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Gizmorama - July 17, 2017

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Teleportation may be in our future. Scientists in China have sent quantum information into space. Are humans next?

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

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*-- China teleports quantum information to space, a first --*

For the first time, scientists in China have successfully teleported a photon to space using quantum entanglement -- the coupling of two quantum particles over vast distances.

The quantum information was sent from a ground station in China to the Micius satellite in space, orbiting 746 miles above Earth's surface. Micius was launched into space in August 2016.

The feat marks the first time scientists have launched quantum information into space, shattering the record for the longest distance over which quantum entanglement has been demonstrated.

Quantum entanglement describes the connected nature of two quantum particles generated at the same time and point space. The particles exist within in the same wave function, mimicking one another regardless of the distance between the two.

By teleporting quantum information, researchers can cause a photon in one place to behave like the photon in another. The phenomenon has a been demonstrated countless times in laboratories on Earth, and used to move information through quantum computing. But until now, scientists had never transferred quantum information into space.

The feat could set the stage for testing all kinds of quantum technologies scaled for use in space.

"Long-distance teleportation has been recognized as a fundamental element in protocols such as large-scale quantum networks and distributed quantum computation," the Chinese research team said in a news release.

Over a period of 32 days, the scientist generated millions of tangled photos, sending one of each pair into space. They successfully measured quantum entanglement in 911 cases.

Researchers described the feat as "the first ground-to-satellite up-link for faithful and ultra-long-distance quantum teleportation, an essential step toward global-scale quantum internet."

The research was published this week online.

*-- New synthetic compound can silence disease-causing genes in mitochondria --*

Scientists in Japan have successfully silenced disease-causing genes inside mitochondria, the cell's powerhouses, using a novel synthetic compound.

Most DNA is found inside the cell's nucleus. Researchers have previously deployed pyrrole-imidazole polyamides, or PIPs, a DNA-reading and gene-silencing compound, inside cell nuclei. But some DNA exists inside mitochondria, where PIPs have been previously unable to access.

Scientists at Kyoto University attached a mitochondria-penetrating peptide, or MPP, to a PIP, allowing the compound to overpower the mitochondria's energy barrier.

Researchers designed their so-called MITO-PIP to block the binding site for mitochondrial transcription factor A, or TFAM. TFAM controls the mitochondria's metabolic processes and plays an important role in the transcription of the gene ND6.

Researchers found different concentrations of their novel compound, TFAM-inhibiting MITO-PIP, reduced ND6 expression between 60 and 90 percent.

ND6 is associated with several mitochondrial defects, including central vision loss, muscle weakness, seizures and learning difficulties.

Scientists hope their breakthrough -- detailed this week in the Journal of American Chemical Society -- will inspire the development new gene therapies for mitochondrial diseases and defects.

"We plan to develop an advanced version of MITO-PIPs that can identify and localize only inside diseased mitochondria," lead researcher Ganesh Pandian Namasivayam, from Kyoto University's Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Science, said in a news release.


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