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Synthetic Biology

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ENTERTAINMENT
June 21, 2013 | By Karen R. Long
Spider webs combine a strength and elasticity unmatched by anything we humans can make. They don't trigger much of an immune response in us and are "insoluble in water, two facts that the classical Greeks exploited when they used cobwebs to patch bleeding wounds," notes science writer Adam Rutherford. These days, spider silk has inspired another innovative use. Utah State University researchers have spliced DNA from the golden orb-weaver spider into the genome of a goat named Freckles, adjacent to her own coded base pairs for prompting the production of milk.
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ENTERTAINMENT
February 25, 2014 | By Hector Tobar
Elizabeth Gilbert's novel “The Signature of All Things” is a finalist for the Wellcome Book Prize for the best book on a medical topic, along with five nonfiction books, including Oliver Sacks' “Hallucinations.” The $50,000 prize recognizes books with “a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness.” The other finalists are: “Wounded: The Long Journey Home from the Great War,” by Emily Mayhew, which...
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SCIENCE
August 4, 2010 | By Rachel Bernstein, Los Angeles Times
Fuel may be a messy business now, as the oil spill fouling the gulf reminds us. But it might not always have to be. Scientists envision facilities that churn out black gold by enlisting engineered bacteria, yeast and algae to do all the dirty work. Recently, scientists reported a significant step toward that futuristic goal: an engineered strain of the gut bacterium Escherichia coli that can make a diesel-like mixture of hydrocarbons. The researchers, at South San Francisco-based biotech company LS9 Inc., created their biological hydrocarbon factory using genes from water-dwelling blue-green algae that naturally make tiny amounts of the fuel.
OPINION
January 7, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
Contrary to what many consumers assume, a "natural" label on foods doesn't necessarily mean much. The Food and Drug Administration has never defined the term, though it says it doesn't object to its use to describe foods without added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances. Now the FDA is being asked to broaden the term "natural" into meaninglessness by allowing genetically engineered food to be labeled natural. A letter sent to the FDA by the Grocery Manufacturers Assn.
SCIENCE
May 26, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
Silicon-based computers are fine for typing term papers and surfing the Web, but scientists want to make devices that can work on a far smaller scale, recording data within individual cells. One way to do that is to create a microscopic hard drive out of DNA, the molecule that already stores the genetic blueprints of all living things. Stanford University bioengineer Drew Endy is a pioneer in the field of synthetic biology, which aims to turn the basic building blocks of nature into tools for designing living machines.
SCIENCE
December 16, 2010 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
The not-so-distant prospect that scientists will be able to create new forms of life in the lab raises ethical and safety challenges, but progress in the field should not be hobbled by premature restrictions, a panel appointed by President Obama said in a report to be released Thursday. The President's Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues acknowledged in its first report to the Obama White House that "do-it-yourselfers" ? individual scientists and small labs working without institutional backing or restraints ?
ENTERTAINMENT
February 25, 2014 | By Hector Tobar
Elizabeth Gilbert's novel “The Signature of All Things” is a finalist for the Wellcome Book Prize for the best book on a medical topic, along with five nonfiction books, including Oliver Sacks' “Hallucinations.” The $50,000 prize recognizes books with “a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness.” The other finalists are: “Wounded: The Long Journey Home from the Great War,” by Emily Mayhew, which...
OPINION
January 7, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
Contrary to what many consumers assume, a "natural" label on foods doesn't necessarily mean much. The Food and Drug Administration has never defined the term, though it says it doesn't object to its use to describe foods without added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances. Now the FDA is being asked to broaden the term "natural" into meaninglessness by allowing genetically engineered food to be labeled natural. A letter sent to the FDA by the Grocery Manufacturers Assn.
NEWS
August 20, 2012 | by Carolyn Kellogg
Scientists at Harvard Medical School have created the first-ever book to be written in DNA. And while that book is not exactly a potboiler -- it's "Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves in DNA" by George Church and Ed Regis -- there are 17 billion copies of it. How many books is 17 billion? More than "50 Shades of Grey," "Harry Potter," "The Da Vinci Code," "The Hunger Games," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," the Bible and the works of Charles Dickens and the next hundred-plus most popular books in the world combined -- times three.
OPINION
March 2, 2008 | Wendy Orent, Wendy Orent is the author of "Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrifying Future of the World's Most Dangerous Disease."
'Mother Nature is the most dangerous terrorist," says Michael Kurilla, the nation's unofficial biodefense czar. "The microbial world is almost unlimited in its [terrorist] potential." But despite the emergence of such new diseases as SARS and the H5N1 avian flu, it isn't Mother Nature only that worries Kurilla, the director of the Office of Biodefense Research Affairs of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 21, 2013 | By Karen R. Long
Spider webs combine a strength and elasticity unmatched by anything we humans can make. They don't trigger much of an immune response in us and are "insoluble in water, two facts that the classical Greeks exploited when they used cobwebs to patch bleeding wounds," notes science writer Adam Rutherford. These days, spider silk has inspired another innovative use. Utah State University researchers have spliced DNA from the golden orb-weaver spider into the genome of a goat named Freckles, adjacent to her own coded base pairs for prompting the production of milk.
SCIENCE
May 26, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
Silicon-based computers are fine for typing term papers and surfing the Web, but scientists want to make devices that can work on a far smaller scale, recording data within individual cells. One way to do that is to create a microscopic hard drive out of DNA, the molecule that already stores the genetic blueprints of all living things. Stanford University bioengineer Drew Endy is a pioneer in the field of synthetic biology, which aims to turn the basic building blocks of nature into tools for designing living machines.
SCIENCE
December 16, 2010 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
The not-so-distant prospect that scientists will be able to create new forms of life in the lab raises ethical and safety challenges, but progress in the field should not be hobbled by premature restrictions, a panel appointed by President Obama said in a report to be released Thursday. The President's Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues acknowledged in its first report to the Obama White House that "do-it-yourselfers" ? individual scientists and small labs working without institutional backing or restraints ?
SCIENCE
August 4, 2010 | By Rachel Bernstein, Los Angeles Times
Fuel may be a messy business now, as the oil spill fouling the gulf reminds us. But it might not always have to be. Scientists envision facilities that churn out black gold by enlisting engineered bacteria, yeast and algae to do all the dirty work. Recently, scientists reported a significant step toward that futuristic goal: an engineered strain of the gut bacterium Escherichia coli that can make a diesel-like mixture of hydrocarbons. The researchers, at South San Francisco-based biotech company LS9 Inc., created their biological hydrocarbon factory using genes from water-dwelling blue-green algae that naturally make tiny amounts of the fuel.
SCIENCE
November 26, 2005 | Alex Raksin, Times Staff Writer
As part of a contest to demonstrate innovative uses for genetically engineered organisms, graduate students in California and Texas have produced "living photographs" from sheets of bacteria growing in a petri dish. The team engineered the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli with two key mutations: one that causes it to produce a black pigment and the second that shuts down production of the pigment when the bacteria are exposed to light.
NATIONAL
November 20, 2008 | Associated Press
Bringing "Jurassic Park" one step closer to reality, scientists have deciphered much of the genetic code of the woolly mammoth, a feat they say could allow them to recreate the shaggy prehistoric beast in as little as a decade or two. The project marks the first time researchers have spelled out the DNA of an extinct species, and it raises the possibility that other ancient animals such as mastodons and saber-toothed tigers might someday walk the Earth again. "It could be done.
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