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Trends in Biotechnology
Journal Prestige (SJR): 3.524
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ISSN (Print) 0167-7799
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3181 journals]
  • Detecting Harmful Algal Blooms with Isothermal Molecular Strategies
    • Abstract: Publication date: December 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 12Author(s): Anna Toldrà, Ciara K. O’Sullivan, Mònica CampàsThe use of isothermal nucleic acid amplification strategies to detect harmful algal blooms (HABs) is in its infancy. We describe recent advances in these systems and highlight the challenges for the achievement of simple, low-cost, compact, and portable devices for field applications.
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    • Abstract: Publication date: December 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 12Author(s):
  • New Horizons in Acetogenic Conversion of One-Carbon Substrates and
           Biological Hydrogen Storage
    • Abstract: Publication date: December 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 12Author(s): Volker MüllerStrictly anaerobic, acetogenic (acetate-forming) bacteria are characterized by a reductive pathway in which two mol of CO2 are reduced to one mol of acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) and then further to acetate, ethanol, or butyrate. Therefore, they have come into focus for an alternative, CO2-based bioeconomy. Other one-carbon (C1) substrates, such as formic acid or methanol, are promising feedstocks for an alternative bioeconomy using acetogens as biocatalysts that have been somewhat overlooked. In addition, acetogens, such as Acetobacterium woodii and Thermoanaerobacter kivui, have a unique enzyme system capable of reducing CO2 to formate with H2 as reductant that is superior over any chemical catalyst for CO2-based hydrogen storage. Therefore, acetogens are also promising candidates in the hydrogen economy as potential catalysts for hydrogen storage or production.
  • New Frontiers for Biofabrication and Bioreactor Design in
           Microphysiological System Development
    • Abstract: Publication date: December 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 12Author(s): Jonathon Parrish, Khoon Lim, Boyang Zhang, Milica Radisic, Tim B.F. WoodfieldMicrophysiological systems (MPSs) have been proposed as an improved tool to recreate the complex biological features of the native niche with the goal of improving in vitro–in vivo extrapolation. In just over a decade, MPS technologies have progressed from single-tissue chips to multitissue plates with integrated pumps for perfusion. Concurrently, techniques for biofabrication of complex 3D constructs for regenerative medicine and 3D in vitro models have evolved into a diverse toolbox for micrometer-scale deposition of cells and cell-laden bioinks. However, as the complexity of biological models increases, experimental throughput is often compromised. This review discusses the existing disparity between MPS complexity and throughput, then examines an MPS-terminated biofabrication line to identify the hurdles and potential approaches to overcoming this disparity.
  • Advances in Microfluidic Blood–Brain Barrier (BBB) Models
    • Abstract: Publication date: December 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 12Author(s): Arianna Oddo, Bo Peng, Ziqiu Tong, Yingkai Wei, Wing Yin Tong, Helmut Thissen, Nicolas Hans VoelckerTherapeutic options for neurological disorders currently remain limited. The intrinsic complexity of the brain architecture prevents potential therapeutics from reaching their cerebral target, thus limiting their efficacy. Recent advances in microfluidic technology and organ-on-chip systems have enabled the development of a new generation of in vitro platforms that can recapitulate complex in vivo microenvironments and physiological responses. In this context, microfluidic-based in vitro models of the blood–brain barrier (BBB) are of particular interest as they provide an innovative approach for conducting research related to the brain, including modeling of neurodegenerative diseases and high-throughput drug screening. Here, we present the most recent advances in BBB-on-chip devices and examine validation steps that will strengthen their future applications.
  • Optogenetics in the Era of Cerebral Organoids
    • Abstract: Publication date: December 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 12Author(s): Zahra Shiri, Susan Simorgh, Somayeh Naderi, Hossein BaharvandThe human brain has been deemed the most complex organ and has captivated neuroscientists for decades. Most studies of this organ have relied on reductionist model systems. Although all model systems are essentially wrong, cerebral organoids so far represent the closest recapitulation of human brain development and disease both in terms of cell diversity and organization. The optogenetic technique can be used in this context to study the functional neuroanatomy of the brain, to examine the neural circuits, and to determine the etiology of neurological disorders. In this opinion article, we suggest ways in which optogenetics can be combined with cerebral organoids to allow unprecedented precision and accuracy in studying normal and aberrant neurodevelopmental processes and, as well, neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Will Following the Regulatory Script for GMOs Promote Public Acceptance of
           Gene-Edited Crops'
    • Abstract: Publication date: December 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 12Author(s): Rod A. Herman, Maria Fedorova, Nicholas P. StorerRisk-disproportionate regulation of gene-edited crops has been proposed to gain public acceptance for this breeding technique. However, confounding safety regulations with advocacy for an underlying technology risks weakening achievement of both objectives. Dedicated factual communication and education from trusted sources is likely to better support public acceptance of gene-edited crops.
