Month: June 2017

Multidrug Resistant Superbugs

Antibiotics have been extensively used to treat patients with infectious diseases for the last 70 years. As these drugs have been used widely for long time, the organisms the antibiotics are designed to kill have adapted to them, making the drugs less effective. This can be prevented through selective separation, identification and eradication using fluorescent, magnetic multifunctional carbon dots.

Biowaste to Biofuel

The inspiration for our project comes from the Millennium Project, which is a global foresight network on behalf of humanity for building a better future that informs the world of the emerging energy crisis.

Biomechanics of Velocity

The purpose of this experiment was to determine what formula would most accurately represent the velocity of an individual’s walking, speed walking, or jogging pace based on the length of their leg. Finding the correct formula could give amputees as easier transition to their new leg.

Feeding the World

With the human population growing much faster than the rate of food being grown, the food crisis has never been more evident. In fact, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that production will need to almost double in order to meet that demand — and so far, no one is entirely clear on how to do that.

Ever since the first crop was domesticated in 9300 BCE, humans have created several methods to address food problems. In fact, today’s crop practices are dominated by fertilisers, pesticides, and GMOs.

Recently, plant biologists at the University of California have begun heading a new front of “getting more bang for their agricultural buck.” Their research returned to the beginning of it all: photosynthesis. Although it’s the very foundation of all life on Earth, photosynthesis is surprisingly inefficient. Indeed, many crops only use about 1% to 2% of the light that hits a leaf. In order to address this drawback, scientists looked into the plant’s “sun-shield” mechanism called nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ).

NPQ is the plant’s natural defence against excessively bright sunlight by converting photons into harmless heat. And like someone who forgets to doff their sunglasses indoors, this botanical sun shield takes hours to turn off when a shadow passes over a leaf. In 2004, Stephen Long and colleagues from the University of Illinois in Urbana calculated that NPQ can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide turned into sugars by up to 30%. The result: sloppy photosynthesis.

After reading Long’s paper, Krishna Niyogi of the UCLA had an idea to turn off NPQ faster. The strategy was to add extra copies of three genes whose proteins should speed the response to shade. Niyogi, Long, and their postdocs took these genes from the widely studied mustard Arabidopsis thaliana and inserted them into tobacco plants, which are quick and easy to test. The modified tobacco bulked up their leaves, stems, and roots, weighing 14% to 20% more than unmodified plants after 22 days.

Although more research is needed to see if modifications result in unaccounted consequences, this research could have potentially have a global impact.

A Future without Illness: Gene Editing with CRISPR

When a baby is born & if their immune system is compromised or there is a tiny mistake in the DNA sequence along the X chromosome, the neutrophils in the baby’s blood will be incapacitated.

Building Low-Cost Prosthetics

Building low-cost prosthetics by SLAM scanning the residual limbs of amputees.

Lab-On-A-Chip Device for Disease Diagnostics

RNA-based viruses and bacteria have been sources of large-scale epidemics and pandemics, most notably Ebola, SARS, influenza, hepatitis C, HIV, and the Zika Virus. Normal detection of these biological agents requires multiple lab processes. This project aims to develop a fully integrated lab-on-a-chip device to accomplish this.

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