tagged w/ Biotechnology
Raul Cano is the real-life "Jurassic Park" scientist. Yes, there is one.
A day before that movie opened in 1993, Cano announced that he had extracted DNA from an ancient Lebanese weevil entombed in amber, just as the fictional employees of InGen do with a mosquito to create their dino-amusement park. One newspaper account said the "achievement" refuted "the long-held view of many biologists that DNA of so great an age" couldn't be preserved.
But Cano was less interested in extinct reptiles than in Homo sapiens now roaming the earth. He next revivified ancient bacteria from the gut of an amber-encased bee and hoped to turn the strains into new antibiotics. That didn't work, and Cano, who has a doctorate in medical mycology, put his 1,200-specimen organism collection on the back shelf and returned to more fruitful microbial endeavors, like assessment of petroleum-degrading diversity in sand dunes and the bioinformatics of Lactobacillus acidophilus.
And then, last month, a breakthrough.
"I was going through my collection, going, 'Gee whiz -- this is pretty nifty. Maybe we could use it to make beer,' " says Cano, 63 , now the director of the Environmental Biotechnology Institute at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.
The result is Fossil Fuels Brewing Co., which ferments a yeast strain Cano found in a piece of Burmese amber dating from about 25 million to 45 million years ago. The company -- in which Cano is a partner, along with another scientist and a lawyer -- introduced its pale ale and German wheat beer with a party last month at one of the two Bay Area pubs where Fossil Fuels is made and served. **continues**Raul Cano is the real-life "Jurassic Park" scientist. Yes, there is one.... more
Scientists have made a genetic breakthrough which they claim could extend human life and even protect against cancer. They carried out experiments on mice which made them live 45 per cent longer and left them free from tumours.
The researchers are confident that the technique could be used to extend the lifespan of humans - perhaps within 20 years - because the genes involved exist naturally in both mice and humans and perform similar roles. And they say that the breakthrough could one day see all humans benefiting from a longer and healthier life without the threat of serious disease. Leading geneticists and cancer experts say the development is both extraordinary and exciting.
The team of researchers achieved their results by inserting an extra copy of three genes - called telomerase, p53 and p16, already known to be important for longevity and suppressing tumours - into the stem cells of mice.
Inserting an extra copy improves their function in the body because they produce more protein, which makes them more active.This in turn helps telomerase to protect chromosomes from shrinking, a process which normally happens naturally as all living creatures age. And it means p53 and p16 work to prevent cells mutating and dividing - and therefore preventing cancer - while producing a good balance of new and healthy cells.
Key to long life: Tests on mice have helped scientists discover the way to extending the human lifespanThe technique is groundbreaking because it managed to get extra copies of both p53 and p16 into the mice, which scientists have been trying to do for years. It is also the first time that scientists have been able to extend the life of mice in this way while protecting them against cancer.
Previously, mice had been bred to be cancer-free but their lifespans were not significantly altered. In some cases, they were shortened. Scientists have previously extended the life of mice but only by restricting their diet.The modified mice were allowed to breed to strengthen their new DNA pattern, which created a group of ‘supermice’ with longer lifespans and in-built cancer protection.
It is thought the researchers managed to create mice which lived to around four-and-a-half years. Normally, they live for an average of three years.The team, from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) in Madrid, say this is the equivalent of humans living to 125..."
Scientists have made a genetic breakthrough which they claim could extend human life... more
" Regenerative medicine is an area in which stem cells hold great promise for overcoming the challenge of limited cell sources for tissue repair. Stem cell research is being pursued vigorously in laboratories all over the world (except in the U.S., where federal funding for embryonic stem cell research has been severely restricted by the current administration) in the hope of achieving major medical breakthroughs. Scientists are striving to create therapies that rebuild or replace damaged cells with tissues grown from stem cells and offer hope to people suffering from cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, spinal-cord injuries, and many other disorders.
Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent. That means that during normal embryogenesis – the process by which the embryo is formed and develops – human embryonic stem cells can differentiate into all derivatives of the three primary germ layers: ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm. Researchers have also found undifferentiated cells – adult stem cells – in children and adults. Unlike embryonic stem cells, the use of adult stem cells in research and therapy is not controversial because the production of adult stem cells does not require the creation or destruction of an embryo.
Often, adult stem cells are not pluripotent but multipotent. That means they can differentiate only into a limited variety of cell type. One such example are mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) – adult stems cells found in bone marrow which can be differentiated into bone, cartilage, fat, and connective tissues – which offer tremendous potential for the repair and or regeneration of damaged tissues and organs..."
" Regenerative medicine is an area in which stem cells hold great promise for... more
Blood from Stem Cells...
"An American team has found a way to turn the parent cells of other types, human embryonic stem cells, into significant quantities of functional oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
advertisementTests could start on patients by the end of next year and the advance holds out the promise that one day "blood farms" could provide a versatile source.
The research, which appears in the journal Blood, was carried out by Advanced Cell Technology, Worcester Massachusetts, and its collaborators at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Illinois, shows for the first time that the oxygen-carrying capacity of these blood cells is comparable to that of normal blood transfusions.... "Blood from Stem Cells...
"An American team has found a way to turn the parent... more
"Solazyme is the first company to produce algae diesel that meets US standards, but until today their production timeline was unknown.
“The technology is moving a lot quicker than some people would expect,” Wolfson said.
Most companies working with algal fuel grow algae in open ponds, harvest the plant, and squeeze the oil out, but Solazyme takes a different approach. The company grows algae in the dark in large tanks by feeding it with biomass. The algae then eat the biomass and turn it into natural oils..."
This is truly going green."Solazyme is the first company to produce algae diesel that meets US standards,... more
"By 2012, a large portion of India’s Uttar Pradesh region will be converted into Jatropha, a non-edible oil-seed crop that can be grown on marginal land.
40% of recently set aside “wasteland” in India’s populous norther region will be put into Jatropha production in the next few years, according to sources within the country. That makes for an estimated 26,721 hectares (about 66,000 acres) of land that will be converted into biodiesel crop production.
Jatropha is a member of the plant family Euphorbiacea, which is famous for tropical succulents that contain a number of highly toxic but useful compounds. Seeds from Jatropha can contain up to 40% oil, but productivity for domesticated plants varies. Estimates peg oil production yield around 58-73 US gallons per acre. Based on the estimated land use above.
India could be growing anywhere from 3.8 to 4.8 million gallons of oil per year in a few years..."
"By 2012, a large portion of India’s Uttar Pradesh region will be converted... more
"Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have discovered environmentally-friendly molecule catalysts that can be used to clean up a variety of toxic substances including waste water and fuel.
The catalysts, known as Tetra-Amido Macrocyclic Ligands (TAMLs), could replace current industrial practices used in cleaning up environmental hazards.
TAMLs are made up of common elements of biochemistry—carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen around a reactive core. They are usable at very low temperatures and form strong chemical bonds...""Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have discovered environmentally-friendly molecule... more
"Geothermal energy has finally hit the big time. Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, announced today that it is investing $10.25 million in an energy technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). The funding will also go towards geothermal resource mapping, information tools, and a geothermal energy policy agenda.
And it looks like Google made a wise investment choice. According to an MIT report on EGS, only 2% of of the heat beneath the continental US between 3 and 10 kilometers (depths we can reach with current technology) is more than 2,500 the annual energy use of the United States.
While traditional geothermal energy relies on finding natural pockets of hot water and steam, EGS fractures the hot rock, circulates water in its system, and uses the steam created from the process to create electricity in a turbine.
Google’s investments will go towards three institutions: AltaRock Energy, Potter Drilling, and the Southern Methodist University Geothermal Lab...""Geothermal energy has finally hit the big time. Google.org, the philanthropic... more
"Farms are places of food and commodity production almost by definition. But that definition is changing with carbon farming. This new style of farming, which produces soils that store carbon dioxide, is currently being explored by scientists at the US Geological Survey and UC Davis in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
The scientists aim to rebuild lost wetlands in the area. These wetlands will include rich peat soils that store CO2."
