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May 2, 2016

Adult brain prunes branched connections of new neurons

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

When tweaking its architecture, the adult brain works like a sculptor—starting with more than it needs so it can carve away the excess to achieve the perfect design. That’s the conclusion of a new study that tracked developing cells in an adult mouse brain in real time.

New began with a period of overgrowth, sending out a plethora of neuronal branches, before the brain pruned back the connections. The observation, described May 2, 2016 in Nature Neuroscience, suggests that new cells in the have more in common with those in the embryonic brain than scientists previously thought and could have implications for understanding diseases including autism, intellectual disabilities and schizophrenia.

“We were surprised by the extent of the pruning we saw,” says senior author Rusty Gage, a professor in Salk’s Laboratory of Genetics and holder of the Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Disease.

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May 2, 2016

Cognitive-behavioral therapy may help reduce memory problems in cancer survivors who have received chemotherapy

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

A new analysis indicates that a type of psychotherapy delivered by videoconference may help prevent some of the long-term memory issues caused by chemotherapy. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings point to a noninvasive way to help cancer survivors manage some of the negative effects of their treatment.

It’s estimated that approximately half of cancer patients who receive chemotherapy develop long-lasting changes in memory function such as trouble remembering conversational content or steps in a task. While the memory problems tend to be mild, they diminish quality of life in areas of job performance and family and social life well beyond cancer treatment. The causes of this problem and reasons why it does not affect every survivor remain unknown, and there is currently limited research on treatments for it.

A team led by Robert Ferguson, PhD, who is currently at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute but was at the Eastern Maine Medical Center and Lafayette Family Cancer Center in Bangor, Maine, while conducting this research, developed a cognitive-behavioral therapy called “Memory and Attention Adaptation Training” (MAAT), which helps cancer survivors to increase awareness of situations where memory problems can arise and to develop skills to either prevent memory failure or to compensate for memory dysfunction.

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May 2, 2016

FDA new sheriff in town in Silicon Valley

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

Silicon Valley’s newest valley member; wonder if Google or eBay will send a “Welcome Basket” to the FDA?


Helmy Eltoukhy’s company is on a roll. The start-up is a leading contender in the crowded field of firms working on “liquid biopsy” tests that aim to be able to tell in a single blood draw whether a person has cancer.

Venture investors are backing Guardant Health to the tune of nearly $200 million. Leading medical centers are testing its technology. And earlier this month, it presented promising data on how well its screening tool, which works by scanning for tiny DNA fragments shed by dying tumor cells, worked on an initial group of 10,000 patients with late-stage cancers.

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May 2, 2016

US military proposes secure, self-destructing messaging app

Posted by in categories: military, neuroscience

Military’s new Mission Impossible style messaging.


The U.S. military needs new messaging technology that’s ultra-secure and self-destructs. Sound familiar?

Think SnapChat. That’s an important part of what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is aiming to do via a request for proposals posted on a DOD Web page. In Phase III of the project, DARPA says it requires “a secure messaging system that can provide… one time eyes only messages,” among a host of other features. Similarly, SnapChat allows a message to be viewed for a short length of time (1 to 10 seconds) before it becomes inaccessible, the primary reason it has become such a popular messaging platform.

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May 2, 2016

Scientists May Have Discovered a New Particle That Could Completely Change Physics as We Know It

Posted by in categories: innovation, particle physics

New particle found can re-write Physics.


It could be nothing at all. Or it could be a breakthrough.

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May 2, 2016

10 responses to “Hacking Aging”

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, law, life extension, mathematics

What would you say if I told you that aging happens not because of accumulation of stresses, but rather because of the intrinsic properties of the gene network of the organism? I’m guessing you’d be like: surprised .

So, here’s the deal. My biohacker friends led by Peter Fedichev and Sergey Filonov in collaboration with my old friend and the longevity record holder Robert Shmookler Reis published a very cool paper. They proposed a way to quantitatively describe the two types of aging – negligible senescence and normal aging. We all know that some animals just don’t care about time passing by. Their mortality doesn’t increase with age. Such negligibly senescent species include the notorious naked mole rat and a bunch of other critters like certain turtles and clams to name a few. So the paper explains what it is exactly that makes these animals age so slowly – it’s the stability of their gene networks.

