New gene therapies may soon treat dozens of rare diseases, but million-dollar price tags will put them out of reach for many

Zolgensma – which treats spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic disease that damages nerve cells, leading to muscle decay – is currently the most expensive drug in the world. A one-time treatment of the life-saving drug for a young child costs US$2.1 million.

While Zolgensma’s exorbitant price is an outlier today, by the end of the decade there’ll be dozens of cell and gene therapies, costing hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for a single dose. The Food and Drug Administration predicts that by 2025 it will be approving 10 to 20 cell and gene therapies every year.

I’m a biotechnology and policy expert focused on improving access to cell and gene therapies. While these forthcoming treatments have the potential to save many lives and ease much suffering, health care systems around the world aren’t equipped to handle them. Creative new payment systems will be necessary to ensure everyone has equal access to these therapies. 

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FedEx testing autonomous delivery robot on Richardson streets

The robot called Roxo is designed to make last minute deliveries, minus the delivery person.

By Teri Webster

An autonomous delivery vehicle recently rolled down the streets of Richardson during a trial run for FedEx.

The prototype called “Roxo” recently made mock deliveries to homes in a neighborhood near Berkner High School, according to an announcement by the city. 

FedEx worked with the Richardson police and fire departments, city engineers and the Marlborough Square Home Owners Association to ensure the testing ran smoothly.

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Scientists Use Nanotechnology To Detect Bone-Healing Stem Cells

Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new way of using nanomaterials to identify and enrich skeletal stem cells — a discovery which could eventually lead to new treatments for major bone fractures and the repair of lost or damaged bone.

Working together, a team of physicists, chemists, and tissue engineering experts used specially designed gold nanoparticles to ‘seek out’ specific human bone stem cells — creating a fluorescent glow to reveal their presence among other types of cells and allow them to be isolated or ‘enriched’.

The researchers concluded their new technique is simpler and quicker than other methods and up to 50-500 times more effective at enriching stem cells.

The study, led by Professor of Musculoskeletal Science, Richard Oreffo and Professor Antonios Kanaras of the Quantum, Light and Matter Group in the School of Physics and Astronomy, is published in ACS Nano — an internationally recognized multidisciplinary journal.

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Simbe’s robots will be deployed across midwestern grocery chain, Schnucks

By Brian Heater

St. Louis-based grocery chain Schnucks (one of those “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good” situations, one imagines) announced this week that it will be deploying technology from Simbe Robotics across its 111 U.S. locations.

The deal comes a year and a half into a global pandemic that has substantially increased interest in automation, particularly around essential businesses — a qualifier that certainly applies to grocery stores.

Simbe’s mobile robots provide inventory scanning, offering a constantly updating picture of what’s on the store shelves and what needs to be restocked. Anyone who’s ever worked retail can almost certainly tell you that doing inventory is one of the biggest headaches in the industry, often requiring hours-long shutdowns or overnight marathons to complete.

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China wind turbine maker to launch EV-charging robots

Envision Group eyes potential in mobility, hydrogen and weather forecasting

Envision Group’s Mochi robot charges electric vehicles while drivers are away. 

TOKYO — One of China’s biggest wind turbine makers plans to tackle the country’s chronic shortage of electric vehicle charging points: mobile robots that bring the juice to the car.

Envision Group plans to start testing its Mochi robot — so named because it provides mobile charging services — in Shanghai this year. The robot is also being shipped to Singapore.

The company aims to make the robot available through a smartphone app-based membership service that will allow drivers to leave their cars for Mochi to find and charge automatically.

“Your parking will totally change … you don’t spend time looking for charging stations. You don’t need to wait in your charging station,” Envision’s Chief Executive Lei Zhang told Nikkei Asia in an interview. “We can put the robot in all car parks for big buildings,” he said.

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What is a Decentralized autonomous organization, and how does a DAO work?

A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) is an entity with no central leadership. Decisions get made from the bottom-up, governed by a community organized around a specific set of rules enforced on a blockchain.

DAOs are internet-native organizations collectively owned and managed by their members. They have built-in treasuries that are only accessible with the approval of their members. Decisions are made via proposals the group votes on during a specified period.

A DAO works without hierarchical management and can have a large number of purposes. Freelancer networks where contracts pool their funds to pay for software subscriptions, charitable organizations where members approve donations and venture capital firms owned by a group are all possible with these organizations.

