Trends in Biotechnology

Published by Elsevier
Online ISSN: 0167-7799
Publications
Article
The vast majority of wine proteins have recently been identified as pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins. During the growing season, these proteins are expressed in developmentally dependent and inducible manners in grapevine leaves and grape berries, in which they are believed to play an important role in protection against fungal pathogens and possibly other stresses. Because of their inherent resistance to proteolytic attack and to the low pH values characteristic of wines, vinification can be seen as a "purification strategy" for grape PR proteins. The inevitable consequent accumulation of these proteins in wines becomes a technological nuisance because they adversely affect the clarity and stability of wines. Genetically modified vines underexpressing PR proteins would certainly lead to stable wines but would increase the plant susceptibility to fungal attack, and the actual trend seems to be in the opposite direction, that is overexpressing these proteins to obtain plants with enhanced resistance to pathogens--a trend that will probably augment problems associated with protein instability in the resulting wines.
 
Article
In order to exploit fully the biotechnological opportunities afforded by nonaqueous enzymology, the issue of often drastically diminished enzymatic activity in organic solvents compared with that in water must be addressed and resolved. Recent studies have made great strides towards elucidating causes of this phenomenon of activity loss. None of these causes is insurmountable; by designing strategies that systematically target them, enzymatic activity in organic solvents can be readily enhanced by multiple orders of magnitude and ultimately brought to the aqueous-like level.
 
Article
The application of gene-transfer technology to domestic animals provides a way for the introduction of genes encoding biochemical pathways that are currently nonfunctional in these animals. This might provide a mechanism for increasing the availability of specific substrates that currently limit certain production characteristics, such as the production of wool. The progress and problems associated with recent attempts to transfer a cysteine biosynthetic pathway and a glyoxylate cycle to sheep are discussed, in addition to the extension of this concept to other biochemical pathways.
 
Article
In Europe the commercialization of food derived from genetically modified plants has been slow because of the complex regulatory process and the concerns of consumers. Risk assessment is focused on potential adverse effects on humans and the environment, which could result from unintended effects of genetic modifications: unintended effects are connected to changes in metabolite levels in the plants. One of the major challenges is how to analyze the overall metabolite composition of GM plants in comparison to conventional cultivars, and one possible solution is offered by metabolomics. The ultimate aim of metabolomics is the identification and quantification of all small molecules in an organism; however, a single method enabling complete metabolome analysis does not exist. Given a comprehensive extraction method, a hierarchical strategy--starting with global fingerprinting and followed by complementary profiling attempts--is the most logical and economic approach to detect unintended effects in GM crops.
 
Article
The availability of genomic information significantly increases the number of potential targets available for drug discovery, although the function of many targets and their relationship to disease is unknown. In a chemical genomic research approach, ultra-high throughput screening (uHTS) of genomic targets takes place early in the drug discovery process, before target validation. Target-selective modulators then provide drug leads and pharmacological research tools to validate target function. Effective implementation of a chemical genomic strategy requires assays that can perform uHTS for large numbers of genomic targets. Cell-based functional assays are capable of the uHTS throughput required for chemical genomic research, and their functional nature provides distinct advantages over ligand-binding assays in the identification of target-selective modulators.
 
Article
Genome sequencing provides a wealth of information on predicted gene products (mostly proteins), but the majority of these have no known function. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry have, coupled with searches in protein and EST databases, transformed the protein-identification process. The proteome is the expressed protein complement of a genome and proteomics is functional genomics at the protein level. Proteomics can be divided into expression proteomics, the study of global changes in protein expression, and cell-map proteomics, the systematic study of protein-protein interactions through the isolation of protein complexes.
 
Article
Human embryonic stem cells have excellent potential for being the ultimate source of transplantable cells for many different tissues. To enable their clinical use, differentiation protocols should be developed and safety standards must be met. The cells should improve symptoms without generating side effects and their immune rejection must be overcome. Profiling of the immune antigens expressed on the cells has revealed that upon differentiation the cells express molecules of the major histocompatibility complex. Here, we propose ways of overcoming the rejection of human embryonic stem cells after transplantation.
 
