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Raising the Standards

Drew Endy's lab has an article in Nature Biotechnology describing how they developed a framework to define and describe engineered biological devices that they then applied to an engineered, genetically encoded cell-cell communication receiver, called BBa_F2620. The framework they use is adapted from existing ones for engineered devices -- there are, they say, biological equivalents to sensors, logic gates, and actuators. The datasheet on BBa_F2620 reports its static performance, compatibility, and reliability, among other characteristics. "The characterization of BBa_F2620 sets up perhaps the first nearly complete standard to which future attempts can be compared," writes the University of California, Berkeley's Adam Arkin in a related News and Views.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.