Technology Tuesday: October 24

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: Precisely editing genes in the human brain, a neighborhood of the future created by Google, reversing antibiotic resistance, anti-aging stem cell treatments, and Blue Origin’s new rocket.


SCIENTISTS DISCOVER A WAY TO PRECISELY EDIT GENES IN THE BRAIN

Technologies designed for editing the human genome are transforming biomedical science and providing us with relatively simple ways to modify and edit genes. However, precision editing has not been possible for cells that have stopped dividing, including mature neurons. This has meant that gene editing has been of limited use in neurological research — until now. Researchers at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI) have created a new tool that allows, for the first time ever, precise genome editing in mature neurons. This relieves previous constraints and presents amazing new opportunities for neuroscience research.

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GOOGLE PARENT COMPANY ALPHABET IS BUILDING A HIGH-TECH NEIGHBORHOOD IN TORONTO

You don’t need to look any further than the mobile device in your pocket for an example of how technology is shaping the world today, but Sidewalk Labs — the urban innovation arm of Google parent company Alphabet — wants to use technology to literally shape a piece of the world by building a high-tech neighborhood.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Sidewalk Labs announced plans to transform an area along Toronto’s waterfront into a technologically advanced neighborhood they’re calling Quayside. The project will be undertaken in partnership with the city government and Waterfront Toronto and is one part of a larger project called Sidewalk Toronto, which has a straightforward goal: use technology to solve urban Toronto’s biggest challenges.

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RESEARCHERS DISCOVER POTENTIAL WAY TO REVERSE ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE

Bacteria are growing increasingly resistant to most of today’s antibiotics, including those that are widely prescribed and used worldwide. These frequently prescribed antibiotics usually fall into categories like penicillins, cephalosporins and carbapenems, which are also known as β-lactams. Two teams of researchers have found that it’s possible to reverse the mechanism that inhibits the effectiveness of this class of antibiotics.

The first team included researchers from the University of Bristol, who published their study in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. They identified two mechanisms behind bacterial resistance to β-lactam antibiotics. One was by restricting antibiotic entry into cells, and the other involves an enzyme that called β-lactamase that destroys any antibiotic that makes it inside a cell.

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NEW STEM CELL TREATMENTS HAD “STRIKING ANTI-AGING RESULTS”

Out with the old, in with the new. That’s perhaps a good way to summarize the potential benefits of stem cell transplants in the growing field of aging research, which seeks to diminish or reverse age-related frailty in senior citizens. Two separate clinical trials involving the same stem cell transplant showed how the method is safe and exceptionally effective.

The results of both trials, published in The Journals of Gerontology, showed how a type of adult stem cell called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) could reverse the effects of aging. It’s the first kind of stem cell treatment specifically directed at age-related frailty.

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BLUE ORIGIN SUCCESSFULLY HOT-FIRES ITS NEW ROCKET

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos isn’t just out to get the e-retail industry with artificial intelligence, he’s also had his eyes on space tourism for a while now. While Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, has made some progress since it successfully landed a reusable rocket, many have been waiting for a key piece of the company’s rocket future.

The BE-4, the enormous engine Bezos unveiled earlier this year, promises to be the power behind his future rockets. On Wednesday, the BE-4 proved to be Blue Origin’s breakthrough achievement when the company successfully conducted a hot-fire test, firing the engine at half of its power for three seconds.


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