  • The Microbiome: A Life Science Opportunity for Our Society and Our Planet
    • Abstract: Publication date: December 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 12Author(s): Aleksandra Małyska, Marios Nektarios Markakis, Carina F. Pereira, Marc CornelissenMicrobiome research and innovation (R&I) promises solutions to a broad range of business and societal challenges. To bridge the gap between today’s potential and the moment at which concrete applications start generating societal impact, critical-scale efforts offering visible progress on topics of public interest will be essential.
  • Editorial Board and Contents
    • Abstract: Publication date: December 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 12Author(s):
  • Gut Check Time: Antibiotic Delivery Strategies to Reduce Antimicrobial
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 November 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Stephen A. Kelly, Aoife M. Rodgers, Séamus C. O’Brien, Ryan F. Donnelly, Brendan F. GilmoreAntimicrobial resistance (AMR) has developed into a huge threat to global health, and reducing it is an urgent priority for public health authorities. The importance of a healthy and balanced gut microbiome has been identified as a key protective factor against AMR development, but this can be significantly affected by antibiotic therapy, resulting in dysbiosis and reduction of taxonomic richness. The way in which antibiotics are administered could form an important part of future antimicrobial stewardship strategies, where drug delivery is ideally placed to play a key role in the fight against AMR. This review focuses on drug delivery strategies for antibiotic administration, including avoidance of the gut microbiome and targeted delivery approaches, which may reduce AMR.
  • Industrial Biotechnology: To What Extent Is Responsible Innovation on the
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 August 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Achim Rosemann, Susan Molyneux-HodgsonThe UK Industrial Biotechnology (IB) Strategy presents a consistent plan to develop the IB sector but fails to endorse an innovation process that allows for input from multiple publics. This could be disadvantageous for the bioeconomy: there are notable cases where negligence to address societal dimensions has caused innovation failure.
  • Integrating Organs-on-Chips: Multiplexing, Scaling, Vascularization, and
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 July 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): DoYeun Park, Jaeseo Lee, Justin J. Chung, Youngmee Jung, Soo Hyun KimOrgans-on-chips (OoCs) have attracted significant attention because they can be designed to mimic in vivo environments. Beyond constructing a single OoC, recent efforts have tried to integrate multiple OoCs to broaden potential applications such as disease modeling and drug discoveries. However, various challenges remain for integrating OoCs towards in vivo-like operation, such as incorporating various connections for integrating multiple OoCs. We review multiplexed OoCs and challenges they face: scaling, vascularization, and innervation. In our opinion, future OoCs will be constructed to have increased predictive power for in vivo phenomena and will ultimately become a mainstream tool for high quality biomedical and pharmaceutical research.
  • Production and Quality Requirements of Human Platelet Lysate: A Position
           Statement from the Working Party on Cellular Therapies of the
           International Society of Blood Transfusion
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 July 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Katharina Schallmoser, Reinhard Henschler, Christian Gabriel, Mickey B.C. Koh, Thierry BurnoufHuman platelet lysate (HPL), rich in growth factors, is an efficient alternative supplement to fetal bovine serum (FBS) for ex vivo propagation of stromal cell-based medicinal products. Since 2014, HPL has been a focus of the Working Party for Cellular Therapies of the International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT). Currently, as several Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)-compliant manufacturing protocols exist, an international consensus defining the optimal modes of industrial production, product specification, pathogen safety, and release criteria of this ancillary material (AM) is needed. This opinion article by the ISBT Working Party summarizes the current knowledge on HPL production and proposes recommendations on manufacturing and quality management in line with current technological innovations and regulations of biological products and advanced therapy medicinal products.
  • The Regulation of Wearable Medical Devices
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 July 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Nan Jiang, Julia E. Mück, Ali K. YetisenThis article provides a guideline for the design, manufacture, regulatory approval, and post-market surveillance (PMS) of wearable medical devices (WMDs). The integration of regulatory considerations can accelerate wearable device (WD) development from laboratory to market while mitigating device failure risks. The implementation of stringent clinical evaluations will transcend WDs beyond consumer products.
  • Synthetic Biology and Genome-Editing Tools for Improving PHA Metabolic
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 November 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Xu Zhang, Yina Lin, Qiong Wu, Ying Wang, Guo-Qiang ChenPolyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are a diverse family of biopolyesters synthesized by many natural or engineered bacteria. Synthetic biology and DNA-editing approaches have been adopted to engineer cells for more efficient PHA production. Recent advances in synthetic biology applied to improve PHA biosynthesis include ribosome-binding site (RBS) optimization, promoter engineering, chromosomal integration, cell morphology engineering, cell growth behavior reprograming, and downstream processing. More importantly, the genome-editing tool clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) has been applied to optimize the PHA synthetic pathway, regulate PHA synthesis-related metabolic flux, and control cell shapes in model organisms, such as Escherichia coli, and non-model organisms, such as Halomonas. These synthetic biology methods and genome-editing tools contribute to controllable PHA molecular weights and compositions, enhanced PHA accumulation, and easy downstream processing.
