Top 7 Biotech Breakthroughs Changing Our Life Right Now

dr.Gachet

dr.Gachet

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  • dr.Gachet

    dr.Gachet

From a genome editing to a live tissue 3D printing, these new advances in the world of medicine blur the line between biology and technology — to help restore, improve and extend our lives.

Genome Editing Technology

CRISPR-Cas9 is a unique technology that enables geneticists and medical researchers to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding or altering sections of the DNA sequence. It is currently the simplest, most versatile and precise method of genetic manipulation and is therefore causing a buzz in the science world.

Despite the fact that the technology was developed several years ago, the gene therapy market can already offer several companies specializing in this field. For example, the American startup Editas Medicas develops CRISPR-Cas9-based drugs for the treatment of cancerous tumors, as well as diseases of the blood, lungs, eyes, liver and kidneys. Another one company, Audentes Therapeutics (NASDAQ: BOLD), specializes in gene therapy for rare diseases.


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Sugar-Free Sweets

New reports show that about two billion people worldwide are overweight or obese — that’s about 30% of the world’s population. A huge amount of sugar that is used by food producers is one of the reasons for the spread of the global obesity epidemic. But the paradox is that most of this sugar doesn’t have sufficient time to dissolve in a mouth and is not recognize by the taste buds on our tongue and palate. Nestlé, a Swiss transnational food and drink company, has found a neat solution — changing the molecular structure of sucrose sugars (powdered and granulated sugars) so that to speed up its dissolution rate in a mouth. Nestlé representatives promise that this will reduce the share of sugar in its products by 10% at the beginning of next year.

Genetically Engineered Salmon

Genetically engineered salmon has reached the dinner table. AquaBounty Technologies, the company in Maynard, Massachusetts, that developed the fish, announced on August 4 that it has sold some 4.5 tons of its hotly debated product to customers in Canada. It took AquaBounty more than 25 years to get to this point.


The fish, a variety of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), is engineered to grow faster than its non-genetically modified counterpart, reaching market size in roughly half the time — about 18 months. The technology was opened in 1989, but market regulators and anti-GMO movement protest action prevented its entry to the market for many years.

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Waste Gas-to-ethanol Technology

New Zealand-based LanzaTech NZ Ltd. recently announced it has developed a proprietary fermentation technology that can be used to produce ethanol using the carbon monoxide and hydrogen components of industrial waste gases and biomass-based syngas. The whole process takes place in bioreactors, where there is a special kind of bacteria grown in a carbon dioxide-rich medium.

LazaTech expects to process up to 1 million tons of carbon dioxide. If the project is commercially successful, it will turn greenhouse gases from unwanted production waste into a commodity.

3D Printing Living Tissues

3D Printing human organs have been actively developed in the last decade. For example, American Organovo (NASDAQ: ONVO), a medical laboratory and research company which designs and develops 3D bioprinting technology has already developed a technology for printing tissues of the human liver and kidneys.


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Certain cells from the biopsy are isolated and multiplied. These cells are then mixed with a liquefied material that provides oxygen and other nutrients to keep them alive outside of the human body. The mixture is then placed in a printer cartridge and structured using the patients’ medical scans.
 
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