Tagbiotechnology

Human Bones Successfully Grown In The Lab

Growing Bones

Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, a professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University, has solved one of many problems on the way to successful bone implants: how to grow new bones in the anatomical shape of the original.

Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic and her research team have created and nourished two small bones from scratch in their laboratory. The new bones, part of a joint at the back of the jaw, were created with human stem cells. The shape is based on digital images of undamaged bones.

Tissue-engineered bones have many implications, according to a leading figure in the field, Dr. Charles A. Vacanti, director of the laboratories for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He has no connection to the Columbia work. “If your imaging equipment has sufficient high resolution, you can construct virtually any intricate shape you want — for example, the middle ear bone, creating an exact duplicate,” he said. “It’s a splendid example of tissue engineering at its best.”

New York Times: Replacement Bones, Grown to Order in the Lab

(via PSFK)

More information on human tissue 3D printers

3d bioprinter

Previously mentioned here:

The new machine, which costs around $200,000, has been developed by Organovo, a company in San Diego that specialises in regenerative medicine, and Invetech, an engineering and automation firm in Melbourne, Australia. One of Organovo’s founders, Gabor Forgacs of the University of Missouri, developed the prototype on which the new 3D bio-printer is based. The first production models will soon be delivered to research groups which, like Dr Forgacs’s, are studying ways to produce tissue and organs for repair and replacement. At present much of this work is done by hand or by adapting existing instruments and devices.

To start with, only simple tissues, such as skin, muscle and short stretches of blood vessels, will be made, says Keith Murphy, Organovo’s chief executive, and these will be for research purposes. Mr Murphy says, however, that the company expects that within five years, once clinical trials are complete, the printers will produce blood vessels for use as grafts in bypass surgery. With more research it should be possible to produce bigger, more complex body parts. Because the machines have the ability to make branched tubes, the technology could, for example, be used to create the networks of blood vessels needed to sustain larger printed organs, like kidneys, livers and hearts. […]

Though printing organs is new, growing them from scratch on scaffolds has already been done successfully. In 2006 Anthony Atala and his colleagues at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina made new bladders for seven patients. These are still working.

Read More – Economist: A machine that prints organs is coming to market

(via Edge of Tomorrow and G.V.)

Nanotechnology: Self-assembly Of Building Blocks Of DNA Can Now Be Easily Controlled

Nature has long perfected the construction of nanomachines, but David González and his fellow researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology and Utrecht University under the leadership of Spinoza Award winner Bert Meijer, have brought the construction of artificial supramolecular structures a step closer. The researchers managed to carefully control the self-assembly of guanosine, one of the building blocks of DNA.

The natural world is a shining example when it comes to the self-assembly of molecules. However, it has not disclosed all of its secrets yet. Controlling the shape and structure of self-assembled systems continues to be a stumbling block for scientists. Yet such structures, in which the different molecules cooperate with each other, can have unrivaled characteristics. Self-assembly could provide the way forward for the future mass production of nanomaterials, nanodrugs and nanoelectronics.

Science Daily: Nanotechnology: Self-assembly Of Building Blocks Of DNA Can Now Be Easily Controlled

(Via Chris Arkenberg)

California Dog Cloning Company Ends Services

BioArts International, a biotech company in the San Francisco area, has discontinued its commercial dog cloning services. As such, the company has also ended its partnership with South Korean cloning vendor Sooam Biotech Research Foundation and its head Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk.

The fifth and final set of cloned dogs was delivered in September.

Lou Hawthorne, chief executive officer, cited a list of reasons why the company made its decision, a tiny market being one of them. […]

Hawthorne also blamed black market competition. A company that would offer the same services would be in violation of international patents, he said, because BioArts holds the sole, worldwide rights to clone dogs, cats and endangered species.

For instance, a South Korean biotech company advertised in February 2008 that it would clone dogs at a fraction of BioArts’ price, starting at $150,000 and then down to $30,000.

Dog Channel: California Dog Cloning Company Ends Services

Nepalese Teen Invents Cheap Solar Panel Using Human Hair (Update: hoax)

human hair solar

Update: this is most likely a hoax.