  • Synthetic Protein Scaffolding at Biological Membranes
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 9 November 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): James B.Y.H. Behrendorff, Guillem Borràs-Gas, Mathias PribilProtein scaffolding is a natural phenomenon whereby proteins colocalize into macromolecular complexes via specific protein–protein interactions. In the case of metabolic enzymes, protein scaffolding drives metabolic flux through specific pathways by colocalizing enzyme active sites. Synthetic protein scaffolding is increasingly used as a mechanism to improve product specificity and yields in metabolic engineering projects. To date, synthetic scaffolding has focused primarily on soluble enzyme systems, but many metabolic pathways for high-value secondary metabolites depend on membrane-bound enzymes. The compositional diversity of biological membranes and general challenges associated with modifying membrane proteins complicate scaffolding with membrane-requiring enzymes. Several recent studies have introduced new approaches to protein scaffolding at membrane surfaces, with notable success in improving product yields from specific metabolic pathways.
  • Biotechnological Advances in the Design of Algae-Based Biosensors
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 November 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Amina Antonacci, Viviana ScognamiglioIn addition to their use in biomass production and bioremediation, algae have been extensively exploited in biosensing applications. Algae-based biosensors have demonstrated potential for sensitive, sustainable, and multiplexed detection of analytes of agroenvironmental and security interest. Their advantages include the availability of different algal bioreceptors including whole cells and their photosynthetic subcomponents, their potential to be integrated into dual transduction miniaturized devices, and the opportunity for continuous environmental monitoring. Despite obstacles including limited stability and selectivity, algae-based biosensing is a realistic prospect that has some recent effective applications. Strategic exploitation of cutting-edge technologies including materials science, nanotechnology, microfluidics, and genome editing will help to achieve the full potential of algae-based sensors.
  • Injectable Cryogels for Biomedical Applications
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 November 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Loek J. Eggermont, Zachary J. Rogers, Thibault Colombani, Adnan Memic, Sidi A. BencherifTo prevent postoperative complications, there has been a substantial interest in designing syringe-injectable hydrogels. To date, cryogels remain the only viable option for preformed and large-scale hydrogels to be delivered through a conventional needle–syringe injection. Cryogels, a type of hydrogel with exceptional features, are fabricated at subzero temperatures. This process typically results in a biomaterial with a unique macroporous network, shape-memory properties, and exceptional flexibility allowing syringe injectability. These advanced biomaterials have been used for a number of biomedical applications, including tissue engineering, drug delivery, and more recently, immunotherapy. This review summarizes the recent progress on the design of injectable cryogels, their current limitations, and strategies to further improve their properties for translatability into the clinic.
  • Industrial Enzymology: The Next Chapter
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 November 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Michael V. Arbige, Jay K. Shetty, Gopal K. ChotaniThis review focuses on recent developments in industrial enzymology, protein engineering, and the design and production of microorganisms. We highlight the latest recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology and tools of protein engineering. These advancements are delivering solutions that address the large unmet needs of customers and markets. To illustrate the progress made over the past three decades, several technological developments and applications are highlighted. High-throughput methods of cell and protein engineering have increased the pace of commercialization. Continuous innovations have impacted many areas of industrial biotechnology and its applications; for example, laundry and dish washing, textile processing, animal health, and human nutrition. The worldwide growth of this bioindustry reflects the potential of biotechnology, which in turn adds a new chapter to the field of industrial enzymology.
  • Contemporary Tools for Regulating Gene Expression in Bacteria
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 November 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Ross Kent, Neil DixonInsights from novel mechanistic paradigms in gene expression control have led to the development of new gene expression systems for bioproduction, control, and sensing applications. Coupled with a greater understanding of synthetic burden and modern creative biodesign approaches, contemporary bacterial gene expression tools and systems are emerging that permit fine-tuning of expression, enabling greater predictability and maximisation of specific productivity, while minimising deleterious effects upon cell viability. These advances have been achieved by using a plethora of regulatory tools, operating at all levels of the so-called ‘central dogma’ of molecular biology. In this review, we discuss these gene regulation tools in the context of their design, prototyping, integration into expression systems, and biotechnological application.
  • Strand Displacement Strategies for Biosensor Applications
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 November 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Yifan Dai, Ariel Furst, Chung Chiun LiuDNA has many unique properties beyond encoding genetic information, one of which is its physicochemical stability based on Watson–Crick base pairing. Differences in sequence complementarity between multiple DNA strands can lead to the strand displacement reaction (SDR). SDRs have been regularly applied in synthetic biology, drug delivery, and, importantly, biosensing. SDR-based biosensors have high controllability, high sensitivity, and low interference, and can be used for multiplexed detection. Such biosensors have been demonstrated to detect nearly every class of biomolecule. As the field continues to mature, such platforms can be used as an integral tool for the manipulation of biomolecular reactions, bringing biosensors one step closer to the ultimate goal of point-of-care systems.
