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Nina Tryggvason
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Agoraphobic Philosopher
Agoraphobic Philosopher

138 followers
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when The Taliban leaderboards The Republicans, eh?

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Two years ago Diane Hoffman-Kim grew her first brain ball. She started by dropping a few mouse nerve cells into a special nonstick petri dish, and with nothing but each other to hold on to, the cells grew into a sphere less than a millimeter wide: a mini-brain.
The biological engineer has since reared thousands more of these organoids, with neurons that spark with lively electrical activity. Except … they still aren’t quite alive. Without blood flow of their own, they can’t survive without careful monitoring.
Then, last year, one of Hoffman-Kim’s grad students noticed something no one had ever seen before: Her brain balls were spontaneously growing blood vessels.
That tangle of hollow tubes marks the beginnings of a basic circulatory system. They’re really just newbies Hoffman-Kim says. Her brains still can’t pump their own blood—they’d need hearts for that—but that isn’t stopping Hoffman-Kim from trying to edge them closer to self-sustaining life. She’s working with a colleague at Brown to rig up her mini-brains to a mini-circulation source: rows and rows of brain balls sitting on chips, all plugged into a microfluidic motherboard.

In the last five years, researchers have engineered lots of dish-dwelling micro-organs, from itsy bitsy intestines to Lilliputian livers.
They’ve simultaneously made major advances in biochips: small, Flash-drive-sized structures lined with a layer or two of cells and studded with biosensors and microfluidic channels. Those two-dimensional chips are useful for testing, say, how lung cells react to a piped-in toxin, but they’re too simplistic to truly mimic organs.
That’s where organoids like Hoffman-Kim’s brain balls come in.
For the first time, 2-D biochips are colliding with 3-D mini-organs, and together they’re making some of the best organ simulations ever.
Using these mashups, the idea is that scientists will be able to take a few of your skin cells, grow miniature versions of all your major organs, and put them on a chip. Then doctors can test out the best compounds for whatever disease you might have, not in a mouse, but in a mini-you.
This will enable a new era of personalized medicine says Ali Khademhosseini a bioengineer at Harvard’s Wyss Institute who has been working on both mini-organs and biochips for the last decade.
In a paper that will be published later this month, Khademhosseini’s team created a series of chips connecting liver organoids and cancer cells with loops of tiny tubes.
They pumped an anticancer drug through the system, tracking whether it killed the tumor cells and whether the liver cells could survive the toxic onslaught.
That way, they could optimize a drug dosage that maxed cancer-killing power while keeping the liver out of harm’s way.
This new kind of drug-testing system could make it faster and cheaper to develop new therapeutics.
Darpa has been a big funder of this line of research, especially as it aims at treatments for nuclear or biological weapons that are difficult to test in humans. And it could mean the end of animal test subjects; currently, all new drugs must be tested for toxicity on animals before the developer can apply for a human trial.

That’s especially great news for diseases that only hit humans, where animal models aren’t that useful in the first place.
Take enteroviruses. Each year they cause over 10 million nasty infections, they’re particularly deadly for newborns, but none of their 71 strains naturally infect mice or rats.
If you think about it, most everything we know about infectious diseases comes from the mouse says Carolyn Coyne a microbiologist at the University of Pittsburgh.
So Coyne made a mini-gut instead.
In a paper published last month, her team took human stem cells and nudged them to develop into the seven different cell types that make up the human gut. Just like Hoffman-Kim’s mini-brains,
Coyne’s cells self-organized into blobs of proto-intestines, complete with finger-like villi. Some enteroviruses targeted certain cells and not others, using them to gain passage into the bloodstream where they cause the most damage.
Still, the mini-gut on its own wasn’t enough to study why those cells got targeted.
Coyne suspects it might have something to do with the gut microbiome.
She hasn’t yet been able to test her hypothesis, because most gut microbes can’t live in a petri dish along with her mini-guts longer than a day or two. But you know where they can live longer? Yep: on a chip.

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The spike in displaced residents and injured soldiers mirrors what happened during the campaign to take eastern Mosul from the Islamic... http://trib.al/QjOeSY8

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Global warming is clearly visible now. Human inaction on climate change is going to be felt by everyone on the planet and the consequences are going to be dire.

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SETI Has Already Tried Listening to TRAPPIST-1

As it turns out, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute was already monitoring this system with their Allen Telescope Array (ATA), looking for signs of life even before the multi-planet system was announced. And while the survey did not detect any telltale signs of radio traffic, further surveys are expected.

Little wonder then why SETI has been using their Allen Telescope Array to monitor the system ever since exoplanets were first announced there. Located at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory in northern California (northeast of San Francisco), the ATA is what is known as a “Large Number of Small Dishes” (LNSD) array – which is a new trend in radio astronomy.

Like other LNSD arrays – such as the proposed Square Kilometer Array currently being built in Australia and South Africa – the concept calls for the deployment of many smaller dishes over a large surface area, rather than a single large dish. Plans for the array began back in 1997, when the SETI Institute convened a workshop to discuss the future of the Institute and its search strategies.

The final report of the workshop, titled “SETI 2020“, laid out a plan for the creation of a new telescope array. This array was referred to as the One Hectare Telescope at the time, since the plan called for a LNSD encompassing an area measuring 10,000 m² (one hectare). The SETI Institute began developing the project in conjunction with the Radio Astronomy Laboratory (RAL) at the UC Berkeley.

http://www.universetoday.com/133782/seti-already-tried-listening-trappist-1-aliens/
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SETI Has Already Tried Listening to TRAPPIST-1

As it turns out, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute was already monitoring this system with their Allen Telescope Array (ATA), looking for signs of life even before the multi-planet system was announced. And while the survey did not detect any telltale signs of radio traffic, further surveys are expected.

Little wonder then why SETI has been using their Allen Telescope Array to monitor the system ever since exoplanets were first announced there. Located at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory in northern California (northeast of San Francisco), the ATA is what is known as a “Large Number of Small Dishes” (LNSD) array – which is a new trend in radio astronomy.

Like other LNSD arrays – such as the proposed Square Kilometer Array currently being built in Australia and South Africa – the concept calls for the deployment of many smaller dishes over a large surface area, rather than a single large dish. Plans for the array began back in 1997, when the SETI Institute convened a workshop to discuss the future of the Institute and its search strategies.

The final report of the workshop, titled “SETI 2020“, laid out a plan for the creation of a new telescope array. This array was referred to as the One Hectare Telescope at the time, since the plan called for a LNSD encompassing an area measuring 10,000 m² (one hectare). The SETI Institute began developing the project in conjunction with the Radio Astronomy Laboratory (RAL) at the UC Berkeley.

http://www.universetoday.com/133782/seti-already-tried-listening-trappist-1-aliens/
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