131. Lab-Grown Blood Transfusion, Breast Cancer Vaccine Trials, Microplastic Eating Robot Fish

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Show Notes:

First human patients receive transfusions of lab-grown blood cells | New Atlas (01:01)

  • For the first time ever, human patients have received transfusions of blood cells that were grown from stem cells in a lab

    • Revolutionize blood transfusions

  • Blood donations are life saving, but the demand outweighs the supply

    • But only 13.6 million units of whole blood and red blood cells are collected in the U.S. in a year.

    • According to the Red Cross, only about 3% of age-eligible people donate blood yearly.

    • Nearly 16 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.

    • Approximately 29,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U. S.

  • An attractive alternative would be large-scale production of red blood cells in labs, which can be tuned to have whichever blood type is needed.

  • The new clinical trial, named RESTORE, is designed to test the safety of transfusions of these manufactured blood cells, as well as how long they last in the body.

    • Lab-grown blood is all made “fresh,” so it should all reliably last up to 120 days.

    • For people with conditions that require regular blood transfusions, such as sickle cell, the longer lifespan of the cells should help give them longer gaps between transfusions.

  • The RESTORE trial will involve at least 10 participants receiving “mini” transfusions of blood, containing just 5 to 10 ml (one to two teaspoons) of red blood cells.

    • So far, two participants have received transfusions of lab-grown blood cells as part of the trial, with the scientists reporting that they have shown no untoward side effects.

  • While this is a major milestone towards that goal, there’s still much more work to do before blood transfusions are regularly lab-grown

This clear window coating could cool buildings without using energy | Electrek (06:41)

  • Scientists have used advanced computing tech and AI to design a clear window coating that could lower the temperature inside buildings.

    • Saving a whole lot of cooling energy.

  • Cooling accounts for about 15% of global energy consumption, and it’s only going to get hotter, especially in more tropical climates.

  • The sun’s ultraviolet and near-infrared light are the parts of the solar spectrum that pass through window glass to heat an enclosed room.

    • Why a car gets hot sitting in the sun.

    • If you block that light energy the amount of cooling needed would be reduced

  • According to their new paper, researchers from University of Notre Dame in Indiana and Kyung Hee University in Seoul, successfully designed a clear window coating, or “transparent radiative cooler” (TRC).

  • According to the report,

    • “[The team] optimized the type, order, and combination of layers using an iterative approach guided by machine learning and quantum computing, which stores data using subatomic particles”

    • Using this quantum method allowed the team to carry out the optimization process faster. Which eventually, “produced a coating design that, when fabricated, beat the performance of conventionally designed TRCs in addition to one of the best commercial heat-reduction glasses on the market.”

  • Through heat simulations of the TRC as a potential window material for a standard office with two windows they were able to figure out roughly the heat savings.

    • 31.1% of the cooling energy consumption when conventional windows are used.

    • The average annual energy saving over the surveyed U.S. cities is 50 MJ/m2

    • In cities with hot, dry weather the TRC can potentially save around 86.3 MJ/m2 per year.

  • There’s no indication of commercial scaling in the study, but the researchers write that the film “can be potentially scaled up for practical applications because their fabrication can be achieved using state-of-the-art deposition techniques.”

Experimental breast cancer vaccine passes first human trials | New Atlas (12:19)

  • I don’t like using the term vaccine for these types of treatments. It is more of cell/protein therapy so I’ll put that out there before I get into this.

  • Up to 30% of breast cancers involve the overproduction of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).

    • HER2-positive cancers are often more aggressive than other types of breast cancer

  • These treatments deliver DNA blueprints for the production of certain proteins into the nucleus of a cell.

    • The protein is then produced by the cell, triggering an immune response.

    • This treatment in question prompts cells to produce a specific fragment of the HER2 protein.

  • Note another reason I don’t call it a vaccine:

    • These are known as “therapeutic vaccines”, given to patients after they are diagnosed with a cancer in the hopes they help the immune system better seek and destroy certain tumors.

  • The trial was not geared to evaluate how effective the experimental treatment is at treating breast cancer.

    • But still in the trial there were promising signs of efficacy, with 80% of the treated trial participants surviving the full 10-year follow-up

    • Only around 50% of patients with advanced HER2 breast cancer would generally be expected to survive more than five year

  • Looking into the survival rate:

    • 95.8% of females survive breast cancer for at least one year, this falls to 85.0% surviving for five years or more, and continues to fall to roughly 75% for 10 years, as shown by age-standardized net survival for patients diagnosed with breast cancer during 2013-2017 in England.

  • A Phase 2 trial is currently underway, testing the treatment’s efficacy in a larger cohort of HER2-positive patients.

Scientists are working on an official 'alien contact protocol' for when ET phones Earth | Live Science (19:01)

  • For the first time in 35 years, a team of policy experts and scientists have united to establish a set of alien-contact protocols for the entire world to follow in the event of a sudden encounter with E.T.

    • What better use of “policy experts” … unless they know something

  • Currently, the only alien contact protocol that humans have was established by the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) community in 1989.

    • vague when it comes to the international response to extraterrestrial communication

    • mainly focuses on the importance of sharing discoveries with the public and broader scientific community.

  • The new SETI Detection Hub will scan signals for potential messages sent from alien lifeforms and will develop a framework for attaching meaning to those signals.

  • End it with John Elliot, a computer scientist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and coordinator of the SETI Detection Hub, talking on the preparedness effort:

    • “Will we ever get a message from E.T.? We don't know. We also don't know when this is going to happen … But we do know that we cannot afford to be ill-prepared — scientifically, socially, and politically rudderless — for an event that could turn into reality as early as tomorrow."

Open-source fish robot starts collecting microplastics from UK lakes | The Next Web (24:20)

  • Microplastics in the water is a problem:

    • A new study from Stanford University found that blue whales, the biggest creatures on Earth, ingest about 10 million pieces of microplastics per day.

  • What could be the solution? Maybe a plastic eating robot fish?

  • A robot fish that collects microplastics from waterways has been turned from an idea into a working prototype.

    • The design was brought to life after it won the University of Surrey’s public competition, the Natural Robotics Contest.

    • Competition was to submit an idea for a bio-inspired robot that could help the world.

  • The robotics panelists and researchers, led by Dr. Robert Siddall, turned the design into a 3D-printed prototype about the size of a salmon.

    • consists of a flooded head unit and a watertight tail unit.

    • Set of gills on its sides and a fine mesh in between them that can sieve about two-millimeter particles

    • Filters the water and keeps the microplastics inside its container as it swims.

  • The robot fist has already been tested in the lab and local lakes

  • Going Forward, according to Siddall, the team is envisioning a range of improvements for the robot:

    • Making It faster and smarter

    • Operate autonomously, rather than being remote controlled.

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