Recovering Lost Bioengineering Data

With all the bioengineering research that has been done, no one wants to take the chance of losing the information. What exactly is bioengineering? Merriam-Webster (2013) gives the definition of bioengineering as follows: “A biological or medical application of engineering principles or engineering equipment..”. The Concise Encyclopedia (2013) stated that “..it (bioengineering) includes the development and fabrication of life-support systems for underwater and space exploration, devices for medical treatment, and instruments for monitoring biological processes”. Bioengineering data, then, has to do with the scientific field as well as the medical field. In order to keep this information accessible, people will save this research using online backup. Even using online backup fails sometimes.

That’s where companies such as VaultScape can help people. VaultScape Enterprise (2013)… Continue reading

Bioengineering Solutions for Hearing Loss

Engineers continue to create new innovations through research and testing for the comfort and improved quality of human life. Hearing aids are items that have seen many changes in the field of bioengineering contributing to the quality of sound produced and compatibility sensitive to individual patient needs. Patient needs are different from one another according to each one’s type of hearing impairment whether is difficulty hearing high pitched sounds, trouble with hearing voices, or being on the verge of deafness.

Bioengineers have developed adaptive devices to assist with improving the impairment via the use of hearing aids, cochlear implants, and ossicular implants. There are two types of hearing aid devices manufactured for patients, one called conventional hearing aid consisting of a computer chip programmed by… Continue reading

Food From Transgenic Animals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration decides whether transgenic salmon – and a flood of other animal products – food and no labeling requirement is to be registered. The FDA has the transgenic salmon similar products from cloned animals, which are, however, no genes introduced as safe for human consumption explained. Since it is not biologically different from normal salmon. Should be granted permission, the genetically engineered salmon to be able to sell as food, which is expected by the end of the year, then AquaBounty will equip other types of fish such as trout or prawns with the growth differential.

If the AquAdvantage ® Salmon be approved as a food, then the gateway for many other genetically modified animals will be open, which are… Continue reading

The directed evolution and optimization of enzymes for applications in biotechnology

The Arnold laboratory is a world leader in the directed evolution and optimization of enzymes for applications in biotechnology. Biological systems have evolved over billions of years to perform very specific biological functions and to do so within the context of a living organism.

Some of the features required for function in a complex chemical network are undesirable when the catalyst is lifted out of context. Conversely many of the properties we wish enzymes would have clash with the needs of the organism, or at least were never required. The Arnold group is developing and using methods of directed evolution to explore the vast space of novel enzyme functions never explored in nature.

One very successful example has been the directed evolution of an enzyme… Continue reading

Low Allergy Peanuts

Allergies are diseases in their fight against the pharmaceutical industry, despite generous patent granted privileges and monopoly profits so far made little progress. But it was now more in publicly funded research a step further.

Because of the origin of allergies so far almost nothing is known beyond the statistical correlations or spurious correlations, and it mainly in the field of medicine was apparent progress, the culture is non-allergenic animals and plants is becoming more significant.

However, the first known attempt proved in this direction as “vaporware”: in 2006 claimed that later in “Lifestyle Pets” renamed company Allerca that they produce on the lookout for a way, the gene, the cat, the allergic protein “Fel d 1” allows to switch off or remove animals came… Continue reading

Engineering Gene Transfer Technologies: Retroviral-Mediated Gene Transfer

Gene therapy involves the transfer of genetic material, encoding one or more therapeutic genes and the sequences necessary for their expression, to target cells to alter their genetic makeup for some desired therapeutic effect. Gene therapy was first used to treat adenosine deaminase (ADA) deficiency, a single-gene genetic disorder, but is now being tested in a wide variety of applications, including complex genetic disorders such as cancer, infectious diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and in tissue engineering.

Genetic material has been successfully delivered to a large number of different human cell types, and their phenotypes have been altered. For example, complementary DNA (cDNA) encoding the gene for ADA has been transferred to blood cells to treat ADA deficient children, cDNA encoding cytokines… Continue reading

Overview of Retroviral-Mediated Gene Transfer

Recombinant retroviruses used for human gene therapy are derived from the wild-type Moloney murine leukemia retrovirus. The recombinant viruses are structurally identical to the wild-type virus but carry a genetically engineered genome that encodes the therapeutic gene and sequences which regulate its expression. Recombinant retroviruses cannot self-replicate, but can infect and integrate their genomes into the chromosomal DNA of the target cell.

Recombinant retroviruses consist of a two-part system composed of a retroviral vector and a packaging cell line. The retroviral vector is essentially the wild-type genome with all the viral genes removed. It encodes the therapeutic gene, regulatory sequences necessary for the expression of the gene, and a packaging sequence required for its efficient incorporation into virus particles.

The second part of the system… Continue reading

Increasing Virus Concentrations

One approach to improve transduction efficiency is to increase the concentration of infectious virus particles. The concentration of virus particles in virus stocks can be increased by optimizing packaging cell culture conditions, concentrating the virus stocks after they are harvested from the packaging cells, and/or by altering the virus or packaging cell lines.

