There’s a narrative we’ve come to accept as a fact of our technological age, and it’s this idea that every industry in the world is destined to be disrupted. People are doomed to lose their jobs, companies are doomed to go bankrupt, and everything we own, buy, or learn is doomed to become obsolete. And…
The latest development in textiles and fibers is a kind of soft hardware that you can wear: cloth that has electronic devices built right into it.
Researchers at MIT have now embedded high speed optoelectronic semiconductor devices, including light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and diode photodetectors, within fibers that were then woven at Inman Mills, in South Carolina, into soft, washable fabrics and made into communication systems. This marks the achievement of a long-sought goal of creating “smart” fabrics by incorporating semiconductor devices — the key ingredient of modern electronics — which until now was the missing piece for making fabrics with sophisticated functionality.
This discovery, the researchers say, could unleash a new “Moore’s Law” for fibers — in other words, a rapid progression in which the capabilities of fibers would grow rapidly and exponentially over time, just as the capabilities of microchips have grown over decades.
The findings are described this week in the journal Nature in a paper by former MIT graduate student Michael Rein; his research advisor Yoel Fink, MIT professor of materials science and electrical engineering and CEO of AFFOA (Advanced Functional Fabrics of America); along with a team from MIT, AFFOA, Inman Mills, EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Lincoln Laboratory.
A spool of fine, soft fiber made using the new process shows the embedded LEDs turning on and off to demonstrate their functionality. The team has used similar fibers to transmit music to detector fibers, which work even when underwater. (Courtesy of the researchers)
Optical fibers have been traditionally produced by making a cylindrical object called a “preform,” which is essentially a scaled-up model of the fiber, then heating it. Softened material is then drawn or pulled downward under tension and the resulting fiber is collected on a spool.
The key breakthrough for producing these new fibers was to add to the preform light-emitting semiconductor diodes the size of a grain of sand, and a pair of copper wires a fraction of a hair’s width. When heated in a furnace during the fiber-drawing process, the polymer preform partially liquified, forming a long fiber with the diodes lined up along its center and connected by the copper wires.
In this case, the solid components were two types of electrical diodes made using standard microchip technology: light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and photosensing diodes. “Both the devices and the wires maintain their dimensions while everything shrinks around them” in the drawing process, Rein says. The resulting fibers were then woven into fabrics, which were laundered 10 times to demonstrate their practicality as possible material for clothing.
“This approach adds a new insight into the process of making fibers,” says Rein, who was the paper’s lead author and developed the concept that led to the new process. “Instead of drawing the material all together in a liquid state, we mixed in devices in particulate form, together with thin metal wires.”
One of the advantages of incorporating function into the fiber material itself is that the resulting fiber is inherently waterproof. To demonstrate this, the team placed some of the photodetecting fibers inside a fish tank. A lamp outside the aquarium transmitted music (appropriately, Handel’s “Water Music”) through the water to the fibers in the form of rapid optical signals. The fibers in the tank converted the light pulses — so rapid that the light appears steady to the naked eye — to electrical signals, which were then converted into music. The fibers survived in the water for weeks.
Though the principle sounds simple, making it work consistently, and making sure that the fibers could be manufactured reliably and in quantity, has been a long and difficult process. Staff at the Advanced Functional Fabric of America Institute, led by Jason Cox and Chia-Chun Chung, developed the pathways to increasing yield, throughput, and overall reliability, making these fibers ready for transitioning to industry. At the same time, Marty Ellis from Inman Mills developed techniques for weaving these fibers into fabrics using a conventional industrial manufacturing-scale loom.
“This paper describes a scalable path for incorporating semiconductor devices into fibers. We are anticipating the emergence of a ‘Moore’s law’ analog in fibers in the years ahead,” Fink says. “It is already allowing us to expand the fundamental capabilities of fabrics to encompass communications, lighting, physiological monitoring, and more. In the years ahead fabrics will deliver value-added services and will no longer just be selected for aesthetics and comfort.”
He says that the first commercial products incorporating this technology will be reaching the marketplace as early as next year — an extraordinarily short progression from laboratory research to commercialization. Such rapid lab-to-market development was a key part of the reason for creating an academic-industry-government collaborative such as AFFOA in the first place, he says. These initial applications will be specialized products involving communications and safety. “It’s going to be the first fabric communication system. We are right now in the process of transitioning the technology to domestic manufacturers and industry at an unprecendented speed and scale,” he says.
