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1. More skin in the game: Leather grown using biotechnology is about to hit the catwalkЧт., 24 авг. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: Genetic engineering can now be used to grow leather without any need to raise and kill animals Print Headline: More skin in the game Print Fly Title: Growing leather in factories UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Blanket repression is the wrong way to deal with political Islamists Fly Title: More skin in the game Main image: 20170826_STP003_0.jpg LEATHERMAKING is an ancient craft. The oldest leather artefact found so far is a 5,500-year-old shoe from a cave in Armenia, but paintings in Egyptian tombs show that, 7,000 years ago, leather was being turned into all manner of things, from sandals to buckets to military equipment. It is a fair bet that the use of animal skins for shelter and clothing goes back hundreds of thousands of years at least. Leathermaking is also, though, a nasty business. In 18th-century London the ...

2. Genetic engineering: Researchers get better at tweaking the genomes of human embryosСр., 02 авг. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: Researchers are getting better at tweaking the genomes of human embryos Print Headline: DNA and how to adjust it Print Fly Title: Genetic engineering UK Only Article: standard article Issue: How to avoid nuclear war with North Korea Fly Title: Genetic engineering Main image: 20170805_std001.jpg IT IS risky to predict who and what will win a Nobel prize. But some discoveries are so big that their receipt of science’s glitziest gong seems only a matter of time. One such is CRISPR-Cas9, a powerful gene-editing technique that is making the fraught and fiddly business of altering the genetic material of living organisms much easier. Biologists have taken to CRISPR-Cas9 with gusto, first with animal experiments and now with tests on humans. In March researchers in China made history when they reported its first successful application ...

3. If human cloning happened: How the story of human cloning could unfoldЧт., 13 июля 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: How the story of human cloning could unfold, and what it might reveal Print Headline: Chips off the old block Print Fly Title: If human cloning happened UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Liu Xiaobo’s death holds a message for China Fly Title: If human cloning happened Location: 2050 Main image: 20170715_wid005.jpg IT HAD looked impossible, but, in the end it was surprisingly easy. So, though few knew of their creation at the time, the first human clones were born in 2020 in Taiwan. Now, as those clones celebrate their 30th C-days, it seems a good moment to review the history of cloning. Those first clones, the brainchildren of Lao Chen, were the actual children of several of her graduate students, conceived by the technique used to create the first ...

4. Synthetic biology: “Disco bacteria” could churn out drugs and useful chemicalsЧт., 25 мая 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: A new way to control genetically engineered cells Print Headline: Lights, bacteria, action Print Fly Title: Synthetic biology UK Only Article: standard article Issue: How to improve the health of the ocean Fly Title: Synthetic biology Main image: M.C. Escherichia M.C. Escherichia THE central idea of synthetic biology is that living cells can be programmed in the same way that computers can, in order to make them do things and produce compounds that their natural counterparts do not. As with computers, though, scientists need a way to control their creations. To date, that has been done with chemical signals. In a paper published in Nature Chemical Biology, Christopher Voigt, a biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, describes an alternative. Instead of chemicals, he and his colleagues demonstrate how to control ...

5. Babbage: Podcast: Anticipating terrorismСр., 24 мая 2017[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Fly Title: Babbage Main image: 20170527_mma902.jpg Rubric: In the wake of the Manchester bombing, Dr Robert Wesley explains how artificial intelligence can spot extremist behaviour early. Coloured light can now be used to control how genetically-engineered organisms behave. Also, what we must to do to preserve the oceans Published: 20170524 Enabled

6. Babbage: Podcast: Soundscape of the deep oceanСр., 03 мая 2017[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Fly Title: Babbage Main image: 20170506_mma902.jpg Published: 20170503 Source: Online extra Enabled

7. Biotechnology: Cell-free biotech will make for better productsСр., 03 мая 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: A new type of biological engineering promises to speed up innovation and simplify the manufacture of drugs and other chemicals Print Headline: Primordial gloop Print Fly Title: Biotechnology UK Only Article: standard article Issue: The data economy demands a new approach to antitrust Fly Title: Biotechnology Main image: 20170506_std001.jpg THE stuff of life comes wrapped in tiny bags called cells. Inside are DNA molecules that carry the instructions for how to run the cell, to make it grow, and to cause it, ultimately, to divide into two cells, if that is to be its fate. Messages made of a slightly different molecule, RNA, carry these instructions to molecular machines called ribosomes. A ribosome’s job is to read the RNA messages and translate them into proteins, the workhorse molecules of cells. Those proteins then supervise ...

