Issue #322

This week - how Covid-19 poked holes in AI; Amazon announces Genomics CLI; a universal switch for gene therapies; and more!


More Than A Human

A New Way To Integrate Electronics Into the Human Body

Researchers built a glucose monitoring device using “click-to-polymer” or CLIP - a new technique of adding functionalities to polymer semiconductors (materials that have been made soft and stretchy but still able to conduct electricity) without disrupting their functionality altogether. “Semiconducting polymers are one of the most promising materials systems for wearable and implantable electronics,” said Asst. Prof. Sihong Wang, who led the research. “But we still need to add more functionality to be able to collect signals and administer therapies. Our method can work broadly to incorporate different types of functional groups, which we hope will lead to far-reaching leaps in the field.”

Neuromorphic Chip: Artificial Neurons Recognize Biosignals in Real Time

Researchers from Zurich have developed a compact, energy-efficient device made from artificial neurons that is capable of decoding brainwaves. The chip uses data recorded from the brainwaves of epilepsy patients to identify which regions of the brain cause epileptic seizures. This opens up new perspectives for treatment.

Artificial Intelligence

When the World Needed It Most, Artificial Intelligence Failed: How COVID-19 Poked Holes in AI

"We should be celebrating how AI improved pandemic responses, but the rollout was messy and the published papers littered with unusable material", writes Emil Walleser as he summarises a recent research paper on usages of AI during the pandemic and what were the results and what can we do better next time. 

The Computer Scientist Training AI to Think With Analogies

“Today’s state-of-the-art neural networks are very good at certain tasks but they’re very bad at taking what they’ve learned in one kind of situation and transferring it to another”, says Melanie Mitchell, an AI researcher on a quest to make machines think with analogies. In this interview, Mitchell talks about how AI can make analogies, what the field has learned about them so far, and where it needs to go next.

Biotechnology

Announcing Amazon Genomics CLI

Here is another proof that bioinformatics and bioengineering are going to be in 2020s what deep learning was in the 2010s. Amazon announced a new addition to AWS - Amazon Genomics CLI. It is "a tool for genomics and life science customers to process genomics data at petabyte scale on AWS enabling population level genetic studies, faster drug discovery, and more", AWS engineers wrote in the blog post announcing the new tool.

New ‘Universal Switch’ Lets Scientists Fine-Tune Gene Therapy

Scientists tapped into a natural process during gene expression and hijacked it to make XON - a “dimmer” that controls the strength of potentially any gene therapy, including therapies based on CRISPR.

Gene therapy could treat eye disease without surgery

A new gene therapy could eventually provide an alternative treatment for Fuchs’ endothelial corneal dystrophy, a genetic eye disease that affects roughly one in 2,000 people globally. Currently, the only treatment is corneal transplant, a major surgery with associated risks and potential complications. Initial results from tests in mice look promising but more research is needed before the first human can be treated with the new therapy.

Cat genome’s ‘dark matter’ may hold clues to our health

The layout of the cat genome is very similar to that of the human genome, even more similar than that of mice or dogs, researchers report. "Getting a better understanding of the cat's biology and genetic makeup will help us better understand the biology of humans, too," says Leslie Lyon, the researcher behind the paper.

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