biotechnology

Mosquito-borne diseases, like Dengue and Malaria, are serious problems in many parts of the world. While some people are working on treatments for mosquito-carried disease, others are looking at ways to treat the mosquitoes.
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Figure 1. Image of Aedes aegypti from the Public Health Library

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Cloning the gene for green fluorescent protein is fun. Lots of fun. Cloners have put the GFP gene into rabbits, plants, cats, fish, and worms, and made mutants that code for proteins in every color of the fluorescent rainbow. Teachers like GFP so much that every year, high school students throughout the U. ... Read more

Last spring, in a coffee shop in Berkeley, I saw an amazing thing. It was a cup made from corn. The information on the cup says that it is made from corn, is environmentally sustainable, and 100% compostable.i-d4258bc4906a427034a658c6fdeee65b-corn_cup.jpg

My fellow ScienceBloggers have written several articles lately about corn in fast food ( ... Read more

Well, I had to test Scribd with something. Why not use a document on the Massachusetts Life Sciences Industry? Scribd is sort of like the YouTube of electronic paper. I found Scribd from TomJoe's post about Life on Mars. His PowerPoint talk is really much more interesting than the life science document that I uploaded as a test, but since you're here anyway, you might as well take a look. What does Scribd do? It solves the "waiting for ... Read more
What skills does a biotechnology technician need to know? This seems like a simple question, but people have been struggling to define biotech skill standards since the early 90's. Complicating this question is that many areas of biotechnology require somewhat different skills. Antibody work requires one set, plant or animal tissue culture, another; fermentation, another; manufacturing, another; DNA sequencing, yet another set. Even skills that you might think are universal, like using a microscope, are not. During my years in graduate school, I never used a microscope; I cloned ... Read more
Why should professional scientists have all the fun? i-ac01bf3290c4fd272ad38e404e606bc4-gfp_bacteria.pngResearchers have been engineering glowing cats, and selling glowing fish at pet stores. High school kids can do genetic engineering too, if ... Read more

This video from WDSU shows Mr. Green Genes, the transgenic kitty, in the dark and in the light. There's also an interview with Dr. Betsy Dresser, who very briefly talks about the work at the Audubon Center for Research on Endangered Species. Other than clips of the cat, and Dr. Dresser, the video mostly shows people taking frozen samples out of liquid nitrogen, but there's an interesting bit ... Read more

The second speaker was Eric Davidson who talked about gene regulatory networks. He works on sea urchins and showed us this amazing diagram that looked like a computer chip. The diagram describes the inputs and outputs of 50 genes during the first 30 hours of development. And, it convinced me that systems biologists are developing their own language. I've never heard gene expression described in these ways before. Here were some of the phrases that Davidson used:
  • a set of boolean switches
  • a combination of double-negative regulation gates
  • feed
  • ... Read more
The first talk was by Irving Weissman, one of the pioneers in immunology and stem cell research. He talked about the stem cells that form blood, also known as HSCs or hematopoietic stem cells. These cells are great because they can self-renew, and they can divide and differentiate. That is, they can form new kinds of cells. Weissman talked about experiments that were done at different companies, Systemix, Cellerant, Inc., and others with using stem cells to see if certain types of disease could be cured (in mice) by repopulating the mice with new stem cells. Some interesting ... Read more
Right now, I'm sitting in the audience at a symposium on Science, Engineering, and Business at the Leading edge. The symposium is sponsored by the Institute for Systems Biology and it's Lee Hood's 70th birthday. Every speaker is beginning with a wish for a happy birthday. I'll have updates, as I can, throughout the day.Read more

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