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  • Gina Miller
    *Princeton head leads bioethics debate. So did the workload of Princeton University President Harold T. Shapiro.
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 30, 1999
      *Princeton head leads bioethics debate. So did the workload of Princeton
      University President Harold T. Shapiro.

      *Starvation may be the key to living longer (Sydney Morning Herald)

      *Today is the deadline for the discount of the Foresight Conference
      Tutorial. http://www.foresight.org/Conferences/MNT7/Tutorial.html

      *7th Foresight Conference on Molecular NanotechnologyOctober 15-17, 1999
      Tutorial October 14Silicon Valley, California

      *The force of gravity is the same for atoms and baseballs. Stanford
      physicists have put a modern twist on Galileo's classic 16th�century
      experiment of dropping objects from the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

      *Solar cells forever
      One of the biggest problems with solar cells is they tend to wear out with
      time. Now David Cahen of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot,
      Israel, may have found a way to make them so they last forever. Cahen and
      his colleagues used copper indium gallium diselenide, a novel material in
      which it seems that copper atoms can diffuse to damaged areas and
      effectively heal damage caused by long exposure to light. The solar cells
      are as efficient as the best ones that are commercially available and may
      turn out to be cheaper.
      ref: Advanced Materials, August 1999.

      *Worm aids medical research
      An Irish scientist working in Paris is using a microscopic worm in research
      that could in time lead to cures for neurological diseases such as
      Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's. (The Irish Times)

      *A Workout For Your Brain- Forget About Kickboxing: How About Neurobics?
      Through Mental Exercises, Keep Your Brain Young.

      *Diagnostic Imaging-Getting the inside view. (Mayo Clinic)
      Remember how neat and tidy medical practice was in the original Star Trek
      television series? Dr. McCoy ("Bones") could instantaneously diagnose a crew
      member's malady simply by waving a hand-held tricorder over whatever hurt.
      Real-life diagnostic imaging has not quite progressed to the Star Trek
      level. But the growth of technology has allowed for astounding changes in
      how the human body can be viewed.
      (Or see Purdue news) New sensing device reads chemical make up in real time.

      *Mozart Sonata's IQ Impact. Can music improve your metal capabilities? (A

      *Researchers at the Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and
      Environmental Laboratory are creating durable membranes that can be
      specially tailored to separate different chemicals from water. Fred Stewart,
      a chemist at the INEEL, will be present his group's work at the 218th
      National Meeting of the American Chemical Society on Aug. 24 in New Orleans,

      *Extraterrestrial Water Found Trapped in Meteorite (NASA)

      *Head transplants not just the realm of science fiction.
      A leading U.S. brain surgeon has unveiled plans to perform the first human
      head transplant -- a procedure that has already been carried out
      successfully on dogs and monkeys. It will be offered initially to mortally
      ill tycoons, who can afford its $2-million Cdn price tag.

      *Cornell Physicists Report A Breakthrough In Writing Data To Magnetic Chips
      That Could Store "Terabits" Of Information Cornell University researchers
      have demonstrated a new way to write information to magnetic material that
      could lead to new computer memory chips that will have a very high storage
      capacity and will be non-volatile, meaning they would not require a constant
      electric current flowing to maintain stored information.

      *Researchers studying three families with the same unusual sleep pattern
      have uncovered the first hereditary sleep disorder in humans caused by a
      single gene. Neurologist Christopher Jones and Howard Hughes Medical
      Institute investigator Louis Pt�cek, both at the University of Utah, are now
      searching for the gene that causes the disorder known as familial advanced
      sleep phase syndrome (FASPS). http://www.hhmi.org/news/ptacek.htm

      *Scientists provide first detailed maps of wiring circuitry in the living
      human brain
      St. Louis, Aug. 31, 1999 -- Researchers have developed a way to visualize
      nerve fiber bundles that transmit information between different areas of the
      living human brain. Their study provides new information on the orderly
      pattern of these fiber connections and may one day lead to improvements in
      brain surgery, diagnosis of brain ailments, and understanding of
      neurological diseases.

      *Making Mice Live Longer
      Researchers Examine Aging�s Effects on Genes in Mice

      *Researchers overcome hurdle of transporting large amounts of DNA to the
      nucleus using nonviral vectors. University of Pennsylvania bioengineers
      increased the expression of marker DNA in cardiovascular cells by 60 times
      over previous attempts with nonviral vectors. They combined a short genetic
      tag from a nuclear protein with the standard marker gene, which provided the
      molecular key to the nucleus.

