Whether it is about using biorobots or using nanoparticles for gene delivery, biotechnology companies are booming with new ideas. Here is a hotlist of some trending biotech topics which has been mostly viewed this year:
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Biopunk is (a combination of “biotechnology” and “punk”) is a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on biotechnology. It is derived from cyberpunk but focuses on the implications of biotechnology rather than information technology. Biopunk is associated with synthetic biology. It is a derivation of cyberpunk involving biotech mega-corporations,bio-hackers, and oppressive government agencies that help in the manipulation of human DNA. Biopunk examines the dark side of genetic engineering and represents the low side of biotechnology. Common ideas of this subgenre are biotechnologies in the context of the gap between the rich and poor, the value and nature of life and humanity, human enhancement, misusage of biotechnologies for-profit, and social control.
A cybernetic organism which is known as Cyborg, is a being with both biomechatronic and organic body parts. The term cyborg is not the same thing as bionic, biorobot, or android; it applies to an organism that has restored function or enhanced abilities due to the integration of some artificial component or technology that relies on some sort of feedback. While cyborgs are commonly thought of as mammals, including humans, they might also conceivably be any kind of organism.
In popular culture, some cyborgs may be represented as visibly mechanical (e.g., the Cybermen in the Doctor Who franchise or The Borg from Star Trek or Darth Vader from Star Wars) or as almost indistinguishable from humans (e.g., the “Human” Cylons from the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica, etc.). Cyborgs in fiction often play up a human contempt for over-dependence on technology, particularly when used for war, and when used in ways that seem to threaten free will Cyborgs are also often portrayed with physical or mental abilities far exceeding a human counterpart (military forms may have inbuilt weapons, among other things
3. DNA clamp
A DNA clamp, also known as a sliding clamp, is a protein fold that serves as a processivity-promoting factor in DNA replication. As a critical component of the DNA polymerase III holoenzyme, the clamp protein binds DNA polymerase and prevents this enzyme from dissociating from the template DNA strand. The clamp-polymerase protein-protein interactions are stronger and more specific than the direct interactions between the polymerase and the template DNA strand; because one of the rate-limiting steps in the DNA synthesis reaction is the association of the polymerase with the DNA template, the presence of the sliding clamp dramatically increases the number of nucleotides that the polymerase can add to the growing strand per association event. The presence of the DNA clamp can increase the rate of DNA synthesis up to 1,000-fold compared with a non-processive polymerase
4. Gene knocking
In molecular cloning and biology, a knock-in (or gene knock-in) refers to a genetic engineering method that involves the one-for-one substitution of DNA sequence information with a wild-type copy in a genetic locus or the insertion of sequence information not found within the locus. Typically, this is done in mice since the technology for this process is more refined, and there is a high degree of shared sequence complexity between mice and humans. The difference between knock-in technology and traditional transgenic techniques is that a knock-in involves a gene inserted into a specific locus, and is thus a “targeted” insertion.
A common use of knock-in technology is for the creation of disease models. It is a technique by which scientific investigators may study the function of the regulatory machinery (e.g., promoters) that governs the expression of the natural gene being replaced. This is accomplished by observing the new phenotype of the organism in question. The BACs and YACs are used in this case so that large fragments can be transferred.
Sonoporation, or cellular sonication, is the use of sound (typically ultrasonic frequencies) for modifying the permeability of the cell plasma membrane. This technique is usually used in molecular biology and non-viral gene therapy to allow uptake of large molecules such as DNA into the cell, in a cell disruption process called transfection or transformation. Sonoporation employs the acoustic cavitation of microbubbles to enhance the delivery of these large molecules. The bioactivity of this technique is similar to, and in some cases, found superior to electroporation. Extended exposure to low-frequency (<MHz) ultrasound has been demonstrated to result in complete cellular death (rupturing). Thus cellular viability must also be accounted for when employing this technique. Sonoporation is under active study for the introduction of foreign genes in tissue culture cells, especially mammalian cells. Sonoporation is also being studied for use in targeted Gene therapy in vivo, in a medical treatment scenario whereby a patient is given modified DNA, and an ultrasonic transducer might target this modified DNA into specific regions of the patient’s body.
Impalefection is a method of gene delivery using nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes, carbon nanofibers, nanowires. Needle-like nanostructures are synthesized perpendicular to the surface of a substrate. Plasmid DNA containing the gene, intended for intracellular delivery, is attached to the nanostructure surface. A chip with arrays of these needles is then pressed against cells or tissue. Cells that are impaled by nanostructures can express the delivered gene(s). As one of the types of transfection, the term is derived from two words – impalement and infection.
BioDot Inc. is a privately held company that has developed proprietary technologies for the dispensing of low volumes of fluids (picoliter to microliter) and low volumes of powders (microgram to milligram) that meet the needs of industrial, life science, diagnostic, and medical product needs. These different technologies have been integrated into the batch and inline systems that can be used from research to product development and scaled to manufacturing.
Also, BioDot has developed complementary product technology for vision, lamination, cutting, drying, and assembly that can be integrated with fluid and powder dispensing to provide complementary process capability for product development and manufacturing.
8. Photonic Crystal Label-Free Biosensors
A new class of optical biosensors based on the unique properties of Photonic Crystals has been recently developed by the Cunningham Group and by SRU Biosystems. A Photonic Crystal label-free biosensor is comprised of a periodic arrangement of dielectric material in two or three dimensions. If the periodicity and symmetry of the crystal and the dielectric constants of the materials used are chosen appropriately, the Photonic Crystal will use energy selectively at particular wavelengths while excluding others. This biosensor design enables a simple manufacturing process to produce sensor sheets in continuous rolls of plastic film that are hundreds of meters in length. The mass manufacturing of a biosensor structure that is measurable in a noncontact mode over large areas enables the sensor to be incorporated into single-use disposable consumable items such as 96, 384, and 1536-well standard microplates and microarray slides, thereby making the sensor compatible with standard fluid handling infrastructure employed in most laboratories.
It is a new discipline of engineering that aims to harness the collaborative power and knowledge of nanotechnology, neuroscience, electrical engineering, neural engineering, and ethics for the design and development of advanced medical interventions with the nervous system. Although non-invasive approaches to the nervous system have been effective for diagnosis and therapy in many treatments, an overwhelming number of severe neurological conditions will likely require invasive approaches for effective therapy.
10. Combinatorial biology
In biotechnology, combinatorial biology is the creation of a large number of compounds (usually proteins or peptides) through technologies such as phage display. Similar to combinatorial chemistry, compounds are produced by biosynthesis rather than organic chemistry. Combinatorial biology allows the generation and selection of a large number of ligands for high-throughput screening.
These large numbers of peptides are generated and screened by physically linking a gene encoding a protein and a copy of this protein. This could involve the protein being fused to the M13 minor coat protein pIII, with the gene encoding this protein being held within the phage particle. Large libraries of phages with different proteins on their surfaces can then be screened through automated selection and amplification for a protein that binds tightly to a particular target