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biotechnology

  1. 3D Printing and Bioengineering Work Together to Print a Working Human Ear

    3D printing has brought us all sorts of neat household gadgets and delightful statuettes and toys, but the real advances made possible by the technology might not be in the home, but in the lab. Take, for example, this replacement human ear, engineered from rat tail cells and cow cartilage and given shape in a 3D printed mold of a patient's own ear.

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  2. Insertion Of A Single Gene Turns Heart Cells Into Biological Pacemakers

    Electronic pacemakers help patients' hearts keep proper time and beat with the right rhythm to keep them alive, a job usually done by specialized pacemaker cells in the heart. Patients who need pacemakers often don't have enough of these cells, and as a result, their hearts can beat too fast or too slow, endangering their lives. There may soon be a less invasive biological solution for folks suffering from irregular heartbeats, though -- researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute are reporting that they've developed a technique to turn normal heart tissue cells into time-keeping pacemaker cells with the insertion of just a single gene.

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  3. Common Cold Could Kick Cancer’s Keister

    I think we can agree that the common cold sucks. I also think we can agree that it doesn't suck nearly as badly as cancer. Researchers at the Salk Institute, though, may be on the trail of a way to turn the lesser of these two evils into a weapon in the fight against the other. This week, a study in the journal Cell reports that the Salk team has taken steps toward hijacking the common cold's ability to disable immune responses within cells. That could lead to engineered cold viruses that hunt down and destroy cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells in peace.

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  4. New Generation of Biodegradable Electronic Sensors Could Dissolve In Water, Human Body

    Generally speaking, people fashioning electronic devices are working to craft things that are built to last, or at least that's what most of us hope when we're buying a new TV. A team of researchers led by scientists at the University of Illinois are instead taking planned obsolescence to the extreme, developing a new class of electronic devices that is built to dissolve over time. If they're successful, the result could be a whole new class of implantable biomedical sensors that help to track patient health -- and then disappear without surgery when they're no longer needed.

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  5. Scientists Turn Mammalian Cells Into Biological “Cell Phones”

    Researchers in Switzerland have applied the principles behind cellular communication to mammalian cells. By reprogramming the cells with a specialized series of genes and proteins that allow for two-way communication, researchers have crafted cells that can talk to one another, sending messages via chemical signals rather than electronic transmission. The hope is that this two-way communication system can be harnessed to fight cancer, overriding orders sent by tumors with preprogrammed messages sent from other cells.

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  6. People Are Playing Video Games With Paramecia

    This is a paramecium. You probably haven't thought about it since 7th-grade biology, but as a refresher, it is a one-celled organism akin to the amoeba. And now scientists have started playing with them. Like pets. But while inserting them into old school video games like Pong and Pac-Man. How exactly have they made this happen, pitting microscopic creatures against each other in Atari games? Click through for the explanation and the video:

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  7. FDA May Be Close to Approving Genetically Altered Salmon for Public Consumption

    The Food and Drug Administration is close to approving genetically altered salmon for human consumption, which would make it the first genetically modified animal approved for use as food. AquaBounty, a Massachusetts company, wanted federal approval to sell genetically engineered salmon to the public, claiming the salmon are perfectly safe for human consumption as well as the environment. A team of FDA scientists have agreed with the claims and are going to present the case for approval on September 19. The Atlantic salmon, or AquAdvantage Salmon as AquaBounty calls it, is reportedly no different from regular salmon, except they've been given a gene from the ocean pout to prevent freezing, as well as a growth gene from the Chinook salmon that allows the salmon to grow twice as fast as Atlantic salmon.

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