Dreamer Biologist's Blog

Sachin Rawat on Biology, Technology, Medicine, Life and Future

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Making Synthetic Viruses

Andrew Hessel is a Distinguished Researcher with Autodesk Inc and a visionary in synthetic biology. So, what is a company involved in computer aided design doing in synthetic biology? A lot, potentially. Hessel is with the Bio/Nano Programmable Matter group, which is developing advanced software tools to let you design living systems at the nanoscale level. Continue reading



Final Week @ IDEA – Venture!

After learning to design and build a start-up, the final week was about venturing out. Our mentors felt that we were able to build breakthrough start-up ideas and left everything on us. The hiring process, building prototypes, designing products and pitching it to investors. We chose our teams last Saturday and had the whole week to work on our start-up ideas. We had to submit our venture submission packets that consisted of our prototype, lean canvas model, splash page and pitch deck by Friday. Continue reading


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Week Two @ IDEA – Build!

After the first week focusing on design, the second week at Innovate Delhi Entrepreneurship Academy was about building a business out of the product. To sum up the week in two equations, I’d like to use the following from Bernadette Jiwa’s blog -

Product – Meaning = Commodity
Product + Meaning = Brand

Most entrepreneurs love the product/service they build. It is their creation. But, no one wants your product. A few people might want the thing that your product does to be done, but no one wants the product. What people – co-founders, investors, users, friends of users etc – want is a story. A story to make people see your product the way you see it or any way you want them to. Continue reading



Week One @ IDEA – Design!

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
- John Steinbeck

I’m currently at a 3-week program, titled, Innovate Delhi Entrepreneurship Academy. It is organized by Stanford Graduate School of Business and hosted at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, New Delhi.

The debutant initiative describes itself as part business school and part start-up incubator. Continue reading

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The rules of genetics are there to be broken.

Sachin S Rawat:

Just when we thought we would beat natural selection using synthetic biology, a discovery to show us that Nature remains the boss !!

In many microbes, it has been found that the stop codons are interpreted as special amino acids, something which was considered to be an ingenuity of synthetic biologists.

Originally posted on Dave Sells STEM - Science News:

One of the aims of synthetic biology is to manipulate genetics so that the DNA code can be read differently and designer organisms can be created that will be more resistant to infection with viruses. If a different genetic code is used, then when a virus hijacks the infected cell’s machinery so that it can create huge numbers of copies of the virus to allow further infection, it will run into problems because the synthetic cell will make the virus incorrectly as it uses its own altered code. The synthetic organism will only be able to share its genetics with other synthetic organisms that have had their code manipulated similarly. However, a recent report in Science suggests that this type of recoding might actually be common amongst microbial life forms, which could provide a serious problem for synthetic biologists.

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Six-letter DNA. Picture credits: The Wall Street Journal.

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New Letters in the Alphabet of Life

I have written earlier on why there are only four nucleotides in DNA, when a greater number would have meant a greater diversity in life forms. That nature has settled on four doesn’t have to mean that we can’t go for more.

Four nucleotides exist in pairs of two in a DNA. Triplet codons of these nucleotides code for 20 amino acids. Floyd Romesberg and team at the Scripps Research Institute have expanded the alphabets of the language of life to six with the addition of two unnatural base pairs (UBPs) – X and Y. Continue reading

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Bio nano technology

Richard Feynman conceptualized the field of nanotechnology in his famed lecture, titled, There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom. It turns out there is indeed much room for diverse applications in the nanoscopic world. Nanoscopic surfaces and particles exhibit properties that are very different from properties of matter in the macroscopic domain.

The machinery of a living cell is composed of parts which are very much like nano-machines. For instance, ATP synthase is basically a motor.

Nano-biotech or Bio-nanotech?

The difference lies in which field is advancing the other. When advancements in nanotechnology are used in biological research or medical applications, it is nano-biotech. While, seeing biological molecules as nano-machines and using them to build new things falls under bio-nanotech. The former takes a top-down approach whereas the latter takes a bottom-up one. Continue reading

Similarities between a computer and a cell. Source: Andrianantoandro et al. (2006)


The Parallels Between Synthetic Biology and Personal Computing

Both synthetic biology and personal computing are informational sciences. They deal with the generation, storage, and transmission of information through the animate and the inanimate, respectively. At the conceptual level, the two are very similar. Surprisingly, the parallels do not end there. Just as personal computing has dramatically altered how we do things, synthetic biology is poised to revolutionize our world even further. The similarities include: Continue reading


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