Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > New student team aims to create biomachines that destroy pollutants, cancer cells

Abstract:
Microscopic, living machines that sense toxins in the air or deliver drugs in the body -- the stuff of science fiction? A new Cornell student project team is working to make such things the stuff of reality.

The Cornell International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) team, formed this year, uses biological, not mechanical, components to make machines. Their goal is to enter the annual competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that convenes institutions from all over the world to design, create and demonstrate such machines.

New student team aims to create biomachines that destroy pollutants, cancer cells

Ithaca, NY | Posted on February 17th, 2009

This field is called synthetic biology, a discipline so new that many large research institutions don't offer specific programs to study it.

Reminiscent of when "nanotechnology" was barely a household term, synthetic biology is the design and engineering of complex biological systems that don't occur naturally, using DNA or other biological materials as "biobricks." Synthetic biologists bioengineer microorganisms that can perform such tasks as producing pharmaceuticals, detecting toxins, breaking down pollutants or repairing defective genes.

"A lot of students were looking for a project team in the bio-related disciplines, which didn't exist at Cornell," said Naweed Paya '09, who co-founded the team this past fall with Koonal Bharadwaj '09. Majors represented on the team include not only biological engineering and biology, but also chemical engineering, electrical engineering and materials science.

The team of nine students is brainstorming ideas for their entry into MIT's sixth iGEM competition, to be held in November. They plan to have their project implemented and ready for experimentation by the summer, they said. The team attended the November 2008 competition, which featured more than 80 teams, to observe the other schools and collect ideas.

Among other possibilities, the students are looking into using cells called magnetotactic bacteria for heavy-metal decontamination of water. Toxic metals would be attracted to the bacteria, and the bacteria would then be removed with a magnet.

Other ideas include using bacteria as an anti-tumor agent or to insert antioxidants found in berries or spinach into such food-producing cells as yeast or bacterial cells that produce cheese.

The students, whose faculty advisers are Carl Batt, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Food Science, and Maki Inada, senior research associate in molecular biology and genetics, are researching whether any of their ideas have been tried before. They spend Sunday afternoons presenting their findings to each other.

Meanwhile, the search is on for team funding. While they've received a small grant from the College of Engineering, the students are looking for alumni, companies or other donors who can support them longer term.

"It's kind of like we're reinventing the wheel," said Alyssa Henning '11, who added that what drew her to iGEM was the opportunity to explore uncharted territory. "What we are doing in any of these projects really hasn't been done before."

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Anne Ju


Chronicle Online
312 College Ave.
Ithaca, NY 14850
607.255.4206

Copyright © Cornell University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Traffic jam in empty space: New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum January 22nd, 2017

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

Explaining how 2-D materials break at the atomic level January 20th, 2017

New research helps to meet the challenges of nanotechnology: Research helps to make the most of nanoscale catalytic effects for nanotechnology January 20th, 2017

Synthetic Biology

Fast, efficient sperm tails inspire nanobiotechnology December 5th, 2016

Measuring forces in the DNA molecule: First direct measurements of base-pair bonding strength September 13th, 2016

Analog DNA circuit does math in a test tube: DNA computers could one day be programmed to diagnose and treat disease August 25th, 2016

'Green' electronic materials produced with synthetic biology July 16th, 2016

Nanomedicine

New research helps to meet the challenges of nanotechnology: Research helps to make the most of nanoscale catalytic effects for nanotechnology January 20th, 2017

Chemists Cook up New Nanomaterial and Imaging Method: Nanomaterials can store all kinds of things, including energy, drugs and other cargo January 19th, 2017

'5-D protein fingerprinting' could give insights into Alzheimer's, Parkinson's January 19th, 2017

New active filaments mimic biology to transport nano-cargo: A new design for a fully biocompatible motility engine transports colloidal particles faster than diffusion with active filaments January 11th, 2017

Discoveries

Traffic jam in empty space: New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum January 22nd, 2017

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

Explaining how 2-D materials break at the atomic level January 20th, 2017

New research helps to meet the challenges of nanotechnology: Research helps to make the most of nanoscale catalytic effects for nanotechnology January 20th, 2017

Announcements

Traffic jam in empty space: New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum January 22nd, 2017

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

A toolkit for transformable materials: How to design materials with reprogrammable shape and function January 20th, 2017

New research helps to meet the challenges of nanotechnology: Research helps to make the most of nanoscale catalytic effects for nanotechnology January 20th, 2017

Environment

Investigating the impact of natural and manmade nanomaterials on living things: Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology develops tools to assess current and future risk January 9th, 2017

PCATDES Starts Field Testing of Photocatalytic Reactors in South East Asia December 28th, 2016

Advance in intense pulsed light sintering opens door to improved electronics manufacturing December 23rd, 2016

Carbon dots dash toward 'green' recycling role: Rice scientists, colleagues use doped graphene quantum dots to reduce carbon dioxide to fuel December 18th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project