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Jul 27, 2019

First CRISPR study inside the body to start in US

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

Patients are about to be enrolled in the first study to test a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR inside the body to try to cure an inherited form of blindness.

People with the disease have normal eyes but lack a gene that converts light into signals to the brain that enable sight.

The experimental treatment aims to supply kids and adults with a healthy version of the gene they lack, using a tool that cuts or “edits” DNA in a specific spot. It’s intended as a onetime treatment that permanently alters the person’s native DNA.

Jul 27, 2019

July’s ‘black supermoon’ will make the next two weekends 2019’s best for stargazing

Posted by in category: space

A second New Moon in the same month, a rising Mi;lky Way and the onset of meteor showers makes this a great time to get outside and looking up.

Jul 27, 2019

AI, Robot: Meet Russia’s New F-850 Android

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space travel

Right now, the robot is busy with the pre-launch preparations. August 22, F-850 will be launched to the ISS aboard the Soyuz MS-14 unmanned spacecraft. However, the humanoid robot won’t be staying on board long, after a ten-day mission F-850 is set to leave the station and return to Earth.

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Jul 27, 2019

Frozen for eternity: Can you really cheat death?

Posted by in categories: cryonics, life extension

The field of cryonics — freezing the body after death to be revived in the future — is advancing with new technology and research. Now, the leading players in cryonics are gathering in South Florida to build interest and share new developments.

Jul 26, 2019

This Robotic Arm Inspired by Luke Skywalker Has Allowed an Amputee to Feel Again

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs, robotics/AI

Research on robotic prostheses is coming along in leaps and bounds, but one hurdle is proving quite tricky to overcome: a sense of touch. Among other things, this sense helps us control our grip strength — which is vitally important when it comes to having fine motor control for handling delicate objects.

Enter a new upgrade for the LUKE Arm — named for Luke Skywalker, the Star Wars hero with a robotic hand. Prototype versions of this robotic prosthesis can be linked up to the wearer’s nerves.

Continue reading “This Robotic Arm Inspired by Luke Skywalker Has Allowed an Amputee to Feel Again” »

Jul 26, 2019

A richly funded CRISPR alternative has a reproducibility problem

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Researchers have cast doubt on the claims upon which Homology Medicines is built.

Jul 26, 2019

New cause of cell aging discovered

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

New research from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering could be key to our understanding of how the aging process works. The findings potentially pave the way for better cancer treatments and revolutionary new drugs that could vastly improve human health in the twilight years.

The work, from Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Nick Graham and his team in collaboration with Scott Fraser, Provost Professor of Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering, and Pin Wang, Zohrab A. Kaprielian Fellow in Engineering, was recently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

“To drink from the fountain of youth, you have to figure out where the fountain of youth is, and understand what the fountain of youth is doing,” Graham said. “We’re doing the opposite; we’re trying to study the reasons cells age, so that we might be able to design treatments for better aging.”

Jul 26, 2019

Physicists discover new quantum trick for graphene: magnetism

Posted by in categories: computing, quantum physics

Sometimes the best discoveries happen when scientists least expect it. While trying to replicate another team’s finding, Stanford physicists recently stumbled upon a novel form of magnetism, predicted but never seen before, that is generated when two honeycomb-shaped lattices of carbon are carefully stacked and rotated to a special angle.

The authors suggest the magnetism, called orbital ferromagnetism, could prove useful for certain applications, such as quantum computing. The group describes their finding in the July 25 issue of the journal Science.

“We were not aiming for magnetism. We found what may be the most exciting thing in my career to date through partially targeted and partially accidental exploration,” said study leader David Goldhaber-Gordon, a professor of physics at Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences. “Our discovery shows that the most interesting things turn out to be surprises sometimes.”

Jul 26, 2019

Antibiotic-resistant genes found in London’s canals and ponds

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Central London’s freshwater sources contain high levels of antibiotic resistant genes, with the River Thames having the highest amount, according to research by UCL.

The Regent’s Canal, Regent’s Park Pond and the Serpentine all contained the genes but at lower levels than the Thames, which contained genes providing resistance for bacteria to such as penicillin, erythromycin and tetracycline.

The genes come from bacteria in human and animal waste. When antibiotics are taken by humans much of the drug is excreted into the and then into freshwater sources. The presence of antibiotics in these sources provides an environment where microbes carrying the resistance genes can multiply quicker and share their resistance with other microbes.

Jul 26, 2019

Listening to the whispers of individual cells

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

For the cells in our bodies to function as a unit, they must communicate with one another constantly. They secrete signalling molecules—ions, proteins and nucleic acids—that are picked up by adjacent cells, which in turn pass on the signal to other cells. Our muscles, digestive system and brain are only able to function thanks to this type of communication. And this is the only way in which our immune system can recognise pathogens or infected cells and react accordingly—again, by sending out signals to mobilise the immune defences. If something goes wrong with this signalling between cells, it can lead to diseases such as cancer or autoimmune disorders. “This is why it is important to research which signals the cells send out in which situations,” says Morteza Aramesh. The biophysicist, who works in the Laboratory of Biosensors and Bioelectronics at ETH Zurich, has developed a new method that does precisely that: it listens to communication between individual cells.

An innovative nanosensor

Although it has been possible to measure these signals in the past, it could only be done for entire populations of hundreds or thousands of . The methods were not sensitive enough to use on , meaning that the signalling molecules from individual cells were submerged into the average of the total cell population: “It was impossible to detect differences between cells in order to identify diseased cells, for instance,” says Aramesh.