Special Announcement: Futurism Media and Singularity University

Futurism acquired by Singularity University

So, Readers –

As always, we’ve got some news about the future. Except this time, it’s about us.

We’re about to enter the next chapter of Futurism, one that will usher in a new era for this site. It’ll come with new ways we’ll be able to deliver on everything you’ve grown to read, watch, subscribe to, and love about what we do here. And also, more in volume of what we do, with larger ambitions, and ultimately, a higher level of quality with which we’re able to bring those ambitions to fruition.

As of today, Futurism Media is proud to announce that we’re joining operations with Singularity University. In other words: They bought us, they own us, and quite frankly, we’re excited about the deal.

It’s an excitement and an occasion we share in with you, our community of readers — aspiring and working technologists, scientists, engineers, academics, and fans, who carried us to where we are, who helped make this independent media company what it is today. We’ve always been humbled by your support, and we’ve worked to reciprocate it by publishing one of the most crucial independent technology and science digital digests, every day, full stop.

What this changes for you? Nothing. Really. Except: More of what you’ve come to count on Futurism.com to deliver every time you’ve read our stories, opened our emails, swiped up on our ‘Gram, watched our videos, dropped in on our events, clicked through a Byte, and so on. This partnership represents the sum total of the work you’ve engaged with, and the start of a new chapter in which we’ll be able to deliver on more of the above.

That means increased coverage of the emergent, cutting-edge innovation and scientific developments changing the world, and the key characters and narratives shaping them (or being shaped by them). It means an expanded, in-depth feature publishing program, arriving this Spring (it’s rad, and it’s gonna blow your socks off). It means more breaking news reporting and analysis. It means original media products you haven’t seen from us before — new verticals, microsites, other ways for you to get in the mix with our coverage. And yes, by working in concert with Singularity University, we’re going to have a pretty decent competitive advantage: Direct access to the characters and personas shaping our future, the people, ideas, and innovations right at the frontier of exponential growth technologies. Our branded content team, Futurism Creative, will also continue to produce guideline-abiding, cutting-edge, thoughtful and engaging content for our partners, and for the partners of SU, too. And finally, our Futurism Studios division will continue to push the envelope of feature-length narrative storytelling of the science fiction (and science fact) stories of that future.

Will this change our journalism? Not in the slightest. We’ll still be operating as an independent, objective news outlet, without interference from our partners, who will continue to hold us to the same ethics and accountability standards we’ve held ourselves to these last few years. There might be more appearances from the folks at SU in our work (not that SU’s proliferate network of notable alumni or board members haven’t previously made appearances around these parts prior to this), but by no means will SU be shoehorning themselves into what we do here.

Yet: Where the opportunity exists, we’ll absolutely seize on the chance to co-create and catalyze action together to shape the technology and science stories on the horizon, to say nothing of that future itself. We’ll continue to make quality the primary concern — and they’re here to support that mandate, and augment this team with additional resources to accomplish it. If even the appearance of a conflict presents itself, as always, we’ll default to disclosure. But it’d be absurd of us not to take advantage of the immense base of knowledge our new partners in Mountain View have on offer (an apt comparison here would be, say, Harvard Business Review to H.B.S. or M.I.T. and our contemporaries at the MIT Technology Review).

We’ve been circling this partnership for a while; they, fans of ours, and us, fans of theirs. The original mandate of Futurism as written by our C.E.O. Alex Klokus was to increase the rate of human adaptability towards the future through delivering on the news of where that future is headed. Singularity University concerns itself with educating the world on the exponential growth technologies changing our lives. It’s a perfect merging of interests. Where exponential growth technologies are concerned: One only need look as far as the way online advertising and social platforms changed the economics of media to see this. To find a home with a growing institution that will prove increasingly vital to the growing global community they’ve already established in spades is the best possible outcome. And no, we didn’t get crazy-rich or anything. But we did galvanize the future (and all its possibilities) for everyone at this company, and our ability to keep serving you, our readers.

We’re immensely proud of the scrappy, tight team here; and especially you, our community of readers and partners we’ve grown with these last few years. We’re proud of the product we’ve created, especially last year, when we steered away from reliance on social media platforms for an audience, and reconfigured an editorial strategy around the priority of driving you directly to Futurism.com daily, by prioritizing quality, topicality, reliability, and on-site presentation (shocker: it worked). Now, we proud to be able to do more, better, of what we’ve always done here:

Tell the stories of tomorrow, today. On behalf of the entire Brooklyn-based Futurism team, thanks for being along for the ride so far, and on behalf of the new Futurism x Singularity University family, here’s to more of where that came from.

The future, as ever, is looking bright. We can’t wait to tell you about it.

– Foster Kamer
Director of Content

James Del
Publisher

Sarah Marquart
Director of Strategic Operations

Geoff Clark
President of Futurism Studios

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Just 19 Percent of Americans Trust Self-Driving Cars With Kids

A new survey by AAA shows that most Americans distrust self-driving cars. In the past two years, public trust in the emerging technology has gone down.

Poor Turnout

While tech companies like Waymo, Uber, and Tesla race to be the first to build a fully-autonomous vehicle, the public is left eating their dust.

About 71 percent of Americans say that they don’t trust self-driving cars, according to a new American Automobile Association (AAA) survey. That’s roughly the same percentage as last year’s survey, but it’s eight points higher than in 2017, according to Bloomberg and just 19 percent say they’d put their children or family members into an autonomous vehicle.

Overall, the data is a striking sign of public fatigue with self-driving cars.

Track Record

Autonomous vehicles, unlike some other emerging technologies, have suffered very public setbacks, including when an Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian a year ago.

“It’s possible that the sustained level of fear is rooted in a heightened focus, whether good or bad, on incidents involving these types of vehicles,” said AAA director of automotive engineering Greg Brannon in a statement obtained by Bloomberg. “Also it could simply be due to a fear of the unknown.”

Uphill Battle

The AAA survey found that Americans are more accepting of autonomous vehicle tech in limited-use cases. For example, 53 percent of survey respondents were okay with self-driving trams or shuttles being used in areas like theme parks, while 44 percent accepted the idea of autonomous food-delivery bots.

Self-driving car companies are currently engaging in public relations efforts to earn people’s trust, Bloomberg reports. But if these AAA numbers are any indication, there’s a long way to go.

READ MORE: Americans Still Fear Self-Driving Cars [Bloomberg]

More on autonomous vehicles: Exclusive: A Waymo One Rider’s Experiences Highlight Autonomous Rideshare’s Shortcomings

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Just 19 Percent of Americans Trust Self-Driving Cars With Kids

Elon Musk: 2019 Will Be “the Year of the Solar Roof”

During the unveiling of Tesla's highly anticipated Model Y, CEO Elon Musk announced that the company would focus on its Solar Roof and Powerwall in 2019.

Looking Up

During the unveiling of Tesla’s highly anticipated Model Y Thursday night, CEO Elon Musk shared his vision for his company’s immediate future — and it had little to do with cars.

