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DNA

Medical

Landmark decision? US Supreme Court rules human genes cannot be patented

In what is being ballyhooed as a landmark decision likely to set the course of DNA-based diagnostic and therapeutic medicine for the next several decades, the US Supreme Court unanimously decided on June 13 that human genes are not patentable. Rather than objects invented or discovered, human genes are henceforth to be treated as "naturally occurring phenomena," and hence fail the patentability test under 35 USC 101. As is usual in patent cases, however, the ruling contains delicate shades of meaning.Read More

Medical

Polymer patches could replace needles and enable more effective DNA vaccines

Taking a two-month-old in for vaccination shots and watching them get stuck with six needles in rapid succession can be painful for child and parent alike. If the work of an MIT team of researchers pans out, those needles may be thing of the past thanks to a new dissolvable polymer film that allows the vaccination needle to be replaced with a patch. This development will not only make vaccinations less harrowing, but also allow for developing and delivering vaccines for diseases too dangerous for conventional techniques.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Understanding bat evolution could lead to new treatments for viruses and aging

Scientists believe the genes of virus-resistant and long-living wild bats might hold clues to treating cancer and infectious diseases in humans. The theory is that when bats started flying millions of years ago, something changed in their DNA that provides resistance to viruses and helps give them a relatively long life. The researchers hope a better understanding of bat evolution could lead to new treatments for disease and aging in humans. Read More

Spy Gear

SelectaDNA system tags criminals by shooting them with a DNA gun

Imagine that you’re a police officer in the midst of a riot. While you may be able to apprehend the offenders closest to you, you can see plenty of other looters and vandals who you’re just not able to get to at the moment. Well, that’s where SelectaDNA’s High Velocity DNA Tagging System would come into the picture. At the heart of the system is a gun that shoots non-lethal pellets, which contain uniquely-coded synthetic DNA. Read More

Medical

Solid when wet and liquid when dry – Cornell's new DNA hydrogel seems confused

Every now and again, Cornell University Professor Dan Luo gets a surprise. His research team has discovered a new variety of hydrogel – like Jello, except made with DNA instead of gelatin. When full of water, it is a soft, elastic solid. But when the water is removed, the hydrogel collapses, losing its shape. The resulting material pours like a liquid, and conforms to the shape of its container. The most interesting part, however, is that the liquid hydrogel remembers its shape. Add water and you get back the original Jello-like shape. Terminator T-1000, anyone? Read More

Science

Bi-Fi: New cell-to-cell communication process could revolutionize bioengineering

The internet has revolutionized global communications and now researchers at Standford University are looking to provide a similar boost to bioengineering with a new process dubbed “Bi-Fi.” The technology uses an innocuous virus called M13 to increase the complexity and amount of information that can be sent from cell to cell. The researchers say the Bi-Fi could help bioengineers create complex, multicellular communities that work together to carry out important biological functions.Read More

Motorcycles

Kawasaki's 39 horsepower Ninja 300 bonsai superbike

Kawasaki has returned fire on the Honda CBR250R with an entirely new Ninja 300 version of its liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, fuel-injected parallel twin Ninja 250R. The huge market share garnered by the superb Honda single has resulted in Kawasaki bestowing a superbike feature set on the bike in the fight for long-term customers, escalating the prestige/horsepower war that has traditionally been fought with flagship four-cylinder liter-plus models to Defcon 1 status in the lower, entry-level classes. Read More

Science

Harvard geneticist stores 70 billion copies of his book in DNA

George Church is a professor of genetics at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and also co-author of the book Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves in DNA. With a title like that, it’s only fitting that the book was used to break the record that it recently did – Church led a team that encoded 70 billion html copies of the book in DNA. That’s 1,000 times more data than the previous record.Read More

Science

Domestic tomato genome sequenced in full

The scientists of the aptly-named Tomato Genome Consortium have successfully sequenced the genome of the domestic tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), specifically the domestic cultivar known as Heinz 1706. The genome is made up of 35,000 genes spread over 12 chromosomes. In addition to presenting a "high quality" genome of the species, the researches also produced a draft sequence of its closest wild relative, the currant tomato (Solanum pimpinellifolium).Read More

Medical

New concept could lead to low-cost DNA sequencing in everyday clinical practices

Doctors and scientists wishing to decode a human genome can now do so in a day for US$1,000 a pop using the recently-released Ion Proton sequencer. With a price tag of $149,000, though, the machine isn’t cheap – nor is it the be-all and end-all of desktop gene sequencing. For one thing, the tiny $900 MinION sequencer should be available soon. Also, a team of scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Yale University have now developed a concept of their own, which could end up providing an even less expensive high-speed sequencer.Read More

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