Article
The recent emergence of combinatorial chemistry has greatly advanced the development of biologically active lead compounds. It is anticipated that combinatorial library technology will add great value to the fight against drug-resistant bacterial strains, which pose increasingly serious health hazards. Owing to the need to use complex cell-based assays and, in turn, to screen free compounds in solution, the potential use of combinatorial libraries in the field of infectious diseases has not yet been fully explored. Despite these limitations, a number of new antimicrobial and/or antifungal compounds have been successfully identified from pools of millions of other compounds.
 
Article
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Article
Stable isotope probing (SIP), coupled with advances in genomics and analytical chemistry, is leading to major progress in biodegradation research. A recent paper describes the use of SIP to determine the primary member of a complex community that is responsible for naphthalene catabolism in situ. SIP is being widely adopted in biodegradation research and will, when combined with metagenome sequencing and biodegradation database information, continue to provide new insights into complex microbial environments.
 
Article
Recent advances in multidimensional NMR methodology to obtain 1H, 15N and 13C resonance assignments, interproton-distance and torsion-angle restraints, and restraints that characterize long-range order have, coupled with new methods of structure refinement, permitted solution structure of proteins in excess of 250 residues to be solved. These developments may permit the determination by NMR of the structures of macromolecules up to 50-60kDa, thereby bringing into reach numerous systems of considerable biological interest, including a large variety of protein-protein and protein-nucleic-acid complexes.
 
Article
Microbial exopolysaccharides such as xanthan and dextran have been commercial products for many years; the search for new gelling agents has yielded gellan. Exopolysaccharides have many other novel properties to offer, and the discovery of immune modulation and tumouristasis by beta-D-glucans, and the use of bacterial cellulose in audio membranes and of hyaluronic acid in cosmetics provide some novel applications. Semisynthetic polymers and polysaccharides as sources of oligosaccharides and as enzyme substrates in the determination of enzyme specificity should further increase the interest in these macromolecules.
 
Article
The genome sequence of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has provided the first complete inventory of the working parts of a eukaryotic cell. The challenge is now to discover what each of the gene products does and how they interact in a living yeast cell. Systematic and comprehensive approaches to the elucidation of yeast gene function are discussed and the prospects for the functional genomics of eukaryotic organisms evaluated.
 
Article
Biomaterial scaffolds are components of cell-laden artificial tissues and transplantable biosensors. Some of the most promising new synthetic biomaterial scaffolds are composed of self-assembling peptides that can be modified to contain biologically active motifs. Peptide-based biomaterials can be fabricated to form two- and three-dimensional structures. Recent studies show that biomaterial promotion of multi-dimensional cell-cell interactions and cell density are crucial for proper cellular differentiation and for subsequent tissue formation. Other refinements in tissue engineering include the use of stem cells, cell pre-selection and growth factor pre-treatment of cells that are used for seeding scaffolds. These cell-culture technologies, combined with improved processes for defining the dimensions of peptide-based scaffolds, might lead to further improvements in tissue engineering. Novel peptide-based biomaterial scaffolds seeded with cells show promise for tissue repair and for other medical applications.
 
Article
Opinions of the usefulness of liposomes in various biotechnological applications range from unsubstantiated optimism to undeserved pessimism. This article reviews the background and development of liposomes, describes products that are commercially available and speculates optimistically about some future applications. The current deepening and widening of interest in liposomes in many scientific disciplines, and their application in medicine, immunology, diagnostics, cosmetics, ecology, cleansing and the food industry are promising novel breakthroughs and products.
 
Article
Two-hybrid technology has contributed significantly to the unraveling of molecular regulatory networks by facilitating the discovery of protein interactions. Outgrowths of these methods are developing rapidly, including interaction mating to identify false positives and map protein networks, two-bait systems, systems not based on transcription, and systems permitting the selection of peptide aptamers to manipulate gene and allele function. These advances promise to have a significant impact on industrial biotechnology and drug development.
 
Article
Genome sequencing and annotation has enabled the reconstruction of genome-scale metabolic networks. The phenotypic functions that these networks allow for can be defined and studied using constraints-based models and in silico simulation. Several useful predictions have been obtained from such in silico models, including substrate preference, consequences of gene deletions, optimal growth patterns, outcomes of adaptive evolution and shifts in expression profiles. The success rate of these predictions is typically in the order of 70-90% depending on the organism studied and the type of prediction being made. These results are useful as a basis for iterative model building and for several practical applications.
 
