Biotechnology

Nanobiotechnology: Bridging the Gap Between Nanoscale Science and Life Sciences

Reading Time: 5 minutes Nanobiotechnology: Bridging the Gap Between Nanoscale Science and Life Sciences Overview: Nanobiotechnology: The term ‘nano’ is a Greek prefix that translates to ‘dwarf’ or ‘extremely small’ and denotes a thousand millionth of a meter. An interface of biotechnology that involves applications of nanotechnological phenomenon in life sciences. This novel branch explores the biological and physicochemical characteristics of nanostructures and their potential applications in various areas of life sciences such as agriculture and medicine. Nanomedicine: An interdisciplinary branch that involves the use of nanomaterials for disease prevention, diagnosis, imaging, treatment, and regenerating systems of biological significance History and development: It is believed that Romans in the 4th century AD used nanoparticles and structures. One such example that associates nanotechnology with the ancient world is the Lycurgus cup made from dichroic glass which is said to change its colours in different light settings. Richard Feynman is known for his 1959 lecture “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom,” which is often considered the starting point for conceptualising nanotechnology. Norio Taniguchi coined the term “nanotechnology” for the first time in 1974. In 1982, Nadrian Seeman laid the foundation of DNA nanotechnology by exploring the possibility of generating sequences of oligomeric nucleic acids, marking the beginning of modern nanobiotechnology. Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals in the year 1990 released the first nanomedicine Adagen that used synthetic nanoparticles (PEF) for chronic combined immunodeficiency disease, Paul Rothemund created the “scaffolded DNA origami” in 2006 by using a “one-pot” reaction to increase the complexity of self-assembled DNA nanostructures. Nanotechnology in healthcare: Nanotechnology has been a hot topic in medicine and it has grabbed attention by assuring to solve various issues linked with conventional therapeutic agents, lack of targeting capability, systemic toxicity, etc. Researchers have identified that certain nanoparticles have potential applications in creating targeted medicinal products, implants, diagnostic instruments, and tissue engineering. Today, nanotechnology enables the administration of treatments with high toxicity while ensuring improved safety. Moreover, wearable gadgets assist in effectively monitoring vital signs, infections, and the conditions of cancer cells. This allows doctors to significantly access critical data. In healthcare, nanotechnology offers numerous therapeutic, diagnostic, and preventive applications.   Nanoparticles in Anticancer Drug Delivery Several materials have been explored for the delivery of drugs that enhance the therapeutic efficacy of anticancer drugs. Nanoparticles play a significant role in achieving innovative cancer drug delivery methods. As a result, a large number of nanoparticle-oriented drug delivery techniques have been developed for treating various types of cancers. Researchers are exploring materials like lipids, proteins, polymers, and polysaccharides to create potential drug delivery carriers. Nanoparticles allow for precise modifications that facilitate binding to the cytoplasmic or nuclear receptor sites, microenvironment, or the membranes of cancer cells. This approach results in lower toxicity to healthy tissues while enabling the delivery of high drug concentrations to the targeted cancer cells. Examples of such drugs include albumin-conjugated paclitaxel and liposomal doxorubicin.   Nanomedicine and Artificial intelligence (AI): Future of Precision medicine: Nanomedicine and Artificial Intelligence (AI) stand out as the two most significant fields for realising the goal of precision medicine, tailored to each cancer patient’s unique needs. Combining these two domains has helped us achieve accurate patient data acquisition and enhanced nanomaterials design for precision cancer medicine. Innovative nanomedicines have been developed to treat several diseases based on the genetic profiles of each patient. Nanotechnology brings several advantages to personalised medicine, such as size that matches the molecular substrates of precision medicine, sensitivity to detect and bind target molecules, and flexible function of therapeutics at the nanoscale. Replicating Nanomachines. [wikimedia commons] Nanotechnology in agricultural sciences: Nanobiotechnology holds the promise of sustainable agriculture as it’s believed that nanoparticles, with their unique physicochemical characteristics, can enhance plant growth and stress tolerance. These nanoparticles significantly stimulate growth by influencing seed germination, shoot and root