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May 20, 2020

Forget Exercise—These Mice Got Ripped With Gene Therapy

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food, health

A gene therapy trial performed on mice may foreshadow yet another way to hack fitness. In a study done by a team at Washington University in St. Louis’ medical school, mice quickly built muscle mass and reduced obesity after receiving the therapy, even while eating a diet high in fat and not exercising. The results were published last week in a paper in Science Advances.


The gene targeted was FST, which is responsible for making a protein called follistatin. In humans and most other mammals, follistatin helps grow muscle and control metabolism by blocking a protein called myostatin, which acts to restrain muscle growth and ensure muscles don’t get too big.

The researchers injected eight-week-old mice with a virus carrying a healthy FST gene (gene therapy involves adding healthy copies of a gene to cells, usually using a virus as a deliveryman).

Continue reading “Forget Exercise—These Mice Got Ripped With Gene Therapy” »

May 20, 2020

Volvo Will Add Lidar for ‘Eyes-Off-the-Road’ Self-Driving Cars on Highways

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

It’s 2020. Why can’t we binge Netflix as our cars drive us down the highway? Well, we’ve made progress, but not at the pace once promised. While some cars offer automated driving modes, you’re not to take your eyes off the road or hands from the wheel. Volvo wants to remedy that.

The company isn’t promising 100% self-driving cars in the near future. Instead, they’ll make mainstream cars that reliably drive themselves on highways—totally autonomously, no human attention needed. For a brand built on safety, and in light of autopilot accidents in recent years, it’s notable the company thinks that’s possible in the not-too-distant future.

To make it happen, Volvo said this week that it would begin adding lidar to production cars in 2022. They’ll also develop self-driving software to integrate lidar, cameras, radar, and back-up vehicle control systems. Once the software, dubbed Highway Pilot, is deemed safe, it’ll be sent out as an update to customers who opt in.

May 20, 2020

Chips are down for artificial intelligence

Posted by in categories: business, employment, information science, robotics/AI

This raises the question of whether AI — defined as algorithms that mimic human intelligence — can deliver on its potential, and when. The answer is crucial because AI could become the ultimate industry disrupter, threatening tens of millions of jobs in Asia as business processes are automated. In addition, AI is the subject of intense rivalry between the US and China.


Unicorns abound but enthusiasm has dimmed. Will AI fulfil its potential?

May 20, 2020

Scientists enlist cattle to create potential COVID-19 drug

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

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — First is was monkeys, then dogs.

Now, researchers are turning to cows in hopes of developing a treatment for the coronavirus.

Scientists at SAb Biotherapeutics in South Dakota created an embryo via genetic engineering that contains human chromosomes. The embryo was then implanted into cattle. The cows gave birth to calves that internally function similarly to a person, specifically with regards to the human immune system.

May 20, 2020

GM and Michelin will bring airless tires to passenger cars by 2024

Posted by in category: transportation

Circa 2019


Airless tires for everyday cars might soon be far more practical. GM and Michelin have unveiled a prototype of Uptis (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System), a Michelin-made tire intended for passenger cars. It looks like Tweel and other air-free concepts of years past, but its mix of composite rubber and resin embedded fiberglass lets it operate at highway speeds — earlier options tend to work only when you’re slowly putting around. It’s not as visually appealing as conventional tires, but Michelin claims it’s just as comfortable.

Continue reading “GM and Michelin will bring airless tires to passenger cars by 2024” »

May 20, 2020

Stem cells to replace or regenerate the diabetic pancreas: Huge potential & existing hurdles

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, finance, life extension

Various stem cell sources are being explored to treat diabetes since the proof-of-concept for cell therapy was laid down by transplanting cadaveric islets as a part of Edmonton protocol in 2000. Human embryonic stem (hES) cells derived pancreatic progenitors have got US-FDA approval to be used in clinical trials to treat type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). However, these progenitors more closely resemble their foetal counterparts and thus whether they will provide long-term regeneration of adult human pancreas remains to be demonstrated. In addition to lifestyle changes and administration of insulin sensitizers, regeneration of islets from endogenous pancreatic stem cells may benefit T2DM patients. The true identity of pancreatic stem cells, whether these exist or not, whether regeneration involves reduplication of existing islets or ductal epithelial cells transdifferentiate, remains a highly controversial area. We have recently demonstrated that a novel population of very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs) is involved during regeneration of adult mouse pancreas after partial-pancreatectomy. VSELs (pluripotent stem cells in adult organs) should be appreciated as an alternative for regenerative medicine as these are autologous (thus immune rejection issues do not exist) with no associated risk of teratoma formation. T2DM is a result of VSELs dysfunction with age and uncontrolled proliferation of VSELs possibly results in pancreatic cancer. Extensive brainstorming and financial support are required to exploit the potential of endogenous VSELs to regenerate the pancreas in a patient with diabetes.

Diabetes is one of the major non-communicable diseases in the world with majority of patients belonging to India, China and USA. Along with associated complications like heart disease and stroke, diabetes results in increased morbidity and mortality and it is expected that by the year 2025, India alone will have more than 70 million diabetics1,2. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder associated with progressive loss or dysfunction of β-cells of pancreas. Onset of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) occurs when the β-cell mass is reduced to less than 20 per cent due to autoimmune effect, whereas the declining β-cell mass is unable to meet the age-related increased insulin demands of the body in type 2 (T2DM) as a result of insulin resistance and in due course the β-cells are lost by apoptosis. Thus, in both T1 and T2DM, restoration of a functional β-cell mass constitutes the central goal of diabetes therapy.

May 19, 2020

Scientists Discover the Area of the Brain Where Pain Could be ‘Turned Off’

Posted by in category: neuroscience

In a study involving mice, researchers have determined that the amygdala, a part of the temporal lobe, could turn off pain signals in the brain. To learn more, click the link above and watch a video further explaining the functions of the amygdala.

May 19, 2020

India and Bangladesh brace for the strongest storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, climatology

Millions of people in India and Bangladesh are in the path of a cyclone which is due to make landfall in less than 36 hours, bringing damaging winds and heavy rain to a region already struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.

Super Cyclone Amphan became the strongest storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal on Monday night, after intensifying with sustained wind speeds of up to 270 kilometers per hour (165 miles per hours), according to data from the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Amphan has weakened slightly since, but the storm is still the equivalent of a Category 3 Atlantic hurricane, with winds speeds up to 185 kph (115 mph).

May 19, 2020

The NASA Worm Logo is Back for Demo-2

Posted by in category: space

Stylish. Iconic. It’s you. It’s also the Worm. Designer Richard Danne shares the history of the inspiring design.

Your Worm swag using #TheWormIsBack and show us how pumped you are to #LaunchAmerica on May 27: https://youtu.be/IwrtrxiwXTE

May 19, 2020

Moderna Taps Lonza to Scale Up Manufacturing of COVID-19 Vaccine

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, materials

Moderna has accelerated its manufacturing capacity for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 and additional future products through a 10-year agreement with Lonza announced today by the companies.

The companies agreed to establish manufacturing suites for Moderna at Lonza’s facilities in the U.S. and Switzerland for the production of mRNA-1273. Technology transfer is expected to begin in June, with the first batches of mRNA-1273 set to be manufactured at Lonza’s U.S. site in July.

Moderna and Lonza also said they intend to establish additional production suites across Lonza’s worldwide facilities, ultimately allowing for the manufacture of material equivalent to up to 1 billion doses of mRNA-1273 per year for use worldwide, based on the currently expected dose of 50 mcg.