DNA sequencing is improving faster than Moore’s law

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The cost of sequencing genomes has declined 50% faster per year than the cost of computers, since 2007. Declining sequencing costs have been due to a combination of Moore’s law and massive scaleups. An author and an expert on the life sciences industry, Juan Enriquez, runs a venture capital fund that invests in life science startups that could produce useful products and treatments within the next five years.  He also engages in more long-term forecasting. In an interview for Next Big Future, Enriquez discusses the exponential rate of change for biotechnology with Sander Olson. Enrique also discusses why he believes that the changes wrought by the biosciences during the next three decades could surpass the industrial revolution in importance. (video)

 

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Embryonic Stem Cell Culturing Grows from Art to Science

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Embryonic stem cells under microscope

Growing human embryonic stem cells in the lab is no small feat. Culturing the finicky, shape-shifting cells is labor intensive and, in some ways, more art than exact science. Continue reading… “Embryonic Stem Cell Culturing Grows from Art to Science”

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Spontaneous GMOs in Nature

A real life Jack and the Bean Stock! Genecially modified plants

Genetically modified plants can come about by natural means. A research group at Lund University in Sweden has described the details of such an event among higher plants. It is likely that the gene transfer was mediated by a parasite or a pathogen.

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Bees Reveal Nature-Nurture Secrets

“It’s crazy how realistic they look when there under a microscope!”

The nature-nurture debate is a “giant step” closer to being resolved after scientists studying bees documented how environmental inputs can modify our genetic hardware. The researchers uncovered extensive molecular differences in the brains of worker bees and queen bees which develop along very different paths when put on different diets.

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Plant’s Light Switch Can Control Cells

If only we could control our own with just a flip of a switch

Chandra Tucker shines a blue light on yeast and mammalian cells in her Duke University lab and the edges of them start to glow. The effect is the result of a light-activated switch from a plant that has been inserted into the cell.

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U.S. Government Says Genes Should Not Be Eligible for Patents

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The issue of gene patents has long been a controversial and emotional one.

Reversing a longstanding policy, the federal government said on Friday that human and other genes should not be eligible for patents because they are part of nature. The new position could have a huge impact on medicine and on the biotechnology industry.

 

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Genetically-Modified Salmon Will be First GM Animal Available for Human Consumption

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Genetically modified salmon could be on supermarket shelves within a year.

Usually Atlantic salmon do not grow during the winter and take three years to fully mature.  A salmon that grows at twice the normal rate is set to be the first genetically modified (GM) animal available for human consumption.

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Surgeons Transplant New Trachea Into Child Using His Own Stem Cells to Rebuild Airway

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Still image from a video showing a visualization of the transplantation operation using the new trachea.

UCL scientists and surgeons have led a revolutionary operation to transplant a new trachea into a child, using the child’s own stem cells to rebuild the airway in the body.

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What Makes You Unique? Not Genes So Much as Surrounding Sequences, Study Finds

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Researchers have found that the unique, specific changes among individuals in the sequence of DNA affect the ability of “control proteins” called transcription factors to bind to the regions that control gene expression.

The key to human individuality may lie not in our genes, but in the sequences that surround and control them, according to new research by scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Yale University. The interaction of those sequences with a class of key proteins, called transcription factors, can vary significantly between two people and are likely to affect our appearance, our development and even our predisposition to certain diseases, the study found.

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How Plants Put Down Roots: Geneticists Research Organ Development in the Plant Embryo

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One week old seed of the thale cress with embryo.

In the beginning is the fertilized egg cell. Following numerous cell divisions, it then develops into a complex organism with different organs and tissues. The largely unexplained process whereby the cells simply “know” the organs into which they should later develop is an astonishing phenomenon.

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3-D Cell Culture: Making Cells Feel Right at Home, Suspended in Magnetic Fields

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This is a 3-D cell culture grown with magnetic levitation.

The film “Avatar” isn’t the only 3-D blockbuster making a splash this winter. A team of scientists from Houston’s Texas Medical Center has unveiled a new technique for growing 3-D cell cultures, a technological leap from the flat petri dish that could save millions of dollars in drug-testing costs.

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New Microscopy Technique Offers Close-Up, Real-Time View of Cellular Phenomena

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This image, taken with atomic force microscopy, shows E. coli bacteria after they have been exposed to the antimicrobial peptide CM15. The peptides have begun destroying the bacteria’s cell walls.

For two decades, scientists have been pursuing a potential new way to treat bacterial infections, using naturally occurring proteins known as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Now, MIT scientists have recorded the first microscopic images showing the deadly effects of AMPs, most of which kill by poking holes in bacterial cell membranes.

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