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Ingenious Brain-Computer Interface Restored Injured Man’s Sense Of Touch

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Researchers Restore Injured Man’s Sense of Touch Using Ingenious Brain-Computer Interface

Ian Burkhart Wearing Interface (Credit:GettyImages)

While we may frequently underestimate our feeling of touch, restoring the feeling of touch implies a lot to the specialists who are creating advances to reestablish appendage work for deadened individuals.

However, a team of researchers at Battelle and the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recently reported that they have been able to restore sensation to the hand of a research participant with a severe spinal cord injury using a brain-computer interface (BCI) system.

According to a study published this week in the journal Cell, the researchers describe how their technology harnesses neural signals so minuscule, they can’t be perceived, and then enhances the signals via artificial sensory feedback sent back to the participant, resulting in greatly enriched motor function.

“We’re taking sub-perceptual touch events and boosting them into conscious perception,” says first author Patrick Ganzer, a principal research scientist at Battelle. “When we did this, we saw several functional improvements. It was a big eureka moment when we first restored the participant’s sense of touch.”

The participant in this investigation is Ian Burkhart, a 28-year-elderly person who endured a spinal cord injury during a diving accident in 2010. Since 2014, Burkhart has been working with examiners on a venture called NeuroLife that means to reestablish capacity to his right arm.

The device they have developed works through a system of electrodes on his skin and a small computer chip implanted in his motor cortex. This setup, which uses wires to route movement signals from the brain to the muscles, bypassing his spinal cord injury, gives Burkhart enough control over his arm and hand to lift a coffee mug, swipe a credit card, and play Guitar Hero.

“Until now, at times Ian has felt like his hand was foreign due to lack of sensory feedback,” Ganzer says. “He also has trouble with controlling his hand unless he is watching his movements closely. This requires a lot of concentration and makes simple multitasking like drinking a soda while watching TV almost impossible.”

The investigators found that although Burkhart had almost no sensation in his hand, when they stimulated his skin, a neural signal—so small it was his brain was unable to perceive it—was still getting to his brain. Ganzer explains that even in people like Burkhart who have what is considered a “clinically complete” spinal cord injury, there are almost always a few wisps of nerve fiber that remain intact. The Cell paper explains how they were able to boost these signals to the level where the brain would respond.

The sub-perceptual touch signals were artificially sent back to Burkhart using haptic feedback. Common examples of haptic feedback are the vibration from a mobile phone or game controller that lets the user feel that something is working. The new system allows the sub-perceptual touch signals coming from Burkhart’s skin to travel back to his brain through artificial haptic feedback that he can perceive.

The advances in the BCI system led to three important improvements. They enable Burkhart to reliably detect something by touch alone: in the future, this may be used to find and pick up an object without being able to see it.

The framework likewise is the first BCI that takes into account reclamation of development and contact without a moment’s delay, and this capacity to encounter upgraded contact during development gives him a more prominent feeling of control and lets him to do things all the more rapidly. At long last, these enhancements permit the BCI framework to detect how much strain to utilize when taking care of an article or getting something—for instance, utilizing a light touch when getting a delicate item like a Styrofoam cup however a firmer grasp when getting something substantial.

The investigators’ long-term goal is to develop a BCI system that works as well in the home as it does in the laboratory. They are working on creating a next-generation sleeve containing the required electrodes and sensors that could be easily put on and taken off. They also aim to develop a system that can be controlled with a tablet rather than a computer, making it smaller and more portable.

“It has been amazing to see the possibilities of sensory information coming from a device that was originally created to only allow me to control my hand in a one-way direction,” Burkhart says.

Reprinted from Cell

Credits: goodnewsnetwork

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These Plastic Chewing Caterpillars Can Help Fight Plastic Pollution And Can Prove Beneficial

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The small wax worm went from obscurity to a disclosure in 2017 when scientists found the caterpillar might help solve one of the world’s most hazardous natural issues: plastic waste.

Credits:GettyImages

The creature can chomp through plastic, even polyethylene, a common and non-biodegradable plastic currently clogging up landfills and seas.

Scientists have discovered that wax worms can eat and biodegrade polyethylene, the rugged, common plastic used to make the shopping bags that are currently glutting landfill sites. The discovery was serendipitous. The findings, which were published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B Tuesday, could guide efforts to find an effective biodegradation system to tackle plastic waste.

