Designer Neurons Offer New Hope for Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease

Summary: Researchers have designed a new method of converting non-neural cells into functioning neurons that are able to form synapses, dispense dopamine, and restore the function of neurons undermined by Parkinson’s associated destruction of dopaminergic cells.

Neurodegenerative diseases damage and destroy neurons, ravaging both mental and physical health. Parkinson’s disease, which affects over 10 million people worldwide, is no exception. The most obvious symptoms of Parkinson’s disease arise after the illness damages a specific class of neuron located in the midbrain. The effect is to rob the brain of dopamine—a key neurotransmitter produced by the affected neurons.

In new research, Jeffrey Kordower and his colleagues describe a process for converting non-neuronal cells into functioning neurons able to take up residence in the brain, send out their fibrous branches across neural tissue, form synapses, dispense dopamine and restore capacities undermined by Parkinson’s destruction of dopaminergic cells.

The current proof-of-concept study reveals that one group of experimentally engineered cells performs optimally in terms of survival, growth, neural connectivity, and dopamine production, when implanted in the brains of rats.

The study demonstrates that the result of such neural grafts is to effectively reverse motor symptoms due to Parkinson’s disease.

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Scientists Reverse Ageing In Old Mice Using Brain Fluid From Younger Mice

By Bharat Sharma

Scientists recently “rejuvenated” old mice using injections containing brain fluid sourced from younger mice. According to a new study that was published in the journal Nature, memory problems associated with old age (in mice) can be reversed by taking cerebrospinal fluid from young mice. The study essentially examined the link between memory and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the composition of which changes with age

Scientists recently “rejuvenated” old mice using injections containing brain fluid sourced from younger mice. According to a new study that was published in the journal Nature, memory problems associated with old age (in mice) can be reversed by taking cerebrospinal fluid from young mice.

The study essentially examined the link between memory and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the composition of which changes with age. 

Continue reading… “Scientists Reverse Ageing In Old Mice Using Brain Fluid From Younger Mice”

TOPICS:CancerDNAMolecular BiologyPublic HealthYale University

Illustration of human cancer cells.


A team of researchers led by Yale University scientists can now quantify the factors causing changes in the DNA that contribute most to cancer growth in tumors of most major tumor types

In a new paper published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, they say that their new molecular analysis approach clarifies a long-standing debate about how much control humans have over cancer development over time.

Looking at the instances of specific genetic mutations can reveal the extent to which preventable exposures like ultraviolet light caused tumor growth in 24 cancers, said Jeffrey Townsend, Ph.D., the Elihu Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Biostatistics at Yale School of Public Health (YSPH).

“We can now answer the question — to the best of our knowledge — ‘What is the underlying source of the key mutations that changed those cells to become a cancer instead of remaining normal tissue?’” he said.

Some of the most common cancers in the United States are known to be highly preventable by human decisions. Skin cancers, such as melanoma, emerge in large part because of prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, and lung cancers can often be traced back to tobacco use. But scientists have long struggled to gauge how much any individual’s tumor developed as a result of preventable actions versus aging or “chance.”

Continue reading… “TOPICS:CancerDNAMolecular BiologyPublic HealthYale University

The Future of Digital Innovation in China: Megatrends Shaping One of the World’s Fastest Evolving Digital Ecosystems

By Lambert BuViolet ChungNick LeungKevin Wei Wang, Bruce Xia, and Chenan Xia

The Future of Digital Innovation in China: Megatrends Shaping One of the World’s Fastest Evolving Digital EcosystemsThe paths taken by Chinese companies have relevant implications for other digital and traditional players as they craft their strategies.

Partners in McKinsey’s Digital Practice discuss the 6 megatrends shaping the future of China’s digital ecosystem.

In a relatively short span of time, China has transitioned from a technological backwater to become one of the world’s largest digital economies.

On the back of its base of nearly one billion internet users, China’s ecommerce sales grew to $1.7 trillion in 2020, a number that is equivalent to 30 percent of all retail sales in China.

But this is not just a story of size. It is, above all, a story of innovation and disruption. In omnichannel retail, social media, on-demand services, mobility, fintech, healthtech, and other domains, the country is developing many “China-first” innovations.

In this report, we take a close look at these innovations, and the forces, trends, and technologies that enable them. We then identify six megatrends that are shaping the future of digital innovation in China.

Finally, we pose a series of quick questions that corporate leaders should consider when crafting their digital strategies in China. By asking the right questions, executives can set their priorities and allocate their resources.

