Remember back in the day when the idea of being able to video chat someone through your phone was only something seen in futuristic movies? Who knew that this would soon become the norm in your everyday life. With many new groundbreaking leaps forward, that’s exactly the direction biotechnology is headed. Below are three signs we believe show how biotech is catching up with science fiction.
Yes organ printing, you read that right. According to UNOS data, on average, 20 people in the US alone die a day waiting for an organ transplant and every 10 minutes someone is added to the transplant list. Imagine a world where waiting for an organ transplant was a worry of the past. As the bioprinting industry continues to grow rapidly, scientists are making headway in bioprinting organs for implantation.
Bioprinting technology has been around for nearly 30 years. It hasn’t been until recently that bioprinters were priced economically, which means more scientists are able to get their hands on this technology. Last year was a big year for bioprinting, Biolife4D successfully bioprinted human heart tissue while scientists at New Castle University printed the first bioprinted cornea with bioprinting technology created by CELLINK.
Scientists estimate we are still 10-15 years away from fully functioning bioprinted organs, but researchers around the world are working every day to turn this into reality.
Some researchers believe we have only been biased in our views towards aging. They say we should start treating aging itself as a disease – one that can be prevented and treated. Their hopes are founded on recent discoveries that suggest biological aging may be entirely preventable and treatable. From a biological standpoint, the body ages at different rates according to genetic and environmental factors. Tiny errors build up in our DNA and our cells begin developing faults that can accumulate into tissue damage. The extent of these changes over time can mean the difference between a healthy old age or one spent housebound and afflicted by chronic diseases.
Big names in Silicon Valley such as Peter Thiel and Sergey Brin, are known to have invested in companies working on life extension technologies using genetic engineering and stem cell transplants.
If you’re a fan of superhero movies, you have probably come across your fair share of superheroes who quickly bounce back from their injuries. We may not be at the stage where this is possible but scientists are slowly making strides in this area. A group of researchers developed gel nanoparticles that single out a specific enzyme known as FL2. This enzyme slows down the migration of your skin cells to the wound.
The team discovered that when they placed short interfering RNA molecules inside nano-sized gel shells, the wounds were healed twice as fast as those who did not have these molecules delivered to them. They used the gel shells to uptake and transport the molecules into the cells. Pretty cool right?