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Trends in Biotechnology

Jürgen Pleiss
The experimentally determined Michaelis constant Km results from a combination of two effects: the recognition of the substrate by the enzyme and the interactions between substrate and solvent. For a solvent-independent analysis of substrate specificity, the thermodynamic activity of the substrate, rather than its concentration, must be considered.
February 9, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
David I Walsh, David S Kong, Shashi K Murthy, Peter A Carr
The traditional requirement for clean rooms and specialized skills has inhibited many biologists from pursuing new microfluidic innovations. Makerspaces provide a growing alternative to clean rooms: they provide low-cost access to fabrication equipment such as laser cutters, plotter cutters, and 3D printers; use commercially available materials; and attract a diverse community of product designers. This Opinion discusses the materials, tools, and building methodologies particularly suited for developing novel microfluidic devices in these spaces, with insight into biological applications and leveraging the maker community...
February 2, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Sam Cooper, Chris Bakal
The dynamics of signalling networks that couple environmental conditions with cellular behaviour can now be characterised in exquisite detail using live single-cell imaging experiments. Recent improvements in our abilities to introduce fluorescent sensors into cells, coupled with advances in pipelines for quantifying and extracting single-cell data, mean that high-throughput systematic analyses of signalling dynamics are becoming possible. In this review, we consider current technologies that are driving progress in the scale and range of such studies...
February 1, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Alejandra Wong-Arce, Omar González-Ortega, Sergio Rosales-Mendoza
Immunotherapies constitute an important trend in developing new cancer treatments, and several promising candidates are under evaluation in clinical trials. Plants have entered the fight against cancer because they constitute low-cost and efficient hosts for biopharmaceutical production that can also serve as oral delivery vehicles. This review is focused on the knowledge gained through the development of anticancer plant-made vaccines reported thus far, and highlights the potential of this technology - its success being reflected in the number of candidates that are close to market...
January 30, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Benedikt Warth, Nadine Levin, Duane Rinehart, John Teijaro, H Paul Benton, Gary Siuzdak
Cloud-based bioinformatic platforms address the fundamental demands of creating a flexible scientific environment, facilitating data processing and general accessibility independent of a countries' affluence. These platforms have a multitude of advantages as demonstrated by omics technologies, helping to support both government and scientific mandates of a more open environment.
January 20, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Joanna K L Wong, Rashin Mohseni, Amir Ali Hamidieh, Robert E MacLaren, Nagy Habib, Alexander M Seifalian
The high mortality rates of cancer patients receiving standard treatments emphasize the crucial need for alternative treatments. One promising strategy is to use organic nanoparticles (NPs) for gene delivery. Although multifunctional NPs theoretically have many desirable properties as gene vectors, there are several practical barriers to successful gene delivery. In this review we discuss the properties of NPs and overview in vitro and preclinical studies of organic NPs over the past 5 years. The results of recent clinical trials suggest that the NP field holds significant promise...
January 17, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Sandeep Kumar Vashist, E Marion Schneider, A G Venkatesh, John H T Luong
Human fetuin A (HFA) plays a prominent pathophysiological role in numerous diseases and pathophysiological conditions with considerable biomedical significance; one example is the formation of calciprotein particles in osteoporosis and impaired calcium metabolisms. With impressive advances in in vitro diagnostic assays during the last decade, ELISAs have become a workhorse in routine clinical diagnostics. Recent diagnostic formats involve high-sensitivity immunoassay procedures, surface plasmon resonance, rapid immunoassay chemistries, signal enhancement, and smartphone detection...
January 13, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Areti Tsigkinopoulou, Syed Murtuza Baker, Rainer Breitling
Although there is still some skepticism in the biological community regarding the value and significance of quantitative computational modeling, important steps are continually being taken to enhance its accessibility and predictive power. We view these developments as essential components of an emerging 'respectful modeling' framework which has two key aims: (i) respecting the models themselves and facilitating the reproduction and update of modeling results by other scientists, and (ii) respecting the predictions of the models and rigorously quantifying the confidence associated with the modeling results...
January 13, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Manki Son, Ji Youn Lee, Hwi Jin Ko, Tai Hyun Park
Odors are perceived differently as a function of individual human experience, and communicating about odors between individuals is therefore very difficult. There is a need to classify and standardize odors, but appropriate tools have not yet been developed. A bioelectronic nose mimics human olfaction and detects target molecules with high sensitivity and selectivity. This new tool has great potential in many applications and is expected to accelerate odor classification and standardization. In particular, a multiplexed bioelectronic nose can provide complex odor information using pattern recognition techniques, and could even reproduce odors via an integrated olfactory display system...
January 11, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Marie Yung-Chen Wu, Min-Yen Hsu, Shih-Jen Chen, De-Kuang Hwang, Tzung-Hai Yen, Chao-Min Cheng
Food safety has become an increasingly significant public concern in both developed and under-developed nations around the world; it increases morbidity, mortality, human suffering, and economic burden. This Opinion focuses on (i) examining the influence of pathogens and chemicals (e.g., food additives and pesticide residue) on food-borne illnesses, (ii) summarizing food hazards that are present in Asia, and (iii) summarizing the array of current point-of-care (POC) detection devices that have potential applications in food safety monitoring...
