Printing objects that can incorporate living organisms

MIT News  January 23, 2020 Significant efforts exist to develop living/non‐living composite materials—known as biohybrids—that can support and control the functionality of biological agents. A team of researchers in the US (MIT, Dana Farber Cancer Institute) has developed a Hybrid Living Material (HLM) fabrication platform which integrates computational design, additive manufacturing, and synthetic biology to achieve replicable fabrication and control of biohybrids. The approach involves modification of multimaterial 3D‐printer descriptions to control the distribution of chemical signals within printed objects, and subsequent addition of hydrogel to object surfaces to immobilize engineered Escherichia coli and facilitate material‐driven chemical signaling. The HLM […]

Bacteria-shredding tech to fight drug-resistant superbugs

Science Daily  January 13, 2020 An international team of researchers (Australia, USA – North Carolina State University) has shown that when gallium-based liquid metal (LM) droplets are exposed to a low-intensity rotating magnetic field, the LM droplets become physically actuated and transform their shape, developing sharp edges. When placed in contact with a bacterial biofilm, the movement of the particles resulting from the magnetic field physically ruptures the bacterial cells and the dense biofilm matrix is broken down. They tested the efficacy of the magnetically activated LM particles against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial biofilms. After 90 min over 99% […]

Physicists design ‘super-human’ red blood cells to deliver drugs to specific targets

Science Daily  January 16, 2020 An international team of researchers (Canada, Germany) has developed a method to combine synthetic material with biological material and created a new structure. They opened the red blood cell, modified its outer cell wall, and replaced its contents with a drug molecule, which would then be injected back into the body. The hybrid appears and behaves as a normal red blood cell but has a sticky surface which can attach itself to bacteria, for example, open and release antibiotics exactly where they are needed. This targeted delivery method could help to minimize dosages and therefore, […]

Next generation wound gel treats and prevents infections

Science Daily  January 8, 2020 An international team of researchers (Sweden, Denmark) has developed a hydrogel based on the body’s natural peptide defense. It has been shown to prevent and treat infections in wounds and reduce inflammation. The formulation kills multi-resistant bacteria and prevents as well as treats wound infections. They are looking into the possibility of developing new peptide-based drugs for eye infections and infections in other internal organs. It could become a new way of treating both infection and inflammation without using antibiotics…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE 

Researchers develop universal flu vaccine that protects against 6 influenza viruses in mice

EurekAlert  January 7, 2020 Researchers at Georgia State University have developed a nanoparticle vaccine which combines two major influenza proteins that is effective in providing broad, long-lasting protection against influenza virus in mice, showing promise as a universal flu vaccine. The double-layered nanoparticle vaccine contains the influenza virus proteins matrix protein 2 ectodomain  and neuraminidase. Mice were immunized with the nanoparticle vaccine before being exposed to influenza virus, and they were protected against six different strains of the virus…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Scientists find new way to sustainably make chemicals by copying nature’s tricks

EurekAlert  January 6, 2020 Plants and microorganisms naturally biosynthesize chemicals that often are converted into derivatives with reduced toxicity or enhanced solubility. As a proof of principle, researchers in the UK used genetic engineering to program E. coli and cyanobacteria to make 1-octanol, a chemical currently used in perfumes, which is toxic to the bacteria. They then added an extra set of instructions to E. coli so it would produce two different derivatives of 1-octanol that are both less harmful. The researchers say if this were to be scaled up for industrial systems the engineered bacteria would produce the non-toxic […]

Scientists make fundamental discovery to creating better crops

Phys.org  July 22, 2019 An international team of researchers (USA – Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Wisconsin, DOE Joint Genome Institute, industry, France) has discovered the complex relationship plants have with mycorrhizal fungi. When they are united, the fungi form a sheath around plant roots with remarkable benefits. The fungal structure extends far from the plant host, increasing nutrient uptake and even communicating with other plants to “warn” of spreading pathogens and pests. In return, plants feed carbon to the fungus, which encourages its growth. The discovery could lead to the development of bioenergy and food crops that can […]

New gene editor harnesses jumping genes for precise DNA integration

Phys.org  June 12, 2019 Researchers at Columbia University have developed a technology called INTEGRATE, which harnesses bacterial jumping genes to reliably insert any DNA sequence into the genome without cutting DNA. Rather than introduce DNA breaks and rely on the cell to repair the break, as done in CRISPR, INTEGRATE directly inserts a user-defined DNA sequence at a precise location in the genome. The technique should enable a vast range of new gene editing opportunities in biotechnology, gene and cell therapies, engineered crops, and biologics. The INTEGRATE technology offers a fresh new approach with the same programmability and ease of use […]

We Finally Have Found a Way to Convert Donor Blood Into a Universal Type

Science Alert  June 12, 2019 Researchers have known that certain enzymes could remove the sugars from A, B, and AB blood cells, converting them into the more useful Type O. Among the genes encoded in their library of 19,500 expressed fosmids bearing gut bacterial DNA, researchers in Canada identified an enzyme pair that work in concert to efficiently convert the A antigen to the H antigen of O type blood 30 times more efficiently than any previously discovered enzyme. The next step would then be to test the enzyme in a clinical setting, which will help determine if the conversion […]

The extraordinary powers of bacteria visualized in real time

Science Daily  May 23, 2019 The global spread of antibiotic resistance is a major public health issue. The spread of antibiotic resistance is for the most part due to the capacity of bacteria to exchange genetic material through a process known as bacterial conjugation. The ability of the bacterium to expel the antibiotic before it can exert its destructive effect using “efflux pumps” found on its membrane. Experimenting with E. Coli researchers in France have revealed that in just 1 to 2 hours, the single-stranded DNA fragment of the efflux pump was transformed into double-stranded DNA and then translated into […]