  • In-Hospital Production of Medicines: Preparing for Disruption
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 31 October 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Shona Kalkman, Marlous Arentshorst, Jarno Hoekman, Wouter Boon, Esther Uijtendaal, Ghislaine van Thiel, Ellen MoorsIn-hospital production of affordable medicines holds potential to address problems of drug accessibility. However, expanding the scope of magistral preparation to include high-cost drugs and complex biologicals gives rise to new challenges. We discuss ethical and regulatory complexities faced by Dutch initiatives defying the current pharmaceutical system through magistral preparation.
  • Molecularly Imprinted Polymers for Cell Recognition
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 31 October 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Stanislav Piletsky, Francesco Canfarotta, Alessandro Poma, Alessandra Maria Bossi, Sergey PiletskySince their conception 50 years ago, molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) have seen extensive development both in terms of synthetic routes and applications. Cells are perhaps the most challenging target for molecular imprinting. Although early work was based almost entirely around microprinting methods, recent developments have shifted towards epitope imprinting to generate MIP nanoparticles (NPs). Simultaneously, the development of techniques such as solid phase MIP synthesis has solved many historic issues of MIP production. This review briefly describes various approaches used in cell imprinting with a focus on applications of the created materials in imaging, drug delivery, diagnostics, and tissue engineering.
  • Integration of Flow Cytometry and Single Cell Sequencing
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 October 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Dmitry S. Andreyev, Boris L. ZybailovIntegrating cytometric analysis of cells, mitochondria, and other polynucleotide-containing biological particles with high-throughput single particle sequencing would provide an ultimate bioanalytical tool, simultaneously assessing phenotype, functionality, genome, and transcriptome of each particle in a large population. Here, we describe how such integration could be performed by adapting existing, well-established technologies.
  • Advances in Optoacoustic Neurotomography of Animal Models
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 October 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Saak V. Ovsepian, Ivan Olefir, Vasilis NtziachristosUnlike traditional optical methods, optoacoustic imaging is less sensitive to scattering of ballistic photons, so it is capable of high-resolution interrogation at a greater depth. By integrating video-rate visualization with multiplexing and sensing a range of endogenous and exogenous chromophores, optoacoustic imaging has matured into a versatile noninvasive investigation modality with rapidly expanding use in biomedical research. We review the principal features of the technology and discuss recent advances it has enabled in structural, functional, and molecular neuroimaging in small-animal models. In extending the boundaries of noninvasive observation beyond the reach of customary photonic methods, the latest developments in optoacoustics have substantially advanced neuroimaging inquiry, with promising implications for basic and translational studies.
  • Antimicrobial Inks: The Anti-Infective Applications of Bioprinted
           Bacterial Polysaccharides
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 11Author(s): Ronan R. McCarthy, Muhammad Wajid Ullah, Eujin Pei, Guang YangBioprinting is a rapidly emerging technology with the potential to transform the biomedical sector. Here, we discuss how a range of bacterial polysaccharides with antibiofilm and antibacterial activity could be used to augment current bioink formulations to improve their biocompatibility and tackle the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections.
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    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 11Author(s):
  • Accelerating Climate Resilient Plant Breeding by Applying Next-Generation
           Artificial Intelligence
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 11Author(s): Antoine L. Harfouche, Daniel A. Jacobson, David Kainer, Jonathon C. Romero, Antoine H. Harfouche, Giuseppe Scarascia Mugnozza, Menachem Moshelion, Gerald A. Tuskan, Joost J.B. Keurentjes, Arie AltmanBreeding crops for high yield and superior adaptability to new and variable climates is imperative to ensure continued food security, biomass production, and ecosystem services. Advances in genomics and phenomics are delivering insights into the complex biological mechanisms that underlie plant functions in response to environmental perturbations. However, linking genotype to phenotype remains a huge challenge and is hampering the optimal application of high-throughput genomics and phenomics to advanced breeding. Critical to success is the need to assimilate large amounts of data into biologically meaningful interpretations. Here, we present the current state of genomics and field phenomics, explore emerging approaches and challenges for multiomics big data integration by means of next-generation (Next-Gen) artificial intelligence (AI), and propose a workable path to improvement.
  • Production and Biomedical Application of Flavivirus-like
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 11Author(s): Ewelina Krol, Gabriela Brzuska, Boguslaw SzewczykMany viruses belonging to the Flaviviridae family are transmitted by invertebrate vectors. Among those transmitted by mosquitos, there are many human pathogens of great medical importance, such as Japanese encephalitis virus, West Nile virus, dengue virus, Zika virus, or yellow fever virus. Millions of people contract mosquito-borne diseases each year, leading to thousands of deaths. Co-circulation of genetically similar flaviviruses in the same areas result in the generation of crossreactive antibodies, which is of serious concern for the development of effective vaccines and diagnostic tests. This review provides comprehensive insight into the potential use of virus-like particles as safe and effective antigens in both diagnostics tests, as well as in the development of vaccines against several mosquito-borne flaviviruses.
