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Summary of roughly related progress in 2017 (July to Sept). Theme is biology, computing, nanobots (DNA robots), data storage.

DNA ROBOTS

These DNA robots created at Caltech (14 Sept 2017) can arrange-sort molecules. Very handy indeed these nanobots: "...several hands and arms, for example, could be used to carry multiple molecules simultaneously."

Caltech: "In the work described in the Science paper, the Qian group built a robot that could explore a molecular surface, pick up two different molecules—a fluorescent yellow dye and a fluorescent pink dye—and then distribute them to two distinct regions on the surface. Using fluorescent molecules enabled the researchers to see if the molecules ended up in their intended locations. The robot successfully sorted six scattered molecules, three pink and three yellow, into their correct places in 24 hours. Adding more robots to the surface shortened the time it took to complete the task." http://www.caltech.edu/news/sorting-molecules-dna-robots-79640

Apparently these DNA "walker" bots are energy-efficient too, The Register reported (25 Sept 2017): "Sticking and unsticking itself in this way does not consume energy since the walker is not gaining or losing any of its DNA bases." https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/09/15/the_autonomous_dna_sorting_machine/

Go search for more mews about DNA robots: https://www.google.com/search?q=DNA+Robots

RIBOCOMPUTING

What is ribocomputing? RNA instead of DNA creates logic circuits, nano-devices, to act as computers-robots-processors. Harvard’s Wyss Institute, for Biologically Inspired Engineering, published this news on 26 July 2017.

Wyss Institute wrote: "The study’s approach resulted in a genetically encodable RNA nano-device that can perform an unprecedented 12-input logic operation to accurately regulate the expression of a fluorescent reporter protein in E. coli bacteria only when encountering a complex, user-prescribed profile of intra-cellular stimuli. Such programmable nano-devices may allow researchers to construct more sophisticated synthetic biological circuits, enabling them to analyze complex cellular environments efficiently and to respond accurately." https://wyss.harvard.edu/programming-cells-with-computer-like-logic/

Science Daily (26 July 2017) introduced this topic of ribocomputing by mentioning the speed of progress: "The interdisciplinary nexus of biology and engineering, known as synthetic biology, is growing at a rapid pace, opening new vistas that could scarcely be imagined a short time ago." Science daily elaborated: "The new study dramatically improves the ease with which cellular computing may be carried out. The RNA-only approach to producing cellular nanodevices is a significant advance, as earlier efforts required the use of complex intermediaries, like proteins. Now, the necessary ribocomputing parts can be readily designed on computer. The simple base-pairing properties of RNA's four nucleotide letters (A, C, G and U) ensure the predictable self-assembly and functioning of these parts within a living cell." https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170726131758.htm

NEUROMORPHIC

Engadget, 26 Sept 2017, reported on the "Loihi" neuromorphic processor: "Intel unveils an AI chip that mimics the human brain." Intel have been working on it for the past six years...

Engadget: "Intel's Loihi chip has 1,024 artificial neurons, or 130,000 simulated neurons with 130 million possible synaptic connections. That's a bit more complex than, say, a lobster's brain, but a long ways from our 80 billion neurons." https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/26/intel-loihi-neuromorphic-chip-human-brain/

The Verge and ExtremeTech also reported (others reported too)...

The Verge (26 Sept 2017) commenting on the as yet unproven advantages, or hype, of neuromorphic chips: "Intel knows this [they are unproven], of course, and its new Loihi chips aren’t destined for server stacks. Instead, the company will be sharing an unknown number with a few “leading university and research institutions” some time in the first half of 2018. (How many chips and who will get them are unknown.) This research will hopefully validate Intel’s designs, as well as push forward work on neuromorphic chips and AI in general." https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/26/16365390/intel-investigates-chips-designed-like-your-brain-to-turn-the-ai-tide