8. Babbage: Podcast: The new world of voice cloningСр., 19 апр. 2017[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Fly Title: Babbage Main image: 20170422_mma904.jpg Published: 20170419 Enabled

9. Synthetic biology: A big step towards an artificial yeast genomeЧт., 09 марта 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: An international consortium is trying to make an artificial yeast genome. Success would usher in true genetic engineering Print Headline: Something’s brewing Print Fly Title: Synthetic biology UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Quantum leaps Fly Title: Synthetic biology Main image: 20170311_STD001_0.jpg BIOLOGY’S biggest division is not between plants and animals, nor even between multicellular and single-celled creatures. It is between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Prokaryotes—bacteria are the most familiar sort—are simple. Their DNA is an unadorned circular molecule between 500,000 and 10m genetic “letters” long. As such, it is fairly easy to replicate from off-the-shelf chemicals. The DNA of eukaryotes—animals, plants, fungi and so on—is both more abundant and more complex than that. It may have hundreds of millions, ...

10. Daily chart: The sheep that changed the worldПт., 17 февр. 2017[−]
Main image: TWENTY years ago Dolly the sheep, the first animal clone, was revealed to the world. She caused a sensation. Many scientists had believed cloning animals was impossible. Dolly’s creation showed that DNA in a differentiated cell could be repurposed through nuclear transfer, opening up two new possibilities. One, “reproductive cloning”, was the copying of individual animals. The other was the creation of embryonic stem cells (ES cells) capable of being turned into other types of cells. Various ailments are caused by a lack of specific types of differentiated cell. Making embryos through nuclear transfer seemed likely to provide ES cells with which to research and treat such conditions—something that came to be known as “therapeutic cloning”.Reproductive cloning has made steady progress. It has been used successfully in 20 species, including ferrets and camels. Meat and milk from cloned animals are routinely farmed and sold in the United States, Argentina and Brazil. Prized pet dogs and polo horses are now provided to customers—for a price. But therapeutic cloning, which required human embryos to develop nuclear-transfer techniques, raised ethical concerns. Press and public alike fretted about imminent human cloning and designer babies. It also turned out to be tricky. By 2006, nuclear ...

11. Clones: Hello, again, DollyЧт., 16 февр. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: What happened after Dolly was revealed to the world 20 years ago as the first animal clone—and what didn’t Print Headline: The sheep of things to come Print Fly Title: Cloning UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Gene editing, clones and the science of making babies Fly Title: Clones Main image: 20170218_FBD001_3.jpg IN THE summer of 1996 Karen Mycock, a cell biologist, was attending a wedding in the Scottish highlands. Returning to her hotel to change her hat, she found a fax pushed under her door. It said: “She’s been born and she has a white face and furry legs.” An unusual birth announcement; an unusual birth. In February Ms Mycock (now Mrs Walker), who worked at the Roslin Institute, an animal-research centre near Edinburgh, had passed a tiny jolt of electricity through two sheep cells in a dish. One was an egg cell ...

