Making Heroin Could One Day Be As Easy As Brewing Beer

Breakthroughs in synthetic biology have suggested a bizarre and realistic possibility for the future of black market drug trade. Genetically-altered yeast could be used to make opiates for hospitals seeking a source of the painkillers — and then appropriated by drug dealers who want to homebrew heroin. » 5/22/15 5:39pm Yesterday 5:39pm

Genetic Engineers Are Building a Biological Kill Switch

The fear of genetically-modified creatures escaping from the lab is the basis for a thousand sci-fi stories, but it’s also a legitimate concern. That’s why genetic engineers are inventing kill switches, or genetically-encoded suicide triggers, for GMOs they want to keep contained. Here’s how they work.
» 5/22/15 2:20pm Yesterday 2:20pm

Future Painkillers Might Be Made From Yeast, Not Poppies

Ever since humans first noticed the mind-altering effects of poppies, we've planted vast fields of the flowers to make drugs that range from the legal (morphine) to the illegal (heroin). Some of our strongest legitimate painkillers still originate in these large, unwieldy, and pesky-to-regulate poppy fields. But what… » 8/26/14 6:04pm 8/26/14 6:04pm

Scientists Have Created "Alien" DNA

After 15 years of work, scientists have successfully created a living cell that contains two unnatural DNA building blocks. The breakthrough brings us one step closer to being able to synthesize cells that can produce drugs on demand. It even opens the door to a future where we could create life that's unlike anything… » 5/07/14 6:20pm 5/07/14 6:20pm

Science gets closer to artificial life with first synthetic chromosome

Science, man. An international team of scientists have made a major breakthrough in synthetic biology. For the first time ever, they were able to insert a man-made, custom-built chromosome into brewer's yeast to not only create a life form but one that also passes down its man-made genes to its offspring. We're closer… » 3/27/14 8:49pm 3/27/14 8:49pm

10 Extreme--And Extremely Pretty--Close Ups of Bacteria and Plants

Bacteria has the virtue (and sometimes the vice) of being able to grow at incredible speeds—some strains can double in cell count in as little as four minutes. Fernan Federici, a postdoctoral student at the University of Cambridge, is pioneering the art of capturing the split-second process. And the results are… » 7/10/13 9:00am 7/10/13 9:00am