Article
Joint injury and disease are painful and debilitating conditions affecting a substantial proportion of the population. The idea that damaged cartilage in articulating joints might be replaced seamlessly with tissue-engineered cartilage is of obvious commercial interest because the market for such treatments is large. Recently, a wealth of new information about the complex biology of chondrogenesis and cartilage has emerged from stem cell research, including increasing evidence of the role of physical stimuli in directing differentiation. The challenge for the next generation of tissue engineers is to identify the key elements in this new body of knowledge that can be applied to overcome current limitations affecting cartilage synthesis in vitro. Here we review the status of cartilage tissue engineering and examine the contribution of stem cell research to technology development for cartilage production.
 
Quantum-dot-tagged microbeads for multiplexed optical coding of biomolecules (a) Fluorescence micrograph of a mixture of CdSe/ZnS QD-tagged beads emitting single-color signals at 484, 508, 547, 575, and 611 nm. The beads were spread and immobilized on a polylysine-coated glass slide, which caused a slight clustering effect. (b) Ten distinguishable emission colors of ZnS-capped CdSe QDs excited with a near-UV lamp. From left to right (blue to red), the emission maxima are located at 443, 473, 481, 500, 518, 543, 565, 587, 610, and 655 nm. Reproduced with permission from [45] http://www.nature.com/.
Metallic barcodes. (a) A population of particles of 'flavor' 0110011, where 0 denotes Au and 1 denotes Ag segments. The inset shows a histogram of particle lengths for 106 particles in this image. Particle length was 4.5G0.4 mm, or a G9% variation in overall particle length. Images were acquired with a Zeiss Axiovert 100 microscope with a Plan APO 100Å w1.4 NA objective. Illumination was provided by 175-W Xe lamp and LiquidLight Guide (Sutter Instruments, Novato, California; www.sutter.com) filtered with a HQ 405-nm, 20-nm bandpass filter (Chroma Inc., Brattleboro, Vermon; www.chroma.com). Illumination was split with a 50/50 BS (Chroma). (b) Mixture of nine barcode batches with different striping patterns. Particle 'flavors' in increasing binary order: 0000000, 0000001, 0000010, 0000100, 0001000, 0001010, 0011100, 0100010 and 0101010. Reproduced with permission from from Nicewarner-Pena, S.R. et al. (2001) Submicrometer metallic barcodes. Science 294, 137-141. www.sciencemag.org.
Micro barcodes. (a) False-color image of two 100 A ˚ w20 mm barcodes (inset) and corresponding fluorescence spectrum barcode elements. The same color scheme is used for the spectra and the image [e.g. the yellow band in the barcode corresponds to the yellow [combination Tm C Dy (Thulium C Dysprosium)] line spectrum]. (b) Fluorescent false-color images of two different barcode particles A and B (seen in panel iii) used in a DNA hybridization assay using Cy3-labeled DNA. (i) White light image; (ii) Cy3 channel image; (iii) rare earth image obtained by using a 420 nm long pass filter. Results from Cy3 channel (panel ii) show that only one of the two barcode elements (e.g. yellow-green-red-green-yellow) participates in hybridization to Cy3-labeled DNA (compare images in panels ii and iii). Reproduced with permission from [39] q 2002 National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A.
Photo-induced conversion of silver nanospheres to nanoprisms. Transmission electron microscopy images (reverse print, upper panel) mapping the morphology changes before irradiation (a) and after 40 (b), 55 (c) and 70 (d) hours of irradiation. Rayleigh light-scattering of particles deposited on a microscope glass slide illustrating the different colors of nanoparticles of different shapes and sizes (lower panels). The slide is used as a planar waveguide, which is illuminated with a tungsten source. The image was taken with a digital camera. Reproduced from Jin et al. (2001) Photoinduced conversion of silver nanospheres to nanoprisms. Science 294, 1901-1913. www.sciencemag.org.
Carbon nanotubes. (a) A mass of carbon nanotubes, tiny tubes 10 000 times thinner than a human hair. (b) Rolled up sheets of carbon hexagons. 
Article
Nanobiotechnology is the convergence of engineering and molecular biology that is leading to a new class of multifunctional devices and systems for biological and chemical analysis with better sensitivity and specificity and a higher rate of recognition. Nano-objects with important analytical applications include nanotubes, nanochannels, nanoparticles, nanopores and nanocapacitors. Here, we take a critical look at the subset of recent developments in this area relevant to molecular recognition. Potential benefits of using nano-objects (nanotubes, quantum dots, nanorods and nanoprisms) and nanodevices (nanocapacitors, nanopores and nanocantilevers) leading to an expanded range of label multiplexing are described along with potential applications in future diagnostics. We also speculate on further pathways in nanotechnology development and the emergence of order in this somewhat chaotic, yet promising, new field.
 
