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Archive for the ‘biotech/medical’ category: Page 1303

Jan 25, 2008

On the brink of Synthetic Life: DNA synthesis has increased twenty times to full bacteria size

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, defense, existential risks, futurism, lifeboat, military, nanotechnology

Reposted from Next Big Future which was advancednano.

A 582,970 base pair sequence of DNA has been synthesized.

It’s the first time a genome the size of a bacterium has chemically been synthesized that’s about 20 times longer than [any DNA molecule] synthesized before.

This is a huge increase in capability. It has broad implications for DNA nanotechnology and synthetic biology.

Continue reading “On the brink of Synthetic Life: DNA synthesis has increased twenty times to full bacteria size” »

Nov 29, 2007

Planning for First Lifeboat Foundation Conference Underway

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, cybercrime/malcode, defense, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, lifeboat, nanotechnology, robotics/AI, space

Planning for the first Lifeboat Foundation conference has begun. This FREE conference will be held in Second Life to keep costs down and ensure that you won’t have to worry about missing work or school.

While an exact date has not yet been set, we intend to offer you an exciting line up of speakers on a day in the late spring or early summer of 2008.

Several members of Lifeboat’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) have already expressed interest in presenting. However, potential speakers need not be Lifeboat Foundation members.

If you’re interested in speaking, want to help, or you just want to learn more, please contact me at [email protected]

Oct 18, 2007

ETC Group: Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

I’ve been taking a look at an “international civil society organization” called the ETC Group. The “ETC” group is also known as the “Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration”. To be honest, I can’t figure them out. Here is a summary:

“ETC Group is an international civil society organization based in Canada. We are dedicated to the conservation and sustainable advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human rights. ETC Group supports socially responsible development of technologies useful to the poor and marginalized and we address international governance issues affecting the international community. We also monitor the ownership and control of technologies and the consolidation of corporate power.”

So they look like a somewhat standard leftist environmentalist technology oversight group. Alright.

Continue reading “ETC Group: Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration” »

Oct 16, 2007

Lifeboat Foundation Fellow wins Feynman Prize

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, lifeboat, nanotechnology

Robert Freitas, Jr., Lifeboat Foundation Fellow and head of the Lifeboat Foundation’s Nanomedicine Division has won the 2007 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Communication.

Dr. Pearl Chin, President of the Foresight Nanotech Institute, said Freitas received the award for “pioneering the study and communication of the benefits to be obtained from an advanced nanomedicine that will be made possible by molecular manufacturing [and for having] worked to develop and communicate a path from our current technology base to a future technology base that will enable advanced nanomedicine.”

Prior to his Feynman Prize win Robert shared the Lifeboat Foundation’s 2006 Guardian Award with technology legend Bill Joy. Freitas and Joy shared the Guardian award for their many years of work on mitigating risks posed by advanced technologies.

Jun 3, 2007

“Synbiosafe” Launched

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

The European Commission is funding a 2-year, $312,000 study on the safety and ethical aspects of synthetic biology. From the introduction part of the site:

We will pursue our objectives by means of a fact-finding mission, contribution to the European “inaugural” Conference on Synthetic Biology in Zurich (SB 3.0), an open e-forum and an international workshop. The foreseen impact of our project will be no less than to stimulate a European debate on these issues at an early stage. Past experiences, especially in the field of GM-crops, have shown the importance of an early bio-safety and ethics debate. The community recognized this need, but up to now discussions are fragmentary. Our project aims to stimulate a European debate in a proactive way. That way we will contribute to the European synthetic biology community, supplementing genuine biosafety and bioethics aspects.

Looks like a great start on addressing a very important area of concern. For a blog post of mine that goes into a bit more detail on the issue of synthetic biology and its risks, see here.

May 21, 2007

Researchers Endorse Global Early Warning System to Prevent Pandemics

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, defense, existential risks

Five evolutionary stages of pathogen progression from animals to human transmission have been identified A proposed monitoring system of viral chatter has been proposed to provide warning of new diseases before they spread to humans.

In 1999, Wolfe began field work in the jungles of Cameroon to track “viral chatter,” or the regular transmission of diseases from animals to people, usually without further spread among humans. By monitoring the habits and the blood pathologies of bushmeat hunters and their kills, Wolfe and his team have identified at least three previously unknown retroviruses from the same family as HIV, as well as promoted safe practices for handling animals and animal carcasses.

“The Cameroon project demonstrated that it’s possible to collect information on viral transmission under very difficult circumstances from these highly exposed people,” Wolfe said.

With Cameroon as a prototype and a $2.5 million National Institutes of Health Pioneer Award as seed money, Wolfe has gone on to create a network of virus-discovery projects that monitor hunters, butchers, and wildlife trade and zoo workers in some of the world’s most remote viral hotspots. The network of a dozen sites in China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malaysia, Laos, Madagascar and Paraguay include source locations for such emerging diseases as SARS, avian flu, Nipah, Ebola and monkeypox.

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Mar 15, 2007

2007 DARPA Military Technology Plan: Future Medical Promise or Danger?

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, defense, lifeboat, robotics/AI

darpaachievements.jpg

DARPA (the defense advanced research projects agency) is the R&D arm of he US military for far-reaching future technology. What most people do not realize is how much revolutionary medical technology comes out of this agency’s military R&D programs. For those in need of background, you can read about the Army & DARPA’s future soldier Landwarrior program and its medtech offshoots as well as why DARPA does medical research and development that industry won’t. Fear of these future military technologies runs high with a push towards neural activation as a weapon, direct brain-computer interfaces, and drones. However, the new program has enormous potential for revolutionary medical progess as well.

It has been said technology is neutral, it is the application that is either good or evil. (It is worth a side-track to read a discussion on this concept)

The Areas of Focus for DARPA in 2007 and Forward Are:

Continue reading “2007 DARPA Military Technology Plan: Future Medical Promise or Danger?” »

Jan 10, 2007

Better Virus Detection Device

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

From MIT’s Technology Review:

Researchers at the University of Twente, in the Netherlands, have developed an ultrasensitive sensor that could potentially be used in a handheld device to, within minutes, detect various viruses and measure their concentration. The sensor could be used to quickly screen people at hospitals and emergency clinics to control outbreaks of diseases such as SARS and the bird flu. All it would take is a tiny sample of saliva, blood, or other body fluid.

Currently available methods to detect viruses are also sensitive. But they require laborious preparation of the fluid sample and only give results after several days. Since viral diseases can spread rapidly, researchers are looking for easier, faster ways to directly detect viruses. “You want a tool on which you apply the [fluid] sample on-site and in a few minutes say whether or not the person has the SARS virus,” says Aurel Ymeti, a postdoctoral researcher in biophysical engineering and the sensor’s lead developer.

Looks promising. Hopefully this model can be extended to other nanoscale threats, like prions and genetically engineered viruses.