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Archive for the ‘health’ category

Nov 13, 2020

SoftBank eyes smaller bets, bigger returns in Vision Fund rethink

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, education, finance, government, health, wearables

The quiet shift in strategy, which brings the Vision Fund’s approach closer to that of a traditional venture capital investor, may ease concerns over big, bold bets going sour, a factor that has left a major gap between SoftBank’s market capitalization and the sum of its investments.


TOKYO — SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund is turning to a new strategy as a global pandemic and government stimulus distort tech valuations: Invest smaller in hopes for bigger returns.

After raising nearly $100 billion and investing $85 billion in high-profile companies like Uber Technologies, WeWork and ByteDance over three years, the Vision Fund is now focusing on making smaller bets in early-stage startups.

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Nov 13, 2020

Researchers create MRI-like technique for imaging magnetic waves

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, health, nanotechnology

A team of researchers from Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), Leiden University, Tohoku University and the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter has developed a new type of MRI scanner that can image waves in ultrathin magnets. Unlike electrical currents, these so-called spin waves produce little heat, making them promising signal carriers for future green ICT applications.

MRI scanners can look into the human body in a non-invasive manner. The scanner detects the magnetic fields radiated by the atoms inside, which makes it possible to study the health of organs even though they are hidden underneath thick layers of tissue.

The non-invasive, see-through power of MRI is desirable for many research fields and industries. It could be particularly useful as an imaging tool in nanotechnology and the chip industry. Being able to detect signals in computer chips and other nanodevices would facilitate optimizing their performance and reducing their heat production. However, the millimeter resolution of conventional MRI is insufficient to study chip-scale devices. A team of researchers led by TU Delft have now developed a new method for sensing at the sub-micrometer scale.

Nov 11, 2020

DARPA Selects Teams to Modify Skin Microbiome for Disease Prevention

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, health, military

ReVector researchers have expertise in synthetic biology, human microbiome, and mosquito studies.


The American Society for Microbiology estimates that there are trillions of microbes living in or on the human body that constitute the human microbiome1. The human skin microbiome (HSM) acts as a barrier between humans and our external environment, protecting us from infection, but also potentially producing molecules that attract mosquitos. Mosquitos are of particular concern to the Department of Defense, as they transmit pathogens that cause diseases such as chikungunya, Zika, dengue, West Nile virus, yellow fever, and malaria. The ReVector program aims to maintain the health of military personnel operating in disease-endemic regions by reducing attraction and feeding by mosquitos, and limiting exposure to mosquito-transmitted diseases.

Genome engineering has progressed to the point where editing the HSM to remove the molecules that attract mosquitos or add genes that produce mild mosquito repellants are now possible. While the skin microbiome has naturally evolved to modulate our interactions with the environment and organisms that surround us, exerting precise control over our microbiomes is an exciting new way to provide protection from mosquito-borne diseases.

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Nov 9, 2020

Scientists Develop Nasal Spray That Can Disable Coronavirus

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, particle physics

Most efforts to combat the coronavirus have focused on public health measures and the race to develop a vaccine. However, a team from Columbia University, Cornell University, and others has developed something new: a nasal spray that attacks the virus directly. In a newly released study, the concoction was effective at deactivating the novel coronavirus before it could infect cells.

Like all viruses, SARS-CoV-2 (the causative agent of COVID-19) needs to enter a cell to reproduce. The virus injects its RNA genome and hijacks cellular machinery to make copies of itself, eventually killing the cell and spreading new virus particles to infect other cells. Gaining access to a cell requires a “key” that fits into a protein lock on the cell surface. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, we call that the spike protein, and that’s where the new nasal spray blocker attacks.

The spike protein “unzips” when it meets up with a cell, exposing two chains of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). The spray contains a lipoprotein, which has a complementary strand of amino acids linked with a cholesterol particle. The lipoprotein inserts itself into the spike protein, sticking to one of the chains that would otherwise bind to a receptor and allow the virus to infect the cell. With that lipoprotein in the way, the virus is inactivated.

