NPR On the Ongoing Biotech Revolution

Times are changing, and some very interesting and transformative technologies are emerging from the life sciences. Expect biotech to look increasingly like open source software development in years ahead: "at least three major technologies are shovel-ready: the programming of tissues, the ability to engineer cells, and robots. ... these discoveries mean that one can write out a life code, manipulate a cell, and execute a specific desired function. It means we can convert cells into programmable manufacturing entities. But this software builds its own hardware, allowing companies to begin using bacteria to produce chemicals, fuels, medicines, textiles, data storage, or any series of organic products. ... A second major tsunami is our increasing ability to grow complex organic structures, such as limbs, bladders, hearts, and tracheas. All complex organisms start out as undifferentiated, pluripotent cells, meaning these cells contain an entire genome and are able to produce all body parts. Mexico's dinosaur-like axolotl salamanders naturally regrow body parts, including sections of their hearts and brains as well as whole limbs. ... And soon, it may be possible to do this without a full body, just some cells. ... As innovators begin to read, reproduce, and program life, they will change almost every industry across the globe."



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