A big change is coming to store shelves. Late last year, President Obama signed a bill that bans the sale and distribution of products containing plastic microbeads. The law is part of an ongoing effort to protect our nation’s waterways. For the purpose of the new law, a microbead is defined as a plastic particle that’s less than 5 millimeters in diameter. Microbeads, however, can be found in all sorts of personal care products, ranging from toothpaste to exfoliating scrubs. They’re meant to cleanse and due to their miniscule size, wash down the drain.

Developing a new drug requires that life sciences companies invest vast amounts of resources. Depending on the complexity of treatment, firms can devote over a decade to the R&D process. In terms of financial cost, a single drug can require hundreds of millions of dollars from start to finish. Considering […]

The earliest evidence of “biomanufacturing” can be found inside of a 9,000-year-old urn discovered in China. According to MIT Professor Paul Barone, chemical analysis of the inside suggested that the vessel was used to make alcoholic beverages with grape, rice, honey and hawthorn fruit. In the 19th century, Louis Pasteur, known as the “father of microbiology,” would demystify the process of transforming bread and fruits into alcoholic beverages by uncovering that yeast is used in fermentation to produce alcohol from sugars. In the 20th century, strains of mold mutated by UV and X-ray radiation enabled the production of large amounts of the antibacterial penicillin, while the concept of proteins as therapeutic agents emerged with the isolation of insulin from pigs and cows. Though we have used cells to do our bidding for millennia, only recently have we begun to systematically use them to create novel, protein therapeutics.

The food and beverage industry is facing a crossroads. Thanks to the internet and increased access to information, today’s consumers have diversified into many subgroups, each wanting different things. Some want to sample exotic flavors that they learned about via social media. Others will only buy organic food and ingredients […]

In ancient times, tzaraath, translated from the Hebrew Bible, was a catch-all phrase for a variety of skin conditions that likely included psoriasis. When the person was in his or her “afflicted phase,” the patient was described as “impure.” Now we know that 2-3% of the population suffers from the condition that has nothing to do with impurity and everything to do with a combination of genes and “specific external factors” known as triggers. These triggers can include stress, injury to the skin, infection or certain medications that lead to an alteration in the life cycle of skin cells.

Over three years have passed since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officially adopted the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). To help the transition, it set a series of compliance deadlines, all of which have since passed except for one. That final deadline comes up later this year on June 1, when everyone covered by OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard must be in full compliance with the new regulations.

It seems the Earth’s surface and all of its organisms—from the darkest recesses of the ocean floor to sulfuric vents and human bowels—are filled with bacteria. But only recently has the existence and composition of human gut bacteria, or gut microbiota, piqued the interests of scientists, pharmaceutical startups and physicians alike because of mounting evidence that gut microbiota is intricately linked to our health. Estimates suggest that bacterial cells in the human body outnumber human cells 10 to 1 and play an important role in a number of autoimmune diseases including “diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and some cancers,”, as well as metabolic diseases such as obesity.

“Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink” may be a common misquote from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but the sentiment is familiar to many people in today’s modern world. Growing urban populations and rapid industrialization are taxing our global water resources, fueling concerns about the longevity of our drinking reservoirs. In fact, estimates say that we need at least 30% more water by 2030 to keep pace with increasing demand. The necessity has not gone unnoticed, however. Governments have been passing or amending laws to protect natural waterways from harmful chemicals, as many of them also serve as sources of drinking water. Unfortunately, keeping rivers and streams free of pollution isn’t enough. In addition to overpopulation, changing climates have led to the overall dwindling of our natural water supplies—something to which residents of the drought-stricken U.S. West Coast can attest. As a result, we must change how we think about water. Not only must we focus on ways to conserve it, we must also consider how to recycle and reuse it.

Holding a bag, a person walks out of a store followed by drawn-out beeping sounds. Perhaps a cashier forgot to remove clothing tags on items the individual already purchased or maybe he had hoped to steal something. Either way, the alarm and tag serve as protection against theft, a system that is highly developed for high-value goods like clothing or electronics but has “not found widespread application in the [food and beverage] industry. Yet tampering with food, also known as food fraud, has plagued the food and beverage industry “throughout history” and estimates suggest that $10 billion to $15 billion is lost globally due to fraud.

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