“This is definitely going to be the year of the Solar Roof and Powerwall,” he told the audience, according to Inverse — a sign that Tesla is shifting its focus from the road to the home, with the ultimate goal of creating a fully sustainable future.

Pretty Picture

In August 2017, Tesla gave the world its first glimpse of an installed Solar Roof, and it looked, well, a lot like any other roof. But that was the point — Tesla’s solar tiles didn’t have the jarring appearance of many home solar panels.

That aesthetically pleasing design — combined with the tiles’ affordability and “infinity warranty” — had solar energy expert Senthil Balasubramanian predicting Tesla would be a “game changer” for clean energy.

With the exception of the occasional massive battery project, though, we haven’t heard much about Tesla’s home energy products since then. The company spent much of 2017 and 2018 focused on getting through the Model 3’s “production hell” and dealing with the fallout from Musk’s latest public misstep.

Under One Roof

But now that Model 3 production is humming along, Tesla has the bandwidth to shift some of its engineering focus back to its Solar Roof and home batteries, according to Musk — and that should go a long way toward helping the company meet its ambitious goal of a more sustainable energy system.

“Solar plus battery plus electric vehicles, we have a fully sustainable future,” Musk told the audience Thursday. “That’s a future you can feel really excited and optimistic about. I think that really matters.”

READ MORE: Tesla Solar Roof: Elon Musk Declares 2019 Will Be the Year of the Roof [Inverse]

More on Tesla: Solar Expert Predicts Tesla Will Be a “Game-Changer” for Clean Energy

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Elon Musk: 2019 Will Be “the Year of the Solar Roof”

This Guy Spent a Whole Week In a VR Headset

Jak Wilmot, co-founder of Disrupt VR, an Atlanta-based VR content studio, spent 168 consecutive hours in a VR headset, locked up in his apartment.

The Dumbest Thing

Jak Wilmot, the co-founder of Atlanta-based VR content studioDisrupt VR, spent 168 consecutive hours in a VR headset — that’s a full week — pent up in his apartment.

“This is quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, but welcome to a week in the future,” he said in a video about the experiment.

To make the experience even more futuristic, Wilmot livestreamed the entire week on Twitch late last month, later uploading a wrapup video on his entire week on YouTube.

The rules were simple: he could switch from a computer-based Oculus headset to a different, untethered headset for thirty seconds while his eyes were closed. His windows were blacked out, he said, so that his physical body didn’t have to rely on the daylight-dependent circadian rhythm.

His more mobile VR headset had a built in camera in the front, so that he was able to “see” his physical surroundings — but not directly with his own eyes.

“Everything is in the Headset”

Wilmot worked, ate and exercised inside virtual reality. Sleeping in the headset turned out to be “more comfortable” than Wilmot anticipated, though his eyes burned a bit.

“If one is feeling stressed, they can load into a natural environment for ten minutes and relax,” he said in the video. “If one is feeling energetic, they can dispel energy in a fitness game — these are like the new rules of the reality I’ve thrown myself in. Everything is in the headset.”

VR Connection

Wilmot believes that virtual reality is what you make it. If you want to be alone, you can spend time by yourself in a gaming session, slaying dragons in Skyrim VR. Or you can chose to join the cacophony of VRChat — a communal free-for-all multiplayer online platform that allows you to interact with avatars controlled by complete strangers.

“VR is stepping into the shoes of someone else, or stepping into a spaceship and talking to friends,” said Wilmot. “It’s very easy to find your tribe, to make friends, to communicate with others through a virtual landscape, where its no longer through digital window [like a monitor], but actually being there with them. To me that’s what VR is — connection.”

Escaping Virtual Reality

After seven days of living inside the headset, Wilmot took off the goggles and relearned what it’s like to live in the real world.

Experiment_01… ????????

Subject Status… ????? pic.twitter.com/HC0Jqb3aZq

— jak (@JakWilmot) February 27, 2019

Apart from slight dizziness and some disorientation, he came back to normal almost instantly.

One major advantage to not living inside a VR headset: “oh my gosh,” he said, “the graphics are so good.”

READ MORE: This Guy Is Spending A Full Week In VR, For Science [VR Scout]

More on virtual reality: Sex Researchers: For Many, Virtual Lovers Will Replace Humans

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This Guy Spent a Whole Week In a VR Headset

How Can We Build Cities to Accommodate 6.5 Billion People?

By 2050, 6.5 billion people will choose to live in cities. These individuals will require employment and access to better healthcare from an infrastructure that is already extremely vulnerable. The Global Maker Challenge asked makers and innovators to help put forward solutions for this issue, and they delivered.

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How Can We Build Cities to Accommodate 6.5 Billion People?

Samsung Is Working on Phone With “Invisible” Camera Behind Screen

A Samsung exec has shared new details on the company's efforts to create a full-screen phone, one with the camera embedded beneath the display.

Punch It

Just last month, South Korean tech giant Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S10, a phone with just a single hole punched in the screen to accommodate its front-facing camera.

On Thursday, a Samsung exec shared new details on the company’s intentions to create a “perfect full-screen” phone, with an “invisible” camera behind the screen to eliminate the need for any visible holes or sensors — confirming that one of the biggest players in tech sees edge-to-edge screens as the future of mobile devices.

Hidden Tech

During a press briefing covered by Yonhap News Agency, Samsung’s Mobile Communication R&D Group Display Vice President Yang Byung-duk said the company’s goal is to create a phone with a screen that covers the entire front of the device — but consumers shouldn’t expect it in the immediate future.

“Though it wouldn’t be possible to make (a full-screen smartphone) in the next 1-2 years,” Yang said, “the technology can move forward to the point where the camera hole will be invisible, while not affecting the camera’s function in any way.”

Quest for Perfection

This isn’t Samsung’s first mention of an uninterrupted full-screen phone — as pointed out by The Verge, the company discussed its ambitions to put the front-facing camera under a future device’s screen during a presentation in October.

That presentation included a few additional details on how the camera in a full-screen phone would work.

Essentially, the entire screen would serve as a display whenever the front-facing camera wasn’t in use. When in use, however, the screen would become transparent, allowing the camera to see through so you could snap the perfect selfie — and based on Yang’s comments, that new innovation could be just a few years away.

READ MORE: Samsung Seeks Shift to Full Screen in New Smartphones [Yonhap News Agency]

More on Samsung: Samsung Just Revealed a $1,980 Folding Smartphone

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Samsung Is Working on Phone With “Invisible” Camera Behind Screen

Presidential Hopeful Beto O’Rourke Belonged to Infamous Hacker Group

2020 Presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke was reportedly part of the hacktivist group known as the Cult of the Dead Cow during his teenage years.

Political Hack

Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke just admitted to spending his teenage years as part of the Cult of the Dead Cow (CDC), a group of hackers that first coined the term “hacktivism.”

O’Rourke, who failed to unseat Senator Ted Cruz in the 2018 midterm election and recently decided to run for president instead of challenging Senator John Cornyn in 2020, told Reuters that he credits the hacker group for helping develop his worldview — an intriguing admission for an unusual candidate who skateboards and used to play in a punk band.

