Making on-demand organ transplants possible with cryopreservation


According to a recent report in Nature Biotechnology, about 70 percent of eligible donated hearts never get utilized and up to 20 percent of donated kidneys are discarded in the United States today. And worldwide only 10 percent of the organ need is being met, according to the World Health Organization who calls the shortage “among the greatest crises facing bio-medicine today.”

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Get ready for robots made with human flesh

Two University of Oxford biomedical researchers are calling for robots to be built with real human tissue, and they say the technology is there if we only choose to develop it. Writing in Science Robotics, Pierre-Alexis Mouthuy and Andrew Carr argue that humanoid robots could be the exact tool we need to create muscle and tendon grafts that actually work.

Right now, tissue engineering relies on bioreactors to grow sheets of cells. These machines often look like large fish tanks, filled with a rich soup of nutrients and chemicals that cells need to grow on a specialized trellis. The problem, explain Mouthuy and Carr, is that bioreactors currently “fail to mimic the real mechanical environment for cells.” In other words, human cells in muscles and tendons grow while being stretched and moved around on our skeletons. Without experiencing these natural stresses, the tissue grafts produced by researchers often have a broad range of structural problems and low cell counts.

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Biotechnology startup will begin testing CRISPR gene editing on humans in 2017

Editas CEO

Editas CEO Katrine Bosley

Editas Medicine, a biotechnology startup, will begin tests of a powerful new form of gene repair in humans within two years. Speaking this week at the EmTech conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Editas CEO Katrine Bosley said the company hopes to start a clinical trial in 2017 to treat a rare form of blindness using CRISPR, a groundbreaking gene-editing technology.

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Algae used to extract metals from mine tailings

Cornish tin mine g3m5

England’s Cornish Tin Mine

Jamie Doward – A pioneering research project to clean up a flooded Cornish tin mine is using algae to harvest the precious heavy metals in its toxic water, while simultaneously producing biofuel.

If the project, which is at a very early stage, is proven to work, it could have huge environmental benefits around the world.

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Interactive Bionic Man features 14 novel biotechnologies


NIBIB Bionic Man

The “NIBIB Bionic Man” is an interactive Web tool that showcases cutting-edge research in biotechnology that has recently been launched by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. The bionic man features 14 technologies currently being developed by NIBIB-supported researchers.


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An open source future for synthetic biology


Synthetic biology is an emerging area that threatens to become as controversial as GMOs.

It’s indisputable that genetically modified organism (GMO) food products from corporations like Monsanto are suspected to endanger health. But on the other hand, an individual’s right to genetically modify and even synthesize entire organisms as part of his dietary or medical regimen could someday be a human right.



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Future biotechnology could make prisoners think they are in jail for 1,000 years


Manipulations of a neurotransmitter could give criminals more prison time within a shorter-length sentence.

Oxford University’s Rebecca Roache has some thoughts about how we could treat our criminals differently. She envisions a future where we can use chemicals to manipulate an inmates sense of time. Through these chemicals, a criminal could be made to feel like she or he is spending 1,000 years in jail, even though the person might only be in jail for days or months or a year.



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Biggest myth about the robotics industry

The claim that robotics is capital intensive is a myth.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote a much-discussed piece, a little over a year ago, on the discrepancy between corporate profits and labor compensation. Krugman’s column sparked a huge debate, and on the Times website alone readers left more than 1,300 comments. In his article he referred to robotics as a capital-intensive technology. The problem is, it isn’t true.



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Stephen Hawking joins international think tank to defend humanity from futuristic threats

Stephen Hawking wants to stop the rise of the machines.

Stephen Hawking turned  71 on January 8th and has joined the board of an international think tank devoted to defending humanity from futuristic threats. The newly founded organization, the Cambridge Project for Existential Risk, researches existential threats to humanity such as extreme climate change, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, artificial life, nanotech, and other emerging technologies. Skype cofounder Jaan Tallinn and Cambridge professors Huw Price and Martin Rees founded the project in late 2012.



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How human enhancement will impact the future of work

The term ‘human enhancement’ encompasses a range of approaches that may be used to improve aspects of human function.

The Royal Society looks at Human enhancement and the future of work. The project explored potential enhancements arising from advances in science and engineering that are likely to impact on the future of work.



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