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Synthetic cells get together to make electronics

June 18, 2009

A network of artificial cells that work together to act as a rectifier (AC to DC converter) has been built by researchers at the University of Oxford and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Like real cells, the protocells are droplets of watery fluid enclosed in an oily membrane, but they can fuse together, forming unidirectional electronic circuits.

The droplet networks could be used as an… read more

Synthetic DNA on the Brink of Yielding New Life Forms

December 18, 2007

Researchers are poised to cross a dramatic barrier: the creation of life forms driven by completely artificial DNA.

Scientists in Maryland have already built the world’s first entirely handcrafted chromosome, containing all the instructions a microbe needs to live and reproduce.

Some experts are worried that a few maverick companies are already gaining monopoly control over the core “operating system” for artificial life and are poised to become… read more

Synthetic Molecule Makes Cancer Cells Commit Suicide

November 14, 2007
Triggering cancer cells

Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have developed a small molecule that can turn the survival signal for a variety of cancer cells into a death signal. The molecule mimics the activity of Smac, a protein that triggers the suicide of some types of cancer cells.

Synthetic oscillating gel ‘acts alive’

A synthetic material rebuilds itself through chemical communication, similar to bacteria
January 15, 2013
Oscillating gel pieces will move back together after being sliced

Synthetic self-moving gels can “act alive” and mimic primitive biological communication, University of Pittsburgh researchers have found.

The synthetic system can reconfigure itself through a combination of chemical communication and interaction with light.

“This is the closest system to the ultimate self- recombining material, which can be divided into separated parts and the parts move autonomously to assemble into a structure resembling the original,… read more

Synthetic proteins enable the growth of living cells

January 7, 2011

Novel proteins

In a groundbreaking achievement that could help scientists “build” new biological systems, Princeton University scientists have constructed for the first time artificial proteins that enable the growth of living cells.

The team of researchers created genetic sequences never before seen in nature, and the scientists showed that they can produce substances that sustain life in cells almost as readily as proteins produced by nature’s own toolkit.

“What we… read more

Synthetic vaccines delivered on DNA nanostructures

July 26, 2012

DNA nanovaccines (credit: )

In a quest to make safer and more effective vaccines, scientists at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University have turned to a promising field called DNA nanotechnology to make an entirely new class of synthetic vaccines.

Biodesign immunologist Yung Chang and colleagues, including DNA nanotechnology innovator Hao Yan, developed the first vaccine complex that can be delivered safely and effectively by piggybacking onto self-assembled,… read more

Synthetic vocal cords made from antifreeze chemical

July 15, 2011

Polymer Gel

Researchers at MIT and Harvard University are developing a synthetic material to revitalize damaged vocal cords.

The researchers are developing a polymer gel that they hope to start testing in a small clinical trial next year. The gel, which mimics key traits of human vocal cords, could help millions of people with voice disorders. They chose polyethylene glycol (PEG) as its starting material, in… read more

Synthetic windpipe is used to replace cancerous one

January 13, 2012


Surgeons in Sweden have replaced the cancerous windpipe of a Maryland man with one made in a laboratory and seeded with the man’s cells.

The Y-shaped scaffold, fashioned from nano-size fibers of a type of plastic called PET that is commonly used in soda bottles, was seeded with stem cells from Christopher Lyles’ bone marrow. It was then placed in a bioreactor — a shoebox-size container holding the stem… read more

Synthetic yeast to brew up vital malaria drug

June 5, 2008

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues have added synthetic genes to yeast to make a key malaria drug.

The genes encode enzymes that enable sugar to be converted into a precursor to artemisinin, used to treat multi-drug resistant malaria. This synthetic organism could be producing enough artemisinin precursor to fulfill worldwide needs for the drug within three years.

Unlike traditional genetic engineering methods, the inserted… read more

Syria ready with bio-terror if U.S. hits Iran

March 6, 2007

Jill Bellamy-Dekker, an American biodefense analyst living in Europe, says if the U.S. invades Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions, Syria is ready to respond with biological weapons, using a variation of smallpox.

She referenced an April 2000 article published by Syrian defense minister General Mustafa Talas, titled “Biological (Germ) Warfare: A New and Effective Method in Modern Warfare.”

System improves automated monitoring of security cameras

New approach uses mathematics to reach a compromise between accuracy, speed
June 7, 2012


A system being developed by Christopher Amato, a postdoc at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), can perform security-camera analysis to identify potential terrorists or illegal entry more accurately and in a fraction of the time it would take a human camera operator.

“You can’t have a person staring at every single screen, and even if you did the person might not… read more

Systems Biology Graphical Notation: A Visual Language for Biology

August 14, 2009

A newly introduced visual language called Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN) is designed to standardize and simplify a knowledge database containing molecular process, relationships between entities, and links among biochemical activities in the exploding field of Systems Biology.

T-cell ‘nanotubes’ may explain how HIV virus conquers human immune system

January 14, 2008

String-like “membrane nanotube” connections can form between those T-cells that bump into each other and carry proteins between the two cells, which could help explain how the HIV virus infects human immune cells so quickly and effectively.

This indicates that there may be “as-yet-undiscovered ways that these types of cells communicate with each other inside the human body,” said Professor Dan Davis from Imperial College London.

This kind… read more

T-rays technology could help develop Star Trek-style hand-held medical scanners

January 22, 2012


Scientists have developed a new way to create electromagnetic Terahertz (THz) waves (T-rays) — the technology behind full-body security scanners. Their new stronger and more efficient continuous wave T-rays could be used to make better medical scanning gadgets and may one day lead to innovations similar to the Tricorder scanner used in Star Trek.

In the study, researchers from the Institute of Materials Research andread more

Tablet computer market to boom: Deloitte

January 20, 2010

Industry tracker Deloitte predicts the tablet computer market will boom this year with tens of millions of people deciding the notepad-sized devices are “just right” for their needs.

Improvements in graphics, processing power, and wireless broadband Internet availability are making Internet-based tablets (“netTabs”) more attractive, according to analysts.

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