A new method is able to create realistic models of the human heart, which could vastly improve how surgeons train for complex procedures.
- 3D bioprinting involves using printers loaded with biocompatible materials to manufacture living or lifelike structures.
- In a recent paper, a team of engineers from Carnegie Mellon University's College of Engineering developed a new way to 3D bioprint a realistic model of the human heart.
- The model is flexible and strong enough to be sutured, meaning it could improve the ways surgeons train for cardiac surgeries.
Modeling incorporates imaging data into the final 3D printed object.
Credit: Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering<p>The FRESH technique isn't currently able to 3D bioprint models onto which real cells can grow and form a functional heart, but similar methods may someday make that possible. If scientists can print functional human hearts, it could help the healthcare industry finally meet the demand for heart transplants, which <a href="https://nyulangone.org/news/nyu-langone-addresses-demand-heart-transplants-has-never-been-higher#:~:text=the%20Transplant%20Institute.-,The%20demand%20for%20heart%20transplants%20has%20never%20been%20higher.,rise%20by%20some%2050%20percent." target="_blank">far exceeds supply</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"While major hurdles still exist in bioprinting a full-sized functional human heart, we are proud to help establish its foundational groundwork using the FRESH platform while showing immediate applications for realistic surgical simulation," said Eman Mirdamadi, lead author on the paper, in a statement.</p><p>In the meantime, the team behind the FRESH technique hopes to use it to generate models for other organs, like kidneys and liver. </p>
DNA molecules are highly programmable.
By folding DNA into a virus-like structure, MIT researchers have designed HIV-like particles that provoke a strong immune response from human immune cells grown in a lab dish. Such particles might eventually be used as an HIV vaccine.
Exploring how a small change in your DNA sequence can make you a natural blonde.
A few weeks after preparing them, Dr Catherine Guenther checked her mouse embryos and knew that she had identified the source of a blond-haired mutation in human DNA.
The National Institutes of Health hopes synthetic biology can engineer vaccines that outperform nature.
- The first coronavirus vaccines will enter Phase 2 testing soon but won't be ready for another 18 months.
- Synthetic biology may offer a "universal coronavirus vaccine" that can be quickly modified to combat future mutated forms.
- Despite promising lab tests, synthetic vaccines remain speculative; we'll need to live with COVID-19 during the interim.
Engineering a solution<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg3MTkwOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDM4Mzc2OX0.4ajk0E5MhiYOCCFS4EJ30lPxDjbv5DQ-Z8mokpW05F8/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C413%2C0%2C413&height=700" id="b5bfb" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9119460af46af239b5f3084e50fa2b62" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
A synthetic biology research laboratory at NASA Ames.
A recent computer analysis found that millions of possible chemical compounds could be used to store genetic information. This begs the question — why DNA?
- The central dogma of biology states that genetic information flows from DNA to RNA to proteins, but new research suggests that this may not be the only way for life to work.
- A sophisticated computer analysis revealed that millions of other molecules could be used to function in place of the two nucleic acids, DNA and RNA.
- The results have important implications for developing new drugs, the origins of life on Earth, and its possible presence in the rest of the universe.
Millions of useful targets<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjA5NjIyNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1ODg0NDk0Mn0.rpHB0peVqFgd81OKVLnwACp7dWaL0WaOZ1ZKHyxt_kA/img.jpg?width=980" id="99405" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cc8bc3f6d09d7a99bba5a83604b20140" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Central dogma of biology" />
The central dogma of biology asserts that the genetic information is transcribed from DNA to RNA, which then translates that information into useful products like proteins. This new research, however, suggests that DNA and RNA are just two options out of millions of others.
Shutterstock<p>Analogues to nucleic acids exist, many of which serve as the foundation for important drugs for treating viruses like HIV and hepatitis as well as for treating cancers, but until recently, no one was sure of how many unknown nucleic acid analogues could be out there.</p><p>"There are two kinds of nucleic acids in biology," said <a href="https://phys.org/news/2019-11-dna-millions-genetic-molecules.html" target="_blank">co-author Jim Cleaves</a>, "and maybe 20 or 30 effective nucleic acid-binding nucleic acid analogues. We wanted to know if there is one more to be found or even a million more. The answer is, there seem to be many more than was expected."</p><p>Cleaves and colleagues decided to conduct a chemical space analysis — in essence, a sophisticated computer technique that generates all possible molecules that adhere to a set of defined criteria. In this case, the criteria were to find compounds that could serve as nucleic acid analogues and as a means of storing genetic information.</p><p>"We were surprised by the outcome of this computation," said co-author Markus Meringer. "It would be very difficult to estimate a priori that there are more than a million nucleic acid–like scaffolds. Now we know, and we can start looking into testing some of these in the lab."</p><p>Though no specific analogues were targeted in this paper, it does present a long list of candidates to be explored for use as drugs for serious diseases like HIV or cancer. A more intriguing possibility suggested by the research is that life itself may have taken its very first steps using one of these alternative compounds.</p><p>Many scientists believe that before DNA became the dominant means of storing genetic information, life used RNA to code genetic data and pass it down to offspring. In part, this is because RNA can <a href="https://www.news-medical.net/life-sciences/What-is-the-RNA-World-Hypothesis.aspx" target="_blank">directly produce</a> proteins, which DNA can't do on its own, and because it's a simpler structure than DNA. Over time, life likely started to opt for using DNA for storage due to its greater stability and to rely on RNA as a kind of middleman for producing proteins. But RNA on its own is still a <a href="https://phys.org/news/2013-12-scientists-closer-rna.html" target="_blank">very complicated</a> compound and is fairly unstable; in all likelihood, something simpler came before RNA, possibly using some of the nucleic acid analogues identified in this study.</p>