Back to posting exciting advances on biology and medicine

In the last three months, I neglected my posts here. However, I am now back to posting. As you can imagine there is a huge back log of articles, so expect an increase in the frequency of posts for some time, assuming I can keep up with them.

Thanks to all who find value from this blog. You are a great source of motivation for me to keep it updated.

US stands to lose a generation of young researchers

Five consecutive years of flat funding the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is deterring promising young researchers and threatening the future of Americans’ health, a group of seven preeminent academic research institutions warned today. In a new report released here, the group of concerned institutions (six research universities and a major teaching hospital) described the toll that cumulative stagnant NIH funding is taking on the American medical research enterprise. And the leading institutions warned that if NIH does not get consistent and robust support in the future, the nation will lose a generation of young investigators to other careers and other countries and, with them, a generation of promising research that could cure disease for millions for whom no cure currently exists.

Continue reading “US stands to lose a generation of young researchers”

JoVE: Youtube for scientists

I have been following JoVE is the Journal of Visualized Experiments, for some time. This very unique “video journal” focuses on publishing videos of experimental procedures in life sciences.

Today I learned JoVE may soon be indexed on Pubmed, which will give it a credibility of peer reviewed scientific journal. Apparently they have also signed agreement with established science publishing companies (Annual Reviews, Springer Protocols, Current Protocols) for joint protocol publication, as in this example.. I think this is extremely useful for scientists or those who want to see actual experiments done. It will be interesting to see how it develops and accepted in scientific community.

Robosingularity blog launched

I started the third in series of singularity blogs, Robosingularity. The focus, as you may guess, is advances in robotics.In similar vein to to this blog and nanosingularity I will be posting articles on recent advances related to robotics and artificial intelligence. The site will also feature many cool videos that showcase the amazing abilities of ever advancing robots and cyborgs. Enjoy 🙂

Nanosingularity blog launched

I would like to point out that I have been posting nanotechnology related advances in my other blog called Nanosingularity for some time. The idea of nanosingularity remains similar to biosingularity, to follow major advances in the nanotech field. However, I should mention that I don’t consider myself an expert of this field and would highly encourage the readers who are knowledgable in the area to post comments on significance of the stories. I will continue to post here the nanotech advances related to biology.

Link to Nanosingularity

Is The United States Trying to Cede its Lead in Biomedical Research?

I feel the future of biological research in the U.S. is now in grave danger. NIH has been the jewel of American innovation in medicine and biological research. The health of most people are affected by the research done through NIH grants. Rapid advance in medical research is also the best way to save the trillions of dollars spent every year on health care. If current trends of stagnant NIH funding is not reversed soon, the U.S. will begin not only to lose its lead in biomedical research but this will also cost countless lives that will not be saved on time.

Read this news article in the recent of issue of the Scientist: “The “stagnated” budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), now entering its 4th straight year of flat-funding, is creating a “looming crisis” that is forcing scientists to downsize labs and abandon innovative work, and alienating the next generation of young researchers, a panel of university officials and senior researchers told Congress yesterday (March 19). ”

Another brief commentary is at the Scientific American site.

Happy and Healthy 2007!

After a little break I am back to posting new exciting discoveries and advances in biological systems.

Biosingularity now hosts more than 300 stories, some of which are major breakthroughs, since its inception about one year ago.

The acceleration of technology predicts that there will be many more advances this year and these will continue to give hope for a much better future for all of us.

I wish everyone a healthy and happy new year.

Living to be 100 programmed at birth?

A study from the University of Chicago has been getting a lot of press attention lately. They found that your chances of living to 100 may depend on how young your mother was when she gave birth to you with chances doubled if mom was under 25. The reports do not give the explanation why.

Dr. Steven Palter, a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, has written in his blog docinthemachine about an interesting theory of reproductive aging and human longevity. The findings are based on data presented in recent American Society for Reproductive Medicine meeting by Dr. Keefe of U. Florida on the telemore and its role in reproductive aging.

Read rest of this interesting story at docinthemachine blog.

Coolest biological cartoon ever!

This movie from Harvard shows the inner life of a cell with an inspring music. This is arguably the coolest biological cartoon I have ever seen. It so beautifully captures the essence of a biological system. Thanks to my friend Dr. Chris Arendt for forwarding this link.

