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Newly developed probe looks acts and feels so much like real neuron

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 26 2019Like a well-guarded fortress, the human brain attacks intruders on sight. Foreign objects, including neural probes used to study and treat the brain, do not last long. But now, researchers have designed a probe that looks, acts, and feels so much like a real neuron that the brain cannot identify the imposters. According to Charles M. Lieber, this breakthrough “literally blurs the ever-present and clear dissimilarities in properties between man-made and living systems.” They have blurred the line between human and machine.Lieber, the Joshua and Beth Friedman University Professor at Harvard University, and his lab members are authors on a new paper published in Nature Materials that presents a bioinspired design for neural probes.Implanted directly into brain tissue, probes are designed to survive as long as possible in the organ’s warm, humid, and inhospitable environment. Sensors hidden within protective casings send data back to researchers. Knowing how and when individual neurons fire and neural circuits communicate could inform how to treat neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, reverse neural decay from Alzheimer’s and aging, or even enhance cognitive capabilities.But current implants cannot trick the brain–they cause a foreign body response. Large and stiff compared to real neurons and neural tissue, traditional implants have two major impediments to sustained monitoring. During the initial placement in brain tissue–which usually requires surgery–neurons flee the impacted area. Previous studies have shown that the brain’s immune system senses the foreign object and gets to work, causing inflammation and scar tissue to isolate the device. Even if they can capture signals beyond the scar tissue, rigid probes can shift position and end up replacing one neural signal for another, closer one.”This will ultimately make the recorded signal unstable,” said first author Xiao Yang, a fourth-year graduate student in the Lieber lab. Wearing a purple and pink speckled sweater, glasses, and jeans, she moved her cupped hands together, then apart, then together again as she explained how she and her team built a probe that inspires negligible immune response, records neural signals within a day post-implantation, and may even encourage tissue regeneration.”The stereotype of the neural probe is that they are giant compared to the neuron targets that they’re interrogating. But in our case, they are essentially the same,” said Yang. Their probe mimics three features that previously have not been possible to achieve in a lab: the shape, size, and flexibility of an actual neuron.Neurons look a bit like tadpoles, with round heads and long, flexible tails. So, Yang and her colleagues created a “head” to house the¬ir metal recording electrode, which matches the size of the neuron’s soma (or cell body). Their wire interconnect snakes through an ultra-flexible polymer “tail,” resembling the neuron’s neurite. According to Yang, their neuron-like electronics (NeuE) are “5 to 20 times more flexible than the most flexible probes reported to date.” The ones they bested were their own mesh electronics.Related StoriesStudy provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with agingWearing a hearing aid may mitigate dementia riskNeural pathways explain the relationship between imagination and willingness to helpThe width of a typical neuron “head” is about the same a very fine strand of hair (20 microns), and the “tail” can be 10-20 times finer. Measuring the same or even thinner widths, the neuron-like electronic is the smallest probe yet. To craft their microscopic tools, Yang and her colleagues relied on photolithography, which uses light to transfer a pattern onto material and constructs the probe’s four distinct layers of metal and polymer one at a time.Once built, the team uses a syringe to inject sixteen of their cell imitators into the hippocampus region–chosen for its central role in learning, memory, and aging–of a mouse brain. There, they unfold to create a porous web, imitating the brain’s crisscrossing neuron network.Bigger, solid probes exclude native cells from their territory and can disrupt the neural circuits that researchers are trying to study. Yang’s probes allow cells to integrate fully and take-up less than 1% of the volume where they are implanted. Starting from as early as a day to months later, neurons integrate with the artificial network, forming a harmonious hybrid. This assimilation explains why the team achieved stable data collection even months post-implantation. They did not lose even one neuron signal. Instead, they gained some.”In an unexpected and exciting result,” according to Yang, the new neuronal signals indicate that newborn neurons may use the artificial neuron-like electronics as a scaffold to reach damaged areas of the brain and help regenerate tissue.Regenerative treatments typically rely on stem cells to assist the brain to rebuild after damage. But, like larger probes, transplanted stem cells can cause an immune response, which weakens their efficacy. Neuron-like electronics instead recruits endogenous stem cells from the host’s brain and helps them migrate to the damaged region. Since they are not foreign objects, the brain’s immune system lets them work in peace. Though further research is needed, the neuron-like electronics could eventually offer a safe, stable alternative to treat neurological diseases, brain damage, and even depression and schizophrenia, where the added benefit of actively monitoring and modulating the regenerated neural networks will be possible.Currently, Yang is working on several directions, including the design and fabrication of even smaller and more flexible probes, as well as exploring the potential of the neuron-like electronics to serve as an active scaffold for regenerating neural tissue in vivo. With marginal immune response, regenerative properties, and unprecedented stability, the team not only blurred the line between man-made and living systems, they made it near invisible. Source:https://www.harvard.edu/last_img read more

