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Genetic Engineering
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The Lead

“Measuring stick” standard for gene sequencing now available

May 22, 2015 10:53 am | by NIST | News | Comments

The world’s first reference material to help ensure laboratories accurately “map” DNA for genetic testing, medical diagnoses and future customized drug therapies is now available from NIST. The new reference material, NIST RM 8398, is a “measuring stick” for the human genome, the coded blueprints of a person’s genetic traits.

Key element in bacterial immune system discovered

April 20, 2015 7:53 am | by Univ. of Otago | News | Comments

A Univ. of Otago scientist is a member of an international research team that has made an...

Limber lungs: one type of airway cell can regenerate another lung cell type

April 13, 2015 1:41 pm | by UPenn | News | Comments

A new collaborative study describes a way that lung tissue can regenerate after injury. 

Report: Photosynthesis hack needed to feed world by 2050

March 30, 2015 8:03 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Using high-performance computing and genetic engineering to boost the photosynthetic efficiency...

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FDA approves genetically engineered potatoes, apples

March 20, 2015 2:06 pm | by Mary Clare Jalonick And Keith Ridler, Associated Press | News | Comments

Potatoes that won't bruise and apples that won't brown are a step closer to U.S. grocery store aisles. The federal Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the genetically engineered foods, saying they are "as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts."

‘Brain in a Jar’ Reveals Mechanics of Jet Lag

March 10, 2015 7:00 am | by UC Irvine | News | Comments

Long the stuff of science fiction, the disembodied “brain in a jar” is providing science fact for a team of researchers, who, by studying the whole brains of fruit flies, are discovering the inner mechanisms of jet lag.  

KSU researchers develop heat-tolerant wheat

February 15, 2015 4:43 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Two Kansas State Univ. researchers are developing a type of wheat that will tolerate hotter temperatures. The issue is that wheat kernels shrivel if temperatures are too high during a period in May and June when they normally begin to fill out in Kansas. The grains do best when temperatures are between 60 and 65 degrees. With every 2- to 3-degree temperature rise, there is a potential 3 to 4% yield loss that occurs.

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Squid Edit Their Gene Code As They Go

February 13, 2015 7:00 am | by American Friends of Tel Aviv Univ. | News | Comments

Research that explored RNA editing in the Doryteuthis pealieii squid found it to be the first example of an animal that can edit its own genetic makeup on-the-fly to modify most of its proteins, enabling adjustments to its immediate surroundings.

Study: DNA trick cripples bacteria that escape confinement

January 21, 2015 2:18 pm | by By Malcolm Ritter - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Bacteria have been modified so that they die if they get out of human control, a potential step toward better management of genetically engineered organisms—perhaps including crops, researchers say. Genetically altered microbes are used now in industry to produce fuels, medicines and other chemicals. The new technique might also reduce the risk of using them outdoors, such as for cleaning up toxic spills.

New way to turn genes on

December 10, 2014 2:37 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT | News | Comments

Using a gene-editing system originally developed to delete specific genes, MIT researchers have now shown that they can reliably turn on any gene of their choosing in living cells.                    

Bacteria become genomic tape recorders

November 13, 2014 4:21 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineers have transformed the genome of the bacterium E. coli into a long-term storage device for memory. They envision that this stable, erasable and easy-to-retrieve memory will be well suited for applications such as sensors for environmental and medical monitoring.

A promising strategy against HIV

November 7, 2014 10:09 am | by B. D. Colen, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers at Massachusetts General (MGH) and Boston Children’s hospitals (BCH) for the first time have used a relatively new gene-editing technique to create what could prove to be an effective technique for blocking HIV from invading and destroying patients’ immune systems.

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Adding 'spice' to curcumin’s health-promoting benefits

November 6, 2014 2:55 pm | by Emily Caldwell, The Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

The health benefits of over-the-counter curcumin supplements might not get past your gut, but new research shows that a modified formulation of the spice releases its anti-inflammatory goodness throughout the body.           

Making lab-grown tissues stronger

October 31, 2014 8:54 am | by Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service | News | Comments

Lab-grown tissues could one day provide new treatments for injuries and damage to the joints, including articular cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Cartilage, for example, is a hard material that caps the ends of bones and allows joints to work smoothly. Univ. of California, Davis biomedical engineers, exploring ways to toughen up engineered cartilage and keep natural tissues strong outside the body, report new developments.

Making lab-grown tissues stronger

October 30, 2014 3:09 pm | News | Comments

Cartilage, for example, is a hard material that caps the ends of bones and allows joints to work smoothly, but engineered replacement tissue is, mechanically, far from native tissue. Researchers in California report the use of an enzyme that has greatly improved engineering cartilage built from cultures. It promotes cross-linking and makes the material stronger.

Molecular beacons shine light on how cells "crawl"

October 24, 2014 12:40 pm | by Carol Clark, EScience Commons | News | Comments

Adherent cells, the kind that form the architecture of all multicellular organisms, are engineered with precise forces that allow them to move around and stick to things. When these cells are put into a petri dish with a variety of substrates they can sense the differences in the surfaces and they will “crawl” toward the stiffest one. Chemists have devised a method using DNA-based tension probes to measure and map these phenomena.

