Functional Human Hearts Generated From Skin Cells

Doctors are constantly being helped by their friends in the technology industry, from 3D printing ears to making veins in a cotton candy machine, people are now able to start replacing damaged parts of themselves with items created from their genetic make up. This technology may have gone one step further with a research group claiming to have created functional human hearts.

The new technique could see people avoiding waiting lists and the risk of their immune system rejecting the new organ. With a low risk of an immune response, the new technique could see a 100% acceptance amongst transplants.

By using skin cells from a patient, the team were able to generate the cardiac muscles found in a heart. In order to turn it into a transplantable heart it needed a structure, something that would take time to develop. Using 73 donor hearts that were considered unsuitable for transplantation, the team removed the living cells leaving only the neutral network required for the heart.

With the ability to replace body parts with artificially grown organs appearing quicker and quicker, it won’t be long before we can repair defects in body parts and ensure that people who suffer injuries to their organs can repair them as easily as a cut on their arm.

Facebook Is Mapping the World With AI

These days having a social media presence is up there alongside having a driving license or passport, for everything from seeing your friends get new jobs and houses to checking out potential employers (or being checked out by a potential employer). Facebook is keen to do a lot in the new year, and its made its first step by mapping where people live using AI.

The social network has been mapping the world using artificial intelligence, scaning satellite images and using it to identify where human-built structures are. While an impressive sight, the tool is designed to be useful as well, with the hopes that it could help them deploy their internet streaming drones.

Facebook though isn’t just ending it there, with hopes that it could be used for everything from “socio-economic research” to “risk assessment for natural disasters”.

The results of the scans are shown below, showing just how accurate the AI is at picking out what a human being would struggle to spot from an image.

In their blog post, Facebook stated that they have now analyzed 20 countries with a total of 21.6 million square kilometers. The total size of these images is a whopping 350TB of data,

If this wasn’t enough, Facebook announced they will be releasing the data to the general public later this year, meaning that everyone from you and me to Universities and Governments can use it to help with anything from figuring out a nice quiet neighborhood for a party to a nicely populated town to retire in.

New Prosthetic Restores Sense Of Feeling

Medical technology appears in the news every few weeks, for all kinds of reasons, from being able to control them with a cap placed over your head to giving a man who was unable to walk the ability to do so again. The reasons for this constant stream of news is quite simple, medical technology is developing at an amazing rate, especially those related to giving back something to those who have suffered the loss of a body part or ability to do something with their body. The latest piece of news comes from DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency), and it features a little more than a visible result.

Made under the DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics, the latest prosthetic has given someone the ability to feel again after their arm was paralysed due to a spinal cord injury almost a decade ago.

The DARPA project manager, Justin Sanchez, stated that:

“We’ve completed the circuit. Prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by thoughts are showing great promise, but without feedback signals traveling back to the brain it can be difficult to achieve the level of control needed to perform precise movements.”

In the first set of tests, the researchers touched the hands fingers gently while the volunteer was blindfolded. With nearly 100% accuracy he was able to report which mechanical finger was being touched, the description that he provided was that it was as if his own hand was being touched. At one point, in an impromptu experiment, the researchers decided to press two fingers instead of one, breaking any perceived order that could have been guessed, it was at this point where a joke was made in response asking if they were trying to play a trick on him.

With the ability to produce prosthetics at an ever decreasing cost, with even more functionality and now with actual control and feedback, we could soon be looking at prosthetics that are controlled and feeling just like the human body would.

Thank you DARPA for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of DARPA.

Analysing Your Brain Could Be 30 Times Faster Than A Supercomputer

The human brain, fascinating, exciting and full of possibilities, the notion to create, form an opinion and challenge the environment which we live in, is truly exceptional. We now might be able to find answers as to how powerful the human brain is after a project which is designed to compare a supercomputer with that of a brain.

An Artificial Intelligence project which has been devised by two PhD students from the University of California Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon University, will be the first of its kind to compare the human brain with the world’s best supercomputer. The AI Impacts project aims to determine how fast the human brain sends signals in its internal network compared to that of a supercomputer.

The scholars compared the power of our brains with that of IBM’s Sequola supercomputer which is in the top 3 of the most powerful supercomputers. “Sequola has a TEPS (Traversed Edges per Second) benchmark of 2.3 x 1013 TEPS”. The estimates suggest the “AI Impacts are that the human brain should be at least as powerful as Sequoia in the lower limits and for the upper estimates, therefore the human brain could surpass the IBM Sequoia speed by 30 times at 6.4 x 1014 TEPS”.