Microsoft surges toward trilliondollar value as profits rise

first_img Citation: Microsoft surges toward trillion-dollar value as profits rise (2019, April 24) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-microsoft-surges-trillion-dollar-profits.html Explore further © 2019 AFP Microsoft delivers robust profit, but shares take a hit Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s refocusing of the US technology giant has helped lift its market value to nearly $1 trillioncenter_img Microsoft said profits climbed in the past quarter on its cloud and business services as the US technology giant saw its market value close in on the trillion-dollar mark. Profits in the quarter to March 31 rose 19 percent to $8.8 billion on revenues of $30.8 billion, an increase of 14 percent from the same period a year earlier.Microsoft shares gained some three percent in after-hours trade, pushing it closer to $1 trillion in value. It ended the session Wednesday with a market valuation of some $960 million, just behind Apple but ahead of Amazon.In the fiscal third quarter, Microsoft showed its reliance on cloud computing and other business services which now drive its earnings, in contrast to its earlier days when it focused on consumer PC software.”Leading organizations of every size in every industry trust the Microsoft cloud,” chief executive Satya Nadella said in a statement.Commercial cloud revenue rose 41 percent from a year ago to $9.6 billion, which now makes up nearly a third of sales, Microsoft said.Some $10.2 billion in revenue came from the “productivity and business services” unit which includes its Office software suite for both consumers and enterprises, and the LinkedIn professional social network.The “more personal computing” unit which includes its Windows software, Surface devices and gaming operations generated $10.6 billion in the quarter. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

MacKenzie Bezos pledges half her fortune to charity

first_img Explore further The novelist said Tuesday that she signed The Giving Pledge, a campaign to get the ultra-wealthy to pledge at least half their fortune to charitable causes. It was created in 2010 by billionaire investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates.Those who join can give away their money while they are alive or give instructions in their wills. They also decide where and how their money is donated.In a letter Tuesday, MacKenzie Bezos did not say how she plans to give her money away. The divorce leaves her with a 4% stake currently worth more than $36 billion in the online shopping giant.”I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” she said in her letter.Jeff Bezos, who hasn’t signed The Giving Pledge, tweeted his support: “MacKenzie is going to be amazing and thoughtful and effective at philanthropy, and I’m proud of her. Her letter is so beautiful. Go get ’em MacKenzie.”The Bezoses, who have four children, first announced they were divorcing in January ahead of a National Enquirer story that revealed Jeff Bezos was having an affair with a former TV host. He later accused the tabloid’s publisher of threatening to publish explicit photos he sent to his lover unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained the private messages. The National Enquirer has denied the accusation.Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon as an online bookstore more than two decades ago, has become the world’s richest man thanks to Amazon’s surging stock price. His stake in the company after the divorce is worth more than $108 billion.He has wrestled with how to give away some of his fortune, asking his Twitter followers in 2017 for philanthropic ideas. Last year, he committed $2 billion to a charitable fund that will focus on opening preschools in low-income neighborhoods and donate money to nonprofits that helps homeless families. So far, he has given $100 million to that fund. In the past, he has also said that he sees his self-funded space exploration company Blue Origin and his purchase of The Washington Post newspaper as “contributing to society and civilization.”On Tuesday, The Giving Pledge said that MacKenzie Bezos was one of 19 new people or couples who joined the pledge, bringing the total number to 204. Others who have signed the pledge include Elon Musk, co-founder of electric car company Tesla, and oil baron T. Boone Pickens. MacKenzie Bezos, who finalized her divorce from Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos earlier this year, is pledging to give away half her fortune to charity. Amazon’s Bezos, wife reach biggest divorce deal in history (Update) Citation: MacKenzie Bezos pledges half her fortune to charity (2019, May 28) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-05-mackenzie-bezos-pledges-fortune-charity.htmlcenter_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. In this March 4, 2018 file photo, Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie Bezos arrive at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif. MacKenzie Bezos is pledging half her fortune to charity, following in the footsteps of billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. The ex-wife of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos finalized her divorce in April 2019 and reportedly got a stake in the online shopping giant worth over $35 billion. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File) © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Jaypee homebuyers oppose NCLAT order

