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FDA places hold on clinical trial of cancer treatment previously reported on KurzweilAI — UPDATE: FDA releases hold

July 13, 2016

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Juno Therapeutics, Inc. announced July 7 that it has received notice from the FDA that it has placed a clinical hold on an immune-cell cancer treatment known as the “ROCKET” trial, which was reported on KurzweilAI on Mar. 10, 2016.

The clinical hold was initiated after two patient deaths, which followed the recent addition of fludarabine to the pre-conditioning regimen. Juno has proposed to the FDA to… read more

How birds unlock their ultraviolet vision super-sense

July 12, 2016

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Some birds have been found to be as intelligent as mammals. And some that can see ultraviolet (UV) light live in a super-sensory world apart, able to transmit and receive signals between each other in a way that is invisible to many other species.

Now the ability of finches, sparrows, and many other birds to see ultraviolet (UV) light is explained in a study published in the… read more

How to detect early signs of Alzheimer’s with a simple eye exam before symptoms appear

Human clinical trials are set to start in July in Minnesota
July 12, 2016

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University of Minnesota (UMN) scientists and associates have developed new technology that can detect signs of Alzheimer’s before the onset of symptoms — early enough to give drugs a chance to work — in mice and humans by simply examining the back of their eyes.

Looking at Alzheimer’s effects through the eye is a key advantage of the new technology. “The retina of the eye is not just ‘connected’… read more

Locusts engineered as biorobotic sensing machines

A plague of bomb-sniffing cyborg locusts could replace dogs
July 11, 2016

Sensors placed on the insect monitor neural activity while they are freely moving, decoding the odorants present in their environment. (credit: Baranidharan Raman)

Washington University in St. Louis engineers have developed an innovatiave “bio-hybrid nose” that could be used in homeland security applications, such as detecting explosives, replacing state-of-the-art miniaturized chemical sensing devices limited to a handful of sensors.

Compare that to the locust antenna (where their chemical sensors are located): “it has several hundreds of thousands of sensors and of a variety of types,” says Baranidharan Raman,… read more

This deadly soil bug can reach your brain in a day, end up in spinal cord

In Southeast Asia 50 per cent of the population may be positive for melioidosis; staph and acne bacteria may also end up in the spinal cord
July 11, 2016

B. pseudomallei soil-dwelling bacterium endemic in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, particularly in Thailand and northern Australia (credit: Wikipedia CC)

Imagine a  deadly bacteria that can be picked up by a simple sniff and can travel to your brain and spinal cord in just 24 hours. Or one that could just be quietly sitting there, waiting for an opportune moment. Or maybe just doing small incremental damage ever day over a lifetime … as you lose the function in your brain incrementally.

That’s the grisly finding (in mice), published… read more

Neurons grown from stem cells in a dish reveal clues about autism

Neurons’ activity seemed to improve by adding IGF-1, which is known to enhance connections between neurons
July 8, 2016

Salk researchers have turned the skin cells of people with autism spectrum disorder into neurons. These cells show specific defects compared with those neurons derived from healthy people, including diminished ability to form excitatory connections with other neurons (indicated by red and green dots in the neuron). (credit: Salk Institute)

Why do the brains of up to 30 percent of people with autism spectrum disorder grow faster than usual, early in life? A new study co-led by Salk Institute scientists has used a new stem cell reprogramming technique to find out.

Published July 6, 2016 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the Salk team found that stem cell-derived neurons made fewer connections in a dish compared to cells… read more

Molecular flip in crystals driven by light creates microrobotic propulsion

Could lead to bio-inspired microrobots that deliver drugs to target tissues
July 8, 2016

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Hokkaido University researchers have designed a crystal material that continually flips between two positions like a paddle, propelling an attached structure, when stimulated by blue light. It could lead to bio-inspired microrobots that deliver drugs to target tissues, for example.

The team made azobenzene-oleic acid crystals, composed of an organic compound called azobenzene, commonly used in dye manufacturing, and oleic acid, commonly found in cooking oil. Azobenzene molecules… read more

Facebook’s Secret Conversations

This message will self-destruct in __ seconds
July 8, 2016


Facebook began today (Friday, July 8) rolling out a new beta-version feature for Messenger called “Secret Conversations,” allowing for “one-to-one secret conversations … that will be end-to-end encrypted and which can only be read on one device of the person you’re communicating with.”

