Manufacturing hasn’t evolved much for thousands of years.
But a radical shift could be coming: replacing traditional factories with biological ones and designing by “human-cell collaboration.” Are we headed to a glucose-based economy?
It’s still early days when it comes to manufacturing. Archaeological digs have revealed that technology behind the first stone tools advanced at a glacial pace: Approximately 33,000 generations passed between early hominids’ first attempts about 2.6 million years ago and the next wave of innovation almost a million years later. While the pace has quickened exponentially, our fundamental techniques remain remarkably similar in concept: creating objects by reworking raw materials with hands or tools.
Biology, rather than machining, is now emerging as a leading contender to assemble our future environment. Medicine and biofuels have tapped biology for mass production, but more robust materials for everyday life–roofs, beams, floor panels, car seats–are still the domain of factories. Now the ability to redirect and engineer biological processes and then capture this understanding in computational models, means that cells could soon become our factories, says David Benjamin, a computational architect and principal of the The Living, a New York architectural practice, as well as a professor at Columbia University.
The concept is evolving from top-down engineering of biological parts to more of a dance between computer, biological and human intelligence. Humans set the goals–the shape and properties of a desired material–and computers translate these properties into biological models. Then the patterned “sheets” of bacterial cells are grown in the lab, determining the final design based on the predilections encoded in DNA.
This “human-cell collaboration” is at the heart of Benjamin’s architectural practice, which envisions a future built largely as a joint endeavor between humans and cells–mostly bacteria. “[Once we] start modeling this in computers, that’s immediately in my domain because then I can start designing with them,” says Benjamin.
Plant cells are one of Benjamin’s latest experiments: xylem cells, the long hollow tubes transporting water in plants, are being designed as computer models and grown in a Cambridge University lab to create materials with the desired properties by recruiting–or engineering–different species of bacteria.
Emerging software, says Benjamin, will soon allow architects to create multi-material objects in a computer, translate these into biological models, and let biology finish the job by growing them under carefully engineered conditions, or tweaking the DNA to achieve precisely the right result. How completely the line between design, engineering and biology may soon be blurred is on display in this conceptual video of prototype software by one of Benjamin’s collaborators, the design software creator Autodesk, exploring the envelope of a building from flat bio-composite sheets.
The Latest Bing News on:
- Graphite-Embedded Plastic Kills 99.99% of Bacteria on Contacton October 4, 2020 at 5:00 pm
While the graphite nanoplatelets slash and kill bacteria, they barely scratch a human cell. Image courtesy Chalmers University ... according to Kádár. The study was a collaboration between the ...
- Going Human: Finding the Right Humanized Model for Youon October 2, 2020 at 4:11 am
These severely immunodeficient animals are required to support human cell engraftment to generate multiple differentiated lineages from human hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Humanized NCG mice ...
- A map of the human hearton September 27, 2020 at 12:45 pm
The research is part of the Human Cell Atlas initiative to map every cell type in the ... “This study shows the power of single-cell genomics and international collaboration,” he added. “Knowledge of ...
- Highly detailed map of the human heart created to guide personalized cardiovascular treatmentson September 25, 2020 at 7:59 am
The research is part of the Human Cell Atlas initiative to map every ... shows the power of single-cell genomics and international collaboration,” he added. “Knowledge of the full range ...
- Highly detailed map of the human heart could guide personalized heart treatmentson September 24, 2020 at 8:36 am
Scientists have created a detailed cellular and molecular map of the healthy human heart to understand how this vital organ functions and to shed light on what goes awry in cardiovascular disease.
- Highly detailed map of the human heart could guide personalized heart treatmentson September 24, 2020 at 8:10 am
The research is part of the Human Cell Atlas initiative to map every ... shows the power of single-cell genomics and international collaboration," he added. "Knowledge of the full range of cardiac ...
- Javelin Biotech Aims to Develop Industry-Leading “Organ-on-a-Chip” Predictive Pharmacokinetics Platform in Collaboration with Pfizer Inc.on September 23, 2020 at 6:10 pm
Javelin Biotech today announces a 3-year collaboration with Pfizer to design and build a platform to evaluate ADME properties of small molecule drugs.
- Javelin Biotech Aims to Develop Industry-Leading "Organ-on-a-Chip" Predictive Pharmacokinetics Platform in Collaboration with Pfizer Inc.on September 23, 2020 at 8:52 am
Collaboration aims to create the first "organ-on-a-chip ... both of which often have drawbacks. Human cell-based in vitro systems often lack the complexity to replicate tissue cytostructure and ...
- Javelin Biotech Aims to Develop Industry-Leading “Organ-on-a-Chip” Predictive Pharmacokinetics Platform in Collaboration with Pfizer Inc.on September 23, 2020 at 4:46 am
Collaboration aims to create the first ... both of which often have drawbacks. Human cell-based in vitro systems often lack the complexity to replicate tissue cytostructure and function.
The Latest Google Headlines on:
The Latest Bing News on:
- The pros and cons of swimming with a hammerheadon October 11, 2020 at 5:25 am
A study published last month in Scientific Reports explored how the sharks' strangely shaped craniums affect how they swim.
- Olympic athletes should be mindful of their biological clockson October 8, 2020 at 8:02 am
Biological clocks have sizeable effects on the performance of elite athletes. This conclusion was drawn by chronobiologists from the University of Groningen after studying the times achieved by ...
- Theoretical model explains biological phenomena that keep bacteria in shapeon October 6, 2020 at 11:34 pm
Fat bacteria? Skinny bacteria? From our perspective on high, they all seem to be about the same size. In fact, they are.Precisely why has been an open question, according to Rice University chemist ...
- Remote control of blood sugar: Electromagnetic fields treat diabetes in animal modelson October 6, 2020 at 1:24 pm
Researchers from the University of Iowa may have discovered a safe new way to manage blood sugar non-invasively. Exposing diabetic mice to a combination of static electric and magnetic fields for a ...
- Healthcare Leaders Pioneer A New Collaboration Model To Transform The Future Of Drug Developmenton October 6, 2020 at 5:58 am
The reinvention of drug development through partnership was the the theme of this breakthrough discussion of leaders. Through collaboration and use of AI in drug development new barriers can be broken ...
- Sandia Helps Safeguard Biological Data Threatened During COVID-19 Pandemicon October 6, 2020 at 4:55 am
A partnership between Sandia National Laboratories and the Boston firm BioBright LLC to improve the security of synthetic biology equipment has become more relevant after the United States and others ...
- INDIGO's Preclinical Animal Model Platform Expands Zebrafish Offeringon October 6, 2020 at 3:00 am
INDIGO Biosciences, the recognized industry leader in nuclear receptor research, has expanded their robust portfolio of ...
- Development of a coarse-grained model of SARS-CoV-2 virionon October 5, 2020 at 8:27 pm
A team of scientists of the University of Chicago and the University of California San Diego has developed a coarse-grained (CG) model of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 ...
- Designing biological-inspired artificial intelligenceon October 5, 2020 at 9:57 am
For decades artificial intelligence (AI) researchers have turned to the brain for inspiration but the mechanisms by which neurons create or suppress ...
- Army researchers develop model for air pollutant threat defenseon October 1, 2020 at 11:39 am
Researchers from the Army’s corporate laboratory developed a unique turbulence model for the atmosphere that has broad applications to both civilian and military activities to include the prediction ...