Category: Biotech

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UW synthetic biologist James Carothers wins ARPA-E award to develop new CO2 bioconversion process

July 13, 2021

The funding will be used to develop scalable, cell-free platforms that enable the capture and conversion of carbon dioxide into industrial chemicals, providing manufacturers with a cheaper, more efficient and sustainable means of chemical production. [...]


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Microfluidics: The tiny, beautiful tech hidden all around you

May 17, 2021

In this piece for The Conversation, bioengineering professor Albert Folch describes how microfluidic devices use the strange behavior of fluids in tiny spaces to impact medicine, science and the modern world. [...]


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Alzheimer’s research gets a boost

April 6, 2021

Bioengineering startup AltPep advances technology for the early detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s and other amyloid diseases. [...]


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Researchers use lasers and molecular tethers to create perfectly patterned platforms for tissue engineering

January 18, 2021

MolES faculty member Cole DeForest and colleagues have developed a technique to modify naturally occurring biological polymers with protein-based biochemical messages that affect cell behavior. Their approach, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, uses a near-infrared laser to trigger chemical adhesion of protein messages to a scaffold made from biological polymers such as collagen, a connective tissue found throughout our bodies. [...]


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A culture of collaboration

November 17, 2020

MolES faculty members Barry Lutz and Paul Yager pivoted their diagnostics research to support the need for COVID-19 testing. [...]


Break it up: Polymer derived from material in shrimp’s shells could deliver anti-cancer drugs to tumor sites

November 3, 2020

A University of Washington team led by Miqin Zhang, a MolES faculty member and professor of materials science and engineering, has developed a nanoparticle-based drug delivery system that can ferry a potent anti-cancer drug through the bloodstream safely. Their nanoparticle is derived from chitin, a natural and organic polymer that, among other things, makes up the outer shells of shrimp. [...]


How to build a network of pharmaceutical biofactories

October 15, 2020

Advances in synthetic biology and biomaterials are opening up exciting prospects for the distributed manufacturing of drugs, food products, and other commodities. [...]


Sars-CoV-2 Scientific American
Lab-Made ‘Miniproteins’ Could Block the Coronavirus from Infecting Cells

October 13, 2020

Researchers at the Institute for Protein Design are developing synthetic peptides that mimic human antibodies for COVID-19 which could be cheaper and easier to produce. [...]


The heat is on for building 3D artificial organ tissues

October 1, 2020

Bioengineering professor Kelly Stevens and colleagues created a new tool to control gene expression in 3D-printed genetically-engineering cells using heat. [...]


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MolES faculty receive NSF EAGER award to develop new SARS-CoV-2 antibody test

July 30, 2020

James Carothers, Dan Evans Career Development Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Jesse Zalatan, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, have been awarded a National Science Foundation EAGER grant to develop a new type of SARS-Cov-2 antibody test. Carothers and Zalatan will receive $300,000 over a one-year period from funds made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. [...]


Developing rapid COVID-19 tests for the home and clinic

June 23, 2020

At the onset of the #COVID-19 pandemic, MolES faculty member Paul Yager, a UW professor of bioengineering, knew a rapid and accurate test would be needed to screen patients for the new coronavirus. He immediately set to work adapting his point-of-care testing research to developing an at-home test for the new virus. Read more about how the Yager lab is developing easy, fast and accurate COVID-19 tests to be used at home and in the clinic. [...]


Meeting the need for COVID-19 test kits: Pivoting from Seattle Flu Study and developing new rapid tests

June 23, 2020

MolES faculty member and bioengineering professor Barry Lutz, in partnership with Dr. Matthew Thompson, a UW professor of family medicine and global health, is pioneering at home test kits for the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about how the Lutz lab is developing new ways to rapidly test for COVID-19. [...]


COVID-19 Research at MolES

June 3, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MolES faculty have pivoted their research to address the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. They are leveraging molecular engineering approaches and tools to develop improved diagnostics, targeted treatment strategies, and a better understanding of the virus. We highlight a few of these projects here. [...]


Designing proteins that can sequence DNA

May 14, 2020

Sinduja Marx has long been interested in developing miniaturized, parallelized and personalized sequencing and diagnostics tools. As a molecular engineering grad student in the labs of physics professor Jens Gundlach, and Institute for Protein Design director David Baker, Marx is designing synthetic biological channels for nanopore DNA sequencing and molecular diagnostics. In this Q&A, Marx talks about her research and advice for prospective grad students. [...]


Researchers identify rules for effectively regulating gene expression in bacteria

April 16, 2020

Jason Fontana, a molecular engineering Ph.D. student in the labs of chemical engineering professor James Carothers and chemistry professor Jesse Zalatan, has identified features of bacterial genes that impose strict requirements on CRISPR-Cas transcriptional activation tools. This work defines new strategies to effectively regulate gene expression in bacteria, bringing researchers closer to their goal of using bacteria to produce valuable biosynthetic products. Read this Q&A with Jesse Zalatan featured on the Science in Seattle blog. [...]


New system outcompetes traditional biofactories with on-demand, remote chemical production | The Daily

February 27, 2020

A team was led by Dr. Alshakim Nelson, an assistant professor of chemistry at the UW, and Dr. Hal Alper, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Texas, developed a new method that combines the bioactivity of microbes and a 3D-printed, synthetic hydrogel — a water-based gel structure — to create desired chemical compounds. The products can vary from pharmaceuticals to nutraceuticals, alluding to the vast potential for this new finding. [...]


First-of-its-kind hydrogel platform enables on-demand production of medicines and chemicals

February 4, 2020

Researchers in the lab of MolES faculty member and professor of chemistry Al Nelson – along with collaborators at the University of Texas – unveiled a new way to produce medicines and chemicals and preserve them using portable “biofactories” that are embedded in water-based gels known as hydrogels. The approach could help people in remote villages or on military missions, where the absence of pharmacies, doctor’s offices or even basic refrigeration makes it hard to access critical medicines and other small-molecule compounds. [...]


Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute
Research team receives NSF award to develop ‘smart’ synthetic cell systems

September 24, 2019

An interdisciplinary research team led by MolES faculty member James Carothers, Dan Evans Career Development Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, received a new $1 million research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate whether cells can learn. [...]


Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute
Scientists use molecular tethers and chemical ‘light sabers’ to construct platforms for tissue engineering | UW News

May 20, 2019

In a paper published May 20 in the journal Nature Materials, a research team led by MolES faculty member Cole DeForest unveiled a new strategy to keep proteins intact and functional in synthetic biomaterials for tissue engineering. Their approach modifies proteins at a specific point so that they can be chemically tethered to the scaffold using light. Since the tether can also be cut by laser light, this method can create evolving patterns of signal proteins throughout a biomaterial scaffold to grow tissues made up of different types of cells. [...]


Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute
Breakthroughs in 3D organ printing detailed in Science Magazine | UW Medicine

May 3, 2019

Bioengineers have cleared a major hurdle on the path to 3D printing replacement organs with a breakthrough technique for bioprinting tissues. A research team led by MolES faculty member Kelly Stevens, assistant professor of bioengineering and investigator at the UW Medicine Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, has created exquisitely entangled vascular networks that mimic the body's natural passageways for blood, air, lymph and other vital fluids. The team published its findings May 3 in the journal Science. Their research was also featured in Newsweek, Forbes, among other outlets. [...]