Hacker-Lite

According to Reuters, there’s no evidence that O’Rourke actually engaged in any sort of serious hacking, though he did cop to stealing the long-distance phone service necessary for reaching the online message boards of the day.

Rather, O’Rourke seemed to spend his time in the Cult of the Dead Cow writing and sharing fiction with the community, such as a short story he wrote at age 15 about running over children in a car, Reuters reports.

“We weren’t deliberately looking for hacking chops,” CDC founder Kevin Wheeler told Reuters, describing the group’s attitude during the period of time O’Rourke was most active. “It was very much about personality and writing, really. For a long time, the ‘test,’ or evaluation, was to write [text files]. Everyone was expected to write things. If we were stoked to have more hacker-oriented people, it was because we’d be excited to have a broader range in our t-files.”

Formative Years

“There’s just this profound value in being able to be apart from the system and look at it critically and have fun while you’re doing it,” O’Rourke said. “I think of the Cult of the Dead Cow as a great example of that.”

The presidential hopeful, who espouses a mix of traditional liberal and libertarian views, describes the group as a sort of network for outcasts from society.

“When Dad bought an Apple IIe and a 300-baud modem and I started to get on boards, it was the Facebook of its day,” he said. “You just wanted to be part of a community.”

READ MORE: Beto O’Rourke’s secret membership in America’s oldest hacking group [Reuters]

More on hacktivism: It’s Now Scary to Be A White Hat Hacker Thanks to the US Government

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Presidential Hopeful Beto O’Rourke Belonged to Infamous Hacker Group

This Tech Could Secure Medical Implants Against Hackers

Many of today's medical implants communicate via Bluetooth, which makes them vulnerable to hacking, but a new system could change that.

Heart Hack

An implanted medical device can dramatically improve a person’s quality of life — or even save their life outright.

However, the devices come with serious security vulnerabilities, and it’s not hard to imagine the damage a person could do by hacking someone’s pacemaker, insulin pump, or brain implant.

Now, researchers from Purdue University have found a way to prevent hackers from intercepting the wireless signals used to communicate with implanted devices — and their creation could ensure the “internet of body” remains secure in the future.

Watch This

Many people monitor their implants via electronic devices, such as smart watches or smartphones, with the implants and devices communicating over Bluetooth.

Those wireless signals can extend as far as 10 meters away from a person’s body, according to the Purdue researchers – meaning someone in the vicinity of the implant owner could intercept the information — and perhaps manipulate it.

In a new paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers detail how they created a prototype watch that avoids this issue.

Short Leash

According to the researchers, their watch can receive a signal from anywhere on a person’s body, but instead of communicating over Bluetooth, the electrical signals travel through the person’s own body fluids to reach the watch, never extending more than one centimeter beyond the person’s skin.

As a bonus, the system also requires 100 times less energy than Bluetooth, according to the researchers — but its ability to protect incredibly sensitive communications could be reason enough for the technology to replace Bluetooth for implant applications in the future.

READ MORE: Your body is your internet – and now it can’t be hacked [Purdue University]

More on implants: New Brain Implant Could Translate Paralyzed People’s Thoughts Into Speech

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This Tech Could Secure Medical Implants Against Hackers

Here’s How Hackers Stole $15 Million From Mexican Banks

In April, bank hackers stole the equivalent of $20 million from Mexico's central bank thanks to a network rife with security flaws.

Ocean’s Once

In April 2018, hackers stole the equivalent of $15 million from Mexican banks — and now we know how they probably did it.

Penetration tester and security advisor Josu Loza was one of the experts called in to respond to the April heist, and on March 8 he presented his findings at the RSA Security conference in San Francisco.

Based on his analysis, Mexico’s central bank wasn’t doing nearly enough to protect its clients’ money — but other financial institutions could avoid the same fate if they’re willing to work together.

Easy Money

On Friday, Wired published a story detailing the information Loza shared with the audience at RSA’s conference. Based on his assessment, the success of the heist was due to a combination of expert bank hackers willing to spend months planning their crime and a banking network rife with security holes.

During the presentation, Loza made the case that the hackers might have accessed the Banco de México’s internal servers from the public internet, or perhaps launched phishing attacks on bank executives or employees to gain access.

Regardless of how they first got access, Loza said, the main problem was putting too many eggs in one security basket. Because many of the networks lacked adequate segmentation and access controls, he argued, a single breach could provide the bank hackers with extensive access.

That enabled them to lay the groundwork to eventually make numerous money transfers in smaller amounts, perhaps $5,000 or so, to accounts under their control. They’d then pay hundreds of “cash mules” each a small sum — Loza estimated that $260 might be enough — to withdraw the money for them.

Cyber Insecurity

The bank hackers are still at large, but the heist appears to have served as a wake-up call for the Banco de México.

“From last year to today the focus has been implementing controls. Control, control, control,” Lazo said during his presentation, according to Wired. “And I think the attacks aren’t happening today because of it.”

He also noted the need for companies to collaborate to defend against cyberattacks.

“Mexican people need to start to work together. All the institutions need to cooperate more,” Loza said. “The main problem on cybersecurity is that we don’t share knowledge and information or talk about attacks enough. People don’t want to make details about incidents public.”

READ MORE: HOW HACKERS PULLED OFF A $20 MILLION MEXICAN BANK HEIST [Wired]

More on hacking: Hacker Figures out How to Drain $1 Million in Cash From ATM

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Slack Just Removed a Bunch of Hate Groups

Workplace messaging app Slack just announced that it banned 28 accounts that were known to be affiliated with hate groups.

Violating Terms

Slack, the team collaboration app commonly used to connect people within workplaces, announced Thursday that it had deleted 28 accounts that were clearly affiliated with hate groups, according to the company’s blog.

The announcement, sparse on concrete details or specifics, states that hate groups are explicitly unwelcome on the app and that Slack will continue to investigate and act on any future reports of hate speech or illegal activity.

“Today we removed 28 accounts because of their clear affiliation with known hate groups,” the statement reads. “The use of Slack by hate groups runs counter to everything we believe in at Slack and is not welcome on our platform.”

Joining the Fight

In recent years, major platforms like Facebook and Twitter have struggled to keep white supremacists and other hate groups from spreading their messages across the internet, though both ban Nazi messaging in Germany, where Holocaust denial is illegal.

Smaller scale platforms like Discord also recently started acting against hate groups, according to The Verge, which speculates that Slack’s focus on business communications instead of cultivating largescale communities may have helped the company avoid the issue of online hatemongering.

Real World Consequences

When hate speech is allowed to propagate online, it can lead to real-world violence — like the murder of Heather Heyer at a 2017 white supremacist rally. But banning hate groups and de-platforming the people behind them, as Slack claims to have done, is a successful strategy.

When right-wing activist Milo Yiannopolous was no longer permitted by online platforms to spread his racist and misogynistic viewpoints, he found himself effectively powerless and millions of dollars in debt, according to The Guardian.

