Today, we'll talk about the research that makes drug design possible. First, scientists must learn the language of the body, which at its most fundamental level, is the same as the language of the solar system: physics. It might not seem that way because our bodies feel so unpredictable, but there is a sublime order underneath the chaos: how molecules talk to each other, what turns certain genes on and off, why some cells become blood cells and others platelets. Why some people get diseases and others don't.
If you're into the biosciences, you've heard about CRISPR. Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and its Cas9 nucleases were discovered as part of bacterial immune systems in the 1970s; only in 2012 were they refined into a powerful gene-editing technology. Previous gene-editing techniques required customized proteins for each gene sequence, an expensive and error-prone process. For CRISPR, changing a 20-nucleotide gRNA sequence is "ridiculously simple" and can be done online, says Medvedik.
It’s time we abandoned our outdated ideas of how physics should or must be done. It’s time to reconsider string theory. The evidence is quickly mounting that when it comes to theories of quantum gravity, string theory is the only game in town. It is not far-fetched to imagine that in our lifetimes, physicists could prove string theory mathematically—no experiments needed. It would be foolish for us string theorists to abandon our pursuit of truth simply because we lack experimental data, and it would be foolish for the rest of the educated populace to reject string theory because it does not fit the definition of science they’ve grown accustomed to.
Coming out of the “Made in China” era of heavy industrial and manufacturing growth, China is now grasping onto emerging technologies and making moves towards creating the future, not just manufacturing it. Xing Jijun, Counselor of Science and Technology with the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York, says that service robots are a large priority given China’s aging population as a result of the one child policy, creating many 421 families, with 1 grandchild supporting 4 grandparents in old age.
Where our genes end and our culture begins is an age-old question, one that has not yet been answered by science. As we enter an era of genetic engineering, it's important to consider what effects this will have. Through culture, stories propagate themselves like genes do. They mutate and spread from generation to generation, and they feed off of emotion, a social energy, the same way that DNA feeds off of energy for survival and replication. This means that a fear can spread from generation to generation, with no direct experience, only through stories, advertising, and art - the things that make up culture.
Tech leadership now holds more power than any government agency or group of people on this planet. Why? Because they drive the creation and distribution of new and powerful technologies.
"We make drugs that look like what your body would make itself," says Dr. Way. Epo is a naturally-occurring protein in the body which triggers red blood cell (RBC) production by binding to RBC stem cells in the bone marrow. The problem is that Epo in it's natural form can't tell the difference between an RBC stem cell or a platelet stem cell. If the dose is too high, it triggers the body to make too many platelets, causing blood clotting. Way and Burrill, along with other collaborators, designed a drug that is able to differentiate between stem cells, thereby removing the side effect. Here's how they did it.
What patients need is a preventative drug for the brain the "same way that you take statins for heart disease," says Dr. Nazneen Dewji. Over 1 in 10 people over 65 suffer from Alzheimer's, rising to 1 in 2 over the age of 90, affecting over 8 million people today. The disease is marked by cognitive degeneration and memory loss. Many families experience the emotional devastation of slowly watching their parents fade away. Currently, there is no safe and effective treatment.
When food is lost, many Americans go hungry. How technology can make sure that food gets into bellies and stays out of landfills. or every 6 Americans, one goes hungry. For every 9 humans on this planet, one sleeps on an empty stomach. And for every meal that makes it from the farm to your plate, 4 meals worth of food are lost — either left in the field, wasted in restaurants, or spoiled in transit.
How can we get the intimacy that we need in a world with so many people and new technologies for connecting?
"If we designed airplanes like we design drugs..." alludes Walter Woltosz, CEO and Chairman of Simulations Plus, then you probably wouldn't feel very safe on an airplane! Drug design took the pharmaceutical industry by storm in the 1990s, a decade that spawned a series of fast and furious investments in the deserts of the Southwest.
80% of all antibiotics produced are given to factory farmed animals. Why is this harmful? Humans and animals alike have a set of microbes in our gut. Some good and some bad. When we don’t need to take antibiotics, but do anyway, this eliminates all microbes.
SMR, Social Media Reality can be just as mind-bending as wearing a VR headset.
Each year in West Africa floods take lives dozens of lives, displace thousands of families, and destroy tens of thousands of hectares of cropland. The plus side of all this water is that it has enormous potential for electricity production, making hydropower plants keys to economic security and growth in the region.