growth, and notably impacting grain yield. Additionally, nanobiotechnology plays a crucial role in genetically modifying crops, including GMO crops. For instance, scientists have employed mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSN) to deliver chemicals and DNA into plant cells and leaves. The utilization of nano-fertilizers, nano-pesticides, and nano-herbicides can reduce the dependence on toxic chemicals in agriculture, resulting in environmental benefits such as decreased water contamination and improved soil health. However, it’s essential to recognize that the use of GMO crops and nanobiotechnology in agriculture remains a subject of debate and regulation in many regions Conclusion: As we look ahead, we find promising prospects in nanotechnological research. Researchers aim to refine nanomaterials, explore new applications, and enhance their safety features. We can anticipate the emergence of cutting-edge nanotechnology applications in medical, healthcare, and agricultural sciences as technology evolves, delivering significant improvements and benefits for society. References Haleem A, Javaid M, Singh RP, Rab S, Suman R. Applications of nanotechnology in the medical field: a brief review. Global Health Journal [Internet]. 2023 Jun 1;7(2):70–7. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.glohj.2023.02.008 Zhao L, Lü L, Wang A, Zhang H, Huang M, Wu H, et al. Nano-biotechnology in agriculture: Use of nanomaterials to promote plant growth and stress tolerance. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry [Internet]. 2020 Jan 31;68(7):1935–47. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.9b06615 Fakruddin Md, Hossain Z, Afroz H. Prospects and applications of nanobiotechnology: a medical perspective. Journal of Nanobiotechnology [Internet]. 2012 Jan 1;10(1):31. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1186/1477-3155-10-31 Haleem A, Javaid M, Singh RP, Rab S, Suman R. Applications of nanotechnology in the medical field: a brief review. Global Health Journal [Internet]. 2023 Jun 1;7(2):70–7. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.glohj.2023.02.008 Alghamdi M, Fallica AN, Virzì N, Kesharwani P, Pittalà V, Greish K. The promise of nanotechnology in personalized medicine. Journal of Personalized Medicine [Internet]. 2022 Apr 22;12(5):673. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3390/jpm12050673 Bayda S, Adeel M, Tuccinardi T, Cordani M, Rizzolio F. The history of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology: From Chemical–Physical applications to Nanomedicine. Molecules [Internet]. 2019 Dec 27;25(1):112. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25010112 Priyanka P, Kumar D, Yadav A, Yadav K. Nanobiotechnology and its Application in Agriculture and Food Production. In: Nanotechnology in the life sciences [Internet]. 2020. p. 105–34. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-31938-0_6 Shang YF, Hasan K, Ahammed GJ, Li M, Yin H, Zhou J. Applications of Nanotechnology in

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The Evolution and Ethics of Cloning: A Comprehensive Overview

Reading Time: 5 minutes The Evolution and Ethics of Cloning: A Comprehensive Overview Cloning is referred to as a technology in which a group of cells, or an organism is replicated to generate an identical copy. The technology of cloning helps create genetically identical copies of organisms. In this exploration, we delve into the historical roots of cloning, its diverse applications, and the ethical debates it has ignited. From the landmark moment of Dolly the sheep’s birth to the potential future of human reproductive cloning, we unravel the past, present, and future of this fascinating technology. Join us as we navigate the complex landscape of cloning, from its scientific breakthroughs to the ethical considerations that shape its evolution.   Types of artificial cloning:  Therapeutic cloning:  Therapeutic cloning is referred to as a cloning technology wherein, the nuclear transfer is used to provide tissues, cells, and organs for a patient needing supplementation or replacement of the damaged or diseased tissue.  This involves generating an embryo only to manufacture embryonic stem cells which are used in understanding diseases.   Reproductive cloning:  Reproductive cloning produces genetically identical organisms. Two methods used in reproductive cloning are Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) and Embryo splitting. Identical twins are said to be the most common examples of natural clones. Reproductive cloning produces whole duplicated organisms.   