12. Podcast: Babbage: Cloning timeВт., 14 февр. 2017[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Fly Title: Podcast: Babbage Main image: 20170218_mma903.jpg Published: 20170214 Source: Online extra Enabled

13. A tissue of truths: Printed human body parts could soon be available for transplantСр., 25 янв. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: The routine printing of human body parts may not be far away Print Headline: A tissue of truths Print Fly Title: Regenerative medicine UK Only Article: standard article Issue: The multinational company is in trouble Fly Title: A tissue of truths Main image: Aye, aye! What’s this ear? Aye, aye! What’s this ear? EVERY year about 120,000 organs, mostly kidneys, are transplanted from one human being to another. Sometimes the donor is a living volunteer. Usually, though, he or she is the victim of an accident, stroke, heart attack or similar sudden event that has terminated the life of an otherwise healthy individual. But a lack of suitable donors, particularly as cars get safer and first-aid becomes more effective, means the supply of such organs is limited. Many people therefore die waiting for a transplant. That has led ...

14. Letters to the editor: On Turkish politics, Brexit, GM crops, Airbnb, trade, autism, cricketЧт., 24 нояб. 2016[−]
Print section Print Headline: On Turkish politics, Brexit, GM crops, Airbnb, trade, cricket Print Fly Title: Letters to the editor UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Climate change in the era of Trump Fly Title: Letters to the editor Turkish politics “Turkey locks up dissidents” (November 12th) seriously understates the extent of the problem Turkey faces from the Gulenist terror organisation, FETO. This has been a recurring theme in European media, which perhaps also reflects why Turkey’s NATO allies were so slow to show their support for us during this year’s attempted coup. Investigators have demonstrated that FETO’s political objective is to destabilise the Turkish republic and that it possesses the command structure, capacity and means to carry this out. Over the past 35 years it has established a network that has penetrated Turkish state institutions and civil society, by fair means and foul: indoctrinating recruits, stealing selection-exam papers for the civil service and armed ...

15. The Economist explains: Why gene-therapy drugs are so expensiveЧт., 04 авг. 2016[−]
ON AUGUST 3rd the British pharmaceutical company GSK said that it would charge €594,000 ($665,000) for a gene-therapy cure for ADA-SCID—a severe immune disorder that is usually fatal in the first few years of life. A child born with ADA-SCID is unable to fight off everyday infections; Strimvelis has cured this in each of the 18 children it has been tested on over 15 years. Gene therapies work by delivering correct versions of DNA, usually using a virus as a vector. Once DNA is inside the cell, it produces the protein that was missing and the fault is fixed. Scientists have been trying to develop gene therapies for decades. Early work hit the buffers due to a series of unexpected cancers, the death of a young man during a trial, and some disappointing results. Much progress has been made since then and according to analysts at Datamonitor Healthcare the number of gene therapies in development has doubled since 2012. Last week, America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) handed out “breakthrough” designations—intended to hasten the approval of important new treatments—to two gene therapies. One, made by Pfizer, a giant drugmaker, and Spark Therapeutics, a biotech company, is for haemophilia B, a rare bleeding disorder. The new drug to cure ADA-SCID was developed by scientists at the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy, in Milan, with support from a ...

16. Rare diseases: Fixing fateЧт., 28 июля 2016[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Issue: The new political divide Fly Title: Rare diseases Location: MILAN Main image: 20160730_wbp503.jpg WHEN families leave the genetic institute at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, they are still anxious. Later, many will come to see the day their children received gene therapy as a blessed new start. Youngsters who had been sentenced to short lives, full of suffering caused by faulty DNA, get better and thrive. Cures for rare genetic diseases, both for children and adults, were once no more than a dream, but now they are set to become commercial reality. Gene therapies take sections of correct DNA and insert them into cells, often using viruses. Once inside the cell, the new DNA produces the protein that was formerly missing and the fault is fixed. Last week America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) handed out “breakthrough” designations—intended to hasten the approval of important new treatments—to two gene therapies. One, made by ...

17. Genetically modified crops: Gene-policy transferЧт., 21 апр. 2016[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Can she fix it? Fly Title: Genetically modified crops Location: BEIJING AFTER years of fierce debate in China about whether to allow widespread growing of genetically modified (GM) food crops, a strong signal emerged in 2013 that the leadership wanted to push ahead. It was given in a speech on agricultural policy by President Xi Jinping. In it he recounted his own experience of hunger during China’s great famine in the early 1960s. He also recalled lean times later that decade during the Cultural Revolution when he went months without “seeing the tiniest drop of oil” or “knowing the taste of meat”. He said that guaranteeing China’s “food security” was still a serious worry. Hinting at what he saw as a possible remedy, he said China must “occupy the commanding heights of transgenic technology” and not yield that ground to “big foreign firms”. Twenty years earlier, visiting European scientists had been flabbergasted at how much progress China appeared to be making in this area. Unlike the Europeans, who ...