In addition to commercial applications, Fink says the U.S. Department of Defense — one of AFFOA’s major supporters — “is exploring applications of these ideas to our women and men in uniform.”
Beyond communications, the fibers could potentially have significant applications in the biomedical field, the researchers say. For example, devices using such fibers might be used to make a wristband that could measure pulse or blood oxygen levels, or be woven into a bandage to continuously monitor the healing process.
The research was supported in part by the MIT Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) through the MRSEC Program of the National Science Foundation, by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.S. Army Research Office through the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. This work was also supported by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.
A new cancer therapy using nanoparticles to deliver a combination therapy direct to cancer cells could be on the horizon, thanks to research from the University of East Anglia.
And scientists at UEA’s Norwich Medical School have confirmed that it can be mass-produced, making it a viable treatment if proved effective in human trials.
Using nanoparticles to get drugs directly into a tumour is a growing area of cancer research. The technology developed at UEA is the first of its kind to use nanoparticles to deliver two drugs in combination to target cancer cells.
The drugs, already approved for clinical use, are an anti-cancer drug called docetaxel, and fingolimod, a multiple sclerosis drug that makes tumours more sensitive to chemotherapy.
Fingolimod cannot currently be used in cancer treatment because it also supresses the immune system, leaving patients with dangerously low levels of white blood cells.
And while docetaxel is used to treat many cancers, particularly breast, prostate, stomach, head and neck and some lung cancers, its toxicity can also lead to serious side effects for patients whose tumours are chemo-resistant.
Because the nanoparticles developed by the UEA team can deliver the drugs directly to the tumour site, these risks are vastly reduced. In addition, the targeted approach means less of the drug is needed to kill off the cancer cells.
“So far nobody has been able to find an effective way of using fingolimod in cancer patients because it’s so toxic in the blood,” explains lead researcher, Dr. Dmitry Pshezhetskiy from the Norwich Medical School at UEA.
“We’ve found a way to use it that solves the toxicity problem, enabling these two drugs to be used in a highly targeted and powerful combination.”
The UEA researchers worked with Precision NanoSystems’ Formulation Solutions Team who used their NanoAssemblr technology to investigate if it was possible to synthesise the different components of the therapy at an industrial scale.
Following successful results on industrial scale production, and a published international patent application, the UEA team is now looking for industrial partners and licensees to move the research towards a phase one clinical trial.
Also included within the nanoparticle package are molecules that will show up on an MRI scan, enabling clinicians to monitor the spread of the particles through the body.
The team has already carried out trials in mice that show the therapy is effective in reducing breast and prostate tumours. These results were published in 2017.
“Significantly, all the components used in the therapy are already cleared for clinical use in Europe and the United States,” says Dr. Pshezhetskiy. “This paves the way for the next stage of the research, where we’ll be preparing the therapy for patient trials.”
“New FTY720-docetaxel nanoparticle therapy overcomes FTY720-induced lymphopenia and inhibits metastatic breast tumour growth,” by Heba Alshaker, Qi Wang, Shyam Srivats, Yimin Chao, Colin Cooper and Dmitri Pchejetski was published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment on 10 July 2017.
“Core shell lipid-polymer hybrid nanoparticles with combined docetaxel and molecular targeted therapy for the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer,” by Qi Wang, Heba Alshaker, Torsten Böhler, Shyam Srivats, Yimin Chao, Colin Cooper and Dmitri Pchejetski was published in Scientific Reports on 19 July 2017.
Explore further: Lipid molecules can be used for cancer growth
More information: Heba Alshaker et al. New FTY720-docetaxel nanoparticle therapy overcomes FTY720-induced lymphopenia and inhibits metastatic breast tumour growth, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment (2017). DOI: 10.1007/s10549-017-4380-8
Qi Wang et al. Core shell lipid-polymer hybrid nanoparticles with combined docetaxel and molecular targeted therapy for the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-06142-x
You hear a lot about the shortcomings of lithium-ion batteries, mostly related to the slow rate of capacity improvements. However, they’re also pretty expensive because of the required lithium for cathodes. Sodium-ion batteries have shown some promise as a vastly cheaper alternative, but the performance hasn’t been comparable. With the aid of lasers and graphene, researchers may have developed a new type of sodium-ion battery that works better and could reduce the cost of battery technology by an order of magnitude.