ExtremeTech (27 Sept 2017) "Dr. Michael Mayberry claims that Loihi does not need to be trained in the traditional way and that it takes a new approach to this type of computing by using asynchronous spiking. Unlike a transistor, neurons do not constantly flip back and forth between a 0 and a 1. They trigger when signal thresholds are reached, and continue to fire so long as the number of spikes exceeds a given threshold. The strength of a muscle flex, for example, is based on the average number of spikes the muscle receives over a given unit of time." https://www.extremetech.com/computing/256467-intel-unveils-new-neuromorphic-self-learning-chip-codenamed-loihi

BIOPRINTING

Oxford University (15 August 2017) published news about a new method of 3D-bioprinting: "The approach could revolutionise regenerative medicine, enabling the production of complex tissues and cartilage that would potentially support, repair or augment diseased and damaged areas of the body."

Oxford University elaborated: "Printing high-resolution living tissues is hard to do, as the cells often move within printed structures and can collapse on themselves. But, led by Professor Hagan Bayley, Professor of Chemical Biology in Oxford’s Department of Chemistry, the team devised a way to produce tissues in self-contained cells that support the structures to keep their shape." The fine-tuning period should be worth waiting for: "Over the coming months they will work to develop new complementary printing techniques, that allow the use of a wider range of living and hybrid materials, to produce tissues at industrial scale." http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2017-08-15-new-method-3d-printing-living-tissues

University of Bristol’s School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine also was involved in this bioprinting research (15 August 2017), which: "...demonstrated how a range of living mammalian cells can be printed into high-resolution tissue constructs." http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2017/august/3d-printing-living-tissues.html

MOLECULAR, SINGLE MOLECULE, DATA-STORAGE

University of Manchester shows storing data via "single-molecule magnets" is "more feasible than previously thought."

PhysOrg (23 Aug 2017) "The result means that data storage with single molecules could become a reality because the data servers could be cooled using relatively cheap liquid nitrogen at -196°C instead of far more expensive liquid helium (-269 °C). The research provides proof-of-concept that such technologies could be achievable in the near future." https://phys.org/news/2017-08-major-storage-molecular.html

Identical report to above PhysOrg one, here is the link to the Manchester Uni "single-molecule magnets" news : http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/major-leap-towards-storing-data-at-the-molecular-level/

Chemical & Engineering News (30 Aug 2017) wrote: "The quest to develop smaller and more energy-efficient smartphones and supercomputers with more features and processing power hinges on increasing data storage capacity. Two research groups at the University of Manchester have reported a dysprosium molecule with switchable magnetic properties—a single-molecule magnet (SMM) with the ability to store a single bit of data—that exhibits the most promise yet for reaching what might be the ultimate limit in high-density data storage." https://cen.acs.org/articles/95/i35/Single-molecule-magnet-breaks-performance.html

Digital Trends (24 Aug 2017) was cautious about the molecular storage progress, whilst nevertheless recognising the value of the breakthrough: "Don’t get too excited yet, however, as a lot more engineering work needs to be carried out to turn this into a practical technology. It is unlikely that this particular molecule will ever be commercialized but the team is working to make even better magnetic molecules which could be used to carry out this task." https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/molecular-data-storage-cold/

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#Artificialintelligence can predict the success of IVF embryos better than doctors, according to this 4 July 2017 report (Daily Mail): "During testing, it [the AI] was found to be more accurate than scientists and doctors at pinpointing which embryos had the potential to result in the birth of a healthy baby." http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4662168/AI-predict-embryos-result-IVF-success.html

Same article: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/ai-ivf-embryos-better-scientists-selection-a7823736.html

Science Daily explores the issue in more depth (4 July 2017): "However, because the artificial intelligence system is a technique which analyses the embryo through mathematical variables, it offers low subjectivity and high repeatability, making embryo classification more consistent. "Nevertheless," said Professor Rocha, "the artificial intelligence system must be based on learning from a human being -- that is, the experienced embryologists who set the standards of assessment to train the system."" https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170704093613.htm

