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Bioengineering and biotechnology

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Forbes

Deepak Dugar MBA ’13, PhD ’13 founded Visolis, a biomanufacturing company developing carbon-negative, high-performance materials, reports John Cumbers for Forbes. “We use biology to make platform molecules. And then we use chemistry to turn them into a lot of different products. Because of this unique combination, we have an advantage both in terms of market as well as cost of technology development,” says Dugar.

Forbes

Asimov - an MIT spinout co-founded by Prof. Christopher Voigt, Alec Nielsen PhD ’16, Raja Srinivas PhD ’16, and Boston University Prof. Douglas Densmore - is a biotechnology company developing tools to design living systems, reports John Cumbers for Forbes. “Every cell is capable of computing. Perceiving environmental signals, information processing, turning genes on and off,” says Nielsen. “The ability to engineer this gift of evolution is, in my view, going to be the most meaningful and impactful technology that humans have ever developed.”

Forbes

Harry McNamara PhD ’19, David Heller ’18, and Shara Ticku co-founded C16 Biosciences, a biotechnology company that uses synthetic biology to address environmental concerns, reports John Cumbers for Forbes. The company “wants to replace conflict palm oil with a sustainable alternative made in yeast using precision fermentation,” writes Cumbers.

NPR

Lydia Villa Komaroff PhD ’75 speaks with NPR reporter Emily Kwong about her work in gene editing. Biotechnology and genetic engineering were “enormously impactful,” says Komaroff. “So impactful that molecular biology pretty much disappeared as a field, it has become a tool that is of use in every field of biology and medicine today.”

The Boston Globe

Jake Becraft PhD ’19 and former postdoctoral associate Tasuku Kitada co-founded Strand Therapeutics, a biotech firm developing mRNA therapies for cancer, reports Ryan Cross for The Boston Globe. They created “a way to activate mRNA in the presence of particular microRNAs – a much more useful application for therapies,” writes Cross. 

Forbes

Forbes reporter John Cumbers spotlights Jasmina Aganovic ’09 for her work in combining biotechnology with skincare. "Biotechnology enables us to expand the ingredient palette of the beauty industry to molecules in all parts of the tree of life, ethically and sustainably," says Aganovic.

Scientific American

MIT scientists have developed a miniature antenna that could one day be used to help safely transmit data from within living cells “by resonating with acoustic rather than electromagnetic waves,” reports Andrew Chapman for Scientific American. “A functioning antenna could help scientists power, and communicate with, tiny roving sensors within the cell,” writes Chapman, “helping them better understand these building blocks and perhaps leading to new medical treatments.”

New Scientist

Prof. Kevin Esvelt speaks with New Scientist reporter Michael Le Page about his work outlining a roadmap to help counter the risk posed by pandemic terrorism. “The message is, this is serious but this is totally solvable,” says Esvelt.

Wired

Research from Synlogic, a biotech company founded by Profs James Collins and Timothy Lu, has found that it’s the company’s engineered bacteria could provide some benefit to patients with a rare genetic disease, reports Emily Mullin for Wired. “Similar to how you might program a computer, we can tinker with the DNA of bacteria and have them do things like produce a drug at the right time and the right place, or in this case, break down a toxic metabolite,” says Lu.

The Boston Globe

Scientists from MIT, Duke and Stanford have developed a new technique to make gene therapies safer and more effective, reports Ryan Cross for The Boston Globe. “It’s about making these therapies much smarter and programmable,” says Jonathan S. Gootenberg, a research scientist at the McGovern Institute.

CNBC

CNBC reporter Catherine Clifford spotlights C16 Biosciences, a startup co-founded by MIT alumni that is developing a palm oil alternative called Palmless. “What we are building is a platform technology that can produce all different kinds of microbial oils,” explains David Heller ’18, co-founder and head of operations at C16 Biosciences. “It’s definitely possible that we’re able to make other kinds of vegetable oil replacements in the future.” 

Boston Business Journal

Landmark Bio, a cell and gene therapy manufacturing company co-founded by MIT and a number of other institutions, is focused on accelerating access to innovative therapies for patients, reports Rowan Walrath for Boston Business Journal. "Landmark's new facility includes laboratory space for research and early-stage drug development, as well as analytics tools,” writes Walrath. 

The Boston Globe

MIT and a number of other local institutions have launched Landmark Bio, a cell and gene therapy manufacturing firm aimed at helping small startups develop experimental therapies that are reliable, consistent, and large enough to be used in clinical trials, reports Ryan Cross for The Boston Globe.

The Washington Post

Washington Post reporter Pranshu Verma writes about how Prof. Dina Katabi and her colleagues developed a new AI tool that could be used to help detect early signs of Parkinson’s by analyzing a patient’s breathing patterns. For diseases like Parkinson’s “one of the biggest challenges is that we need to get to [it] very early on, before the damage has mostly happened in the brain,” said Katabi. “So being able to detect Parkinson’s early is essential.”

Forbes

Forbes contributor Jennifer Kite-Powell spotlights how MIT researchers created a new AI system that analyzes radio waves bouncing off a person while they sleep to monitor breathing patterns and help identify Parkinson’s disease. “The device can also measure how bad the disease has become and could be used to track Parkinson's progression over time,” writes Kite-Powell.