Every 9 minutes, another person is added to the national organ transplant waiting list. At least 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant in the United States. In 2013, some 2.8 million patients were undergoing dialysis worldwide, even though organ transplants offer patients a better and longer life. The University of Newcastle suggests that 10 million people around the world require surgery to prevent corneal blindness which could be treated by human cornea transplants.

The demand for transplants far exceeds the supply of suitable organs. And the organ shortage crisis is growing worse every year as demand…

Developing a drug costs an estimated US$2.6 billion. Since 9 out of 10 drug candidates never reach the market, much of this money is wasted as decades of potential new drug targets have yet to be exploited. The study of drugs that affect living systems allows us to understand why these changes occur, allowing us to develop better drug therapies.

But how far has drug discovery really evolved and what factors should be taken into account in developing new ones?


A Brief History

Over the past 50 years, new drugs and therapeutic agents have transformed modern medicine. Diseases that are now rare, preventable…

A genome, which is an organism’s complete set of genetic instructions, is very large. The human genome is estimated to have 3 billion base pairs, containing roughly 25 000 genes. Driven by lower sequencing costs, there is more biological data from genomic sequences, molecular pathways, and diverse populations than ever before. To handle the data boom and make sense of the information, artificial intelligence models are coming to the rescue!

From large and complex datasets, AI can analyze and interpret various datasets reveal patterns, correlations, and insights otherwise unknown. …

What if your body could monitor itself to detect and treat diseases before symptoms even manifest?

Well, your immune system already does that (to an extent)! Your immune system is constantly protecting you against disease and infection and helping you recover after injury.

As soon as our body has trouble fighting off a disease, we might head to a doctor for a diagnosis, take medication for a cure, or rely on other forms of treatment (therapy, surgery, etc.) for restoration to health. But, many people are asymptomatic for a long time and symptoms often only make themselves evident after a condition has gravely deteriorated. …

By understanding how biological macromolecules, like proteins, DNA, and RNA, coil into three-dimensional shapes, researchers can study how changes to their structure influence their function, the part they play in diseases, and their interactions with other biomacromolecules. Structural bioinformatics is dedicated to just that — creating new computational methods to analyze biomacromolecular data in order to solve problems and bring insight.

Proteins play a large part in organisms and because their structure is directly related to their function, researchers, scientists, and bioinformaticians have taken a particular interest in understanding them. The mystery surrounding the folding and structure of proteins prompted…

This short article reminds me that adopting a programmatic approach to biology can be an inconvenience.

Before diving headfirst into synthetic biology and bioengineering in the last months, I was already attracted to computer science and engineering. I thought I’d be able to make the most out of my knowledge of computer programming in biological computing, which I ultimately chose to focus on.

While this basic knowledge of computer programming has at times proven useful, I also wonder to what extent it has prevented me from understanding the fundamental complexities of biology and the stark uniqueness of nature.

I recently…

The trillions of cells in your body have the ability to detect and respond to various stimuli and inputs, coordinate tasks, build structures, and adjust to their environment.

What if we could program cells to react to custom inputs and thus produce desirable outputs?

Well, it’s possible with synthetic biological (or genetic) circuits!

As an important part of biological computing, synthetic biological circuits mimic the logic functions performed in electronic circuits with cells instead of computers. Implementing logic circuits in cells could expand the horizons of synthetic biology and unlock the computing potential of cells.


Synthetic biological circuits can allow…


What does it take to engineer the building blocks of life?

Proteins are responsible for most of the work done in cells. From the structure and function to the repair and regulation of tissues and organs, proteins are incredible agents of biology, often considered nano-machines. As you’re reading this, proteins in your body are firing neurons, digesting food, carrying oxygen through your bloodstream, and defending you from infection.

Each protein is designed to perform a specific task, engineered by nature and recently, by biotechnology. As a young and bright discipline, the market of protein engineering is projected to reach USD 3.9 billion by 2024. …

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a promising storage medium, capable of storing and archiving our abundance of data.

When bits are converted to bases, data can be encoded in DNA.

To encode data is to convert it from one form to another. Encoded images, audio recordings, videos and characters can be used to compile and execute programs, transmit, store and compress/decompress data, and convert files. I decided to encode input text into a DNA sequence in hopes of storing it.

Here’s how I did it.


Before the text is mapped to a nucleotide sequence, it must be converted to a binary…


How can something that has existed much longer than mankind itself solve one of our most pressing and significant problems today?

By the end of 2025, the entire digital universe is predicted to made up of 175 zettabytes of data (1 zettabyte is 1,125,899,910,000,000 megabytes). Global demand for data has surpassed the world’s capacity to store it all. What’s the solution to this growth in data volume? Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecules!

The lack of adequate storage technology could lead to the loss of data, but DNA could counter this issue with durability, efficiency, and astounding density. …

Ammielle WB

computational biology & biological computing. ammiellewb.com

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