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May 7, 2019

Smarter training of neural networks

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

These days, nearly all the artificial intelligence-based products in our lives rely on “deep neural networks” that automatically learn to process labeled data.

For most organizations and individuals, though, deep learning is tough to break into. To learn well, neural networks normally have to be quite large and need massive datasets. This training process usually requires multiple days of training and expensive graphics processing units (GPUs)—and sometimes even custom-designed hardware.

But what if they don’t actually have to be all that big, after all?

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May 7, 2019

CRISPR Used in Human Trials for the First Time in the US

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

Here, doctors extract a patient’s own T cells, a type of white blood cell that normally acts as the body’s watcher against cancer and infection. Cancer cells eventually learn to evade T cells or disarm the troops—while turning their own surrounding normal cells into cancerous ones, thus expanding their tumor legion.

CAR-T uses gene therapy to recharge those beaten-down T cells. The UPenn study, for example, relies on a neutered HIV-like virus to deliver an artificial “tracker” protein into those cells. These designer trackers expertly hunt down a protein dubbed NY-ESO-1, which dot certain cancer cells’ surface like a homing beacon.

CRISPR amplifies the CAR-T effect: the team is using the gene editing tool to erase three different “brakes” in T cells. Killing off the first two, TCR α and TCR β, keeps the edited cells in check to prevent friendly autoimmune fire, and allows the added “tracker proteins” to thrive in large numbers. Wiping out the third, PD-1, prevents a phenomenon called T cell exhaustion. It’s aptly named: here, tumor cells secrete molecules that literally shut down T cell activity, zapping away their killing power.

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May 7, 2019

See Tesla’s Enhanced Summon Pick up a Driver in a Parking Lot

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

After its release, Tesla owners could instruct their vehicles to autonomously pull in or out of a parking space or garage with the push of a button. They just couldn’t expect the car to make any turns.

In late 2018, Musk began teasing a major update to Summon, which Tesla began rolling out in March — and a newly released video of Enhanced Summon in action shows just how far autonomous tech has come in three years.

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May 7, 2019

Nanoblades Are Another Delivery Option for Gene Editing into Live Organisms

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

Targeted genome editing tools, such as meganucleases (MGN), zinc-finger nucleases (ZFN), transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) and more recently the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) have revolutionized most biomedical research fields. Such tools allow to precisely edit the genome of eukaryotic cells by inducing double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) breaks at specific loci. Relying on the cell endogenous repair pathways, dsDNA breaks can then be repaired by non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) or homology-directed repair (HDR) allowing the removal or insertion of new genetic information at a desired locus.

Among the above-mentioned tools, CRISPR-Cas9 is currently the most simple and versatile method for genome engineering. Indeed, in the two-component system, the bacterial-derived nuclease Cas9 (for CRISPR-associated protein 9) associates with a single-guide RNA (sgRNA) to target a complementary DNA sequence and induce a dsDNA break. Therefore, by the simple modification of the sgRNA sequence, users can specify the genomic locus to be targeted. Consistent with the great promises of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome engineering and gene therapy, considerable efforts have been made in developing efficient tools to deliver the Cas9 and the sgRNA into target cells ex vivo either by transfection of plasmids coding for the nucleases, transduction with viral-derived vectors coding for the nucleases or by direct injection or electroporation of Cas9-sgRNA complexes into cells.

Researchers have designed Nanoblades, a protein-delivery vector based on friend murine leukemia virus (MLV) that allows the transfer of Cas9-sgRNA ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) to cell lines and primary cells in vitro and in vivo. Nanoblades deliver the ribonucleoprotein cargo in a transient and rapid manner without delivering a transgene and can mediate knock-in in cell lines when complexed with a repair template. Nanoblades can also be programmed with modified Cas9 proteins to mediate transient transcriptional activation of targeted genes.

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May 7, 2019

Scientists pinpoint potential new target for regulating inflammation

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, evolution, neuroscience

Scientists from Trinity College Dublin have discovered a potential new target for regulating inflammation, which drives a range of diseases including diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s. The potential target is an ancient immune protein—SARM—that has been conserved throughout evolution and thus is very similar in humans, other mammals, flies and worms.

