Science for the Masses, a group of biohackers based a couple hours north of Los Angeles in Tehachapi, California, theorized they could enhance healthy eyesight enough that it would induce night vision. To do this, the group used a kind of chlorophyll analog called Chlorin e6 (or Ce6), which is found in some deep-sea fish and is used as an occasional method to treat night blindness.

Did it work? Yes. It started with shapes, hung about 10 meters away. “I’m talking like the size of my hand,” Licina says. Before long, they were able to do longer distances, recognizing symbols and identifying moving subjects against different backgrounds. “The other test, we had people go stand in the woods,” he says. “At 50 meters, we could figure out where they were, even if they were standing up against a tree.” Each time, Licina had a 100% success rate. The control group, without being dosed with Ce6, only got them right a third of the time.

WTF did I read?

[science for the masses] [paper]





Alexandra Ossola

Our eyes are such elegant, complex, specialized organs that their existence seems almost hard to believe–Darwin himself called their evolution “absurd.” But that doesn’t mean they’re perfect; eyes sometimes don’t focus correctly, they break down over time, and they can be extremely painful if infected, irritated, or exposed to light that’s too bright. Italian biotech startup MHOX is embarking on an ambitious project: to improve human eyes by making synthetic replacements.

“Latest developments in bioprinting and biohacking let us imagine that in the near future it would be possible to easily print organic, functional body parts, allowing the human to replace defected districts or enhance standard performance,” lead designer Filippo Nassetti told Dezeen.

The concept is called Enhance Your Eye (EYE, of course) and are made from a 3D bioprinter, which uses a special needle to drop different types of cells into the appropriate alignment and structure. Bioprinters can already makeorgans such as ears, blood vessels, and kidneys, but eyes remain elusive because of their complexity.

The way Nassetti envisions it, users could choose between three different types of synthetic EYEs: Heal, Enhance, and Advance. The first is a synthetic eye that basically works just like a natural one and could serve as a replacement for people with diseases or traumas that would otherwise be blind. EYE Enhance seeks to improve the eye’s natural functions by improving vision to 15/20 and enabling filters on vision like those on photo apps (such as vintage, black and white). To turn on or change the filter, a user can take a pill. The third type, Advance, has additional glands to capture or record what a person is seeing, as well as a Wi-Fi connection to share those images.

In order to use an EYE system, people would need to get their natural eyes surgically removed and replaced with the Deck, a sort of artificial retina that connects to the brain and would allow users to plug in different eyeballs at will.

The designers behind EYE predict that the product will be on the market in early 2027, but they haven’t released any information about what the Deck looks like or how the system actually looks in a person. (It’s one thing if it looks natural, it’s quite another if the Deck sticks out and makes people look like mutant cyborgs.) And though 3D bioprinting is advancing quickly, making an eye might prove more challenging than anticipated. As exciting as EYE seems to be, it’s important to note that there may be a number of hurdles that come up in the interim years that make the system less desirable–or even impossible–to use.

from PopSci

Cow Milk Without the Cow Is Coming to Change Food Forever

“They’re trying to make cow’s milk cheese without the cow. Using mail-order DNA, they’re tricking yeast cells into producing a substance that’s molecularly identical to milk. And if successful, they’ll turn this milk into cheese. Real cheese. But vegan cheese. Real vegan cheese.

That’s the name of the project: Real Vegan Cheese. These hackers want cheese that tastes like the real thing, but they don’t want it coming from an animal.” 

Read more from wired.


Scientists have created a see-through eggshell to watch embryo development

In an effort to make scientific research cheaper and easier, an array of ‘on-a-chip’ technologies have been developed over the past few years. The idea is to use stem cells to build a miniature replica of a real-life human organ so you can observe its reactions to as many new drugs and treatments as you like. The benefit is these little organs-on-a-chip offer a much more accurate view of how real human organs might respond to these treatments than testing them on lab animals would - and they do it much more cheaply, and humanely.

Read more:

By: Science Alert.


MHOX EYE - 3D bioprinted sight augmentation

Beautifully illustrated bioneurotech longterm vision from italian generative design studio MHOX. It’s a bold statement about the futures of wetware, bioprinting and the possible cyborgization of mankind. IMHO a bit too scifi-esque and far fetched for a Design Fiction, but nonetheless a great project to spark a debate about the endless possibilites and risks of emerging technologies.

