Recently, the scientific community has become more focused on point-of-care (POC) diagnostics. This technology had been available before in certain products for specific uses, like at-home pregnancy tests or devices to check insulin levels. The purpose of POC devices is to provide immediate results that can potentially help detect or treat a medical issue. Most of these devices are still in a fledgling stage, but developers are working on technology that can actually be used. [Read more…] about Quick Guide: Point-of-Care Diagnostics, Explained
Ivana De Domenico
As we prepare for a presidential election in November, the current administration is tackling an imperative undertaking: To set a way to govern potentially unsafe biological research trials that create infectious and lethal new germs.
According to an article published today on The Hill, researchers in 2011 reported tests that made deadly strains of influenza and the news raised worries that such novel infections could be purposely abused. Not to mention that there’ve been reports of lost smallpox vials at the National Institutes of Health, potential Bacillus anthracis exposures at the Centers for Disease Control, and different episodes at government labs highlighted wellbeing slips in even the nation’s top offices.
The White House will likely reveal a long haul strategy to solve this problem before January.
Writes The Hill’s Marc Lipsitch”
“The National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity, charged to lead the deliberation, concluded that certain experiments – those with a high likelihood of producing novel, contagious and highly virulent infectious agents – are particularly worrisome and deserve special vetting for scientific necessity and safety before they are undertaken. The question is who should scrutinize them, and how.”
The US firmly limits perilous trials with germs and poisons that may entice weapons for bioterrorists. While this rule provides a structure with which to control experiments that make new fatal, transmissible infections, it’s still not fail-proof. “The Rule should be amended to prohibit the riskiest research that might produce highly virulent, contagious new strains of a pathogen, while permitting exceptions if an interagency expert panel judges the risk is warranted,” writes Lipsitch.
Aggressive cancers have been around for a long time, researchers discovered.
Using 3-D imaging, scientists found a type of cancer called osteosarcoma in a nearly 2 million year-old human foot bone. Published in the South African Journal of Science, the study suggests the proliferation of cancer precedes the issues of modernization with which we often associate the rise in cancer rates.
In an article today, National Geographic reported that “modern lifestyles have increased the incidences of cancer, especially in industrialized countries, [but] the triggers for the disease are embedded deep within the human evolutionary past.” That assertion is also echoed by study co-author Edward Odes who said, “You can opt for the paleo diet, you can have as clean a living environment as you want, but the capacity for these diseases is ancient, and it’s within us regardless of what you do to yourselves.”
To read more about this historic latest discovery, read National Geographic‘s “Earliest Human Cancer Found in 1.7-Million-Year-Old Bone.”
Google’s new Android application, called Science Journal, measures and records information progressively, and after that changes over that information into effectively discernable diagrams and graphs.
You can store projects and use instruments like an accelerometer, in addition to light and sound meters, keeping in mind the end goal that you’re assembling data for your research. For instance, a client could record their running pace each day for a week, and afterward diagram their advancement on a line chart. While the quantity of sensors accessible to utilize is still little, Google says it’s working to enhance the app’s functions and user-friendliness.
Here’s a video that demonstrates how Science Journal works.
More and more, society is moving towards a sharing economy. With the rise of companies like Uber and Airbnb, customers and companies are saving time and money on otherwise pricey services. Uber, for example, allows subscribers to skip the frequent long wait times for taxis and request a car to pick them up in minutes from their destination. Unlike traditional taxis, Uber drivers work similarly to independent contractors, they are drivers for hire. As such, using Uber can save consumers the cost of buying their own car, paying for gas and polluting the environment, while the company itself saves on purchasing its own fleet of cars to deliver the service.
But the sharing economy isn’t just for driving. It’s beginning to enter other industries as well. recently, The Conversation, an independent online publication that delivers news from the academic and research communities, boasts the following headline: “The sharing economy comes to scientific research.”
The article explains that since most science equipment is extremely expensive not all scientists readily have the funds to pay for the equipment. With the ever growing technology field, new devices and equipment are being created which could help scientists with their research. But the disconnect comes from not being able to afford the equipment. Not being able to do the research in turn causes a lack of funds for the research facility. This comes full circle because then scientists do not have the funding for the equipment. This circle of science problems is how a sharing economy relates to science and research. With a sharing economy, scientists are able to travel to a “resource lab” or look online to find the equipment they need to rent.
A resource lab is defined as a lab that specializes in a certain type of science. Researchers are able to request and purchase an experiment to be done at the lab. This saves the researcher the time to do the experiment and the money it costs to purchase the necessary equipment. Additionally, it prevents the researcher from having to learn a science that they are not familiar with or run extra trials because of missteps that occur. Because the resources labs specialize in the certain science, they are going to know a great deal more about the given subject and be able to run experiments more efficiently. If you want to be more involved with the experiment though, there are some remote online laboratories, run by MIT, that allow some control via the internet.
Resource labs are also able to bring in funds more quickly. The lab will be able to run the experiments more efficiently, which allows them to take on more projects, which will yield more funds. These funds can then be put back into the lab to buy more equipment to be used. Additionally, collaboration among scientists, is a benefit of this sharing economy. The resource labs connect scientists from all areas of study, where they are able to come together and do research.
Besides academic research, eight of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies use resource labs and “Science Exchange” to outsource experiments. This has brought in additional funds to these labs. In the past years, one lab saw a rise of 500 percent and raised $25 million which they used to expand. A sharing economy is continuing to grow but I think it will really add to the science and research industry if it continues to grow.
Boyalife Group, a Chinese based company, believes that it has the technology necessary for human replication. The company is currently building the world’s largest cloning factory and is set to begin cloning cows later this year. The firm’s technology is so advanced that it could actually replicate humans as well. The only thing holding them from doing so is public perception.
