Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.
This week: Gene based computing, WiSE implant keeps your heart beating, fully synthetic human genome, brain-machine interface, and a potential “universal cancer vaccine”.
Living Circuits Can Handle Complex Computing
Gene-based circuits are about to get decidedly more sophisticated. MIT scientists have developed a method for integrating both analog and digital computing into those circuits, turning living cells into complex computers. The centerpiece is a threshold sensor whose gene expression flips DNA, converting analog chemical data into binary output — basically, complex data can trigger simple responses that match the language of regular computers.
Ultrasonic Implant for Fighting Heart Failure
Every year in the United States, about 150,000 patients with heart failure undergo surgery to have cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices implanted. These send regular jolts of electricity through their hearts to keep the chambers pumping in unison. However, about 50,000 of those people will receive no benefit from this invasive and expensive procedure—and find that they have few options left to keep them alive.
Now, a new device offers hope to these “non-responders.” A tiny wireless implant controlled by ultrasonic pulses uses a novel approach to heartbeat maintenance, and is now on the market in Europe. In the United States, cardiologists are now working with the Food and Drug Administration on a clinical trial that will likely begin in 2017.
Scientists Want to Create the Perfect Human Genome
Following a controversial top-secret meeting last month, a group of scientists have announced that they’re working on synthesizing human genes from scratch. The project, currently titled HGP-Write, has the stated aim of reducing the cost of gene synthesis to “address a number of human health challenges.” As the group explains, that includes growing replacement organs, engineering cancer resistance and building new vaccinations using human cells. But in order for all of that to happen, the scientists may have to also work on developing a blueprint for what a perfect human would look like.
New Implant Greatly Advances Brain-Machine Interface
IMAGINE being able to communicate with a machine using nothing but your thoughts.
That is the goal currently being pursued by a team of researchers and engineers at Melbourne University who are leading the way in the hugely significant field of developing brain machine interfaces.
In an effort to accomplish what has been likened to machine telepathy, they have developed a tiny biocompatible implant called a stentrode which gets implanted into a blood vessel next to the brain. The tiny implant records electric activity from a specific part of the brain and the information is then fed into a decoding algorithm which interprets the electric activity, or thoughts.
First Successful Trials of “Universal Cancer Vaccine”
Scientists just took a big, “very positive” step towards developing what could be the first ‘universal cancer vaccine’.
The results from early trials in humans, along with research in mice, have just been published, and they suggest that the new technique could be used to activate patients’ immune systems against any type of tumour, no matter where it is in the body.
Know any interesting stories we missed? Let us know in the comments!