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Biological engineering

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New York Times

Prof. Eric Alm speaks with New York Times Magazine reporter Kim Tingley about how studying wastewater can provide public health officials with advance warning of an uptick in coronavirus cases. “If you want to really understand what’s going on in a city on a basic chemical, biological level, you should be looking at the wastewater," says Alm.

WCVB

Reporting for WCVB-TV, Katie Thompson highlights a new study by MIT researchers that examines the role of super-spreading events in the Covid-19 pandemic. "The main idea is that most people generate zero or one cases, but it's the people generating hundreds of cases that we should perhaps be worried about," says postdoc Felix Wong said.

Boston 25 News

Prof. James Collins speaks with Boston 25 reporter Julianne Lima about the growing issue of antibiotic resistant bacteria and his work using AI to identify new antibiotics. Collins explains that a new platform he developed with Prof. Regina Barzilay uncovered “a host of new antibiotics including one that we call halicin that has remarkable activity against multi drug-resistant pathogens.”

WBUR

A new study by MIT researchers finds that super-spreading events are larger drivers of the Covid-19 pandemic than originally thought, reports Carey Goldberg for WBUR. “We found in our study that super-spreading events can indeed be a major driver of the current pandemic,” says postdoc Felix Wong. “Most people generate zero or one cases, but it's the people generating hundreds of cases that we really should be worried about.”

WBUR

A CRISPR-based diagnostic test for Covid-19 developed by researchers from MIT and the Broad Institute could produce results within an hour, reports Deborah Becker for WBUR. "Using these technologies will really allow for much more rapid testing — down from days to sometimes less than an hour," said McGovern fellow Jonathan Gootenberg. "That would enable a drastic change in how the tracing and handling of the pandemic is done."

Marketplace

Prof. James Collins speaks with Molly Wood of Marketplace about his work developing a faster, cheaper and more accurate Covid-19 diagnostic. Collins explains that his research group is “using synthetic biology to create highly sensitive, low-cost diagnostics, some that are now approved for use in clinical diagnostics labs, and now we’re moving towards point-of-care diagnostics, as well as at-home diagnostics.”

Forbes

Forbes reporter Amy Feldman spotlights MIT startup Ginkgo Bioworks, which aims to “design, modify and manufacture organisms to make existing industrial processes cheaper and entirely new processes possible.” Feldman notes that the promise of synthetic biology is “not just a proliferation of new products, but also a reduction of the environmental harm that comes from our heavy reliance on petrochemicals.”

Straits Times

The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) has launched an initiative aimed at advancing cell therapy research, reports Shabana Begum for The Straits Times. “Imagine providing the right living cells…to each patient as quickly and safely as possible,” explains Prof. Krystyn Van Vliet. "Delivering on that promise requires exciting changes in the way we understand, engineer, measure and select cells."

WBUR

Reporting for WBUR, Carey Goldberg highlights how MIT researchers have developed a new RNA editing tool that could be used to tweak a gene that raises the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. As the effects of RNA editing are not permanent, “it's almost like a small, pill-like version of gene therapy,” explains research scientist and McGovern Fellow Omar Abudayyeh.

Financial Times

Writing for the Financial Times about how technology is advancing the field of health care, John Browne spotlights Prof. Bob Langer’s work developing new methods of delivering drugs with improved precision. Browne explains that Langer is working on “a device smaller than a grain of rice that he can inject into a tumour to test the efficacy of dozens of chemotherapy agents in parallel.”

Xinhuanet

Researchers from MIT and other institutions have developed a new model for autism research that could enable new therapies and treatments, reports the Xinhua news agency. The model could “provide a basis for a deeper understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms of autism and the development of more transformative therapeutics.”

Scientific American

Writing for Scientific American, Prof. Bob Langer examines how breakthroughs in biotechnology and materials science are enabling more personalized and effective treatments for patients. Langer highlights how by “engineering polymers that offer smart delivery systems, we can target specific parts of the body. This limits exposure and therefore adverse effects, offering more effective and precise treatment.”

Boston.com

President Emerita Susan Hockfield discusses her new book, “The Age of Living Machines,” her work as a neuroscientist, and the future of science and technology during a curated lunch conversation with HUBweek and Boston.com. Hockfield explains that a revolution spurred by the convergence of biology with engineering will lead to new technologies built by biology.

The Wall Street Journal

In an excerpt from her new book published in The Wall Street Journal, President Emerita Susan Hockfield explores how the convergence between biology and engineering is driving the development of new tools to tackle pressing human problems. Hockfield writes that for these world-changing technologies to be realized requires “not only funding and institutional support but, more fundamentally, a commitment to collaboration among unlikely partners.”

Economist

MIT researchers have developed a new system to 3-D print scaffolding for biological cultures, making it possible to grow uniform cells with specific functions, reports The Economist. “This discovery could help those trying to find ways of encouraging stem cells to generate tissue and organs for transplant.”