      * Gene clue to the way people learn and memorise (The Irish Times)
      Researchers are using advanced genetic techniques to explain how memory and
      learning take place in the human mind and in time might be able to define
      how genes affect behaviour.
      The difficulty is being able to make definitive associations between how an
      organism behaves and the substances being expressed by its genes, explained
      Prof Tim Tully of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a private, non-profit
      research institute on Long Island, New York. Prof Tully delivered a keynote
      address last night on the molecular basis of learning and memory to the
      Neuroscience Symposium underway at Trinity College Dublin. He described key
      work done at his laboratory on the role of the protein, CREB, in memory.He
      described as a "big leap" any attempt to connect a single gene and its
      related protein to an aspect of behaviour. Such a leap had to be made in two
      steps. The first involved associating biochemical function to cell function
      and the second involved deciding how a change in cell function changed a
      behavioural function. The problem was that most researchers were only
      looking at the initial step. Scientists were not looking at the second and
      "were not comfortable" with it because it involved something as difficult to
      define as behaviour. Central to these behavioural studies is the fruit fly,
      drosophila. It has only about 15,000 to 20,000 genes, a fifth the number in
      a human. Various genes can be switched on or off using genetic technologies
      and subsequent changes in fly behaviour can be studied. Findings using fruit
      flies can in turn be compared to what happens in humans because many of the
      genes and proteins in the two species are the same. Many of the genes which
      evolved in lower organisms were retained by higher organisms as they in turn
      evolved so there is a surprising degree of commonality even across species.
      He studies the connections between genes and behaviour using "vertical
      integration" and "horizontal integration". The former involves making a
      change to a drosophila gene and then studying each of the knock-on effects
      that arise, from inside the cell through to behavioural change. The latter
      involves looking for parallels across species, for example, looking for a
      common gene and related protein in a fruit fly, mouse and human. If all
      three have the gene then there is a probability that it will have a common
      function in each, despite the radical differences between species. In this
      way CREB's ability to improve memory was discovered. Fruit flies with
      enhanced levels of CREB were able to learn faster compared with control
      flies. Further research showed that in fact CREB's action was to allow the
      flies to imprint memory faster after fewer exposures to a stimulus.
      (Copyright 1999) _____via IntellX_____

