biohackers’ on Netflix

Glow-in-the-dark mice, gene-modded weed, and payment microchips in your hand? That's the surprisingly realistic science backdrop of Biohackers, but that's where it stays. Biohackers, the six-episode German sci-fi series set in Freiburg, was released on...

Scientists Used Protein Switches to Turn T Cells Into Cancer-Fighting Guided Missiles

One of the main challenges in curing cancer is that unlike foreign invaders, tumor cells are part of the body and so able to hide in plain sight. Now researchers have found a way...

Biotechnology Could Change the Cattle Industry. Will It Succeed?

When Ralph Fisher, a Texas cattle rancher, set eyes on one of the world’s first cloned calves in August 1999, he didn’t care what the scientists said: He knew it was his old Brahman...

Scientists Gene-Hack Cotton Plants to Make Them Every Color of the Rainbow

Imagine this: You’re on a drive through cotton country. The sun’s out, top’s down. It’s a beautiful, totally normal day. Only, what was once a sea of white puff balls has transformed into a...

A Year After Gene Therapy, Boys With Muscular Dystrophy Are Healthier and Stronger

Two and a half years ago, a study published in Science Advances detailed how the gene editing tool CRISPR/Cas-9 repaired genetic mutations related to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). The study was a proof of...

How Fake Viruses Can Help Us Make the Best Possible Vaccines

Roughly 15 years ago, in a seeming prank, a pair of smiley faces graced the cover of Nature, one of the world’s preeminent science journals. Flash forward to today, and those smiley faces may...

Scientists 3D Printed Ears Inside Living Mice Using Light

Tissue engineering just got wilder and weirder. Using nothing but light and bioink, scientists were able to directly print a human ear-like structure under the skin of mice. The team used a healthy ear as...

Artificial Kidneys Are a Step Closer With This New Tech

10 percent of the global population suffers from some form of kidney disease. That includes 37 million people in the US, 100,000 of whom pass away each year awaiting a kidney transplant. Our kidneys are...

A New Bionic Eye Could Give Robots and the Blind 20/20 Vision

A bionic eye could restore sight to the blind and greatly improve robotic vision, but current visual sensors are a long way from the impressive attributes of nature’s design. Now researchers have found a...

Scientists Are Cloning the Coronavirus Like Crazy. Here’s Why—and the Risks

Most biomedical researchers are busy finding ways to squash the new coronavirus. Meanwhile, synthetic biologists are busy cloning it in droves. In late February a team from the University of Bern, led by Dr. Volker...

Hacking Plant Life: Artificial Photosynthesis Takes a Leap Forward

All life on earth ultimately gets its energy from the sun through the amazing ability of plants to sustain themselves on nothing more than water, air, and sunlight. Now researchers have taken a major...

This New Smartphone-Based DNA Test Could Help Track Disease in Real Time

On-the-spot DNA tests could prove invaluable to doctors, farmers, and officials responsible for food safety or environmental monitoring. Now Chinese researchers have created an ultra-portable, smartphone-based DNA testing platform that costs less than $10. Whether...

Coronavirus Drug Development in 5 (Turbo-Charged) Steps

One of the scariest things about the new coronavirus is that there aren’t any validated treatments. Plenty of ideas are in the works: a decades-long anti-malaria pill, blood components from people who’ve recovered, broad...

This Group of Scientists Is Making Sure We’re Ready for the Next Pandemic

Ask just about anyone how the US is doing on its response to the coronavirus pandemic and you’ll get some variation of the same answer: poorly. From a shortage of tests and medical supplies...

Blood Is the Next Critical Tool In the Coronavirus Fight. Here’s Why

I’ve been sick for the past week. The symptoms match up with coronavirus infection. But like many people in the US, because they’re relatively mild I’m unable to get a test. Testing rates have finally...

Pop-Up Coronavirus Labs and a 5-Minute Test Take Aim at the Testing Void

Two and a half months after the first confirmed novel coronavirus case in the US, the virus has invaded the country’s east and west coasts and is quickly making its way into the center...

Existing Drugs May Work Against Covid-19. AI Is Screening Thousands to Find Out

You’ve heard of chloroquine by now. Originally developed by German scientists in the 1930s, the anti-malaria drug is based on a natural compound present in the bark of certain South African trees. For nearly...

A Coronavirus Vaccine Could Be the First That Outwits Nature

It’s been grim news all around for COVID-19. Italy’s skyrocketing death toll has now risen above China’s. Countries are shutting borders. Massive cities in the US have ordered “shelter-in-place” to reduce viral transmission, severely...

