Scientists just showed how to drive malaria mosquitoes to extinction

Scientists just showed how to drive malaria mosquitoes to extinction

A team in the UK has caused a buzzing cage full of mosquitoes to “crash” and die out after releasing sex-distorting DNA into their gene pool. The researchers say they eventually hope to use the technology, called a gene drive, to make malaria-carrying mosquitoes extinct in Africa.

The problem: The malaria parasite, spread by mosquitoes, infected some 216 million people worldwide in 2016 and killed 445,000 of them, according to Reuters. There’s no vaccine.

Gene gadget: A gene drive is a man-made genetic construct that spreads faster than usual as animals reproduce. The technology, in effect, provides a way to spread genetic alterations among wild organisms.

Last mosquito standing: A team at Imperial College London say they used a gene drive to spread broken copies of a gene that controls which sex a mosquito becomes. The genes turns female mosquitoes into hermaphrodites that can’t bite or lay eggs. The result was published in Nature Biotechnology today.

The experiments were carried out in cages. After eight generations, no normal females were left to have offspring, and the mosquitoes died out, they report. The project at Imperial College, called Target Malaria, is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has put more than $70 million into it.

Into Africa: Lead biologist Andrea Crisanti said it would be five to 10 years before gene-drive mosquitoes could be tested in the wild. “I regard a mosquito that transmits malaria as a pathogen—and as a pathogen we have the right to eliminate it,” Cristanti told NPR. “We have eliminated viruses like smallpox. We are trying to eliminate polio. I don’t see a big difference.”

Risks? Genetic poisoning via reproduction is more precise than insecticides, as it affects only one species.

Nanobot’ viruses tag and round up bacteria in food and water

 

NEW ORLEANS — Viruses engineered into “nanobots” can find and separate bacteria from food or water.

These viruses, called bacteriophages or just phages, naturally latch onto bacteria to infect them. By tweaking the phages’ DNA and decking them out with magnetic nanoparticles, researchers created a tool that could both corral bacteria and force them to reveal themselves. These modifications can boost the sensitivity and speed of rooting out bacteria in tainted food or water, the researchers reported March 20 at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

“You’re taking the power of what evolution has done … to bind bacteria, and then we’re just helping that out a little bit,” said Sam Nugen, a food and biosystems engineer who leads the team designing these phages at Cornell University.

Competing technologies for detecting bacteria use antibodies, the product of an immune response. But these are expensive to produce and work best in a narrow temperature and pH range. In contrast, phages “exist everywhere,” making them potentially more broadly useful as bacteria hunters, Nugen said. “They’ve had to evolve to bind well in much broader conditions than antibodies.”

Phages identify and grab bacteria using proteins on their leglike tail fibers, which form a strong bond with compounds on the bacterial cell surface. To infect the cell, the phage injects its genetic material. This hijacks the cell, forcing its machinery to produce phage clones.

Nugen and collaborators programmed phages to tag E. coli bacteria. The team’s engineered phages contained extra DNA that told the bacteria to make an easily detectable enzyme. When the infection caused the bacterial cells to rupture and release the new phages, a chemical reaction involving the enzyme produced a measurable signal: light, color or an electric current. For example, the phages exposed E. coli in milk and orange juice by turning the liquids red or pink.

The researchers also loaded the phages with nanoparticles with a magnetic iron and cobalt core. Once the phages latched onto the bacteria, researchers could use a magnet to round the bacteria up even before the bacteria ruptured and announced their presence. This allowed the researchers to detect low concentrations of bacteria: less than 10 E. coli cells in half a cup of water. Conventional methods grow the bacteria into colonies to find them, which can take up to two days. But using the phages, Nugen and his colleagues skipped this step and found the cells within a few hours.

Using phages for magnetic separation would be “really nice for food and environmental samples because they tend to be really dirty,” said Michael Wiederoder, a bioengineer at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts, who was not involved in the research. The salt, sugar and fats in food can slow the reactions of antibody-based tests, he said.

Also, the phages infect only bacteria that can reproduce, allowing testers to tell the difference between live cells and those killed by antibiotics, heat or chlorine. With food, “whether the bacteria are alive or dead is the difference between you getting sick and not,” Wiederoder said.

The nanobots could also prove useful for blood or other human samples. There, phages would provide a way to find resistant bacteria left alive after a course of antibiotics.

The next challenge: tinkering with the phages to tune which bacteria they go after. In nature, phages prey on specific species. But in food, it may be helpful to detect several common offenders, like E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria, or, alternatively, to have greater discrimination to find only the pathogenic E. coli and leave the rest.