The research comes from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia. Much of the country’s water comes from desalination, so there’s a lot of excess sodium left over. Worldwide, sodium is about 30 times cheaper than lithium, so it would be nice if we could use that as a battery cathode. The issue is that standard graphite anodes don’t hold onto sodium ions as well as they do lithium.
The KAUST team looked at a way to create a material called hard carbon to boost sodium-ion effectiveness. Producing hard carbon usually requires a complex multi-step process that involves heating samples to more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 Celsius). That effectively eliminates the cost advantage of using sodium in batteries. The KAUST team managed to create something like hard carbon with relative ease using graphene and lasers.
It all starts with a piece of copper foil. The team applied a polymer layer composed of urea polymides. Researchers blasted this material with a high-intensity laser to create graphene by a process called carbonization. Regular graphene isn’t enough, though. While the laser fired, nitrogen was added to the reaction chamber. Nitrogen atoms end up integrated into the material, replacing some of the carbon atoms. In the end, the material is about 13 percent nitrogen with the remainder carbon.
Making anodes out of this “3D graphene” material offers several advantages. For one, it’s highly conductive. The larger atomic spacing makes it better for capturing sodium ions in a sodium-ion battery, too. Finally, the copper base can be used as a current collector in the battery, saving additional fabrication steps.
The researchers tested a sodium-ion battery with 3D graphene anodes, finding the system outperformed existing sodium-ion systems.
It’s still not as potent as lithium-ion, but these lower cost cells could become popular for applications where high-performance lithium-ion tech isn’t necessary. Your phone will run on lithium batteries for a bit longer.
Courage can be developed. But it cannot be nurtured in an environment that eliminates all risks, all difficulty, all dangers. It takes considerable courage to work in an environment in which one is compensated according to one’s performance. Most affluent people have courage. What evidence supports this statement?
Most affluent people in America are either business owners or employees who are paid on an incentive basis.”— Dr. Thomas Stanley
The problem with most people’s lives is that they are being shielded from the consequences of their behavior. There’s little to no accountability.
The fastest way to make success inevitable in your life is to only do work that is incentive-based. Only do that which you are rewarded and punished for the quality of your work. Everything you do needs to matter to the outcomes, consequences, and results you get in life.
So what is the decision?
The decision is to take complete ownership of every decision in your life. And how you do that is by only doing things in which you are compensated based on performance.
This goes completely against the norms in society. It goes against public education — which shields people from progressing at their own rates. It goes against most job structures, wherein a person is paid an hourly rate or salary.
If you want to make dramatic strides forward, you must only work in environments where the consequences of your actions are immediate and REAL. You need to be demanded by your situation to come up with a result.
This article will show you how:
Are You A Part Of The “Results Economy”?
Founder of the exclusive entrepreneurial coaching platform, Strategic Coach, Dan Sullivan distinguishes between those who are in the “Time-and-Effort Economy” with those who are in the “Results Economy.”
If you’re in the time and effort economy, you are focused on being busy. You actually believe the amount of time and energy you put into something merits praise. Those who are focused on being “busy” are protected in some way from the consequences of their actions. They’re not being forced by necessity to come up with a solution. Chances are, they are an employee. They are part of a bureaucracy. And they’re striving to follow rules rather than break them.
Conversely, when you are in the results economy, you are only focused on achieving a specific result. You are focused on results because if you don’t get the result, there will be consequences to pay — for you and others. You’re not worried about your reputation. You’re not worried about following the rules of ridiculous systems which are seeking to make you their slave anyways.
Dr. Thomas Stanley found in his research that those who are paid based on RESULTS are most courageous and also the most wealthy.
You actually have to take risks.
You can’t be sheltered from the consequences of your behavior.
And you certainly can’t be a part of a system which supports “busyness” to maintain the status quo. Hence, Dan Sullivan says:
Entrepreneurs have crossed “the risk line” from the “Time-and-Effort Economy” to the “Results Economy.” For them, there’s no guaranteed income, no one writing them a paycheck every two weeks. They live by their ability to generate opportunity by creating value for their clientele.
Sometimes, they — and you — will put in a lot of time and effort and get no result. Other times, they don’t put in much time and effort and get a big result.
The focus for entrepreneurs always has to be on results or there’s no revenue coming in.
If you work for an entrepreneur, guess what! This is true for you, too. Though you probably have a guaranteed income, it’s important to understand that the business you work in exists inside The Results Economy, even if you’re sheltered somewhat from seeing that.
I say this not to make you feel insecure, but to show you how to succeed in this environment: by maximizing your results while minimizing the time and effort it takes to get them.
