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Bioengineering and biotechnology

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The Boston Globe

Ginkgo Bioworks founders Jason Kelly PhD ’08, S.B. ’03 and Reshma Shetty PhD ’08 speak with Boston Globe reporter Scott Kirsner about the inspiration for and growth of the company, which is focused on manipulating genetic material to get living cells to perform new jobs. Shetty notes that the Ginkgo Bioworks team is “dedicated to making biology easier to engineer."

United Press International (UPI)

UPI reporter Brooks Hays writes that a new tool developed by researchers from MIT and other institutions can precisely control gene expression without altering the underlying gene sequence. “Scientists hope this new ability to silence any part of the human genome will lead to powerful insights into functionality of the human genome, as well as inspire new therapies for a variety of diseases and genetic disorders,” writes Hays.

New Scientist

Researchers from MIT and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras have developed a new technique to grow and culture human brain tissue in an inexpensive bioreactor, writes Christa Lesté-Lasserre for New Scientist. The researchers have now “reported the growth of a brain organoid over seven days. This demonstrates that the brain cells can thrive inside the chip.”

Boston Globe

A group of MIT scientists has announced a new plan, called the Future Founders Initiative, aimed at addressing gender inequities in the biotech industry, reports Anissa Gardizy for The Boston Globe. “If we can’t advance discoveries at the same rate for women and men, that means there are drugs, therapies, devices, and diagnostics that are not getting to where they can actually benefit people,” says President Emerita Susan Hockfield. “If as a region we want to continue to lead the world, the best thing to do is not squander our resources.”

BBC News

Graduate student Ashley Beckwith speaks with BBC Radio 5 about her work developing a new concept for growing wood in the lab, as part of an effort to supplement traditional forestry methods. "We dedicate a lot of resources to growing whole plants, when all we use really is a very small portion of the plant,” says Beckwith. “So somehow we needed to figure out a more strategic way to reproduce materials that isn't so reliant on the land."

Wired

Writing for Wired, Keith Gillogly spotlights how MIT researchers have devised a new technique that could lead to the development of lab-grown wood and other biomaterials. “The hope is that, if this becomes a developed process for producing plant materials, you could alleviate some of [the] pressures on our agricultural lands. And with those reduced pressures, hopefully we can allow more spaces to remain wild and more forests to remain in place,” says graduate student Ashley Beckwith,

Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics reporter Kyro Mitchell explores how MIT researchers have created a biodegradable medical patch that could be used to repair internal injuries. Mitchell notes that the patch “can be easily wrapped around robotic tools like a balloon catheter and a surgical stapler and then be inserted into the patient.”

Mashable

Mashable reporter Kellen Beck spotlights how MIT researchers have developed a new medical patch that could be used to repair tears in organs and tissues.” Because internal surgeries involve small, specialized tools, the patch was created to fold around these tools and make insertion and use in tight spaces simpler. The patch resists contamination and biodegrades over time,” writes Beck.

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Kristin Toussaint writes about how MIT researchers have developed a new technique for growing wood-like plant tissues in the lab. The work, they say, is still in its very early stages, but provides a starting point to a new way of producing biomaterials. “It’s a process that eventually could help accelerate our shift away from plastics and other materials that end up in landfill toward materials that can biodegrade,” writes Toussaint.

TechCrunch

TechCrunch reporter Darrell Etherington writes that MIT researchers have developed a new method for growing plant tissues in a lab. “Potential applications of lab-grown plant material are significant,” writes Etherington, “and include possibilities in both agriculture and in construction materials.”

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Jon Chesto writes that MIT, Harvard, several research hospitals and life-sciences companies have selected a site for a new biologics manufacturing and innovation center. The project is aimed at expediting “discoveries for biotech treatments in university labs by allowing researchers to bypass the long waits that are common at contract manufacturers,” writesChesto. 

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe columnist Shirley Leung spotlights how the development of the Moderna Covid-19 demonstrates the success of the Massachusetts life sciences sector. “For more than half a century, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been the epicenter of that curiosity, with a focus on molecular biology — initially to find a cure for cancer,” writes Leung. “There have been Nobel laureates collaborating on cancer, genetics, and immunology, along with future laureates making discoveries in how RNA, a molecule that is as fundamental as DNA to cell function, can be used in medicine.”

European Pharmaceutical Review

European Pharmaceutical Review reporter Hannah Balfour writes that researchers from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology have developed a new dissolvable gelatin microcarrier that can help enhance cell production. “Innovations in microcarriers will aid in the scalability of certain cell types such as mesenchymal stromal cells for cell-based therapy, including for regenerative medicine applications,” says Associate Provost Krystyn Van Vliet.

Stat

STAT reporter Kate Sheridan spotlights the work of Kartik Ramamoorthi PhD ’14 and his gene therapy company Encoded. Sheridan explains that Encoded’s first gene therapy will “target Dravet syndrome — a rare condition that can cause seizures, cognitive deficits, and mobility problems.”

Tech Explorist

Tech Explorist reporter Amit Malewar writes that researchers from Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) have “demonstrated a new way to manufacture human red blood cells (RBCs) that cuts the culture time by half compared to existing methods.”