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15 Stem Cell Therapy For Pain Questions, Answered

Stem cell therapy is an exciting area of research that holds tremendous potential for helping chronic pain patients reduce their pain. Rapid advances in this field of medicine are buoying doctors and patients hopes that the exciting therapy could change lives. Advances are being made nearly every day, and as scientists further understand the nature of these cells, even more uses for them are becoming known. If youve ever wondered about how stem cell therapy for pain could help you, these 15 questions delve into how this therapy works and who it could be used for.

Science has a strong interest in stem cells because of their renewing properties and the ability of these cells to develop into any type of tissue in the body of the organism. Researchers believe that they have the potential for immeasurable clinical uses in health. Research is advancing many stem cell based therapies for people who suffer from diseases such as:

Mayo Clinic explains how this therapy works:

Stem cell therapy, also known as regenerative medicine, promotes the reparative response of diseased, dysfunctional or injured tissue using stem cells or their derivativesResearchers grow stem cells in a lab. These stem cells are manipulated to specialize into specific types of cells, such as heart muscle cells, blood cells or nerve cells. The specialized cells can then be implanted into a person.

Stem cell therapy is actually a type of treatment within the larger umbrella of regenerative medicine. Our longer post on regenerative medicine discusses the types of treatments available, including stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma injections.

Stem cells are essentially blank canvases that can transform into any type of cell in the human body. Specialized cells like bone cells, liver cells, and heart cells begin as stem cells. The process of the cells transforming from blank slates into specialized cells is called differentiation.

Stem cell therapy is the process of injecting these cells into damaged areas of the body, such as arthritic knees or shoulders. The stem cells then differentiate into damaged tissue, helping to regenerate the entire area.

There are two different types of natural stem cells and one that is genetically reprogrammed within the laboratory. Embryonic stem cells are the most immature and are found within the early stages of a growing embryo, usually after it has been left to develop five to six days. After the egg and sperm have united, the fertilized egg divides and creates stem cells that differentiate into the specialized cells the body requires to function. Many techniques using stem cells for pain therapies no longer rely on these types of stem cells.

The second type of stem cell, found naturally in organisms, is adult stem cells. These are present in developed tissue, such as muscle, skin, bone, brain, and blood. Also called tissue stem cells, they can self-renew and generate one specialized cell type. Under normal circumstances these tissue stem cells, or adult stem cells, will generate the type of cells that make up the organ in which they reside. These cells are used by the body to divide and repair injured areas or regenerate into specialized cells to replace the ones that are dead or damaged.

The third type of stem cells, which are genetically reprogrammed in the laboratory, are induced pluripotent stem cells. After years of stem cell research and development, it was discovered that artificially triggering certain genetic components would prompt different cells to become pluripotent stem cells, which were similar in nature to embryonic stem cells. This helps avoid ethical concerns associated with using human embryonic tissue for research and regenerative medicine.

The following video from an Arizona pain doctor goes into detail about how stem cell therapy for pain works.

There are twomajor types of stem cells: those harvested from adults and those harvested from embryonic tissues.

However, there are other ways to retrieve stem cells that reduce the use of embryonic stem cells, including:

As the Euro Stem Cell organization reports, some of these types of stem cells are more effective than others.

One source of stem cells is human embryos. These cells are called pluripotent stem cells, and theyre very useful to researchers because they can be multiplied indefinitely in the laboratory. Although these cells are often cultivated from embryos that are just a few days old, they can also be taken from fetal tissue thats older than eight weeks, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The majority of therapeutic stem cells come from adults. Even though embryos are the richest source of stem cells, humans of all ages have stem cells. Stem cells give adults the ability to replace damaged tissue, heal wounds, and grow hair.The patients own adult stem cells are extracted, purified, concentrated, and then injected into the damaged tissue. This process is usually non-surgical and the individual has very little recovery time. Most patients report only some soreness around the site of the injection. Sometimes there is also slight bruising. There have been no reports of serious side effects from treatments using stem cell therapy.

Newer research has given scientists the ability to reprogram specialized adult cells so they essentially return to their original stem cell state. These reprogrammed cells are known as induced pluripotent stem cells. Although this ability exists, scientists arent sure how or if these artificially created stem cells behave differently than other types.

Despite these unknowns, the reprogrammed stem cells are already being used in the development of medicines and helping scientists learn more about specific types of diseases, according to NIH.

Stem cells have many uses, and the full spectrum of their application isnt yet known. One way stem cells are helping researchers is by illuminating the inner workings of various diseases. Stem cells offer scientists the ability to model human disease progression in a laboratory setting.

This is exciting because many studies rely on animals with similar, but not exact, biology to humans. The more scientists can understand about human-specific disease progression, the greater insight they have regarding potential treatments.

For example, one of the earliest uses for stem cells were bone marrow transplants, used to help patients with leukemia or sickle cell anemia heal. This treatment has been used for more than 40 years. In addition, stem cell therapy may be used to treat:

The application of most interest to chronicpatients is likely the emerging field of regenerative medicine, which is the science of helping tissues regenerate. This field examines the potential of stem cells to repair damaged tissue and heal areas of the body bone and potentially organs, too affected by arthritis, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, Parkinsons disease, and more.

Exciting research has also uncovered the potential for stem cells to expand the number of lungs available for transplant. A portion of lungs available for transplant arent used because they become damaged. However, research from the American Physiological Society has found stem cells could help repair the organs and prepare them to save lives.

Other recent researchstories include:

For many of the studies underway, time is needed to fully examine the benefits and potential dangers of this treatment. Another obstacle is obtaining specific types of adult stem cells. Theyre difficult to grow in the laboratory, making it hard to produce the large numbers available for research.

Another potential issue with donor stem cells is the possibility of rejection. The immune system of the recipient could reject the cells, essentially making it difficult for the treatment to work as intended and causing ancillary problems.

Finally, since this is such a new treatment area, some government agencies are calling for more oversight of its use. Others are pushing back, claiming that stem cell therapy provides a new area of treatment for patients who have exhausted all other options.

That being said, even though there are complications and roadblocks to its use, the benefits of stem cell therapy could be huge. As the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine notes:

[A]n analysis of the potential benefits of stem cells based therapies indicates that 128 million people in the United States alone may benefit with the largest impact on patients with Cardiovascular disorders (5.5 million), autoimmune disorders (35 million) and diabetes (16 million US patients and more than 217 million worldwide).