Researchers break the nano barrier to engineer the first protein microfiber

October 23, 2014 1:06 pm | News | Comments

For as long as scientists have been able to create new proteins that are capable of self-assembling into fibers, scientists’ work has taken place on the nanoscale. For the first time, this achievement has been realized on the microscale, a leap of magnitude in size that presents significant new opportunities for using engineered protein fibers.

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Precise and programmable biological circuits

October 23, 2014 9:37 am | by Fabio Bergamin, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Bio-engineers are working on the development of biological computers: biological material that can be integrated into cells to change their functions. Researchers in Europe have now developed a biological circuit that controls the activity of individual sensor components using internal "timer". This circuit prevents a sensor from being active when not required by the system; when required, it can be activated via a control signal.

Scientists create new protein-based material with some nerve

October 15, 2014 9:24 am | by Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley scientists have taken proteins from nerve cells and used them to create a “smart” material that is extremely sensitive to its environment. This marriage of materials science and biology could give birth to a flexible, sensitive coating that is easy and cheap to manufacture in large quantities.

Scientists map key moment in assembly of DNA-splitting molecular machine

October 15, 2014 8:22 am | News | Comments

The proteins that drive DNA replication are some of the most complex machines on Earth and the process involves hundreds of atomic-scale moving parts that rapidly interact and transform. Now, scientists have pinpointed crucial steps in the beginning of the replication process, including surprising structural details about the enzyme that "unzips" and splits the DNA double helix so the two halves can serve as templates for DNA duplication.

“Programmable” antibiotic uses enzyme to attack drug-resistant microbes

October 6, 2014 8:47 am | News | Comments

Microbes populating the human body have good, bad and mostly mysterious implications for our health. But when something goes wrong, we use the brute force of traditional antibiotics, which wipe out everything at once. Researchers at Rockefeller Univ. have developed a more subtle approach that uses the bacterial enzyme known as Cas9 to target a particular sequence of DNA, cutting that up but leaving more innocent microbes alone.

Scientists develop barcoding tools for stem cells

October 6, 2014 8:15 am | News | Comments

A 7-year-project to develop a barcoding and tracking system for tissue stem cells has revealed previously unrecognized features of normal blood production: New data from Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists at Boston Children's Hospital suggests, surprisingly, that the billions of blood cells that we produce each day are made not by blood stem cells, but rather their less pluripotent descendants, called progenitor cells.

NIH awards UC Berkeley $7.2 million to advance brain initiative

October 2, 2014 8:28 am | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

The National Institutes of Health this week announced its first research grants through President Barack Obama’s BRAIN Initiative, including three awards to the Univ. of California, Berkeley, totaling nearly $7.2 million over three years. The projects are among 58 funded in this initial wave of NIH grants, involving 100 researchers and a total of $46 million in fiscal year 2014 dollars alone.

A molecule in an optical whispering gallery

September 23, 2014 9:19 am | News | Comments

Using an optical microstructure and gold nanoparticles, scientists have amplified the interaction of light with DNA to the extent that they can now track interactions between individual DNA molecule segments. In doing so, they have approached the limits of what is physically possible. This optical biosensor for single unlabelled molecules could also be a breakthrough in the development of biochips:

Battling superbugs

September 23, 2014 9:13 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT | News | Comments

Each year, new strains of bacteria emerge that resist even the most powerful antibiotics, but scientists have discovered very few new classes of antibiotics in the past decade. Engineers have now turned a powerful new weapon on these superbugs. Using a gene-editing system that can disable any target gene, they have shown that they can selectively kill bacteria carrying harmful genes that confer antibiotic resistance or cause disease.

Bioengineers develop a toolkit for designing better synthetic molecules

September 23, 2014 9:10 am | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Synthetic molecules hold great potential for revealing key processes that occur in cells, but the trial-and-error approach to their design has limited their effectiveness. Christina Smolke at Stanford Univ. has introduced a new computer model that could provide better blueprints for building synthetic genetic tools.

Engineered proteins stick like glue, even in water

September 22, 2014 1:46 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT | News | Comments

Shellfish such as mussels and barnacles secrete very sticky proteins that help them cling to rocks or ship hulls, even underwater. Inspired by these natural adhesives, a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers has designed new materials that could be used to repair ships or help heal wounds and surgical incisions.

Scientists discover an on/off switch for aging cells

September 22, 2014 10:20 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Salk Institute have discovered an on-and-off “switch” in cells that may hold the key to healthy aging. This switch, which involves the enzyme telomerase, points to a way to encourage healthy cells to keep dividing and generating, for example, new lung or liver tissue, even in old age.

Program predicts placement of chemical tags that control gene activity

September 22, 2014 9:20 am | by Susan Brown, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Biochemists in California have developed a program that predicts the placement of chemical marks that control the activity of genes based on sequences of DNA. By comparing sequences with and without epigenomic modification, the researchers identified DNA patterns associated with the changes. They call this novel analysis pipeline Epigram and have made both the program and the DNA motifs they identified openly available to other scientists.

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