Poor Dr. Frankenstein had to steal corpses for his mad experiments, but modern-day bioengineers need not resort to such dubious methods for raw materials. The new Biofab laboratory plans to churn out thousands of free standard DNA parts that academic and private biotech labs can use to create new designer microbes that can make everything from new drugs to fuel.
Simply put, pills are stupid. They don't know what's going on in your body when you take them, they don't know the optimal time to release their medication, and they certainly can't vary their own dosage levels on the fly. But thanks to the blinking E. coli created by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, that's all about to change.
Nintendo's Mario has taught us science and even encouraged the development of better artificial intelligence. So it's only appropriate that Japanese researchers paid homage to everyone's favorite video game character, by recreating his likeness in a petri dish with genetically engineered glow-in-the-dark bacteria. Warning: we reveal a seizure-inducing Mario animation after the story jump.
While some viruses attack the lungs, and others the blood, HIV attacks the only system that could put up a fight: the immune system itself. The immune system mounts some defense, but after HIV launches its surprise attack, the body simply can't produce enough killer T blood cells to take out the virus.
Now, thanks to researchers at UCLA, it's payback time for the blood cells. A team of scientists have plucked T-cells out of someone infected with HIV, and used them as a template for creating an army of HIV-fighting immune cells out of stem cells. Essentially a genetic vaccine, this technique could be used to copy T-cells designed to fight any virus, opening up the possibility of universal vaccination via stem cell implantation.
Zoe Donaldson, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, via Science Daily
Man, those scientists just love their glowing lab subjects. First came mice, and then recently the first primates got some jellyfish genes implanted into their DNA. Now, scientists at Emory University have implanted the gene for jellyfish fluorescent protein in prairie voles.
With its annual output of over 330 million tons a year feeding animals, running cars, and decorating South Dakota tourist attractions, maize is clearly Americas most important crop. That's why the newly published complete corn genome could drastically change the food, automotive and plastic industries.
It's getting much harder to cheat at sports these days. Urine tests have been re-calibrated to look for the cream and the clear, blood tests check for the presence of excessive oxygen, and you spitballers? Yeah, they're on to you, too. But a new breakthrough in gene therapy may allow athletes to skip the steroids in favor of adding muscles from the DNA up.
When former President Bush mentioned human-animal hybrids during a State of the Union speech in 2006, most of the audience probably sat scratching their heads for a second. However, in the years since then, transplanting human genes into animals, whether to make better milk or study human diseases, has become a bigger and bigger issue.
Now, a year after English scientists implanted human stem cells into bovine egg cells, Britain's Academy of Medical Sciences has launched a study to determine the ethics of creating human/animal hybrids.
Toyota's rivals have long complained that the popular Prius hybrid has a less-than-green legacy due to its manufacturing process. Now the car maker has flashed its green thumb by creating two new species of flower that help offset the carbon emissions from the Prius plant in Japan.
The new version of the cherry sage plant can absorb harmful greenhouse gases, such as nitrogen oxide, through its leaves. And Toyota's variant of the gardenia acts as a natural humidifier by creating water vapor in the air, to help cool the factory grounds, reducing the energy required for air conditioners.
A second Green Revolution can't come soon enough for UK scientists, who say that their government should invest $3.3 billion in crop research to help feed the world. That world will only grow hungrier, and will require a 50 percent boost in food production over the next 40 years.