Californias Stem Cell Agency gives a great overview of this process, noting:

In order to be approved by the FDA for use in human trials, stem cells must be grown in good manufacturing practice (GMP) conditions. Under GMP standards, a cell line has to be manufactured so that each group of cells is grown in an identical, repeatable, sterile environment. This ensures that each batch of cells has the same properties, and each person getting a stem cell therapy gets an equivalent treatment. Although the FDA hasnt yet issued guidelines for how pluripotent stem cells need to meet GMP standards, achieving this level of consistency could mean knowing the exact identity and quantity of every component involved in growing the cells.

Stem cell therapy is being studied for a number of chronic pain conditions, especiallypain in the:

Stem cell therapy for pain could help reduce the inflammation that results in chronic pain, or it could help to heal regenerative conditions that lead to pain, such as arthritis.

Using stem cell therapy for knee pain is one of the leading areas of research. Stem cell therapy for knees can be provided as stem cell injections or as blood platelet treatments from the body itself (another form of regenerative medicine).These two treatments may help relieve pain associated with:

The leading researchers on stem cell therapy for knee pain claim that it can help patients avoid surgery, with its associated costs and risks.

Since stem cell therapy promises to treat a number of conditions related to degenerative conditions, like arthritis and tendonitis, stem cell therapy may present a great treat option for hip pain related to these causes.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is leading the efforts in research, but currently reports the following:

At present, there are no approved stem cell therapies for MS. Larger, longer-term, controlled studies are needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of using stem cells to treat MS. When the results of these and subsequent clinical trials are available, it should be possible to determine what the optimal cells, delivery methods, safety and actual effectiveness of these current experimental therapies might be for different people with MS.

Potentially. One of our sister clinics, Arizona Pain, is participating in a study evaluating the potential of stem cells to reduce back pain related to degenerative disc disease. This progressive condition sometimes results from injury, but other times has no clear cause.

The study is exciting because it involves stem cells harvested from the bone marrow of healthy, young adults, and therefore itdoesnt come with the ethical concerns of embryonic stem cells. So far, the results have been very positive, and a significant number of people who received stem cells for their back pain have experienced reduced discomfort and improved quality of life.

This study is currently in Phase III, which is the phase immediately preceding potential FDA approval. This means it could soon be available to many more patients and potentially covered by insurance, although each insurance companys coverage policy varies.

Absolutely, and the research into this area is very promising. In fact, scientists have recently uncovered the specific type of stem cell most likely to reduce arthritis pain. Theyre special cells that are specifically able to rebuild tissue, bone, and cartilage, potentially offering much relief to osteoarthritis patients.

What other questions do you have regarding stem cell therapy for pain? If youre ready to learn more about using stem cell therapy to treatyour pain, click the button below to find a pain specialist in your area.

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15 Stem Cell Therapy For Pain Questions, Answered

Regenexx Stem Cell Procedures | 100% Non-Surgical Pain Treatment

Stem Cell Therapy Facts & Information

Stem Cell Therapyas an alternative solution to invasive surgery for patients suffering from a wide range of degenerative conditions and injuries including:

The Regenexx Stem Cell Therapy protocol produces the highest stem cell concentrations possible. All procedures utilize advanced imaging guidance to ensure the stem cells are delivered precisely to the area in need to assist healing in the damaged tissues.

Our bodys stem cells are responsible for healing us. However, as we age or sustain injury, we sometimes cannot get enough of these healing cells into the injured area. Stem Cell Therapy solves this problem by harvesting the patients own cells and then injecting them directly into the area in need. These cells can assist in the healing of damaged tissue, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bone while decreasing downtime and avoiding painful rehabilitation periods typically associated with surgery. In a series of three injections spaced roughly two to five days apart, the patient can be well on their way to a full recovery.

TheStem Cell Therapy protocol is a series of three procedures that happen over the course of several days.

PRE-INJECTION: A dextrose solution that stimulates surrounding soft tissue & prepares it for stem cell procedure.

SAME-DAY STEM CELL PROCEDURE: In the morning, blood and bone marrow samples are taken. Later that day, stem cells and blood platelets are introduced into the injury site.

POST-INJECTION: Additional platelet stimulants are introduced to invigorate stem cells and boost healing process.

Stem Cell Therapy is intended to help your body actually heal injured tissue. Initial improvement and reduction in pain may be experienced very quickly, with continued improvement as the healing progresses. Patient studies have shown Stem Cell Therapy to be very effective at relieving pain, while MRI images have confirmed successful tissue repair following stem cell therapy. The need for surgery can be greatly reduced by treating injured tissues before the damage progresses and the condition is irreversible.

Have you been diagnosed with one the following:

Are you currently experiencing:

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Regenexx Stem Cell Procedures | 100% Non-Surgical Pain Treatment

Stem Cell Therapy for Knee Injuries and Arthritis

Utilizing your own stem cells to help the healing process of injured or degenerated jointsThe human body is made of billions of specialized cells that form specific organs like the brain, skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and bone. Each day these cells go through a degenerative and regenerative process. As older cells die, new cells are born from stem cells with the unique capability of being able to create multiple types of other cells. However, when tissues are injured, the degenerative process exceeds this regenerative process, resulting in structures that become weaker, painful and less functional. While there are several types of stem cells, those that are best at promoting musculoskeletal healing (tendon, ligament, cartilage and bone) are found in bone marrow. These mesenchymal stem cells, or MSCs, are essential to successful patient outcomes and at Stem Cell ARTS we utilize the patented Regenexx Stem Cell Protocol, which iscapable of yielding much higher concentrations of these important cells.Most Commonly Treated Knee Conditions and InjuriesBelow is a list of the most common knee injuries and conditions that we treat with stem cells or platelet procedures. This is not an all-inclusive list.Knee Patient Outcome Data

This Regenexx bone marrow derived stem cell treatment outcome data analysis is part of the Regenexx data download of patients who were tracked in the Regenexx advanced patient registry.

Regenexx has published more data on stem cell safety in peer reviewed medical research for orthopedic applications than any other group world-wide. This is a report of 1,591 patients and 1,949 procedures treated with the Regenexx Stem Cell Procedure. Based on our analysis of this treatment registry data, the Regenexx Stem Cell Procedure is about as safe as any typical injection procedure, which is consistent with what we see every day in the clinic.

To use, begin playing the first video. Then use the Playlist Dropdown Menu in the upper left corner of the video display to show all video titles. Use the Scroll Bar on the right hand side of the playlist to browse all video titles if required.