  • Microchannels in Development, Survival, and Vascularisation of Tissue
           Analogues for Regenerative Medicine
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 11Author(s): Khoon S. Lim, Marissa Baptista, Shahana Moon, Tim B.F. Woodfield, Jelena Rnjak-KovacinaMicrochannels are simple, perfusable architectural features engineered into biomaterials to promote mass transport of solutes to cells, effective cell seeding and compartmentalisation for tissue engineering applications, control over spatiotemporal distribution of molecules and ligands, and survival, integration, and vascularisation of engineered tissue analogues in vivo. Advances in biofabrication have led to better control over microchannel fabrication in 3D scaffolds, enabling sophisticated designs that drive the development of complex tissue structures. This review addresses the importance of microchannel structures in biomaterial design and regenerative medicine, and discusses their function, fabrication methods, and proposed mechanisms underlying their effects.
  • Wearable Devices for Single-Cell Sensing and Transfection
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 11Author(s): Lingqian Chang, Yu-Chieh Wang, Faheem Ershad, Ruiguo Yang, Cunjiang Yu, Yubo FanWearable healthcare devices are mainly used for biosensing and transdermal delivery. Recent advances in wearable biosensors allow for long-term and real-time monitoring of physiological conditions at a cellular resolution. Transdermal drug delivery systems have been further scaled down, enabling wide selections of cargo, from natural molecules (e.g., insulin and glucose) to bioengineered molecules (e.g., nanoparticles). Some emerging nanopatches show promise for precise single-cell gene transfection in vivo and have advantages over conventional tools in terms of delivery efficiency, safety, and controllability of delivered dose. In this review, we discuss recent technical advances in wearable micro/nano devices with unique capabilities or potential for single-cell biosensing and transfection in the skin or other organs, and suggest future directions for these fields.
  • Paradigm Shift in Algal H2 Production: Bypassing Competitive
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 11Author(s): Szilvia Z. Tóth, Iftach YacobyHydrogen is a promising energy carrier, but producing it sustainably remains a challenge. Green algae can produce hydrogen photosynthetically using their efficient but oxygen-sensitive hydrogenases. Recent strategies aiming to bypass competing processes provide a promising route for scaling up algal hydrogen production.
  • Recent Advances in Biosensors for Detecting Cancer-Derived Exosomes
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 11Author(s): Nan Cheng, Dan Du, Xinxian Wang, Dong Liu, Wentao Xu, Yunbo Luo, Yuehe LinEarly detection and effective treatments are two of the greatest challenges in the fight against cancer. Cancer-derived exosomes are attractive biomarkers for the early diagnosis and therapeutic response evaluation of cancer. Here, we review recent advances in biosensors for the detection of cancer-derived exosomes. We discuss the potential exosomal biomarkers of various cancers, which can be applied as indicative targets in the design of biosensors. We further describe the fabrication of exosome detection biosensors with respect to biological recognition strategies and signal transduction techniques, which involve integrated scientific and technological aspects of analytical chemistry and nanotechnology. Furthermore, future research directions and challenges in using cancer-derived exosomes for point-of-care (POC) testing are presented.
  • Synthetic Biology and the United Nations
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 11Author(s): Hung-En Lai, Caoimhe Canavan, Loren Cameron, Simon Moore, Monika Danchenko, Todd Kuiken, Zuzana Sekeyová, Paul S. FreemontSynthetic biology is a rapidly emerging interdisciplinary field of science and engineering that aims to redesign living systems through reprogramming genetic information. The field has catalysed global debate among policymakers and publics. Here we describe how synthetic biology relates to these international deliberations, particularly the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
  • Editorial Board and Contents
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 11Author(s):
  • New Prospects for Modified Algae in Heavy Metal Adsorption
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2019Source: Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 37, Issue 11Author(s): Sze Yin Cheng, Pau-Loke Show, Beng Fye Lau, Jo-Shu Chang, Tau Chuan LingHeavy metal pollution is one of the most pervasive environmental problems globally. Novel finely tuned algae have been proposed as a means to improve the efficacy and selectivity of heavy metal biosorption. This article reviews current research on selective algal heavy metal adsorption and critically discusses the performance of novel biosorbents. We emphasize emerging state-of-the-art techniques that customize algae for enhanced performance and selectivity, particularly molecular and chemical extraction techniques as well as nanoparticle (NP) synthesis approaches. The mechanisms and processes for developing novel algal biosorbents are also presented. Finally, we discuss the applications, challenges, and future prospects for modified algae in heavy metal biosorption.
  • Efficient C1 Elongation by Reversing α-Oxidation
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 24 October 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Benjamin M. WoolstonSingle carbon (C1) feedstocks are attractive for bioconversion, but native C1 assimilation pathways are difficult to engineer. Chou et al. developed a novel process for elongating the C1 compound formyl-CoA. Besides demonstrating a new approach for C1 bioconversion, this work paves the way for engineering synthetic methylotrophy into chassis organisms.