Significant increases in virus titer have been achieved by optimizing cell culture conditions, such as by reducing the ratio of culture medium to cell number. Packaging cells seeded in the extra capillary space of a hollow fiber bioreactor, and grown to densities (108 cells per milliliter) about 100-fold higher than normally achieved in conventional cell culture flasks, produced virus stocks with titers (2 x 107 particles per milliliter) 18-fold higher than the… Continue reading

Increasing the Efficiency of Extracellular Steps of Infection

Transduction efficiencies can also be improved by straightforward environmental or culture medium alterations that maximize the efficiency of extra cellular steps of infection. For example, by reducing the decay rate of recombinant retroviruses, which rapidly lose infectivity with time at 37oC, transduction efficiencies can be improved.

The rapid decay of infectivity (the half-life at 37oC is about 6 to 8 hours) of retroviruses reduces transduction efficiencies because retrovirus binding and infection occurs over a period of several hours, during which time most of the infectivity of the retroviruses is lost. Infection continues for several hours because the virus particles are large (100 nm) and diffuse slowly.

Retrovirus particles move about 300 mum in one half-life (7 hours), or about one-tenth the distance from the top… Continue reading

The Efficiency of Cell-Associated Steps of Infection

Finally, transduction efficiencies can also be improved by increasing the efficiencies of the steps of infection that occur on or inside the cell. For example, virus binding (and transduction efficiency) can be improved by increasing the concentration of cell surface receptors. The recent cloning of the amphotropic retrovirus receptor, a sodium-dependent phosphate symport, has enabled researchers to measure, and alter, the tissue-specific expression of the receptor.

By culturing CD-4 enriched human peripheral blood lymphocytes in phosphate-free medium for 12 hours, transduction efficiency was increased more than ten-fold, presumably because expression of the amphotropic receptor was unregulated. Transduction efficiencies can also be increased by reducing the time required to complete intracellular steps of infection, thereby increasing the probability of completing transduction before the virus spontaneously loses… Continue reading

Corporate VCs Finding Value In Health Care

The revival of interest in health care among venture capital firms is attracting corporate investors as well.

Medical products companies like Johnson & Johnson Co. and pharmaceutical giants like SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline) have been investing in smaller companies for years. But now they have far more company in the field than ever before.

The newcomers are entering the health care investment arena with at least one of three basic goals:

• To add to their own line of products. Cytyc Corp., for example, the developer of a new means of doing pap smears, has set up a venture unit to invest in companies that likewise are striving to create technologies for diagnosing cancer, or treating women.

• To assist their own customers. Quintiles Transnational… Continue reading

Move by Drug Maker May Drive Up Price Paid for Discarded Compounds

For years, venture capitalists have been seeing opportunity sitting on the shelves of pharmaceutical companies: abandoned drugs, possibly approved by the FDA but, in the eyes of the pharmaceutical executives, capable of generating only a small amount of sales.

To VCs, however, these markets aren’t so small. And many have built successful companies around unwanted compounds they’ve acquired in exchange for milestone and royalty payments.

Now, in a move that could drive up the price for venture investors interested in these compounds, GlaxoSmithKline plc has established a unit through which it would take stakes in companies in return for turning over discarded intellectual property to them.

Called the Genetics & Discovery Ventures Group, the unit is shooting to return a “large” but unspecified financial gain… Continue reading

Health Care Firms Haul In Total Of $3.2 Billion in Year’s First Half

William Walsh, manager of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown Inc.’s $300 million fund of funds, saw a co-worker get his hip replaced one day and return to work the next.

While most people can just sit and marvel at such medical breakthroughs, Mr. Walsh sees them as compelling reasons to back health care-only venture firms like Palo Alto-based Prospect Venture Partners.

He is certainly not alone. Health care firms are off to their best fund-raising start ever this year, with $3.2 billion going into 23 funds during the first six months. Although the pace is likely to slow in the second half, firms that invest solely in health care companies are still in good position to surpass last year’s record total of $4.3 billion.

“Right now,… Continue reading

Genentech Employees Helping to Meet Needs of Life Sciences Firms

Genentech Inc., a long-time source of executive talent for the biotechnology industry, has become a feeder system for venture firms.
In recent months, several Genentech staffers have departed to take junior partner positions at venture firms such as MPM Capital, Cambridge, Mass., and Patricof & Co. Ventures Inc. and J.P. Morgan Partners, both of New York. Overall, at least 10 Genentech employees have moved on to the venture business since 1999 alone. “My Genentech network is two orders of magnitude of all my other networks put together,” said Michael Powell, who left Genentech himself in 1997 to join Sofinnova Ventures, San Francisco, as a general partner.
Mr. Powell was a group leader in Genentech’s drug development program. However, most of the staffers are drawn from… Continue reading

Biomedical Engineering Concentration Draws SEAS Students

Several administrators within the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences said that they believe the new undergraduate concentration in biomedical engineering will attract a large number of students—some of whom might not have otherwise chosen to major within SEAS—when sophomores declare their concentrations next month.

