Synthetic molecules hold great potential for revealing key processes that occur in cells, but the trial-and-error approach to their design has limited their effectiveness. Christina Smolke introduces a computer model that could provide better blueprints for building synthetic genetic tools.
Ever since Robert Hooke first described cells in 1665, scientists have been trying to figure out what is going on inside. One of the most exciting modern techniques involves injecting cells with synthetic genetic molecules that can passively report on the cell's behavior, or even alter its function.
A new computer model developed by Stanford engineers could not only improve the sensitivity and success of these synthetic molecules but also make them easier to design in the first place.
Last modified Tue, 16 Sep, 2014 at 9:53
An idea that started as a long shot – using light to control the activity of the brain – is now widely used at Stanford and worldwide to understand the brain's wiring and to unravel behavior.
Today optogenetics is a widely accepted technology for probing the inner workings of the brain, but a decade ago it was the source of some anxiety for then assistant professor of bioengineering Karl Deisseroth.
Last modified Fri, 12 Sep, 2014 at 15:09
A Stanford Bio-X team found that the brain's wiring is more complex than expected – one set of neural wires can trigger different reactions, depending on how it fires. The work opens new questions for scientists trying to map the brain's connections.
When Joanna Mattis started her doctoral project she expected to map how two regions of the brain connect. Instead, she got a surprise. It turns out the wiring diagram shifts depending on how you flip the switch.
"There's a lot of excitement about being able to make a map of the brain with the idea that if we could figure out how it is all connected we could understand how it works," Mattis said. "It turns out it's so much more dynamic than that."
Last modified Wed, 3 Sep, 2014 at 15:44
Reducing internal eye pressure is currently the only way to treat glaucoma. A tiny eye implant developed by Stephen Quake's lab could pair with a smartphone to improve the way doctors measure and reduce a patient's eye pressure.
For the 2.2 million Americans battling glaucoma, the main course of action for staving off blindness involves weekly visits to eye specialists who monitor – and control – increasing pressure within the eye.
Bioengineer Stephen Quake and collaborators have developed an eye implant that could help stave off blindness caused by glaucoma.
Last modified Mon, 25 Aug, 2014 at 12:32
A decade-long effort in genetic engineering is close to creating yeast that makes palliative medicines in stainless steel vats.
For centuries poppy plants have been grown to provide opium, the compound from which morphine and other important medicines such as oxycodone are derived.
Now bioengineers at Stanford have hacked the DNA of yeast and reprogrammed these simple cells to make opioid-based medicines through a sophisticated extension of the basic brewing process that makes beer.
Last modified Mon, 25 Aug, 2014 at 9:32
Manu Prakash honored for 'frugal science' initiatives, creating instruments that make scientific exploration inexpensive.
Technology Review has named Manu Prakash, assistant professor of bioengineering, to its annual TR35 list honoring the year’s top young innovators. The magazine honored Prakash for greatly reducing the cost of scientific exploration through his numerous inventions such as a 55-cent folding microscope and a $5 chemistry lab.
Last modified Wed, 20 Aug, 2014 at 11:04
A team led by Assistant Professor Zev Bryant builds molecular motors to further the study of cell function.
In every cell in your body, tiny protein motors are toiling away to keep you going. Moving muscles, dividing cells, twisting DNA – they are the workhorses of biology. But there is still uncertainty about how they function. To help biologists in the quest to know more, a team of Stanford bioengineers has designed a suite of protein motors that can be controlled remotely by light.
Last modified Tue, 5 Aug, 2014 at 10:00
At TEDx Stanford, the associate professor of bioengineering talks about where genetic engineering should be going.
Last modified Thu, 26 Jun, 2014 at 13:20
Bio-X scientists have improved on their original technique for peering into the intact brain, making it more reliable and safer. The results could help scientists unravel the inner connections of how thoughts, memories or diseases arise.
Last year Karl Deisseroth, a Stanford professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, announced a new way of peering into a brain – removed from the body – that provided spectacular fly-through views of its inner connections. Since then laboratories around the world have begun using the technique, called CLARITY, with some success, to better understand the brain's wiring.
Last modified Fri, 20 Jun, 2014 at 17:07
New technique can be used in living cells to track a key family of proteins that regulate health or cause disease.
Think of the human body as an intricate machine whose working parts are proteins: molecules that change shape to enable our organs and tissues to perform tasks such as breathing, eating or thinking.
Of the millions of proteins, 500 in the kinase family are particularly important to drug discovery. Kinases are messengers: They deliver signals that regulate and orchestrate the actions of other proteins. Proper kinase activity maintains health. Irregular activity is linked to cancer and other diseases. For this reason many drugs seek either to boost or suppress kinase activity.
Last modified Thu, 19 Jun, 2014 at 14:23