Article
The combination of branched DNA molecules and 'sticky' ends creates a powerful molecular assembly kit for structural DNA nanotechnology. Polyhedra, complex topological objects, a nanomechanical device and two-dimensional arrays with programmable surface features have already been produced in this way. Future applications range from macromolecular crystallography and new materials to molecular electronics and DNA-based computation.
 
Article
Laser-induced optical forces can be used to guide and deposit 100 nm - 10 microm-diameter particles onto solid surfaces in a process we call 'laser-guided direct writing'. Nearly any particulate material, including both biological and electronic materials, can be manipulated and deposited on surfaces with micrometer accuracy. Potential applications include three-dimensional cell patterning for tissue engineering, hybrid biological-electronic-device construction, and biochip-array fabrication.
 
Article
Stimulus-responsive or 'smart' polymers undergo strong conformational changes when only small changes in the environment (e. g. pH, temperature, ionic strength) occur. These changes result in phase separation from aqueous solution or order-of-magnitude changes in hydrogel size. Smart polymers are used in bioseparation and drug delivery, for the development of new biocatalysts, as biomimetic actuators, and as surfaces with switchable hydrophobic-hydrophilic properties.
 
Article
Plants in their natural habitats are surrounded by a large number of microorganisms. Some microbes directly interact with plants in a mutually beneficial manner whereas others colonize the plant only for their own benefit. In addition, microbes can indirectly affect plants by drastically altering their environments. Understanding the complex nature of plant-microbe interactions can potentially offer new strategies to enhance plant productivity in an environmentally friendly manner. As briefly reviewed here, the emerging area of multi-species transcriptomics holds the promise to provide knowledge on how this can be achieved. We discuss key aspects of how transcriptome analysis can be used to provide a more comprehensive picture of the complex interactions of plants with their biotic and abiotic environments.
 
Article
After 200 years of practice, vaccinology has proved to be very effective in preventing infectious diseases. However, several human and animal pathogens exist for which vaccines have not yet been discovered. As for other fields of medical sciences, it is expected that vaccinology will greatly benefit from the emerging genomics technologies such as bioinformatics, proteomics and DNA microarrays. In this article the potential of these technologies applied to bacterial pathogens is analyzed, taking into account the few existing examples of their application in vaccine discovery.
 
Article
Louis Pasteur is often regarded as one of the founders of microbiology, and is chiefly famous for his discovery of the role that microorganisms play in health and disease. However, he was trained as a physical scientist, and his research began with the discovery of the stereoisomerism of the different forms of tartaric acid. As a biotechnologist, he is remembered for his studies on the nature of fermentation, and for his rebuttal of the theory of spontaneous generation.
 
Article
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Article
The promising recognition characteristics exhibited by biomolecules have caused significant interest in biomolecule-based sensor strategies. Here we review several emerging biosensor designs that use modulated electron or energy transfer to a bio-specific ligand as the signaling mechanism. The efficiencies of both electron transfer and energy transfer are strongly dependent on donor-acceptor distance. When coupled with the large conformational changes sometimes associated with biomolecular recognition, these distance-dependent processes provide a robust means for generating optical and electronic signals.
 
Article
The advent of bone growth factors has been widely anticipated since their successful production using recombinant DNA technology. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are an important class of bone growth factors and will be the focus of this article. In the near future these therapeutics might revolutionize how clinicians treat such diverse orthopedic applications as the healing of broken bones, increasing bone density lost through aging, and strengthening the spine. These potent proteins require application directly at the site of repair via a delivery system. The choice of delivery system has a profound effect on the clinical outcome. In the past decade, researchers have focused on developing efficient delivery systems and advancing these factors from the bench to the clinic.
 
