Via MIT Technology Review:
If all goes according to plan, sometime next month a surgeon in Texas will use a needle to inject viruses laden with DNA from light-sensitive algae into the eye of a legally blind person in a bet that it could let the patient see again, if only in blurry black-and-white.
The study, sponsored by a startup called RetroSense Therapeutics, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is expected to be the first human test of optogenetics, a technology developed in neuroscience labs that uses a combination of gene therapy and light to precisely control nerve cells.
Via IEEE Spectrum:
[James] Tour and his team have designed and fabricated a molecule consisting of 244 atoms that can move within a liquid environment using a tail-like propeller powered by ultraviolet light.
What is really impressive about the nanoscale submarines is their speed. One wag of its tail can move it 18 nanometers. Not impressed? Consider that the tail can wag a million revolutions per minute (RPM), which translates to propelling the molecule about 2.5 centimeters per second. In nano-scale terms that’s really fast.
In research published in the journal ACS Nano, the speed of the 10-nanometer scale submersibles are fast enough that they can work their way through a solution containing molecules of the same size without being slowed down.
“This is akin to a person walking across a basketball court with 1,000 people throwing basketballs at him,” Tour said in a press release.
Cardiovascular disease kills more people on Earth than anything else—over 17 million a year, and the number keeps going up. Of those deaths, more than 40 percent is due to coronary heart disease. Medicine has drugs that can treat it and practices that can help prevent it, but nobody really knows what causes it or how to cure it. Now, Google and the American Heart Association aim to change that by dropping a $50 million funding bomb on the problem. And as you might expect from a Silicon Valley giant that believes in moving fast and breaking things—an approach that hasn’t always transferred well to basic scientific research—the company isn’t spreading the money around.
In an announcement this month at the American Heart Association meeting in Orlando, Florida, Google Life Sciences and the AHA said the money would go to one team over five years. This isn’t covering the bases. This is, to mix a lot of metaphors, a Manhattan Project. Or as Google likes to call such things: a moonshot.