Researchers believe aliens can destroy humankind with a malware

Aliens will send simple messages through Artificial Intelligence to destroy humanity, researchers claim

Just when we thought we have had enough of worries on our plate, such as ransomware, data theft, DDoS (denial of service attacks), a joint study done by two researchers last month has revealed that alien civilization could destroy the Earth with just AI (artificial intelligence) messages and that too without visiting us.

The academic paper titled “Interstellar Communication. IX. Message decontamination is impossible” has been written by Michael Hippke of the Sonneberg Observatory in Germany and John Learned of the University of Hawaii. The paper discusses about a possible alien invasion either intentionally or unintentionally, by embedding code in a message.

“It is cheaper for an extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) to send a malicious message to eradicate humans compared to sending battleships,” the researchers wrote.

They claim that such a message would be impossible to decode and could pose an “existential threat,” hence, humans should use extreme caution to open up the message.

“A complex message from space may require the use of computers to display, analyze and understand. Such a message cannot be decontaminated with certainty, and technical risks remain which can pose an existential threat. Complex messages would need to be destroyed in the risk averse case,” the researchers added.

The researchers explain that if we do receive messages that appear ‘positive and interesting’, it would probably be better to have them printed rather than try and open it on a computer, as any kind of advanced malware message could destroy the technologies on our planet and completely shut them down.

They suggest that the messages we send to the aliens need to be carefully considered.

“As we realize that some message types are potentially dangerous, we can adapt our own peaceful transmissions accordingly,” the researchers write. “We should certainly not transmit any code.

“Instead, a plain text encyclopedia, images, music etc. in a simple format are adequate. No advanced computer should be required to decrypt our message.”

While the good news is that the threat of a malicious contact is extremely low but it is not zero, the researchers claim.

“It is always wise to understand the risks and chances beforehand, and make a conscious choice for, or against it, rather than blindly following a random path.

“Overall, we believe that the risk is very small (but not zero), and the potential benefit very large, so that we strongly encourage to read an incoming message,” the researchers say.

Human trials to start for cancer vaccine that triggers the body to attack all tumors after injecting just one

A cancer vaccine that attacks tumors all over the body is entering human trials.

A team at Stanford University – which developed one of the current most widely-used cancer treatments – claims that just one injection into one tumor triggers a full-body defensive response, attacking all other tumors that may have spread.

The shot, a combination of two, actives the immune system to fight the cancer.

After eliminating even the most distant spread of cancer in mice, the two lead authors are now recruiting lymphoma patients to try the shot in a clinical trial.

Since the shot’s application is so localized, the researchers insist it is cost-effective and unlikely to cause adverse side effects often seen in other kinds of immune simulation.

‘When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body,’ said lead author Ronald Levy, MD, professor of oncology, whose lab developed Rituximab, a widely-used form of chemotherapy.

‘This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn’t require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient’s immune cells.’

According to the team, the shot could work for many different types of cancer.

It holds a unique place in the field of immunotherapy

While some approaches stimulate the entire immune system, others target certain areas to block the cancer from straying, and others (like the newly-approved CAR T-cell therapy) removed immune cells from the body to genetically-engineer them.

All have been hailed a success.

But all have caveats, be they arduous to prepare, lengthy to administer, or excruciating in their side effects.

‘All of these immunotherapy advances are changing medical practice,’ Levy said.

‘Our approach uses a one-time application of very small amounts of two agents to stimulate the immune cells only within the tumor itself. In the mice, we saw amazing, bodywide effects, including the elimination of tumors all over the animal.’

The method works to reactivate the cancer-specific T cells by injecting microgram (a millionth of a gram) amounts of two agents directly into the tumor site.

The first, a short stretch of DNA, works with nearby immune cells to heighten the expression of an activating receptor on the surface of the T cells.

The second, an antibody that binds to the receptor, activates the T cells to attack the cancer cells.

By injecting it direct into the tumor, it is specifically training T cells which already recognize cancer because they are already inside it.

‘This is a very targeted approach,’ Levy said.

‘Only the tumor that shares the protein targets displayed by the treated site is affected. We’re attacking specific targets without having to identify exactly what proteins the T cells are recognizing.’

For the trial, Levy plans to recruit 15 patients with low-grade lymphoma.

If successful, Levy believes the treatment could be useful for many tumor types.

Down the line, he believes oncologists could inject both into solid tumors in humans before surgery as a way to prevent recurrence from stray tumors that spread but weren’t detected.

