A Bay Area Startup Spins Lab-Grown Silk

“The company has developed a synthetic alternative to spider silk by engineering proteins identical to the natural threads stretched across the nooks in your basement. It’s raised $40 million from Silicon Valley venture capital firms Foundation Capital, Formation 8, and Founders Fund to commercialize its technology and turn those proteins into fabric. “Over the past few decades, as clothing companies squeezed on price, they’ve taken the innovation out of apparel,” says Dan Widmaier, a graduate of the UCSF Ph.D. program in chemical biology and Bolt’s chief executive officer. Widmaier and co-founders Ethan Mirsky, Bolt’s vice president for operations, and David Breslauer, its chief scientific officer, are genetically modifying yeast, single-cell organisms that convert simple carbohydrates to proteins through fermentation, and getting them to excrete silk-like proteins. “What would have been done in cells of spiders is now being done by yeast in our lab,” Widmaier says.”

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A BIOTECH STARTUP WANTS TO REPLACE YOUR EYEBALLS WITH SYNTHETIC ONES

VISION WOULD NO LONGER HAVE TO BE #NOFILTER

By

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

mic.com
Biohackers Figured Out How to Inject Your Eyeballs With Night Vision

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]

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 Regrow an Entire Rat Limb in the Lab

“Prosthetic limb technology has certainly advanced over the years, but replacing lost limbs with fleshy, biologically functional limbs remains the ultimate prize. And scientists just got a step closer to that goal.

A team of regenerative scientists and surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital successfully grew a semi-functional rat forelimb in the lab, employing a technique previously used to build bio-artificial organs. If someday perfected, the experimental approach could be used to create human limbs suitable for transplantation.

Going Out on a Limb

Scientists didn’t grow the limb from scratch, per se; rather, a donor rat forelimb provided the necessary scaffolding for new cells to take root and multiply. The same technique has been used to regenerate kidneys, livers, ears and lungs in the lab. However, a limb is a bit trickier since it requires a wider variety of cells than these organs.”

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Pihenőnapon:
Reggel:
- 1 BCAA
- 1 izületvédő
- 1 sima vitamin
- 2 GH-max
- 1 Tribooster

Délben:
- 2 GH-max

Este:
- 1 BCAA
- 1 izületvédő
- 1 sima vitamin
- 2 GH-max
- 1 Tribosoter

Edzős napokon:
Reggel:
- 1 BCAA
- 1 izületvédő
- 1 sima vitamin
- 1 Tribooster

Edzés előtt félórával: 1 Tribosoter

Közvetlenül edzés előtt: 4 GH-max

Közvetlenül edzés után: 1 BCAA

Este: 
- 1 BCAA
- 1 izületvédő
- 1 sima vitamin
- 2 GH-max

napi “izmosodjunkmá” cuccok

3

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]

youtube

How prosthetics went from peg legs to biolimbs

Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital have successfully grown a rat leg in a petri dish, and it could change prosthetics forever.

Eventually, this technology could allow for human hand, arm, and leg transplants without the risk of the patient’s body rejecting the new limb.

Read more: https://www.vox.com/videos/2015/6/12/8770499/biolimb-prosthetic-tech

By: Vox.

youtube

Dawn of the Cyborg Bacteria

“In a basement laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, two roboticists have harnessed the sensing, swimming, and swarming abilities of bacteria to power microscopic robots. Even though their work sounds like the premise of a dark science fiction film, Ph.D. students Elizabeth Beattie and Denise Wong hope these initial experiments with nano bio-robots will provide a platform for future medical and micro-engineering endeavors.”

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Earlier this month, Swiss seed and agrochemical company Syngenta rejected Monsanto’s second takeover bid in a year. Syngenta’s board said the offer undervalued the company and did not fully address regulatory risks. But the St. Louis-based biotech giant, the world’s biggest seed seller, is not deterred and is planning a new offer to Syngenta, the world’s biggest pesticide and fertilizer seller. If approved, it would be the biggest agribusiness merger in history. But clearing antitrust regulators in the U.S. and the EU is a big if.

The biotech giant is close to the biggest agribusiness merger in history. Our food supply hangs in the balance

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Wood-Electronics: High-performance green flexible electronics based on biodegradable cellulose nanofibril paper

Remove “Wood Electronics” and you have the title of a new paper, recently published in nature by scientiests from the University of Wisconsin working in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory.

The researchers developed wooden semiconductors, high-performance flexible electronics using ecofriendly materials, that are biodegradable and basically just act like plant fertilizer in the environment (turns out that fungi like it).