Flow Triggers And “Forcing Functions”
Flow is a mental state where you’re completely absorbed in what you’re doing. You’re totally engaged. No distractions. In such a state, time slows down and you begin operating at higher and more subconscious levels.
One of the primary “flow triggers” is immediate feedback. Hence, in extreme sports where the possibility of injury is high, flow is a regular experience. If you don’t land that trick, you could be in the hospital.
If you want more flow in your life, you need to get faster and harder feedback for your behavior. You need to feel the consequences of your performance. You need to be in the Results Economy — not the Time and Effort Economy.
In fact, one of the ways to produce more flow in your life is by creating much, much shorter timelines. Give yourself only 60 minutes to write the article and then, once the timer goes off, push publish regardless of what you came up with. Tell your partner or adviser that you’ll have your work to them far sooner than they expect. Make your goals public, with public deadlines.
You can create immediate feedback for your behavior in the form of “forcing functions.” According to entrepreneur, Dan Martell, “A forcing function is any task, activity or event that forces you to take action and produce a result.”
A forcing function is exactly how it sounds — something external that’s been put in place to FORCE YOU TO FUNCTION how you desire to function.
An example Dan Martell uses is a story between him and his younger brother, Moe. Dan asked Moe about his business goal for the next 3 months, to which Moe told him the goal.
Then Dan asked, “Based on today’s understanding of the work involved, etc. how likely would you be to hit your goal in 3 months?”
“Hmmmm, probably 60–70% I would guess,” Moe answered.
Then Dan asked, “Whose the most important person in your life?”
“My wife,” Moe replied.
“I then asked him to visualize a person with a gun to the head of his wife, and he knew — 100,000% that if he didn’t hit his goal within 3 months that the guy would pull the trigger. There wasn’t a doubt in his mind that the trigger would be pulled…. How likely are you to hit your goal?” Dan asked.
“100%, there isn’t a doubt I could do it” Moe said.
So what changed?
That’s the power of a forcing function. It’s something that’s embedded within the situation that forces you to succeed. It forces motivation to happen. Because if you don’t produce a RESULT, there will be immediate feedback.
To quote historian Will Durant, “I think the ability of the average man could be doubled if it were demanded, if the situation demanded.”
Motivation and environment are two inextricably connected things. Motivation ISN’T INTERNAL — but situational.
If you want more motivation, you need a more demanding situation. Your behavior needs to be consequential — and the more immediate the feedback the better. The more consequential your behavior, the more flow you’ll have in your life. The more you’ll be forced to adapt and grow.
Do You Have Skin In The Game?
“Bureaucracy is a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions.” — Nassim Nicholas Taleb
In the recent book, SKIN IN THE GAME, Nassim Nicholas Taleb explains that if your behavior doesn’t bear immediate consequence, your performance will be low. Even more than that though —if your performance isn’t consequential, then you don’t really care about what you’re doing.
As Taleb explains:
“If you do not take risks for your opinion, you are nothing.”
“How much you truly “believe” in something can be manifested only through what you are willing to risk for it.”
From a psychological perspective, you are either “approaching” something or trying to “avoid” something from happening.
Offense or defense.
Unfortunately, if you’re in the Time and Energy Economy, you’re probably also “avoidance”-oriented. In other words, your only concern is about avoiding getting in trouble, or avoiding getting caught, or avoiding doing much work at all.
Only those in the Results Economy, whose behavior is consequential — the more immediate the better — are on offense. They are the one’s taking risks. They’re less concerned about the ground they’ve made and more concerned about advancing their position. They’re fine taking more risks. They’re fine putting important things on the line, because they are convicted about what they’re doing.
Hence, Telab explains, “What matters isn’t what a person has or doesn’t have; it is what he or she is afraid of losing.” If you’re afraid of losing what you’ve currently got, you probably won’t risk it. You’ll probably do everything you can to AVOID losing it. And therefore, you’ll have given up your WHY. You’ll have stunted your progression.
The more you have to lose, the more fragile you become. The more you become a slave to your current position and thus stop seeking to take risks for what you believe in.
The Only Types Of Relationships That Become “Exponential”
There are two types of relationships: transaction-based or transformation-based.
Most relationships are transactional — where one party makes the rules and the other party submits. Once one of the members of the group is unsatisfied by the terms of the relationship, it ends. People in these relationships are usually “takers,” not genuine givers.
