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Longevity


The advances benefiting human longevity. Follow along as Singularity Hub discusses the future of health and latest trends in longevity.

Cheap Mobile Eye Exams For Rural Poor Made Possible With Smartphones

The World Health Organization estimates some 90% of the world’s visually impaired folks live in the developing world. Most suffer from correctible but undiagnosed refractive errors like cataracts. Opthalmic equipment is big, heavy, expensive and...

New ‘Smart’ Gel Tags Aim To Prevent Leftovers From Becoming Science Experiments

Most of us aren’t scientists, but every once in awhile, nearly everyone unintentionally runs a science experiment in their refrigerator. If left long enough, for example, milk turns into a foul smelling yogurt analog....

Jason Silva’s Latest: To Be Human Is to Be Transhuman

The term ‘transhuman’ inevitably (for me) summons grotesque visions of humans and machines merging into a Borg-like race bent on eradicating biological imperfection. These creatures’ cold rationality calls it an evolutionary improvement, but to...

Will Virus Particles Meet Their End In These Tiny Death Traps?

Nanotechnology is gradually turning its hypothetical promise into real applications. Some see nanotech-based medicines as an entirely new set of tools in a doctor’s medical bag. Among commercial companies, Vecoy Nanomedicines is most bullish on the promise of nanotechnology to combat viruses.

Want a Cheap 2,000x Microscope? Just Fold This $0.50 Piece of Paper

Stanford University physicist Manu Prakash has garnered attention for a microscope made of paper and assembled by folding in the origami style. Each device costs 50 cents and weighs less than 9 grams, even with a battery and LED light source built in.

Patient’s Cranium Replaced With Custom 3D Printed Implant

Three months ago, a 22-year-old woman, suffering from a rare bone ailment, underwent brain surgery in Holland. Her skull, which had grown some three times thicker than average, was putting pressure on her brain,...

Genetically Engineered T Cells Used as a Weapon Against HIV/AIDS

U. Penn researchers have published promising results from what they claim is the first clinical trial of a genetic approach to fighting HIV/AIDS. Doctors removed HIV-positive patients’ T cells and genetically modified a portion of them to include a rare HIV-resistant genetic mutation before reintroducing the cells.

Singularity Surplus: Other News in Exponential Sci/Tech From the Week

Potential treatment for deadly brain cancer; climate change shrinks crops; banking your own stem cells just in case.

Nerve-Stimulating Headband Gets FDA Nod for Treatment of Migraine Headaches

The FDA recently approved an external device that uses nerve stimulation to decrease the frequency of debilitating migraine headaches. The Cefaly headband, which connects to a stick-on electrode to stimulate the endings of the trigeminal nerve, is the first non-pharmaceutical migraine treatment to get the agency’s okay.

Beyond the SmartWatch — Startups Push Body Monitoring Wearables

It’s easy to be a skeptic in Silicon Valley. The probability a hot startup will be passé within a year or two is much higher than the probability it’ll be the next Apple, Facebook,...

Patient’s Face Reconstructed Using 3D-Printed Parts

Stephen Power, a 29-year-old Welsh man who was badly injured in a 2012 motorcycle crash, underwent major reconstructive surgery on his face and now wears custom-made 3D-printed structural implants that were devised and installed using 3D-printed models of his facial bones.

Backing Up the World’s Food Supply with 800,000 Plant Species on Ice

In March 2008, on a remote Norwegian island in the Arctic circle the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, or “doomsday vault,” took its first deposits. The vault’s builders had spent the prior year blasting a tunnel and three chambers into the mountainside’s permafrost. To be stored within each chamber? Treasure. The doomsday vault was constructed to store the world’s agriculture heritage in deep freeze, should the worst happen. Six years on, and following a recent deposit of 20,000 species, the vault now houses over 800,000 plant species, and with an average 500 seeds per sample, some 400 million seeds.

Tiny Ultrasonic Device to Travel Arteries and Image Coronary Blockages

There’s a rule of thumb in surgery—the less invasive the procedure, the better. Less invasive surgeries reduce patient discomfort, foster faster recoveries, and limit the risk of infection. Problem is, you have to get...

Virtual Arm Eases Amputee’s Phantom Limb Pain

Swedish researchers created an augmented reality system in which myoelectric electrodes on an amputee patient's stump indicated his attempted muscle movements for the missing arm, and an arm image on screen reflected those movements back to him. The patient reported that his chronic phantom limb pain diminished dramatically.

Can Graphene Oxide Filters Unlock Our Most Abundant Water Source?

