Bioengineering

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Over the decades, many types of cancer-targeted treatments, drug therapies, or a combination of the two, have emerged in an attempt to address the rising number of patients, worldwide. But yet, as of 2017, there were about 1.6 million new cancer patients and an estimated 600k cancer deaths in the United States alone.

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It can be estimated that every year, in the United States alone, about 900,000 deaths can be prevented if there was no shortage of organs, or if transplants were not delayed and readily available to patients of organ failure. In fact, a Forbes study has ranked the lack of tissue transplants as one of the leading causes of death in America.

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It has been observed that spiders use silk to ‘float’ through the air. Even Charles Darwin noticed that many of these creatures could alight on the Beagle during its voyage, only to leave on their own accord later. This may be because spiders use the wind to perform their impressive wingless flights. However, spider-ballooning has also been observed on completely calm days. Therefore, the insects must be using a different kind of force or physical property to do so.

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The species of simple animal known as Planaria has acted as a model organism in the disciplines of tissue regeneration science for quite a while now. This is because planarians – also known as flatworms – have exhibited an almost magical ability to grow back various parts of their body, in response to injury or irradiation. This phenomenon even extends to a flatworm replacing its own head (or head-analog, really), if necessary.

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Strokes can cause debility and sometimes affect the quality of life of patients. This condition can destroy brain tissues through oxygen deprivation or exposure to toxic molecules such as reactive oxygen species (ROS). This could be because the brain cells concerned often fail to regenerate in stroke-affected areas.

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The cornea is the transparent, external layer that protects the eyes from foreign particles. It covers the pupil (the opening at the center of the eye), the iris (the colored part), and the anterior chamber (fluid inside the eye). The cornea's main function is to refract or bend light. With the cornea accounting for approximately 75% of the total optical power, any physical harm or detrimental effect to this coating can cause partial or total loss of eyesight.

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Many bioengineers would describe their career goals as being able to design and produce materials as well as nature does. A prime example of this is the enamel, or the hard, outer layer, found on teeth. The enamel is a uniform, white, often shiny, coating that is much loved by toothpaste commercials! However, delve into the microscopic structure of the enamel, and you will find that it is a relatively complex array of molecules like apatite.

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Large-scale data storage is one of the most important forms of innovation that supports the abilities and potential of modern computing. It enables online functions and services such as Google and Amazon to function. In addition, the ability to keep high-volume intact and readable make forms of research such as genetic studies better and more effective.

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How do defects that affect the upper lip and palate occur at birth? This is a question that researchers from Yale University and the University of Connecticut set out to answer, using advanced methods and databases. The results, as reported in a May 2018 issue of the journal, Cell Reports, has indicated that the answer is a little more complicated than one involving a handful of genes controlling bodily structure formation.

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The manner in which tumors spread from points of origin into different locations is an important factor in how patients respond to complete programs of anti-cancer treatments. Tumors can invade tissues removed from their ‘original’ site in the body, a process known as metastasis.

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How speech and semantics are handled in the brain are subjects that have been well-studied, the past few years. However, the specific neural activity associated with how words are understood has not been completely defined yet.

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Research has found that women are more likely to be at a higher risk of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) than men are. Scientists have suggested the condition is associated with the deletion of the UTX gene. This gene is located on the X chromosome, and the loss of even one of its copies can result in the development of AML. However, this theory does not explain why men are not affected by the UTX-related disease as often as women are.

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A recent paper in Nature has reported the first steps towards the technology to create embryos from cells that are not those of the egg or sperm variety. This procedure has been done to demonstrate the biological cues by which single stem cells divide into those that ultimately form embryos and placentas. The results of this research can be termed as artificial blastocysts or ‘blastoids’, as the scientists referred to them as.

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Iridescence, or the bright, shiny effects that may appear to color-shift based on various viewing angles, could seem like a human-made invention. However, there are numerous examples of iridescence in nature, from butterfly wings to the patterns on peacocks’ wings. It is probably easy to assume that the bacteria owe their appearance to complex pigments naturally developed during the course of evolution. However, the molecules that produce iridescence have this property due to their conformation, in relation to each other, and not individual structure or energy states.

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Many people may be aware that the human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cervical cancer by promoting oncogenes. Oncogenes are DNA sequences that can increase the risk of a cell becoming a tumor progenitor. HPV is not the only pathogen that can boost the risk of cancer in human cells. There are other viruses or retroviruses that can trigger different oncogenes in different cells. A prominent example is HTLV-1, which infects human T-cells.

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CRISPR/Cas9 has become the most prominent form of potential gene therapy for various conditions. However, the concept is still associated with issues that need to be addressed, before it can be applied to conventional medical settings.

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Synthetic biology is the study of the interdisciplinary fields of engineering and biology. It was described by the UK Royal Society as “an emerging area of research that can broadly be described as the design and construction of novel artificial biological pathways, organisms or devices, or the redesign of existing natural biological systems.”

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Periplaneta americana, commonly known as the American cockroach, is the most dreaded house pest of them all. Why? It is almost impossible to kill. This unique survival mechanism has inspired scientists to create robots mimicking these roaches. But, what makes them so adaptable to the environment that they cannot be destroyed easily? Their genes!

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Even though the process of ageing differs among individuals (based on their lifestyles and environment), it is inevitable and irreversible for all of them. Chronological age can be measured according to birth date, each year, but experts have adjudged this method to be inaccurate while determining true biological age.

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Many forms of cancer have been treated using systemic radiotherapeutics, which can destroy cancer cells, their ability to replicate or both. However, these drugs may also attack other, healthy tissues on their way to the target tumour, which results in severe side-effects for the patient and explains why radiotherapy can have such a profound negative effect on the body during a course of this treatment. Therefore, medical scientists and researchers have been working for some time to develop these therapies so that they attack cancer cells with much more accuracy and specificity.

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