The new cloning plant is under construction at the port of Tianjin, China. Production should begin at the plant within the next few months. The goal is to clone one million cows a year by 2020.
According to chief executive Xu Xiaochun, the group has its sights on cloning more than just cattle. The factory intends to produce thoroughbred racehorses and dogs as well. Furthermore, they will be partnering with a South Korean company along with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in an effort to improve their primate cloning capacity.
The next step after animals is to apply cloning technology on humans. “The technology is already there,” says Xu. “If this is allowed, I don’t think there are other companies better than Boyalife that makes better technology.”
The company is not currently engaged in human cloning activities, mostly because they fear a public backlash if they were to pursue it. But Xu contents that social values are subject to change, particularly in terms of people having more of a choice in reproduction.
“Unfortunately, currently, the only way to have a child is to have it be half its mum, half its dad,” said Xu. “You either have fifty-fifty, or you have a choice of having the genetics 100 percent from Daddy or 100 percent from Mummy. This is only a choice.”
Xu believes that cloning could be a safeguard of biodiversity with the Tianjin facility to house a gene bank that will be able to hold up to five million samples in liquid nitrogen. This would serve as a catalogue of endangered species allowing for the possibility of regenerating them down the road.
Researchers, scientists, and engineers from around the world are continuing to push the limits of what is possible. What these people are discovering have the potential to improve our lives in incredible ways. I have compiled three different stories that are each promising in their own right.
Here are three research stories that you should be aware of today:
Bionic Spinal Cord
Researchers in Australia have created a “bionic spinal cord” that they claim would give paralyzed people significant hope of walking again. What makes the device even more amazing is that it could actually be utilized through the power of thought, without the need for open brain surgery.
The researchers proof-of-concept results come from a study conducted on sheep, demonstrating high fidelity measurements taken from the region of the brain responsible for controlling voluntary movement with the use of the device.
Vertically Launching Electric Plane
Elon Musk has been a technology pioneer. Helping to build companies such as PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX. Each of these companies has revolutionized (or are in the process of revolutionizing) their respective industries. Now, Musk has his sights on building an electric-powered plane.
During a Q&A session for the Hyperloop Pod ceremony, Musk was asked to tell the audience what his next big idea was. Musk’s response: “Well I have been thinking about the vertical takeoff and landing electric jet a bit more. I mean, I think I have something that might close. I’m quite tempted to do something about it.”
Can Our Minds Live Forever?
Scientists are looking to preserve a brain, along with all of its thoughts, memories, feelings and everything else that makes us who we are, even after we have passed. To accomplish “life beyond life,” they are looking to preserve a brain’s connectome. While they are still unsure about whether this is possible, the scientists are developing techniques that they believe will answer this question.
Kenneth Hayworth, a neuroscientist and the brainchild behind the Brain Preservation Technology Prize, believes that this technology will be possible. During an interview with Scientific America, Hayworth stated that he is “virtually certain that mind uploading is possible. Our best neuroscience models say that all these perceptual and sensorimotor memories are stored as static changes in the synapses between neurons.” This is exactly what the technique is designed to preserve.
A new study conducted by NASA has revealed that Antarctica has actually seen more cumulative ice gains than it has seen losses.
The study, led by Glaciologist Jay Zwally, shows that while the Antarctic Peninsula and parts of the West Antarctic continue to lose ice, the eastern side of the continent and interior of West Antarctica have recorded significant ice gains.
Furthermore, it has been determined that the ice caps are not actually contributing to the rising sea levels as much as scientists have originally thought.
These groundbreaking conclusions are based on new measurement methods that examine the height of the region’s ice sheet view satellites.
“The good news is that Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimeters per year away,” Zwally stated. “But this is also bad news. If the 0.27 millimeters per year of sea level rise attributed to Antarctica in the IPCC report is not really coming from Antarctic, there must be some other contribution to sea level rise that is not accounted for.”
Until these discoveries were reported by NASA, it was believed that ice loss in Antarctica was the reason for the rise in global sea levels. Scientists believed that Antarctica was adding around 8% to global sea rise. The rising sea levels is a concern for many coastal cities around the world, such as Miami, where recent high tides have caused flooding.
If Jay Zwally’s study proves to be correct, it would mean that Antarctica is not contributing nearly as much to the increasing sea levels as originally thought.
Scientists may very well be underestimating the impact of other possible sources of rising sea levels, including melting from Greenland or the heating of the oceans.
If you would like to learn more about this discovery, please check out this article.
NASA and the world news has been buzzing since researchers discovered the best evidence yet that Mars does indeed have water on it. As the most similar to Earth of all the planets, it has many wondering: could life on Mars be a viable option?
As fresh and clean water becomes less and less available on earth (and extracting salt from water is still expensive), finding other sources of the most necessary ingredient to life is growing in importance.
With the knowledge of dried up riverbed and sedimentary rock formations, we were aware for a while of Mars’ watery past (most likely over a billion years ago), but it was assumed that it was in the past. Signs of erosion were examined, which helped determine that at one time Mars had oceans along its surface going over a mile deep. But this water source was depleted as the planet lost its protective magnetic field from strong solar wind.
Now equipped with imagery of the water formations along the mountains of Mars, it would seem possible to make it a harvestable place to grow vegetation for consuming, but there is a problem. The water is poisonous. It’s filled with perchlorates, which are lethal to humans, but the water can be treated and processed into drinking water. Since the discovery, researchers are wondering if there is a water spring or gusher still waiting to be found. With more knowledge, the possibilities could be endless.
This is just the beginning in learning how exactly humans can use Mars to solves some of her problems. According to Buzz Aldrin, who was the pilot of the first manned mission to the moon, this is another small step for mankind just like those first steps on the moon. He believes that, “no dream is too high for those with their eyes in the sky!”