      *Gene chip to aid in research on aging (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
      Biologists have gained a deep insight into the nature of aging by means of
      a new device known as a gene expression chip. The chip has shown both that a
      specific pattern of genetic changes occurs in aging, and that these changes
      can be largely prevented by caloric restriction: putting mice on a diet with
      only 75 percent of normal calories. The research supports the long-standing
      idea that a semistarvation diet prolongs life in mice, and maybe people, but
      its wider significance is that the chip offers for the first time a way to
      measure aging at the cellular level. The gene chip, about the size of a
      business card but roughly one- quarter of an inch thick, is made of glass
      and contains DNA. When read by a laser, the device quickly reveals activity
      levels for thousands of individual genes in tissue placed in it. Similar
      chips should help to test whether present anti-aging remedies do any good
      and to screen for better drugs, including perhaps ones that might give the
      same effect as low calorie diets but without the pain. "If we understood how
      caloric restriction works we might be able someday to elicit its benefits
      without having to undergo the dietary restriction, so in that sense this is
      a very important study," said Dr. Leonard Guarente, an expert on aging at
      the [ Massachusetts Institute of Technology ] . The new research, reported
      in today's issue of Science, builds on the view held by many biologists that
      aging is not an inexorable process but rather the outcome of a genetic
      program that could be manipulated. It also gives comfort to those who argue
      that a manageably small number of genes are involved. The study, by Dr.
      Richard Weindruch, Dr. Tomas Prolla and colleagues at the University of
      Wisconsin, depends on injecting mouse muscle samples into the special chip.
      Made by Affymetrix of Santa Clara, the chip was programmed to recognize the
      activity of some 6,000 mouse genes. Mice probably have about 100,000
      different genes, and the 6,000 were those whose DNA sequence had already
      been decoded and filed in public data banks. Weindruch is known for his
      studies of caloric restriction in mice and he has in progress a long term
      study with rhesus monkeys to see if their life span can be extended by a low
      calorie diet. In the new study, Weindruch and Prolla looked first at the
      muscles of elderly mice fed a normal mouse diet and then at mice of the same
      age who had been on a diet restricted in calories. They examined the
      animals' calf muscles because muscle, along with the brain and heart, is one
      of the tissues not renewed during life and often is the first to show signs
      of aging. Providing the first broad snapshot of how gene activity changes in
      the aging cell, the Affymetrix chip shows that in elderly mice fed a normal
      diet, most of the cell's genes continue as usual. But 1 percent of the
      genes -- those involved in responding to stress and to nerve damage --
      become very much more active. Another 1 percent, genes involved in
      generating energy from glucose, become very much less active. In elderly
      mice of the same age fed a diet restricted in calories, the researchers
      report, most of these changes were prevented, giving the cells a profile
      similar to those of much younger cells. But cells from the mice on
      restricted diets had their own pattern of changes, notably decreased
      activity by genes that repair damaged DNA and proteins. Weindruch and Prolla
      believe most of these changes can be explained in terms of the chemical
      damage caused by glucose metabolism. The process of combining glucose with
      oxygen creates harmful chemicals known as free radicals that damage many
      structures in the cell, particularly the energy-generating units known as
      mitochondria. The gene expression chip, they believe, will allow them to
      pinpoint the genetic changes that underlie aging in human tissues. "The
      technique allows us to measure the aging process at the molecular level. Now
      for the first time we have molecular biomarkers of aging," Prolla said,
      referring to the characteristic patterns of gene expression revealed by the
      Affymetrix chip. "It's our goal to test a patient's biological age from a
      drop of blood," Weindruch said. Affymetrix has already produced chips
      programmed to detect the activity of human genes. (Copyright 1999) _____via

      *Organogenesis' Conditioned Medium Stimulates Generation of Vital New Skin
      Cells (Bus. Wire)
      CANTON, Mass.--(BW HealthWire)--Aug. 30, 1999--[ Organogenesis Inc. ]
      (AMEX:ORG) today announced the presentation of data on its conditioned
      medium at the European Tissue Repair Society/Wound Healing Society
      multinational meeting in Bordeaux, France. In this presentation, the
      conditioned medium was shown to stimulate the generation of new skin cells.
      This conditioned medium is being evaluated for potential cosmetic and skin
      care applications. About Conditioned Medium -Organogenesis manufactures the
      only FDA-approved medical product containing living human skin cells.
      Conditioned medium is produced during this manufacturing process by the
      interaction of the healthy young skin cells, which are producing cytokines
      and other growth factors, with the Company's proprietary cell culture
      medium. Study Design and Findings -The presentation, entitled "Effect of
      Growth Factors Secreted from Bioengineered Living Tissue on the Migration of
      Human Keratinocytes", discussed the effects of conditioned medium on the
      generation of new human skin cells in vitro. The effects of conditioned
      medium were compared with those of Organogenesis' proprietary cell culture
      medium prior to cell exposure, which served as a control. The data show that
      the conditioned medium stimulates the generation of the key cell types found
      in healthy human skin. Exposure to conditioned medium was shown to stimulate
      growth of new keratinocytes (epidermal cells), fibroblasts (dermal cells)
      and endothelial cells (blood vessel cells) more than the baseline cell
      culture medium. The effect was also concentration dependent, with higher
      concentrations producing a greater effect than lower concentrations. About
      Organogenesis -Organogenesis Inc. designs, develops and manufactures medical
      products containing living cells and/or natural connective tissue. The
      Company's product development focus includes living tissue replacements,
      cell-based organ assist devices and other tissue- engineered products. Lead
      product Apligraf living skin construct is marketed in the US and Canada. The
      research pipeline also includes VITRIX(TM) living soft tissue replacement, a
      bioartificial liver and a vascular graft. Statements in this press release
      which are not historical fact are forward-looking statements within the
      meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and involve
      risks and uncertainties. There can be no assurance that Organogenesis
      Conditioned medium will be used in cosmetic or skin care products or of the
      commercial acceptance of these products when and if marketed. (Copyright
      1999) _____via IntellX_____

      *DALLAS, August 31-- In the largest study of its kind, researchers have
      found that consuming two to six alcoholic drinks per week was associated
      with a reduced risk of sudden cardiac death in men, according to a report in
      today's Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
      "This is the largest prospective study to look at alcohol consumption and
      sudden cardiac death in men and the first prospective study to find a
      reduction in sudden cardiac death from light drinking," says Christine M.
      Albert, M.D., associate physician in the division of preventive medicine at
      Brigham and Women's Hospital and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical
      School in Boston. Albert is also a cardiac electrophysiologist at
      Massachusetts General Hospital.