What does network stability mean then? Well, it’s actually pretty straightforward – if the DNA repair mechanisms are very efficient and the connectivity of the network is low enough, then this network is stable. So, normally aging species, such as ourselves, have unstable networks. This is a major bummer by all means. But! There is a way to overcome this problem, according to the proposed math model.

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May 2, 2016

DARPA director cautions on AI’s limitations

Posted by in categories: military, robotics/AI

Another person this time DARPA (Arati Prabhakar) speaks about the truth on AI and it’s real world limitations.


The Pentagon’s R&D arm is heavily invested in driving the future of artificial intelligence and machine learning, but the program’s director warned the technology isn’t without its limitations.

May 02, 2016.

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May 2, 2016

Raytheon developing technology to make software “immortal”

Posted by in categories: computing, engineering, life extension, military

Making software immortal; Raytheon is trying to make it a reality.


CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 2, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — A team led by Raytheon BBN Technologies is developing methods to make mobile applications viable for up to 100 years, despite changes in hardware, operating system upgrades and supporting services. The U.S. Air Force is sponsoring the four-year, $7.8 million contract under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Building Resource Adaptive Software Systems program.

“Mobile apps are pervasive in the military, but frequent operating system upgrades, new devices and changing missions and environments require manual software engineering that is expensive and causes unacceptable delays,” said Partha Pal, principal scientist at Raytheon BBN. “We are developing techniques to eliminate these interruptions by identifying the way these changes affect application functionality and modifying the software.”

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May 2, 2016

Northwestern University Research Group Uses 3D Printing to Create Terahertz Lens

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, 4D printing, energy, nanotechnology

The Illinois-based Northwestern University has utilized 3D printing technology to research a variety of vital applications, from 3D printing fuel cells to 4D printing materials on the nanoscale. Now, researchers from the prestigious institution are looking at 3D printing technology through a unique lens—a terahertz lens, to be exact. Generally unknown within the electromagnetic spectrum, hidden in between the more commonly known wavelengths of microwaves and infrared, lies the information-packed terahertz spectrum. The terahertz is not only a forgotten frequency, it’s also rarely studied, let alone well understood, yet it has high value in applications regarding imaging and communications.

One research group, led by Northwestern University’s Cheng Sun, has used metamaterials and a unique style of SLA technology called projection micro-stereolithography to manufacture a novel lens capable of working with terahertz frequencies. The 3D printed terahertz gradient-refractive index lens has better imaging capabilities than other commonly used lenses, and also enables researchers to make more advances with the relatively unknown world of the terahertz.

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May 2, 2016

Discovery of a fundamental limit to the evolution of the genetic code

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

A study performed at IRB Barcelona offers an explanation as to why the genetic code stopped growing 3,000 million years ago. This is attributed to the structure of transfer RNAs—the key molecules in the translation of genes into proteins. The genetic code is limited to 20 amino acids—the building blocks of proteins—the maximum number that prevents systematic mutations, which are fatal for life. The discovery could have applications in synthetic biology.

Nature is constantly evolving—its limits determined only by variations that threaten the viability of species. Research into the origin and expansion of the are fundamental to explain the evolution of life. In Science Advances, a team of biologists specialised in this field explain a limitation that put the brakes on the further development of the genetic code, which is the universal set of rules that all organisms on Earth use to translate genetic sequences of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) into the that comprise the proteins that undertake cell functions.

Headed by ICREA researcher Lluís Ribas de Pouplana at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and in collaboration with Fyodor A. Kondrashov, at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and Modesto Orozco, from IRB Barcelona, the team of scientists has demonstrated that the genetic code evolved to include a maximum of 20 and that it was unable to grow further because of a functional limitation of transfer RNAs—the molecules that serve as interpreters between the language of genes and that of proteins. This halt in the increase in the complexity of life happened more than 3,000 million years ago, before the separate evolution of bacteria, eukaryotes and archaebacteria, as all organisms use the same code to produce proteins from genetic information.

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