“Using Slack to encourage or incite hatred and violence against groups or individuals because of who they are is antithetical to our values and the very purpose of Slack,” the company’s statement reads. “When we are made aware of an organization using Slack for illegal, harmful, or other prohibited purposes, we will investigate and take appropriate action and we are updating our terms of service to make that more explicit.”

READ MORE: Slack says it removed dozens of accounts affiliated with hate groups [The Verge]

More on content moderation: The UK Government Is Planning to Regulate Hate Speech Online

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Slack Just Removed a Bunch of Hate Groups

NASA: Space Travel Is Causing Astronauts’ Herpes to Flare Up

Tests show that dormant herpes viruses reactivate in more than half the astronauts who travel on the Space Shuttle and International Space station.

Dormant Viruses

Tests show that dormant herpes viruses reactivate in more than half the astronauts who travel on the Space Shuttle and International Space station, according to new NASA research — a phenomenon the space agency says could pose problems for deep space missions.

“During spaceflight there is a rise in secretion of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which are known to suppress the immune system, ” said study author Satish Mehta, a researcher at Johnson Space Center, in a press release. “In keeping with this, we find that astronaut’s immune cells — particularly those that normally suppress and eliminate viruses — become less effective during spaceflight and sometimes for up to 60 days after.”

Less Effective

In research published last month in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, Mehta and colleagues found that astronauts shed more herpes viruses in their urine and saliva than before or after space travel. The culprit, they suspect, is just the stress of spaceflight.

“NASA astronauts endure weeks or even months exposed to microgravity and cosmic radiation — not to mention the extreme G forces of take-off and re-entry,” Mehta said in the press release. “This physical challenge is compounded by more familiar stressors like social separation, confinement and an altered sleep-wake cycle.”

Minor Symptoms

Fortunately, symptoms were relatively rare. Out of 89 astronauts the team studied, only six experienced herpes breakouts in space, according to the paper — a rate of about seven percent.

The viral shedding also got worse the longer the astronauts were off Earth, leading researchers to worry the phenomenon could represent a challenge for deep space travel.

“While only a small proportion develop symptoms, virus reactivation rates increase with spaceflight duration and could present a significant health risk on missions to Mars and beyond,” reads the press release.

READ MORE: Dormant viruses activate during spaceflight [Phys.org]

More on herpes: Immune Cells Working Together To Kill Herpes Virus Captured on Video

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NASA: Space Travel Is Causing Astronauts’ Herpes to Flare Up

New Robot Hand Works Like a Venus Flytrap to Grip Objects

A team from MIT and Harvard has created a robot hand that's not only strong, but also soft — and it could usher in a new era in robotics.

Versatile Touch

If we want robots to take over more tasks for humans, we need to give them more versatile hands.

Right now, many robot hands can only complete specialized tasks. Ones that are strong often have trouble with tasks that require a delicate touch, and soft hands often don’t pack much of a punch when it comes to strength.

But now, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University have created a robot hand that’s not only strong, but also soft — and it could usher in a new era in robotics.

Show of Hands

The team drew inspiration for its hand from the origami magic ball. Rather than using some sort of finger-like grippers, their cone-shaped robot hand envelopes an object and then collapses around it, much like a Venus flytrap captures its prey.

The pressure applied is enough for the hand to lift objects up to 100 times its own weight, but it can also handle far more delicate, light objects. A video released by MIT demonstrates the hand’s ability to pick up everything from a soup can to a banana.

Soft, but Strong

University of California at Santa Cruz robotics professor Michael Wehner, who was not involved in the project, praised the hand, noting its novelty in an interview with MIT News.

“This is a very clever device that uses the power of 3-D printing, a vacuum, and soft robotics to approach the problem of grasping in a whole new way,” Wehner said. “In the coming years, I could imagine seeing soft robots gentle and dexterous enough to pick a rose, yet strong enough to safely lift a hospital patient.”

READ MORE: Robot hand is soft and strong [MIT News]

More on robot hands: This AI-Operated Robotic Hand Moves With “Unprecedented Dexterity”

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New Robot Hand Works Like a Venus Flytrap to Grip Objects

States Are Approving Cannabis to Fight Opioid Addiction

Risky Maneuver

So far, two U.S. states, New York and Illinois, have legalized the use of cannabis to help treat chronic pain as an alternative to addictive opioids.

Ask anyone on the street, and they would probably tell you that cannabis helps people chill out. The chemical similarities between cannabis and opioids make it seem, anecdotally, like cannabis could help reduce opioid addiction. Both drugs mitigate similar symptoms and usher in similar experiences – but cannabis is far less dangerous on its own.

But anecdotal evidence only goes so far.

Mixed Bag

While it’s hard to criticize something that could help alleviate the opioid epidemic, the physiological impact of treating either chronic pain or opioid addiction with cannabis hasn’t undergone nearly the same rigor of scientific study as other medical treatments, according to Scientific American.

Overall, scientists have faced many challenges when it comes to experimenting with cannabis. Though Scientific American reports that some clinical research is finally starting to support it, overall, there’s just not a lot of evidence backing up that anecdotal hunch.

But because other opioid addiction treatments like methadone already work, and because cutting people off of them can be dangerous, scientists argued that switching people already taking prescription opioids over to a prescription of cannabis could actually be dangerous in a perspective letter recently published to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Pain Factor

The big question is whether cannabis will not only be able to help people already addicted to opioids, but also the chronic pain that the opioids may have been for in the first place.

In this case, research is once more limited. Plenty of studies suggest that cannabis treats pain, but a research paper published in European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience earlier this year found that most cannabis pain studies had severe limitations, calling their findings into question.

Legalizing marijuana could help people find all sorts of new treatments. And while exploring new tools to help treat people affected by the opioid epidemic is commendable, cannabis likely won’t end up being the answer.

READ MORE: Can Cannabis Solve the Opioid Crisis? [Scientific American]

More on cannabis: New Senate Bill Would Legalize Marijuana Nationwide

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States Are Approving Cannabis to Fight Opioid Addiction

The Pentagon Wants an Orbital Space Weapon to Blast Enemy Missiles

Space Laser

You know the scene in “Akira” where Tetsuo rips a satellite space weapon out of orbit?

Now the U.S. military wants to try something similar, according to Defense One. The Pentagon is requesting hundreds of millions of dollars to ramp up space-based weaponry including particle beams and space lasers that’ll fire downward at Earthly targets — a dark vision of the militarization of space.

Ballistic Missiles

According to Defense One, a Missile Defense Agency document released this week describes the military’s ambitions to disable ballistic missiles right as they launch.

“The addition of the neutral particle Beam effort will design, develop, and conduct a feasibility demonstration for a space-based Directed Energy Intercept layer,” it reads. “This future system will offer new kill options for the [Ballistic Missile Defense System] and adds another layer of protection for the homeland.”

Orbital Weaponry

Several contractors have prepared prototype orbital weaponry designs for the Pentagon over the years, according to Defense One, but they’ve been enormous and impractical. But now officials hope advances could make such a weapon feasible for a test by 2023.