In transformational relationships — both people are “givers” who contribute to the ongoing evolution of the relationship. The whole becomes different from the sum of the parts. There is high expectations in these relationships, but also openness.
Both parties are completely invested in the relationship. Yet, unlike transaction-based relationships, both parties are also completely free. They give because they WANT TO, not because they feel obligated to.
That is perhaps the definition of successful relationships — to get other people to help you BECAUSE THEY WANT TO, not because they’ve been manipulated to.
According to Pearson’s Law: “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates.”
Transformational relationships have embedded accountability. Performance matters — because both parties are invested in the relationship and both parties deal with the consequences/outcomes of performance. Complete honesty is essential.
Does your behavior matter to those around you?
What about the people around you? Are these relationships transactional or transformational?
If transactional — then one person is a slave to the other. They are walking on egg-shells. They’re doing everything they can to avoid a negative outcome. They aren’t really contributing. No one in these types of relationships can truly be happy.
If you are paid based on performance, your pay will go up.
If you get immediate feedback with natural consequences of your behavior — you’ll be in a flow state more. Your performance will increase. Your pay will increase. Your happiness will increase.
It’s not great power that creates great responsibility. It’s great responsibility that creates power.
It’s not confidence that creates success. It’s successful behavior that creates confidence.
It’s not personality that creates behavior. It’s behavior that creates personality.
If you want to true freedom in your life, you need to take responsibility. Freedom can only exist with consequence — not from the absence of consequence. You are only free when your behavior matters.
The only way to increase the freedom in your life is by making your behavior matter more — and by experiencing the REAL consequences of your behavior.
The only way to have freedom in your relationships is when both parties have skin in the game. When both parties in invested. When the consequences of each person’s performance impacts the whole — and everyone involved embraces this reality because there is mutual love, respect, and responsibility.
Ready to Upgrade?
I’ve created a cheat sheet for putting yourself into a PEAK-STATE, immediately. You follow this daily, your life will change very quickly.
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The ‘aerosolized electronics’ are so small they can be sprayed through the air. MIT researchers say the tiny devices could be used to in oil and gas pipelines or even in the human digestive system to detect problems.
Researchers at MIT have built electronics so small they can be sprayed out like a mist.
The electronics are about the size of a human egg cell, and can act as tiny manmade indicators with the ability to sense their surroundings and store data.
On Monday, the team of MIT researchers published their findings, which involve grafting microscopic circuits on “colloidal particles.” These particles are so tiny —from 1 to 1000 nanometers in diameter— that they can suspend themselves indefinitely in a liquid or air.
To create the tiny machines, the MIT researchers used graphene and other compounds to form circuits that can chemically detect when certain particles, say some poisonous ammonia, are nearby and conductive. The circuits were then grafted on colloidal particles made out of a polymer called SU-8. For power, the machines rely on a photodiode that converts light into electrical current.
“What we created is a state machine that can be in two states. We start with OFF and if both light AND a chemical is detected, the particle changes its state to ON,” said Volodymyr Koman, one of the researchers, in an email. “So, there are two inputs, one output (1-bit memory) and one logical statement.”
In their experiments, the researchers successfully used the tiny electronics to identify whether toxic ammonia was present in a pipeline by spraying the machines in aerosolized form. In another experiment, the electronics were able to detect the presence of soot. As a result, the researchers say the technology could be handy in factories or gas pipelines to detect potential problems.
Another use case is for medical care. The tiny machines could be sent through someone’s digestive system to scan for evidence of diseases.
However, one big limitation with the “aerosolized electronics” is they can’t communicate wirelessly. All data is stored on the tiny machines, which can be scooped out from a liquid or caught in air, and then scanned to access the results.
To make them easy to spot (at least under a microscope), the electronics are fitted with tiny reflectors. But in the future, the MIT researchers hope to add some communication capabilities to the machines, so that all data can be fetched remotely.
“We are excited about this, because on-board electronics has modular nature, i.e. we will be able to extend number of components in the future, increasing complexity,” Koman said.
The researchers published their findings in Nature Nanotechnology on Monday.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comment from one of the researchers.
Image above] Researchers at Penn State have developed a fast-charging battery for all outside temperatures that rapidly heats up internally prior to charging battery materials. Credit: Chao-Yang Wang, Penn State University
A barrier to universal adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) has to do with charging the battery. It can take anywhere from a half hour up to 12 hours, depending on the charging point used and the EV’s battery capacity.