The scientists, from Trinity’s School of Biochemistry and Immunology based at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI), discovered a previously unknown but important role that SARM plays in the . Their work has been published today in the prestigious journal Immunity.

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May 7, 2019

Ducati Is Working on a Futuristic Electric Motorcycle

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

“The future is electric,” Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali said during an event in Spain, according to Electrek’s translation, and that the company is “not far from starting series production.”

READ MORE: Ducati CEO confirms ‘The future is electric’, says electric Ducati is coming [Electrek]

More on the bike: BMW’s Self-Driving Motorcycle Could Help Keep Bikers Safe.

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May 7, 2019

Twisting whirlpools of electrons

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, space

In Jules Verne’s famous classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the iconic submarine Nautilus disappears into the Moskenstraumen, a massive whirlpool off the coast of Norway. In space, stars spiral around black holes; on Earth, swirling cyclones, tornadoes and dust devils rip across the land.

All these phenomena have a vortex shape, which is commonly found in nature, from galaxies to milk stirred into coffee. In the subatomic world, a stream of elementary particles or energy will spiral around a fixed axis like the tip of a corkscrew. When particles move like this, they form what we call “.” These beams imply that the particle has a well-defined orbital angular momentum, which describes the rotation of a particle around a fixed point.

Thus, vortex beams can give us new ways of interacting with matter, e.g. enhanced sensitivity to magnetic fields in sensors, or generating new absorption channels for the interaction between radiation and tissue in medical treatments (e.g. radiotherapy). But vortex beams also enable new channels in basic interactions among elementary particles, promising new insights into the inner structure of particles such as neutrons, protons or ions.

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May 7, 2019

This “Peeling” Tectonic Plate Could Cause Catastrophic Earthquakes

Posted by in category: futurism

The edge of a tectonic plate, one of the massive shelves of crust that carry the continents and ocean’s floor, is splitting right down the middle.

Scientists started to study the plate, located off the coast of Portugal, after it caused an unexpected earthquake and tsunami in 1969. They now suspect that they’re witnessing the birth of a new subduction zone, according to National Geographic, which is the point at which two plates collide and grind against each other, causing powerful earthquakes.

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May 7, 2019

Drug-resistant tuberculosis reversed in lab

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, futurism

About 1.5 million people died of tuberculosis (TB) in 2017, making it the most lethal infectious disease worldwide. A growing rise in drug-resistant TB is a major obstacle to successfully treating the illness.

Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Umea University in Sweden have found a compound that prevents and even reverses to isoniazid, the most widely used antibiotic for treating tuberculosis.

The research, published the week of May 6 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted in growing in the lab, setting the stage for future studies in animals and people.

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May 7, 2019

Researchers uncover mechanism blocking retina regeneration

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

A discovery opens the possibility of one day restoring loss of vision by activating the retina’s ability to regenerate. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, the Cardiovascular Research Institute and the Texas Heart Institute reveal in the journal Cell Reports that although the mammalian retina—a layer of specialized nerve cells that mediates vision and is located on the back of the eye- does not spontaneously regenerate, it has a regenerative capacity that is kept dormant by a cellular mechanism called the Hippo pathway. The discovery opens the possibility of activating the retina’s ability to restore lost vision by manipulating this pathway.

“Damage to the can lead to irreparable loss of vision in humans and other mammals because their retinas do not regenerate,” said lead author Dr. Ross A. Poché, assistant professor of molecular physiology and biophysics and member of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor. “However, other animals such as zebrafish can reverse blindness thanks to specialized cells in the retina called Müller . When the retina is damaged, Müller glial cells proliferate and differentiate into the lost , effectively replacing injured cells with fully functional ones.”

Although Müller glial cells in injured mammalian retina do not restore vision as their counterpart in zebrafish do, other researchers have shown that, when the mammalian retina is injured, a small subset of Müller glial cells takes the first steps needed to enter the proliferation cycle, such as acquiring molecular markers scientists expect to see in a proliferating cell.

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