Which is both a lot to take in but also equally and potentially incredible, evolution has formed an instrument which is quite amazing, and it begs the question, what else will we find as research and tech advances with the aim of exploring us. It is also interesting to note if the wiring of for example a genius brain, think Stephen Hawking, is different to that of an average mind or the best sportsman evolved differently with more advanced genes, or if are we all capable. If we spent enough time learning a skill to be able to adapt to anything? Its compelling none the less.

Thank you aiimpacts for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of fossbytes

Artificial Pancreases Could Reduce Risk For Diabetic Women During Birth

A women, in Britain, last week became the first in the world to complete a vaginal natural birth using an artificial pancreas. The device was used to help reduce the risk, to both the mother and the unborn child, related to giving birth with diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition in which someone is unable, for one reason or another, to absorb enough glucose (a simple sugar which is crucial in providing energy to the body). With the inability to maintain and control their blood glucose levels, a diabetics levels can become too high or low. In the case of it becoming too high the body can create problems with sending hormones to organs. It is this chain of events which can cause complications during pregnancy and even during childbirth.

Modern day treatment to diabetes involves monitoring the blood glucose level and either using insulin to lower the blood glucose level or a sugary food to raise it should it fall too low. The devices used to monitor the blood glucose levels tend to use a small sample of blood to calculate the level and alert the diabetic should any action be required. With the requirement to be careful though out the day and even during sleep can cause discomfort and distractions as it can be dangerous for the levels to go too high or low.

In pregnancy, this risk is made worse by the fact that large amounts of energy are required during the childbirth. Normally maintained by a glucose infusion and doses of insulin (allowing the diabetics cells to absorb more glucose), the provision of which has to be continuously monitored. With the use of an artificial pancreas though it was possible to have a natural birth in contrast to the C-section that is normally recommended for diabetics to avoid the risks associated with childbirth and diabetes.

The device in question contains three parts, a sensor to detect the blood glucose level, an insulin pump, and a control algorithm. During times of high fluctuation, such as childbirth, the control algorithm allows for manual input into the situation further reducing risks associated with maintaining the blood glucose levels.

The hope is that eventually the system can be made fully autonomous and would be able to support diabetics not only during childbirth but in every day with minimal impact to their daily schedules. With future plans to automate the process it is also hoped that the device could be miniaturized and internalised, allowing the device to be present within the diabetics body, further reducing the outward changes required to monitor and respond to their blood sugar levels.

It always amazes me when technology enables us to do something we could normally only hope for, and in this case giving the opportunity to hundreds of people while also protecting them and their children.  I only hope that this technology continues to develop and help others in the future.

Thank you The Conversation and The BBC for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of the Technical University of Denmark.

Artificial Leaf Could Be The Next Oxygen Source For Space Travel

The main problem faced when talking about sustainability in space travel missions is the lack of oxygen. Due to this, many space-related missions executed so far are close to our planet, since nobody can make a rocket packed with oxygen and expect it to last an eternity.

However, a graduate from the Royal College of Art by the name of Julian Melchiorri has apparently found a solution to the problem at hand. He appears to have created the first man-made, biologically functional leaf which works on carbon dioxide, water and light in order to produce oxygen.

The leaf is said to be made out of chloroplasts, the cell part found in plants to help with photosynthesis, packed in a body made out of silk protein. Taking into account that this is a plant made by human hand, it is absolutely amazing to have somethings such ingenuity providing support for the most basic need in space, namely air.

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/101734446[/vimeo]

“This material has an amazing property of stabilizing (the chloroplast) organelles,” Melchiorri says. “As an outcome I have the first photosynthetic material that is living and breathing as a leaf does.”

Besides its use in space-related missions, Melchiorri imagines that his invention could be used in the normal household as well. Who wouldn’t mind a breath of fresh air in the morning while sipping a nice warm coffee or tea? Building facades and lampshades could be fitted, according to Melchiorri, with the given technology in order to exhale fresh air with just a thin coating of the leaf material.

The idea is said not to stop at helping space travelers with oxygen. Melchiorri states that his revolutionary technology could also be the key to space colonization. Instead of attempting to grow Earth-like vegetation on Mars for example, these artificial leaves can be fitted inside a dome and provide the breath of fresh air needed by the crew to survive.

Thank you CNet for providing us with this information
Image and video courtesy of CNet