Latest developments in bioprinting and biohacking let us imagine that in the near future it would be possible to easily print organic, functional body parts, allowing the human to replace defected districts or enhance standard performance. This project is based on the idea of augmenting the sight sense, increasing the functionalities of the eye with ones currently handled by other body segments or external devices.

EYE (Enhance Your Eye) is a personalized 3d bioprinted sight augmentation, that will be delivered in three models:

  • EYE HEAL replaces standard eye functionality, providing a cure to sight deseases and traumas.
  • EYE ENHANCE sharpens sight up to 15/10, thanks to its hyper-retina. Moreover, it allows the opportunity to aesthetically filter the visual signal. Filters (vintage, black and white, …) can be activated or changed swallowing EYE pills.
  • EYE ADVANCE provides connectivity with Wi-Fi enabled devices and the ability to record and share the visual experience

Only Drawback: Your eyes must be removed and replaced with the Deck, a HMI artificial retina that connects your brain to the EYE replacements. According to MHOX the bioprinted wetware products are expected to be available on the market by January 2027. Save your money.

Side note: Not sure why, but Popular Science calls them a biotech startup. The author is generally pretty confident that we will see bioprinted eyes in 2027. Blurred present or simulacrum. But tbh, it wouldn’t surprise me if they get a 50 million € VC funding from the Valley. It’s bold enough to blow money.

[MHOX Design] [more at Dezeen] [all pictures by MHOX]

‘Three-parent’ babies explained: what are the concerns and are they justified?

Britain could be the first country to legalise the controversial mitochondrial transfer technique. What does the procedure entail, and what will it mean for parental rights?-

Britain will be on the path to become the first country in the world to permit the creation of “three-parent” babies if MPs vote in favour of changing the law on Tuesday. The procedure replaces a small amount of faulty DNA in a mother’s egg with healthy DNA from a second woman, so that the baby would inherit genes from two mothers and one father. The idea is to prevent certain genetic diseases being passed on to children. Most experts are in favour but a handful have raised concerns including the Church of England. British MPs have been given the right to vote with their consciences. Under current UK law, the procedure is banned because genetically altered embryos cannot be implanted into a woman. If MPs in the House of Commons approve the change in law, the decision will pass to the House of Lords for a vote at the end of February - and if the Lords agree the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority could license clinics to perform the procedure as soon as this autumn – and the first babies could be born in 2016. What is the problem the procedure solves? A small number of children each year are born with faults in their mitochondrial DNA which can cause diseases. Mitochondria are small structures that sit inside our cells and provide them with energy. They have their own set of 37 genes which are separate from the 20,000 or so genes that shape who we are. How do the diseases affect people? Mitochondrial diseases tend to strike in childhood and get steadily worse. They often prove fatal before adulthood. The parts of the body that need most energy are worst affected: the brain, muscles, heart and liver. Conditions include Leigh’s disease, progressive infantile poliodystrophy and Barth syndrome. Faulty mitochondria have also been linked to more common medical problems, including Parkinson’s, deafness, failing eyesight, epilepsy and diabetes.

3 Medical Conditions UC San Diego Engineers Are Helping to Treat

The potential for engineering to advance human medicine is truly amazing: 3D printing of organs, injectable gels that replace worn out heart tissue, tattoos that monitor blood glucose levels - the astoundingly high-tech but real list goes on.

Here are three diseases or conditions that are being studied through an engineer’s eye to innovate new approaches and treatments. All of the projects are collaborations between UC San Diego School of Medicine and Jacobs School of Engineering researchers.

Heart Disease
The principles of fluid dynamics are best known for explaining lift around an airfoil or wave propagation across the ocean’s surface, but a tweaked version of the equations of motion can also be used to describe blood flow through a patient’s coronary arteries. The simulations, when constructed from a CT scan of a patient’s heart, can identify places in the arteries where flows may stagnate, offering a new metric for evaluating a patient’s risk of blood clot formation.

The simulations are currently being used to improve clinical treatment strategies for patients with aneurysms caused by Kawasaki disease.

