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Dec 15, 2016

Gene editing takes on new roles

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

What combinations of mutations help cancer cells survive? Which cells in the brain are involved in the onset of Alzheimer’s? How do immune cells conduct their convoluted decision-making processes? Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science have now combined two powerful research tools — CRISPR gene editing and single cell genomic profiling — in a method that may finally help us get answers to these questions and many more.

The new technology enables researchers to manipulate gene functions within single cells, and understand the results of each change in extremely high resolution. A single experiment with this method, say the scientists, may be equal to thousands of experiments conducted using previous approaches, and it may advance the field of genetic engineering for medical applications.

The gene-editing technique CRISPR is already transforming biology research around the world, and its clinical use in humans is just around the corner. CRISPR was first discovered in bacteria as a primitive acquired immune system, which cuts and pastes viral DNA into their own genomes to fight viruses. In recent years, this bacterial system has been adopted by researchers to snip out or insert nearly any gene in any organism or cell, quickly and efficiently. “But CRISPR, on its own, is a blunt research tool, since we often have trouble observing or understanding the outcome of this genomic editing,” says Prof. Ido Amit of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Immunology Department, who led the study. “Most studies so far have looked for black-or-white types of effects,” adds Dr. Diego Jaitin, of Amit’s lab group, “but the majority of processes in the body are complex and even chaotic.”

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Dec 15, 2016

How Researchers Tapped into Brain Activity to Boost People’s Confidence

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

There may be a way to tap into people’s brain activity to boost their confidence, a new study suggests.

In the study, the researchers used a technique called decoded neurofeedback, which involves scanning people’s brains to monitor their brain activity, and using artificial intelligence to detect activity patterns that are linked with feelings of confidence.

Then, whenever these patterns are detected, people are given a reward — in this case, participants were given a small amount of money.

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Dec 15, 2016

This Device Can Bypass Spinal Injuries to Help Defeat Paralysis

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience


Doctors in the US have developed a stimulator that bypasses spinal injuries by forcing the body to use alternative pathways to transmit signals from the brain to other areas of the body.

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Dec 15, 2016

How brain tissue recovers after injury

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

Nice write up.

A research team led by Associate Professor Mitsuharu ENDO and Professor Yasuhiro MINAMI (both from the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, Graduate School of Medicine, Kobe University) has pinpointed the mechanism underlying astrocyte-mediated restoration of brain tissue after an injury. This could lead to new treatments that encourage regeneration by limiting damage to neurons incurred by reduced blood supply or trauma. The findings were published on October 11 in the online version of GLIA ahead of print release in January 2017.

When the brain is damaged by trauma or ischemia (restriction in blood supply), immune cells such as macrophages and lymphocytes dispose of the damaged neurons with an inflammatory response. However, an excessive inflammatory response can also harm healthy neurons.

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Dec 15, 2016

Columbia University reveal what your brain looks like when you ‘zone out’

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

Pretty wild.

A mesmerising new video reveals how neuronal signaling changes blood flow through the brain. Image shows patterns of brain activity occurring across the bilateral cortex of an awake mouse. Colours indicate different patterns of activity over time.

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Dec 15, 2016

The neuroscience behind imagination

Posted by in categories: cosmology, education, neuroscience

Trying to simplify and understand imagination isn’t that easy. Should be a great read for my tech friends trying to replicate this process.

Imagination… we can all imagine things – even things we have never seen before. Even things that don’t exist. How do our brains achieve that?

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Dec 15, 2016

This Non-Invasive Brain Cap Allows People to Control a Robotic Arm with Their Minds

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

Although this still looks like you’re part of a medical experiment; it is in fact a step forward in BMI progress as it is non-invasive & not bulky as the other BMI technology that I have seen. With the insights we’re able to collect from this model plus prove 80% accuracy in the neuro communication means next generations will be able to focus on materials to make the model more and more seamless. So, it is very promising.

A new non-invasive brain-computer interface allows people to control a robotic arm using only their minds.

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Dec 15, 2016

TTFields Prolong Overall Survival in Glioblastoma

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

Very promising for Giloblastoma patients.

Adding Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) to maintenance temozolomide significantly prolongs both median and long-term survival.

Among patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme, adding Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) to maintenance temozolomide significantly prolongs both median and long-term survival, according to a study presented 21st Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Neuro-Oncology (SNO).

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Dec 15, 2016

Anti-tumor effect of novel plasma medicine caused by lactate

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

Physical plasma is one of the four fundamental states of matter, together with solid, liquid, and gas, and can be completely or partially ionized (thermal/hot or non-thermal/cold plasma, respectively). Non-thermal plasma has many industrial applications, but plasma medicine is a new field of therapy based on non-thermal atmospheric pressure plasma that has been used in cancer treatment, wound healing, and blood coagulation. Plasma is known to react with air to produce highly reactive free radicals, and with liquid to produce long-lived reactive molecules that can be used for chemotherapy. However, the exact components responsible for the anti-tumor effects were unknown.

Now, a research team based at Nagoya University used plasma to activate Ringer’s solution, a salt solution with existing therapeutic functions, and showed that its lactate component had anti-tumor effects.

Previous work by the researchers developed plasma-activated cell culture medium as a form of chemotherapy, but selected Ringer’s solution in the present work because of its simpler composition and likelihood of forming less complex reaction products. Ringer’s lactate solution (Lactec) was irradiated with plasma for 3–5 minutes, after which it demonstrated anti-tumor effects on brain tumor cells.

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Dec 15, 2016

New structure shows how cells assemble protein-making machinery

Posted by in categories: chemistry, nanotechnology, particle physics, robotics/AI

Scientists at The Rockefeller University have created the most detailed three-dimensional images to date of an important step in the process by which cells make the nano-machines responsible for producing all-important protein. The results, described December 15 in Science, are prompting the researchers to re-evaluate how they envision this early phase in the construction of ribosomes.

“The structure they determined, shown above, belongs to a particle formally called the “small subunit processome.” Before this particle can fulfill its destiny to become the smaller half of a complete ribosome, the RNA within it needs to be folded, tweaked, and cut.

“Initially, we thought of the small subunit processome as a product on an assembly line, with molecular workers arriving from outside, much like the robots that would put together a car. But that analogy no longer appears apt,” says senior author Sebastian Klinge, head of the Laboratory of Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry.

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