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Jun 5, 2020

The ‘mole’ on Mars is finally underground after a push from NASA’s InSight lander

Posted by in category: space

The mole instrument on NASA’s Mars InSight lander has made some progress burrowing into the Red Planet.

Jun 5, 2020

How Australia could harness its tides for energy

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability

Although tidal energy is still in its infancy, it could help to reduce Australia’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“The majority of the energy in the national grid is from coal,” explained Jenny Hayward, a research scientist at Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO. “We also have wind and solar PV [photovoltaic].”

Jun 5, 2020

T cell immunity in the elderly

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension

A study by Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) expands the understanding of the molecular pathways that control T cell function and survival and how it relates to declining T cell immunity in the elderly.

The findings, published in Nature Communications, led by Monash BDI’s Professor Nicole La Gruta and Dr. Kylie Quinn (formerly of Monash University BDI, now Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow at RMIT University), outline that the of T cells observed with advanced age was an indication that they were working harder merely to survive.

This contradicts previous knowledge, which suggested an increased metabolism was indicative of T cell function, and will have implications for the development of targeted interventions such as vaccines or immunotherapies to treat age-related immune dysfunction.

Jun 5, 2020

Metasurface design methods can make LED light act more like lasers

Posted by in category: virtual reality

UC Santa Barbara researchers continue to push the boundaries of LED design a little further with a new method that could pave the way toward more efficient and versatile LED display and lighting technology.

In a paper published in Nature Photonics, UCSB electrical and computer engineering professor Jonathan Schuller and collaborators describe this new approach, which could allow a wide variety of LED devices—from to automotive lighting—to become more sophisticated and sleeker at the same time.

“What we showed is a new kind of photonic architecture that not only allows you to extract more photons, but also to direct them where you want,” said Schuller. This improved performance, he explained, is achieved without the external packaging components that are often used to manipulate the emitted by LEDs.

Jun 5, 2020

Air Force Pilots Are About to Do Battle With Autonomous Drones

Posted by in categories: drones, military, robotics/AI, satellites

Changing Course

The Air Force announced an AI initiative called “Skyborg” last March with the goal of flying fighter jets without anyone at the controls. Now, Shanahan says that the Air Force may be more interested in swarm drones and other uses for AI than necessarily taking the pilot out of a fighter plane’s cockpit.

“Maybe I shouldn’t be thinking about a 65ft-wingspan, maybe it is a small autonomous swarming capability,” Shanahan told BBC News. “The last thing I would claim is that carriers and fighters and satellites are going away in the next couple of years.”

Jun 5, 2020

Cellenkos® Inc. Announces FDA Clearance to Initiate Phase 1 Double- Blinded

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

HOUSTON, June 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Cellenkos Inc., a privately held, clinical stage biotech company announced today that the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the way to initiate a Phase 1 clinical trial of CK0802 (Cryopreserved Cord Blood Derived T-Regulatory Cells) for treatment of COVID-19 associated acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The trial is designed as a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study to assess safety and preliminary efficacy in this hospitalized patient population.

“We appreciate FDA’s expedited review of our plans to evaluate CK0802 in critically ill, intubated patients suffering from ARDS, a deadly complication of COVID-19”, said Elizabeth J Read, MD, Chief Technology Officer, Cellenkos Inc. “Preliminary observations in two intubated COVID-19 ARDS patients, who received cryopreserved cord blood T-regulatory cells under FDA Emergency Use Authorization after failing tociluzumab, were promising. In the forthcoming Phase 1 randomized trial, CK0802 will be assessed for both toxicity and 28-day treatment success, as co-primary outcomes.”

“Use of allogeneic, off-the-shelf cord blood-derived T-regulatory cells has emerged as a promising therapeutic strategy for the treatment of inflammatory disorders, specifically in terms of interrupting and arresting the cytokine storm unleashed by COVID-19 infection,” said Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, PhD, Columbia University, New York, scientific advisor and collaborator on the multi-center clinical trial. “Rather than indiscriminate therapy with a drug such as an inhibitor of single cytokine such as IL-6, the T-regulatory cells can potentially calm inflammation exactly where it is most active, without causing a more general “global” immunosuppression that would be harmful in a virally infected patient. Planned correlative assays during the clinical trial will provide insights into the mechanism of action of CK0802 and its relation to clinical outcomes.”

Jun 5, 2020

Chronic stress? Limiting inflammatory signaling to specific brain circuits

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, neuroscience

Chronic stress has long been associated with the pathogenesis of psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. Recent studies have found chronic stress can cause neuroinflammation: activation of the resident immune cells in the brain, microglia, to produce inflammatory cytokines. Numerous studies have implicated the inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-1 (IL-1), a master regulator of immune cell recruitment and activity in the brain, as the key mediator of psychopathology. However, how IL-1 disrupts neural circuits to cause behavioral and emotional problems seen in psychological disorders has not been determined.

The research team previously detailed how psychosocial stress results in peripheral immune activation, increased levels of circulating monocytes, and robust neuroimmunological responses in the brain. These responses include increases in IL-1 and other inflammatory cytokines, activation of brain glial cells and movements of peripheral immune cells to the brain, along with enhanced activity of specific neuronal pathways. The work makes it clear that inflammatory-related effects of stress are not just global effects, but are associated with increased IL-1 signaling within specific brain circuits.

The study shows for the first time that neuronal IL-1Rs in the hippocampus, a brain structure connected to learning and memory, is necessary and sufficient to mediate some of the behavioral deficits caused by chronic stress, pointing to a critical neuroimmune mechanism for the etiology of these types of disorders. Findings from the study augment the understanding of IL-1R signaling in physiological and behavioral responses to stress and also suggest that it may be possible to develop better medications to treat the consequences of chronic stress by limiting inflammatory signaling not just generally, which may not be beneficial in the long run, but to specific brain circuits.

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Jun 5, 2020

Regenerative medicine could pave the way to treating baldness

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension

Undifferentiated human stem cells have been coaxed to develop into skin-like structures in vitro. When engrafted onto mice, the structures produce hair — highlighting the potential of the approach for regenerative therapies. Hair-follicle organoids that have a full complement of skin cells.

Jun 5, 2020

Scientists Unravel Genetic Mysteries of Dead Sea Scrolls

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls had an incomparable impact on the historical understanding of Judaism and Christianity. ‘Piecing together’ scroll fragments is like solving jigsaw puzzles with an unknown number of missing parts. Because most of the 2,000-year-old scrolls were written on processed animal skin, an international team of researchers used DNA sequencing to ‘fingerprint’ fragments based on their genetic signature.

Jun 5, 2020

A powder-metallurgy-based strategy toward three-dimensional graphene-like network for reinforcing copper matrix composites

Posted by in category: materials

Three-dimensional graphene network is a promising structure for improving both the mechanical properties and functional capabilities of reinforced polymer and ceramic matrix composites. However, direct application in a metal matrix remains difficult due to the reason that wetting is usually unfavorable in the carbon/metal system. Here we report a powder-metallurgy based strategy to construct a three-dimensional continuous graphene network architecture in a copper matrix through thermal-stress-induced welding between graphene-like nanosheets grown on the surface of copper powders. The interpenetrating structural feature of the as-obtained composites not only promotes the interfacial shear stress to a high level and thus results in significantly enhanced load transfer strengthening and crack-bridging toughening simultaneously, but also constructs additional three-dimensional hyperchannels for electrical and thermal conductivity. Our approach offers a general way for manufacturing metal matrix composites with high overall performance.