Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/08/dopamine-gene-therapy-remyelination.html
Dopamine gene therapy, Remyelination cell therapy, Algebraic brain topology, Ginko custom microbes, Ultrasound protein imaging, MegaMIMO bandwidth boost, Thought activated DNA-bots, Light controlled CRISPR, Whole transparent organisms, Massively multicore chips.
1. Gene Therapy for Dopamine Production
A new treatment for Parkinson’s Disease is currently entering human clinical trials that involves genetically engineering the neurons of patients by administering large amounts of viruses that carry genes to better enable the brain to produce and manage dopamine https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602193/manufacturing-dopamine-in-the-brain-with-gene-therapy/. Early results with initial patients show promise, not only for restoring cognitive function, but also for circumventing the main drawback to conventional L-Dopa and dopamine treatments which is the development of resistance and the need for ever greater amounts of drug that has less effect. There are currently 48 human clinical trials underway for brain and CNS gene therapies and cell treatments.
2. Cell Therapy Boosts Remyelination in Brain
A cell therapy product incorporating macrophages and microglia is showing promise in animal studies for remyelinating neurons in the brain and actively reversing the demyelination associated with many diseases including Multiple Sclerosis https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/08/development-of-a-cell-therapy-to-increase-remyelination-in-the-brain/. Such a treatment might not only be used in treating various neurological diseases but administered on a routine basis to restore myelin levels to youthful states as desired.
3. Understanding the Brain with Algebraic Topology
Mathematical tools from the field of algebraic topology are being used to better characterise and understand the structure and function of the brain and its connectome https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602234/how-the-mathematics-of-algebraic-topology-is-revolutionizing-brain-science/. These new tools provide a different way of classifying nodes and loops, and for identifying these features at small and large scales. It should only be a matter of time before these additional tools and insights are incorporated into artificial machine learning systems.
4. Ginkgo Bioworks’ Custom Engineered Microbes
Synthetic biology company Ginkgo Bioworks continues to grow and develop custom genetically engineered yeasts that metabolise standard feedstocks under standard fermentation conditions to produce a range of different fragrances, flavours, cosmetics, and pesticides http://news.mit.edu/2016/startup-ginkgo-bioworks-engineered-yeast-0825. The company has scaled up, building a large automated foundry dedicated to rapid prototyping and rapidly generating custom yeasts to design specifications. These industrial synthetic biology facilities are starting to proliferate and at some point we can expect their capabilities to distributed to end users.
5. Engineered Proteins for Ultrasound Imaging
Newly engineered protein-shelled nanostructures known as gas vesicles, which reflect sound waves, can now give off far more distinct signals, target specific types of cells, and be used to generate “colour” ultrasound images https://www.caltech.edu/news/designing-ultrasound-tools-lego-proteins-51834. Swapping and modifying different proteins on the surface of the vesicles alters cell targeting, molecule targeting, and sensitivity to different ultrasound frequencies. Such devices can be injected wholesale into an animal for medical imaging purposes, or a gene therapy could deliver the code to cells needed to produce the vesicles from scratch. Applications include e.g. using ultrasound to produce overlapping images showing tumour cells, the immune cells attacking them, and the vascular cells supplying nutrients. I also wonder if these vesicles might be co-opted to facilitate respirocytes.
6. MegaMIMO Boosts Network Bandwidth
The MegaMIMO wireless data system has recently demonstrated three times faster bandwidth and twice the wireless range of conventional Multiple-Input Multiple-Output systems http://news.mit.edu/2016/solving-network-congestion-megamimo-0823. The system manages to synchronise transmitter phases to coordinate multiple access points at the same time on the same frequency without creating interference and in order to maximise the efficient utilisation of the available spectrum. Such a system should provide needed boosts to both cellular and WiFi communications.
7. DNA Robots Activated by Thoughts
This is an interesting if somewhat convoluted proof of concept for triggering the activation of DNA nanobots in a living animal just by thinking http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/08/thought-controlled-nanoscale-dna-robots.html. In this system (i) an EEG headset records and recognises particular mind states, (ii) particular mind states influence the strength of an electromagnetic field, (iii) the strength of the electromagnetic field heats up metal nanoparticles injected into an animal (the subject themselves or another), and (iv) past a certain threshold the heated metal nanoparticles cause programmed DNA origami structures on their surface to reversibly activate. In this case they proved that the DNA nanobots were able to induce a cellular effect.
8. Modified CRISPR Controlled by Light
On the topic of controllable nanobots, the CRISPR system is being further engineered and modified to produce versions that can be controllably switched on and off in different ways http://news.mit.edu/2016/using-light-control-genome-editing-0825. Some approaches modify the Cas9 enzyme itself to achieve this, but the present work builds on earlier approaches that engineered light-activated RNA interference in order to produce modified RNA guide strands that are only activated in the presence of certain wavelengths of light. This allows precision experiments for controlling the precise timing of gene editing and other cellular signalling events. Next steps are exploring therapeutic applications and improving the design with a more universal system.
9. Making Whole Organisms Transparent for Imaging
Continual improvements and refinements in imaging and chemical techniques for making organs transparent have resulted in methods that can now make entire organisms transparent while labelling almost any desired internal structure for imaging and analysis http://www.en.uni-muenchen.de/news/press-services/press-releases/2016/ertuerk_imaging.html. In this work with the new uDISCO technique whole rats were rendered transparent and their nervous systems labelled with fluorescent tags in order to produce high resolution images and maps of entire neuronal networks with subcellular detail while still embedded in their original tissues.
10. Massively Multicore Chips
The KiloCore chip contains 1,000 independently programmable processors was fabricated by IBM https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/worlds-first-1000-processor-chip/. The chip can process 115 billion instructions per second while dissipating just 0.7 Watts and has a number of novel features for applications including encoding/decoding, video processing, encryption. In related news a 25 core chip called Piton that is designed to more efficiently power massive cloud computing architectures https://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S47/19/67G69. Piton is designed to be scalable and so chips with thousands of cores and data centres with half a billion cores are envisaged.
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