Connect with us

Technology

A genetically modified houseplant could suck up dangerous indoor air pollution

Editor

Published

on

[ad_1]

We have some good and bad news about the air in your home. The bad news is that it’s polluted with gaseous carcinogenic chemicals. But the good news is that scientists have genetically modified a common houseplant that can suck up some of those indoor air pollutants.

Dr. Stuart Strand, the senior author on the study and research professor emeritus in the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Washington, said the reason they chose the houseplant Pothos ivy — otherwise known as Devil’s ivy — is because scientists had already shown it can be transformed through genetic manipulation.

“We don’t see much degradation of benzene by our wild type pothos, our untransformed pothos,” said Strand. “Whereas our transformed pothos is able to remove all of the benzene within a week from very small plants in small vials. The same applied the chloroform except the reaction rate was even faster.”

Benzene, which comes from second hand smoke, candles, and fuel that’s stored in houses or garages, is a known carcinogen. And chloroform, which comes from household water when the the chlorine in the water reacts with traces of organic matter, is a probable human carcinogen.

Both of are gases that cannot be filtered out by household air filters which target particulates.

“We’re concerned about cancer here,” said Strand. “The levels of benzene and chloroform (…) can approach those that are regulated for industrial settings. And this is alarming because, after all, our most vulnerable people — our little children and infants — they’re exposed to the home air all day long. And we want to limit their exposure the most. So even trace amounts of these compounds that cause cancer are of concern.”

The gene that went into the plant

Strand and his team decided to use the gene for a protein called cytochrome P450 2E1, or 2E1 for short, which is present in all mammals, including humans.

“We got the idea for using the gene out of the medical literature,” said Strand about the 2E1 gene that’s been studied for a long time because of how it’s involved in cancer initiation. 

Long Zhang, a research scientist in Stuart Strand’s UW’s civil and environmental engineering department, puts a pothos ivy plant into a glass tube to test its ability to break down benzene or chloroform. (Mark Stone/University of Washington)

“Chemicals like benzene come into the body and this enzyme will transform them to phenol. But when it does that, that’s a high energy reaction and it forms radicals that can modify DNA that are nearby. These radicals dissipate within a few seconds, but that damage can be done if this reaction occurs within your body.”

By taking this gene out of the body and putting it into a common houseplant that’s easy to care for, the plants can degrade these chemicals without any harm to humans.

The way it’d work in your home

Strand has yet to test his plants with more realistic concentrations of benzene and chloroform. He said they plan on testing them in “bio-reactors — flow through systems where we can get the concentrations down to realistic levels and make sure everything works as we expect it will.”

For plants in the home to be able to effectively remove hazardous molecules from the air, they would also need to be inside an enclosure with something to move air past their leaves, like a fan. (Mark Stone/University of Washington)

The way he envisions this working in a home is to create a mini-greenhouse or small living wall arrangement about the size of a window, in which air would be blown across the plants to remove the pollutants, and then return the air to the room. “So a fan driven mini greenhouse if you will.” 

GMO plant could soon be available in Canada

Pothos ivy cannot grow outside in Canada because they’re sensitive to frost, so Strand said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has already approved it for sale in Canada.  He and his team are looking for a commercial partner to sell them to the mass market.

In the United States where this plant can grow in regions that don’t get any frost. The pothos ivy doesn’t flower, so at least the genetically modified pollen can spread. To prove that it’s safe in regions that don’t frost, Strand has to prove that the modified plant won’t be more aggressive than the unmodified plant.

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Technology

More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

Editor

Published

on

By

OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

Continue Reading

Technology

VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

Editor

Published

on

By

Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

Continue Reading

Technology

Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

Editor

Published

on

By

While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

Continue Reading

Chat

Trending