And of course, there needs to be a massive charging infrastructure in place so that drivers will feel confident driving long distances on a single charge.
One factor that significantly impacts EV driving range is the outside temperature. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, cold weather can affect the driving range of plug-in EVs by more than 25%. In a project at Idaho National Laboratory, researchers found that plug-in hybrid electric Chevy Volts driven in winter in Chicago had 29% less range than those driven in spring in Chicago.
It’s common knowledge that batteries, in general, don’t do well in freezing temperatures. But if we’re ever to move beyond gas-powered vehicles, we need a battery that can charge quickly, hold its charge in cold weather, and not cost an arm and a leg.
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have been thinking about this for a while. A little over two years ago, William E. Diefenderfer Chair of mechanical engineering, professor of chemical engineering, and professor of materials science and engineering and director of the Electrochemical Engine Center, Chao-Yang Wang and his team developed a self-heating lithium battery that uses thin nickel foil with one end attached to the negative terminal and the other end extending outside the battery, creating a third terminal.
The foil serves as a heater of sorts. A temperature sensor sets off electron flow through the foil—heating it up and warming the battery. The sensor switches off after the battery reaches 32oF, allowing electric current to continue flowing normally.
Now, Wang and his team have taken their technology a step further by enabling the battery to charge itself in 15 minutes at temperatures as low as –45oF.
When the battery’s internal temperature reaches room temperature and above, the switch opens to allow electric current to flow in and quickly charge the battery.
“One unique feature of our cell is that it will do the heating and then switch to charging automatically,” Wang explains in a Penn State news release.
He says their battery would not affect the current charging infrastructure. “Also, the stations already out there do not have to be changed,” he adds. “Control of heating and charging is within the battery, not the chargers.”
According to the researchers, charging a lithium-ion battery quickly at temperatures under 50 degrees contributes to its degradation and lithium plating—which can make a battery unsafe. Long, slow charging at 50oF, they say, can avoid lithium plating.
And Wang says their technology can work for other batteries as well.
“The self-heating battery structure is also essential for all solid-state ceramic batteries because it thermally stimulates uniform lithium deposition at the lithium metal anode and compensates for insufficient ionic conductivity of ceramic or glass electrolytes,” he explains in an email. “Plus, solid-state batteries are inherently safe and more efficient to operate at high temperatures. Indeed, a solid state battery would be much inferior without the self-heating battery structure.”
He also says their technology is “pretty mature and readily commercialized by auto OEMs and battery manufacturers.”
That’s good news for those of us who have been hesitant to trade in our gas-powered vehicles for electric ones.
The paper, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, is “Fast charging of lithium-ion batteries at all temperatures” (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1807115115).
Quantum computers are just on the horizon as both tech giants and startups are working to kickstart the next computing revolution.
U.S. Nuclear Missiles Are Still Controlled By Floppy Disks – https://youtu.be/Y8OOp5_G-R4
Read More: Quantum Computing and the New Space Race http://nationalinterest.org/feature/q… “In January 2017, Chinese scientists officially began experiments using the world’s first quantum-enabled satellite, which will carry out a series of tests aimed at investigating space-based quantum communications over the course of the next two years.”
Quantum Leap in Computer Simulation https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articl… “Ultimately it will help us understand and test the sorts of problems an eventually scaled-up quantum computer will be used for, as the quantum hardware is developed over the next decade or so.”
How Quantum Computing Will Change Your Life https://www.seeker.com/quantum-comput… “The Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics kicked off a new season of live-
It’s being called the “big bang” breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research. Doctors at UT Southwestern’s O’Donnell Brain Institute have detected what they believe are changes in a single molecule that could act as the starting point for the deadly, memory-stealing disease.
Scientists are fairly certain that a molecule called “tau” is the culprit.
Alzheimer’s is characterized by clumps of tangled protein in the brain. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three seniors will die of the disease — and that’s more than breast and prostate cancer combined.
Ultimately, researchers hope that warning signals for the disease can be effectively detected and therefore prevented with something as simple as a vaccine or pill.
“I anticipate a day when we will think about these diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as problems that only people who don’t get medical care develop,” said Dr. Diamond.
Researchers know that there is much work ahead. It could be several years before the discovery is ready for human clinical trials. Until then, supporters say it’s critical for lawmakers to fund research at all levels.
Patients can also get involved in local studies so doctors can learn as much as they can from seniors as they age. And while the advances won’t happen overnight, doctors say the overriding message for the community in the discovery is that there is hope.
