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Jan 7, 2019

New Gene Therapy for Vision Loss Proven Safe in Humans

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension

In a small and preliminary clinical trial, Johns Hopkins researchers and their collaborators have shown that an experimental gene therapy that uses viruses to introduce a therapeutic gene into the eye is safe and that it may be effective in preserving the vision of people with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in the U.S., affecting an estimated 1.6 million Americans. The disease is marked by growth of abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid into the central portion of the retina called the macula, which we use for reading, driving and recognizing faces.

The study published on May 16 in The Lancet, reports an exciting new approach in which a virus, similar to the common cold, but altered in the lab so that it is unable to cause disease, is used as a carrier for a gene and is injected into the eye. The virus penetrates retinal cells and deposits a gene, which turns the cells into factories for productions of a therapeutic protein, called sFLT01.

The abnormal blood vessels that cause wet AMD grow because patients have increased production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in their retinas. Current treatments require injections of proteins directly into the eye that bind and inactivate VEGF, reducing fluid in the macula and improving vision. However, the therapeutic proteins exit the eye over the course of a month, so patients with wet AMD usually need to return to the clinic for more injections every six to eight weeks in order to stave off vision loss. Eye specialists say the burden and discomfort of the regimen is responsible for many patients not getting injections as frequently as they need, causing vision loss.

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Jan 7, 2019

“Bionic Mushrooms” Fuse Nanotech, Bacteria and Fungi

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, biological, cyborgs, engineering, nanotechnology, transhumanism

(Hoboken, N.J. — Nov. 7, 2018) — In their latest feat of engineering, researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology have taken an ordinary white button mushroom from a grocery store and made it bionic, supercharging it with 3D-printed clusters of cyanobacteria that generate electricity and swirls of graphene nanoribbons that can collect the current.

The work, reported in the Nov. 7 issue of Nano Letters, may sound like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland, but the hybrids are part of a broader effort to better improve our understanding of cells biological machinery and how to use those intricate molecular gears and levers to fabricate new technologies and useful systems for defense, healthcare and the environment.

“In this case, our system – this bionic mushroom — produces electricity,” said Manu Mannoor, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Stevens. “By integrating cyanobacteria that can produce electricity, with nanoscale materials capable of collecting the current, we were able to better access the unique properties of both, augment them, and create an entirely new functional bionic system.”

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Jan 7, 2019

Innovative ‘Mega Library’ Gives Materials Engineers New Hope

Posted by in categories: innovation, materials

An innovative tool for discovering new materials has shown promise for materials engineers. Throughout history, civilizations have been known by the tools they created and left behind. To create those tools, engineers in every era have had to access materials to accomplish their goals. In the modern era, this often led innovators to craft their own unique materials.


The research has been called a “game changer” in discovering new technologies and the materials to build those technologies.

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Jan 7, 2019

AI Will Create Millions More Jobs Than It Will Destroy. Here’s How

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

In the past few years, artificial intelligence has advanced so quickly that it now seems hardly a month goes by without a newsworthy AI breakthrough. In areas as wide-ranging as speech translation, medical diagnosis, and gameplay, we have seen computers outperform humans in startling ways.

This has sparked a discussion about how AI will impact employment. Some fear that as AI improves, it will supplant workers, creating an ever-growing pool of unemployable humans who cannot compete economically with machines.

This concern, while understandable, is unfounded. In fact, AI will be the greatest job engine the world has ever seen.

Continue reading “AI Will Create Millions More Jobs Than It Will Destroy. Here’s How” »

Jan 7, 2019

Vaccination-induced skin-resident memory CD8+ T cells mediate strong protection against cutaneous melanoma

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Here, we demonstrated that intradermal administration of clinically relevant vaccines efficiently induces Trm cells specific for tumor-specific and self-antigens that accumulate in vaccinated and non-vaccinated skin. Interestingly, vaccination-induced Trm cells strongly suppress the growth of melanoma, independently of circulating CD8 T cells, and were able to infiltrate melanoma tumors. Therefore, our work highlights the therapeutic potential of vaccination-induced Trm cells to achieve potent protection against skin malignancies.