Credit:GettyImages

“We found that wax worm caterpillars are equipped with gut organisms that are basic in the plastic bio degradation process, ” said Christophe LeMoine, a associate professor and chair person of biology at Brandon University in Canada.

Credit:IndiaTimes

Why The Humanity Post?

The World Health Organisation has named depression as the greatest cause of suffering worldwide. In the U.S., 1 out of 5 deals with depression or anxiety. For youth, that number increases to 1 in 3.

The good news is that 40% of our happiness can be influenced by intentional thoughts and actions, leading to life changing habits. It’s this 40% that The Humanity Post  help to impact.

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Researchers Use Gene-focusing on Breakthrough Against COVID-19 Cells With CRISPR Tool Called ‘PAC-MAN’

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DOE / LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LABORATORY, R.N. Zuckermann

A group of scientists from Stanford University is working with researchers at the Molecular Foundry, a nanoscience client office situated at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), to build up a quality focusing on, antiviral specialist against COVID-19.

Last year, Stanley Qi, an assistant professor in the departments of bioengineering, and chemical and systems biology at Stanford University and his team had begun working on a technique called PAC-MAN—or Prophylactic Antiviral CRISPR in human cells—that uses the gene-editing tool CRISPR to fight influenza.

Be that as it may, that all changed in January, when updates on the COVID-19 pandemic rose. Qi and his group were out of nowhere stood up to with a baffling new infection for which nobody had an unmistakable arrangement. “So we figured, ‘For what reason don’t we take a stab at utilizing our PAC-MAN innovation to battle it?'” said Qi.

Since late March, Qi and his team have been collaborating with a group led by Michael Connolly, a principal scientific engineering associate in the Biological Nanostructures Facility at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, to develop a system that delivers PAC-MAN into the cells of a patient.

Like all CRISPR frameworks, PAC-MAN is made out of a chemical—for this situation, the infection murdering compound Cas13—and a strand of guide RNA, which orders Cas13 to pulverize explicit nucleotide successions in the coronavirus’ genome. By scrambling the infection’s hereditary code, PAC-MAN could kill the coronavirus and prevent it from repeating inside cells.

It’s all in the delivery

Qi said that the key test to deciphering PAC-MAN from a sub-atomic instrument into an enemy of COVID-19 treatment is finding a compelling method to convey it into lung cells. At the point when SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, attacks the lungs, the air sacs in a contaminated individual can get aroused and load up with liquid, seizing a patient’s capacity to relax.

“But my lab doesn’t work on delivery methods,” he said. So on March 14, they published a preprint of their paper, and even tweeted, in the hopes of catching the eye of a potential collaborator with expertise in cellular delivery techniques.

Soon after, they learned of Connolly’s work on synthetic molecules called lipitoids at the Molecular Foundry.

Lipitoids are a kind of engineered peptide imitate known as a “peptoid” first found 20 years prior by Connolly’s tutor Ron Zuckermann. In the decades since, Connolly and Zuckermann have attempted to create peptoid conveyance atoms, for example, lipitoids. Also, as a team with Molecular Foundry clients, they have exhibited lipitoids’ adequacy in the conveyance of DNA and RNA to a wide assortment of cell lines.

Today, researchers studying lipitoids for potential therapeutic applications have shown that these materials are nontoxic to the body and can deliver nucleotides by encapsulating them in tiny nanoparticles just one billionth of a meter wide—the size of a virus.

Now Qi hopes to add his CRISPR-based COVID-19 therapy to the Molecular Foundry’s growing body of lipitoid delivery systems.

In late April, the Stanford researchers tested a type of lipitoid—Lipitoid 1—that self-assembles with DNA and RNA into PAC-MAN carriers in a sample of human epithelial lung cells.

As per Qi, the lipitoids performed well indeed. At the point when bundled with coronavirus-focusing on PAC-MAN, the framework decreased the measure of engineered SARS-CoV-2 in arrangement by over 90%. “Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry has furnished us with an atomic fortune that changed our examination,” he said.

The team next plans to test the PAC-MAN/lipitoid system in an animal model against a live SARS-CoV-2 virus. They will be joined by collaborators at New York University and Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

If successful, they hope to continue working with Connolly and his team to further develop PAC-MAN/lipitoid therapies for SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses, and to explore scaling up their experiments for preclinical tests.

“An effective lipitoid delivery, coupled with CRISPR targeting, could enable a very powerful strategy for fighting viral disease not only against COVID-19 but possibly against newly viral strains with pandemic potential,” said Connolly.

