Killer T cells (green and red), or cytotoxic T cells, surround a cancer cell (blue, center).
Immunotherapy has the potential to eliminate tumors, but works best for select patients. Engineering T cells to bypass cancer’s defenses could help expand treatment eligibility to more patients.
As a material, bacteria’s ability to rapidly multiply and adapt to different conditions is an asset.
Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library via Getty Images
The walls of your house could someday be built with living bacteria. Synthetic biologists are engineering microbes into living materials that are cheap and sustainable.
Mouse emobryo model in the lab from day 1 to 8.
The Wizemann Institute of Science
In a huge milestone, researchers have grown a mouse embryo entirely from stem cells. Could humans be next?
While resurrecting dinosaurs may not be on the docket just yet, gene drives have the power to alter entire species.
Hiroshi Watanabe/DigitalVision via Getty Images
As genetic engineering and DNA manipulation tools like CRISPR continue to advance, the distinction between what science ‘could’ and ‘should’ do becomes murkier.
The rapid rate of species declines means we should trial potential solutions before it’s too late.
Kriegman et al./PNAS
Scientists have created tiny self-replicating organisms made from frog stem cells. So is this as much of a Pandora’s Box as it sounds? Not yet, but we should carefully weigh the risks and rewards.
A tailings pond at an oilsands facility near Fort McMurray, Alta., in July 2012. The estimated cost of reclaiming oilsands mines is almost $31 billion.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Solutions to some of the globe’s most daunting environmental challenges may be closer than you think. Scientists are harnessing nature to clean up toxic chemicals and mining waste.
A block of sand particles held together by living cells.
The University of Colorado Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science
Researchers are turning microbes into microscopic construction crews by altering their DNA to make them produce building materials. The work could lead to more sustainable buildings.
Synthetic biology can help agriculture adapt to a changing world.
Synthetic biology lets us explore places where evolution has never gone, to help meet humanity’s food needs in a future shaped by climate change.
Synthetic biology has the potential to change how we do agriculture – but will the public accept it?
Synthetic biology is highly promising – but if we don’t get the regulation and engagement right, we risk alienating members of the public, and may even close doors for potentially fruitful research.
Clinical trials using immune cells engineered through synthetic biology have been shown to push some patients into remission from blood cancer.
Right now, you’re living in a kind of industrial revolution – where biotechnology, information technology, manufacturing and automation all come together to form synthetic biology.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in the world.
Julio C. Valencia, NCI Center for Cancer Research
Synthetic biology allows us to engineer biological cells. This could help us tackle cancer in remarkable ways.
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.
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.
What can mating yeast tell us about new drugs?
By exploiting the way yeast cells mate, researchers have figured out a quicker, easier way to identify on- and off-target drug interactions.
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.
Some bacteria can to survive inside the oxygen-deprived environment of a tumour.
Scientists are working on a new method to cure cancer and have shown they can genetically program certain bacteria to invade the tumour cells of cancerous mice.
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.
Sorting pupae of genetically modified mosquitoes before release to the wild.
Insecticides and mosquito nets only get you so far. Synthetic biologists are ready to take the battle against mosquito-borne disease to the level of DNA – which might spell the insects’ ultimate doom.