See also EurekAlert (4 July 2017): "The system utilizes a sophisticated architecture of multi-class deep neural networks (DNNs) and DNN ensembles trained on thousands of samples of carefully selected cells of multiple classes: embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, progenitor stem cells, adult stem cells and adult cells to recognize the class and embryonic state of the sample, achieving high accuracy in simulations. The unique samples were generated using standardized protocols by BioTime, Inc. and profiled on a single microarray platform. The sample sets were augmented with carefully selected and manually curated data from public repositories coming from multiple experiments and generated on different platforms. " https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/imi-tfa070116.php

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This genetic modification of mosquitoes would ensure the gene editing spreads to virtually all offspring, thereby ensuring a changed species in only a few generations.

#genedrive #biotech #geneticengineering #geneediting #bioengineering  

AP wrote on 8 June 2016: "Gene drives are on the horizon. Already, a California lab has hatched mosquitoes that spread a malaria-blocking gene every time they reproduce. Researchers say it should be possible to eliminate populations of another mosquito — the kind that spreads the Zika virus and dengue fever — by making them sterile."

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Here is some interesting news nearly missed, from November 2015, regarding analog and digital electronics circuits inside living plants.

PhysOrg wrote (20 Nov 2015): "Only one polymer, called PEDOT-S, synthesized by Dr. Roger Gabrielsson, successfully assembled itself inside the xylem channels as conducting wires, while still allowing the transport of water and nutrients. Dr. Eleni Stavrinidou used the material to create long (10 cm) wires in the xylem channels of the rose. By combining the wires with the electrolyte that surrounds these channels she was able to create an electrochemical transistor, a transistor that converts ionic signals to electronic output. Using the xylem transistors she also demonstrated digital logic gate function." http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151120182611.htm

Gizmag (24 Nov 2015): "In what seems like the most unlikely of unions, a team of scientists at the Linköping University Laboratory for Organic Electronics are working to combine flowers, bushes, and trees with electronics to produce a breed of botanical cyborgs. Led by Professor Magnus Berggren, the researchers have used semiconductive polymers to create the key components of analog and digital electronic circuits inside a rose plant." http://www.gizmag.com/linkoping-university-electronics-plants/40557/

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Proof of concept, cancer killing virus achieves FDA approval.

Wired wrote (29 Oct 2015): "Imlygic itself is a reengineered version of the herpesvirus—the one that causes cold sores. To administer the drug, oncologists inject a massive dose—millions of viruses—directly into the skin tumor. Herpesvirus also prefers to infect cancer cells, busting them into bits." http://www.wired.com/2015/10/fda-approves-first-virus-will-kill-cancer-cells/

#biotech #geneticengineering  

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#artificialintelligence in humans, via genome editing, a genetic boost, is possible. If true or traditional AI is not possible then worry not. Humans have the technology to become very smart via biology alone, if we significantly engineer our genes.

Nautilus (3 Sept 2015) wrote: "The potential for improved human intelligence is enormous. Cognitive ability is influenced by thousands of genetic loci, each of small effect. If all were simultaneously improved, it would be possible to achieve, very roughly, about 100 standard deviations of improvement, corresponding to an IQ of over 1,000. We can’t imagine what capabilities this level of intelligence represents, but we can be sure it is far beyond our own. Cognitive engineering, via direct edits to embryonic human DNA, will eventually produce individuals who are well beyond all historical figures in cognitive ability. By 2050, this process will likely have begun."

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Organic self-assembling material doesn't need 3D-printing scaffolds. High degree of control with enormous potential.

28 Sept 2015, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) wrote: "The method uses solutions of peptide and protein molecules that, upon touching each other, self-assemble to form a dynamic tissue at the point at which they meet. As the material assembles itself it can be easily guided to grow into complex shapes."