Other applications include patient specific modeling of coronary bypass graft surgery and the design and optimization of new techniques for pediatric heart surgery. Some have called the simulations “virtual surgery” for the No. 1 killer in America.

Type 1 Diabetes
Much of the research on diabetes has been conducted on non-human subjects. For a new human-relevant view of the disease, researchers are bioengineering the key working parts of the human pancreas, complete with the cells that produce insulin and other hormones that regulate blood sugar, as well as blood vessels that supply cells with nutrients and oxygen.

The cells, derived from induced human stem cells, will be placed in a collagen matrix designed to mimic some of the pancreas’ structural properties, all in miniature. Years or decades from now, it may be possible to protect or replace a person’s insulin-producing cells with stem cell-derived therapies.

Premature Birth/Neonatal Intensive Care
The smallest and most fragile patients at UC San Diego Health System – neonates in intensive care who often weigh less than three pounds at birth – are benefiting from second skin electronic devices that can continuously monitor heart rate, body temperature, skin perfusion and other vital signs that have previously been tracked with electrodes and wires.

These “epidermal electronics” are less bothersome to sensitive skin than a small strip of Scotch tape. In fact, the devices are not coated with an adhesive but instead rely on inter-molecular van der Waals forces to stay put.

In planned research, neonatal heart rate data will be processed through a novel analytic system to investigate whether slight variations in heart rate may be an early sign of infection, eye disease, lung or cardiovascular problems.


Crazy Science: Would You Biohack Your Eyes?

Two men forming “citizen science” group Science for the Masses created an eyedrop made primarily of Chlorin e6, derived from a deep-sea bioluminescent fish. They claim the drops can help them clearly make out people over 160 feet away in pitch blackness standing in the woods. Would you try the drops?

Kim Horcher discusses with special guests Malik Forte (Gaming Editor, and Carl White (Pro-gaming world champion “Perfect Legend” )

Read more:

By: Nerd Alert.

With Gene Therapy We Could Direct Our Own Evolution

“As of 1990, increasingly genetically modified humans walk among us. More and more gene therapies carry new instructions into our bodies and place them in the right spots; in so doing, they modify our most fundamental selves, our core, heretofore slow-evolving DNA. We are still in the very early stages of effectively hijacking viruses for human-driven purposes; just a few years ago it took a long time to identify and isolate a single faulty gene and figure out what was wrong, never mind finding a way to replace it with a properly functioning alternative. Early gene therapy focused on obscure, deadly orphan diseases like ADA-SCID (the immune disease that “Bubble Boy” had), adrenoleukodystrophy (say that five times fast), Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, various leukemias, and hemophilia.

In theory the technique is relatively simple: Take a neutered virus, one that is engineered to not harm you but that readily infects human cells to ferry in new DNA instructions, write a new set of genetic instructions into the virus, and let it loose to infect a patient’s cells. And ta‑da! You have a genetically modified human. (Think of this as deliberately sneezing on someone but instead of giving them a cold, you give them a benign infection that enters their body, recodes their cells, and fixes a faulty gene.)”

Support Future of Science on Patreon!

Stranger Visions is a series of 3D printed portraits based on genetic material taken from public places. Heather Dewey-Hagborg analyses DNA from found cigarette butts, chewed gum and stray hairs to generate portraits of each subject based on their genetic data. Stranger Visions reveals the disconcerting possibilities for surveillance in the intimate and immensely detailed traces we leave as we move through the world.



Scientists create GM organisms reliant on artificial compounds for survival Genetically recoded organisms could be safe enough to use outside, for example to clean up oil spills-In a drive to improve the environmental safety of genetically modified organisms, scientists have created the first GM microbes that can only survive in the presence of designer compounds not found in nature. The work represents a major step towards the creation of GM lifeforms that are completely reconfigured to perform an important job and then die without trace when their task is done. Vats of GM microbes are already used to make various chemicals, drugs and dairy products, but the newly designed organisms could be safe enough to use outside, for example to clean up oil spills or break down toxic chemicals on contaminated land. Other bugs based on the same procedure might be put in drinks as probiotics to cure diseases. Scientists at Harvard and Yale universities made changes throughout the genome of E coli bugs to make them resistant to viruses and reliant upon designer amino acids to survive. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins that the organisms need to live and multiply. The researchers call the new microbes “genetically recoded organisms”, or GROs, because they have a new kind of genetic code that ensures they can only thrive when they are fed the synthetic amino acids. A similar procedure could be used to improve GM crops, but the task is far tougher because plants have about 10 times as many genes that are used to make proteins.


