Category archives: Biotechnology

First human-monkey embryos created – a small step towards a huge ethical problem

First human-monkey embryos created – a small step towards a huge ethical problem

BiotechnologyEthics

By Invited Researcher

Scientists have created the world’s first monkey embryos containing human cells in an attempt to investigate how the two types of cell develop alongside each other. The embryos, which were derived from a macaque and then injected with human stem cells in the lab, were allowed to grow for 20 days before being destroyed. We […]

Chemicals and fuels from plant waste

Chemicals and fuels from plant waste

BiotechnologyChemistryEnergyMaterials

By Pablo Ortiz

Both the depletion of fossil fuels and the environmental concerns are a powerful drive for the development of sustainable routes to commodity chemicals. Lignocellulose, comprised of lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose, is the ideal candidate, but its inherent complexity hampers its transformation to value-added chemicals. The group of Katalin Barta at the University of Groningen has […]

Engineering nitrogen-fixing cereals, between science fiction and reality

Engineering nitrogen-fixing cereals, between science fiction and reality

BiologyBiotechnologyPlant biology

By Daniel Marino

Every organism, from virus to animals need nitrogen (N) to live; indeed, nucleic acids and proteins are made out with N. Nearly all of these organisms, fulfill their nitrogen needs taken up N from the environment in reduced forms, usually as nitrate (NO3–), ammonium (NH4+) or amino acids. Interestingly, certain microorganisms, known as diazatrophs, have […]

Is nature “natural” anymore?

Is nature “natural” anymore?

BiotechnologyEthics

By Silvia Román

It seems that we are definitely heading towards the bio-based society, a new way of interacting with the environment where fossil fuels won’t be needed anymore and “more natural” processes for producing energy, food and materials will prevail. Remarkably, this bio-turn often involves highly advanced biotechnology and strict competitive targets, both facts that challenge our […]

How to engineer bacteria to treat cancer

How to engineer bacteria to treat cancer

BiomedicineBiotechnologyMedicineMicrobiology

By Jaime de Juan Sanz

It all began in 1891, when Dr. William B. Coley, a bone sarcoma surgeon at the Memorial Hospital in New York, injected streptococcal organisms into a patient with inoperable cancer. He thought that the infection he induced would have the side effect of shrinking the malignant tumor… and quite surprisingly he was right! The patient’s […]

Ancient DNA Calling Out for “De-Extinction”  — How far can or should we go?

Ancient DNA Calling Out for “De-Extinction” — How far can or should we go?

BiologyBiotechnologyEthicsEvolutionGenetics

By F. Javier Carmona

Ever since the 1993 film based on Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park was released, the thought of reviving extinct species using molecular biology techniques has been on the forefront of the collective imaginary. The idea seemed pretty simple: reading the genetic code of fossilized animals would provide the instruction manual to bring them back to […]

Genetic engineering of insect-free plants

Genetic engineering of insect-free plants

BiotechnologyGeneticsPlant biology

By Daniel Marino

Plants are sessile organisms, which means they can´t move around. Of course, they have some types of movements like turning towards the sun but the place where the seed germinates the plant will stay during their entire life cycle. Obviously, this fact has important consequences on how plants respond upon variations of their surrounding environment […]