Today’s consumer electronics, such as cell phones, tablets and other portable electronic devices, are typically made of non-renewable, non-biodegradable, and sometimes potentially toxic (for example, gallium arsenide) materials. These consumer electronics are frequently upgraded or discarded, leading to serious environmental contamination. Thus, electronic systems consisting of renewable and biodegradable materials and minimal amount of potentially toxic materials are desirable. Here we report high-performance flexible microwave and digital electronics that consume the smallest amount of potentially toxic materials on biobased, biodegradable and flexible cellulose nanofibril papers.

Furthermore, we demonstrate gallium arsenide microwave devices, the consumer wireless workhorse, in a transferrable thin-film form. Successful fabrication of key electrical components on the flexible cellulose nanofibril paper with comparable performance to their rigid counterparts and clear demonstration of fungal biodegradation of the cellulose-nanofibril-based electronics suggest that it is feasible to fabricate high-performance flexible electronics using ecofriendly materials.

Who would have thought? Wood as a cutting-edge semiconductor material. Nice.

[paper] [via motherboard]

Regarding bionic limbs

I’ve been thinking about something recently - I think there’s an unsolved problem in bionics. Prosthetics are heavy, and people are going to want to lift superhuman loads with them. Anything heavy, when attached to the body will eventually wear the torso down unevenly, putting stress on muscles and bones that wouldn’t be there normally.

A potential solution is reinforcing the torso, starting with the skeleton. My first thought was to infuse titanium with bone, since it osseointegrates so well. 

It would also be necessary to look into alloys to increase the flexibility of the bionic bone, since complete rigidity is incompatible with the biomechanics of the body.

The idea is to take 3d scans of the subject’s axial skeleton, then run an algorithm on the output to generate replacement bones from this alloy that have channels in which to grow natural osseous tissue. This would ensure that the subject still generates blood through hematopoesis. The titanium alloy would basically act as a replacement for compact bone, but allowing the cancellous tissue to remain as it was.

Once the properties of the new biomaterial are known, several simulations would need to be run to test the new load-bearing capacity, adding supportive struts as needed. You could even fill in the voids between ribs with interlocking, reptile-scale like plates to make the torso resistant to stabbing or gunshot wounds. This would be a useful time to write a program that can take a single ‘part’ design and generate child designs that fit different skeletal physiques.

There are unresolved issues here, however. The musculature will need to be able to attach to this new bone, the tendons and the muscles themselves need to be strong enough to handle the increased loads as well. Interface points between bones will need to be handled. The natural body uses cartilage to do this, and if natural cartilage cannot bind to the augmented bone then a replacement would have to be made. Similarly, ligaments must be either made compatible or substituted.

There are many hurdles to be cleared, but I believe that this problem will need to be solved before the full potential of bionics can truly be realized. I’m sure there are hundreds of little problems I haven’t been made aware of. Can you think of any immediate pitfalls?

How would you go about augmenting the torso to support heavier loads?

28 June 2015

Presenting Arms

Researchers have created a rat’s front leg – with working blood vessels and muscles – in the lab. To build the limb, the research team stripped all the living cells from the front legs of dead rats using a detergent solution in a way that preserved the limb’s structure, like a leg-shaped scaffold. Meanwhile, they grew muscle and blood vessel stem cells in culture, which they later injected into the cell-free rat limb, as shown here. When electrically stimulated, the limb’s muscles contracted with 80 per cent of the strength seen in newborn rats. Transplanted into live animals, the limb’s blood vessels quickly filled with blood that continued to circulate. Using a baboon’s arm, the researchers showed that the same approach could be applied to primates and suggest that these bioengineered limbs could one day be used for transplantation in humans.

Written by Nick Kennedy

Image by Bernhard Jank
Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine, USA
Copyright held by original author
Research published in Biomaterials, August 2015

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youtube

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, Nerdist.com) and Carl White (Pro-gaming world champion “Perfect Legend” )

Read more: http://www.geek.com/science/california-biohackers-create-night-vision-eye-drops-1619078/

By: Nerd Alert.

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BioBots Is A 3D Printer For Living Cells

“Biofabrication, the process of artificially building living tissue structures, is not a new field — there is more than a decade of research in this area already. But Cabrera and his co-founders believe they have spotted an opportunity to overhaul expensive (circa $100,000+), large, complex legacy devices — taking inspiration from the small, low-cost desktop 3D printers being used by the maker movement to extrude plastic. Instead of plastic, BioBots’ 3D printer uses a special ink that can be combined with biomaterials and living cells to build 3D living tissue and miniature human organs. The use-case at this point is for research and pre-clinical screening, such as drug testing (as a replacement for animal testing). It’s not about 3D printing replacement organs from a person’s own cells — albeit developments in this area are heading (incrementally) in that direction. More near term future potential for the tech is to help foster bespoke disease therapies, according to Cabrera.”