‘I don’t think there’s a limit to the type of tumor we could potentially treat, as long as it has been infiltrated by the immune system,’ Levy said.gfgb8

Dangerous Hidden Warning Signs That Your Liver Is Full Of Toxins

Our body is a temple of God – one that we have to treat with respect and care for. It is a vessel while we are on this earth, and we must make sure that we are gentle with it, and allow it to heal when damaged. Many a times, we are not even aware when there is something wrong with our own body, or we may overlook or ignore the symptoms of diseases that may manifest. At such times, it is advisable that we pay attention to even the smallest of changes in our body, because good health is a privilege we should never take for granted.

The liver is one of the most vital organs in the human body, yet a huge portion of the world’s population lives with liver related problems. It is the organ responsible for storing fats, vitamins and sugar, is involved in metabolic processes and purifies the body from harmful toxins that otherwise, could lead to a bunch of diseases. A strong and well-functioning liver is a must for our overall well-being and good health, and it is of utmost importance that we pay attention to this organ and take proper care.

While there are many reasons that the liver may suffer from a deteriorating functioning, some of the most common causes include obesity, heavy consumption of alcohol, or eating unhealthy food that may contain toxins that the liver is unable to filter out.

A good number of symptoms of toxic-filled liver differ from person to person, but there are some very common symptoms which are seen across all kinds of people regardless of gender, age or ethnicity. These are listed below.

Pain or uneasiness in the upper abdomen
If you consume too much fat, it leads to an enlargement of the liver. Consequently, there is an increased pressure against the ribcage and the upper part of the abdomen. A bloated stomach and too much gas are also signs that your liver is filled with toxins.

Nausea or other stomach related problems
If your liver fails to do its job properly, constantly feeling nauseous and even vomiting could be signs of your organ slowly failing. This is even more common after consuming foods rich in fats. Other regular symptoms that most people go through are frequent dizziness or diarrhoea.

Sensitive skin
If you have a liver problem, your skin and in some cases, eyes will slowly develop a yellowish tint which is indicative of Jaundice. This happens when there is too much Bilirubin content in your blood that your liver cannot filter. Bilirubin is a brownish yellowish pigment found in the bile to aid our food digestion. Skin irritations, rashes and infections are easily developed too.

Constant tiredness
Experiencing unnatural feelings of fatigue easily and constantly even for activities that require little energy could be indicative of liver problems.

Muscle related problems
If you see that your muscles and joints hurt constantly, or you get bruises easily and your legs and feet are swollen, these may be signs of an underperforming liver.

Color changes in bodily waste
Your urine may become a much darker color, while your stool may become lighter or off-white if you have had liver problems for a while.

Your health is so important, make sure to treat your body as God’s temple! Please share this story with your friends to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Why Is Your Liver So Important?
The liver is a very underrated organ that many of us don’t think about. However, having a healthy liver is crucial to living a healthy life! Here are some amazing facts about how your liver works via positivemed.com:

It stocks iron: Our liver acts as a warehouse that takes out important vitamins and nutrients from the food we eat and stocks them up. It keeps supplying these nutrients to the body when we need them. It also stores iron and maintains a constant supply of it to the body.

Largest glandular organ: Our liver is the largest glandular organ of the human body, its weight is around 1.36 kilograms and is reddish-brown in color. It’s the second largest organ besides skin.

Multifunctional: Our liver is like a super computer with a very fast processor. It performs over 200 important functions for the body simultaneously. Some of these important functions include supplying glucose to the brain, combating infections, and storing nutrients.

It contains fat: 10% of our liver is made up of fat. If the fat content in the liver goes above 10% its called fatty liver and makes you more likely to get type 2 diabetes. Fatty liver fails at storing glycogen made by glucose from food.

Inventor of blood: The liver creates the blood that circulates in our bodies. The importance of the liver lies in the fact that blood cannot be created artificially by humans. The liver starts producing blood before we are born. Without the liver there would be no blood and no life.

It regenerates: Our liver has the amazing ability to regenerate itself which makes surgeries like liver transplant possible. When people donate half their liver to someone who needs it, the remaining part of the liver regenerates the donated part.

Hormone processor: Our liver is the primary site of hormone breakdown. It breaks down hormones like estrogen and testosterone then converts them into bile which then enters our intestines. Bile is necessary for digestion and emulsifying fats.

Protein creator: Our body needs protein to grow and work properly. The food we eat is not sufficient for fulfilling the protein needs of our body therefore the liver produces its own protein.