      *August 30: North by Northwest to Catch A Neutrino in the Act - A
      century-old radiation detection tool may be pressed into service to see if
      neutrinos change flavor. The answer may change our models of subatomic
      particles and the universe.

      *3-D, virtual man simulates radiation's effect on the body
      Xie George Xu, assistant professor of nuclear engineering and engineering
      physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has created a 3-D virtual man
      called "Visible Photographic Man" (VIP-Man) that is so sophisticated it can
      model the effects of radiation on the skin, lens of the eye, optic nerve,
      GI- tract mucous membranes, and bone marrow--areas previously too minute to
      accurately model, but which are highly susceptible to radiation.

      *Could physicists accidentally make killer black holes or lethal strange
      matter that would swallow the Earth? (New Scientist Planet Science article)

      *Scientists have looked inside the cells of Dolly the cloned sheep to
      determine the origin of her genetic material. What they found surprised
      them and may provide useful information to researchers who study inherited
      diseases like neuromuscular and kidney problems, which are passed down on
      the mother_s side only.

      *Researchers Wonder How to Make
      Robots Work With People
      1.00 p.m. ET (1700 GMT) August 30, 1999 By Tim Molloy
      PITTSBURGH � Scientists are learning to make robots that do what they're
      supposed to do when they're supposed to do it. Now if only human beings
      would play along. A Carnegie Mellon research assistant makes an adjustment
      to a robot designed to search for landmines. Researchers from all over the
      world gathered Sunday at Carnegie Mellon University to show each other the
      latest in robots made to help their human masters. One common problem:
      making the programmed machines work alongside unpredictable human nature.
      For example, a team of scientists at Carnegie Mellon is working on robots
      that serve as museum guides. The technology could eventually be used to
      build robot nurses. But kids at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington,
      D.C., had other ideas when a robot named Minerva debuted there last summer �
      they jumped on Minerva and tried to take it for a ride. To make sure people
      respected Minerva's space, designers gave it a voice and moving mouth and
      eyebrows. "I need to get through," the robot said, frowning at Smithsonian
      guests who dawdled in front of it. Minerva smiled at those who moved. People
      responded, said Sebastian Thrun, a Carnegie Mellon assistant computer
      science professor working on the museum robots. Thrun's conclusion: People
      like it when machines interact with them. Now he's using that theory when
      building other robots. Most of the technology spotlighted Sunday is not yet
      available commercially, but researchers are hopeful. Among those looking for
      corporate sponsorship was Gerard Lacey, a designer from Ireland's Trinity
      College. His team tested robots to help blind and elderly people who don't
      have the strength to walk with canes or guide dogs. The robot, which
      resembles a lawn mower, allows blind people to walk holding its handles for
      support. They point the robot in the direction they want to go, and its
      built-in sensors slow it down and stop it from hitting walls. The robot
      became popular quickly at a nursing home where it was tested. "Life in a
      nursing home is very regimented," Lacey said. "There's a time for bingo,
      there's a time for tea. There's a time for whatever. Now there was a time to
      walk around. They guarded it very jealously." Meeting older people's needs
      called for some adjustments, Lacey said. At one point the robot had a
      joystick like those used in arcade games, which had to change. "Elderly
      people have never used a joystick in their life," he said. "It's probably
      not going to be a successful interface for them." Other robots unveiled
      Sunday included a wheelchair that automatically finds its way through
      shifting crowds. Once the chair is programmed to move in a given direction,
      the person sitting in it can ride with hands folded as the chair charts the
      movements of people nearby, chooses a path around them and moves at normal
      walking speed. Another robot tracked people's eye movements. One of the
      designers, Alex Zalinski of Australian National University, said it could be
      used in cars to make sure drivers are keeping their eyes open and on the
      road, even if they move their heads or change the lighting in the car. (Fox)

