CRISPR has sparked a renaissance in genome editing. Now, next-generation CRISPR technologies let scientists modify the genome more efficiently and precisely than before. Such tools could one day serve as therapeutics, but many challenges remain.

 

Most drugs are small molecules that can be packaged into a pill. Genome editors are large, complicated molecules – so scientists can’t just stuff them into a pill for people to swallow, or inject them into people’s bodies. They have to find other ways to get the molecules into patients’ cells. One method relies on viruses, says Guangping Gao, a gene therapy researcher at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and president of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy. Scientists could potentially package genome editors into small viruses like adeno-associated viruses, for example. These viruses, which have already seen clinical use in several FDA-approved drugs, could then infect patients’ cells and dump their payloads.

 

It could be that scientists will need to develop entirely different delivery systems. Researchers are currently experimenting with lipid nanoparticles and using electric fields to coax genome editors into cells that can then be transplanted into patients. Delivery remains a major hurdle, Gao says, but he’s still excited about genome editors’ potential. “Gene therapy is now in its golden age,” he says. And genome editors “open even more avenues for treating disease.”

Read the full article at: www.hhmi.org

  

Latest NASA Perseverance News is HERE

 

Ingenuity has phoned home from where it is attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover. Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California have received the first status report from the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which landed Feb. 18, 2021, at Jezero Crater attached to the belly of the agency’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. The downlink, which arrived at 3:30 p.m. PST (6:30 p.m. EST) via a connection through the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, indicates that both the helicopter, which will remain attached to the rover for 30 to 60 days, and its base station (an electrical box on the rover that stores and routes communications between the rotorcraft and Earth) are operating as expected.

 

“There are two big-ticket items we are looking for in the data: the state of charge of Ingenuity’s batteries as well as confirmation the base station is operating as designed, commanding heaters to turn off and on to keep the helicopter’s electronics within an expected range,” said Tim Canham, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter operations lead at JPL. “Both appear to be working great. With this positive report, we will move forward with tomorrow’s charge of the helicopter’s batteries.”

 

Read the full article at: mars.nasa.gov

Denmark built the world’s first offshore wind farm in 1991. Now the country is embarking on another global first.
It’s building an artificial island in the North Sea that will eventually be capable of meeting all the nation’s electricity needs – a history making 10 million homes.

Denmark, the nation that built the world’s first offshore wind farm, has agreed to an ambitious plan for another global first – an energy island in the North Sea which could eventually be capable of supplying energy to a history-making 10 million homes. The move will create a critical boost to the world’s offshore wind capacity.

The first “hub and spoke” energy scheme will involve building an island 80 kilometres off the Danish coastline to act as the transmission centre for hundreds of wind turbines surrounding it. At $34 billion, it’s the largest construction project in Danish history.

The project is also a potential blueprint for other coastal nations to develop their own green energy sources. “It’s in Danish waters, yes, but it could conceptually be in any other country,” said Peter Larsen of the North Sea Wind Power Hub Programme.

 

Learn more / En savoir plus / Mehr erfahren:

 

https://www.scoop.it/t/21st-century-innovative-technologies-and-developments/?&tag=Renewable+Energy

 

Read the full article at: www.weforum.org

COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, can involve sequelae and other medical complications that last weeks to months after initial recovery, which has come to be called Long-COVID or COVID long-haulers. This systematic review and meta-analysis aims to identify studies assessing long-term effects of COVID-19 and estimates the prevalence of each symptom, sign, or laboratory parameter of patients at a post-COVID-19 stage. LitCOVID (PubMed and Medline) and Embase were searched by two independent researchers. All articles with original data for detecting long-term COVID-19 published before 1st of January 2021 and with a minimum of 100 patients were included. For effects reported in two or more studies, meta-analyses using a random-effects model were performed using the MetaXL software to estimate the pooled prevalence with 95% CI. Heterogeneity was assessed using I2 statistics. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviewers and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) reporting guideline was followed.

 

 

Preprint available in medRxiv (Jan. 30, 2021):

https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.01.27.21250617 

Read the full article at: www.medrxiv.org

Maccabi health fund releases preliminary results of a study comparing vaccinated and not vaccinated members’ likability to contract the disease and said vaccine 92% effective.  A total of 371 out of 715,425 Israelis who passed at least a week after receiving two doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine have contracted the virus – 0.04%, with 16 being sent to the hospital – according to a Health Ministry report released on Thursday. Immunity to COVID-19 is supposed to kick in a week after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. According to the studies conducted by Pfizer, the vaccine had an efficacy of about 95%, which is considered very high. The Israeli data appear to confirm the inoculation’s effectiveness, showing an even more promising result. Later in the day, Maccabi Healthcare Services – one of the country’s four health maintenance organizations – released the first results of the vaccination campaign of its members, with the organization also comparing the data to a control group that did not get inoculated.

 

Read the full article at: www.jpost.com

Researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania have identified ionizable lipid nanoparticles that could be used to deliver mRNA as part of fetal therapy. The proof-of-concept study, published today in Science Advances, engineered and screened a number of lipid nanoparticle formulations for targeting mouse fetal organs and has laid the groundwork for testing potential therapies to treat genetic diseases before birth.

 

“This is an important first step in identifying nonviral mediated approaches for delivering cutting-edge therapies before birth,” said co-senior author William H. Peranteau, MD, an attending surgeon in the Division of General, Thoracic and Fetal Surgery and the Adzick-McCausland Distinguished Chair in Fetal and Pediatric Surgery at CHOP. “These lipid nanoparticles may provide a platform for in utero mRNA delivery, which would be used in therapies like fetal protein replacement and gene editing.”

 

Read the full article at: phys.org

Remnants of planets with Earth-like crusts have been discovered in the atmospheres of four nearby white dwarf stars by University of Warwick astronomers, offering a glimpse of the planets that may have once orbited them up to billions of years ago.

 

These crusts are from the outer layers of rocky planets similar to Earth and Mars and could give astronomers greater insights into the chemistry of the planets that these dying stars once hosted.

The discovery is reported today in the journal Nature Astronomy and includes one of the oldest planetary systems seen by astronomers so far.

 

The University of Warwick-led team were analyzing data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia telescope of over 1,000 nearby white dwarf stars when they came across an unusual signal from one particular white dwarf. The researchers at the University of Warwick received funding from the European Research Council and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

 

They used spectroscopy to analyze the light from the star at different wavelengths, which allows them to detect when elements in the star’s atmosphere are absorbing light at different colors and determine what elements those are and how much is present. They also inspected the 30,000 white dwarf spectra from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey published over the last 20 years.

 

The signal matched the wavelength of lithium and the astronomers soon discovered three more white dwarfs with the same signal, one of which was also observed with potassium in its atmosphere. By comparing the amount of lithium and potassium with the other elements they detected—sodium and calcium—they found that the ratio of elements matched the chemical composition of the crust of rocky planets like Earth and Mars, if those crusts and been vaporized and mixed within the gaseous outer layers of the star for 2 million years.

Read the full article at: phys.org