Article
Guidelines for submitting commentsPolicy: Comments that contribute to the discussion of the article will be posted within approximately three business days. We do not accept anonymous comments. Please include your email address; the address will not be displayed in the posted comment. Cell Press Editors will screen the comments to ensure that they are relevant and appropriate but comments will not be edited. The ultimate decision on publication of an online comment is at the Editors' discretion. Formatting: Please include a title for the comment and your affiliation. Note that symbols (e.g. Greek letters) may not transmit properly in this form due to potential software compatibility issues. Please spell out the words in place of the symbols (e.g. replace “α” with “alpha”). Comments should be no more than 8,000 characters (including spaces ) in length. References may be included when necessary but should be kept to a minimum. Be careful if copying and pasting from a Word document. Smart quotes can cause problems in the form. If you experience difficulties, please convert to a plain text file and then copy and paste into the form.
 
Article
Guidelines for submitting commentsPolicy: Comments that contribute to the discussion of the article will be posted within approximately three business days. We do not accept anonymous comments. Please include your email address; the address will not be displayed in the posted comment. Cell Press Editors will screen the comments to ensure that they are relevant and appropriate but comments will not be edited. The ultimate decision on publication of an online comment is at the Editors' discretion. Formatting: Please include a title for the comment and your affiliation. Note that symbols (e.g. Greek letters) may not transmit properly in this form due to potential software compatibility issues. Please spell out the words in place of the symbols (e.g. replace “α” with “alpha”). Comments should be no more than 8,000 characters (including spaces ) in length. References may be included when necessary but should be kept to a minimum. Be careful if copying and pasting from a Word document. Smart quotes can cause problems in the form. If you experience difficulties, please convert to a plain text file and then copy and paste into the form.
 
Article
Transgenic science and technology are fundamental to state-of-the-art plant molecular genetics and GM crop improvement. Monitoring the scale and growth of this area of science is important to scientists, national and international research organizations, funding bodies, policy makers and, because of the GM debate, to society as a whole. Literature statistics covering the past 30 years reveal a dramatic increase in plant transgenic science in Asia during the past decade, a sustained expansion in North America and, recently, a slow down in the rest of the world. With the exception of the output of China and India, publications focusing on the development of transgenic technology have been slowing down, worldwide, since the early mid-1990s, a trend that contrasts with the increase in GM crop-related studies.
 
Article
Guidelines for submitting commentsPolicy: Comments that contribute to the discussion of the article will be posted within approximately three business days. We do not accept anonymous comments. Please include your email address; the address will not be displayed in the posted comment. Cell Press Editors will screen the comments to ensure that they are relevant and appropriate but comments will not be edited. The ultimate decision on publication of an online comment is at the Editors' discretion. Formatting: Please include a title for the comment and your affiliation. Note that symbols (e.g. Greek letters) may not transmit properly in this form due to potential software compatibility issues. Please spell out the words in place of the symbols (e.g. replace “α” with “alpha”). Comments should be no more than 8,000 characters (including spaces ) in length. References may be included when necessary but should be kept to a minimum. Be careful if copying and pasting from a Word document. Smart quotes can cause problems in the form. If you experience difficulties, please convert to a plain text file and then copy and paste into the form.
 
Article
Introducing genes into plants to create new commercially-useful varieties may seem like a trivial task today. In the early 1980s however, this was one of the major bottlenecks preventing the fulfillment of an agricultural revolution that began following the discovery and use of restriction enzymes, followed swiftly by the genetic engineering of bacteria for medical and industrial applications. Plant biotechnology has been technology-driven since its inception, and the successful establishment of gene transfer technologies for major crops [1–3] was a major breakthrough for the small biotechnology companies that spearheaded developments in the field in the early 1980s.
 
Article
The Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development has collected data on the clinical and approval phases of the 26 new biopharmaceuticals approved by the US Food and Drug Administration between 1980 and 1999. Here, the data for biopharmaceuticals approved between 1995 and 1999 are presented grouped by product category, review status, orphan-drug designation and therapeutic indication, and the mean phase lengths are compared. They are also compared with the data for approvals during the periods 1982-1989, 1990-1994 and 1996-1998.
 