January 11, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Ariel Fernández, L Ridgway Scott
Lead optimization (LO) is essential to fulfill the efficacy and safety requirements of drug-based targeted therapy. The ease with which water may be locally removed from around the target protein crucially influences LO decisions. However, inferred binding sites often defy intuition and the resulting LO decisions are often counterintuitive, with nonpolar groups in the drug placed next to polar groups in the target. We first introduce biophysical advances to reconcile these apparent mismatches. We incorporate three-body energy terms that account for the net stabilization of preformed target structures upon removal of interfacial water concurrent with drug binding...
January 6, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Stefaan Blancke, Wim Grunewald, Geert De Jaeger
The public debates concerning genetic engineering (GE) involve many non-scientific issues. The ensuing complexity is one reason why biotechnologists are reluctant to become involved. By sharing our personal experiences in science communication and suggesting ways to de-problematize GE, we aim to inspire our colleagues to engage with the public.
January 6, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Ming Chen, Xiaosheng Qin, Guangming Zeng
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs), graphene (GRA), and their derivatives are promising materials for a wide range of applications such as pollutant removal, enzyme immobilization, bioimaging, biosensors, and drug delivery and are rapidly increasing in use and increasingly mass produced. The biodegradation of carbon nanomaterials by microbes and enzymes is now of great importance for both reducing their toxicity to living organisms and removing them from the environment. Here we review recent progress in the biodegradation field from the point of view of the primary microbes and enzymes that can degrade these nanomaterials, along with experimental and molecular simulation methods for the exploration of nanomaterial degradation...
January 4, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Sabino Padilla, Mikel Sánchez, Gorka Orive, Eduardo Anitua
Repairing and regenerating damaged musculoskeletal tissues is one of the greatest challenges in regenerative medicine. Blood contains the essential ingredients to biologically engineer drug delivery devices that provide spatiotemporal control over the availability of a wide range of autologous agents, including small molecules, cytokines, and growth factors. This opinion article summarizes our current knowledge of blood-derived biological drug delivery therapies. The potential mechanisms that control protein release are discussed, along with the biological rationale and effects of their use in different relevant musculoskeletal tissues, including articular cartilage, bone, tendon, muscle, and nerve tissue injuries...
December 19, 2016: Trends in Biotechnology
Danny Incarnato, Salvatore Oliviero
A large fraction of higher metazoan genomes transcribe RNA molecules whose functions extend far beyond carrying instructions for protein synthesis. Although RNA is apparently a simple molecule, the ways in which it performs many of its functions have remained highly elusive for decades. As learned from studying ribosomal and transfer RNAs, two of the key features influencing the function of RNA are its structure and post-transcriptional modifications. A deep understanding of RNA function therefore requires rapid and straightforward approaches to study the complex and intricate landscape of RNA structures and modifications...
December 14, 2016: Trends in Biotechnology
Eduardo Anitua, Roberto Prado, Gorka Orive
A new therapeutic tool is emerging based on a biomimetic strategy: platelet-rich plasma (PRP) technology. Allogeneic off-the-shelf PRP represents a safe and cost-effective treatment for osteoarthritis and related diseases. This breakthrough opens the door not only to improved treatments and opportunities but also to new challenges with multiple uncertainties.
February 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Raffaele Pugliese, Fabrizio Gelain
Peptidic biomaterials represent a particularly exciting topic in regenerative medicine. Peptidic scaffolds can be specifically designed for biomimetic customization for targeted therapy. The field is at a pivotal point where preclinical research is being translated into clinics, so it is crucial to understand the theory and describe the status of this rapidly developing technology. In this review, we highlight major advantages and current limitations of self-assembling peptide-based biomaterials, and we discuss the most widely used classes of assembling peptides, describing recent and promising approaches in tissue engineering, drug delivery, and clinics...
February 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Matthias W Laschke, Michael D Menger
Spheroids provide a 3D environment with intensive cell-cell contacts. As a result of their excellent regenerative properties and rapid progress in their high-throughput production, spheroids are increasingly suggested as building blocks for tissue engineering. In this review, we focus on innovative biotechnological approaches that increase the quality of spheroids for this specific type of application. These include in particular the fabrication of coculture spheroids, mimicking the complex morphology and physiological tasks of natural tissues...
February 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Brenton R Ware, Salman R Khetani
Drug-induced liver injury (DILI) remains a leading cause of drug withdrawal from human clinical trials or the marketplace. Owing to species-specific differences in liver pathways, predicting human-relevant DILI using in vitro human liver models is crucial. Microfabrication tools allow precise control over the cellular microenvironment towards stabilizing liver functions for weeks. These tools are used to engineer human liver models with different complexities and throughput using cell lines, primary cells, and stem cell-derived hepatocytes...
February 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Christian Rüter, M Alexander Schmidt
Bacterial pathogens have developed intriguing virulence mechanisms, including several sophisticated nanomachines, for injecting effector proteins to manipulate host immune signaling pathways for their own benefit. Therefore, bacterial genomes harbor a wealth of information about how to manipulate the defense systems of the host. Current understanding addresses virulence mechanisms mostly as targets for antimicrobials. We propose a change of paradigm by exploiting bacterial effectors not as targets but as tools for the directed manipulation of host signaling - for the benefit of the host...
February 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
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