Did you know that melanin, the pigment in hair, is light sensitive and can be used as a conductor? Well, that’s what an 18 year old in Nepal recently discovered, and is now using human hair to replace silicon in solar panels. Since the price of hair is considerably cheaper than silicon, this enterprising youth may have just found a breakthrough technology to help bring down the cost of solar and give thousands of people in developing nations access to affordable renewable energy.

Inhabitat: Nepalese Teen Invents Cheap Solar Panel Using Human Hair

(via Posthuman Blues)

Algae Bioreactors as public art

algae bioreactors as public art

Emergent Architecture is, as Grinding puts it, finding “the sweet spot between public art and alternative energy.”

Ecofriend: Solar-powered Photobioreactor generates biofuel using algae

(via Grinding)

Extinct animal cloned

THE Pyrenean ibex, a form of wild mountain goat, was officially declared extinct in 2000 when the last known animal of its kind was found dead in northern Spain.

Shortly before its death, scientists preserved skin samples of the goat — a subspecies of the Spanish ibex that live in mountain ranges across the country — in liquid nitrogen.

Using DNA taken from these skin samples, the scientists were able to replace the genetic material in eggs from domestic goats, to clone a female Pyrenean ibex, or bucardo as they are known. It is the first time an extinct animal has been cloned.

The Age: Extinct animal cloned, resurrected

(via Atom Jack)

Hungary detains 4 over illegal stem cell treatment

Hungarian police have detained four people on suspicion of carrying out illegal, untested stem cell treatments using embryos or aborted fetuses at a Hungarian private clinic, police said in a statement.

The statement, posted on the official police website www.police.hu late on Tuesday, said the suspects — two Hungarians, one U.S. and one Ukrainian citizen — were detained on July 27 just as they were preparing to treat a new patient.

Police said they launched a procedure on “suspicion of a banned use of the human body.”

Reuters: Hungary detains 4 over illegal stem cell treatment

R.U. Sirius notes this may be the first ever stem cell bust.

See also: Russia: ahead of the biopunk curve

Researchers rapidly turn E. coli into biotech factories

High-throughput sequencing has turned biologists into voracious genome readers, enabling them to scan millions of DNA letters, or bases, per hour. When revising a genome, however, they struggle, suffering from serious writer’s block, exacerbated by outdated cell programming technology. Labs get bogged down with particular DNA sentences, tinkering at times with subsections of a single gene ad nauseam before moving along to the next one.

A team has finally overcome this obstacle by developing a new cell programming method called Multiplex Automated Genome Engineering (MAGE). Published online in Nature on July 26, the platform promises to give biotechnology, in particular synthetic biology, a powerful boost.

Led by a pair of researchers in the lab of Harvard Medical School Professor of Genetics George Church, the team rapidly refined the design of a bacterium by editing multiple genes in parallel instead of targeting one gene at a time. They transformed self-serving E. coli cells into efficient factories that produce a desired compound, accomplishing in just three days a feat that would take most biotech companies months or years.

PhysOrg: Researchers rapidly turn bacteria into biotech factories

(Thanks Nova)

The Sudden Stardom of the Third-World City

This brings us to the most perverse suspicion of all. Perhaps the Third-World city is more than simply the source of the things that will define the future, but actually is the future of the western city. Perhaps some of those tourists who look to the Third World for an image of their own past are reflecting uneasily on how all the basic realities of the Third-World city are already becoming more pronounced in their own cities: vast gulfs between sectors of the population across which almost no sympathetic intelligence can flow, gleaming gated communities, parallel economies and legal systems, growing numbers of people who have almost no desire or ability to participate in official systems, innovations in residential housing involving corrugated iron and tarpaulin. Is it going too far to suggest that our sudden interest in books and films about the Third-World city stems from the sense that they may provide effective preparation for our future survival in London, New York or Paris?

Full Story: Rana Dasgupta.

(via Abstract Dynamics).

I hadn’t really thought of it quite like this, but yes I think some of my own interest in 3rd world megalopolisis is in gaining some insight about what the future may look like for all of us.

See also: Feral Cities, Grim Meathook Future, Biopunk: the biotechnology black market, and Adam Greenfield’s Design Engaged 2005 presentation (does anyone have better notes for this?).

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