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Gizmorama - August 3, 2016

Good Morning,

A new development in the treatment of diabetes and cancer has come in the form of a portable device that would allow doctors to create and distribute single doses of biopharmaceutical medications on demand.

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

Until Next Time,

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*-- Vortex laser carries computer data in cyclone-like motion --*

BUFFALO, N.Y. - As the rise car ownership and automobile use in the 1950s and 60s necessitated bigger, better roads, increasing broadband use demands more efficient telecommunications technology.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo have developed a vortex laser small enough to fit on a chip and capable of transmitting 10 times more data than conventional linear lasers. The technology may also delay the end of Moore's Law.

Moore's Law is the idea that engineers will continue to find ways to make computers and other smart devices smaller and smaller. But recently, scientists have speculated that Moore's Law is approaching a bottom limit.

"To transfer more data while using less energy, we need to rethink what's inside these machines," researcher Liang Feng, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Buffalo, said in a news release.

The vortex laser, with data encoded into multiple corckscrew-like twists, may stave off this approaching technological barrier.

Increasingly, researchers have used light to move and store data -- as opposed to electrical currents -- across and in smaller and smaller computer components. But scientists are running out of ways to manipulate light. The vortex laser and its corkscrew light pattern offer a new strategy.

Previously, the technique, called orbital angular momentum, has been too big to use on tiny computer components, but scientists at Buffalo have found a way to shrink the pattern.

The laser -- described in a new paper in the journal Science -- won't be a cure-all, but combined with new technologies like more efficient transmitters and atomic storage chips, it may push the end of Moore's Law well into the future.

*-- Device makes single doses of drugs on demand --*

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - A portable device may allow doctors to create single doses of biopharmaceutical medications on demand, potentially speeding the treatment of diseases that include diabetes and cancer.

The portable production system was developed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, expecting the device could be useful for the battlefield and remote areas to produce treatments immediately at the point of care.

Biopharmaceutical manufacturing generally requires single biologic-producing cell lines cultivated at large scales, making treatment with these types of drugs difficult in short time frames.

The system, described in the journal Nature Communications, can currently produce two biologic drugs from a single yeast strain in the device, creating near-single-dose production in less than 24 hours with limited infrastructure.

MIT researchers previously announced the production system in March, showing off what they said could be used as an emergency backup for drug production or employed in situations where medications are not readily available.

"It is a pragmatic solution for biomanufacturing, and the team's flexible and portable platform shows an authentic way of producing personalized therapeutics," Luke Lee, a professor of bioengineering at the University of California Berkely, said in a press release.

The production system uses a programmable strain of yeast, Pichia pastoris, which produces two proteins used for disease therapy.

The strain of yeast, which can grow at very high densities when exposed to carbon sources, expressed recombinant human growth hormone when exposed to estrogen ß-estradiol and expressed the protein interferon when exposed to methanol.

The researchers say the type of biologic can be changed by exposing yeast to small droplets containing a chemical trigger, which they say can be changed safely by flushing it through a filter before a fresh liquid is added to the device.

The potential use for the device is significant, as it can be used for everything from treatments on a battlefield where immediate care is required to prevention of a disease outbreak in a remote village, said Tim Lu, an associate professor of biological engineering and electrical engineering and computer science at MIT.

"Imagine you were on Mars or in a remote desert, without access to a full formulary, you could program the yeast to produce drugs on demand locally," Lu said.


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