Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/04/bigger-immune-responses-probabilistic.html
Bigger immune responses, Probabilistic computer vision, Self-powered camera, Quantum bits in silicon, CRISPR controls epigenetics, Laser perovskites, Multi-cameras, Metamaterial energy harvesting, Lots of robots, Accessible cell therapies.
1. Engineering a Broader Immune Response Against Cancer.
A new discovery allows a much broader immune response to be generated against different types of cancer than was previously possible http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/using-entire-immune-system-halts-tumor-growth-0414. This works by activating both the adaptive and the innate immune systems at the same time by conjugating interleukin 2 molecules to antibodies that target specific cancer cells. In tests tumours disappeared completely in up to 90% of mice and when tumour cells were reintroduced they were quickly destroyed by the immune system.
2. Computer Vision with Probabilistic Programming.
New probabilistic programming techniques can in many cases produce effective code that accomplishes in 50 lines of code what normally takes many thousands of lines of code http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/better-probabilistic-programming-0413. This is a result of making machine learning applications easier to build - probabilistic programming was developed to quickly utilise machine learning techniques that have worked elsewhere. Example applications include taking 2D pictures of faces and accurately reproducing 3D models of those faces.
3. A Self-Powered Camera.
A self-powered camera has been developed that, as the name implies, doesn’t require any power to function via a photodiode image sensor that also harvests light energy http://www.cs.columbia.edu/CAVE/projects/self_powered_camera/. This is essentially combining the functions of a solar panel and image sensor into one device that switches operation - capturing energy at one point in time in order to power the device to capture image information the next. Check out the videos - this camera can currently record an image per second. Imagine passive cameras saturating the environment that record events and never need to be recharged or connected to power.
4. Electrical Control of Quantum Information in Silicon.
Quantum information has been encoded in silicon using electrical pulses for the first time https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-tech/breakthrough-opens-door-affordable-quantum-computers. This group has been working in the space for a while now and has steadily improved the technology; from the first single atom qubits in silicon to improved control to long qubit lifetimes and now to control via electric fields. Using existing silicon-based chip fabrication methods might just enable manufacturing quantum computers in future.
5. Using CRISPR to Control Epigenetics.
CRISPR can now be used to directly target and modify epigenetic changes in the genome http://pratt.duke.edu/news/pulling-strings-our-genomic-puppetmasters. To accomplish this the Cas9 enzyme was modified to remove the DNA-cutting region, which was replaced with another enzyme for transferring acetyl groups to DNA. This allows precise targeting and control of specific gene promoters and enhancers to control gene activity; remember each cell contains the same genome, it’s just a matter of which genes are switched on or off that give rise to differences. For the first time promoters and enhancers can be probed and characterised in such an effective way.
6. Perovskites Now Made into Lasers.
Perovskite compounds are one of the most exciting materials in solar photovoltaics at the moment, and the same properties that make them effective in this application apparently also make them promising for lasers http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/devices/perovskite-leads-to-100percent-efficient-nanowire-lasers. A simple method can make perovskite crystals that function as high-efficiency, ultra-small nanowire lasers. Under testing these lasers demonstrate some of the best performance criteria of any lasing material, including near 100% efficiency in which every photon that the material absorbs is used to produce a photon of laser light.
7. NextGen Photography with Multi-Camera Modules.
A company called Light is launching new camera modules comprised of multiple lenses and image sensors that all fire simultaneously to produce images that are combined into a higher-resolution, higher-quality final image with adjustable focus http://www.technologyreview.com/news/536816/a-way-to-get-much-higher-resolution-selfies/. The first Light cameras are expected in smartphones by 2016, boasting a resolution of 52-megapixels, and along with other improvements hopefully squeeze the quality of an expensive DSLR camera into smaller, cheaper devices. This is like advanced space telescopes that combine images from multiple devices to produce much clearer images; I think it is a great idea.
8. Metamaterial Energy Harvesting from Light.
New metamaterial designs have resulted in surfaces that are able to absorb 93% of incident electromagnetic waves they have been tuned to, which is significantly higher than classical antennas http://www.aip.org/publishing/journal-highlights/harvesting-energy-electromagnetic-waves & http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/apl/106/15/10.1063/1.4916232. In this case the light was from the 3 GHz spectrum, but the group hope to extend these capabilities with related designs into the infrared and ultimately visible spectrum. Applications for the current capability includes efficient wireless power transfer for devices and chips.
9. Lots of Cool New Robots.
We had a whole bunch of new robots this week. First, an innovative robotic kitchen and cooking robot from Moley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnUDhjG95jI. Second, in line with Baxter and others yet another collaborative dual-armed manufacturing robot called YuMi https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=115&v=2KfXY2SvlmQ - lots of competition in this space. Third, a nurse robot able to accurately insert needles into arm veins to inject drugs or take blood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpdTeGPruFA. Four, a taste of things to come for the DARPA robotics trial https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=43&v=L4B5BhDoS9o. Five, solar-powered flying bird-robot https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo9lIkY74n0.
10. Accessible Cell Therapies.
RepliCel Life Sciences bill themselves as a regenerative medicine company and are developing - and plan to sell - a couple of cell therapies including treatments for (i) chronic tendinosis to improve healing of tendons, and (ii) baldness to encourage and improve hair growth https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/04/the-low-hanging-fruit-of-cell-therapy-development.php. These areas are considered “low-hanging-fruit” and aim to provide / introduce cells into areas of the body that have become deficient in certain cell types, for example, isolating hair follicles as a cell source, massively amplifying these cells to large numbers, and reintroducing them to the patient via injection to the appropriate areas. In animals the approach caused hair to grow in places it normally doesn’t, or made hair thicker in places it does.