Gene cloning:  Gene cloning or DNA cloning refers to the cloning of genes. In this, a copy of genes or DNA is produced. Gene cloning includes different processes from that of biomedical or reproductive cloning. Historical background:  Earliest reference and the first demonstration of embryo twinning:  The earliest talk about cloning can be traced back to the 19th century. In the year 1885, Hans Driesch described the ability of blastomeres of two-cell sea urchins to be separated and formed two complete embryos from each blastomere.   Birth of cloning:  In the year 1902, Hans Spemann employed the earlier discovered method to clone salamanders. Spemann’s experiment described that the method worked for complex organisms – however only up to a specific developmental stage.  Later on in the year 1928, Spemann conducted nuclear transfer for the first time. This time a noose was used to separate a cell from the embryo. This experiment demonstrated that the early embryonic cell nucleus can be utilized in the complete development of the salamander. The proposition of nuclear transfer became the fundamental technique for cloning. This experiment presented the ability to manipulate the nuclei of the cell and that the genetic material can be transferred to another organism.   Cloning of frogs:  Briggs and King successfully used nuclear transfer and successfully cloned frogs from a frog embryo cell to an enucleated egg cell. This experiment described the ability to produce an entire organism using somatic cell nuclear transfer.   The breakthrough of Dolly:  The birth of Dolly the sheep was known to be the most vital moment in the history of cloning. In 1996 Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell made history by successfully cloning the first mammal. A nucleus was transplanted from the udder cells of an adult sheep to an enucleated cell. One embryo out of 277 attempts was carried by a surrogate mother for gestation. Cloning was brought to light and into the public eye by the well-known lamb named Dolly. This breakthrough utilized somatic cell nuclear transfer and showcased the potential new possibilities in regenerative medicine and reproductive biology. Later on, multiple organisms were cloned including mice and camels.   Cloning and legends:  Most often cloning is also linked with Hindu mythology which mentions the concept of reincarnations, births, and rebirths. Where an individual goes through the cycle of births experiencing each life. This idea correlated to the idea of cloning where the genetic material of an animal is replicated to create a new body.   Applications and the future:  Cloning is the means to replicate the present complementary or favourable characteristics in livestock such as high production of milk, growth efficiency, etc. This helps produce organisms with specific genetic modifications. Animals such as mice are cloned to understand biological mechanisms in research.  Human reproductive cloning would help infertile couples have children that are genetically identical to them. People who require transplants to treat their children’s disorders and hence want to collect genetically identical tissue from that of the cloned fetus. Cloning can also be immensely useful in the conservation and de-extinction of endangered species. Attempts have been made to clone organisms such as the gaur ox, and Macaque monkey using nuclear transfer. Xenotransplantation is another application of cloning. This enables the transplant of cells, tissue, or organs from one species to another. Ethical debates: Along with the benefits the technology of cloning offers society today as well as cloning for medical research, ethical debates arise with the possibility that one day a cloned human may be born. However, no such attempts have been confirmed or acknowledged.   Cloning for reproductive purposes raises concerns about the commodification of life and the potential abuse of cloning technology. Many countries imposed regulations and restrictions on experiments surrounding cloning after the birth of Dolly. Issues regarding the uniqueness and individuality of human beings have been raised as it involves creating a replica of an individual. The cloning process has been found to have significant health implications for cloned animals, including a higher risk of genetic abnormalities and health complications.  Apart from this some other issues surrounding cloning involve potential health risks, fear of genetic abnormalities, social and psychological impacts, etc.   Conclusion: The cloning technology continues to advance. The exploration has still been going on considering the ethical implications. The journey of cloning has been filled with curiosity and scientific breakthroughs. To make use of cloning technology in the future for advancement in human health and diseases, we must address the fears associated with cloning. A new narrative that supports the applications and challenges surrounding the technology of cloning must be created. As the future guarantees advancements and discoveries. Author: Ms Sanika Pande