Before moving on, it’s important to distinguish a DAO, an internet-native organization, from The DAO, one of the first such organizations ever created. The DAO was a project founded in 2016 that ultimately failed and led to a dramatic split of the Ethereum network.

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The New Creator Economy – DAOs, Community Ownership, and Cryptoeconomics

The New Creator Economy – DAOs, Community Ownership, and Cryptoeconomics

By Nader Dabit

I first had what I can only describe as a spiritual awakening about 10 years ago to the fact that technology would (figuratively) rule the world. And since then, I’ve been obsessed with wanting to understand how software works and how to build it.

Since that moment, my life has changed significantly for the better. I can only attribute it to the simple fact that I have relied not only on my own instincts, but on those of people much smarter and more experienced than I am.

My hypothesis is this: try to find and follow the lead of those who have exhibited a long track record of success, find interests in their wake, and do my best to excel at them (while continuing to explore my own curiosities).

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All future Starlink satellites will have laser crosslinks

Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX, expects the next Starlink mission will launch in about three weeks.

by Jason Rainbow — August 26, 2021

COLORADO SPRINGS — SpaceX is adding laser terminals on all future Starlink satellites and is the reason behind a break in launches for the broadband megaconstellation, president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said.

Shotwell told the Space Symposium Aug. 24 that its decision to add laser crosslinks, enabling the satellites to communicate with each other to reduce their reliance on ground stations, is “why we have been struggling” to launch a Starlink mission since June 30.

SpaceX had been conducting an aggressive launch campaign with its Falcon 9 rocket throughout the first half 2021 before the hiatus, enlarging the Starlink constellation to more than 1,600 satellites in low Earth orbit.

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University of Zurich and Airbus grow miniature human tissue on the International Space Station ISS

Kennedy Space Center, Florida, 26 August 2021 – With the next supply flight to the International Space Station (ISS), the Space Hub of the University of Zurich (UZH) and Airbus Defence and Space are bringing an experiment into space, which is intended to further advance the industrial production of human tissue in zero-gravity conditions. With this step, space could become a workshop for producing miniature human tissue for terrestrial use in research and medicine. Initial preparatory tests on the ISS 18 months ago were successful.

The process for the joint “3D Organoids in Space” project comes from Zurich scientists Oliver Ullrich and Cora Thiel, pioneers in research on how gravity influences human cells. Together with Airbus, they have developed the process to project maturity. The Airbus Innovations team led by project manager Julian Raatschen is developing the hardware and providing access to the ISS. From the idea to the first production test in space it took the project partners only three years to complete various test phases and highly competitive internal selection procedures. “We are the first to show that the path to production in space is feasible, not in theory, but in practice,” says Oliver Ullrich.

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All New Audis Will Be Electric Starting in 2026

2026 will see a radical change to Audi’s lineup of cars and SUVs, while 2033 will be the last year it produces combustion engines.

BY HAZEL SOUTHWELL 

Audi confirmed in March of this year that it was stopping all development of combustion engines to focus completely on electric vehicles. Then, a few months later, its board chairman Markus Duesmann told German news that all new Audis would be electric from 2026. And, today, it’s confirmed that timeline for phasing out internal combustion engines, by saying that “new Audi models from 2026 will be all-electric, and combustion engine production to end in 2033.”

Audi announced the plan as part of its new Vorsprung 2030 manifesto, which highlights how Audi is planning to become more sustainable in the ways it develops vehicles. The detail goes from the combustion phase-out to looking for that unbelievably sexy automotive buzzword currently—”synergies”—that will help the brand transfer its main area of profits from combustion vehicle sales to electric. 

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FIRST SUCCESSFUL TRANSPLANT OF A ROBOTIC HEART

Every 10 minutes someone is added to the organ transplant waiting list in the US. 

As of May 2021, there were over 100,000 people waiting for replacement organs across the country. 

And countless more people in need of “spare parts” never even make it onto the waiting list. On average, 17 people die each day while waiting for an organ transplant.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of US deaths could be prevented or postponed with access to organ replacements. 

That’s why the recent announcement of the first successful human transplant of an artificial heart in a US patient is such a big development. 

The artificial heart used in the transplant was created by medical technology company Carmat, which won FDA approval for human trials just last year. Discussing the latest developments in biotech—using biology as technology—is a key focus of my year-round coaching program Abundance360.

In today’s blog, we’ll discuss how Carmat’s artificial heart works and how it fits into the broader objective of regenerative medicine. 

Let’s dive in… 

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