Figuring out how to cheaply, efficiently remove salt from Earth’s ocean water would provide an nearly inexhaustible source of our most precious resource, and wouldn’t you know it? Graphene may present a solution to the problem.

In Depth With Jason Silva: Brain Games, Trance States, and The Abomination of Death

It’d been awhile, so we contacted Jason Silva to find out what gets him up in the morning these days. Though he’s added a mainstream audience, Silva seems eager as ever to chase the “adjacent possible” and leap over it into even dreamier domains. To learn why, among other things, he’s slightly disappointed Google Glass isn’t Scarlett Johansson, why privacy is malleable and mostly overrated, and how femto-scale computing at black hole densities accounts for the eery silence of the universe—read on.

Scientists Control Tiny Mechanical Probes Inside Human Cells

In what they claim is a first, researchers have navigated nanomotors inside living human cells in the lab. The motors — made from gold and ruthenium and ostensibly safe for use inside the body — derive power from ultrasound waves as the sound scatters off the ends of the rod-shaped devices. The ultrasound source can be turned down to pause the motors, and magnetism crudely controls their direction.

From Scans, Doctors 3D Print Custom Heart Wraps to Deliver Treatments

Researchers used MRI and CT scans of rabbit and human hearts to 3D-print custom fitting flexible mesh sacs that fitted each heart perfectly and stayed in place as it beat. The mesh holds sensors and electrodes precisely in place and could deliver drug therapies.

Inside the Future of Healthcare With Singularity University’s Daniel Kraft

The benefits of modern medicine are clear. Lower infant mortality; longer life expectancy; a range of once killer diseases all but eradicated—fewer leeches. But challenges? Yes, there are still plenty of those too. In a recent conversation, Dr. Daniel Kraft, Medicine and Neuroscience Chair at Singularity University, told Singularity Hub that the US spends some 18% of gross domestic product on healthcare and yet, according to a 2013 report, ranks 17th on a list of 17 developed countries by outcome.

Researchers Show Off Mind-Controlled Music Player

Scientists at the University of Malta think touch screens are for suckers. Mind-controlled devices? Now, that’s where it’s at. Outfitted in an electrode-studded cap, users of the group’s specially designed music software are able to play a song, fast forward tracks, and adjust the volume by merely looking at the screen.

IBM Markets Watson as Potential Solution to Africa’s Health and Education Woes

IBM recently announced that it will invest in a research program in Africa to improve water and sanitation, agriculture, healthcare and education on the continent using its artificial intelligence platform, Watson.

Pioneering Cell Therapy Achieves Complete Remission In Patients With End-Stage Leukemia

With a test group of 16 of the most dire cases of adult B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or B-ALL, a cell therapy approach that boosts the patient's own immune system managed to guide nearly 90 percent into complete remission.

X-Ray App Assists Doctors In Diagnosing Rare Conditions

The Irish company Experior Medical aims to make doctors better readers of diagnostic X-ray films by giving them real-world practice on the go on their iPads.

Tiny Injected Sponges Stop Bleeding From Gunshot Wounds in 15 Seconds

With a former Army medic as one of its founders, RevMedX’s mission is to stop bleeding faster so that those who suffer traumatic injuries like gunshot wounds have a better chance of survival. The company’s high-tech solution to this brutal problem is the sponge.

Latest Tool to Fight Cancer Is a Crowdsourcing ‘Asteroids’-Like Mobile Game

Cancer Research UK is asking humans to sort through its data to mark genetic areas that have extra copies of a particular chromosome because, it says, humans can see the disparities better than computers. And they're doing it with a mobile game.

Prosthetic Hand Wires In Patient’s Nerves For Sensations Of Touch

Dennis Sørensen underwent a month-long clinical trial of a computerized prosthetic hand that established a two-way exchange of information between his brain and sensors in the artificial hand that allowed him to feel for the first time in a decade.
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Color-Coded 3D Brain Map Comes to Life in Video

The Harvard SEAS Connectome Group is building a color-coded three-dimensional map from scans of paper-thin slices of a mouse brain, and the map comes to life in a recent National Geographic video.

A Simple Test Tells Seniors If Their Memory Is Waning

Douglas Scharre, an Ohio State University neurologist, has developed a cognitive test that’s cheap and easy and can be administered to large groups of people at once. Particularly since as many as 4 in 10 cases of dementia stem from issues other than Alzheimer’s disease, some eminently treatable, the elderly stand to gain quite a bit from getting regular cognitive check-ups. But, for the most part, they don’t.