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Artificial Womb Technology and Ectogenesis

Reading Time: 5 minutes Artificial Womb Technology and Ectogenesis: Shaping the Future of Reproduction Artificial Womb Technology and Ectogenesis: Shaping the Future of Reproduction An “ectogenous incubator” strives to imitate the conditions and processes within the uterus that are essential for the growth of a fetus. Ectogenesis has the potential to provide a regulated setting for the maturation of premature fetuses, enhancing their likelihood of survival and well-being. However, this concept also brings up ethical, societal, and medical issues that require thorough assessment as technological progress continues in this domain. An Overview of Ectogenesis Ectogenesis is a technology that enables the fetus to be grown in an artificial environment outside the human body. This artificial environment is most of the time an ectogenous incubator that provides the uterine environment and functions of the womb to the fetus.  The term “artificial womb technology” (AWT) is frequently used to refer to the technological aspect of the process commonly known as “ectogenesis.” The advancements in in-vitro fertilization and the increased survival rates of preterm births have opened up new possibilities for ectogenesis, including the potential for in vitro implantation and complete fetus development. Background: Historical Insights | Past Milestones and Ongoing Research in Reproductive Technology Background: Historical Insights | Past Milestones and Ongoing Research in Reproductive Technology The earliest possible reference to an artificial womb can be traced back to the time of Mahabharata.  According to legend, Queen Gandhari reportedly gave birth to a lump of flesh that was subsequently divided into 101 parts, eventually developing into fully-formed babies who were later known as Kauravas. In the year 1923 JBS Haldane first coined the term ectogenesis. On July 25th, 1978, Louise Brown, the first baby conceived through in-vitro fertilization (IVF), was born.  The first ever attempt of supporting the development of human embryos outside the human body was conducted in Italy in the year 1982, however, the program was stopped due to ethical issues. In 1989, it was reported that the first human embryo had been implanted in an ex vivo, extracorporeally perfused uterus. This sparked debate and raised ethical questions. On June 15, 1993, the United States Patent Office issued a patent for an artificial uterus or placental chamber, marking a noteworthy achievement in reproductive technology. This placental chamber device was primarily designed for premature babies, allowing them to stay connected to the placenta via the umbilical cord. Research has been ongoing to create uteri using tissue engineering techniques. However, it is primarily focused on experimentation with animals.  Successful outcomes of experiments in extending the survival and development of premature lambs using the EXTEND and EVE protocols. EXTEND Protocol in 2017: The EXTEND protocol was employed successfully to support premature lambs for four weeks. This suggests that the protocol allowed these premature lambs to survive and develop outside the womb for an extended duration. EVE Protocol in 2019: This experiment demonstrated the survival of fetal lambs for around 19-20 days. The EVE protocol appears to have maintained healthy somatic growth and normal cardiovascular functioning. There was no inflammation or infection observed in the lambs during the experiments is noteworthy. This suggests that the protocols were designed to create a controlled and sterile environment to minimize potential complications. Advancements in the field of Artificial Womb Technology and its Potential Implications Advancements in the field of Artificial Womb Technology and its Potential Implications Physiological Effects and Viability: Considerable strides have been taken in showcasing the physiological impacts of the artificial environment and the viability of providing extra-corporeal support of younger animals biologically comparable to a 22–24-week gestation human fetus, in addition to advancements in extracorporeal circuit configuration and oxygenator technology. According to reports, this will be the main clinical target group for AWT as a platform for providing life support to extremely premature infants. Partial Ectogenesis and Technological Developments: Advancements have been made in achieving partial ectogenesis by the practice of saving prematurely born fetuses using increasingly advanced incubators and other technological developments. While complete ectogenesis remains a speculative concept, discussions about it have persisted for decades. Certain aspects of ectogenesis have been partially realized, particularly in industrialized nations, thanks to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive procedures. Potential Advantages of Ectogenesis Potential Advantages of Ectogenesis There are some potential benefits and implications of ectogenesis, particularly concerning decreasing morbidity and mortality among premature infants, expanding reproductive possibilities, and addressing gender-related roles and concerns.  