  • Multimodal Microorganism Development: Integrating Top-Down Biological
           Engineering with Bottom-Up Rational Design
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 October 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Matthew S. Dahabieh, Johan M. Thevelein, Brian GibsonBiological engineering has unprecedented potential to solve society’s most pressing challenges. Engineering approaches must consider complex technical, economic, and social factors. This requires methods that confer gene/pathway-level functionality and organism-level robustness in rapid and cost-effective ways. This article compares foundational engineering approaches – bottom-up, gene-targeted engineering, and top-down, whole-genome engineering – and identifies significant complementarity between them. Cases drawn from engineering Saccharomyces cerevisiae exemplify the synergy of a combined approach. Indeed, multimodal engineering streamlines strain development by leveraging the complementarity of whole-genome and gene-targeted engineering to overcome the gap in design knowledge that restricts rational design. As biological engineers target more complex systems, this dual-track approach is poised to become an increasingly important tool to realize the promise of synthetic biology.
  • Stepping into the Next Dimension of Biomaterial Design
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 October 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Julianne L. HollowayRecapitulating the dynamic spatiotemporal behavior of the extracellular matrix using biomaterials is an ongoing challenge. A recent breakthrough by Shadish et al. demonstrates the use of sortase-mediated transpeptidation to site-specifically modify proteins with a range of chemical motifs. Modified proteins were immobilized within biomaterials with high spatiotemporal control and resulted in localized bioactivity.
  • Future Applications of MXenes in Biotechnology, Nanomedicine, and Sensors
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 October 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Aleksandra Szuplewska, Dominika Kulpińska, Artur Dybko, Michał Chudy, Agnieszka Maria Jastrzębska, Andrzej Olszyna, Zbigniew BrzózkaThe past few years have seen significant developments in the chemistry and potential biological applications of 2D materials. This review focuses on recent advances in the biotechnological and biomedical applications of MXenes, which are 2D carbides, nitrides, and carbonitrides of transition metals. Nanomaterials based on MXenes can be used as therapeutics for anticancer treatment, in photothermal therapy as drug delivery platforms, or as nanodrugs without any additional modification. Furthermore, we discuss the potential use of these materials in biosensing and bioimaging, including magnetic resonance and photoacoustic imaging techniques. Finally, we present the most significant examples of the use of MXenes as efficient agents for environmental and antimicrobial treatments, as well as a brief discussion of their future prospects and challenges.Graphical Graphical abstract for this article
  • Electric Phenomenon: A Disregarded Tool in Tissue Engineering and
           Regenerative Medicine
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 16 October 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Lucília P. da Silva, Subhas C. Kundu, Rui L. Reis, Vitor M. CorreloTissue engineering and regenerative medicine (TERM) are paving the way to the generation of functional and mature biological tissues that closely emulate cellular, biochemical, and mechanical cues. Electrical fields in the human body modulate myriad biological processes, such as synapses, muscle contraction, hearing, and wound healing, which were disregarded in TERM until recently. To preserve and improve tissue electrophysiology, cells can be loaded in electroactive biomaterials and stimulated with exogenous electrical fields. Here, we review how electrical stimulation and electroactive biomaterials can be used to instruct cells to create more mature and functional tissue-engineered constructs. We also highlight the most recent electroactive engineered tissues developed for TERM.
  • Directed Evolution of CRISPR-Cas9 Base Editors
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 14 October 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Jackson Winter, Pablo Perez-PineraA recent publication by Thuronyi et al. described a directed evolution system called phage-assisted continuous evolution (PACE) that was used to generate improved variants of CRISPR-Cas9 base editors. These evolved base editors overcome some of the inherent limitations of the technology such as sequence context preferences, restricted editing windows, and large construct sizes.
  • A FRESH Take on Resolution in 3D Bioprinting
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 14 October 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Daniel C. Corbett, Emily Olszewski, Kelly StevensRecent innovations in the materials used for bioprinting have enabled transformative gains in the resolution and architecture of 3D-printed engineered tissues. We focus here on one of these innovations, reported by Lee et al., which lowers the resolution limit for printing soft biomaterials.
  • Re-engineering Artificial Neoplastic Milieus: Taking Lessons from Mechano-
           and Topobiology
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 October 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Aldo Leal-Egaña, Martial Balland, Aldo R. BoccacciniTraditionally, cancer-like scaffolds have been developed with tissue regeneration in mind and therefore designed to mimic the regenerative environment of otherwise healthy tissues. However, the tumoral niche exhibits specific biophysical cues far from being ‘cell friendly’, suggesting that a different approach should be taken to design these artificial neoplastic niches. From bare 2D surfaces to 3D and 1D microstructured platforms, this opinion article focuses on evolving approaches used to mimic in vitro the neoplastic niche, discussing why this pathology cannot be assessed with tissue engineering (TE) approaches (i.e., using scaffolds facilitating cell growth, migration, and matrix degradation in the absence of diffusional restrictions, among others), and suggests how to improve them with recent lessons learned from mechanobiology and topobiology.
