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Miles Davis And Deep Purple Songs Are The First To Be Successfully Encoded In DNA

first_imgOver the past century, technology has made leaps and bounds, and the music industry has done its best to keep up with the times. While jokes are frequently made about the death of the CD, cassette, and 8-track players (and debatably vinyl, though that’s a different conversation), these formerly lauded technologies were all thrown to the wayside as new, more efficient music technologies were developed. Looking to the future, it’s anyone’s guess what new technology may be developed that will revolutionize the music world once again, but could the answer be within ourselves already—literally?This Technology Gives Disabled Patients A Chance To Make Music With Their Minds [Watch]Researchers at a lab specializing in DNA synthesis, Twist Bioscience, have recently made history with their brand-new project. Working with Microsoft and the University of Washington, the researchers at Twist Bioscience made waves by their successful use of DNA to store archival-quality audio recordings long term for the first time ever—specifically, the researchers encoded recordings of Miles Davis’ “Tutu” and Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water” from the Montreux Jazz Festival archives. [Video: T. U. M.]Currently, digital audio uses binary code to capture and record soundwaves. In order to record audio onto synthetic DNA, the binary code representing sound is converted into the language of DNA. For those of us who may need to brush up on their high school science, DNA is built out of strands of four different nucleotide bases—adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, which are commonly represented by the letters A, C, G, and T. The unique order and arrangement of these bases is what informs how organisms grow and serves as a roadmap to the body. When using DNA to store music, the size of the information is reduced significantly. As Karin Strauss, Ph.D., a senior research at Microsoft, notes, “The amount of DNA used to store these songs is much smaller than one grain of sand. . . . Amazingly, storing the entire six petabyte Montreux Jazz Festival’s collection would result in DNA smaller than one grain of rice.”Scientists Have Discovered The Area Of The Brain That Responds To MusicIn addition to a reduction in the size needed to store information, the researchers also argue that this method will be the future of digital storage. The group claims that the majority of the world’s data is being stored on technology that is unlikely to last longer than a few decades, and that DNA storage has the potential to outlast any existing data storage systems to date. Twist Bioscience explained, “Where the very best conventional storage media may preserve their digital content for a hundred years under precise conditions, synthetic DNA preserves its information content for hundreds or thousands of years.”The well-decorated musician and producer Quincy Jones—who has long been associated with the Montreaux Jazz Festival—also issued a statement about this new technology, “With the unreliability of how archives are often stored, I sometimes worry that our future generations will be left without such access. I’m proud to know that the memory of this special place will never be lost.”[H/T Pitchfork]last_img read more

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Editing genes at the source

first_imgNew research led by Harvard scientist Amy Wagers has demonstrated that gene-editing machinery can be delivered straight to stem cells where they live, rather than in a dish. Published in Cell Reports, the findings have major implications for biotechnology research and the development of therapeutics for genetic diseases.“If you want to change a genome to correct a disease-causing gene mutation, you have to change it in the relevant stem cells,” said Wagers, the Forst Family Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. “If you don’t change the stem cells, whatever cells you do fix may eventually be replaced with diseased cells fairly quickly. If you do fix the stem cells, they will create healthy cells that can eventually replace the diseased cells.”But fixing stem cells is harder than it sounds. The way it works now, stem cells have to be extracted, kept alive and healthy, genetically altered, then put back in the patient’s body. The process is disruptive for the cells, which may ultimately be rejected or fail to engraft back into the patient.Each type of stem cell lives in its own “niche,” well-protected in hard-to-reach areas such as bone marrow. “When you take stem cells out of the body, you take them out of the very complex environment that nourishes and sustains them, and they kind of go into shock,” Wagers said. “Isolating cells changes them. Transplanting cells changes them. Making genetic changes without having to do that would preserve the regulatory interactions of the cells — that’s what we wanted to do.”Transport by virusWagers’ group used an adeno-associated virus (AAV) that infects human (and mouse) cells—but does not cause disease—as a transport vehicle. Building on their earlier work in mice with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Wagers and her colleagues created various AAV packages to deliver gene-editing cargo into several different types of skin, blood, and muscle stem and progenitor cells.“This was a true collaboration between labs specializing in several different organs,” said Jill Goldstein, a postdoctoral fellow in the Wagers lab and co-first author of the study. “We set up experiments in our organs of interest, analyzed them, compared notes, and made adjustments in a kind of scientific assembly line. None of us could have done it alone — it takes a lot of hands, and the team approach made it really fun.”To test whether their AAV complexes managed to deliver, the researchers used mice that act as so-called reporter systems via a “reporter” gene that is normally silenced but can be turned on by gene editing. When the reporter gene is activated, the cell turns bright, fluorescent red.Up to 60 percent effectiveThe researchers observed that in skeletal muscle, up to 60 percent of the stem cells turned fluorescent red. In cells that give rise to different types of skin cells, up to 27 percent of the cells turned red. Up to 38 percent of the stem cells in bone marrow (which make blood) were changed. That might seem low, but blood turns over so quickly that in some cases even a single healthy stem cell may be sufficient to rescue a defect.“So far, the concept of delivering healthy genes to stem cells using AAV hasn’t been practical because these cells divide so quickly in living systems — so the delivered genes will be diluted from the cells rapidly,” said Sharif Tabebordbar, an alumnus of Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative biology and now a postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute. “Our study demonstrates that we can permanently modify the genome of stem cells, and therefore their progenies, in their normal anatomical niche. There is a lot of potential to take this approach forward and develop more durable therapies for different forms of genetic diseases. That includes different forms of muscular dystrophy, where tissue regeneration is such an important factor.”“We looked at the skin of these AAV-transduced mice from the Wagers lab, and were pleased to see that many dermal cells were successfully edited as well,” said Ya-Chieh Hsu, Alvin and Esta Star Associate Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. “Those included cells that give rise to dermal adipocytes, and cells that help regulate other stem cells in the skin. We’ve always needed a tool that lets us manipulate dermal cells in vivo rapidly — so for us, this is like a dream come true.”‘Things might start to move very quickly’Delivering a gene therapy directly into a living system has been a barrier for biotech companies trying to develop therapies for diseases like spinal muscular atrophy.“This is a really important resource for the community for two reasons,” Wagers said. “First, it changes the way we can study stem cells in the body. The AAV approach lets researchers investigate the importance of different genes for stem cells in their native environment, much more quickly than ever before. Because the delivery system is so robust, it can also be used to target genes that affect many different tissues. Related Harvard scientists receive grant funding through NIH program “Secondly, it’s an important step toward developing effective gene therapies. The approach we developed gets around all the problems you introduce by taking stem cells out of a body and allows you to correct a genome permanently. AAVs are already being used in the clinic for gene therapy, so things might start to move very quickly in this area.”This study was supported in part by awards and grants from Harvard University (Star Family Challenge Award, Dean’s Initiative Fund, and Harvard Stem Cell Institute Blood Program Pilot Award), the New York Stem Cell Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, a Harvard Stem Cell Institute Junior Faculty Award, the Pew Charitable Trusts, a Smith Family Foundation Odyssey Award, and the American Cancer Society, among others. Source article: Goldstein J.M., Tabebordbar M., et al. (2019) In situ modification of tissue stem and progenitor cell genomes. Cell Reports (in press). No clock, no crystal ball, but lots of excitement — and ambition — among Harvard scientists Seven recognized for high-risk, high-reward research How old can we get? It might be written in stem cellslast_img read more

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