Back to posting articles

I will start posting articles tomorrow after another long hiatus. I have been swamped moving my lab to New York for the last month. I hope to post regularly again, lots of cool stories accumulated!

Reprogramming Biology

Visionary futurist Ray Kurzweil, whose remarkable ideas on technological progress have been an inspiration for Biosingularity blogs, have a wonderful concise article on biological advances in recent issue of Scientific American

As a scientist working on biological systems I fully agree and whole heartedly support Kurzweil's observations that: " Biology is now in the early stages of an historic transition to an information science, while also gaining the tools to reprogram the ancient information systems of life ….. We are now beginning to understand biology as a set of information processes, and we're developing realistic models and simulations of how the processes involved in disease and aging progress. Moreover, we are developing the tools to reprogram them."

In the article Kurzweil predicts that tinkering with our genetic programs will extend human lifespan beyond the current limits. He also reiterates that biological systems are also subject to the "law of accelerating returns", which had tremendous impact on information technologies. Indeed, the cost of sequencing and synthesizing gene base pairs have decreased more than 10,000 fold over the last 15 years, and this exponential progress is currently accelerating as predicted by Kurzweil in his recent book. 

Read rest of the article at Scientific American web site.
 

Cool blog of the month: Soft Machines

Soft Machines is a very interesting blog on nanotechnology and future technologies by Richard Jones who is also the author of the book "Soft machines: nanotechnology and life". The book explains why things behave differently at the nanoscale to way they behave at familiar human scales, and why this means that nanotechnology may be more like biology than conventional engineering. The blog follows on a similar theme with many  thoughtful articles.

I especially enjoyed the recent article titled: Death, life and amyloids, which is about the good, the bad and the ugly sides of misfolded fibrillar proteins called amyloids. Check it out.

Cool blog of the week: Fight Aging!

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Fight Aging! blog is a great site to get information on latest news and efforts to stop the ultimate scourage that face us, the aging itself. There are many excellent articles that provide ideas to stimulate future research in understanding and slowing aging process. This blog also does a good job in creating awareness for the fund raising efforts for aging research.

From Fight Aging! web site: “We are on the verge of a revolution in medicine: understanding, treating, and ultimately preventing the causes of degenerative aging. But medical revolutions only happen if we all stand up in support of funding and research. We did it for cancer. We’re doing it for Alzheimer’s. We can do it for aging – and create an era of longer, healthier lives!”
I fully support this motto!

Creating new life forms in laboratory

Ever since chemist Stanley Miller created organic compounds from simple building blocks like water, methane, and ammonia, the idea of creating life and thus peering into its possible origins, has fascinated biologists.

Is it possible to build a “protocell” or the most primitive life form from scratch? A cadre of pioneer scientists are trying to do just that. This fascinating quest and current advances in steps of creating life are described in a recent New Scientist article.

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Cool blog of the week: Multipolarity Memes

My pick this week, Multipolarity Memes, is a very interesting blog that is  dedicated to guide us to an accelerating, truly self-fulfilling future.

The topics covered are highly diverse from robotics, physics to biological advances. All posted stories accompany visually stimulating thematic pictures or surreal graphics. There are also some very interesting commentaries about futuristic social, political and philosphical issues or dilemmas.

Multipolarity Memes is one of the few blogs that does a great job guiding us to our accelerating future, highly recommended.

Cool blog of the week: Al Fin

This week’s cool blog site is Al Fin .The primary interest of the author is to see best of humanity survives long enough to reach the next level.

The site features cool new technological advances, many in biology, in a unique and clean fashion, which are occasionally accompanied with visually stimulating pictures. Most posts also contain well written commentaries that provide interesting perspectives to stories.

Al Fin also has one of the most extensive and well organized links of interest I have seen. There are many interesting links from machine intelligence to outer space, meticulously found and listed.

Al Fin is a great blog that I highly recommend.

What is RNA interference?

This is first in series of mini-commentaries that I hope will provide background and context to the importance some of the major discoveries that I have posted.

This week’s feature is RNA interference (RNAi). There is a great mini-tutorial about RNAi at PBS Nova site. The the wiki on RNAi is also useful for providing simple background.