With growing interest in consciousness, there are so many ways to ask the questions: what makes us, us? And what will make them, them? Today’s newsletter is part of a series that explores the hardware aspects of human consciousness, and what components would be necessary for a conscious machine intelligence.
Ever wonder how big is big data? How deep is deep learning? Who can use it? What's behind the hype and what's on the horizon?
At it’s core, blockchain is built off the science of cryptography, transferring information balancing needs for speed and security. But blockchain goes beyond banking, it also plays a potentially powerful role in voting. Nimit Sawhney, co-founded Voatz, a way to vote securely using blockchain, biometrics, and wearables. If it were around today, you could vote from your smartphone in the upcoming November general election.
How does genetic engineering work? What is a gene therapy? Over our lives, our DNA changes and mutates in the process of aging. Our bodies are very protective of our genes, and our immune system exists to detect and destroy any items that don't belong, like viruses or bacteria. In order to bypass the body's natural defense and DNA-repair system, scientists use vectors, Trojan horses that sneak in therapeutic DNA past the defensive walls.
Fundamentally, computing is a all about controlling and managing information over time. Brains can compute, and so can your smartphone. The information that flows through both is fundamentally the same. Today we’re starting with the most commonly-used basic unit of computing: the doped silicon transistor. And yes, like human types of doping, the silicon is doped with a little bit of something special that alters its normal behavior.
Researching how E. coli grows and divides could be a critical component to the antibacterial resistance fight. Labs work with E. coli is because it is a simple bacteria: divides quickly, gram negative, and has similar characteristics to bacteria that have already evolved.
Is CRISPR/Cas9 actually that big of a deal? While there is a Nobel prize floating around, and upfront license payments and collaborations are over $100M with billions to be gained in the coming 18 years, it also might not be that big of a deal in everyday research. Zhang recently discovered another method in the CRISPR system called Cpf1, which staggers the DNA break and only needs one guide RNA. While the discovery is not revolutionary scientifically, being just one of many in the CRISPR system, and with many others bound to be discovered in the coming years, it does however provide an answer to the patent brawl by simply stepping out of it. Cpf1 can do the same thing, without all the legal hassle. And there's more where it came from.
While there is more than enough food on this planet to feed everybody, food distribution is the bottleneck that stops food from getting into people’s mouths. How do you get food into countries with crumbling infrastructure, lack of education, or geopolitical instability? GMOs offer a solution, with support from farmers and opposition from the natural food movement - can both sides win?
It’s all over the news. Elon Musk has done it again. From SpaceX to Tesla, and now Neuralink and Kernel. This man wants to merge computers with the brain, and he wants to do it in the next four to five years. And no, he is not a believer in the coming age of robot domination or artificially intelligent overlords. He wants humans to evolve with artificial intelligence, not behind it. But, enough about Elon. Let’s get to the science.
Vipassana means to “to see things as they really are.” As one of many creators in technology, I raise the challenge to all creators: can we figure out a way to profit from engaged users by fostering enthusiasm, joy, and health?
A new wave of innovation is sweeping modern society and its ethos can be summed up in two words: cutting waste. Since service is all about experience, the race is now fiercely on for who can deliver value with minimal imposition on the customer. Whatever products and solutions such AI delivers, the interface needs to respect the sanctity of the human action flow by bending the machine to understand the human in her own language.
It seems that somehow, from a dense spaghetti-network of over 100 billion neurons and glial cells* that the experience of consciousness arises. Continuing from last week’s newsletter on the subjective experience of consciousness, today we look at the objective cutting-edge neuroscience behind the phenomenon. Today we’re starting with the most well-studied basic unit of mental hardware: the neuron.
Can we inherit memories? In 2014, Brian Dias and Kerry Ressler conducted an experiment to test this. They exposed male mice to an aromatic compound (acetophenone) whose receptor gene (Olfr151) had been sequenced. The mice were not born with a blank slate. The shadow of their father’s experience was cast over them. In humans, we have characterised this effect in families struck by famine, war and disease. Our ancestors tales are part of us. Not spiritually, but epigenetically in the spools of our DNA. Who our parents were is more a part of us then we could know. Epigenetics is then the bridge between nature and nurture. A resolution of Lamarck and Darwin and very likely the future of personalized medicine.