18. Biotechnology: Cutting remarksЧт., 07 янв. 2016[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Issue: The Saudi blueprint Fly Title: Biotechnology Main image: 20160109_WBD001_0.jpg AS DIFFICULT sales pitches go, this one is hard to beat. This biotech company has burned through $75m in the past few years and has not yet started clinical work on a drug candidate. It says it will be many years, “if ever”, before it has something ready to commercialise. If this were not enough, not only is there a thorny patent thicket to manage but the firm must fight and win a case seeking to overturn its own intellectual-property claims on the ground that it was not the first to invent them. Despite all this, shares in Editas Medicine, which filed on January 4th for an initial public offering, look set to draw great interest from investors. It will be an opportunity to buy into a revolutionary new technology called CRISPR-Cas9, which allows DNA to be cut and edited almost as easily as one might rewrite a document on a computer. Editas, spun out of the work of geneticists at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, ...

19. Genome editing: The age of the red penЧт., 20 авг. 2015[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Editing humanity Fly Title: Genome editing Main image: 20150822_FBD001_0.jpg IN THE summer of 2005 Karen Aiach and her husband received heartbreaking news about their four-month-old daughter, Ornella: she had a rare disorder known as Sanfilippo syndrome. The prognosis was that, from about the age of three, the disorder would gradually rob her of most of her cognitive abilities. She would probably develop a severe sleep disorder and become hyperactive and aggressive. She was unlikely to live into her teens; she certainly would not survive them. The problem was that Ornella lacked a working copy of a specific gene. It is a gene that tells the body how to make a particular protein which is involved in clearing up cellular debris. Without that protein the cells of her body were unable to break down a complex sugar molecule, heparan sulphate. It is the build-up of that molecule in brain cells that lies behind the symptoms of the syndrome. If her cells could make that protein, the situation might, in ...

20. Biotechnology and fish farming: Gas guzzlersЧт., 23 апр. 2015[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Europe’s boat people Fly Title: Biotechnology and fish farming SOMETHING called Methylococcus capsulatus might not sound an appetising ingredient for a meal. Methylococcus is a methanotroph, a bacterium that metabolises methane. Fortunately, salmon are not fussy eaters. They will happily consume pelletised protein made from these bugs. And that could be handy for fish farmers—at least it will be if Alan Shaw, boss of Calysta, a biotechnology firm in Menlo Park, California, has anything to do with it. For Dr Shaw proposes to take advantage of the rock-bottom price of methane, a consequence of the spread of natural-gas fracking, to breed Methylococci en masse as a substitute for the fish-meal such farmers now feed to their charges. The idea of using methanotrophs as fish food was invented by Statoil, a Norwegian oil and gas company. Calysta bought the technology in 2014, and has been refining it since then. Crucially, from a business point of view, the EU and Norway have already approved the use of Methylococcus-based fish food. Though America has yet to follow suit, this means ...

21. Europe and GMOs: Gently modifiedЧт., 15 янв. 2015[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Seize the day Fly Title: Europe and GMOs EUROPE has long been defiantly GM-free. The Americas and most of Asia grows the stuff without fuss. But crops whose genes have been modified in some way may not (with a few exceptions) be grown in the European Union. Until now. On January 13th the European Parliament lifted the EU-wide ban, instead allowing national governments to impose their own restrictions. The plan has already been approved by governments, so the change should come into force this spring. It will still not be a breakthrough for GMOs, as most European governments remain firmly against them. In the past, they would not (in theory) have been able to stop GM crops being grown on their soil if the EU approved them—and the EU was supposed to consider scientific evidence in its ruling. Now governments will be free to impose national bans for almost any reason. Eight GM modified crops await EU approval but only one variety of maize (corn) has been grown commercially. Some countries may now allow more. These include Britain, which does a lot of plant science, and Spain, ...