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ABB Robotics Unveils World’s First Robot-painted Art Car

ABB Robotics Unveils World’s First Robot-painted Art Car 

ABB Robotics has collaborated with two world-renowned artists, eight year old Indian child prodigy Advait Kolarkar and Dubai-based digital design collective Illusorr, to create the world’s first robot-painted art car. ABB’s award-winning PixelPaint technology has, without human intervention, perfectly recreated Advait’s swirling, monochromatic design as well as Illusorr’s tri-color geometrical patterns.

Equipped with 1,000 nozzles in the printer head, ABB’s IRB 5500 paint robots were able to complete the highly complex artworks in less than 30 minutes. The PixelPaint technology demonstrates unprecedented precision and speed, capturing intricate, elaborate detail that would be impossible to achieve by hand. A film highlighting this world-first achievement can be seen here.

Sami Atiya, president of ABB’s Robotics & Discrete Automation business area, commented, “ABB’s PixelPaint technology is more than an evolution–it is a revolution. It’s a shining example of how robotic automation and our RobotStudio software can not only pave the way for more sustainable manufacturing but can also perfectly replicate delicate pieces of art that celebrate the originality and beauty of the human spirit. At a time when consumers want more customized products, PixelPaint is a game changer and allows any design to be replicated in a manner that is both sustainable and affordable.”

ABB’s ground-breaking PixelPaint technology reimagines the paint application process and reflects the growing demand for sustainable personalization in the automotive industry, particularly in exterior paint. Multi-colored car painting has traditionally been a laborious and costly process involving multiple stages of masking and unmasking, but ABB’s technology allows for a detailed, colorful, and exact replication of any design.
Carefully controlled, the paint can be quickly applied in a single application. This breakthrough in the automation of the paint process opens the door to specialized and personalized designs to the automotive market.

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British rocket company Orbex reveals first full-scale micro-launcher rocket

The Prime orbital space rocket is the world’s most environmentally friendly rocket. Credit: Orbex

British rocket company Orbex has unveiled the first full-scale prototype of the Prime orbital space rocket on its dedicated launch pad publicly for the first time.

The unveiling of the first of a new generation of European launch vehicles – designed to launch a new category of very small satellites to orbit – represents a major step forward for the British rocket company as it prepares for the first ever vertical rocket launch to orbit from UK soil. Orbex´s Prime rocket is the first ‘micro-launcher’ developed in Europe to reach this stage of technical readiness.

With the first full integration of the Orbex rocket on a launch pad now complete, the company is able to enter a period of integrated testing, allowing dress rehearsals of rocket launches and the development and optimisation of launch procedures. Orbex recently revealed their first test launch platform at a new test facility in Kinloss, a few miles from the company’s headquarters at Forres in Moray, Scotland.

Prime is a 19-metre long, two-stage rocket that is powered by seven engines, that is being designed and manufactured in the UK and Denmark. The six rocket engines on the first stage of the rocket will propel the vehicle through the atmosphere to an altitude of around 80km. The single engine on the second stage of the rocket will complete the journey to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), allowing the release of its payload of small, commercial satellites into Earth’s orbit.

Uniquely, Orbex Prime is powered by a renewable bio-fuel, bio-propane, supplied by Calor UK. This fuel allows the rocket to reduce carbon emissions significantly compared to other similarly-sized rockets being developed elsewhere around the world. A study by the University of Exeter showed that a single launch of the Orbex Prime rocket will produce 96 per cent lower carbon emissions than comparable space launch systems using fossil fuels. Prime is also a re-usable rocket which has been engineered to leave zero debris on Earth and in orbit.

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Digital Twin Multi Network Models Could Aid Personalized Therapy, Biomarker, and Drug Discovery

An international team of researchers has developed advanced computer models, or “digital twins,” of diseases that can identify dynamic genome- and cellulome-wide, disease-associated changes in cells across time. Developed with the goal of improving diagnosis and treatment, the research, published in Genome Medicine, underlines the complexity of disease and the necessity of using the right treatment at the right time. The scientists, headed by Mikael Benson, PhD, at Linköping University, and Karolinska Institutet, reported on the development of one model to identify the most important disease protein in hay fever.

In their published paper, titled, “A dynamic single cell‑based framework for digital twins to prioritize disease genes and drug targets,” the investigators concluded, “We propose that our framework allows organization and prioritization of UR [upstream regulator] genes for biomarker and drug discovery. This may have far-reaching clinical implications, including identification of biomarkers for personalized treatment, new drug candidates, and time-dependent personalized prescriptions of drug combinations.”

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Scientists create tattoo-like sensors that reveal blood oxygen levels

A silk film holding a chromophore and implanted under the skin will glow under UV light to reveal levels of oxygen in the blood.

by  Tufts University

People get tattoos to remember an event or a person, to make a statement, or simply as an aesthetic embellishment. But imagine a tattoo that could be functional—telling you how much oxygen you are using when exercising, measuring your blood glucose level at any time of day, or monitoring a number of different blood components or exposure to environmental toxins.