Illumina Claims New Sequencer Transcribes 18,000 Genomes per Year at $1,000 Each

In the last six years, sequencing costs have far outpaced Moore’s Law, falling four orders of magnitude from $10 million at the end of 2007 to under $5,000 at the end of 2013. And in early 2014? Illumina, a manufacturer of sequencers, just announced their HighSeq X Ten can sequence 18,000 genomes per year for $1,000 per genome.

Kindhearted Techies 3D Print Prosthetics for Ducks With Disabilities

Thanks to a few thoughtful individuals and a 3D printer, Dudley the duck has a new lease on life. Still a duckling, Dudley and his siblings were placed in a cage at an animal shelter with some aggressive chickens. In a fight that left his siblings dead, Dudley’s leg was seriously injured and had to be amputated. The shelter’s owner, Brandon Schweitser, coaches jiu jitsu on the side. One of his students, Terence Loring, runs a 3D design company called 3D Pillar. Schweitser asked Loring whether he might design a new leg for Dudley.

Simple Method for Creating Stem Cells Promises Cheaper, Faster Therapies

New research has found a way to develop the malleable stem cells using a much simpler method than the one that earned the 2012 Nobel Prize. In a paper published in Nature, researchers from Harvard University and Japan’s RIKEN Center show that by simply giving an adult cell an acid bath, they can convert it into a stem cell.

New Inexpensive Skin Test in Development to Diagnose Malaria in an Instant

Efforts to devise better, cheaper tests are nothing new, but Rice University researcher Dmitri Lapotko has developed the first bloodless, instant test for the disease. According to a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Lapotko's test is accurate enough to detect a single infected red blood cell in 800 with no false positives.

DNA Origami to Nanomachines: Building Tiny Robots for the Body and Beyond

In 2008, Paul Rothemund gave a TED talk on a field he called DNA origami, or the creation of microscopic shapes and forms from DNA. As it turns out, Rothemund said, DNA is an ideal nanoscale building material. Life’s operating system codes for self-replicating, computing machines called cells. If we want to build our own molecular machines—why reinvent the wheel? Today’s researchers attach short strands of DNA to key points along a longer strand. Base pairs of the shorter strands adhere like pieces of tape at various points along the long strand, thus bending the long strand into shape. These include nanoscale tiles, spheres, polyhedrons, even smiley faces.

Gene Therapy Improves Sight in UK Patients

In a recent Oxford trial reported in The Lancet, doctors restored sight to patients with choroideremia, a rare inherited cause of blindness that affects about 1 in 50,000 people, with a surgery that involved temporarily detaching the retina to inject mutation-free genes behind it. Of nine patients who underwent the experimental procedure, the two with the most impaired vision could read 2 – 4 additional lines on an eye chart six months later. Four patients whose eyesight was initially only marginally impaired had their night vision improve after treatment.

Wireless Brain Implant Aims To Give Paralyzed Power Over Their Limbs

BrainGate, a program that pools research from several universities, is moving ever closer to giving paralyzed patients use of their limbs by using technology developed to drive computerized prosthetics to drive the paralyzed limbs. The team is developing a system in which a patient’s mental signal to move an arm is recorded, filtered through a computer and sent as a command to an electric stimulation device that activates the patient’s muscles.

Gene Therapy Helps Parkinson’s Patients, But Is It Simply A Placebo?

Even with promising results in humans paired with dramatic results in earlier tests in primates, a gene therapy treating Parkinson's disease, first developed in 1997, is heading back to the drawing board. Here's why.

Amid a Debate That’s Hot As Ever, General Mills Says No GMOs in Its Cold Cheerios

General Mills recently announced they’ll make one their most recognizable breakfast cereals, Cheerios, free of genetically modified ingredients. The controversy surrounding GMOs is, of course, closely related to many of the technologies we cover at Singularity Hub. Fear of genetically modified crops may only be the tip of the iceberg, as biotech moves into the more fraught territory of genetic engineering and therapies in animals and eventually humans.

Sight, Sound Out of Sync in Kids With Autism Says Study

A recent Vanderbilt University offers neurological findings that can help account for autism's seemingly disparate symptoms. The study found that children with autism have a broader window of time than normal children during which their brains process two distinct sensory stimuli as aspects of the same event. The window exists to allow the brain to connect stimuli, for example the sound of the sight of the same action, arriving at slightly different times. In autistic children, that window is much longer, leaving room for confusion.