Decreasing Morbidity and Mortality for Premature Infants: Ectogenesis holds the potential to significantly reduce morbidity and mortality among extremely premature infants. The technology of artificial wombs can provide a milieu that would enable a fetus to continue growth in an environment resembling a uterus without the stress of premature birth. This would help improve the standards of neonatal care which would further help decrease morbidity and mortality of preterm infants.  Reproductive Possibilities for Diverse Groups: Gay male couples, single male couples, and women who are unable to carry a child may be able to have biological offspring with the help of artificial womb technology.  Complete Ectogenesis and Gender Roles: The concept of complete ectogenesis garners support from scholars globally. It is viewed not just as a means to aid those who cannot conceive naturally, but also as a mechanism to emancipate women from their traditional reproductive roles in society. This vision could detach procreation from reliance solely on the female body, liberating women not only from the physical and societal constraints of pregnancy and childbirth but also from the subsequent challenges they often face. These possibilities hold promise, but they also raise complex ethical, cultural, and social questions that require careful consideration. Ethical Issues Around Ectogenesis Ethical Issues Around Ectogenesis There are a few moral, ethical, and practical dilemmas associated with ectogenesis and artificial womb technology. Loss of Physical Bond: Moral and ethical complexities encircle ectogenesis, with concerns raised about potential adverse effects on the unborn child. Some suggest that this technology might disrupt the natural development process. In a conventional pregnancy, a “physical bond” forms between the mother and baby due

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The Marine Sponge Marvels: A Storehouse of Bioactive compounds and Therapeutic potential

Reading Time: 6 minutes The Marine Sponge Marvels: A Storehouse of Bioactive Compounds and Therapeutic Potential Let’s explore the remarkable world of Marine Sponges. This article talks about marine sponges, their bioactive Compounds, and Potential Applications What are Marine Sponges? Marine sponges are broadly classified as invertebrates belonging to the phylum Porifera. They are found in deep waters on ocean floors and are usually attached to rocks, shells, and corals present on the ocean floor. Marine sponges have been discovered in oceans as well as freshwater rivers and lakes. Marine sponges are believed to be the oldest multicellular organisms or metazoans. They are considered ecologically significant due to their capability to filter vast volumes of ocean water. Sponges are found in various shapes, sizes, and colors, which are said to be influenced by environmental conditions. The diet of sponges consists of various prokaryotic microorganisms, as well as nano and Pico eukaryotes. Sponges exhibit remarkable defensive properties against viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases. Historical Insights Reportedly, the association between sponges and medicine can be traced back to Alexandrian physicians and represented in brief by Roman historian Plinius. The doctors used sponges soaked in various substances to treat various conditions such as: Iodine-saturated sponges were used for stimulating blood coagulation Sponges soaked in bioactive plant extracts were utilized for anesthetizing patients. Wine-soaked sponges were used for heartache Urine-soaked sponges in the treatment of poisonous animal bites. Additionally, they employed sponges against sunstrokes, wounds, infections, dropsy, and more. Sponges garnered pharmaceutical interest in the early 1950s when nucleosides spongothymidine and spongouridine were discovered from the sponge Cryptotethia crypta. These nucleosides proved to be the foundation for synthesizing Ara-C and Ara-A. Ara-C was the first sponge-derived anticancer agent which is currently used in the treatment of leukemia patients and approved for use in cancers of the bladder, pancreatic, lung, and breast. Ara-A is an antiviral drug. Around the 1980s, Manoalide, an antibiotic and analgesic, was isolated from the marine sponge Luffariella variabilis. It was one of the first sesterterpenoids discovered. In the 1970 and 1980s, Clive Wilkinson and Jean Vacelet discovered