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Synthetic biology| Biotech | Bioeconomy
Designing Inequality Into Our Genes (Source)

With discussions about racism and discrimination swirling in the current political climate, their underlying genetic themes are much less debated than in the past.

This is due to the deeply troubling, tabooed history of this simple question:

Does genetics influence human value?

In medical terms, some genetic traits may certainly be less advantageous for survival than others.

Having a genetic tendency for muscular dystrophy, diabetes, pancreatic cancer or childhood depression can risk one’s life expectancy and longterm happiness. …

Bio-art by David Goodsell (Source)

How computers started a bio-revolution

Few fields are experiencing the same degree of turbulence today as the biological sciences.

If physics was the hot popstar of the 20th century, the 21st century stage is dominated by the life sciences (in particular genetics, molecular and cellular biology, and microbiology), sharing the scene only with computing. We could even argue that one caused the evolution of the other — the mainstream wave of computer and digital sciences served as the launch pad for today’s biological research.

Most visible is the effect of advances in digital technologies on making DNA sequencing cheaper. Today, you can go ahead and…

Back in late March 2020, in one of the busiest cities in central Europe, an Uber driver tells me he saw a 90% of his daily business vanish in a few days.

I turn my neck around as the words COVID VIRUS 19, tattooed on the side of a bridge, flies past the window. We’ve all seen the post-apocalyptic cliché where our heroes drive past the insightful words THE END IS NIGH. I felt genuine chills.

Not often in human history have we been able to fly during a global pandemic. The MERS-CoV outbreak stayed mainly in the Asian hemisphere…

Image from Kurtzgesagt (Source)

Few life science sectors are gaining economical traction in the same way as synthetic biology.

Advancements in genome sequencing and engineering technologies allow us to create custom genetic constructs and reprogram living organisms, opening up new ways to produce drugs, chemicals, bio-fuels, materials and much more. According to Forbes, the synthetic biology industry has raised over US$12 billion in funding in the past 10 years, with US$4 billion in 2019 alone. But for the industry to truly take off, the field needs a technological jolt.

Challenges in engineering biological systems

Together with systems biology, synthetic biology is a platform for translating advances in genomics, proteomics…

Posters Celebrating Women In Science (Source)

My fellow scientists and colleagues at the Nobel Committee,

I must confess I was surprised to receive your request for an expert account on the candidates for the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

Like all biologists, I too closely followed the astounding race for discovering the twisted-ladder structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA, in 1953.

The heated race between research teams at the University of Cambridge Cavendish Laboratory and the Randall Institute at King’s College London — the former led by Jim Watson, Francis Crick, Sir William Bragg, Max Perutz and John Kendrew , and the latter by Sir John Randall, Maurice Wilkins, Raymond Gosling and Rosalind Franklin…

“I have never met anyone who loves virtue as much as he loves sex.” — Confucius

We are attracted to our friends

This attraction is not physical, but psychological. We befriend people who feel familiar, who we connect with and want to share our lives with. It makes us feel accepted and understood.

Sometimes, we share such emotional connections with members of the opposite sex.

Platonic friendships between men and women are less stigmatised than ever before — they blossom despite the raised eyebrows of conservative grandparents. …

Pick an unwanted personal trait you wish you could change.

It could be a physical detail or character flaw gradually developed during your lifetime, like caffeine addiction, a fear of closed spaces, or being an aggressive drunk. Or how about a life threatening condition — diabetes, depression or cancer?

These are all caused by unwelcome changes in your genes during your lifetime. But what if such genetic modifications could be corrected?

After decades of designing gene editing toolkits, researchers have closed the gap between science fiction and reality. They have developed the most efficient tool yet — the CRISPR-Cas9 system…

Laura Turpeinen

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