These non-surgical stem cell injection procedures happen within a single day and may offer a viable alternative for those who are facing surgery or even joint replacement. Patients are typically able to return to normal activity following the procedure and are able to avoid the painful and lengthy rehabilitation periods that are typically required to help restore strength, mobility and range-of-motion following invasive joint surgeries. Lastly, patients are far less vulnerable to the risks of surgeries, such as infection and blood clots.

Modern techniques in todays medicine allows us to withdraw stem cells from bone marrow, concentrate them through a lab process and then re-inject them precisely into the injured tissues in other areas of the body using advanced imaging guidance. Through Fluoroscopy and MSK Ultrasound, were able to ensure the cells are being introduced into the exact area of need. When the stem cells are re-injected, they enhance the natural repair process of degenerated and injured tendons, ligaments, and arthritic joints Turning the tables on the natural breakdown process that occurs from aging, overuse and injury.

If you are suffering from a joint injury or degenerative condition such as osteoarthritis, you may be a good candidate for a stem cell procedure. Please complete the form below and we will immediately send you an email with additional information and next steps in determining whether youre a candidate for these advanced stem cell procedures.

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Stem Cell Therapy for Knee Injuries and Arthritis

Stem Cell Therapy in Richmond Start Healing Chronic Pain …

Stem cell therapy is a targeted treatment that activates your bodys own natural ability to heal and regenerate. With a simple in-office procedure you will improve your quality of life and potentially avoid surgery.

Research continues to show an increasing number of potential benefits from the anti inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and regenerative actions of stem cells. Stem cell therapy treats pain and chronic conditions at their source, returning you to the things you enjoy.

Our stem cell therapy treatment utilizes umbilical cord derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells from FDA regulated cord banks. Mesenchymal Stem Cells are specialized cells that are able to receive signals from the other cells in your body. Stem cells then seek out inflammation and degeneration and go to that location to begin repairing tissue.

Stem cells have been shown to help repair muscle, bone, cartilage and tendons. Research has indicated that stem cells can benefit a wide variety of health complications and may assist in individuals living stronger, healthier lives.

Our mission is simple: Change the lives of our patients by providing an integrative, holistic approach to healing.

We help people suffering from chronic health conditions, chronic pain, autoimmune issues, and many other undiagnosed syndromes and health problems.

We are passionate about caring for our patients who, until now, were not able to find answers and treatments for their underlying health issues.

Regenerative medicine through stem cell therapy is the future of health care and, for our patients, THE FUTURE IS NOW!

Are you a candidate for regenerative stem cell therapy? The answer is YES if you suffer from any of the following:

Were here to help you heal and restore your health today! Please contact us now using the form below to explore how stem cell therapy can help you find relief and embrace your life again!

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Stem Cell Therapy in Richmond Start Healing Chronic Pain …

Stem Cell Basics I. | stemcells.nih.gov

Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In addition, in many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.

Stem cells are distinguished from other cell types by two important characteristics. First, they are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity. Second, under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become tissue- or organ-specific cells with special functions. In some organs, such as the gut and bone marrow, stem cells regularly divide to repair and replace worn out or damaged tissues. In other organs, however, such as the pancreas and the heart, stem cells only divide under special conditions.

Until recently, scientists primarily worked with two kinds of stem cells from animals and humans: embryonic stem cells and non-embryonic “somatic” or “adult” stem cells. The functions and characteristics of these cells will be explained in this document. Scientists discovered ways to derive embryonic stem cells from early mouse embryos more than 30 years ago, in 1981. The detailed study of the biology of mouse stem cells led to the discovery, in 1998, of a method to derive stem cells from human embryos and grow the cells in the laboratory. These cells are called human embryonic stem cells. The embryos used in these studies were created for reproductive purposes through in vitro fertilization procedures. When they were no longer needed for that purpose, they were donated for research with the informed consent of the donor. In 2006, researchers made another breakthrough by identifying conditions that would allow some specialized adult cells to be “reprogrammed” genetically to assume a stem cell-like state. This new type of stem cell, called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), will be discussed in a later section of this document.

Stem cells are important for living organisms for many reasons. In the 3- to 5-day-old embryo, called a blastocyst, the inner cells give rise to the entire body of the organism, including all of the many specialized cell types and organs such as the heart, lungs, skin, sperm, eggs and other tissues. In some adult tissues, such as bone marrow, muscle, and brain, discrete populations of adult stem cells generate replacements for cells that are lost through normal wear and tear, injury, or disease.

Given their unique regenerative abilities, stem cells offer new potentials for treating diseases such as diabetes, and heart disease. However, much work remains to be done in the laboratory and the clinic to understand how to use these cells for cell-based therapies to treat disease, which is also referred to as regenerative or reparative medicine.

Laboratory studies of stem cells enable scientists to learn about the cells essential properties and what makes them different from specialized cell types. Scientists are already using stem cells in the laboratory to screen new drugs and to develop model systems to study normal growth and identify the causes of birth defects.

Research on stem cells continues to advance knowledge about how an organism develops from a single cell and how healthy cells replace damaged cells in adult organisms. Stem cell research is one of the most fascinating areas of contemporary biology, but, as with many expanding fields of scientific inquiry, research on stem cells raises scientific questions as rapidly as it generates new discoveries.

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Stem Cell Basics I. | stemcells.nih.gov

Apollo Astronaut: It Would Be “Stupid” to Send People to Mars

According to Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, crewed missions to Mars and hyped-up chatter of settling the planet are all a waste of time and money.

Fool’s Errand

According to one of the astronauts aboard NASA’s 1968 Apollo 8 mission, it would be “stupid” and “almost ridiculous” to pursue a crewed mission to Mars.

“What’s the imperative? What’s pushing us to go to Mars? I don’t think the public is that interested,” said Bill Anders, who orbited the Moon before returning to Earth 50 years ago, in a new documentary by BBC Radio 5 Live.

Anders argued that there are plenty of things that NASA could be doing that would be a better use of time and money, like the unmanned InSight rover that recently touched down to study Mars’ interior. The comments, by one of the most accomplished space explorers in human history, illustrates a deep and public philosophical rift about whether the future of spaceflight will be characterized by splashy crewed missions or less expensive automated ones.