“There’s tremendous hope!” said Dr. Diamond. “We are actually super excited in our field. When I look at the future, I see many, many opportunities for good shots on goal.”
And if he’s right, the discovery could be a life-changing win for the world.
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What can you do with a liberal arts degree? Native New Yorker Daniel Heller, PhD, majored in history, added in some basic science courses, and started his working life as a middle school science teacher. After taking some additional chemistry coursework during non-teaching hours, Heller parlayed it all into a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Illinois.
Today he is a biomedical engineer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), New York City, where his Cancer Nanomedicine Laboratory team invents new technologies that can assist health care in helping human kind.
Heller chuckled when mentioning his circuitous life path and some of the stops along the way: performing as a wizard at a Renaissance Fair (“…liquid nitrogen turns into a pretty impressive potion…”), trying to master the Argentine tango, appreciating his brother’s equally non-traditional path as a drummer in heavy metal bands, and happily settling into married life with his wife who is a primary care physician.
In recent years, he has also managed to garner solid industry credentials in the form of awards, including the NSF CAREER Award (2018), Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Innovators in Cancer Research (2017), and NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (2012), among others.
“I like inventing,” Heller stated simply. “In my lab, we often think of ourselves as biomedical engineers whose primary goal is invent new technologies to improve cancer research, diagnosis, and therapy.
Only when I arrived at MSKCC did I realize how far that is from the way biologists think. I was trained that our goal is to invent, and to learn new science along the way, while a biologist’s goal is to understand nature and develop tools mainly as a means to an end. I didn’t have a huge biomedical background coming in, but by talking to the people around me at Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell Medicine [where he is an Assistant Professor], I have learned a great deal.”
As detailed on his laboratory website (www.mskcc.org/research-areas/labs/daniel-heller), Heller and team are “… developing nanomedicines to target precision agents to disease sites, including to metastatic cancers. We are also addressing the problem of the early detection of cancer and other diseases by building implantable nanosensors.
To enable the discovery of new medicines, we also are inventing new nanosensors and imaging tools to accelerate drug development and biomedical research.”
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Nanoparticles in Treatment
Heller told Oncology Times that it all begins with interaction and collaboration. “We are lucky because we get to dig deep with the clinicians, clinician/scientists, and biologists to understand exactly what might be wrong with a particular mode of therapy,” said Heller of his development process. “An oncologist might talk to us about a drug or class of therapies that have particular problems and specific side effects, such as dose-limiting toxicity that prevents people from getting enough of a therapy to adequately inhibit the target in the tumor.”
He added that problems often stem from the fact that a drug negatively affects tissue that is not part of the tumor. “Can we avoid that one vulnerable tissue that will really mess up the use of this drug for treating the tumor? Can we prevent the drug from getting into that tissue?” asked Heller rhetorically. Clearly, he believes it is possible with the help of nanoparticles.
He noted that people erroneously think of nanoparticles as being “the smallest of the small.” But small molecule drugs, and even protein drugs, are much smaller than nanoparticles. Most drugs can diffuse all over the body. “But if we put the drug into a larger nanoparticle, we can keep it from spraying out over all the tissues,” detailed Heller.
His team also must consider how to deliver the nanoparticle containing the drug to a precise location in the tumor site, and whether there is a target that can lead it to that tumor site. “Most of the targets we are looking for are not on the tumor cells themselves, but on the blood vessels that are feeding the tumor,” said Heller. “Our targets are not drug targets, but rather gateways to the tumor, molecules on blood vessels in tumors sites, or sites of inflammation. Then we make sure that the nanoparticle has a molecule on the outside of it that can stick to those targets.”
The research takes the engineering team into the realms of vascular biology, vascular transport, and an understanding of how materials can get across the blood, across the blood/brain barrier, across the tumor barrier. “We are also exploring signaling pathways,” said Heller. “When trying to deliver a kinase inhibitor, for example, we must consider the target we are hitting, where else that target is in the body, and if there any other off-target proteins elsewhere in the body that the drug will hit. We also have to think about resistance mechanisms and compensatory pathways. So as a team we have been learning a lot of physiology.”
Heller says his 5-year-old laboratory contains requisite benches, a tissue culture room, and a studio equipped with lasers and optics for work on sensors. In the basement reside the all-important mice, critical to preclinical development and testing. Looking at target proteins in the body of a mouse, the team is able to determine if a drug encased in a nanoparticle hits the target, if it works better in a nanoparticle, and if it has the same side effects.
