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Summary:

Cramming biology on silicon is not a new effort, and it’s one that has helped advance the science of genomics and led to the $1,000 genome. But in the last few weeks, I’ve noticed some pretty sweet combinations of biology and chip research.

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Cramming biology on silicon is not a new effort, and it’s one that has helped advance the science of genomics and led to the $1,000 genome. But in the last few weeks, I’ve noticed some pretty sweet combinations of biology and chip research. They will first end up helping biological research and test new drug compounds, but in the future might become something out of Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity, the melding of man and machine.

A gut chip for a gut check: You and I might not want a chip that mimics the entire process of a human digestive system including peristalsis and living bacteria, but folks trying to test out drugs do. And now, thanks to researchers at Harvard University they have one. The lab-on-chip uses two thin channels coated in a biological growth medium and human intestinal cells to create a mini-intestine that apparently can sustain actual gut bacteria for about a week. Who needs an ant farm anymore?

A silver voyeur to monitor cells’ secretions: Researchers at Lehigh University have developed a biosensor that is so sensitive it can monitor the protein secretions of cells. It’s composed of a thin silver skin on a glass slide that contains two slits. Lights shined onto one slit sets off a reaction and interference pattern that is captured and read by a special microscope. Each pattern represents a different type of protein, letting scientists understand what’s happening (and growing) inside their petri dishes in real time.

Nanoparticles that build themselves: Instead of putting a biological process on a chip or creating a chip to measure biological processes researchers at the University of Michigan have created materials that mimic proteins. These man-made materials act like biological processes and can self-organize in predictable ways, giving researchers new ways to create biomedical devices, solar panels or even new drugs. The team is working to create nanoparticles that will self-assemble into enzyme-like particles that can be used to catalyze biological and chemical reactions.

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  1. Pretty nifty innovations, though I’d settle for a microscopic chip I could ingest that would monitor and relay my vital stats.

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  2. David Colbourn Friday, March 30, 2012

    Nanoparticles that build themselves: Can I get it in Gray and call it goo?

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  3. down hill

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  4. How about the ASIC version of a fully functioning liver?

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  5. Awesome. We can feed it to all the dissenters and turn off their digestion (go to bed without dinner) to force them into compliance.

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  6. Very, very little to do with actually melding man and machine… misleading article title

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  7. Dear Wanna-Be Cyborgs:

    If you read the new Health Care Bill and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act you will notice that government wants to mandate Type 2 chips. Long story short, the government wants to chip you.

    Recent clinical trials are happening for wireless chips that aim to give you scheduled doses of meds and connect all of your personal information (ie your private health records and bank account). They say, oh, don’t worry, these chips will have GPS so you know where you’re kids are at all times. Well, that kind of talk makes me worry. Think about it.

    I discuss and link to more resources in my blog post about human chipping. Before you get chipped, no matter our cool it sounds, educate yourself.

    http://murfdipity.com/personal-evolution-do-not-get-chipped/

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  8. Miles Dyson Friday, April 6, 2012

    The singularity refers to the creation of smarter-than-human intelligence, an event that will trigger a rapid acceleration of change in the world. Try to understand buzz words before carelessly throwing them around.

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  9. NEVER TAKE THE MARK! SAY NO TO 666 CHIP!

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