  • Unconventional Tissue Engineering Materials in Disguise
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 4 October 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Michelle A. Nguyen, Gulden Camci-UnalTissue engineering faces a recurring challenge in the transformation of biomaterials into 3D constructs that mimic the biological, chemical, and mechanical features of native tissues. Some of the conventional approaches can be sophisticated and involve extensive material processing and high-cost fabrication procedures. Despite tremendous strides in biomaterials discovery and characterization, the functional and manufacturing limitations have led to the innovation of novel biomimetic techniques that borrow from nature, human-made commodities, and other parts of life to overcome the challenges in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. This review explores engineering strategies that involve unusual materials for improved functionality, scalability, sustainability, and cost-efficiency. The biomaterials discussed are globally accessible resources and can serve across a wide spectrum of biomedical research areas.
  • Predicting CRISPR/Cas9-Induced Mutations for Precise Genome Editing
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 September 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Kutubuddin A. Molla, Yinong YangSpCas9 creates blunt end cuts in the genome and generates random and unpredictable mutations through error-prone repair systems. However, a growing body of recent evidence points instead to Cas9-induced staggered end generation, nonrandomness of mutations, and the predictability of editing outcomes using machine learning models.
  • CRISPR-Based Directed Evolution for Crop Improvement
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 August 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Haroon Butt, Syed Shan-e-Ali Zaidi, Norhan Hassan, Magdy MahfouzDirected evolution involves generating diverse sequence variants of a gene of interest to produce a desirable trait under selective pressure. CRISPR-Cas9 (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-CRISPR-associated protein 9) systems can be programmed to target any genomic locus and perform targeted directed evolution. Here, we discuss the opportunities and challenges of this emerging platform for targeted crop improvement.
  • Biological Applications and Toxicity Minimization of Semiconductor Quantum
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 28 August 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Samira Filali, Fabrice Pirot, Pierre MiossecThe extraordinary potential of semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) has resulted in their widespread application in various fields, from engineering technology and the development of laboratory techniques to biomedical imaging and therapeutic strategies. However, the toxicity of QDs remains a concern and has limited their applications in human health. Better understanding of the behavior of QDs as it relates to their composition will enable the exploration of their limitations and development of a strategy to control their toxicity for potential therapeutic applications. Here, we describe approaches to minimize their toxicities according to the specific cell type, organ, or animal species, summarizing recent promising research at the cellular, organ, and whole-organism level.
  • Dynamic Metabolomics for Engineering Biology: Accelerating Learning Cycles
           for Bioproduction
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 28 August 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Christopher J. Vavricka, Tomohisa Hasunuma, Akihiko KondoMetabolomics is a powerful tool to rationally guide the metabolic engineering of synthetic bioproduction pathways. Current reports indicate great potential to further develop metabolomics-directed synthetic bioproduction. Advanced mass metabolomics methods including isotope flux analysis, untargeted metabolomics, and system-wide approaches are assisting the characterization of metabolic pathways and enabling the biosynthesis of more complex products. More importantly, a design, build, test, and learn (DBTL) cycle is accelerating synthetic biology research and is highly compatible with metabolomics data to further expand bioproduction capability. However, learning processes are currently the weakest link in this workflow. Therefore, guidelines for the development of metabolic learning processes are proposed based on bioproduction examples. Linking dynamic mass spectrometry (MS) methodologies together with automated learning workflows is encouraged.
  • Dunaliella Microalgae for Nutritional Protein: An Undervalued
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 23 August 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Yixing Sui, Siegfried E. Vlaeminckβ-carotene production using Dunaliella microalgae is established, yet their potential as a source of protein for food and feed applications appears to be overlooked. The rich protein content and nutritional tunability of Dunaliella make these algae intriguing sources of sustainable protein. Thus, it is of societal interest to exploit these promising proteinaceous Dunaliella traits.
  • Multienzymatic Nanoassemblies: Recent Progress and Applications
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 August 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Archontoula Giannakopoulou, Elena Gkantzou, Αngeliki Polydera, Haralambos StamatisBiotechnological research has turned to multienzymatic nanoassemblies as a promising concept to host multiple applications. Here, we consider important aspects around the development and optimization of such biocatalytic systems and present current advances in utilizing bi- and multienzymatic cascade reactions in diverse fields, including ultrasensitive biosensing, development of pharmaceuticals, and conversion of natural biopolymers to valuable products, highlighting their future potential in the chemical, biotechnological, and pharmaceutical industries. Diverse co-immobilization techniques and different parameters affecting the performance of multienzymatic cascade reactions are discussed. Continuous flow processes incorporating multienzymatic nanoassemblies in different reactor configurations are also presented. This technology provides an arsenal of tools for the development of innovative and effective multienzymatic systems offering new possibilities for biocatalysts applications.
  • Using Remote Fields for Complex Tissue Engineering
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 August 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): James P.K. Armstrong, Molly M. StevensGreat strides have been taken towards the in vitro engineering of clinically relevant tissue constructs using the classic triad of cells, materials, and biochemical factors. In this perspective, we highlight ways in which these elements can be manipulated or stimulated using a fourth component: the application of remote fields. This arena has gained great momentum over the last few years, with a recent surge of interest in using magnetic, optical, and acoustic fields to guide the organization of cells, materials, and biochemical factors. We summarize recent developments and trends in this arena and then lay out a series of challenges that we believe, if met, could enable the widespread adoption of remote fields in mainstream tissue engineering.
