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How to Spot An Engineered Plant - 2021.02.05
Plus: All the news this week in synthetic biology.
☀️ Good morning.
I first set up a little laboratory in the attic at home just to grow crystals or try experiments described in books, such as adding a lot of concentrated sulfuric acid to the blood from a nosebleed which precipitates hemotin from the hemoglobin in the blood. That was quite a nice experiment. I still remember it. -Dorothy Hodgkin
📰 Bioengineering in the News
Add yeast for flavor.
DETECT ENGINEERED PLANTS: The European Union imposed restrictions on genetically-modified foods in 2018. But making tests to spot plants that flaunt the rules has been a serious challenge. Labiotech.eu. Link
BIOTECH <3 SMELLS: Some of the world’s best smells—grapefruit, anyone?—are threatened by climate change. Future fragrance-ficionados will turn to synthetic biology to make the smells of their dreams. C&EN. Link
SHAPESHIFTING PROTEINS: “Fold-switching” proteins, which bend and twist into varied shapes to perform different cellular functions, offer a new puzzle for x-ray crystallographers. Quanta Magazine. Link
PRINT A BONE: A 3D bioprinting technique was used to make a bone-like structure at room temperature, in the presence of molecules and living cells. The study was published in Advanced Functional Materials. Advanced Science News. Link
ENGINEERED UTERUS: A bioengineered uterus “could help women with uterine factor infertility” reproduce. This medical condition affects about 1 in 500 reproductive-age women. Future Human. Link
SAVE A TREE: Swamp ash—the wood used to make legendary Fender Stratocasters—is in short supply. Synthetic biologists are looking to grow wood replacements in the lab, without soil or sunlight. Maybe it will save the guitars. Future Human. Link
VACCINES ON-DEMAND: The Jewett lab, at Northwestern University, used cell-free systems—rehydrated with water—to produce vaccines that protect against bacteria on demand, in less than an hour, for about $5 per dose. Northwestern University. Link
SPLIT PROTEINS: A new tool from the Leonard lab simplifies the creation of ‘split’ proteins, which can be designed to ‘come together’, say, when a small molecule is nearby. The tool will be useful to build biosensors and protein-based logic gates. Northwestern University. Link
OUTSMART CANCER: The ‘noodle-like’ MYC protein has long been studied by cancer researchers hoping to understand its encyclopedia of cellular roles. A new study found that, by introducing just the right mutations in its noodle-y structure, tumors slowly shrink (in mice). Fierce Biotech. Link
AIR FORCE WINNERS: The Voigt lab at MIT, together with the ‘living medicine’ company, SynLogic, were awarded $1 million after being selected by the Air Force Research Laboratory as a Biotechnology Grand Challenge Winner. PR Newswire.Link
Amyris, a California-based ‘clean beauty’ brand producing ingredients to treat acne with fermentation, announced that their ingredients are more effective than “10 other standard acne treatments currently available” in the U.S. That claim is based on a study conducted by Princeton Consumer Research Corp. PR Newswire. Link
Creo, a California-based company using fermentation to make cannabinoids, announced that they can produce two compounds — cannabigerol and cannabigerolic acid — in large, 12,500 liter reactors. PR Newswire. Link
DNA Script, the Paris-based enzymatic DNA synthesis company, will receive $1.6 million from the French Defence Innovation Agency to develop a tool that can detect “highly pathogenic viruses and bacteria.” BusinessWire. Link
Thanks for reading Cell Crunch, part of Bioeconomy.XYZ. If you enjoy this newsletter, please share it with a friend or colleague. A version of these newsletters is also posted on Medium. Reach me with tips and feedback on Twitter @NikoMcCarty or via email.