Facebook suggests the feature will be useful for discussing an illness or sending financial information (as in the pictures above).  You can choose to set a… read more

Robot mimics vertebrate motion

May help develop future therapies and neuroprosthetic devices for paraplegic patients and amputees
July 7, 2016

Pleurobot (credit: EPFL)

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) scientists have invented a new robot called “Pleurobot” that mimics the way salamanders walk and swim with unprecedented detail.

Aside from being cool (and a likely future Disney attraction), the researchers believe designing the robot will provide a new tool for understanding the evolution of vertebrate locomotion. That could lead to better understanding of how the spinal cord controls the body’s locomotion, which… read more

New tech could have helped police locate shooters in Dallas

Chinese traffic police already testing system
July 7, 2016

(credit: Fox News)

JULY 8, 3:56 AM EDT — Livestreamed data from multiple users with cell phones and other devices could be used to help police locate shooters in a situation like the one going on right now in Dallas, says Jon Fisher, CEO of San Francisco-based CrowdOptic.

Here’s how it would work: You view (or record a video of) a shooter with your phone. Your location and… read more

Surprising discovery of highly dynamic changes in olfactory region of the adult mouse brain

July 5, 2016

In light brown, in the center of the image, a new adult-born neuron. The neurons in blue are synaptic partner neurons, which connect to the new neurons. The neurons in dark brown are pre-existing neurons. (credit: © Institut Pasteur/PM Lledo)

Scientists from the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS have made the surprising discovery that new neurons formed in the olfactory bulb of adult mice are constantly reorganizing the billions of synaptic contacts they establish among themselves (also described as constant structural plasticity).

The researchers found this puzzling because constant structural plasticity is normally confined to specific critical periods after birth, and “plasticity in neural circuits… read more

How to bring the entire web to VR

July 1, 2016


Google is working on new features to bring the web to VR, according to Google Happiness Evangelist .

To help web developers embed VR content in their web pages, the Google Chromium team has been working towards WebVR support in Chromium (programmers: see Chromium Code Reviews), Beaufort said. That means you can now use Cardboard- or Daydream-ready VR viewers to see… read more

A host of common chemicals endanger child brain development, NIH journal reports

These widely used toxic chemicals "can contribute to learning, behavioral, or intellectual impairment, as well as specific neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD or autism spectrum disorder"
July 1, 2016

In addition to mercury and lead, flame retardants, air pollutants and chemicals found in many plastics, cosmetics and food containers can disrupt child brain development, researchers say. (credit: Graphic by Julie McMahon)

In a new open-access report in the NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives, 47 scientists, health practitioners, and children’s health advocates have made a consensus statement in “Project TENDR: Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks“ — endorsed by nine medical organizations — and issued a call to action for renewed attention to the growing evidence that many common and widely available chemicals endanger neurodevelopment in fetuses and children of all ages.… read more

Prenatal exposure to acetaminophen may increase autism spectrum symptoms

July 1, 2016

Tylenol PM (left) and Tylenol (right) (credit: Ragesoss/CC)

A new study has found that paracetamol (aka acetaminophen; trade names include Tylenol and Panadol), which is used extensively during pregnancy, has a strong association with autism spectrum symptoms in boys and for both genders in relation to attention-related and hyperactivity symptoms.

The findings* were published this week in the International Journal of Epidemiology. This is the first study of its kind… read more

A spectacular survey of the distant universe

Looking back in time at 250,000 galaxies --- some within the first billion years after the Big Bang
June 30, 2016

An image of a small section (0.4 percent) of the UDS field. Most of the objects in the image are very distant galaxies, observed as they were over 9 billion years ago. In the full image, 250,000 galaxies have been detected over an area of sky four times the size of the full moon. (credit: Omar Almaini, University of Nottingham)

Astronomers at The University of Nottingham have released spectacular new infrared images of the distant Universe, providing the deepest view ever obtained over a large area of sky — showing more than 250,000 galaxies, including several hundred observed within the first billion years after the Big Bang.

The images are from the final data release from the Ultra-Deep Survey (UDS), which maps an area four times the size of… read more

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