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Jun 5, 2019

Can Gene Editing Stop The Bird Flu? Here Is The Latest With Chickens

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

This study shows how CRISPR gene editing can make chicken cells resistant to the avian influenza virus.

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Jun 5, 2019

Internet shutdowns don’t make anyone safer

Posted by in category: internet

It’s tempting for governments to throttle online access. But the drawbacks are glaring.

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Jun 5, 2019

Deep learning techniques teach neural model to ‘play’ retrosynthesis

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, robotics/AI, sustainability

Researchers, from biochemists to material scientists, have long relied on the rich variety of organic molecules to solve pressing challenges. Some molecules may be useful in treating diseases, others for lighting our digital displays, still others for pigments, paints, and plastics. The unique properties of each molecule are determined by its structure—that is, by the connectivity of its constituent atoms. Once a promising structure is identified, there remains the difficult task of making the targeted molecule through a sequence of chemical reactions. But which ones?

Organic chemists generally work backwards from the target molecule to the starting materials using a process called retrosynthetic analysis. During this process, the chemist faces a series of complex and inter-related decisions. For instance, of the tens of thousands of different chemical reactions, which one should you choose to create the target molecule? Once that decision is made, you may find yourself with multiple reactant molecules needed for the reaction. If these molecules are not available to purchase, then how do you select the appropriate reactions to produce them? Intelligently choosing what to do at each step of this process is critical in navigating the huge number of possible paths.

Researchers at Columbia Engineering have developed a based on reinforcement learning that trains a to correctly select the “best” reaction at each step of the retrosynthetic process. This form of AI provides a framework for researchers to design chemical syntheses that optimize user specified objectives such synthesis cost, safety, and sustainability. The new approach, published May 31 by ACS Central Science, is more successful (by ~60%) than existing strategies for solving this challenging search problem.

Continue reading “Deep learning techniques teach neural model to ‘play’ retrosynthesis” »

Jun 5, 2019

Tiny Robots Carry Stem Cells Through a Mouse

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

Using this technique, microrobots could deliver stem cells to hard-to-reach places.

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Jun 5, 2019

How our immune system evolved to take control of our decision-making processes

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Two new research papers are shedding light on the fascinating relationship between inflammation and behavior, suggesting our immune system can play a significant role in both our motivation and decision-making abilities.

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Jun 5, 2019

Harvard breakthrough shows stem cells can be genetically edited in the body

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

We owe our long lives to stem cells, which are nestled deep inside certain tissues in the body and constantly replace old cells. In recent years scientists have been able to correct genetic diseases by removing these stem cells, editing their genomes and then implanting them back into the patient, but that adds complications. Now, new research led by Harvard scientists has successfully edited the genes of stem cells while still in the body.

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Jun 5, 2019

The Privacy Project

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, business, internet

Companies and governments are gaining new powers to follow people across the internet and around the world, and even to peer into their genomes. The benefits of such advances have been apparent for years; the costs — in anonymity, even autonomy — are now becoming clearer. The boundaries of privacy are in dispute, and its future is in doubt. Citizens, politicians and business leaders are asking if societies are making the wisest tradeoffs. The Times is embarking on this monthslong project to explore the technology and where it’s taking us, and to convene debate about how it can best help realize human potential.


The New York Times is launching an ongoing examination of privacy. We’ll dig into the ideas, history and future of how our information navigates the digital ecosystem and what’s at stake.

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Jun 4, 2019

LEDs created from wonder material could revolutionize lighting and displays

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, computing, solar power, sustainability

In solar cells, the cheap, easy to make materials called perovskites are adept at turning photons into electricity. Now, perovskites are turning the tables, converting electrons into light with an efficiency on par with that of the commercial organic light-emitting diodes (LEDs) found in cellphones and flat screen TVs. And in a glimpse of how they might one day be harnessed, researchers reported last week in Science Advances that they’ve used a 3D printer to pattern perovskites for use in full-color displays.

“It’s a fantastic result, and quite inspirational,” says Richard Friend, a physicist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom whose team created the first perovskite LED in 2014. The result raises hopes that the computer screens and giant displays of the future will consist of these cheap crystalline substances, made from common ingredients. Friend cautions, however, that the new perovskite displays aren’t yet commercially viable.

The materials in current semiconductor LEDs, including the organic versions, require processing at high temperatures in vacuum chambers to ensure the resulting semiconductors are pristine. By contrast, perovskites can be prepared simply by mixing their chemical components in solution at room temperature. Only a brief heat treatment is needed to crystallize them. And even though the perovskite crystals end up with imperfections, these defects typically don’t destroy the materials’ ability to emit light.

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Jun 4, 2019

Hi-tech gadget will be used to relieve severe headaches under raft of new NHS treatments

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Severe headache sufferers will be given a gadget rather than pills to alleviate the pain, the head of NHS England announced on Wednesday.

Cluster headaches, which are often mistaken for migraines, are one of the most debilitating conditions known to medical science, with women often describing the pain as worse than childbirth.

Now sufferers will be offered a hand-held device that delivers mild electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve to block the pain signals that cause the headaches.

Continue reading “Hi-tech gadget will be used to relieve severe headaches under raft of new NHS treatments” »

Jun 4, 2019

White meat is just as bad for you as red beef when it comes to your cholesterol level, study says

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food

The red meat or white meat debate is a draw: Eating white meat, such as poultry, will have an identical effect on your cholesterol level as eating red beef, new research indicates.

The long-held belief that eating white meat is less harmful for your heart may still hold true, because there may be other effects from eating red meat that contribute to cardiovascular disease, said the University of California, San Francisco researchers. This needs to be explored in more detail, they added.

Non-meat proteins such as vegetables, dairy, and legumes, including beans, show the best cholesterol benefit, according to the new study published Tuesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Continue reading “White meat is just as bad for you as red beef when it comes to your cholesterol level, study says” »