“We’ve come a long way in terms of the technology we use today to where a full, all-up system wouldn’t be the size of three of these conference rooms, right?” said a senior defense official, according to Defense One. “We now believe we can get it down to a package that we can put on as part of a payload to be placed on orbit.”

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The Pentagon Wants an Orbital Space Weapon to Blast Enemy Missiles

Computer Fraud Laws are Flawed, this Lawyer is Fighting Against Them

Tor Ekeland, hacker lawyer, fights back against the harsh punishments decreed using the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. And one of those fights can be seen in “Trust Machine,” available now at Breaker.io.

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Computer Fraud Laws are Flawed, this Lawyer is Fighting Against Them

NASA Engineer: Humans Should Consider Settling Saturn’s Moon Titan

nasa-engineer-humans-settling-titan

Destination: Titan

If the Earth becomes inhabitable, a NASA engineer named Janelle Wellons says we should think about settling Saturn’s moon Titan, and she has a laundry list of reasons why — including that you might be able to fly by flapping your arms.

“It has a thick atmosphere that could help protect us from space radiation,” Wellons wrote on Reddit. “It is so dense that we could actually attach wings to our arms and fly on this moon. I don’t know, it just seems like an awesome place to live.”

Largest Moon

Wellon’s comments came in a Reddit appearance in which NASA engineers, scientists and pilots fielded questions from the public. One Redditor asked where the team would recommend settling if conditions on Earth became untenable, and Wellons chimed in with what she said was a “more interesting answer than the standard Mars or Moon response.”

“How about we consider one of the water worlds in our solar system — Titan,” she wrote. “Titan is the largest moon of Saturn, larger than the planet Mercury even, so I think we could settle with plenty room.”

Swim Good

In spite of Wellon’s enthusiasm, there are definite downsides to Titan. It only gets about one percent of the sunlight Earth does, and according to NASA’s research its maximum temperature is a wintry -292 degrees Fahrenheit.

But Wellon is still a fan.

“Now as for the conditions on the surface — not as rough as you may think,” she wrote. “Titan is the only place besides Earth known to have liquids in the form of lakes and seas on its surface. These liquids are made of methane but, armed with the right kind of protective gear, one could theoretically be able to swim without harm!”

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NASA Engineer: Humans Should Consider Settling Saturn’s Moon Titan

New Rocket Engine Could Whip You From London to Sydney in 4 Hours

The makers of a new hypersonic rocket engine say it could whip flights from London to Sydney in just four hours, traveling at five times the speed of sound.

Rocket Plane

The makers of a new hypersonic rocket engine say it could whisk flights from London to Sydney in just four hours, traveling at five times the speed of sound. That’s a flight that can take 20 hours on a conventional jetliner.

According to the BBCUK company Reaction Engines says it’s gearing up to test the futuristic craft in Colorado — a startling vision of the future of transportation that could also, if the engine lives up to the hype, inform the future of spaceflight.

Screaming Fist

Reaction Engines, which has backing from the Rolls-Royce and Boeing, calls the new rocket engine the Sabre. It inhales air at lower altitudes, but works more like a rocket when it gets higher up.

“The core can be tested on the ground, but it’s the core that gets you air-breathing from the ground up to the edge of space, at which point there is no more oxygen to breathe and the system transitions to the pure rocket mode,” said Shaun Driscoll, Reaction Engines’ program director, according to the BBC.

Orbiter

The company also says the Sabre engine could push the frontiers of spaceflight, by sending crafts straight into orbit without multiple propellant stages, according to the BBC, which also reported that the the European Space Agency recently signed off on a design review for the Sabre engine.

“The positive conclusion of our Preliminary Design Review marks a major milestone in Sabre development,” ESA’s head of propulsion engineering Mark Ford told the broadcaster. “It confirms the test version of this revolutionary new class of engine is ready for implementation.”

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New Rocket Engine Could Whip You From London to Sydney in 4 Hours

Astronomers Just Found 83 Giant Black Holes at Universe’s Edge

An international team of researchers says it's found 83 new supermassive black holes at extreme end of the visible universe.

Hole Story

An international team of researchers says it’s found 83 new supermassive black holes at extreme end of the visible universe — by looking at light that took so long to reach Earth that it dates from the early universe.

“It is remarkable that such massive dense objects were able to form so soon after the Big Bang,” said Michael Strauss, a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University involved in the research, in a press release. “Understanding how black holes can form in the early universe, and just how common they are, is a challenge for our cosmological models.”

Squad Goals

The discovery was made by 48 astronomers around the world who described the findings in five new papers in The Astrophysical Journal and the Publications of the Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

The finding was based on data taken with the Hyper Suprime-Cam, a “cutting-edge instrument” at the Subaru Telescope at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, in Hawaii, which the researchers combined with readings from three more powerful telescopes around the world.

Quasar Theory

The newly-discovered black holes are quasars, which shoot out matter in powerful jets. The researchers are hoping that more datagathering and analysis will shed light onto how some of the earliest quasars in the universe formed.

“The quasars we discovered will be an interesting subject for further follow-up observations with current and future facilities,” said Yoshiki Matsuok, a researcher at Ehime University who worked on the discovery. “We will also learn about the formation and early evolution of [super massive black holes], by comparing the measured number density and luminosity distribution with predictions from theoretical models.”

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Psoriasis: Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

Articles OnPsoriasis Psoriasis Psoriasis – Psoriasis What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin disorder that causes skin cells to multiply up to 10 times faster than normal. This makes the skin build up into bumpy red patches covered with white scales. They can grow anywhere, but most appear on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back. Psoriasis can’t be passed from person to person. It does sometimes happen in members of the same family.

Psoriasis usually appears in early adulthood. For most people, it affects just a few areas. In severe cases, psoriasis can cover large parts of the body. The patches can heal and then come back throughout a person’s life.

The symptoms of psoriasis vary depending on the type you have. Some common symptoms for plaque psoriasis — the most common variety of the condition — include:

People with psoriasis can also get a type of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis. It causes pain and swelling in the joints. The National Psoriasis Foundation estimates that between 10% to 30% of people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis.

Other types of psoriasis include:

No one knows the exact cause of psoriasis, but experts believe that its a combination of things. Something wrong with the immune system causes inflammation, triggering new skin cells to form too quickly. Normally, skin cells are replaced every 10 to 30 days. With psoriasis, new cells grow every 3 to 4 days. The buildup of old cells being replaced by new ones creates those silver scales.

Psoriasis tends to run in families, but it may be skip generations. For instance, a grandfather and his grandson may be affected, but not the child’s mother.

Things that can trigger an outbreak of psoriasis include:

Physical exam. Its usually easy for your doctor to diagnose psoriasis, especially if you have plaques on areas such as your:

Your doctor will give you a full physical exam and ask if people in your family have psoriasis.

Lab tests. The doctor might do a biopsy — remove a small piece of skin and test it to make sure you dont have a skin infection. Theres no other test to confirm or rule out psoriasis.