RNAi is arguably the most important molecular biology discovery of the last decade and was declared breakthrough of the year by Science magazine in 2002. This technology has the potential to transform medicine but providing us the tool to regulate expression of genes. RNAi mediated treatments may also become the next big thing in biotech.

I recently reported about the structure of the key RNAi component, Dicer protein. This story revealed new insight into the intricate mechanism of RNAi. Several other discoveries posted here also involved RNAi.

Cool blog of the week

This is first in series, where I will mention blogs or web links I find interesting.

This week’s recommended blog site is Technological Event Horizon. The author is an independent philosopher, Micah Glasser, and writes thoughtful and sometimes philosophical opinions on accelerated technological advancement.

The title of recent blog was “When Machines Transcend the Mechanical” where Micah argued that humans will not transcend biology, per se. Rather machines will transcend the mechanical. I agreed with this argument.
Continue reading “Cool blog of the week”

Improvements to Biosingularity blogs

Based on overwhelmingly positive comments and constructive critiques I received over the last several weeks, I will try to implement some additions here that I hope will be an improvement. Of course, this will depend on finding sufficient time during my extremely busy schedule.

One of the changes requested was to link the stories to the original scientific articles, if they are published results. I will try to link most of the discoveries to Pubmed database abstracts, which then links to the original journal articles.

Second, I will try to post comments/opinions once a week, summarizing why I think the stories posted that week are important and try to add my personal input. I could also include some of the comments made to these stories, which could further enhance the discussions.

Finally, again on weekly basis, I will try to either feature the web or blog sites that I like or link to commentary/opinion blogs related to the theme of this site. In addition, you can email me if you like to write a commentary/opinion article that you would like to be posted here. I will try my best to accomodate that if it is within the context of the mission of biosingularity.

Please continue your input and wish everyone happy new year.

First synthetic biology company is launched

Synthetic Genomics, Inc., a company founded by the genome sequencing pioneer Dr. J. Craig Venter, is developing new scientific processes to enable industry to design and test desired genetic modifications. Using the genome as a bio-factory, a custom designed, modular “cassette” system will be developed so that the organism executes specific molecular functions. Synthetically produced organisms with reduced or reoriented metabolic needs will enable new, powerful, and more direct methods of bio-engineered industrial production.

According to Dr. Venter: “Work in creating a synthetic chromosome/genome will give us a better understanding of basic cellular processes. Genome composition, regulatory circuits, signaling pathways and numerous other aspects of organism gene and protein function will be better understood through construction of a synthetic genome. Not only will this basic research lead to better understanding of these pathways and components in the particular organisms, but also better understanding of human biology. The ability to construct synthetic genomes may lead to extraordinary advances in our ability to engineer microorganisms for many vital energy and environmental purposes.”

This is a very exciting new step towards biosingularity. Dr. Venter is a true visionary who has been relentlessly pushing the technology to decode the complex program of biological systems.
Continue reading “First synthetic biology company is launched”

Slowly, Cancer Genes Tender Their Secrets

A nice article in New York Times by Gina Kolata discussing the recent advances in understanding cancer genes and potential cures.

Read the story here

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How I choose my blogs?

I like to provide some idea on how I choose the stories posted in this blog.

First, I try to find discoveries that are real breakthroughs and not just incremental increases in knowledge, typically published in high profile, high impact science journals.

Second, I limit my blogs to several key technological areas, which I believe will have the greatest impact towards biosingularity, such as: Tissue, genetic and gadget oriented bioengineering, application of nanotechnology to biology, programming biological systems (stem cells, synthetic biology, biohacking, neuroprogramming).

I also focus on general medical and biological advances on understanding genetic code, stem cell biology, aging, immune system, nervous system, infectious organisms and cancer. I will also less frequently I will also post other major breakthroughs in other medical fields.

I believe breakthroughs in these fields will help us better to decode the biological programs and provide tools to reprogram or engineer biological systems. I also have better knowledge in these topics, which allows me to better judge the importance of the advances.

Of course as new technologies lead to new fields I will expand the categories that will encompass wider range of biological topics.

In addition, I hope to post both my commentaries or opinions regarding biological advances and about issues such as human life extension and transhumanism.