While no administrator could offer an official projection for the number of concentrators, SEAS Assistant Dean for Academic Programs Marie Dahleh said she believes the new concentration will be a “popular option” because it will meet “many if not all of the premed requirements, and also has an interesting curriculum to supplement the course load for those interested medical school.”

Dahleh also said that she believes the new concentration will draw a broad array of students, including those who might… Continue reading

The basics of Intentional Biology

Intentional Biology is about the use of biology as technology. Humans have explicitly herded, farmed, and bred plants and animals for thousands of years, and now this effort is moving to the molecular level. Biology is a medium for creation. But because we don’t yet know enough to manipulate biological systems with either certainty or safety, IB is also about the science we need to do to get to that point.

The portrayal of current genetic engineering as precise and well defined is inappropriate today. Few genes are known quantities and the process of introducing a foreign gene into an organism produces uncertainty about both the gene’s function and the function of the DNA into which it is inserted. Genetic engineering techniques are abysmally primitive,… Continue reading

The Origin of Life

Approximately 20 billion years ago (bya), all matter in the universe was condensed into a single point. At this point it is believed that the BIG BANG was believed to have occurred, spewing clouds of H2 shrapnel as the universe expanded. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is believed to have been created ~13bya.
During this time the huge H2 cloud began to condense and nuclear fusion began, forming all of the heavier elements. This humongous “star” went supernova, scattering these heavier elements to form clouds of dust and gas. Such a cloud condensed into our present day sun, and the rotation of the flattened dust cloud began to build up into protoplanets, moving around the sun. This took place around 5 bya.

The sun was… Continue reading

Ten Most Innovative Entrepreneurs

Fortune has chosen ten female small-business entrepreneurs to join the annual Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit. The ten women join 400 of the world’s most influential women leaders in business, philanthropy, government, education and the arts for panel discussions, on-stage interviews, and interactive sessions over the course of three days.

Wendi Goldsmith, CEO of Bioengineering Group, a woman-owned science and engineering firm headquartered in Salem, MA, was recognized as one of the ten winners. The program, which debuted at the 2009 Summit, targets entrepreneurial women who are game changers, ground-breakers and innovators in their fields. Hundreds of business owners were nominated and 25 were selected as finalists. From the list of finalists, ten women were chosen as winners and invited to attend the 2010 Summit… Continue reading

What Artificial Neural Networks Can Do

The potential of achieving a great deal of processing power by wiring together a large number of very simple and somewhat primitive devices has captured the imagination of scientists and engineers for many years. In recent years, the possibility of implementing such systems by means of electro-optical devices and in very large scale integrations has resulted in increased research activities.

Artificial neural networks (ANNs) or simply Neural Networks (NNs) are made of interconnected devices called neurons (also called neurodes, nodes, neural units or merely units). Loosely inspired by the makeup of the nervous system, these interconnected devices look at patterns of data and learn to classify them.
NNs have been used in a wide variety of signal processing and pattern recognition applications and have been… Continue reading

Biomedical Engineering and the Implantable Ventricular Defibrillator

Sudden cardiac death, often called a massive heart attack, is the leading cause of death in America. Many of these deaths are caused by cardiac arrest (ventricular fibrillation), a breakdown in the normally well-choreographed electrical activity of the heart. In the United States, approximately 500,000 out-of-hospital episodes of ventricular fibrillation occur each year. About 25% survive. Survival is often attributable to the rapid response of paramedics coupled with a bystander’s use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Without treatment, fibrillation survivors are almost certain to suffer another episode within a year. Even when treated with drugs, survivors have a one-year mortality rate of about 10% and a four-year mortality rate of about 30%. The ubiquitous nature of ventricular fibrillation and the lack of effective pharmacologic treatments for… Continue reading

The first Artificial Enzyme has been created

An artificial enzyme has been created that functions normally in gut bacteria, an achievement that marks a big step for synthetic biology—the creation of artificial organisms and biological systems. The experiment, reported in the June 25 Science, represents a valuable step in the quest to design enzymes from scratch.

The Duke researcher Homme Hellinga and colleagues used a computational method to redesign the noncatalytic ribose-binding protein’s active site so that it would bind both the initial substrate and the product molecule. Their computational technique involves mutating a protein inside a computer by selectively altering its individual amino acids. The method generates the design of an array of candidate proteins and narrows this down to a manageable number that can be synthesized and tested in the… Continue reading

The first synthetic virus created

“The world had better be prepared. This shows you can recreate a virus from written information,” Eckard Wimmer, leader of the biomedical research team and co-author of the study published in the journal Science, told newsagents. “One has to be aware that humans can recreate a virus,” Wimmer said, “even if you think it’s not around anymore.”

Poliovirus does not have DNA like most organisms, but starts out with RNA instead. Normally DNA carries the genetic code in cells, and is transcribed into RNA, which controls the production of individual proteins. To make a poliovirus, Wimmer and colleagues Jeronimo Cello and Aniko Paul first took a step backward. “You cannot synthesise RNA,” Wimmer said. “So we converted the sequence from RNA into DNA. And DNA… Continue reading