first_imgNEW DELHI: A group of homebuyers has approached the Supreme Court challenging the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) order allowing NBCC and creditor bank to thrash out resolution plan to take over Jaypee Infratech, even after the plan was rejected by a committee of creditors (CoC) which included homebuyers. The petition has been filed by a group 1000 homebuyers alleging that the NCLAT order passed on July 2 was in violation of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) as statutory period of 270 days for wrapping up Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process had expired and the tribunal had extended the deadline in violation of law. “The NCLAT’s impugned order while recording that the resolution plan submitted by NBCC was rejected by the CoC has sought to set aside such rejection and to further reopen such negotiations, usurping the powers/functions, of the NCLT, COC and Resolution Professional, especially when the statutory period for completion of CIRP as stipulated under IBC has expired,” the petition filed by advocate M L Lahoty said. With creditors rejecting NBCC’s bid to acquire Jaypee Infratech, the NCLAT had directed representatives of banks, allottees and other stakeholders to appear before it on July 17 to sort out differences on the NBCC attempt and consider how the bid could be tweaked for the benefit of homebuyers. During voting, majority of CoC had rejected NBCC’s bid to acquire Jaypee Infratech. Challenging the order, the petitioners said, “The NCLAT has erroneously usurped the functions/ powers of the resolution professional wherein NCLAT has sought to call the representatives of the financial creditors, the resolution applicant, the resolution professional, the allottees and the fixed deposit holders for conducting such renegotiation for the resolution plan on July 17 especially when the resolution plan has already been rejected once by the majority of the creditors after the expiry of the statutory period.” The homebuyers also expressed reservations against allowing NBCC to complete the unfinished housing projects of Jaypee and pleaded the apex court to pass order for protection of homebuyers. “The experience of over 48,000 homebuyers of Amrapali with regard to NBCC is extremely frustrating since NBCC refused to invest or arrange any funds for construction of the projects due to which no further construction work is being carried out,” the petition said. The apex court had on July 11 assured homebuyers that it would intervene to protect the interests of Jaypee homebuyers if the resolution plan under insolvency proceedings failed and asked all parties including NBCC and creditor banks to sort out differences. Download The Times of India News App for Latest India News.XStart your day smart with stories curated specially for youlast_img read more

Abortion of abnormal foetus cant be denied even if gestation is beyond

first_imgNEW DELHI: Right to terminate an abnormal pregnancy cannot be denied merely because gestation has continued beyond 20 weeks, the Delhi High Court has said while allowing a 25-week pregnant woman’s plea to abort her foetus which had enlarged kidneys and was not expected to survive. A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said the section of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act which prohibits abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy even if the foetus is abnormal, and the provision which relaxes this restraint if there is an immediate threat to the life of the mother, have to be considered cumulatively and not in isolation. “Seen thus, we are convinced that, even in a case where the condition of the foetus is, as in the present case, incompatible with life, the rigour of section 3(2) deserves to be relaxed, and the right to terminate the pregnancy cannot be denied merely because gestation has continued beyond 20 weeks. “Law, needless to say, cannot be construed in a manner incompatible with life,” the court said Friday and permitted the woman to terminate her pregnancy. The bench, while allowing her plea, also took into account the report of the medical board constituted by AIIMS on the high court’s direction. The woman, in her petition filed through advocate Sneha Mukherjee, had challenged the Constitutionality of sections 3(2)(b) and 5(1) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. While section 3(2)(b) of the Act prohibits termination of a pregnancy of over 20 weeks, section 5(1) allows abortion if there is an immediate threat to the life of the mother. The petition had contended that the 20 weeks stipulation for a woman to avail abortion services under section 3(2) (b) of the Act may have been reasonable when the section was enacted in 1971 but has ceased to be reasonable today where technology has advanced and it is perfectly safe for a woman to abort at any point during the entire period of pregnancy. “Secondly, determination of foetal abnormality in many cases can only be done after the 20th week and by keeping the ceiling artificially low, women who obtain reports of serious foetal abnormality after the 20th week have to suffer excruciating pain and agony because of the deliveries that they are forced to go through,” the plea had said. The ceiling of 20 weeks is therefore “arbitrary, harsh, discriminatory and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India”, it had contended. The plea had challenged section 5 of the Act to the extent it states that termination of a more than 20-week pregnancy be permitted only if it was immediately necessary to save the life of the mother. It had claimed that “as written, the MTP Act encourages desperate women, who learn about a foetal abnormality after the 20th week, to seek out unsafe abortions from untrained medical personnel”. Illegal abortions are the third leading cause of maternal death in India and account for 13 per cent of maternal deaths worldwide, the petition had said. Download The Times of India News App for Latest India News.XStart your day smart with stories curated specially for youlast_img read more

3 labourers from Rajasthan run over by train near Surat

first_img Press Trust of India SuratJuly 13, 2019UPDATED: July 13, 2019 18:06 IST Image used for representation.Three persons were killed after being hit by a speeding train near Surat railway station Saturday morning, railway police said.The victims got down from a train between Surat and Udhna stations and were crossing the tracks when they were hit by the Karnavati Express.They were part of a group of six labourers from Rajasthan who were heading for Valsad for a job. One of them died on the spot, while the other two succumbed to injuries at the civil hospital here.The deceased were identified as Kuldip Kulsingh (18), Pravin Narayan Singh (19) and Pravin Dheer Singh (19).The group had travelled to Surat by the Ajmer Puri Express and took another train to go to Valsad.When some passengers told them that the train did not halt at Valsad, they got down before Udhna station as the train slowed down, police said.Also Read | Two labourers enter borewell without safety aids in Noida, dieAlso Watch | One dead, two missing after being swept away while working on a Delhi Jal Board projectFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byChanchal Chauhan Next 3 labourers from Rajasthan run over by train near SuratThe victims got down from a train between Surat and Udhna stations and were crossing the tracks when they were hit by the Karnavati Express.advertisementlast_img read more

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