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Rising of bioinformatics

Harvard researchers the first to 3D print an organ-on-a-chip

Researchers at the Harvard Wyss Institute were the first to 3D print an organ-on-a-chip resembling a human heart which can be used to test drugs. The organ-on-a-chip has integrated sensors that automates the collection of data from the device, making it easier and more precise to measure its performance. This new method allows for the automated and mass production of organs-on-a-chip, leading to faster drug screening. Its 3D printing system can also be programmed to print other organs-on-a-chip such as the lung, gut, vascular system and more. The Wyss team plans to print 10 organ-on-a-chips and connect them to simulate the human body. 

Key Takeaway: 

Researchers from Harvard’s Wyss Institute have produced the first 3D printed organ-on-a-chip, a heart chip, with a system that can lead to the mass production of other organs-on-a-chip, resulting to faster screening of drugs without the need to test on animals or humans.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
October 27, 2016

Intel’s venture capital firm to invest $38 million in startups

Intel Capital is investing $38 million in a dozen startups focused on autonomous machines, data and connectivity, sports and health, and virtual reality. One of the robotics firms, Chronocam, is creating computer vision sensors and systems that are like the biological human eye. Embodied is making socially assistive robots while Perrone Robotics is developing a software platform for autonomous vehicles and robots. Among the four startups focused on data and connectivity, two are China-based: Eazytec which provides IoT technologies for monitoring the water and air in China and Grand Chip Microelectronics which offers connectivity solutions for WLAN, Wi-Fi, cellular and IoT. The two others are Paxata, which is working on a business information platform that turns raw data into meaningful information for enterprise and IT users and StealthMine, which is securing data encryption for enterprise applications. Sports and health firms Cubeworks, Kinduct and L4Connect are developing tiny millimeter-sized wireless sensors, a data and analytics platform, and dashboards respectively. Virtual reality startup Dysonics is working on solutions that will enable people to capture 360-degree sounds for live VR experiences. Lastly, InContext Solutions is helping manufacturers and retailers simulate their products and services in virtual reality.

Key Takeaway: 

Intel Capital, Intel’s venture capital firm, is investing $38 million in 12 startups focused on robotics, IoT connectivity and data analytics, sports, health and wellness, as well as virtual reality, with technologies that are ground-breaking and could be useful for various customer markets such as the enterprise, health and wellness organizations.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
October 24, 2016

Mice produced from stem cells could be possible for humans one day

Researchers in Japan have grown artificial eggs in a lab for the first time using the tissue cells of a mouse's tail that was reprogrammed into stem cells. Same eggs were then fertilized by a mouse's sperm and placed in a female mouse which bore 11 healthy mouse pups. The procedure can help to reproduce living animals (of other species) in a lab, including humans, but not for the time being. If possible, it can create healthy egg cells for infertile and aging women or produce healthier babies. It could also recreate extinct animals. The mouse babies also have some chromosomal abnormalities and different genetic expressions compared to other mice. The research was published in Nature.

Key Takeaway: 

Japanese researchers have reproduced mice from artificial eggs grown from stem cells in a lab, demonstrating the procedure could be used to one day recreate species of animals including humans.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
October 17, 2016

Verily plans to inhibit mosquito population to counter Zika

Verily, a spin-off company from Alphabet focused on life sciences, is working on automated mosquito farms that will propagate sterile mosquitoes, which the company hopes can contain the spread of dengue and the Zika virus. Verily thinks its technique, which involves infecting male mosquitoes with a bacteria Wolbachia, inhibiting the normal fertilization of eggs when they mate, could be effective. Releasing a million of such sterile male mosquitoes can control mosquito populations in communities. Verily did not mention which communities they will initially conduct trials in. The company is looking to automate the process of rearing the mosquitoes. It also plans to use geospatial software to track said mosquitoes and release them from trucks into urban cities.

Key Takeaway: 

Verily, an Alphabet spin-off company, plans to automate the rearing of sterile mosquitoes and release them into communities to keep viruses such as dengue and Zika from spreading.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
October 6, 2016

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to invest $3 billion to cure disease

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a limited liability company formed by Facebook's Mark Zuckergberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan, will invest $3 billion over the next decade to building technologies that could cure, prevent and manage diseases. Part of the fund will be used to set up a hub called BioHub where researchers from Stanford, Berkeley and UCSF will collaborate on discoveries to treat disease. The investment will also seek to solve the problem of the four major causes of death - heart disease, infectious disease, neurological disease and cancer. It is estimated that the US spends 50 times more money on treating diseases than preventing it.

Key Takeaway: 

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will spend $3 billion in the next 10 years to discover and invent technology-enabled tools that can treat and prevent diseases.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
September 21, 2016

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