"Farms are places of food and commodity production almost by definition. But that... more
"The most efficient form of renewable energy may be right underneath us. Researchers at Worchester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts announced today that they have discovered a method to use road surfaces for solar collection.""The most efficient form of renewable energy may be right underneath us.... more
Ryleas was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, an abnormal deficiency of cells: in her case ONH was extremely severe, resulting in her complete loss of vision. Such a condition is normally linked with hormonal imbalances in the brain which can affect a child's growth, although in Rylea’s case Optic Nerve Hypoplasia does not seem to have affected her in being a very lively and happy child. Sight apart, in all other respects Rylea is healthy and energetic.
Through stem cell treatment her family hoped to restore the cell count in the nerves and to see some response to visual stimulus, specifically pupil dilation or retraction. Rylea’s treatment (umbilical cord stem cell injections with visual rehabilitation therapy) began on July 3rd, 2007 in a chinese hospital named Beike.
Before the treatment
In affecting her optic nerves, Rylea's illness has entirely deprived her of light perception and vision: in a word, she was blind. In early tests of shape recognition (slotting shapes through appropriate holes), Rylea relied on touch and memory, and did not attempt to identify shapes through sight..
After the treatment
Rylea showed important signs of light sensitivity less than two weeks after the treatments began. In a darkened room Rylea responded to a flashlight when shone in her eyes. Rylea's mother initially hoped to be seeing improvement over a period of up to six months: in this respect the treatment far exceeded her expectations.
The following is an excerpt from Rylea's blog (www.nomoredarkness.com). It covers her progress shortly after her return to America.
- 8 August 2007
“We met Dr. Brothers (Rylea's eye doctor) this morning. It was exciting for him to see her and respond to the light as it had been for us. He examined her eyes and Rylea showed him how she could tell which eye he was shining the light into. Then he turned the lights down low and took her in front of the wall where the eye chart shines. He asked her if she could see that light, and she pointed to it. Then he asked her if she could see the picture of the "E”... she said yes and was even able to point to the 3 ends of the "E". Watching this was very emotional for both Dr. Brothers and myself since it was by far more than either of us had expected to see as a result of the stem cell transplants”
- 12 August 2007
“Rylea asked me to go get the pen light this morning...so of course I did... we shined it in her eyes and she was able to grab the light. Then I told her that I wanted to show her something then I wanted her to tell me what she saw...so I held my breath so she couldn't feel me breathing on her. I asked her what she saw and she said, "I SAW MY MOMMY!!!" - So I asked her what I looked like and she said, "Mommy, you are beautiful!!!" She was able to identify everyone in the room immediately. What a miracle, what an absolute answer to many, many prayers!”
Stem Cells Treatments: www.beike.ch
On September 3rd, 2007, Rylea's mother was interviewed by Missouri's Joplin Globe newspaper: please read the complete interview at:
Ryleas was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, an abnormal deficiency of cells: in... more
"Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have developed a novel way to churn out large quantities of drugs, including antiplaque toothpaste additives, antibiotics, nicotine, and even morphine, using mini biofactories--in yeast."
Maybe ,among other things, this technology can help get cheap antibiotics to under-developed countries that desperately need them."Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have developed a novel way... more
Not only does this hold great potential for people suffering from paralysis but it instantly makes me think back to the movie strange days. Not only does this hold great potential for people suffering from paralysis but it... more
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Friday, July 04, 2008) - The Biotechnology Industry Organization congratulates the Codex Alimentarius Commission for approving key guidelines to further promote the safety of products from agricultural plant and animal biotechnology. The Codex Commission took final action today at its 31st session in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission and its member countries approved today
• the Annex on Food Safety Assessment in Situations of Low-Level Presence of Recombinant-DNA Plant Material in Food (LLP Annex),
• the Annex on Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant DNA-Plants Modified for Nutritional or Health Benefits, and
• the Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Animals.
Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, executive vice president, food and agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement in response to action taken this week by the Commission:
“On behalf of its members, BIO commends the actions taken by Codex this week. These standards represent Codex’s commitment to promoting food safety for consumers, while embracing scientific advances and fostering trade of biotech-derived agriculture products.
