Victor Frankenstein’s mistakes serve as cautionary lessons.
If Mary Shelley wrote the book today, Victor would surely be a synthetic biologist. But those fiddling with living things in 2018 have hopefully learned from her cautionary tale.
CRISPR provides a very targeted tool for editing DNA in plants.
Yes emerging technologies can pose risks - but regulation must focus on outcomes of the technology, not the technology itself.
There’s no blueprint for excellence, but some building blocks are crucial.
Research institutes and "centres of excellence" exist around the world to draw talent and to share resources - all with the aim of solving important problems.
Delivering genetic material is a key challenge in gene therapy.
Invitation image created by Kstudio
One big challenge for gene therapies is delivering DNA or RNA safely to cells inside patients' bodies. New nanoparticles could be an improvement over the current standard – repurposed viruses.
Modern advances come with new liabilities.
Biologists' growing reliance on computers advances the field – but comes with new risks. The first step toward improved cyberbiosecurity is increasing awareness of possible threats.
Pools at an algae farm in Borculo, east Netherlands.
AP Photo/Arthur Max
Scientists and government agencies have been studying biofuel production from algae for years. Research points toward a more affordable and efficient production process that recycles water.
A noninvasive brain-computer interface based on EEG recordings from the scalp.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE), Photo by Mark Stone
Brain-computer interfacing is a hot topic in the tech world, with Elon Musk's announcement of his new Neuralink startup. Here, researchers separate what's science from what's currently still fiction.
The future soldier may be enhanced.
Armed forces around the world are exploring technological and biological enhancements to their soldiers. But this raises a number of serious ethical concerns, before, during and after conflict.
Do androids smell electric roses?
It’s not always obvious where a new technology will end up.
NIH Image Gallery
A scientific breakthrough in a vacuum may be free of ethical implications. But many developments can be used for good or evil, or both. There's a fine balance on what to control and to what extent.
Will your cellphone be able to communicate with bacteria in your body?
Bacteria image via www.shutterstock.com.
New research works out how to translate between the language of biology – molecules – and the language of microelectronics – electrons. It could open the door to new kinds of biosensors and therapeutics.
Photosynthesis can teach scientists a lot about solar technologies.
Individual light-harvesting protein complexes have a remarkable ability. Light, which is normally effectively harvested, is also used to finely control how much of it should be harvested.
The black mamba is one of the most notorious venomous snakes in the world.
One way to tackle the snakebite antivenom crisis may be through biotechnological innovation to make antivenoms more cost-effective, easier to produce, and more efficacious against snakebites.
Science communication puts research under the microscope.
Science communication has grown in leaps and bounds over the past 60 years. It plays a crucial role in democratising science and making it less mysterious.
Will China be the first to genetically enhance future generations?
Regulations, funding and public opinion around genetically enhancing future generations vary from country to country. Here's why China may be poised to be the pioneer.
Developments in miniaturisation can give us point-of-care tests for grave conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
Somatic embryogenesis is only used in selected agroforestry industries like sugarcane.
Smarter plant breeding practices are crucial in a world where climate change, deforestation and species reduction are an increasing problem.
People get suspicious when ethically fraught science is discussed behind closed doors.
DNA image via www.shutterstock.com.
A recent closed meeting about building synthetic genomes raised suspicions about just what scientists were planning, away from the public eye.
A patent has far-reaching implications for future research.
U.C. Berkeley and the Broad Institute are fighting to control the patents on the revolutionary gene-editing technology. But there's a lot more at stake than just who gets the credit and licensing fees.
Even talking to a colleague at an academic conference overseas could have harsh ramifications.
Researchers face stiff fines or even jail time if they inadvertently communicate with foreign colleagues about matters deemed to have a military use.