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Nov 7, 2020

Researchers invent flexible and highly reliable sensor

Posted by in categories: health, robotics/AI, wearables

Real-time health monitoring and sensing abilities of robots require soft electronics, but a challenge of using such materials lie in their reliability. Unlike rigid devices, being elastic and pliable makes their performance less repeatable. The variation in reliability is known as hysteresis.

Guided by the theory of contact mechanics, a team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) came up with a new sensor material that has significantly less hysteresis. This ability enables more accurate wearable health technology and robotic sensing.

The research team, led by Assistant Professor Benjamin Tee from the Institute for Health Innovation & Technology at NUS, published their results in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on 28 September 2020.

Nov 5, 2020

Danish Covid-19 mink variant could spark new pandemic, scientists warn

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

Mutations in mink herds and wildlife such as weasels, badgers, ferrets may pose risk to human health and vaccine development.

Oct 30, 2020

Alberta excrement being tested for COVID-19 as researchers refine sewage surveillance

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

“The logistics of clinical testing don’t let you sample everybody, but sewage does sample everybody.”-Steve Hrudey.


Raw sewage being flushed into Alberta’s municipal wastewater plants could help public health officials better track — and predict — the spread of COVID-19.

A team of Alberta scientists has joined a growing international effort to sample wastewater for traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the disease.

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Oct 30, 2020

Think Big, Move Fast, Build Capacity and Resilience: Disaster Management

Posted by in categories: climatology, health, robotics/AI, security

The future of disaster management, using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and a bit of Waffle House and Starbucks 🙂


Ira Pastor, ideaXme life sciences ambassador interviews Craig Fugate Chief Emergency Management Officer of One Concern and former administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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Oct 29, 2020

What Martian Settlers Need to Know About Soil Can Teach us How to Grow Better on Earth

Posted by in categories: health, space travel

Article from Universetoday. Interesting read.


When human beings start living in space for extended periods of time they will need to be as self-sufficient as possible. The same holds true for settlements built on the Moon, on Mars, and other bodies in the Solar System. To avoid being entirely dependent on resupply missions from Earth (which is costly and time-consuming) the inhabitants will need to harvest resources locally – aka. In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU).

This means they’ll have to procure their own sources of water, building materials, and grow their own food. While the ISS has allowed for all kinds of experiments involving hydroponics in space, little has been done to see how soil fares in microgravity (or lower gravity). To address this, Morgan Irons – Chief Science Officer of the Virginia-based startup Deep Space Ecology (DSE) – recently sent her #id=8305″] Soil Health in Space experiment to the ISS.

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Oct 27, 2020

Multifunctional skin-mounted microfluidic device able to measure stress in multiple ways

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, mobile phones, neuroscience

An international team of researchers has developed a multifunctional skin-mounted microfluidic device that is able to measure stress in people in multiple ways. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their device and how it could be useful.

Prior research has shown that can damage a person’s health. It can lead to diabetes, depression, obesity and a host of other problems. Some have suggested that one of the ways to combat stress is to create a means for alerting a person to their heightened stress so that they might take action to reduce it. To that end, prior teams have developed skin-adhesive devices that that collect sweat samples. The tiny samples contain small amounts of cortisol, a hormone that can be used as a marker of stress levels. In this new effort, the researchers have improved on these devices by developing one that measures more than just cortisol levels and is much more comfortable.

The researchers began with the notion that in order to convince people to wear a full time, it had to be both useful and comfortable. The solved the latter issue by making their device out of soft materials that adhere gently to the skin. They also used a skeletal design for their microfluidic sweat-collection apparatus—a flexible mesh. They also added more functionality. In addition to cortisol, their device is able to measure glucose and vitamin C levels. They also added electrodes underneath that are able to measure sweat rate and electrical conductivity of the skin, both of which change in response to stress. They also added a wireless transmitter that sends all of the data to a nearby smartphone running the device’s associated app.

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