Mars Bars

The crux of Anders’ argument on the BBC boils down to his perception that NASA is fueling a vicious cycle of highly-publicized missions that bolster its image, improve its funding, and attract top talent so that it can launch more highly-publicized missions. Sending an astronaut to Mars would dominate the news cycle, but wouldn’t push the frontier of practical scientific knowledge, Anders argued — a mismatch, essentially, between the priorities of NASA and those of the public.

That skepticism places Anders among the ranks of other high-profile critics of NASA, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin — all three of which have set their sights on the Red Planet.

For instance, science communicator and advocate Bill Nye predicted last year that no layperson would want to settle Mars. Nye also doubled down last month to say that anyone planning on terraforming Mars must be high on drugs.

Robust Explanation

But Anders’ own Apollo 8 crewmate Frank Borman disagreed, arguing in the documentary that crewed exploration is important.

“I’m not as critical of NASA as Bill is,” Borman told BBC. “I firmly believe that we need robust exploration of our Solar System and I think man is part of that.”

However, even Borman draws the line somewhere between exploration and settlement.

“I do think there’s a lot of hype about Mars that is nonsense,” Borman said. “Musk and Bezos, they’re talking about putting colonies on Mars. That’s nonsense.”

READ MORE: Sending astronauts to Mars would be stupid, astronaut says [BBC]

More on reaching Mars: Four Legal Challenges to Resolve Before Settling on Mars

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Apollo Astronaut: It Would Be “Stupid” to Send People to Mars

Elon Musk Tweets Image of SpaceX’s Stainless Steel Starship

Stainless steel starship

Big Picture

Christmas came early for Elon Musk’s Twitter followers.

The SpaceX CEO took to the social media platform on Christmas Eve to share a new image of a prototype version of the Starship spacecraft at the company’s Texas testing facilities.

The massive rocket with the ever-changing name — it was previously known as the “Mars Colonial Transporter,” the “Interplanetary Transport System,” and the “Big Falcon Rocket” — could one day ferry passengers to Mars. And Musk’s new photo reveals that the key to making that possible might be a material you’ve got in your kitchen right now.

Stainless Steel Starship

The new Starship is made out of stainless steel,  according to the tweet, a material which handles extreme heat very well — polish it up, and its mirror-like finish will reflect thermal energy far better than the carbon-based materials used for many rockets.

That could help Starship withstand the strain of long-term spaceflight, but stainless steel is heavier than carbon fiber, and keeping weight down is extremely important in space travel.

From an impromptu Twitter Q&A following the reveal of the Starship prototype, we learned that by exposing the stainless steel to extremely cold temperatures — that is, giving it a cryogenic treatment — SpaceX was able to get around the issue of the material weighing more than carbon fiber. According to a Musk tweet, “Usable strength/weight of full hard stainless at cryo is slightly better than carbon fiber, room temp is worse, high temp is vastly better.”

Stainless Steel Starship pic.twitter.com/rRoiEKKrYc

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 24, 2018

Countdown to Liftoff

Perhaps the most exciting Starship revelation of the past week, though, is Musk’s assertion that the prototype could be ready for liftoff in just a few months’ time.

On December 22, he tweeted that he would “do a full technical presentation of Starship” after the prototype’s test flight, which could happen in March or April. If all goes well with that test flight, SpaceX could be one step closer to achieving Musk’s vision of making humanity a multiplanetary species.

READ MORE: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk: Starship Prototype to Have 3 Raptors and “Mirror Finish” [Teslarati]

More on Starship: Elon Musk Just Changed the BFR’s Name for a Fourth Time

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Elon Musk Tweets Image of SpaceX’s Stainless Steel Starship

China Is Building Its First Huge Battery Storage Facility

The Chinese government just approved plans for a massive energy storage grid that will help the Gansu Province better rely on renewable electricity.

Batteries Not Included

The Chinese government approved the plans for a massive energy storage grid in Gansu Province on Monday, according to a statement by the Gansu Provincial Development & Reform Commission.

The project is scheduled to be completed this coming year according to Bloomberg — a colossal infrastructure investment that underscores China’s growing financial commitment to clean, renewable energy.

Biggest Yet

The proposed energy storage grid, also known as a virtual power plant because it serves as a source of energy even if the batteries store rather than generate it, would be the largest in the country — the first phase of construction is expected to cost 1.2 billion yuan ($174 million.)

As of September, China generated 706 gigawatts of solar and wind electricity, Bloomberg reports. But without infrastructure to support the power being generated, some of it went to waste.

More Flexible

According to the government statement, the virtual power plant would have a capacity of 720 MWh and could store unused electricity for four hours. For comparison, that’s almost two thirds the capacity of Tesla’s proposed “Megapack” energy storage system, which would bring a 1,200 MWh virtual power plant to California.

With a large-scale battery storage facility, people in Gansu will be able to rely on clean energy as needed rather than having to revert to fossil fuels when the sun goes down or the wind stops blowing.

READ MORE: China Approves Its 1st Big Power Storage Pilot in Renewable Push [Bloomberg]

More on virtual power plants: Tesla Gets Green Light To Create The World’s Largest Virtual Solar Plant In South Australia

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China Is Building Its First Huge Battery Storage Facility

Startup Claims Its Underwear Stay Odor-Free Through Weeks of Wear

Startup Organic Basics claims its silver-coated underwear remain odor-free after weeks of wear, but several testers disagree.

Under Where?

Want to wear the same pair of underwear for weeks at a time? Go right ahead.

A Danish startup called Organic Basics claims its underwear remain fresh through weeks of wear, eliminating the need for frequent washing. And this could be a boon for the environment — if it’s actually true.

Silver Skivvies

When your sweat meets your clothing, it creates an ideal environment for bacteria. It’s this bacteria that actually produces a foul-smelling odor. Silver is antimicrobial, meaning it kills bacteria and other microorganisms.

By treating their underwear with Polygiene, a product that uses silver chloride to control smells, Organic Basics says it can prevent the growth of 99.9 percent of this bacteria, which it claims prevents the underwear from smelling bad as quickly.

“It works,” CEO Mads Fibiger told Business Insider Nordic in May. “You can wear our underwear much longer before washing.”

Smell Test

Fibiger might claim the coating “works,” but not everyone agrees.

A reporter for New York magazine claimed she noticed a “less-than-fresh scent” on just the second day wearing Organic Basics’s women’s briefs, noting that she “didn’t feel comfortable pushing [her] luck with a third day of testing.” Her male colleague also tossed his Organic Basics boxer briefs in the laundry hamper after just 48 hours.

