High-throughput fluorescent sequencing of biomolecules within their cellular environment

The researchers have developed FISSEQ to sequence barcodes which can be placed in the mouse brain.

Understanding the molecular diversity within healthy or diseased tissues is crucial for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and for gaining a better understanding of fundamental biological processes. Biological tissues contain thousands of different molecules, yet conventional staining looks at only a few at a time because it relies on a limited number of dyes. Prof George Church and Dr […]

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New synthetic biology method revolutionises DNA cloning

Since the dawn of humanity, we have been modifying and altering the natural environment to suit our needs, from domestication of animals and plants to the modification of landscapes. Using synthetic biology, Dr Jeff Braman and Dr Peter Sheffield at Agilent Technologies, Inc. have developed a new method to assemble DNA. Their approach allows seamless assembly of independent, functionally tested, […]

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The mathematics of life:
Metabolic control in living cells

The mathematics of life: Metabolic control in living cells

Cellular metabolism is a complex network of chemical processes that convert nutrients into energy and molecules for survival. Advances in experimental and mathematical techniques are paving the way for quantitative descriptions of how metabolism regulates itself and of how it can be artificially controlled for biotechnology. Dr Diego A. Oyarzún (University of Edinburgh) uses computational models to understand metabolism, and to […]

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Machine metaphors: Ethical and philosophical challenges in synthetic biology

The emerging field of synthetic biology faces a growing need for conceptual clarification and ethical deliberation. Dr Joachim Boldt from the University of Freiburg has analysed the use of machine metaphors in describing biological systems, and how language affects the approaches we have towards synthetic biology research. In addition to oversimplifying biological systems, machine metaphors can create new biosafety risks and […]

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Synthetic cells have senses too

this article is about Prof Liu and Prof Noireaux’s project aim is to construct synthetic cells, consisting of a cell-free expression system encapsulated into a cell-sized phospholipid vesicle, capable of sensing the environment through its lipid bilayer by expressing mechanosensitive channels.

What defines a living cell? How to capture the molecular essence of life? These fundamental questions underpin the collaborative research programme led by Prof Allen Liu at the University of Michigan and Prof Vincent Noireaux at the University of Minnesota. The pair uses molecular components to construct prototypes of synthetic cells displaying the minimal characteristics of life. Their ‘cell analogs’ […]

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