Monthly Archives: June 2018

Compound to treat Alzheimer’s shows promise in mice

Researchers at The Rockefeller University in New York have made a component, RU-505, which can be used to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in mice.

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The investigations build on Alzheimer’s studies conducted in Rockefeller University labs, particularly research focused on how the cells of the brain process the amyloid precursor protein (APP). Faulty regulation of APP processing — in which APP is chopped into smaller pieces during normal brain cell metabolism — is believed to contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. Scientists in the Fisher Center work on understanding why APP can sometimes produce protein fragments that are safely secreted from the cell and at other times produce a protein called amyloid-ß, a major component of the brain plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: https://www.rockefeller.edu/

Universal Antibody Drug for HIV

A research team led by scientists at AIDS Institute and Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of The University of Hong Kong (HKU) invents a universal antibody drug against HIV/AIDS. By engineering a tandem bi-specific broadly neutralizing antibody, the team found that this novel antibody drug is universally effective not only against all genetically divergent global HIV-1 strains tested but also promoting the elimination of latently infected cells in a humanized mouse model. The new findings are now published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, one of the world’s leading biomedical journals.

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AIDS remains an incurable disease. In the world, HIV/AIDS has resulted in estimated 40 million deaths while 36.9 million people are still living with the virus.  To end the HIV/AIDS pandemic, it is important to discover either an effective vaccine or a therapeutic cure. There are, however, two major scientific challenges: the tremendous HIV-1 diversity and the antiviral drug-unreachable latency. Since it is extremely difficult to develop an appropriate immunogen to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) against genetically divergent HIV-1 subtypes, developing existing bnAbs as passive immunization becomes a useful approach for HIV-1 prophylaxis and immunotherapy.

Previous studies have investigated the potency, breadth and crystal structure of many bnAbs including their combination both in vitro and in vivo. Naturally occurring HIV-1 resistant strains, however, are readily found against these so-called bnAbs and result in the failure of durable viral suppression in bnAb-based monotherapy. To improve HIV-1 neutralization breadth and potency, bispecific bnAb, which blocks two essential steps of HIV-1 entry into target cells, have been engineered and show promising efficacy in animal models. Before the publication, tandem bi-specific bnAb has not been previously investigated in vivo against HIV-1 infection.

Source: https://www.med.hku.hk/

Plastic Waste In Antarctica

Plastic waste and toxic chemicals found in remote parts of the Antarctic this year add to evidence that pollution is spreading to the ends of the Earth, environmental group Greenpeace said.

Microplasticstiny bits of plastic from the breakdown of everything from shopping bags to car tires – were detected in nine of 17 water samples collected off the Antarctic peninsula by a Greenpeace vessel in early 2018, it said. And seven of nine snow samples taken on land in Antarctica found chemicals known as PFAs (polyfluorinated alkylated substances), which are used in industrial products and can harm wildlife.

 We may think of the Antarctic as a remote and pristine wilderness,” Frida Bengtsson of Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign said in a statement about the findings. But from pollution and climate change to industrial krill fishing, humanity’s footprint is clear,” she said. “These results show that even the most remote habitats of the Antarctic are contaminated with microplastic waste and persistent hazardous chemicals.”

The United Nations’ environment agency says plastic pollution has been detected from the Arctic to Antarctica and in remote places including the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the world’s oceans in the Pacific.

UN agency said that less than a 10th of all the plastic ever made has been recycled, and governments should consider banning or taxing single-use bags or food containers to stem a tide of pollution.

Souce: https://www.reuters.com/

Carlos Ghosn: “Driverless Cars Similar To Antibiotics”

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance car maker (ranked 1 in the world),  has detailed the impact of the driverless car on human daily lives (Interview at the French TV BFM). There are between 1,3 million and 1,4 million death on roads every year in the world. The driverless car will eliminate 90% of the fatal accidents.

 “We are five years from safe, driverless cars for all“, adds Ghosn. “Driverless cars impact will be similar to the discovery of antibiotics“.

Famously given the moniker “Le Cost Killer” for his work transforming two ailing brands into one profit-making success story, Carlos Ghosn has achieved celebrity status in the car industry — and was once even portrayed as a superhero in a Japanese comic book.

Today the auto industry is experiencing a paradigm shift with the growth of the global electric vehicle (EV) market, as well as the vast potential offered by disruptive new areas like the autonomously-driven vehicle, using massively Artificial Intelligence. Despite the challenge of staying competitive and profitable in this changing environment, the Brazilian-born 64-year old believes the brands under his watch are already in pole position — and plan to stay there. But he has to stay vigilant and is aware of the dangers, acknowledging that businesses are pushing hard for driverless vehicles. “Amazon, Alibaba, Uberwhy are they interested in this? It’s very simple. The driver is the biggest cost they have — you make a quick calculation about a car running 24-7 for a month: the electricity bill is about $250 a month; the lease of the car is $300; plus three drivers, since you’re running for 24 hours a day, are going to cost you $15,000 per month.  So getting rid of the driver is a 90% reduction in costs.

