Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare

Diagnosing the First Patient: Genomics to the Rescue

(Image via Shutterstock)

Nic Volker. Beatrice Rienhoff. Alexis and Noah Beery. If you happen to be a scientist or clinician in the genomics field, you already know the topic of this article just from those four names. Each is a child who suffered from a mysterious or even one-of-a-kind disease. Collectively, they endured years in hospitals, met dozens of doctors, took countless tests to achieve that precious objective: a diagnosis. And for each of these kids, DNA sequencing was critical to providing that answer.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Individualized Cancer Treatment Coming—But Only If Underdogs Prevail

individualized-cancer-treatment

Decades ago, “personalized medicine” meant “don’t give penicillin to the person who is fatally allergic to it.” Today, the phrase is shorthand for the ambitious but achievable concept of targeting medications to a specific group of people, based on genetic information, disease progression, biomarkers, and other factors. Still, there’s a small but growing force in the biomedical community that takes the notion of “personalized medicine” much further. For them the term is used literally—they aim for treatment options custom-crafted for the unique snowflakes that we are.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

What We Learned at Techonomy Bio

From left, David Kirkpatrick, Floyd Romesberg, Stewart Brand, Jim Flatt, and Steve Levine

Techonomy's offices on Manhattan's West 22d Street have been buzzing ever since our half-day Techonomy Bio conference on June 17. We got an overwhelmingly positive reception for a meeting that brought leading researchers and experts in the life sciences together with IT and Internet thinkers and business generalists. Drew Endy, a Stanford professor who is one of the world's leaders in synthetic biology, on stage called the event "awesome" and said he had never seen such a collection of people in one place. "People in other sectors of technology simply don’t know very much about biology and biology’s economic impact," he said.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

Citizen Scientists Accelerate Bio Progress

techonomy-bio-participatory-biology

As advances in the biological sciences expand, so does their influence on every facet of life. And the people powering that expansion are not just traditionally trained scientists-they’re also regular folks like you and me. The "Participatory Biology" at Techonomy Bio convened traditional scientists Ryan Bethencourt of Berkeley BioLabs and UC Santa Cruz professor David Haussler with Eri Gentry, a self-taught scientist who left the world of finance to co-found the Bay Area biotech hackerspace BioCurious.   More

Bio 14 Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

Building a Better Mousetrap

In this video from our June 17 Techonomy Bio conference, Jorge Soto of mirOculus gives a short presentation on building better tools for detecting cancer.   More

Bio 14 Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

Engineering Biology to Address Global Challenges

In this video from our June 17 Techonomy Bio conference, Nancy J. Kelley, former founding executive director of the New York Genome Center, gives a presentation of the economic, social, and regulatory implications of biology.   More

Bio 14 Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

The Razor’s Edge

In this video, Todd Huffman of 3Scan explores how knife-edge scanning helps drive biodiscovery.   More

Bio 14 Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

The Funding Dilemma

Bio-innovators and entrepreneurs are often frustrated that investors don’t see the scope of biological opportunity. The industry's funding models remain in flux. With appetite for risk unpredictable and a landscape that’s often unexplored, what’s a startup to do? How are big companies responding? In this video, Paul Gurney of McKinsey & Company moderates a discussion with Beth Seidenberg of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Lindy Fishburne of Breakout Labs and the Thiel Foundation, and Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Synthetic Genomics, Inc.   More

Bio 14 Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

A Life in Bio

In this video from our June 17 Techonomy Bio conference, David Kirkpatrick interviews Beth Seidenberg of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers about her involvement in developing biotech companies.   More

Bio 14 Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

Participatory Biology

Just as the Internet leveled the playing field for entrepreneurship, politics, and social engagement, recent advances are leveling it for biological progress. Processing power, the cloud, and Internet connectivity open doors for inquisitive individuals and nascent biotech startups. How are ordinary people involving themselves in biology, and what will be their impact? In this video, David Kirkpatrick moderates a discussion with Eri Gentry of BioCurious and the Institute for the Future, Ryan Bethencourt of Berkeley BioLabs and the XPRIZE Foundation, and David Haussler of UC Santa Cruz and HHMI.   More

Bio 14 Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

Better, Faster, Cheaper

To beat cancer we need more targeted drugs, made faster, made cheaper. And that means we need to fix the way cancer drugs are made. Andrew Hessel of Autodesk gives a presentation on how we can fix drug development.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

Why We Launched the Techonomy Bio Conference

For us here at Techonomy, next Tuesday's Techonomy Bio conference is a catalytic and mind-expanding moment. It's a half-day foray into the systems of life. We come from the world of IT and the Internet, but have concluded that becoming too embedded in it will increasingly be a deep limitation. For any of us to innovate and understand the future progress of mankind, we have to recognize that for all their compelling charms, digital tools are just one part of the toolset. Now that biology yields every day to greater understanding, it is going to pull human society into fundamentally new directions.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Can Synthetic Biology Survive in a World Haunted by “Frankenfood”?