“BIO and its members applaud the U.S. government and other governments around the world for moving these science-based guidelines to adoption by Codex.
“Adoption of guidance related to food safety assessments of low-level presence is essential to facilitate international trade while regulating incidental or trace amounts of biotechnology events in food and feed products. The new guidance recognizes that low-level presence is a natural part of plant biology, seed production and the distribution of commodity crops, and it can be managed in ways that ensure food safety and minimize trade disruptions.
“Adoption of the guidelines for risk assessment of the safety of foods derived from genetically engineered (GE) animals represents a policy breakthrough in the area of animal biotechnology. Codex standards are recognized as international benchmarks and act as models for governments in the establishment of their own food safety policies.
“Approval of the guidelines can now pave the way for the United States and other countries to develop science-based regulatory processes to govern the use of GE animals. GE animals are being developed to advance human and animal health, enhance food production, mitigate environmental impact and provide for high-tech industrial products.
“The Codex-approved texts on plant and animal biotechnology serve as science-based guidance, which will further enhance consumer safety and health while promoting the trade of biotech-derived products. This represents a tremendous step forward for farmers, traders and biotechnology industries in the United States and around the world.”
In 2006, the Codex Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology agreed to draft an international guidance for food safety assessment of low-level presence of biotech products authorized as safe for use in food, feed, grain and derived products in one or more countries, including country of cultivation, but not yet in the country of import. In September, 2007 the members of the Codex Task Force unanimously agreed on the draft Annex that was considered and adopted by the Commission this week.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Codex, which comprises about 165 countries worldwide, is a scientific body that develops the international standards for food safety aimed at protecting public health and promoting fair trade practices. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Friday, July 04, 2008) - The Biotechnology Industry Organization... more
With the world’s population getting older all the time, an increasing number of scientists are studying aging and its effects - sometimes with surprising conclusions.
While most agree that aging is caused by cellular-level wear and tear caused by friction with the environment (also known as living ), scientists at Stanford looking at a specific type of worm have discovered that may not just be about environmental damage
Scientists identified three genes that appear to control the majority of changes in gene expression that accompany aging. They then exposed the worms to a range of environmental stressors, including heat, DNA damage, and oxidative stress, and found that expression of the controller genes was largely unaffected. The results were reported today in the journal Cell.
A possible interpretation of the findings, says Kim, is that aging in worms may in part be due to developmental pathways gone awry. In the wild, worms die from predation rather than from old age. So there’s little evolutionary pressure to stop damaging genetic mutations from taking root, a concept known as developmental drift. "It’s not environmental accumulation; it’s a developmental clock," says Kim.
It’s not clear whether there are similar issues in mammals and humans, but the science of gerontology is opening up all kinds of interesting new avenues for exploration.
Mammals may be more susceptible to accumulated wear and tear, he says, because cells are continually damaged and replaced from a pool of stem cells present in most tissues. Too much stress destroys the ability of stem-cell pools to replace tissue. Worms, on the other hand, are generally stuck with the cells that they've got once they hit adulthood: most cells are no longer capable of proliferating.
Kim's team is now studying the human versions of these genes. While it's unlikely that the same genes are involved in human aging, he says, "I think that the conceptual idea that known human-developmental controls are not maintained as people grow older is attractive and theoretically possible." However, "there is no direct evidence for developmental drift in mammals yet," he says.
With the world’s population getting older all the time, an increasing number of... more
A new treatment for aggressive prostate cancer is being hailed by scientists as the most important breakthrough in the field for 70 years.
The drug, called Abiraterone, is believed to have the potential to treat up to 80% of patients with an advanced form of the disease, which critically is resistant to currently available chemotherapy: the drug's ingenious effectiveness comes by 'turning off' the hormones which fuel the cancer.
The Institute for Cancer Research hopes that a pill will be available in 2-3 years.A new treatment for aggressive prostate cancer is being hailed by scientists as the... more
4 years ago