Even if the underwear did maintain the desired level of freshness, though, people might not be able get over the mental hurdle of wearing the same undergarments for weeks at a time — just this week, Elle reporter R. Eric Thomas wrote that reading about the undies made him want to “bleach [his] eyes.”

Futuristic Fashion

Organic Basics isn’t just trying to help people avoid laundry day, though. “The traditional way of buying, wearing, washing, and throwing away overpriced underwear is…extremely harmful to the environment,” Fibiger told Business Insider.

And he’s right. Washing and drying clothing requires water and energy, so the more often you clean your underwear, the greater the garment’s impact on the environment.

Still, the environmental benefits of wearing the same pair of underwear for weeks at a time might not be enough to get even the most environmentally conscious among us to wear Organic Basics’s underwear if they don’t actually smell fine on day three and beyond.

READ MORE: A Danish Startup Invented Underwear You Can Wear for Weeks Without Washing [Business Insider Nordic]

More on sustainable fashion: These Clothes Grow With Your Child and Are a Step Towards Sustainable Fashion

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Startup Claims Its Underwear Stay Odor-Free Through Weeks of Wear

Microorganisms That Eat Seaweed Can Create Biodegradable Plastic

bioplastic

Ocean of Opportunity

Earth’s oceans contain tens of millions of tons of plastic pollution. But a new technique that creates biodegradable plastics out of seaweed could finally give the oceans relief.

Bioplastics are plastics manufactured from biomass sources instead of fossil fuels. Many degrade far more quickly than traditional plastics, but creating them typically requires fertile soil and fresh water, which aren’t available everywhere.

Now, researchers have found a way to create a bioplastic using seaweed, a far more accessible resource — a promising new approach that could both reduce strain on the plastic-clogged oceans and reduce the Earth’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Scarfing Seaweed

Researchers from the University of Tel Aviv describe their new bioplastic production process in a study published recently in the journal Bioresource Technology.

Certain microorganisms naturally produce a polymer called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). Some factories already create plastics from PHA, but they do so using microorganisms that feed on plants that grow on land using fresh water.

Through their experiments, the team found it was possible to derive PHA from Haloferax mediterranei, a microorganism that feeds on seaweed.

“We have proved it is possible to produce bioplastic completely based on marine resources in a process that is friendly both to the environment and to its residents,” researcher Alexander Golberg said in a press release.

Plastic Problem

Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic finds its way into the Earth’s oceans, and researchers estimate that plastic will outweigh fish by 2050. That plastic is killing marine life, destroying coral reefs, and even affecting human health.

Efforts are already underway to remove plastic from the ocean, and several governments are banning certain plastics altogether. But plastic pollution is a huge problem that will require a multi-pronged solution — and a biodegradable plastic could be one of those prongs.

READ MORE: Sustainable “Plastics” Are on the Horizon [Tel Aviv University]

More on plastic pollution: The EU Just Voted to Completely Ban Single-Use Plastics

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Microorganisms That Eat Seaweed Can Create Biodegradable Plastic

Space Travel Doesn’t Seem to Shorten Astronauts’ Lives, Says Study

Astronauts and professional athletes have similar mortality rates, according to a new study, which suggests that space travel doesn't cause premature death.

Life Goes On

We’ve long known that traveling in space carries numerous health risks — it exposes astronauts to higher levels of radiation than the rest of us, and they have reported such health problems as partial blindness upon returning to Earth — but we never actually knew if working in space caused astronauts to die prematurely.

“The challenge has always been to understand if astronauts are as healthy as they would be had they been otherwise comparably employed but had never gone to space at all,” mortality researcher Robert Reynolds told Reuters in an interview published on Wednesday. “To do this, we needed to find a group that is comparable on several important factors, but has never been to space.”

Luckily, he found one — but while his comparison of the two groups resulted in good news for today’s astronauts, the same might not hold true for the people we send to space in the future.

Space Ballin’

Astronauts tend to be more physically fit and affluent than the average American, with access to better healthcare. That makes studying astronaut mortality difficult — they’re too different from the average person to draw any sound conclusions. But they aren’t all that different from National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) players, who also tend to be fit, affluent, and treated by top-of-the-line medical professionals.

In a study published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Reynolds and his colleagues at Mortality Research & Consulting, Inc. describe how they compared data on men who played for either the NBA or MLB between 1960 and mid-2018 with data on male U.S. astronauts.

This comparison led them to conclude that both athletes and astronauts had a lower risk of premature death than the general U.S. population. Astronauts also died from heart disease at a lower rate than the athletes and of cancer at about the same rate.

“We cannot be sure from the data we have, but we speculate that cardiovascular fitness in particular is the most important factor in astronaut longevity,” Reynolds told Reuters.

Past ? Future

This study fills an important gap in our understanding of the impact of space travel on astronauts, but we still have much to learn. For example, we know space affects female astronauts differently than their male colleagues, so do they also have lower mortality rates than the general population?

We’ve also only been sending people to space for 57 years and fewer than 600 have made the trip. That’s not a lot of data to work with, and the conclusions on astronaut mortality might change as more becomes available.

As Francis Cucinotta, an expert in radiation biology who wasn’t involved in the study, told Reuters, just because space travel isn’t linked to premature death in today’s astronauts doesn’t mean the same would hold true in the future. Crewed missions to Mars are in the works, for example, and those would expose astronauts to a dose of radiation 50 to 100 times higher than past off-world missions, said Cucinotta.

And radiation is just one factor. There’s also a chance anything from Martian dust to the psychological strain on longterm space travel could impact future astronauts’ mortality, so before we risk taking years off anyone’s life by sending them into space, we’ll need to be sure we conduct as much research as possible here on Earth.

READ MORE: Work in Space Does Not Seem to Shorten Astronauts’ Lives [Reuters]

More on astronaut health: Traveling to Mars Could Cause Life-Threatening Damage to Astronauts’ Guts, Says Study

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Space Travel Doesn’t Seem to Shorten Astronauts’ Lives, Says Study

Elon Musk Pledges Tesla Superchargers For All of Europe Next Year

According to Elon Musk's tweet, Tesla will provide 100 percent supercharger coverage to Europe by the end of 2019. Then it will move to Africa.

Big Promise

Electric car maker Tesla will expand its network of Superchargers to provide service for all of Europe by the end of 2019, CEO Elon Musk tweeted Wednesday.