Clotting agent: The enzymes and chemicals required to form blood clots to stop bleeding are secreted by the liver. People with an unhealthy liver bleed easily.

Color of stool: Our liver produces bile which is responsible for giving our stool its characteristic brown color. If the color of the stool is not brown it means something is wrong with the liver.

Stock of liveliness: Our liver works like a battery. It stores sugar and whenever our body needs it, the liver provides it. Without this stocking of sugar our blood sugar levels fall drastically and we can become very ill, even comatose.

Medicine converter: Our body cannot use medicines we take, our liver converts medicine into a form accepted by our bodies. Without the liver medicine would be useless.

A cheap and easy blood test could catch cancer early

A simple-to-take test that tells if you have a tumor lurking, and even where it is in your body, is a lot closer to reality—and may cost only $500.

The new test, developed at Johns Hopkins University, looks for signs of eight common types of cancer. It requires only a blood sample and may prove inexpensive enough for doctors to give during a routine physical.

“The idea is this test would make its way into the public and we could set up screening centers,” says Nickolas Papadopoulos, one of the Johns Hopkins researchers behind the test. “That’s why it has to be cheap and noninvasive.”

Although the test isn’t commercially available yet, it will be used to screen 50,000 retirement-age women with no history of cancer as part of a $50 million, five-year study with the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, a spokesperson with the insurer said.

The test, detailed today in the journal Science, could be a major advance for “liquid biopsy” technology, which aims to detect cancer in the blood before a person feels sick or notices a lump.

That’s useful because early-stage cancer that hasn’t spread can often be cured.

Companies have been pouring money into developing liquid biopsies. One startup, Grail Bio, has raised over $1 billion in pursuit of a single blood test for many cancers.

For their test, Hopkins researchers looked at blood from 1,005 people with previously diagnosed ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic, esophageal, colorectal, lung, or breast cancer.
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Their test searches for a combination of eight cancer proteins as well as 16 cancer-related genetic mutations.

The test was best at finding ovarian cancer, which it detected up to 98 percent of the time. It correctly identified a third of breast cancer cases and about 70 percent of people with pancreatic cancer, which has a particularly grim outlook.

The chance of a false alarm was low: only seven of 812 apparently healthy people turned up positive on the test.

The researchers also trained a machine-learning algorithm to determine the location of a person’s tumor from the blood clues. The algorithm guessed right 83 percent of the time.

“I think we will eventually get to a point where we can detect cancer before it’s otherwise visible,” says Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

He cautions that screening tests can sometimes harm rather than help. That can happen if they set off too many false alarms or if doctors end up treating slow-growing cancers that are not likely to do much harm.

Cure for cancer might accidentally have been found, and it could be malaria

Scientists might have accidentally made a huge step forward in the search for a cure for cancer — discovering unexpectedly that a malaria protein could be an effective weapon against the disease.

Danish researchers were hunting for a way of protecting pregnant women from malaria, which can cause huge problems because it attacks the placenta. But they found at the same time that armed malaria proteins can attack cancer, too — an approach which could be a step towards curing the disease.

Scientists have combined the bit of protein that the malaria vaccine uses to bury into cells it with a toxin — that can then bury into cancer cells and release the toxin itself, killing them off.

The scientists have found that in both cases the malaria protein attaches itself to the same carbohydrate. It is the similarities between those two things that the cure could exploit.

The carbohydrate ensures that the placenta grows quickly. But the team behind the new findings have detailed how it serves the same function in tumours — and the malaria parasite attaches itself to the cancerous cells in the same way, meaning that it can kill them off.

Scientists said that they had been searching for a long time for a way to exploit the similarities between the placenta and the tumour.

“For decades, scientists have been searching for similarities between the growth of a placenta and a tumor,” said Ali Salanti from University of Copenhagen. “The placenta is an organ, which within a few months grows from only few cells into an organ weighing approx. two pounds, and it provides the embryo with oxygen and nourishment in a relatively foreign environment. In a manner of speaking, tumors do much the same, they grow aggressively in a relatively foreign environment.”

The process has already been tested in cells and on mice with cancer, with the findings described in a new article for the journal Cancer Cell. Scientists hope that they can begin testing the discovery on humans in the next four years.

The biggest questions are whether it’ll work in the human body, and if the human body can tolerate the doses needed without developing side effects,” said Salanti. “But we’re optimistic because the protein appears to only attach itself to a carbohydrate that is only found in the placenta and in cancer tumors in humans.”