“Everybody has been working nonstop attempting to think of new arrangements,” included Qi, whose preprint paper was as of late companion looked into and distributed in the Journal Cell. “It’s exceptionally compensating to join skill and test new thoughts across establishments in these troublesome occasions.”

Credit:phys.org

Why The Humanity Post?

The World Health Organisation has named depression as the greatest cause of suffering worldwide. In the U.S., 1 out of 5 deals with depression or anxiety. For youth, that number increases to 1 in 3.

The good news is that 40% of our happiness can be influenced by intentional thoughts and actions, leading to life changing habits. It’s this 40% that The Humanity Post  help to impact.

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Scientists Develop Near Invincible Textile Coating That Can Repel Almost Anything

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Scientists Develop Near-Invincible Textile Coating That Can Repel Blood, Bacteria, and Even Viruses

Masks, gowns, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are essential for protecting healthcare workers—however, the textiles and materials used in such items can absorb and carry viruses and bacteria, inadvertently spreading the disease the wearer sought to contain.

When the coronavirus spread amongst healthcare professionals and left PPE in short supply, finding a way to provide better protection while allowing for the safe reuse of these items became paramount.

Thankfully, researchers from the LAMP Lab at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering may have a solution. The lab has created a textile coating that can not only repel liquids like blood and saliva but can also prevent viruses from adhering to the surface. The work was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

Photo by University of Pittsburgh

“Recently there’s been focus on blood-repellent surfaces, and we were interested in achieving this with mechanical durability,” said Anthony Galante, PhD student in industrial engineering at Pitt and lead author of the paper. “We want to push the boundary on what is possible with these types of surfaces, and especially given the current pandemic, we knew it’d be important to test against viruses.”

What makes the coating unique is its ability to withstand ultrasonic washing, scrubbing and scraping. With other similar coatings currently in use, washing or rubbing the surface of the textile will reduce or eliminate its repellent abilities.

“The durability is very important because there are other surface treatments out there, but they’re limited to disposable textiles. You can only use a gown or mask once before disposing of it,” said Paul Leu, co-author and associate professor of industrial engineering, who leads the LAMP Lab. “Given the PPE shortage, there is a need for coatings that can be applied to reusable medical textiles that can be properly washed and sanitized.”

Galante put the new coating to the test, running it through tens of ultrasonic washes, applying thousands of rotations with a scrubbing pad (not unlike what might be used to scour pots and pans), and even scraping it with a sharp razor blade. After each test, the coating remained just as effective.

The treatment consists of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) nanoparticles in a solvent thermally sintered to polypropylene microfibers. PTFE is stable and nontoxic at temperatures lower than 260 °C (500 °F).

The researchers worked with the Charles T. Campbell Microbiology Laboratory’s Research Director Eric Romanowski and Director of Basic Research Robert Shanks, in the Department of Ophthalmology at Pitt, to test the coating against a strain of adenovirus.

“As this fabric was already shown to repel blood, protein and bacteria, the logical next step was to determine whether it repels viruses. We chose human adenovirus types 4 and 7, as these are causes of acute respiratory disease as well as conjunctivitis (pink eye),” said Romanowski. “It was hoped that the fabric would repel these viruses similar to how it repels proteins, which these viruses essentially are: proteins with nucleic acid inside. As it turned out, the adenoviruses were repelled in a similar way as proteins.”

The coating may have broad applications in healthcare: everything from hospital gowns to waiting room chairs could benefit from the ability to repel viruses, particularly ones as easily spread as adenoviruses.

“Adenovirus can be inadvertently picked up in hospital waiting rooms and from contaminated surfaces in general. It is rapidly spread in schools and homes and has an enormous impact on quality of life—keeping kids out of school and parents out of work,” said Shanks. “This coating on waiting room furniture, for example, could be a major step towards reducing this problem.”

The next step for the researchers will be to test the effectiveness against betacoronaviruses, like the one that causes COVID-19.

“If the treated fabric would repel betacornonaviruses, and in particular SARS-CoV-2, this could have a huge impact for healthcare workers and even the general public if PPE, scrubs, or even clothing could be made from protein, blood-, bacteria-, and virus-repelling fabrics,” said Romanowski.

At the moment, the coating is applied using drop casting, a method that saturates the material with a solution from a syringe and applies a heat treatment to increase stability. But the researchers believe the process can use a spraying or dipping method to accommodate larger pieces of material, like gowns, and can eventually be scaled up for production.

Reprinted from University of Pittsburgh

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