Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Revolutionary Biotech and Nanotech

Jonathan Rothberg may be turning into the Steve Jobs of biotechnology, and soon even for nanotechnology as well. Take a look at his latest company, Raindance Technologies.

He is developing a system that he claims will do for lab analysis what the microchip and Personal Computer did for information technology. I see more of a telecom analogy -- the way packet-switching networks were an improvement over continuous-circuit communications. But it could potentially banish lab glassware, as the transistor did to the vacuum tube. This Personal Laboratory System will generate and route 2500 packets (droplets) per second through its network of microfluidic channels -- that's nearly 10 million per hour -- allowing a myriad of analytical procedures to be done on each one. Go to the Technology page on that site, and click on some of the icons in the sidebar, to see how it operates.

Imagine the implications for combinatorial chemistry or complex synthesis, whether for bio-engineered organisms or assembly of sophisticated nano-bots. Imagine for example that each droplet could act like an egg, gestating and hatching an individual bio-organism or nano-device. At an output rate of almost 10 million per hour, you could create a small army of them very quickly. Or you could do a complex set of analyses to decode a genome very quickly.

Meanwhile, here is a 2-part feature on the company Rothberg first became famous for founding, 454 Life Sciences, and how the gene-reader he invented could change the face of bio-medicine:
Part I and Part II.


Raghu said...

This all sounds very interesting.. Is anyone doing something similar in India.. for instance Reliance Life Sciences..??

san said...

Hi, sorry for a previous typo -- I'd meant to write "2500 per second" -- which is now corrected.

With India having the world's largest pool of biotech personnel and actively courting outsourcing of biotech R&D, I certainly think we ought to get a handle on new disruptive technologies like these.

CDAC was rightly proud of having created the Param supercomputers with their powerful multiprocessing capabilities. But this new approach to packet-routing of minute chemical samples is a similar analog for chemical assays, which India should consider getting a leg up on.

Imagine combining this technology with the 3D printing technology that I mentioned a few posts back. The 3D print-head will precisely control where material gets deposited, while the microfluidic packets would customize the properties of the material being fed to the print-head. In this way, you could build a large macroscopic object while tailoring its structure at the microscopic level.

We can't defeat China's manufacturing juggernaut with brute-force head-on competition in quantity. But perhaps we could compete using these new disruptive methods in manufacturing.

habc said...

Here Bajrang Dal fights for right to expression

Hindu activists in Bhopal today came out overwhelmingly in support of an exhibition of paintings at Bharat Bhavan titled ‘The Face of Terror’, featuring Muslims as terrorists. Such was the vehemence of their call for an artist’s right to express himself that a Muslim organisation’s protest was drowned in the din.
The painting on display titled ‘Sovereignty Shattered’ depicts the attack on Parliament while ‘Massacre’ shows killings of Hindus in Kashmir. In ‘A Tavesty’, the artist notes that the Tricolour cannot be hoisted in Kashmir except on official occasions. Al-Qaeda head Osama bin Laden also figures in some of the paintings.

habc said...
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habc said...

Russian Church ends 80-year split

The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad has reunited with the Russian Orthodox Church after 80 years of schism sparked by the Bolshevik revolution. Reunification talks began after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
A major step was reached when Church leaders in Moscow elevated the murdered Tsar Nicholas II and his family to the status of sainthood in 2000
Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the ceremony, shown live on television.

Raghu said...

Hyderabad bomb blast...

When police went to help after the incident, the "angry crowd" pelted stones at them and also at some shops.. Hindus in Hyderabad have to be real careful for few days now...

Sameer said...

Raghu, Rajeev and Others,

Yes, there was a bit of tension in hyderabad.
As you pointed out, the police went to help them and the antisocial as they are, started stone pelting them!
Anyway, the owaisi clan (similar to the kangi dynasty or the DMK type dynasty) began to claim fantasies, they already warned police to be 'fair' in investigaton and not to have 'preconcieved ideas' like pakistan or bangladesh angle.
I read a report in the crappy Deccan Chronicle where a 'Highly revered' muslim leader said that there could be hands of VHP and RSS.
These incidents are obvious when congress is in power, look at what is happening in Punjab and here and also at the rise in extremism, maoism all over India.


san said...

Pharma R&D taking off in India