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"Mini-Factories" To Make Medicine Inside the Body 79

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-up dept.
Diggester writes "A group of scientists from MIT and the University of British Columbia have created 'mini-factories' that can be programmed to produce different types of proteins, and when implanted into living cells, it should distribute those proteins throughout the body. The scientists have initially triggered these 'factories' into action through the use of a laser light to relay the message of which proteins to produce."
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"Mini-Factories" To Make Medicine Inside the Body

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just wait until the pharmaceutical lobbyists get our clueless lawmakers to make protein synthesis illegal.. Then, the next step will be to make the lymphatic system illegal too. Illegal copying of cells is a violation of copyright law.

    • by MagusSlurpy (592575) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @05:11PM (#40512391) Homepage

      You realize who's going to make a killing manufacturing these nanofactories, right? The pharmaceutical industry. Even more amusingly, look at who funds the facility [mit.edu] where most of the research took place. Yes, those Koch Brothers.

      Go pander your conspiracies somewhere else.

      • by Fned (43219)

        "a laser light to relay the message of which proteins to produce"

        Yes, those Koch Brothers.

        My guess is the Koch Brothers' new "painful-death-by-simultaneous-rapid-growth-tumors-everywhere-in-your-body-at-once-don't-you-wish-you'd-read-the-fine-print-employee-attitude-adjustment laser" is going to make one of Baron Harkonnen's heartplugs look like a fucking employment benefit.

    • The scientists have initially triggered these 'factories' into action through the use of a laser light to relay the message of which proteins to produce.

      Treatment will be $500. Now go put your hand under the blinking light. Okay, all done!

    • Just wait until the pharmaceutical lobbyists get our clueless lawmakers to make protein synthesis illegal.. Then, the next step will be to make the lymphatic system illegal too. Illegal copying of cells is a violation of copyright law.

      You mean people will have to get permission to have kids? Please let that happen. Watching/reading the news about how hard it is to enforce will be funny. A pregnant woman crosses/lands into the country, police STOP! Do you have permission to duplicate those cells? Here is your $1000 fine. The lady swings what ever she is carrying and smacks the police officer in their head. It will be like a 3 stooges comedy routine, only funnier.

    • Doesn't Mom have prior art as she wanted to use third world kid's bodies as manufacturing plants years ago.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now when can i get one implanted that makes THC?

    captcha:conveyor

    • by Teresita (982888)
      Only in states with medical marijuana laws, like this one.
    • Why do you need THC when your body, specifically the pineal gland, _already_ naturally makes DMT? (DMT is the psychedelic used in LSD.)

      Also, "DMT occurs naturally in many species of plants"
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimethyltryptamine [wikipedia.org]

      --
      The fact that a natural _plant_ is _illegal_ is the height of stupidity.

      • by kermidge (2221646)

        "DMT is the psychedelic used in LSD."

        Uh, no: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lsd [wikipedia.org]

        I took plenty of acid '67-'77, ain't no DMT to it. Were occasional rumors some chemists added stuff to their blotter or whatnot, but I never saw any. Helps to know good chemists. ;)

      • by kermidge (2221646)

        Forgot to say, I dig your sig.

      • by ohsmeguk (1048214)
        Hey buddy, although DMT and LSD share the same indole ring structure, they are very different chemicals (and experiences). Just to be clear, DMT is not used in the manufacture of LSD
  • I wonder.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if they could make these factories produce insulin, dependent on concentration of glucose? That would be cool for diabetics.

    • Except I think it mightn't be necessary since there is another, more efficient, [slashdot.org] idea that seems to be promising.
    • by slazzy (864185)
      Insulin is a protein like many hormones so I'm sure this is something they are thinking about.
    • Actually, the good news for diabetics is already here [medicaldaily.com]
  • by mattr (78516)

    What could possibly go wrong. This is cool and wave of future but I'll sit back as long as I can to wait for bug testing.

    • by Teresita (982888)
      Fast forward to Los Angelese, November 2019. Tyrell Corporation asserts their 2010 patent for "single click" RNA transcription. A judge orders that the Genentech nanofactories keeping the subject alive have to be de-activated for patent infringement. The subject is dead before he leaves the table.
    • by Shavano (2541114)
      And how are they going to shine those lasers in my liver?
  • Nanohives (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WillDraven (760005) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @02:04PM (#40511549) Homepage

    Did anybody else think of nanohives from Shadowrun when they read the title?

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @02:12PM (#40511589)
    I mean how a cell (like bacteria) have a bit of DNA, mechanism to transcribe that to RNA and use rhibosomes to translate that into a protein. This thing does similar stuff except it isn't designed to replicate itself. Hmm, I don't have access to the original though, what does it use for energy to do all of this? (Since a cell might use a mitochondria to do cellular respiration. Ok, a bacteria doesn't have those but it can do something similar.)
    • by glk572 (599902) on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:06AM (#40514737) Homepage Journal

      skimmed the O, what they've done is combine two methods; essentially they've created an artificial cell wall and populated it's innards with the cellular machinery from e. coli bacteria. then they've introduced a piece of dna for the protein they're looking for. the factory claim comes from claims that the hybrid cells can still produce proteins under turbulence of the blood stream.
      as far as i can tell they don't know where the energy is coming from, the action dies out after around 24 hours. these letters are usually incremental publications, it's very short and excludes most of the details, this may be just experimental error, there's no reason to suspect that this is potentially superior to conventional mab techniques, or is in any way safe to use in vivo. they look like they're looking for a mechanism right now, but this is mostly academic work, basic research, and most of all ignores the complexity of the mammalian immune system.
      this is being published now for the sake of shopping it around for more grant money. if you want the O and can figure out how to get me your email, i can send a limited number of copies.

  • Woot! Another step towards improving the human immune system. Something like this sounds oddly similar to something I said last October:

    "It would be nice if one could program the current immune system with a broad range identifier would eliminate all but the rarest of virus infections. Then the next step would be to somehow analyze foreign invaders to give scientists advance warning. Then a way to create fixes automatically. David Weber gave a shot at imagining something like that but with alien tech implan

  • I'm going to save a ton of cash and outsource mine to India.
  • that brings out the 12 year old popular scientist kid lurking in every geek ? This is like so far from practical clincial use. Its fun to speculate, but we should be clear, this is *specualtion* and it is many years, and tens, if not hundreds of millions to get an FDA approved device. PS: I may not be able to spell, but I have a PhD in molecular biology, and understand stuff like highly conserved initiation factors with hyper modified histidine (hypusine) residues, the role of shine dalgarno....
  • nice job reframing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khipu (2511498) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @04:57PM (#40512329)

    Don't get me wrong, this is a nice achievement.

    But calling this "mini-factories", "programming", and "nanotechnology" is a clever reframing to make a combination of standard molecular biology techniques that are very far from actual medical use appear more hip and high tech.

  • organic unprocessed whole FOOD.
  • Hackable people.

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