The eventual goal is to translate this understanding and these emerging technologies to clinical use and human patients. But it is a long row to hoe. “Once a technology is developed, it must go through the full ‘investigational new drug’ FDA process,” Heller lamented. “Even if a known compound is inside the particle, the whole particle is treated as a new drug.
That means we can’t just give it to clinicians to trial in patients; first the FDA must allow us to start a clinical trial.” Though regulatory delays are a frustration, the researcher said enthusiasm remains high because the potential of the new technologies is so powerful.
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Nanoparticles in Detection
The Cancer Nanomedicine Laboratory also maintains an interest in developing innovative approaches to cancer detection that is “… easier and more predictive. We found that we can detect some cancers earlier by measuring certain biomarkers in a person without having to take blood or biofluids to do it,” said Heller.
Instead, a tiny sensor made of carbon nanotubes is inserted inside a person. The nanotubes give off infrared light that can pass through tissues. “We can implant nanomaterial in a body, shoot light into it from outside the body, and then get a reading externally,” detailed Heller. “These nanomaterials are very sensitive to certain stimuli. We can put an antibody onto the surface of the nanotube and when it binds to an antigen we can see a signal change—a shift in the wavelength of the nanotube fluorescence—through the tissue.” (The team successfully detected ovarian cancer signaling changes in a mouse model. This work was detailed in a paper, Non-Invasive Ovarian Cancer Biomarker Detection via an Optical Nanosensor Implant, coauthored by Heller in Science Advances [2018;4(4):eaaq1090]).
Implications for future use of this technology in humans are significant. Heller said the first possible application could be in people with risk factors for certain diseases. “We could implant a biomarker or panel of biomarkers in people to detect early stage cancer, to measure cancer recurrence, or to monitor treatment and have earlier warning when therapy stops working.”
Asked how early the signaling changes would become apparent, Heller said it depends on the level of a given marker in the tissue. “With ovarian cancer, we would look at the technology as an intrauterine device, placed near the source of the cancer. If we were to wait for biomarkers to reach a high enough level to be detected in the blood, we likely would be dealing with late-stage cancer. If we can measure that biomarker right next to the ovaries or fallopian tube, we would see signal changes at an even earlier point in the life cycle of the cancer.”
Looking downstream of this work, Heller said the team is already questioning if it might be possible to insert a small sensor under the skin, in the blood, or even in a tattoo to measure all kinds of biomarkers, then report a whole panel in real time, at early stages, back to a wearable Fitbit-like device. “The long-term hope is to find super easy ways to measure lots of biomarkers in real time,” said Heller.
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Nanoparticles in Discovery
A third aspect of the work underway in Heller’s lab focuses on making research tools, specifically using carbon nanotubes as sensors in drug discovery assays. Heller believes the sensors will be able to measure things that have not been measurable before, or measured in ways that could not be accomplished before, such as in living cells and living tissue. “By measuring an analyte inside living cells or living tissue in mice, we gain the ability to do studies that cannot be done otherwise. This will allow us to address new hypotheses, and it will be helpful for drug development and for basic researchers at institutions such as MSKCC.”
Heller stressed that it is exactly institutions like MSKCC that can lead the way in helping biomedical engineers interact more fully with biomedical researchers. “Even though both of these concepts have the word ‘biomedical’ in them, ‘biomedical engineering’ departments come from engineering schools, while ‘biomedical research’ comes from places that often do not have engineering schools.
So there is a disconnect,” said Heller. “I realize how valuable it is to me as an engineering researcher to be in a biomedical institution and come in contact with the people who study biomedical questions and understand the medical problems. Biomedical institutions would benefit greatly from organized efforts to bring in engineering researchers whose goal it is to understand and make new technologies to address their problems.”
Heller laughed at the suggestion that some of the things he makes sound like cinematic props from the vintage sci-fi flick, The Incredible Voyage. “Sometimes people think we are the science fiction lab of Memorial Sloan Kettering,” he admitted with humor. And when asked if the younger history student/middle school teacher/or physical scientist in him ever thinks, “I can’t believe I am doing this kind of stuff,” he answered without hesitation, “Yeah, all the time. I think I have gotten to where I am by not defining myself. It’s important to be flexible. Where does it stop? It doesn’t. If you keep changing you can aspire to do anything you want.”
Valerie Neff Newitt is a contributing writer.