Article
Genomic information and tools are beginning to be used to increase our understanding of how organisms of all types interact with their environment. The study of the expression of all genes, at the genome, transcriptome, proteome and metabolome level, in response to exposure to a toxicant, is known as toxicogenomics. Here, we show how this new field of environmental genomics has enhanced the development of fundamental knowledge on the mechanisms behind the toxicity of and resistance to the herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D). Although 2,4-D is one of the most successfully and widely used herbicides, its intensive use has led to the emergence of resistant weeds and might give rise to several toxicological problems when present in concentrations above those recommended. This review summarizes recent mechanistic insights into 2,4-D toxicity and the corresponding adaptive responses based on studies carried out using Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Arabidopsis thaliana as model organisms.
 
Article
Filamentous fungi have been used as sources of metabolites and enzymes for centuries. For about two decades, molecular genetic tools have enabled us to use these organisms to express extra copies of both endogenous and exogenous genes. This review of current practice reveals that molecular tools have enabled several new developments. But it has been process development that has driven the final breakthrough to achieving commercially relevant quantities of protein. Recent research into gene expression in filamentous fungi has explored their wealth of genetic diversity with a view to exploiting them as expression hosts and as a source of new genes. Inevitably, the progress in the 'genomics' technology will further develop high-throughput technologies for these organisms.
 
Article
In the forthcoming period of paradigmatic change in technology, the ongoing development in information-related technologies will continue, while later, we will witness a full flowering of biotechnology, marking the beginning of serious approaches to the hitherto unexplored microcosm of life, an area in which a tremendous change affecting the future of Homo sapiens may well occur in the twenty-first century. If that happens, Japan will surely be one of the most powerful leaders of that change, and accordingly required to play a role worthy of its leadership. This role will be to aggressively tackle new challenges.
 
Article
Metal micro-/nano-particles with suitable chemical modification can be organized into new ceramic-metal (cermet) or organic-metal (orgmet) composites or structured materials. These materials are attracting significant attention because of their unique structures and highly optimized properties. However, the synthesis of composite materials with inhomogeneities on the nanometer or sub-micrometer scale is a continuing challenge in materials science. Many industrial physical and chemical surface-coating processes using conventional techniques are both energy and cost inefficient and require sophisticated instrumentation. In the future, biology might offer a superior option.
 
Article
Our shorter news articles (Journal Club and In Brief) should be published as rapidly as possible. Therefore, these sections will no longer be in TIBTECH. Instead, we will be making the most of our online resource, BioMedNet, to provide a unique research service that will be updated daily.The commentaries from the TIBTECH Journal Club will be combined with those from the Journal Clubs of all the other Trends journals and with the Paper Alerts (a similar article type) from the Current Opinion journals, to form a new online-only service on BioMedNet called ‘Research Update’ (bmn.com/general/researchupdate). This means that you will no longer be limited to the range of topics covered by the TIBTECH Journal Club but will have access to commentaries of recent papers across a diverse range of life sciences. This online service will be fully searchable, can be customized to your research needs, and will alert you by email (at your request) when an appropriate paper is covered.We will also be able to keep you up to date with relevant news about policy, education, funding and other current issues across the life sciences on the ‘News and Features’ service of BioMedNet (news.bmn.com).Both services will provide the rapid publication that only online publishing can accomplish (within a couple of days of submission for Research Update articles), and access will be free to all for a week after publication. To access articles published for longer than a week, you will require a personal subscription to a Trends or Current Opinion journal, or have access via an institute that subscribes to BioMedNet Reviews or ScienceDirect.View Large Image | Download PowerPoint Slide
 
Article
Tendon traumas or diseases are prevalent and debilitating lesions that affect the quality of life among populations worldwide. As a novel solution, tendon tissue engineering aims to address these lesions by integrating engineered, living substitutes with their native counterparts in vivo, thereby restoring the defective functions in situ. For such a purpose, competent scaffolding materials are essential. To date, three major categories of scaffolding materials have been employed: polyesters, polysaccharides, and collagen derivatives. Furthermore, with these materials as a base, a variety of specialized methodologies have been developed or adopted to enhance neo-tendogenesis. These strategies include cellular hybridization, interfacing improvement, and physical stimulation.
 
