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Archive for the ‘health’ category

Nov 17, 2020

With 11 Million Cases in the U.S., the Coronavirus Has Gotten Personal for Most People

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

What was once a health crisis that Americans feared has evolved into one virtually everyone has experienced up close. That will affect behavior, but in many different ways.

Nov 17, 2020

Alternative tech makes gains in quantum computer race

Posted by in categories: business, computing, health, quantum physics

A technology for building quantum computers that has long been sidelined by major companies is gaining momentum. As quantum computing has transformed from academic exercise to big business over the past decade, the spotlight has mostly been on one approach — the tiny superconducting loops embraced by technology giants such as IBM and Intel. Superconductors enabled Google last year to claim it had achieved ‘quantum advantage’ with a quantum machine that for the first time performed a particular calculation that is beyond the practical capabilities of the best classical computer. But a separate approach, using ions trapped in electric fields, is gaining traction in the quest to make a commercial quantum computer.

Nov 17, 2020

Amazon jumps into the pharmacy business with online prescription fulfillment, free delivery for Prime members

Posted by in categories: business, habitats, health, space

Amazon is entering the pharmacy business with a new offering called Amazon Pharmacy, allowing customers in the United States to order prescription medications for home delivery, including free delivery for Amazon Prime members.

Amazon has been quietly building out its pharmacy offering for several years after ramping up internal discussions in 2017 and acquiring PillPack in 2018. The pharmacy space is notoriously complex and competitive in the U.S., and Amazon Pharmacy is built in part on PillPack’s infrastructure, including its pharmacy software, fulfillment centers and relationships with health plans.

Amazon Pharmacy, announced Tuesday, is the company’s biggest push yet into $300 billion market, and threatens the dominance of traditional pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, as well as other large retailers that offer pharmacy services, including Walmart.

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Nov 13, 2020

SoftBank eyes smaller bets, bigger returns in Vision Fund rethink

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, education, finance, government, health, wearables

The quiet shift in strategy, which brings the Vision Fund’s approach closer to that of a traditional venture capital investor, may ease concerns over big, bold bets going sour, a factor that has left a major gap between SoftBank’s market capitalization and the sum of its investments.


TOKYO — SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund is turning to a new strategy as a global pandemic and government stimulus distort tech valuations: Invest smaller in hopes for bigger returns.

After raising nearly $100 billion and investing $85 billion in high-profile companies like Uber Technologies, WeWork and ByteDance over three years, the Vision Fund is now focusing on making smaller bets in early-stage startups.

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Nov 13, 2020

Researchers create MRI-like technique for imaging magnetic waves

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, health, nanotechnology

A team of researchers from Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), Leiden University, Tohoku University and the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter has developed a new type of MRI scanner that can image waves in ultrathin magnets. Unlike electrical currents, these so-called spin waves produce little heat, making them promising signal carriers for future green ICT applications.

MRI scanners can look into the human body in a non-invasive manner. The scanner detects the magnetic fields radiated by the atoms inside, which makes it possible to study the health of organs even though they are hidden underneath thick layers of tissue.

The non-invasive, see-through power of MRI is desirable for many research fields and industries. It could be particularly useful as an imaging tool in nanotechnology and the chip industry. Being able to detect signals in computer chips and other nanodevices would facilitate optimizing their performance and reducing their heat production. However, the millimeter resolution of conventional MRI is insufficient to study chip-scale devices. A team of researchers led by TU Delft have now developed a new method for sensing at the sub-micrometer scale.

Nov 11, 2020

DARPA Selects Teams to Modify Skin Microbiome for Disease Prevention

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, health, military

ReVector researchers have expertise in synthetic biology, human microbiome, and mosquito studies.


The American Society for Microbiology estimates that there are trillions of microbes living in or on the human body that constitute the human microbiome1. The human skin microbiome (HSM) acts as a barrier between humans and our external environment, protecting us from infection, but also potentially producing molecules that attract mosquitos. Mosquitos are of particular concern to the Department of Defense, as they transmit pathogens that cause diseases such as chikungunya, Zika, dengue, West Nile virus, yellow fever, and malaria. The ReVector program aims to maintain the health of military personnel operating in disease-endemic regions by reducing attraction and feeding by mosquitos, and limiting exposure to mosquito-transmitted diseases.

Genome engineering has progressed to the point where editing the HSM to remove the molecules that attract mosquitos or add genes that produce mild mosquito repellants are now possible. While the skin microbiome has naturally evolved to modulate our interactions with the environment and organisms that surround us, exerting precise control over our microbiomes is an exciting new way to provide protection from mosquito-borne diseases.

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Nov 9, 2020

Scientists Develop Nasal Spray That Can Disable Coronavirus

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, particle physics

Most efforts to combat the coronavirus have focused on public health measures and the race to develop a vaccine. However, a team from Columbia University, Cornell University, and others has developed something new: a nasal spray that attacks the virus directly. In a newly released study, the concoction was effective at deactivating the novel coronavirus before it could infect cells.

Like all viruses, SARS-CoV-2 (the causative agent of COVID-19) needs to enter a cell to reproduce. The virus injects its RNA genome and hijacks cellular machinery to make copies of itself, eventually killing the cell and spreading new virus particles to infect other cells. Gaining access to a cell requires a “key” that fits into a protein lock on the cell surface. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, we call that the spike protein, and that’s where the new nasal spray blocker attacks.

The spike protein “unzips” when it meets up with a cell, exposing two chains of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). The spray contains a lipoprotein, which has a complementary strand of amino acids linked with a cholesterol particle. The lipoprotein inserts itself into the spike protein, sticking to one of the chains that would otherwise bind to a receptor and allow the virus to infect the cell. With that lipoprotein in the way, the virus is inactivated.

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Nov 7, 2020

Researchers invent flexible and highly reliable sensor

Posted by in categories: health, robotics/AI, wearables

Real-time health monitoring and sensing abilities of robots require soft electronics, but a challenge of using such materials lie in their reliability. Unlike rigid devices, being elastic and pliable makes their performance less repeatable. The variation in reliability is known as hysteresis.

Guided by the theory of contact mechanics, a team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) came up with a new sensor material that has significantly less hysteresis. This ability enables more accurate wearable health technology and robotic sensing.

The research team, led by Assistant Professor Benjamin Tee from the Institute for Health Innovation & Technology at NUS, published their results in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on 28 September 2020.

Nov 5, 2020

Danish Covid-19 mink variant could spark new pandemic, scientists warn

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

Mutations in mink herds and wildlife such as weasels, badgers, ferrets may pose risk to human health and vaccine development.

Oct 30, 2020

Alberta excrement being tested for COVID-19 as researchers refine sewage surveillance

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

“The logistics of clinical testing don’t let you sample everybody, but sewage does sample everybody.”-Steve Hrudey.


Raw sewage being flushed into Alberta’s municipal wastewater plants could help public health officials better track — and predict — the spread of COVID-19.

A team of Alberta scientists has joined a growing international effort to sample wastewater for traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the disease.

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