Luckily, there are many treatments. Some slow the growth of new skin cells, and others relieve itching and dry skin. Your doctor will select a treatment plan that is right for you based on the size of your rash, where it is on your body, your age, your overall health, and other things. Common treatments include:

Treatments for moderate to severe psoriasis include:

Theres no cure, but treatment greatly reduces symptoms, even in serious cases. Recent studies have suggested that when you better control the inflammation of psoriasis, your risk of heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, and other diseases associated with inflammation go down.

Psoriasis affects:

SOURCES:

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease.

National Psoriasis Foundation.

The Psoriasis Foundation.

American Academy of Dermatology.

UpToDate: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of psoriasis.

FDA: “FDA approves new psoriasis drug Taltz,” FDA approves Amjevita, a biosimilar to Humira.

Medscape: “FDA OKs Biologic Guselkumab (Tremfya) for Plaque Psoriasis.”

National Psoriasis Foundation: Statistics.

PubMed Health: “Plaque Psoriasis.”

World Health Organization: Global report on psoriasis.

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Psoriasis: Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

Psoriasis Treatment, Causes, Pictures, Symptoms, Types & Diet

Psoriasis facts

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a noncontagious, chronic skin disease that produces plaques of thickened, scaly skin. The dry flakes of silvery-white skin scales result from the excessively rapid proliferation of skin cells. Psoriasis is fundamentally an immune system problem. The proliferation of skin cells is triggered by inflammatory chemicals produced by specialized white blood cells called T-cells. Psoriasis commonly affects the skin of the elbows, knees, and scalp.

The spectrum of this autoimmune disease ranges from mild with limited involvement of small areas of skin to severe psoriasis with large, thick plaques to red inflamed skin affecting the entire body surface.

Psoriasis is considered an incurable, long-term (chronic) inflammatory skin condition. It has a variable course, periodically improving and worsening. It is not unusual for psoriasis to spontaneously clear for years and stay in remission. Many people note a worsening of their symptoms in the colder winter months.

Psoriasis, an immune-mediated inflammatory disease, affects all races and both sexes. Although psoriasis can be seen in people of any age, from babies to seniors, most commonly patients are first diagnosed in their early adult years. The self-esteem and quality of life of patients with psoriasis is often diminished because of the appearance of their skin. Recently, it has become clear that people with psoriasis are more likely to have diabetes, high blood lipids, cardiovascular disease, and a variety of other inflammatory diseases. This may reflect an inability to control inflammation. Caring for psoriasis takes medical teamwork.

No. Psoriasis is not contagious. Psoriasis is not transmitted sexually or by physical contact. Psoriasis is not caused by lifestyle, diet, or bad hygiene.

While the exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, researchers consider environmental, genetic, and immune system factors as playing roles in the establishment of the disease.

What are psoriasis causes and risk factors?

The exact cause remains unknown. A combination of elements, including genetic predisposition and environmental factors, are involved. It is common for psoriasis to be found in members of the same family. Defects in the immune system and the control of inflammation are thought to play major roles. Certain medications like beta-blockers have been linked to psoriasis. Despite research over the past 30 years, the “master switch” that turns on psoriasis is still a mystery.

What are the different types of psoriasis?

There are several different forms of psoriasis, including plaque psoriasis or psoriasis vulgaris (common type), guttate psoriasis (small, drop-like spots), inverse psoriasis (in the folds like of the underarms, navel, groin, and buttocks), and pustular psoriasis (small pus-filled yellowish blisters). When the palms and the soles are involved, this is known as palmoplantar psoriasis. In erythrodermic psoriasis, the entire skin surface is involved with the disease. Patients with this form of psoriasis often feel cold and may develop congestive heart failure if they have a preexisting heart problem. Nail psoriasis produces yellow pitted nails that can be confused with nail fungus. Scalp psoriasis can be severe enough to produce localized hair loss, plenty of dandruff, and severe itching.

Can psoriasis affect my joints?

Yes, psoriasis is associated with inflamed joints in about one-third of those affected. In fact, sometimes joint pains may be the only sign of the disorder, with completely clear skin. The joint disease associated with psoriasis is referred to as psoriatic arthritis. Patients may have inflammation of any joints (arthritis), although the joints of the hands, knees, and ankles tend to be most commonly affected. Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory, destructive form of arthritis and needs to be treated with medications in order to stop the disease progression.

The average age for onset of psoriatic arthritis is 30-40 years of age. Usually, the skin symptoms and signs precede the onset of the arthritis.

Can psoriasis affect only my nails?

Yes, psoriasis may involve solely the nails in a limited number of patients. Usually, the nail signs accompany the skin and arthritis symptoms and signs. Nail psoriasis is typically very difficult to treat. Treatment options are somewhat limited and include potent topical steroids applied at the nail-base cuticle, injection of steroids at the nail-base cuticle, and oral or systemic medications as described below for the treatment of psoriasis.

What are psoriasis symptoms and signs? What does psoriasis look like?

Plaque psoriasis signs and symptoms appear as red or pink small scaly bumps that merge into plaques of raised skin. Plaque psoriasis classically affects skin over the elbows, knees, and scalp and is often itchy. Although any area may be involved, plaque psoriasis tends to be more common at sites of friction, scratching, or abrasion. Sometimes pulling off one of these small dry white flakes of skin causes a tiny blood spot on the skin. This is a special diagnostic sign in psoriasis called the Auspitz sign.

Fingernails and toenails often exhibit small pits (pinpoint depressions) and/or larger yellowish-brown separations of the nail from the nail bed at the fingertip called distal onycholysis. Nail psoriasis may be confused with and incorrectly diagnosed as a fungal nail infection.

Guttate psoriasis symptoms and signs include bumps or small plaques ( inch or less) of red itchy, scaling skin that may appear explosively, affecting large parts of the skin surface simultaneously, after a sore throat.

In inverse psoriasis, genital lesions, especially in the groin and on the head of the penis, are common. Psoriasis in moist areas like the navel or the area between the buttocks (intergluteal folds) may look like flat red plaques without much scaling. This may be confused with other skin conditions like fungal infections, yeast infections, allergic rashes, or bacterial infections.

Symptoms and signs of pustular psoriasis include at rapid onset of groups of small bumps filled with pus on the torso. Patients are often systemically ill and may have a fever.

Erythrodermic psoriasis appears as extensive areas of red skin often involving the entire skin surface. Patients may often feel chilled.

Scalp psoriasis may look like severe dandruff with dry flakes and red areas of skin. It can be difficult to differentiate between scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis when only the scalp is involved. However, the treatment is often very similar for both conditions.

How do health care professionals diagnose psoriasis?

The diagnosis of psoriasis is typically made by obtaining information from the physical examination of the skin, medical history, and relevant family health history.

Sometimes lab tests, including a microscopic examination of skin cells obtained from a skin biopsy, may be necessary.

Eczema vs. psoriasis

Occasionally, it can be difficult to differentiate eczematous dermatitis from psoriasis. This is when a biopsy can be quite valuable to distinguish between the two conditions. Of note, both eczematous dermatitis and psoriasis often respond to similar treatments. Certain types of eczematous dermatitis can be cured where this is not the case for psoriasis.