  • Designing Eukaryotic Gene Expression Regulation Using Machine Learning
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 August 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Ronald P.H. de Jongh, Aalt D.J. van Dijk, Mattijs K. Julsing, Peter J. Schaap, Dick de RidderControlling the expression of genes is one of the key challenges of synthetic biology. Until recently fine-tuned control has been out of reach, particularly in eukaryotes owing to their complexity of gene regulation. With advances in machine learning (ML) and in particular with increasing dataset sizes, models predicting gene expression levels from regulatory sequences can now be successfully constructed. Such models form the cornerstone of algorithms that allow users to design regulatory regions to achieve a specific gene expression level. In this review we discuss strategies for data collection, data encoding, ML practices, design algorithm choices, and finally model interpretation. Ultimately, these developments will provide synthetic biologists with highly specific genetic building blocks to rationally engineer complex pathways and circuits.
  • Resources to Discover and Use Short Linear Motifs in Viral Proteins
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 16 August 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Peter Hraber, Paul E. O’Maille, Andrew Silberfarb, Katie Davis-Anderson, Nicholas Generous, Benjamin H. McMahon, Jeanne M. FairViral proteins evade host immune function by molecular mimicry, often achieved by short linear motifs (SLiMs) of three to ten consecutive amino acids (AAs). Motif mimicry tolerates mutations, evolves quickly to modify interactions with the host, and enables modular interactions with protein complexes. Host cells cannot easily coordinate changes to conserved motif recognition and binding interfaces under selective pressure to maintain critical signaling pathways. SLiMs offer potential for use in synthetic biology, such as better immunogens and therapies, but may also present biosecurity challenges. We survey viral uses of SLiMs to mimic host proteins, and information resources available for motif discovery. As the number of examples continues to grow, knowledge management tools are essential to help organize and compare new findings.
  • Reinventing the Wheel: Synthetic Circular RNAs for Mammalian Cell
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 14 August 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Alan Costello, Nga T. Lao, Niall Barron, Martin ClynesThe circular RNA renaissance is upon us. Recent reports demonstrate applications of synthetic circular RNA molecules as gene therapies and in the production of biologics from cell-based expression systems. Circular RNAs are covalently closed loop RNA species that are formed naturally through noncolinear splicing of pre-mRNA. Although once thought to be noncoding artefacts from splicing errors, it is now accepted that circular RNAs are abundant and have diverse functions in gene regulation and protein coding in eukaryotes. Numerous reports have investigated circular RNAs in various diseases, but the promise of synthetic circular RNAs in the production of recombinant proteins and as RNA-based therapies is only now coming into focus. This review highlights reported uses of synthetic circular RNAs and describes methods for generating these molecules.
  • Bringing Microscopy-By-Sequencing into View
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 12 August 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Alexander A. Boulgakov, Andrew D. Ellington, Edward M. MarcotteThe spatial distribution of molecules and cells is fundamental to understanding biological systems. Traditionally, microscopies based on electromagnetic waves such as visible light have been used to localize cellular components by direct visualization. However, these techniques suffer from limitations of transmissibility and throughput. Complementary to optical approaches, biochemical techniques such as crosslinking can colocalize molecules without suffering the same limitations. However, biochemical approaches are often unable to combine individual colocalizations into a map across entire cells or tissues. Microscopy-by-sequencing techniques aim to biochemically colocalize DNA-barcoded molecules and, by tracking their thus unique identities, reconcile all colocalizations into a global spatial map. Here, we review this new field and discuss its enormous potential to answer a broad spectrum of questions.
  • Hands-On Introduction to Synthetic Biology for Security Professionals
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 July 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Neil R. Adames, Jenna E. Gallegos, Sonia Y. Hunt, William K. So, Jean PeccoudThe rapid pace of life sciences innovations and a growing list of nontraditional actors engaging in biological research make it challenging to develop appropriate policies to protect sensitive infrastructures. To address this challenge, we developed a five-day awareness program for security professionals, including laboratory work, site visits, and lectures.
  • A Makerspace for Life Support Systems in Space
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 July 2019Source: Trends in BiotechnologyAuthor(s): Jessica E. Snyder, David Walsh, Peter A. Carr, Lynn J. RothschildHuman space exploration and settlement will require leaps forward in life support for environmental management and healthcare. Life support systems must efficiently use nonrenewable resources packed from Earth while increasingly relying on resources available locally in space. On-demand production of components and materials (e.g., 3D printing and synthetic biology) holds promise to satisfy the evolving set of supplies necessary to outfit human missions to space. We consider here life support systems for missions planned in the 2020s, and discuss how the maker and 'do-it-yourself' (DIY) biology communities can develop rapid, on-demand manufacturing techniques and platforms to address these needs. This Opinion invites the diverse maker community into building the next generation of flight hardware for near-term space exploration.
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