Article
Graphene is the basic building block of 0D fullerene, 1D carbon nanotubes, and 3D graphite. Graphene has a unique planar structure, as well as novel electronic properties, which have attracted great interests from scientists. This review selectively analyzes current advances in the field of graphene bioapplications. In particular, the biofunctionalization of graphene for biological applications, fluorescence-resonance-energy-transfer-based biosensor development by using graphene or graphene-based nanomaterials, and the investigation of graphene or graphene-based nanomaterials for living cell studies are summarized in more detail. Future perspectives and possible challenges in this rapidly developing area are also discussed.
 
Article
Chemically synthesized surface-active compounds are widely used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, petroleum and food industries. However, with the advantages of biodegradability, and production on renewable-resource substrates, biosurfactants may eventually replace their chemically synthesized counterparts. So far, the use of biosurfactants has been limited to a few specialized applications because biosurfactants have been economically uncompetitive. There is a need to gain a greater understanding of the physiology, genetics and biochemistry of biosurfactant-producing strains, and to improve process technology to reduce production costs.
 
Structures of selected carotenoids.  
Article
The carotenoid pigment astaxanthin has important applications in the nutraceutical, cosmetics, food and feed industries. Haematococcus pluvialis is the richest source of natural astaxanthin and is now cultivated at industrial scale. Astaxanthin is a strong coloring agent and a potent antioxidant - its strong antioxidant activity points to its potential to target several health conditions. This article covers the antioxidant, UV-light protection, anti-inflammatory and other properties of astaxanthin and its possible role in many human health problems. The research reviewed supports the assumption that protecting body tissues from oxidative damage with daily ingestion of natural astaxanthin might be a practical and beneficial strategy in health management.
 
Article
Ion channels mediate and regulate crucial electrical functions throughout the body. They are therapeutic drug targets for a variety of disorders and, in some cases, the direct cause of unwanted side-effects. Advances in medical genetics have increased our knowledge of ion channel structure–function relationships and identified disease-causing mutations in ion channel genes. The recognized importance of these proteins in health and disease has led to an active search for ion channel targets in the multi-billion-dollar worldwide drug discovery market. Trends in ion channel screening technologies have focused on increasing throughput and enhancing information content of assays through electrophysiological approaches. The ability to study ion channels by voltage clamp and their time-, voltage- and state-dependent drug interactions with enhanced throughput will ultimately play a key role in the development of novel, safe ion channel-targeted drugs.
 
Article
Computational cellular models are becoming crucial for the analysis of complex biological systems. An important new paradigm for cellular modeling involves building a comprehensive scaffold of molecular interactions and then mining this scaffold to reveal a hierarchy of signaling, regulatory and metabolic pathways. We review the important trends that make this approach feasible and describe how they are spurring the development of models at multiple levels of abstraction. Pathway maps can be extracted from the scaffold using "high-level" computational models, which identify the key components, interactions and influences required for more detailed "low-level" models. Large-scale experimental measurements validate high-level models, whereas targeted experimental manipulations and measurements test low-level models.
 
Article
Quantum dots are tiny light-emitting particles on the nanometer scale. They are emerging as a new class of biological label with properties and applications that are not available with traditional organic dyes and fluorescent proteins. Recent advances, as reported in Science and Nature Biotechnology, have led to quantum dot bioconjugates that are highly luminescent and stable. These bioconjugates raise new possibilities for studying genes, proteins and drug targets in single cells, tissue specimens and even in living animals.
 
Article
Although the future is unpredictable, it is highly likely that biotechnology will play a much more visible and significant role in the 21st century than it did in the 20th century. The number and kinds of drugs provided by biotechnology will expand markedly and biotechnology will stand at the center of the oncoming revolution in bioinformatics.
 
Top-cited authors
Douglas Kell
  • University of Liverpool
Korneel Rabaey
  • Ghent University
Willy Verstraete
  • Ghent University
Sang Yup Lee
  • Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
Yusuf Chisti
  • Massey University