Memory CD8+ T cell responses have the potential to mediate long-lasting protection against cancers. Resident memory CD8+ T (Trm) cells stably reside in non-lymphoid tissues and mediate superior innate and adaptive immunity against pathogens. Emerging evidence indicates that Trm cells develop in human solid cancers and play a key role in controlling tumor growth. However, the specific contribution of Trm cells to anti-tumor immunity is incompletely understood. Moreover, clinically applicable vaccination strategies that efficiently establish Trm cell responses remain largely unexplored and are expected to strongly protect against tumors. Here we demonstrated that a single intradermal administration of gene- or protein-based vaccines efficiently induces specific Trm cell responses against models of tumor-specific and self-antigens, which accumulated in vaccinated and distant non-vaccinated skin. Vaccination-induced Trm cells were largely resistant to in vivo intravascular staining and antibody-dependent depletion. Intradermal, but not intraperitoneal vaccination, generated memory precursors expressing skin-homing molecules in circulation and Trm cells in skin. Interestingly, vaccination-induced Trm cell responses strongly suppressed the growth of B16F10 melanoma, independently of circulating memory CD8+ T cells, and were able to infiltrate tumors. This work highlights the therapeutic potential of vaccination-induced Trm cell responses to achieve potent protection against skin malignancies.

KEYWORDS: Cancer vaccines, DNA vaccines, intradermal vaccination, melanoma, models of anticancer vaccination, protein vaccines, tissue resident memory CD8+ T cells.

Continue reading “Vaccination-induced skin-resident memory CD8+ T cells mediate strong protection against cutaneous melanoma” »

Jan 7, 2019

Toward unhackable communication: Single particles of light could bring the ‘quantum internet’

Posted by in categories: government, internet, particle physics, quantum physics

Hacker attacks on everything from social media accounts to government files could be largely prevented by the advent of quantum communication, which would use particles of light called “photons” to secure information rather than a crackable code.


Using light to send information is a game of probability: Transmitting one bit of information can take multiple attempts. The more photons a light source can generate per second, the faster the rate of successful information transmission.

“A source might generate a lot of photons per second, but only a few of them may actually be used to transmit information, which strongly limits the speed of quantum communication,” Bogdanov said.

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Jan 7, 2019

‘Chemo brain’ caused by malfunction in three types of brain cells, study finds

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

In a new #Stanford study explaining the cellular mechanisms behind cognitive impairment from chemotherapy, scientists have demonstrated that a widely used chemotherapy drug, #methotrexate, causes a complex set of problems in three major cell types within the brain’s white matter. The study also identifies a potential remedy.


In a new study explaining the cellular mechanisms behind cognitive impairment from chemotherapy, scientists have demonstrated that a widely used chemotherapy drug, methotrexate, causes a complex set of problems in three major cell types within the brain’s white matter. The study also identifies a potential remedy.

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Jan 7, 2019

Why the Future of Solar Power Is from Space

Posted by in categories: solar power, space, sustainability

Over seven decades ago in 1941, Isaac Asimov wrote a short story, “Reason” (PDF), in which energy captured from the sun was transmitted via microwave beams to nearby planets from a space station. Flash forward to today, scientists are looking to make that very science fiction dream a reality for Earth.

There has been tremendous research on space-based solar power (SBSP) or space solar power (SSP) since the mid 20th century. Here is a great timeline of the various international studies and projects related to SBSP.

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Jan 7, 2019

Engineers create an inhalable form of messenger RNA

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Messenger RNA, which can induce cells to produce therapeutic proteins, holds great promise for treating a variety of diseases. The biggest obstacle to this approach so far has been finding safe and efficient ways to deliver mRNA molecules to the target cells.


Patients with lung disease could find relief by breathing in messenger RNA molecules.

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Jan 7, 2019

Binghamton University researchers design a more durable MEMS switch

Posted by in category: mobile phones

Researchers from Binghamton University’s Mechanical Engineering Department have developed a way to make cell phones and power lines more durable.


Assistant Professor Sherry Towfighian and graduate student Mark Pallay created a new type of microelectromechanical system – more commonly known as a MEMS switch – that uses electrostatic levitation to provide a more robust system.

“All cell phones use MEMS switches for wireless communication, but traditionally there are just two electrodes,” said Towfighian. “Those switches open and close numerous times during just one hour, but their current lifespan is limited by the two-electrode system.”

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