How many people have psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a fairly common skin condition and is estimated to affect approximately 1%-3% of the U.S. population. It currently affects roughly 7.5 million to 8.5 million people in the U.S. It is seen worldwide in about 125 million people. Interestingly, African Americans have about half the rate of psoriasis as Caucasians.

Is psoriasis contagious?

No. A person cannot catch it from someone else, and one cannot pass it to anyone else by skin-to-skin contact. Directly touching someone with psoriasis every day will never transmit the condition.

Is there a cure for psoriasis?

No, psoriasis is not currently curable. However, it can go into remission, producing an entirely normal skin surface. Ongoing research is actively making progress on finding better treatments and a possible cure in the future.

Is psoriasis hereditary?

Although psoriasis is not contagious from person to person, there is a known hereditary tendency. Therefore, family history is very helpful in making the diagnosis.

What health care specialists treat psoriasis?

Dermatologists are doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of psoriasis, and rheumatologists specialize in the treatment of joint disorders and psoriatic arthritis. Many kinds of doctors may treat psoriasis, including dermatologists, family physicians, internal medicine physicians, rheumatologists, and other medical doctors. Some patients have also seen other allied health professionals such as acupuncturists, holistic practitioners, chiropractors, and nutritionists.

The American Academy of Dermatology and the National Psoriasis Foundation are excellent sources to help find doctors who specialize in this disease. Not all dermatologists and rheumatologists treat psoriasis. The National Psoriasis Foundation has one of the most up-to-date databases of current psoriasis specialists.

It is now apparent that patients with psoriasis are prone to a variety of other disease conditions, so-called comorbidities. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, inflammatory bowel disease, hyperlipidemia, liver problems, and arthritis are more common in patients with psoriasis. It is very important for all patients with psoriasis to be carefully monitored by their primary care providers for these associated illnesses. The joint inflammation of psoriatic arthritis and its complications are frequently managed by rheumatologists.

What are psoriasis treatment options?

There are many effective psoriasis treatment choices. The best treatment is individually determined by the treating doctor and depends, in part, on the type of disease, the severity, and amount of skin involved and the type of insurance coverage.

For mild disease that involves only small areas of the body (less than 10% of the total skin surface), topical treatments (skin applied), such as creams, lotions, and sprays, may be very effective and safe to use. Occasionally, a small local injection of steroids directly into a tough or resistant isolated psoriatic plaque may be helpful.

For moderate to severe psoriasis that involves much larger areas of the body (>10% or more of the total skin surface), topical products may not be effective or practical to apply. This may require ultraviolet light treatments or systemic (total body treatments such as pills or injections) medicines. Internal medications usually have greater risks. Because topical therapy has no effect on psoriatic arthritis, systemic medications are generally required to stop the progression to permanent joint destruction.

It is important to keep in mind that as with any medical condition, all medicines carry possible side effects. No medication is 100% effective for everyone, and no medication is 100% safe. The decision to use any medication requires thorough consideration and discussion with your health care provider. The risks and potential benefit of medications have to be considered for each type of psoriasis and the individual. Of two patients with precisely the same amount of disease, one may tolerate it with very little treatment, while the other may become incapacitated and require treatment internally.

A proposal to minimize the toxicity of some of these medicines has been commonly called “rotational” therapy. The idea is to change the anti-psoriasis drugs every six to 24 months in order to minimize the toxicity of one medication. Depending on the medications selected, this proposal can be an option. An exception to this proposal is the use of the newer biologic medications as described below. An individual who has been using strong topical steroids over large areas of their body for prolonged periods may benefit from stopping the steroids for a while and rotating onto a different therapy.

What creams, lotions, and home remedies are available for psoriasis?

Topical (skin applied) treatments include topical corticosteroids, vitamin D analogue creams like calcipotriene (Calcitrene, Dovonex, Sorilux), topical retinoids (tazarotene [Tazorac]), moisturizers, topical immunomodulators (tacrolimus and pimecrolimus), coal tar, anthralin, and others.

Are psoriasis shampoos available?

Coal tar shampoos are very useful in controlling psoriasis of the scalp. Using the shampoo daily can be very beneficial adjunctive therapy. There are a variety of over-the-counter shampoos available without a prescription. There is no evidence that one shampoo is superior to another. Generally, the selection of a tar shampoo is simply a matter of personal preference.

What oral medications are available for psoriasis?

Oral medications include methotrexate (Trexall), acitretin (Soriatane), cyclosporine (Neoral), apremilast (Otezla), and others. Oral prednisone (corticosteroid) is generally not used in psoriasis and may cause a disease flare-up if administered.

What injections or infusions are available for psoriasis?

Recently, a new group of drugs called biologics have become available to treat psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. They are produced by living cells cultures in an industrial setting. They are all proteins and therefore must be administered through the skin because they would otherwise be degraded during digestion. All biologics work by suppressing certain specific portions of the immune inflammatory response that are overactive in psoriasis. A convenient method of categorizing these drugs is on the basis of their site of action:

Drug choice can be complicated, and your physician will help in selecting the best option. In some patients. it may be possible to predict drug efficacy on the basis of a prospective patient’s genetics. It appears that the presence of the HLA-Cw6 gene is correlated with a beneficial response to ustekinumab.

Newer drugs are in development and no doubt will be available in the near future. As this class of drugs is fairly new, ongoing monitoring and adverse effect reporting continues and long-term safety continues to be monitored. Biologics are all comparatively expensive especially in view of the fact they none of them are curative. Recently, the FDA has attempted to address this problem by permitting the use of “biosimilar” drugs. These drugs are structurally identical to a specific biologic drug and are presumed to produce identical therapeutic responses in human beings to the original, but are produced using different methodology. Biosimilars ought to be available at some fraction of the cost of the original. If this will be an effective approach remains to be seen. The only biosimilar available currently is infliximab (Inflectra). Two other biosimilar drugs have been accepted by the FDA, an etanercept equivalent (Erelzi) and an adalimumab equivalent (Amjevita) — but currently, neither are available.

Some biologics are to be administered by self-injections for home use while others are given by intravenous infusions in the doctor’s office. Biologics have some screening requirements such as a tuberculosis screening test (TB skin test or PPD test) and other labs prior to starting therapy. As with any drug, side effects are possible with all biologic drugs. Common potential side effects include mild local injection-site reactions (redness and tenderness). There is concern of serious infections and potential malignancy with nearly all biologic drugs. Precautions include patients with known or suspected hepatitis B infection, active tuberculosis, and possibly HIV/AIDS. As a general consideration, these drugs may not be an ideal choice for patients with a history of cancer and patients actively undergoing cancer therapy. In particular, there may be an increased association of lymphoma in patients taking a biologic.