Now engineers at Tufts University have taken an important step toward making that happen with the invention of a silk-based material placed under the skin that glows brighter or dimmer under a lamp when exposed to different levels of oxygen in the blood. They reported their findings in Advanced Functional Materials.

The novel sensor, which currently is limited to reading oxygen levels, is made up of a gel formed from the protein components of silk, called fibroin. The silk fibroin proteins have unique properties that make them especially compatible as an implantable material.

When they are re-assembled into a gel or film, they can be adjusted to create a structure that lasts under the skin from a few weeks to over a year. When the silk does break down, it is compatible with the body and unlikely to invoke an immune response.

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Caltech’s newest Smart Pill will one day track the nanobots in your body

Open Wide and Swallow


In the next two decades or so we will be increasingly exposed to nanobots that can perform extraordinary feats as they move around inside our bodies, but up until now there’s not been any way to track them.

The other day I made a Scouts honour pledge to the biologists and doctors among you that I’d write a piece on nanobot GPS tracking , yes, really, so here it is… In the future, if futurists like me are to be believed, hey no smirking at the back, we’re all going be quaffing both brain controlled nanobots and “regular” nanobots, that can perform surgery on us from the inside and identify diseases, like Cancer, before we show any symptoms, with our wine. Or beer. Whatever takes your fancy. However, while having all these little robotic critters roaming around our insides sounds great and all that there’s a problem with this wonderful utopian vision… how on Earth would we keep track of them all?

Well, now thanks to those spiffy guys and gals at Caltech a new chip that’s loaded with sensors and that can ping its location in the body could help us solve that issue, and one day it could be used to help us track our little friends as they meander around our insides in real time.

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Hyundai Wants to Build Terrifying Walking Cars in Montana

Hyundai’s New Horizons Studio will research “Ultimate Mobility Vehicles” — in other words, cars with legs.

BySteve DaSilva

Look, we all love cars. But have you ever felt they’re missing something? We see faces in their front ends, the side mirrors can pass as ears, but where are the bodies? And, even more importantly, these are ambulatory — where are the legs? Hyundai, it seems, wants to right this grievous wrong of car design. 

In fact, the company is so dedicated that it’s building an entire research and development center in Montana with one explicit goal: Give cars legs.

Hyundai’s new R&D lab, called the New Horizons Studio, will be built at Montana State University’s “Innovation Campus” in Bozeman. The company plans to employ fifty people at the site and spend $20 million over five years with the goal of “redefin[ing] vehicular mobility with robotics and wheeled locomotion technology.”

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Virgin Orbit is assembling a fleet of 747 jets to launch more rockets into space

The modified 737 aircraft “Cosmic Girl” lifts off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California carrying a LauncherOne rocket on June 30, 2021.

By Michael Sheetz

  • Virgin Orbit is assembling a fleet of rocket-launching 747 jets, the company announced, ordering two new modified cargo airframes that CEO Dan Hart says “unleashes us in a few ways.”
  • The added jets open “up all sorts of possibilities for supporting different customers in different places,” Hart said.
  • Virgin Orbit expects to take delivery of the first of the two new planes next year.

Virgin Orbit is assembling a fleet of modified 747 jets, the company announced Tuesday, ordering two new modified cargo airframes to help launch more rockets into space.

The company is acquiring the two additional airframes through L3Harris, which will modify the jets to carry and launch Virgin Orbit’s rockets. Virgin expects to take delivery of the first of the planes next year.

Continue reading… “Virgin Orbit is assembling a fleet of 747 jets to launch more rockets into space”

China’s Self Parking, Driverless Vehicles

By Jerome Siacor

China’s carmakers are producing driverless vehicles these automobiles can park themselves. Dozens of Chinese car manufacturers are fielding driverless vehicles making the most of the advances in technology. These automated vehicles may not have gone mainstream yet but are getting more and more attention each day.

Driverless vehicles became a fixture of many of China’s online delivery companies to lessen the burden of getting products to the market as reported on OpenGov Asia. Of course, the level of sophistication for different car manufacturers with regard to their driverless car vary. With similar functions available in the Chinese market from domestic and international carmakers have cars that need clear parking guidelines to park themselves.

It’s a big advantage. Many find parking to be a harder task when driving a car. One car owner detailed that driving was easy, but parking was so difficult for her. Further, she added that like many other new drivers, she found it a different experience from what we were taught at the training school. She became anxious when there were other vehicles behind her.

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