If the plans come to fruition, the vast expansion will represent not just a coup for Tesla but also for the growing global infrastructure that supports practical transportation by electric car.

Yes. Supercharger coverage will extend to 100% of Europe next year. From Ireland to Kiev, from Norway to Turkey. https://t.co/7FQZgLCTVJ

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 26, 2018

Hit and Miss

Right now there are 1,386 Supercharger stations worldwide, according to a map on Tesla’s website. But there are still large gaps in planned coverage throughout Eastern Europe as well as in Sweden, Finland, and Norway — all of which Musk pledged to cover next year in the tweet.

Musk has a notable habit of tweeting Tesla updates from his personal account, and a spotty record when it comes to promising expansions to Tesla’s Supercharger network. Electrek reported that Musk had similarly promised 18,000 chargers worldwide by the end of 2018, but according to the map there are currently just 11,583 spread over the 1,386 stations.

But with most of the European Supercharger infrastructure already in place, total coverage by 2020 seems like a feasible goal.

Then What?

In another tweet, Musk said Tesla said it would set its sights on Africa in 2020. At the moment, there is not a single Supercharger on the entire continent, according to The Verge.

2020

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 27, 2018

It’s unclear which African or European countries will receive Superchargers first and how they will be distributed. But if Musk is to be taken at his word, Tesla will be working hard to expand electric vehicle use throughout the world very soon.

READ MORE: Elon Musk promises 100 percent Tesla Supercharger coverage in Europe next year [The Verge]

More on Superchargers: Tesla Just Announced the Site of the Largest Supercharger Station in Europe

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Elon Musk Pledges Tesla Superchargers For All of Europe Next Year

An App That Does Your Homework for You Is Now Worth $3 Billion

Homework Machine

Extracurricular education is big business in China.

One futuristic example: Yuanfudao, an online tutoring platform that includes an app that uses artificial intelligence to give students answers to their homework after they snap a photo of it.

Yuanfudao claims it now has 200 million users, and that interest from parents and students has translated into major interest from investors. If it lives up the hype, it could represent a new path forward for educational technology — not just in China but for students across the globe.

Fully Invested

On Tuesday, Yuanfudao announced another $300 million in funding, bringing its valuation to more than $3 billion. Chinese social networking and gaming giant Tencent led the round, with an international squad of investment firms including Warburg Pincus and IDG Capital also joining in.

Yuanfudao told TechCrunch it plans to use these funds for AI research and development, and to improve the user experience of its homework app.

Practice Makes Perfect

While being able to snap a photo of your homework and instantly get answers to problems sounds like a lazy student’s dream come true, the homework app actually isn’t Yuanfudao’s main moneymaker — the company told TechCrunch most of its revenue comes from selling live courses.

Rather than using the app to get out of doing their homework in the first place, it’s more likely that Chinese students use the app to check that their homework answers are correct. After all, the ultimate goal of paying for Yuanfudao is to improve exam scores, so skipping out on doing the homework that prepares a student for those exams would be counterintuitive.

Chinese parents probably wouldn’t be too happy about that use of the app, either. All told, they spend an average of $17,400 every year on extracurricular tutoring for their children — and based on Yuanfudao’s latest round of funding, investors are as willing to pump money into tutoring companies as Chinese parents are.

READ MORE:  Tencent-Backed Homework App Jumps to $3B Valuation After Raising $300M [TechCrunch]

More on Chinese education: Not Paying Attention in Class? China’s “Smart Eye” Will Snitch on You

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An App That Does Your Homework for You Is Now Worth $3 Billion

Virtual Reality Tumors Could Help Lead to New Cancer Treatments

A new virtual reality simulation built by Cambridge University scientists gives a high-resolution detail view into the cells of a breast cancer tumor.

Oculus Oncologists

Doctors have a new weapon in the fight against cancer: detailed maps of the cells in a tumor that can be explored and analyzed in a virtual reality simulation that its creators say provides researchers with an intuitive new way to examine complex medical data that could lead to unexpected breakthroughs.

Built by doctors at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CRUK), the new virtual lab takes detailed scans of breast cancer tissues and turns them into detailed simulations that doctors around the world can explore, the BBC reports.

The simulation lets doctors analyze every single cell of a tumor, something they’ve never been able to do before. And because that data is stored in a simulation rather than microscope slides, doctors around the world can explore and study the cancer without having to prepare their own samples.

“Understanding how cancer cells interact with each other and with healthy tissue is critical if we are going to develop new therapies,” CRUK Chief Scientist Karen Vousden told the BBC. “Looking at tumors using this new system is so much more dynamic than the static 2D versions we are used to.”

Dive in Headfirst

The Cambridge scientists and peers from around the world who helped develop the virtual lab won two separate 20 million pound grants ($25.3 million each) to build up their project from Cancer Research UK last year.

Now they have a functional simulation built up from highly-detailed scans of a cubic millimeter-sized sample of breast cancer tissue. In that sample, each of the roughly 100,000 cells was marked to highlight its molecular and genetic characteristics.

Enhance! Enhance!

With that information, the resulting VR map highlights which cells are cancerous which have certain genetic variations, and how developed the tumor was at the time of the biopsy. All of this is information that was laborious to obtain from samples that were easily contaminated.

Moving the analysis to VR makes tumor research much more user friendly and lets doctors analyze cells in greater detail than ever before.

Not only does that let scientists literally immerse themselves in their work as they look for new cancer treatments, but it can also open the door to more collaborative diagnosis and patient care among teams that are spread around the world.

These simulations don’t guarantee that doctors will find new ways to treat or prevent breast cancer, but at least it makes the search much easier.

READ MORE: ‘Virtual tumour’ new way to see cancer [BBC]

More on virtual reality: VR TREATMENT, EVEN WITHOUT A THERAPIST, HELPS PEOPLE OVERCOME FEAR OF HEIGHTS

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Virtual Reality Tumors Could Help Lead to New Cancer Treatments

New Multi-Sensory Mask Lets You Smell and Feel the Virtual World

multi-sensory mask

Talk Sense

More than three years ago, we first caught a whiff of an odor-delivering virtual reality mask. Now, the device is a step closer to hitting the market.

Last week, Brooklyn-based tech company Feelreal announced the pre-release of its Feelreal Multi-Sensory Mask. The company claims the device is the first of its kind — and even as VR struggles to gain mainstream traction, it provides a far-out vision of immersive virtual worlds that no longer end at what you can see and hear.