the wide variety of microbial communities comprising about 40% of the total volume of sponges. Over the past few decades, sponge microbiology has become an area of interest for research. Researchers have shown keen interest in studying sponge microbiology over the past few decades. Current Scenario: Therapeutic Prospects Unveiled As microbes have developed resistance to antimicrobials, marine sponges have emerged as sources for generating novel solutions against various parasitic, viral, bacterial, and fungal diseases. Compounds abundant in antiviral properties have been identified within sponges. Many of these antiviral compounds have found application in the treatment of diseases like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Among these compounds, Avarol stands out as a significant discovery from marine sponges. Research indicates that even a small amount of avarol can effectively suppress HIV infection by 50-80%. Fungal infections can lead to fatalities in immunocompromised patients. Certain sponges possess antifungal properties that aid in preventing fungal infections. An example is the sponge species Jaspis sp., from which the cyclic peptide Jaspamide is extracted. This compound has demonstrated antifungal activity against Candida albicans in laboratory settings (in vitro) and has also shown efficacy against Candida species within living organisms (in vivo). Several marine species with abundant secondary metabolites exhibit effective therapeutic potential.   A few years ago, the Food and Drug Administration approved drugs derived from marine sponges, which played a role in suppressing metastatic breast cancer. Among these, Fucosyltransferase, a compound isolated from Sarcotragus sp., is thought to control inflammation and impede tumor growth. Numerous other components sourced from marine sponges contribute to the inhibition of tumor growth.  Certain chemicals obtained from marine sponges are employed in the creation of drugs or treatments for prevalent blood disorders like thrombosis, or atherosclerosis. For instance, in the treatment of thrombosis, the drug Cyclotheonamide A is derived from a specific sponge species known as Theonella sp. Furthermore, the sponge species Eryltus formosus produces Eryloside F, a substance that exhibits the potential in interacting with thrombin receptors. Future Prospects: The substrates originating from marine sponges hold the potential for significant importance in the fields of medicine and pharmacology. Reflecting on the diverse array of medicinal properties and secondary metabolites that marine sponges provide, the past 50 years have been recognized as a breakthrough period. Indeed, marine sponges are widely recognized as a valuable reservoir of medicinal properties, making them aptly described as a goldmine. Marine sponges harbor biomolecules showcasing diverse attributes such as antiviral, antitumor, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and immunosuppressive properties. These attributes can play a pivotal role in influencing the development of numerous diseases. In recent times, molecular biology research has focused on unraveling the genome of sponges. This effort seeks to illuminate the evolution of metazoan genes and diseases along with the underlying molecular mechanisms. The chemicals derived from marine sponges encompass a broad spectrum of potential applications. Additionally, each bioactive chemical and metabolite extracted from sponges exhibits a unique effectiveness or inhibitory influence. Continued research into marine sponges holds the promise of unearthing numerous additional therapeutics, highlighting their significant relevance to humanity. Combining chemicals sourced from sponges with cutting-edge technologies could result in the emergence of entirely novel domains of application, carrying significant implications for the field of biotechnology. Within the expansive marine ecosystem encompassing animals, organisms, and plants/plankton, marine sponges stand out as the foremost contenders in terms of their potential for fostering the creation of innovative drugs and therapies. Consequently, marine sponges are recognized as a substantial reservoir of health benefits This resource has the potential to drive the creation of nutritional supplements, cosmetics, and molecular probes that would contribute to enhancing the quality of human life. Conclusion In conclusion, the realm of marine sponge research represents a captivating frontier that holds immense promise for various domains, from medicine and biotechnology to ecological sustainability. The remarkable diversity of chemical compounds within marine sponges offers a wealth of opportunities for the development of innovative therapies, diagnostic tools, and cosmetic solutions that can

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