frankenfood-gmos

There is nothing that turns the collective stomach quite like the word “Frankenfood.” It’s an instant warning to avoid such food. Frankenfood, of course, refers to plants that have been genetically modified in some way. GMOs, as these genetically modified organisms are known, have been more or less accepted in some countries such as the U.S., but have been banned in many others due to public outcry, particularly in Europe. It is tough to restore the public image of something once it has acquired such a viscerally-effective label. In the next few decades, it is very unlikely that GMO-based food will become accepted in countries where it is currently banned.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Digital Medicine: Diagnostic Stickers and Pills That Talk Back to You

MC10 CEO Dave Icke discusses his company's Biostamp technology at last year's Techonomy IOE Lab.

Often, the biggest battle in monitoring our health is remembering. Remembering to take our prescriptions every day (and ideally at the same time) to manage preexisting conditions. Remembering to track developing symptoms to diagnose new diseases. It's a lot to remember, but there are plenty of apps out there to help us. Still, no matter how many apps we download, how can we be sure they actually get us to do what we're supposed to? New sensor technology in the form of wearables—and even ingestibles—could increasingly play that role in our lives.   More

Analytics & Data Bio & Life Sciences

Who Owns Your Genetic Data? Hint: It’s Probably Not You

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As we move closer to an era when a sequence of every human genome is the norm, an important question looms: who will own this data? It seems intuitive to many of us that each person owns his or her genetic data and therefore should control access. But the reality is more complex. The concept of data ownership is so contentious in part because of its nature. Data moves, it morphs, and most of us can’t even say where it lives. (“The cloud” is not an answer.) For people who grew up thinking that possession is nine-tenths of the law, data is too slippery to fit into the usual framework.   More

Arts & Culture Bio & Life Sciences

How Nanotech Flower Design Informs the Future of Materials Science

You might not think that a guy who says he spends his day getting lost "in a microworld of flowers or corals that you made yourself" is making a major contribution to science. But Wim L. Noorduin, a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard, is combining chemicals in a beaker to grow and shape crystalline structures that demonstrate how complex shapes evolve in nature. His micron-sized sculptures appear as intricate cake decorations, vast fields of blooming flowers, and coral reefs when viewed under an electron microscope. The artistic beauty of Noorduin's work won him a place on the cover of Science last year. And this week The Creators Project, a partnership between Intel and VICE that celebrates the innovative use of technology "to push the boundaries of creative expression," released a short video about the project.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Graduating from GMOs, Can Regulators Keep Up with Syn Bio?

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The synthetic biology product floodgates are opening, and U.S. environmental, health, and safety regulators are at risk of drowning. That's the general sentiment expressed in a report released this week by policy researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute, the University of Virginia, and EMBO in Heidelberg. They detail how the increased use of more sophisticated synthetic biology technologies to engineer plants and microbes will present major challenges to government agencies including EPA, FDA, and USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that have oversight of syn-bio-derived products.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

The Coming Era of Personal Genomics

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If the idea of having everyone’s genome sequenced at birth brings images to your mind from "Blade Runner" or "Gattaca," you’re not alone. The tremendous potential of understanding and using genomic information from birth to death suggests motives both beneficent and nefarious. This path is quite realistic, given the galloping state of modern genomic science. That’s one reason genomics will loom large at our upcoming Techonomy Bio conference in Mountain View, Calif., on June 17. In this article we conduct a Techonomy thought exercise: envisioning a world in which everyone has his or her genome sequenced at birth (or, in some cases, even earlier).   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Esther Dyson Has a Plan to Improve America’s Health

Esther Dyson at last month's DLDnyc conference.

“I’m rich and I’m obnoxious and I’m not eating this stuff,” Esther Dyson says of the sugar-filled yogurt being served for breakfast during the recent DLD conference in New York City. Dyson, a venture capitalist, digital age guru, and trained cosmonaut who, in golf shirt and jeans, comes across as neither rich nor obnoxious, makes the statement in an interview with Techonomy to help illustrate the challenges most Americans face in maintaining a healthy diet. The Way to Wellville, an initiative of the Health Initiative Coordinating Council (HICCup) founded by Dyson, aims to change that status quo.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Partner Insights

Dassault Systèmes’ 3D “Living Heart” May Transform Diagnosis and Treatment

(John Mottern/Feature Photo Service)

The day is coming when “electronic health record” doesn't mean just a digital transcript of doctors’ notes about exams and tests, but a three-dimensional digital model of your entire anatomy. The first version of such a human avatar-for-health now exists—the world’s first realistic 3D simulation of a whole human heart. It doesn't just look like a heart. Its software is designed to make it function like one. The outcome of the Living Heart Project—a stealth interdisciplinary collaboration among more than 50 medical researchers, practitioners, device manufacturers, and industry regulators—the model was introduced today by Dassault Systèmes.   More