All the Feels

Feelreal’s Multi-Sensory Mask includes a “scent generator” that holds up to nine replaceable cartridges, each loaded with one of 255 available scents. An ultrasonic ionizing system provides the feeling of water mist on the wearer’s face, while micro-heaters, micro-coolers, and haptic motors provide the sensations of heat, wind, and vibration, respectively. 

The system is compatible with five VR headsets — Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR — and it’s already capable of enhancing the experience of several existing VR games.

If gaming’s not their thing, users can also watch 360-degrees videos or custom-built VR experiences via the mask’s built-in Feelreal player, or they can use it as a standalone device to facilitate meditation or aromatherapy.

Funding Not Secured

This isn’t the first device designed to add new senses to the VR experience, of course. We’ve already seen gadgets that let you feel like you’re smellingtouching, and even tasting the virtual world.

The number of games and movies currently compatible with the Feelreal Multi-Sensory Mask is also limited, but obviously that could change if the device caught on with users.

Feelreal has yet to reveal a price for its multi-sensory mask or even when the device will be available. According to the press release, the company will be “announcing a Kickstarter [c]rowdfunding campaign to help bring Feelreal products to the next level,” so right now, it appears the future of the device — and potentially the future of VR — is in the public’s hands.

READ MORE: Feelreal Multi-Sensory VR Mask Lets You Smell the Virtual Roses [New Atlas]

More on VR: Add Another Sense to Virtual Reality

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New Multi-Sensory Mask Lets You Smell and Feel the Virtual World

New Fiber Could Be the Foundation for Futuristic Smart Garments

Chinese engineers just figured out how to manufacture a self-assembling silver nanowire that can be woven into high-tech clothing.

Smart Garments

Designers of smart garments have a vision: that we’ll come to use electronics woven into the clothes we wear not just as dazzling new ways to express ourselves, like the light-up prom dress that went viral in 2017, but as extensions of our digital lives that could collect biometric data or even grant wearers superhuman senses.

The problem is that today’s old-fashioned textiles are already the result of thousands of years of innovation, and versions that incorporate wearable computing tech need to be just as hardy. Smart garments will have to be resilient in the face of everything from wash-and-fold to sweaty workouts, not to mention as long-lasting as a trusty t-shirt.

One key challenge has always been creating conductive wires that can carry current between components in a smart garment without breaking down over time as it flexes, twists, and gets wet. Now, Chinese scientists say they’ve invented a new type of self-assembling silver nanowire, inspired by the capillaries in your cardiovascular system, that could be the most practical attempt yet.

Wirehead

The new research, published Thursday in the journal Nano by researchers at the Chinese Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, describes silver-based wiring that’s cheap to make and could lead to more comfortable and durable smart textiles than ever before.

Here’s how it works. The engineers behind this silver fiber found a way to manufacture tiny wires without much of the headache that normally comes with nanotech assembly. Instead of painstakingly crafting the tiny wires that transport electricity throughout their fabric, the scientists concocted a silver-based solution that automatically soaks into tube-like fibers, drawing into the tube like blood into a capillary.

As the solution evaporates, it leaves behind flexible, durable, and highly-conductive silver nanowires, according to the research. Compared to traditional copper wires, they can withstand much more abuse without breaking. That could mean a future with smart clothes that survive everyday wear and tear — or maybe, if we’re lucky, invisibility cloaks or the water-harvesting suit from “Dune.”

Déjà vu

Like so many other smart textile projects that have popped up over the past few years, this research is still at the proof-of-concept stage. For all of the progress scientists have made, very few attempts to integrate that tech into clothing have taken off.

But the consistency with which researchers, makers, and hackers — not to mention sci-fi writers — have imagined smart garments over the decades suggests a genuine demand for the concept that we could see within a lifetime. At least, that is, if it can survive 40 minutes in a clothes dryer.

READ MORE: Silver nanowires promises more comfortable smart textiles [World Scientific]

More on smart textiles: A NEW BATTERY CAN BE STITCHED INTO CLOTHES TO POWER WEARABLES

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New Fiber Could Be the Foundation for Futuristic Smart Garments

Cacti-Inspired Tech Could Keep You Hydrated After the Apocalypse

water collection

Good Nature

If the world ever devolves into a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland, you’ll probably need to watch out for dust storms and violent bikers gangs. But you might not have to worry about finding enough water.

That’s because a team of researchers at the Ohio State University (OSU) has been studying how some of the desert’s most efficient water collectors manage to quite literally pull water from midair — and what they learned could help ensure we all have enough clean drinking water, before or after the breakdown of social order.

Beneath the Surface

In a study published Monday in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, researchers from OSU describe how cacti, desert grass, and desert beetles collect water from the fog that falls over the desert at night. The researchers then used 3D printers to create surfaces that mimicked the natural ones of those three desert dwellers.

They covered some of the surfaces in grooves similar to those that help a desert grass channel water toward its roots. Other surfaces bore cones designed to mimic the water-collecting spines of the cactus.

The researchers also tested out different materials, including ones that were heterogeneous — a mix of water-collecting and water-repelling spots —  like the surface of a beetle’s back, which plays a major role in its water collection.

Then they tested the various surfaces by placing them in a room with a humidifier. The result: they determined that the best surface for water collection would incorporate a heterogeneous material and multiple grooved cones, each inclined at a 45-degree angle.

Water Everywhere

The researchers believe a large-scale structure based on their findings could one day gather water from fog or condensation that people in dry environments could then drink.

“Water supply is a critically important issue, especially for people of the most arid parts of the world,” researcher Bharat Bhushan said in a press release. “By using bio-inspired technologies, we can help address the challenge of providing clean water to people around the globe, in as efficient a way as possible.”

Let’s just hope they manage to scale-up their tech well before any sort of apocalypse.

READ MORE: Collecting Clean Water From Air, Inspired by Desert Life [The Ohio State University]

More on a post-apocalyptic world: How to Survive a World-Ending Scenario, According to Science

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Cacti-Inspired Tech Could Keep You Hydrated After the Apocalypse

Your Christmas Tree Could Be Recycled Into Paint or Sweeteners

Pine needles on a green Christmas tree

Prickly Situation

Gifts have been opened, cookies have been eaten, Christmas has come and gone. Still, the last vestige of holiday festivities remains: the slowly decaying Christmas tree husk in your living room.