Biophotonics poised to make major breakthroughs in medicine

Imagine having the ability to manipulate light waves in order to see through a skull right into the brain, or being able to use lasers to diagnose a bacterial infection in a matter of minutes. At the Center for Biophotonic Sensors and Systems (CBSS) at Boston University, you might say that technologies enabling these abilities and many others are “coming to light.”

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), mechanical engineer Thomas Bifano and his colleagues are developing optical microscopes that can image deep into biological tissue, helping scientists observe molecular-scale activity. Their goal is to revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

The research is multidisciplinary. For example, virologist John Connor is working on a method to tag and fingerprint viruses, such as Ebola, using a tag that responds to a certain wavelength of light. Chemist Larry Ziegler and his team are working with a company called BioTools to develop a test that uses lasers to diagnose a bacterial infection accurately and quickly. Biomedical engineer Xue Han is attaching light-sensitive proteins from algae to neurons in the brain to observe, and even control, certain brain activity with the hope of better understanding Parkinson’s disease.

CBSS is a joint venture of Boston University and the University of California, Davis. Funding comes from the NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC) program and industry partners to investigate fundamental research questions that are relevant to multiple technology sectors. Bifano says he expects much of the center’s research will move from the lab into the field within five to 10 years.

The research in this episode is supported by NSF award #1068070, IUCRC Collaborative Research: I/UCRC: Center for Biophotonic Sensors and Systems (CBSS).

By: National Science Foundation.

The New Biohackers: How (And Where) They Work

“Bioluminescent plants were actualized in university labs a decade ago, but it took members of the San Francisco Bay Area hackerspace Biocurious to found a company and demonstrate the consumer’s fascination with glowing organisms via a Kickstarter campaign that asked for $62,000 and ended up raising half a million. (Techonomy recently published a piece with Antony Evans, the CEO of the resulting company, Glowing Plant.) Likewise, the vegan’s hunger for cheese is being addressed by Real Vegan Cheese, a joint venture by Biocurious and Counterculture Labs that started as an International Genetically Engineered Machine competition entry and has attracted lots of interest. “We’ve had people offer us money already,” says Patrik D’Haeseleer, one of the team working on moving the milk casein genes into yeast.”

#Biotech Cellaria – tumor microenvironment: Cellaria is a biotech company developing novel cellular technologi...

#Biotech Cellaria – tumor microenvironment: Cellaria is a biotech company developing novel cellular technologi…

#Biotech Cellaria – tumor microenvironment: Cellaria is a biotech company developing novel cellular technologi…

— Biotech 365 (@Biotech365) April 27, 2015

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Organoids: 3D Printed beating cardiac cells

Researchers from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Institute for Regenerative Medicine have developed 3D printed beating cardiac cells, called organoids. They converted adult skin cells into a network of functioning heart cells & fused them with lab-grown liver cells using a 3D printer ( multiple organoids form ball-like spheroids, which can then be printed in various shapes).

“The heart organoid beats because it contains specialized cardiac cells and because those cells are receiving the correct environmental cues,” says Ivy Mead, a Wake Forest graduate student and member of the research team. “We give them a special medium and keep them at the same temperature as the human body, and that makes them beat. We can also stimulate the miniature organ with electrical or chemical cues to alter the beating patterns. Also, when we grow them in three-dimensions it allows for them to interact with each other more easily, as they would in the human body.”

Popular Mechanics has an exclusive video:

The goal of the program is the replication of real organs for a body-on-a-chip or organ-on-a-chip, which will be used to model the body’s response to contagions.

[read more at popular mechanics]


Nanobots in Your Brain Could Be the Future of Learning

MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte predicts that we might learn by injecting nanobots into the bloodstream, altering the brain at the level of the neuron.


By: Big Think.