That’s why Uber, DiDi all want to be the first to have this … because if my competitor gets this before me, I’m dead.”

https://www.forbes.com/

Electric Road For Electric Cars

In recent years, electric roads have emerged as potential alternatives to the heavy and expensive batteries currently needed in electric road vehicles. Now researchers at Lund University in Sweden have developed an even smarter technology – that doesn’t require digging up stretches of road to install the system. Instead, a small conductive rail is laid on top of segments of the road.

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The vehicle has three contact points with the road through which it connects to the power supply. It works much in the same way as a charging pole; except the vehicle charges both while moving and standing still”, explains Mats Alaküla, professor of industrial electrical engineering and automation at Lund University.

The rail is only active when covered by the vehicle, making it a safe option for cities. The system notices when you leave a driving lane and automatically disconnects the “pick up”– reconnecting when you are back. As a driver you wouldn’t notice anything beyond a symbol on your dashboard.

The current challenges for electric vehicles include the large and expensive batteries needed and the limitations in driving range. An electric road solution reduces the need for batteries by up to 80%.

Modern conventional electric vehicles have a driving range of 300-500 kilometers. With an electric road system covering the national and European road network,  you only need a battery range of 50-100 kilometers, to keep you covered if you come to the end of an electric road”, says Mats Alaküla. For longer distances, around 50% of the national and European road network  (e.g 10 out of 20 km on average) needs the rail installed for vehicles to keep running non-stop. The implementation would be different in cities than in other areas, stresses Mats Alaküla. In cities, the rail would be installed strategically on select road segments, bus stops, loading docks for trucks or waiting lanes for taxis, for example. This way, more complicated areas like intersections or roundabouts can be avoided.

Source: https://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/

E- textiles Control Home Appliances With The Swipe Of A Finger

Electronic textiles could allow a person to control household appliances or computers from a distance simply by touching a wristband or other item of clothing — something that could be particularly helpful for those with limited mobility. Now researchers, reporting in ACS Nano, have developed a new type of e-textile that is self-powered, highly sensitive and washable.

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E-textiles are not new, but most existing versions have poor air permeability, can’t be laundered or are too costly or complex to mass-produce. Chinese researchers Jiaona Wang, Hengyu Guo, Congju Li and coworkers wanted to develop an E-textile that overcomes all of these limitations and is highly sensitive to human touch.

The researchers made a self-powered triboelectric nanogenerator by depositing an electrode array of conductive carbon nanotubes on nylon fabric. To make the E-textile washable, they incorporated polyurethane into the carbon nanotube ink, which made the nanotubes firmly adhere to the fabric. They covered the array with a piece of silk and fashioned the textile into a wristband. When swiped with a finger in different patterns, the E-textile generated electrical signals that were coupled to computers to control programs, or to household objects to turn on lights, a fan or a microwave from across the room. The E-textile is breathable for human skin, washable and inexpensive to produce on a large scale, the researchers say.

Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/

MIT Artificial Intelligence System Detects 85 Percent Of Cyber Attacks

While the number of cyber attacks continues to increase it is becoming even more difficult to detect and mitigate them in order to avoid serious consequences. A group of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) is working on an ambitious project, the development of a technology that is able to early detect cyber attacks. The experts in collaboration with peers from the startup PatternEx have designed an Artificial Intelligence system that is able to detect 85 percent of attacks by using data from more than 3.6 Billion lines of log files each day.

The researchers have developed a system that combines an Artificial Intelligence engine with human inputs. , which researchers call Analyst Intuition (AI), which is why it has been given the name of AI2. The AI2 system first performs an automatic scan of the content with machine-learning techniques and then reports the results to human analysts which have to discriminate events linked to cyber attacks. According to the experts at the MIT the approach implemented by the AI2 system is 3 times better than modern automated cyber attack detection systems.

“The team showed that AI2 can detect 85 percent of attacks, which is roughly three times better than previous benchmarks, while also reducing the number of false positives by a factor of 5. The system was tested on 3.6 billion pieces of data known as “log lines,” which were generated by millions of users over a period of three months.” states a description of the AI2 published by the MIT.

The greater the number of analyzes carried out by the system, the more accurate the subsequent estimates thanks to the feedback mechanism.

“You can think about the system as a virtual analyst,” says CSAIL research scientist Kalyan Veeramachaneni, who developed AI2 with Ignacio Arnaldo, a chief data scientist at PatternEx and a former CSAIL postdoc. “It continuously generates new models that it can refine in as little as a few hours, meaning it can improve its detection rates significantly and rapidly.”