Even as fake tree sales rise, as many as 30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States each year. After serving as Yuletide decorations, many of these trees will head to landfills.

But now, in a flourish of environmental Christmas magic, researchers from the UK’s University of Sheffield have found a way to break down a component in pine needles called lignocellulose and use it to create paints and sweeteners — a heartening seasonal example of how biotech discoveries can reduce waste at unexpected points on the global supply chain. 

Lignocellulose Jam

Lignocellulose is ugly. No, really. Its chemical structure makes it difficult to use for biomass energy, and it serves little industrial purpose. Sheffield PhD student Cynthia Kartey’s work has focused on examining ways to make use of this material, and now she may be on to something.

Using heat and glycerol Kartey was able to break down the pine needles into two components, one of which was made mostly of materials like glucose, acetic acid and phenol. All three have uses in other industries — glucose is used to make food sweeteners, phenol is used in products like mouthwash, and acetic acid for making adhesives, vinegar, and even paint.

“In the future, the tree that decorated your house over the festive period could be turned into paint to decorate your house once again,” Kartey said in a press release.

Green Again

Recycling and repurposing waste products is almost certain to become an increasingly important aspect of the future economy.

We’re already beginning to see the process in action, from recycling space junk to reusable beer bottles and even bricks made from literal human urine. Soon, perhaps even Christmas trees will keep our future green and fresh-pine scented.

READ MORE: Pine needles from old Christmas trees could be turned into paint and food sweeteners in the future [University of Sheffield]

More on the Future of Recycling: New Powder Captures CO2 Before It Can Hit the Atmosphere

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Your Christmas Tree Could Be Recycled Into Paint or Sweeteners

Chinese Scientists Reportedly Lost Track of Gene-Edited Patients

gene-editing

The Case of the Missing Patients

China is finally looking into its scientists’ human gene-editing trials — but some patients are already out of view.

According a newly published Wall Street Journal story, Chinese scientists using CRISPR technology provided by the startup Anhui Kedgene Biotechnology have lost touch with at least some of the late-stage cancer patients whose DNA they altered.

That means no one knows for sure how the editing may have affected the patients in the longer term — and according to experts, that lack of follow-up could affect CRISPR research far beyond China’s borders.

Keeping Tabs

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration recommends that researchers follow up with patients involved in gene therapy trials for 15 years. No such recommendation exists in China, however, and Chinese CRISPR researchers’ lack of extended follow-up could prove disastrous as the nascent technology finds its footing.

Feng Zhang, one of the inventors of CRISPR, told The WSJ that gene-editing trials “hinge upon rigorous trial design and follow-ups.” Jennifer Doudna, another CRISPR inventor, said it’s “vital” that researchers conduct long-term monitoring of gene-edited patients.

“Since we do not fully understand the human genome and are still developing knowledge of CRISPR-Cas technology, we need to monitor the intended and unintended consequences over the lifespan of patients,” Doudna told The WSJ.

Closer Look

The Chinese government has thus far remained fairly hands-off with regards to CRISPR research — it hasn’t even tasked any one federal body with overseeing its gene-editing trials — but that could be changing.

On Thursday, the South China Morning Post reported that China is asking hospitals and universities to submit thorough reports on all human gene-editing trials conducted since 2013.

This closer look at human gene editing is likely due to the international backlash the nation faced in the wake of Chinese researcher He Jiankui announcing he’d modified the genes of human embryos. Those embryos were then implanted into a woman, who gave birth to twin girls.

While it might be too late to find out what sort of long-term effect CRISPR may have had on the missing patients from that cancer trial, China’s newfound interest in what’s happening within the walls of its labs could at least ensure that current and future trials don’t make the same mistakes — and hopefully, it’ll prevent any other researchers from following in He’s reckless footsteps.

READ MORE: Chinese Gene-Editing Experiment Loses Track of Patients, Alarming Technology’s Inventors [The Wall Street Journal]

More on human gene editing: Chinese Scientists Claim to Have Gene-Edited Human Babies For the First Time

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Chinese Scientists Reportedly Lost Track of Gene-Edited Patients

Netflix’s Bandersnatch Teases the Future of Entertainment

Bandersnatch

CYOA Grows Up

The choose-your-own-adventure story format is no longer just for books. It’s also no longer only for kids.

In October, an anonymous source told Bloomberg that Netflix planned to release an interactive episode of its dystopian sci-fi series “Black Mirror.” Rather than pushing play and sitting back to watch a linear story unfold before their eyes, viewers would need to make choices at various points throughout the episode, sending the plot in a new direction with each decision.

At 3:01 a.m. ET on Friday, Netflix confirmed that report with the release of the “Black Mirror” episode Bandersnatch — and the overwhelmingly positive response to the episode looks like a sign that adult viewers are ready to embrace interactive storytelling.

Choose Wisely

The general — and spoiler-free — plot of Bandersnatch is this: Young computer coder Stefan, portrayed by “Dunkirk” actor Fionn Whitehead, is hired to help create a computer game inspired by a choose-your-own-adventure novel.

How that experience plays out, however, depends on the viewer’s decisions, which they input using their TV remote, game controller, smartphone, or tablet. Netflix execs claimed during a November media event, as reported by The New York Times, that Bandersnatch has “five main endings with multiple variants of each.”

The interactive format works on pretty much any device you’d use to watch Netflix, including most TVs, game consoles, web browsers, smartphones, and tablets. The primary platforms that don’t support it are Chromecast and Apple TV, according to Netflix.

Striking Gold

This isn’t Netflix’s first foray into interactivity. In June 2017, the platform released “Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale,” an interactive short animated film for children.

However, this is Netflix’s first test of the format with adult viewers, and though Bandersnatch hasn’t even been out for 12 hours yet at the time of writing, it’s already receiving an overwhelmingly positive response — it quickly became a trending topic on Twitter, and a reviewer for The Guardian even went so far as to call it a “meta masterpiece.”

According to The Independent, Netflix is already asking producers to submit proposals for other interactive content in a variety of genres. Given the breathless response to Bandersnatch, it’s hard to imagine that Netflix won’t green light at least a few.

Equally hard to imagine is other platforms not attempting to replicate the platform’s success themselves. So with the release of just one creepy episode of “Black Mirror,” Netflix may have ushered in an entirely new era in entertainment.

READ MORE: ‘Black Mirror’ Gives Power to the People [The New York Times]

More on Netflix: Netflix Plans to Try out “Interactive” Shows

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