Biologics are expensive medications ranging in price from several to tens of thousands of dollars per year per person. Their use may be limited by availability, cost, and insurance approval. Not all insurance drug plans fully cover these drugs for all conditions. Patients need to check with their insurance and may require a prior authorization request for coverage approval. Some of the biologic manufacturers have patient-assistance programs to help with financial issues. Therefore, choice of the right medication for your condition depends on many factors, not all of them medical. Additionally, convenience of receiving the medication and lifestyle affect the choice of the right biologic medication.

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Is there an anti-psoriasis diet?

Most patients with psoriasis seem to be overweight. Since there is a predisposition for those patients to develop cardiovascular disease and diabetes, it is suggested strongly that they try to maintain a normal body weight. Although evidence is sparse, it has been suggested that slender patients are more likely to respond to treatment.

Although dietary studies are notoriously difficult to perform and interpret, it seems likely that an anti-inflammatorydiet whose fat content is composed of polyunsaturated oils like olive oil and fish oil is beneficial for psoriasis. The so-called Mediterranean diet is an example.

What about light therapy for psoriasis?

Light therapy is also called phototherapy. There are several types of medical light therapies that include PUVA (an acronym for psoralen + UVA), UVB, and narrow-band UVB. These artificial light sources have been used for decades and generally are available in only certain physician’s offices. There are a few companies who may sell light boxes or light bulbs for prescribed home light therapy.

Natural sunlight is also used to treat psoriasis. Daily short, controlled exposures to natural sunlight may help or clear psoriasis in some patients. Skin unaffected by psoriasis and sensitive areas such as the face and hands may need to be protected during sun exposure.

There are also multiple newer light sources like lasers and photodynamic therapy (use of a light activating medication and a special light source) that have been used to treat psoriasis.

PUVA is a special treatment using a photosensitizing drug and timed artificial-light exposure composed of wavelengths of ultraviolet light in the UVA spectrum. The photosensitizing drug in PUVA is called psoralen. Both the psoralen and the UVA light must be administered within one hour of each other for a response to occur. These treatments are usually given in a physician’s office two to three times per week. Several weeks of PUVA is usually required before seeing significant results. The light exposure time is gradually increased during each subsequent treatment. Psoralens may be given orally as a pill or topically as a bath or lotion. After a short incubation period, the skin is exposed to a special wavelength of ultraviolet light called UVA. Patients using PUVA are generally sun sensitive and must avoid sun exposure for a period of time after PUVA. Common side effects with PUVA include burning, aging of the skin, increased brown spots called lentigines, and an increased risk of skin cancer, including melanoma. The relative increase in skin cancer risk with PUVA treatment is controversial. PUVA treatments need to be closely monitored by a physician and discontinued when a maximum number of treatments have been reached.

Narrow-band UVB phototherapy is an artificial light treatment using very limited wavelengths of light. It is frequently given daily or two to three times per week. UVB is also a component of natural sunlight. UVB dosage is based on time and exposure is gradually increased as tolerated. Potential side effects with UVB include skin burning, premature aging, and possible increased risk of skin cancer. The relative increase in skin cancer risk with UVB treatment needs further study but is probably less than PUVA or traditional UVB.

Sometimes UVB is combined with other treatments such as tar application. Goeckerman is a special psoriasis therapy using this combination. Some centers have used this therapy in a “day care” type of setting where patients are in the psoriasis treatment clinic all day for several weeks and go home each night.

Recently, a laser (excimer laser XTRAC) has been developed that generates ultraviolet light in the same range as narrow-band ultraviolet light. This light can be beneficial for psoriasis localized to small areas of skin like the palms, soles, and scalp. It is impractical to use in in extensive disease.

What is the long-term prognosis with psoriasis? What are complications of psoriasis?

Overall, the prognosis for most patients with psoriasis is good. While it is not curable, it is controllable. As described above, recent studies show an association of psoriasis and other medical conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Is it possible to prevent psoriasis?

Since psoriasis is inherited, it is impossible at this time to suggest anything that is likely to prevent its development aside from indulging in a healthy lifestyle.

What does the future hold for psoriasis?

Psoriasis research is heavily funded and holds great promise for the future. Just the last five to 10 years have produced great improvements in treatment of the disease with medications aimed at controlling precise sites of the process of inflammation. Ongoing research is needed to decipher the ultimate underlying cause of this disease.

Is there a national psoriasis support group?

Yes, the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) is an organization dedicated to helping patients with psoriasis and furthering research in this field. They hold national and local chapter meetings. The NPF web site (http://www.psoriasis.org/home/) shares up-to-date reliable medical information and statistics on the condition.

Where can people get more information on psoriasis?

A dermatologist, the American Academy of Dermatology at http://www.AAD.org, and the National Psoriasis Foundation at http://www.psoriasis.org/home/ may be excellent sources of more information.

There are many ongoing clinical trials for psoriasis all over the United States and in the world. Many of these clinical trials are ongoing at academic or university medical centers and are frequently open to patients without cost.

Clinical trials frequently have specific requirements for types and severity of psoriasis that may be enrolled into a specific trial. Patients need to contact these centers and inquire regarding the specific study requirements. Some studies have restrictions on what recent medications have been used for psoriasis, current medication, and overall health.

Some of the many medical centers in the U.S. offering clinical trials for psoriasis include the University of California, San Francisco Department of Dermatology, the University of California, Irvine Department of Dermatology, and the St. Louis University Medical School.

Medically Reviewed on 2/1/2018

References

Alwan, W., and F.O. Nestle. “Pathogenesis and Treatment of Psoriasis: Exploiting Pathophysiological Pathways for Precision Medicine.” Clin Exp Rheumatol 33 (Suppl. 93): S2-S6.

Arndt, Kenneth A., eds., et al. “Topical Therapies for Psoriasis.” Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery 35.2S Mar. 2016: S35-S46.

Conrad, Curdin, Michel Gilliet. “Psoriasis: From Pathogenesis to Targeted Therapies.” Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology Jan. 18, 2015.

Dowlatshahi, E.A., E.A.M van der Voort, L.R. Arends, and T. Nijsten. “Markers of Systemic Inflammation in Psoriasis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” British Journal of Dermatology 169.2 Aug. 2013: 266282.

Greb, Jacqueline E., et al. “Psoriasis.” Nature Reviews Disease Primers 2 (2016): 1-17.

National Psoriasis Foundation. “Systemic Treatments: Biologics and Oral Treatments.” 1-25.

Ogawa, Eisaku, Yuki Sato, Akane Minagawa, and Ryuhei Okuyama. “Pathogenesis of Psoriasis and Development of Treatment.” The Journal of Dermatology 2017: 1-9.

Villaseor-Park, Jennifer, David Wheeler, and Lisa Grandinetti. “Psoriasis: Evolving Treatment for a Complex Disease.” Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine 79.6 June 2012: 413-423.

Woo, Yu Ri, Dae Ho Cho, and Hyun Jeong Park. “Molecular Mechanisms and Management of a Cutaneous Inflammatory Disorder: Psoriasis.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences 18 Dec. 11, 2017: 1-26.

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Psoriasis Treatment, Causes, Pictures, Symptoms, Types & Diet