In the tests on mice, the animals were implanted with three different types of human cancers. It reduced non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma tumours to about a quarter of their size, got rid of prostate cancer entirely in two of six mice and kept alive five out of six mice that had metastatic bone cancer compared to a control group all of which died.

“We have separated the malaria protein, which attaches itself to the carbohydrate and then added a toxin,” said Mads Daugaard, a cancer researcher at Canada’s University of British Columbia and one of the scientists that worked on the research. “By conducting tests on mice, we have been able to show that the combination of protein and toxin kill the cancer cells.”

AI Can Warn Researchers Where CRISPR Might Make a Mistake

Microsoft has built an AI tool that predicts the accuracy of CRISPR so that researchers can avoid making incorrect edits of DNA.

Missing the target: CRISPR uses two components: a cutting protein and a guide RNA that directs it to the part of a genome you want to cut. The guide RNA is about 20 letters long. Problem is, multiple sites in a genome can have the same series of letters, so CRISPR could snip the wrong section—known as an “off target” effect.

Why that matters: Off-target effects are one of the biggest safety concerns with CRISPR. Making incorrect cuts in a genome could, say, switch on a cancer-causing gene.

How AI helps: Microsoft’s tool lets researchers plug in a gene they want to modify and get an estimate of how bad potential off-target effects could be. Using the tool, researchers could figure out which genes are most difficult to safely edit and avoid tweaking them, says Nicolo Fusi of Microsoft Research.

Researchers Are Now Close To “Quantum Encrypted Internet”

Fundamentally proven security systems are important, in fact, they are almost the need of the hour as the hackers are becoming advanced by the tick of the clock. The rise of quantum computing would give them more power to crack open the existing encryption systems.

So, quantum encryption is now a part of geek-talks across the world, although, it first came to fruition in 1984. Recently, we told you about China readying their quantum messaging service. But the hard truth is that the current implementations of quantum key distribution come at the price of speed, downplaying themselves in front of traditional encryption techniques. If we talk about the “quantum internet,” a user can’t even perform basic things like video streaming.

Now, it appears that it might become a thing of the past. The researchers at the Duke University have found a way to compensate that speed limitation, putting more data in every photon. By altering the release time of photons, the researchers can encode 2 bits of data in every photon, exceeding the earlier limit of 1 bit. The changes happening with the photon are detected using high-speed photon detectors.

Quantum encryption setup
Image: An experimental setup.

Thus, their quantum key generation techniques deliver tight encryption without throttling the speed. The best part about quantum encryption: even if someone tries to peak at the data in transit, he can’t even do so without leaving easily traceable errors.

However, getting quantum encryption to the commercial market is still far than it seems. But all the required components, except the single-photon detector, are currently available. The setup would be big, possibly with the size of a desktop computer. The researchers say that their system is also scalable to “free-space quantum channels” or over-the-air.

Elon Musk Launches All-Electric Tesla Semi Truck And “Fastest Production Car” Roadster 2

After much anticipation, Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s new electric semi truck in Hawthorne in an invite-only event.

Aptly named Tesla Semi, this truck accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds. With 80K lbs load, which is also its maximum capacity, it’ll be able to touch the same mark in twenty seconds. Talking about the range, it can go 500 miles at highway speed.

According to Tesla, the truck beats the traditional diesel rivals when it comes to handling and responsiveness. It can also cover more distance in same time span. Tesla Semi’s significant strength lies in the no need for shifting of gears with regenerative braking.

  • Acceleration 0-60 mph with 80k lbs: 20 sec
  • Speed up a 5% Grade: 65 mph
  • Mile Range: 300 or 500 miles
  • Powertrain: 4 Independent Motors on Rear Axles
  • Energy Consumption” Less than 2 kWh / mile
  • Fuel Savings: $200,000+

The company claims that Semi is the safest truck ever, thanks to advanced Autopilot, a centered driver position, and low center of gravity. The cost of ownership of this vehicle is also about half of the traditional trucks.

roadster 2

As a surprise launch during the event, Musk showed off the new version of Roadster sports car.

This convertible has four seats. In this car, you can go from 0 to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds, which means a quarter mile in 8.9 seconds. While Elon Musk didn’t confirm the top speed, he hinted that it’s somewhere above 250 mph.

During the unveiling, he called Roadster 2 a “smackdown” to the fossil-fuel loving auto industry.

It packs a 200kwh battery pack that provides a 620-mile/1,000km range. As per Musk claims, one can drive from Los Angeles to San Fransisco, and back, without recharging.