Young engineer upgraded the LEGO bionic arm he built for himself

Bioengineer David Aguilar (aka "Hand Solo") continues to upgrade his DIY LEGO prosthetic arms that we posted about previously with this fantastic fourth generation model. From Reuters:

All the versions are on display in his room in the (Universitat Internacional de Catalunya) residence on the outskirts of Barcelona. The latest models are marked MK followed by the number - a tribute to comic book superhero Iron Man and his MK armor suits....

After graduating from university, he wants to create affordable prosthetic solutions for people who need them.

“I would try to give them a prosthetic, even if it’s for free, to make them feel like a normal person, because what is normal, right?”

Read the rest

Will Martian colonists need to be bioengineered?

Bioengineering future Martian colonists may be easier than taking the many difficult steps to reduce radiation exposure. But is it ethical? Read the rest

Watch this lab 3D print human skin equivalent

Printable human skin analogues have a number of important real-world uses, particularly as current replacements for animal models used in testing things like cosmetics. Read the rest

Scientists accidentally engineer enzyme to eat plastic waste

Researchers "accidentally" engineered a natural enzyme found in a Japanese waste recycling plant to eat plastic waste. According to the scientists from the UK's University of Portsmouth and the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the enzyme, Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, degrades polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the material used to make plastic bottles and other crap. The photo above is an electron microscope image of the enzyme degrading PET plastic.

"We hoped to determine (the enzyme's) structure to aid in protein engineering, but we ended up going a step further and accidentally engineered an enzyme with improved performance at breaking down these plastics," NREL's lead researcher Gregg Beckham told CNN. From the University of Portsmouth:

“Serendipity often plays a significant role in fundamental scientific research and our discovery here is no exception,” Professor McGeehan said.

“Although the improvement is modest, this unanticipated discovery suggests that there is room to further improve these enzymes, moving us closer to a recycling solution for the ever-growing mountain of discarded plastics.”

"Engineering a plastic-eating enzyme" (UOP) Read the rest

Scientists growing new arms for monkeys

Bioengineers are developing methods to grow new arms for monkeys using human progenitor cells that can become blood cells, vessels, and other tissue. Read the rest

Gene therapy restored hearing in deaf mice

Researchers partially restored hearing in deaf mice with a certain kind of genetic hearing loss by inserting working copies of the mutated genes. Eventually the technique could lead to gene therapy for certain causes of human deafness. Read the rest

3D printed, bioengineered faux rhino horns

Biotech startup Pembient devised a system for printing bioengineered synthetic rhino horns they hope will kill the big business of poaching. Read the rest