      *LONDON � Computer software that evolves like a human brain is set to try to
      pick winners on the stock market. http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/

      *SMART DUSTClean freaks have a new rationale for their pathological hatred
      of dust - it could soon be spying on them. Packed full of
      sensors, particles of "smart dust" are being designed to
      communicate with one another. The tiny dust particles, called
      "motes" are being developed at the University of California as
      part of a program to produce the smallest possible devices that
      can communicate with each other. The latest motes not only have a
      battery powering them but also a solar cell to recharge the
      battery. Today each of these motes is five millimetres long, but
      researchers say in the future they could be small enough to
      remain suspended in mid-air, buoyed by air currents, sensing and
      communicating for hours. And why, you ask? Researchers say in
      the future, we could send smart dust in the air to detect
      chemical weapons, conducting space research, or monitoringweather patters.

      When "wearable computers" are discussed, many people in the
      computer science industry think of Steve Mann. Mr. Mann has had a
      computer and wireless video camera strapped to him for nearly 20
      years now. He transmits what his camera sees 24 hours a day on
      his web site at http://www.wearcam.org . And now, what seemed
      like an oddity has gone acedemic: Mann is now a professor at the
      University of Toronto where he is teaching post-graduate studies
      in, well, walking around with a camera on your head. (Of course,
      the U of T calls it "computer mediated interaction.") :-) When
      he started in 1980, you could barely pick out a person from
      behind all the gear; now, all you see is a guy wearing
      sunglasses. The glasses are actually computer monitors, and all
      the high-tech gadgetry is under his shirt.

      *DNA FOR THE DEADWe've seen cremation jewelry and designer caskets with
      that included even golf - a ``Fairway to Heaven'' motif. Now
      funeral homes are beginning to collect DNA samples from the
      dead - for a fee - to preserve a genetic record that could
      provide medical information. While experts are divided on the
      usefulness of the data, some think the service will be a strong
      seller - and that in the future, nearly every funeral home might
      offer the service. For $350, the service retains a bit of hair,
      some blood, and body fluids. The samples are sent to a lab where
      molecular biologists extract the DNA and sends the family a
      confidential genetic fingerprint of the deceased. But not
      everyone thinks this is a great idea - ethicists question taking
      DNA from people before getting their approval before they die.
      The DNA samples also could be used to determine paternity, which
      might reveal a few unexpected and unwanted surprises. making some
      secrets taken to the grave a thing of the past.

      12-year-old Emily Lang is no stranger to surgeries. She's already
      had 121 of them correct bone deformities she was born with. But
      the one she underwent a couple of weeks ago was different.
      Physicians applied bone protein to holes in Emily's skull. The
      protein is a new synthetically created product that kickstarts
      molecular activity that causes the body to grow new bone-forming
      cells called osteoblasts. These osteoblasts then develop into
      healthy new bone structures. Emily was the first child to ever
      have the protein applied to existing bone and have it
      successfully grow. Until now, it's only been used to grow bone in
      lab animals. In the future, the development could help heal
      athletic injuries faster and possibly correct birth defects
      before the child is born.

      *PACEMAKERS FOR THE BRAINYou've heard of pacemakers, the electric devices
      thousands of heart patients. Well now comes word of a pacemaker
      for the brain - one that in the future could help people with
      epilepsy. It works like this: surgeons make a pocket in the chest
      to hold a small transmitter. When the patient feels a seizure
      coming on, they simply place a magnet across their chest. That
      gives the episode a shorter duration and makes it seem less
      intense. The nerve stimulator has a generator similar to those
      used in heart pacemakers - and it's powered by a battery that can
      last up to five years. Researchers are taking what they've
      learned from this device and trying to find other
      neuro-conditions that may be helped by this implant.

      (Last 5 from Tod Maffin)

      I'm back from vacation and ready to repair my computer withdrawl symptoms.
      Gina "Nanogirl" Miller
      Nanotechnology Industries
      Web: http://www.nanoindustries.com
      Get the Nanotechnology Industries newsletter (includes James Lewis-foresight
      webmaster, Josh Hall-utility fog and Forrest Bishop-shape shifter)
      Personal website: http://www.homestead.com/nanotechind/nothingatall.html
      "Nanotechnology: solutions for the future."
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