Source: http://ai2.appinventor.mit.edu/
AND
https://securityaffairs.co/

Tesla’s Autopilot to get ‘full self-driving feature’ in August

Shares of Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) rose as much as 5 percent on Monday after Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk tweeted that its Autopilot driver assistance system will get full self-driving features following a software upgrade in August. Autopilot, a form of advanced cruise control, handles some driving tasks and warns those behind the wheel they are always responsible for the vehicle’s safe operation. But a spate of recent crashes has brought the system under regulatory scrutiny.

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To date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety. With V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features,” Musk tweeted, replying to a Twitter user. Musk said the autopilot issue during lane-merging is better in the current software and will be fully fixed in the August update.

However, it was not clear what self-driving features would be included in the August updateTesla has been gradually upgrading its Autopilot features with regular software updates.

Tesla’s documentation on its website about the “full self-driving capabilities” package says that it is not possible to know exactly when each element of the functionality will be available, as this is highly dependent on local regulatory approval.

A consumer advocacy group on Friday urged Tesla to fix what it termed as “flaws” in Autopilot after a preliminary government report said a Model X driver did not have his hands on the vehicle’s steering wheel in the final six seconds before a fatal crash on March 23.

The software update is good news,” said analyst Chaim Siegel from Elazar Advisors, adding the stock was still benefiting from last week’s prediction by Musk that it would finally hit its production target for its Model 3 sedan.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/

Genetic Codes Mapping Of 3,000 Dangerous Bacteria

Scientists seeking new ways to fight drug-resistant superbugs have mapped the genomes of more than 3,000 bacteria, including samples of a bug taken from Alexander Fleming’s nose and a dysentery-causing strain from a World War One soldier. The DNA of deadly strains of plague, dysentery and cholera were also decoded in what the researchers said was an effort to better understand some of the world’s most dangerous diseases and develop new ways to fight them. The samples from Fleming – the British scientist credited with discovering the first antibiotic, penicillin, in 1928 – were among more than 5,500 bugs at Britain’s National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC) one of the world’s largest collections of clinically relevant bacteria. The first bacteria to be deposited in the NCTC was a strain of dysentery-causing Shigella flexneri that was isolated in 1915 from a soldier in the trenches of World War One.

“Knowing very accurately what bacteria looked like before and during the introduction of antibiotics and vaccines, and comparing them to current strains, … shows us how they have responded to these treatments,” said Julian Parkhill of Britain’s Wellcome Sanger Institute who co-led the research. “This in turn helps us develop new antibiotics and vaccines.”

Specialists estimate that around 70 percent of bacteria are already resistant to at least one antibiotic that is commonly used to treat them. This has made the evolution of “superbugs” that can evade one or multiple drugs one of the biggest threats facing medicine today. Among the most serious risks are tuberculosis – which infects more than 10.4 million people a year and killed 1.7 million in 2016 alone – and gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease that infects 78 million people a year and which the World Health Organization says is becoming almost untreatable.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/

Driverless Taxi Service in US and France By The End Of The Year

The City of Lyon in France, will operate a regular cab service by the end of this year, using driverless electric vehicles from the french company Navya. As a pioneer and specialist in the autonomous vehicle market, Navya has conceived, developed and produced the Autonom Cab, the very first autonomous, personalized and shared mobility solution. The cab was designed from the outset to be autonomous, just like all the vehicles in the Autonom range, meaning that there is no cockpit, steering wheel nor pedals.

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At the heart of the smart city, Autonom Cab provides an intelligent transport service for individual trips in urban centers. Able to carry 1 to 6 passengers, The driverless taxi is a fluid, continuous and effective solution that answers user expectations in terms of service before, during and after their trip. Available as either a private or shared service, Autonom Cab places an emphasis on conviviality and comfort. On board, passengers can for example choose to work, benefiting from fully connected technology, or partake in an interactive cultural visit of the city. They can also choose a playlist, or buy their cinema or museum tickets.

As well,  the american company Waymo says that their self-driving car service will begin operations by the end of the year in Phoenix, Arizona. Waymo is a subsidiary of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, and the CEO John Krafcik said engineers at both companies were hard at work on the AI backing their self-driving cars.

People will be able to download a Waymo app and secure rides on autonomous vehicles through it, with no driver present, Krafcik said. Waymo has been operating autonomous vehicles on the roads of Phoenix since October, and is one of the first companies to do so in the US. Originally, Waymo was a part of Google before it was spun off into its own company under the Alphabet umbrella. Despite the separation, members of Google‘s Brain team have helped Waymo engineers by beefing up the neural networks underpinning the AI operating the vehicles.

Source: http://navya.tech/
AND
https://www.techrepublic.com/