22. Pharmaceuticals: Going largeВт., 30 дек. 2014[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Workers on tap Fly Title: Pharmaceuticals Location: CHICAGO Main image: 20150103_WBD001_0.jpg IN PHARMACEUTICALS, the 20th century was the era of the small molecule. The industry thrived by identifying a steady stream of relatively simple compounds that treated lots of people, patenting them and making a fortune. In the early 21st century it has become harder for drugmakers to find new cures quickly enough to replace those on which the patents are expiring. Many drugmakers, both established ones and startups, have sought salvation in biotechnology—the adaptation or exploitation of processes found inside living organisms. As in other areas of drug research, there have been setbacks as well as successes. But steady progress is being made in creating “biologics”, drugs that consist of giant molecules, hundreds of times the size of a conventional drug molecule, which are manufactured inside animal cells or micro-organisms such as bacteria. ...

23. Charlemagne: The battle of the scientistsСр., 17 дек. 2014[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Past and future tense Fly Title: Charlemagne Main image: 20141220_EUD000_0.jpg AT THE end of a hard year Europe’s leaders are grappling with familiar problems—how to revive gasping economies, what to do about the Russian menace. But a quieter source of discontent is also bubbling up: Europe’s scientists. The continent of Galileo and Darwin is not about to cast off its glorious heritage. But the boffins have two recent causes for concern. One is a new investment plan devised by the European Commission to kickstart growth, which relies partly on taking €2.7 billion ($3.4 billion) of money previously devoted to Horizon 2020, the EU’s science fund. The Royal Society, an august British scientific body, and others have complained about the money grab. The second is over the role of science in European policymaking. Three years ago Anne Glover, a Scottish molecular biologist, became the EU’s first chief scientific adviser. She could also be its last. Her mandate expired, along with the previous commission’s, ...

24. Genetically modified food: FrankenfineЧт., 27 нояб. 2014[−]
Print section UK Only Article: UK article only Issue: Should digital monopolies be broken up? Fly Title: Genetically modified food Main image: No! Don’t! No! Don’t! ON a damp Sunday afternoon shoppers at Tesco, a supermarket, in south London seem uninterested in discussing genetically modified (GM) food. Several shrug at the idea, or profess ignorance. One insists she only buys organic stuff, but only if it is not too expensive. Their apparent indifference is striking. Britain was once at the forefront of an anti-GM movement. In the late 1990s boiler-suit clad protesters stomped through fields; marches or sit-ins organised by green NGOs drew large anxious crowds. The public broadly supported them: in 2003 some 42% felt that the risks of GM outweighed the benefits, according to Ipsos MORI, a pollster. Only 20% thought that the benefits were bigger than the risks; the rest were unsure or indifferent. Most Europeans were similarly spooked. Such weight of public opinion ensured that GM crops were not grown commercially in most of Europe, including Britain. By ...

25. Genetically modified crops: Field researchЧт., 06 нояб. 2014[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Welcome back to Washington Fly Title: Genetically modified crops Main image: crops.jpg ON NOVEMBER 4th voters in Colorado rejected a ballot initiative that would have required special labels for foods made with genetically modified (GM) ingredients. As The Economist went to press, voters in Oregon seemed likely to say no to a similar proposal there, though the count was not complete. Regardless of the outcome, however, the referendums indicate the strength of feeling generated by GM crops: the Oregon vote was the costliest ballot in the state’s history. By chance, the day before the poll saw the publication in PLOS ONE of the largest review yet conducted of the crops’ effects on farming. It concludes that these have been overwhelmingly positive. The review in question is a meta-analysis. This is a statistically rigorous study of studies, rather than a mere summary of the literature. Its authors, Matin Qaim and Wilhelm Kl?mper, both of G?ttingen University, in Germany, went through all examinations of the ...

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