Biomedicine & Biotech

We count on innovation to improve our lives. In a quest to make innovations come faster we have considered how, and to whom, we entrust research and development. A new study suggests that the rate of innovation is driven mostly by how many simple and complex solutions might be available.
Some species of bugs in our intestine may contribute to weight gain more than others. And these may become more prevalent when competitors are reduced by antibiotics.
The FDA's current regulatory framework is out of whack -- and it comes at the expense of patient safety. The Wild West of "stem cell" clinics continues. This time, patients are hospitalized with blood infections to spinal abscesses.
Synthetic biology is like genetic engineering on steroids. Using cutting-edge computational design, synthetic biology aims to design novel biological molecules -- or even entire metabolic systems. Here's a plan to use this new technology to develop a world-changing treatment for Celiac disease. 
Anyone who believes that vaccines cause autism shouldn't be in a position of authority. The fundamental problem with someone making such a claim is not that s/he is wrong. Instead, it reveals someone who's conspiratorially minded and lacks critical thinking skills. That's not the sort of person who should be in charge of anything important.
Many Americans hold beliefs about the flu vaccine that are at odds with the best available scientific evidence. For example, a recent study found that 43 percent of Americans believe that the seasonal flu vaccine can give us the flu. Scientific research strongly suggests that this is not true. Because most modern flu shots do not contain a live virus, the shot itself simply cannot get us sick.
People who sign up for golf tips probably aren't looking for bad health advice. Yet, that's exactly what they got – as well as an unhealthy dose of conspiracy theory – in a recent newsletter sent out by Golf Game Tips.
A recent and thorough investigation of the scientific literature found no evidence that chiropractic care can prevent or stop the disease in its early stages. The researchers urged chiropractors to “cease such activities until, if ever, new evidence emerges.” It’s doubtful that chiropractors will follow this advice.
Plants can be turned into fuels and chemicals, but much of their stored value is lost in the woody component that's hard to break down. A sea creature, among others, has found a way to get at that additional value. It provides both something we can use – and a reminder about the power of nature and evolution.
The brain has evolved a method of protecting itself called the blood-brain barrier. But the BBB can backfire when it prevents drugs to treat brain diseases – for example, a malignant brain tumor – from reaching the site of the disease. Science has come up with some clever methods for defeating the brain's own defenses.
Ours is a culture that prioritizes instant gratification, and is instinctually reflexive about taking a pill or other fix immediately to end pain. When, actually, it is pain that can in a number of conditions be our greatest gift.
Genetic manipulation can be a force for good, but some voices raise concerns. Not about the unintended consequences, but about their possible, darker uses, as weapons.