Google Dips Into Med-Tech With Glucose-Monitoring Contact Lenses

In recent weeks, Google said it would acquire Nest — whose signature product is an Internet-connected, self-adjusting thermostat — before venturing even farther afield with its announcement that it will bring to market a glucose-measuring contact lens for diabetics.

Could Implanted Pellets Replace Booster Shots?

A small pellet could be implanted under the skin along with an injected vaccine; later, instead of a booster shot, a pill taken orally would signal the pellet to release a second dose, researchers at the University of Freiburg demonstrated in a recent paper.

New Pills Deliver Bacteria, Not Drugs, To Cure Us

Pharmaceutical startups are popping up to bring science and sterility to the inquiry surrounding the human microbiome. A couple have already begun testing bacterial medicines in hopes of finding the right strain or stains of bacteria to cure widespread and still mysterious illnesses.

Gene Therapy Turns Several Leukemia Patients Cancer Free. Will It Work for Other Cancers, Too?

A new cancer treatment called targeted cellular therapy has generated a lot of excitement in the field. Researchers tried the approach on patients suffering from lymphocytic leukemia with no other treatment options. After receiving targeted cellular therapy, 26 of 59 patients, including 19 children, are now cancer-free.

Credit Card-Sized Chip Diagnoses HIV and Provides T Cell Counts on the Spot

A credit card-sized chip can diagnose HIV infection and provide T cell counts to guide treatment, according to a recent paper in Science Translational Medicine. The tiny fluid-processing chip provides accurate test results in less than 20 minutes using a single drop of blood that goes directly into the testing chamber and does not require trained handling.

2013 in Review: The Eight Biggest Stories In Exponential Tech

It’s been a fast-moving year, so before diving headlong into 2014, we thought we'd take stock and revisit some of the year’s most notable stories in exponential technology.

Genomic Studies Sift Centenarian DNA for Genes Protecting Against Age-Related Diseases

Occasionally, you hear tell of a hale hundred-year-old who drank and smoked her way through life—or the reverse, a health nut who tragically fell prey to a killer disease at 40. Though diet and exercise influence health and longevity, they're only part of the story. The inherited, genetic drivers of aging and illness are still poorly understood.

Progress in Efforts to Develop Lab-Grown Lungs: Functional Cells

Since the development of induced pluripotent stem cells in 2006, scientists have managed to use the manufactured stem cells like seeds to grow a wide range of tissues and rudimentary organs. But different tissue types have not proven equal, and researchers are still struggling to coax stem cells to take on certain roles: Lung cells have proved difficult to create. Columbia University researchers recently managed to develop functional lung and airway cells from human iPSCs.

Medtronic’s Minimally Invasive Pacemaker the Size of a Multivitamin

Back in November, we wrote about a tiny pacemaker made by Silicon Valley startup Nanostim. Whereas traditional pacemakers require chest surgery and a pocket to implant the device in—the Nanostim pacemaker is implanted by making a simple incision in the thigh and snaking a catheter through an artery to the heart. Nanostim was approved for use in Europe, subsequently acquired by St. Jude Medical—and now it has competition. Medtronic recently announced they’ve successfully implanted a similar device into the heart of an Austrian patient.

Drug Hopes to Delay Onset of Alzheimer’s Symptoms With a Monthly Shot in the Arm

An Alzheimer's drug is attracting the spotlight as it enters clinical trials. The drug, called solanezumab, appears to slow the buildup of amyloid beta in the brain and improves cognitive function in patients with mild dementia when given as a monthly shot. But the excitement about the drug is as much a measure of other treatments’ failures as it is of its success.

Researchers, Startups Hope One Drop of Blood Could Diagnose All Types of Cancer

As genetics reveals the incredible diversity among cancer cells, researchers have largely given up pursuing a silver bullet to cure all types of cancer. Instead, many have begun searching for the next-best thing: a silver bullet test to diagnose all cancers. The test would look for markers of cancer in the patient’s blood, where the process of tumor-making leaves a trail that can often be picked up before tumors are big enough to spot.

Edible Batteries Could Power a Range of Smart Pills and Medical Devices

Carnegie Mellon materials engineer Christopher Bettinger argues that flexible biodegradable batteries safe for human consumption could maximize the benefits of smart pills and devices “by harnessing simultaneous advantages afforded by electronically active systems and obviating issues with chronic implants.” In a recent paper, Bettinger documents that such a battery made from the pigment cuttlefish — sea creatures related to squid — can discharge 10 microamperes of electricity for a period of five hours, with performance under ideal circumstances of up to 24 hours.

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