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3D-printed support device helps nerves regereate in rats. Gixmag reported (21 Sept 2015): "...researchers from the University of Minnesota, Virginia Tech, University of Maryland, Princeton University, and Johns Hopkins University collaborated on a ground-breaking procedure to produce a 3D-printed silicone support structure that is implanted into living tissue to guide and encourage nerve growth and reattachment. Replete with a range of biochemical "cues" designed to enhance and nurture nerve cell formation, these devices have been successfully tested in the bodies of living rats in a laboratory." http://www.gizmag.com/3d-printed-guide-nerve-regeneration/39488/

#regenerativemedicine  

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Two great articles here. First we have #DNA nano-machines! Biology is mechanics, biological organisms are machines! Second we have self-assembling nano-particles controlled by light with "nearly limitless" applications. 

PhysOrg (24 Sept 2015): "...researchers outline the superior properties of DNA nanostructures, and how these features enable the development of efficient biological DNA-nanomachines. Moreover, these DNA nanostructures provide new applications in molecular medicine, such as novel approaches in tackling cancer. Tailored DNA structures could find targeted cells and release their molecular payload (drugs or antibodies) selectively into these cells." http://phys.org/news/2015-09-dna-based-nanodevices-molecular-medicine.html

In a different PhysOrg article (2 Sept 2015), note how nano-particles self-assemble via environmental cues: "By using light - a favored means of generating nanoparticle self-assembly - to control the reaction, one can precisely govern when and where the nanoparticles will aggregate. And since nanoparticles tend to have different properties if they are floating freely or clustered together, the possibilities for creating new applications are nearly limitless." http://phys.org/news/2015-09-self-assembling-nanoparticles-cues.html

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Transhumanists often dismiss biological machines, the mechanics of biology, but here with #tardigrades we see biology has created an extremely tough living-machine, which could perhaps create superior computing components. Tardigrades were the inspiration for a new type of glass.

Daily Mail, 4 Sept 2015: "Their results potentially offer a simple way to improve the efficiency of electronic devices such as light-emitting diodes, optical fibers, and solar cells." http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3222893/Indestructible-Water-bear-bug-survive-space-revolutionise-computing.html

Science Daily, 3 Sept 2015, wrote: "In 2012 de Pablo became one of the first faculty members to join the Institute for Molecular Engineering. While still at Wisconsin, he and his colleagues conducted experiments to fully document the properties of some of the molecules that tardigrades and other organisms, including some plants, use to develop their protective, glassy cocoons. This work led to a patented method -- with applications in the pharmaceutical and food industries -- for stabilizing proteins in bacteria or cells for long periods of time without refrigeration." http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150903131541.htm

PNAS, Feb 2015: "Physical vapor deposition is commonly used to prepare organic glasses that serve as the active layers in light-emitting diodes, photovoltaics, and other devices. Recent work has shown that orienting the molecules in such organic semiconductors can significantly enhance device performance." http://www.pnas.org/content/112/14/4227.abstract

Nature, Jan 2013: "Recent experiments indicate that glasses prepared by vapour deposition onto a substrate can exhibit remarkable stability, and might correspond to equilibrium states that could hitherto be reached only by glasses aged for thousands of years." http://www.nature.com/nmat/journal/v12/n2/abs/nmat3521.html

University of Wisconsin-Madison, 23 March 2015: "By figuring out how to precisely order the molecules that make up what scientists call organic glass — the materials at the heart of some electronic displays, light-emitting diodes and solar cells — a team of chemists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has set the stage for more efficient and sturdier portable electronic devices and possibly a new generation of solar cells based on organic materials." http://news.wisc.edu/23592

See also: https://www.uchicago.edu/features/microscopic_animals_inspire_innovative_glass_research/ (http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/08/13/molecular-scientists-unexpectedly-produce-new-type-glass).

You may also be interested in (Jan 2015): "Nanoparticles functionalized with short sequences of DNA represent a promising platform for customizable self assembly." http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2015/SM/C4SM02573C#!divAbstract
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