Scientists Engineered Neurons to Make Electrically Conductive Materials

Electricity plays a surprisingly powerful role in our bodies. While most people are aware that it plays a crucial role in carrying signals to and from our nerves, our bodies produce electric fields that...

On the Front Lines of Developing a Test For the Coronavirus

“That escalated quickly!” is a common trope used in popular culture to describe when a situation gets out of hand before you’ve even had a chance to think about it. We don’t often use...

DeepMind’s Protein Folding AI Is Going After Coronavirus

In late December last year, Dr. Li Wenliang began warning officials about a novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, but was silenced by the police before tragically succumbing to the disease two months later. Meanwhile,...

To Turbocharge Anti-Aging Treatment, Just Add… a Protein Found in Fruit Flies?

The hunt for the elixir of life is such a universal mythological trope that to talk about it in the context of science seems almost ridiculous. But breakthroughs in the last decade have made...

Huge $161 Million Investment Means Meat Without the Animal Is Here

In 1931, Winston Churchill made a bold prediction: “We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable...

$100 Genome Sequencing Will Yield a Treasure Trove of Genetic Data

What would the implications be if decoding your genes cost less than a pair of designer jeans? We might soon find out after a Chinese company claimed it can sequence the human genome for...

Gene Therapy Is Successfully Treating a Common Form of Inherited Blindness

K.L. always knew he might be completely blind before reaching adulthood. Even as a child he realized something was wrong with his eyes. Although he could see enough to navigate the world in daytime, as...

How to Battle an Epidemic? Digitize Its DNA and Share It With the World

A nightmarish scene was burnt into my memory nearly two decades ago: Changainjie, Beijing’s normally chaotic “fifth avenue,” desolate without a sign of life. Schools shut, subways empty, people terrified to leave their homes....

Have Humans Evolved Beyond Nature—and Do We Even Need It?

Such is the extent of our dominion on Earth, that the answer to questions around whether we are still part of nature, and whether we even need some of it, rely on an understanding...

Engineering Bugs, Resurrecting Species: The Wild World of Synthetic Biology for Conservation

Imagine a world where a mosquito bite is just an itchy annoyance. No malaria. No dengue fever. Last month, scientists announced they had taken one more step toward that vision. A paper in the journal...

The Top Biotech Trends We’ll Be Watching in 2020

Last year left us with this piece of bombshell news: He Jiankui, the mastermind behind the CRISPR babies scandal, has been sentenced to three years in prison for violating Chinese laws on “scientific research...

A New Anti-Aging Therapy Is Starting Its First Human Trial—and It Costs $1 Million

Recent research on longevity is making the idea of an elixir of life sound increasingly plausible. But a startup that's started selling a $1 million anti-aging treatment is most likely jumping the gun. Libella Gene...

How a New Smart Skin Patch Uses Vibrations to Track Your Health

Wearables are so common these days we rarely give them second thought. Yet packed into FitBits and Apple Watches are multiple tiny, sensitive sensors that monitor your steps, heart rate, sleep and—with your input—even...

How Scientists Grew Perfect New Lungs in Mouse Embryos

Unless you or a loved one are a smoker, lung health probably never got on your radar. But the recent spike in deadly vaping-related lung diseases—some requiring lung transplants—make it clear: as a society,...

How Much Can We Delay Aging? A Gene Therapy Trial Is About to Find Out

Aging is reversible. It’s still a somewhat controversial idea in humans. Yet recent attempts at delaying—or even reversing—diseases that pop up with age in animals clearly show that health doesn’t necessarily decline with age. The...

Why Designing Our Own Biology Will Be the Next Big Thing in Medicine

It’s hard to watch a loved one get sick. Their eyes go glassy. Their breathing is punctuated by body-wracking coughs. Feverish and aching, they struggle to get out of bed. Hard as these symptoms are...

Everything You Need to Know About Superstar CRISPR Prime Editing

All right, let’s do this one last time. My name is CRISPR. I was made from a bacterial defense system, and for years I’ve been the one and only gene editing wunderkind. I’m pretty...

Animals Are Out, Alt Protein Is in—and It’s Cooking Up Some Unbelievable Creations

A new food economy is taking root. It’s showing up in the dairy section of grocery stores and in the drive-thrus of Burger King. Plant-based milk, meat, and even sushi are appearing more regularly...

Scientists Found New Antibiotic Molecules—Right In the Human Microbiome

The human microbiome is the dark matter of biology: we know it’s there and critically balances health from disease. We can broadly examine microbe members with advanced DNA sequencing methods and infer their species...

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