Scientists Engineered A Suit That Makes You Feel Like You’re Driving Hungover

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You’ve heard the refrain before: don’t drink and drive. Tens of thousands of people die in alcohol-related traffic accidents every year. Luckily, though, people seem to be getting the message — drunk driving fatalities on roadways have decreased by 51 percent since 1982.

But how about the morning after? After all, you’re not drunk anymore. Sure, you don’t feel 100 percent, you’ve got a headache and an intense craving for fried food, but that shouldn’t impair your driving… right?

But according to automaker Ford, you’d be wrong.

The company devised a suit that reproduces the effects of a killer hangover. Heavy cuffs weigh down the arms and legs, plus weights strapped on the chest slow movements. A pair of big headphones blast a pounding noise to simulate a headache. The wearer dons goggles that blur their vision and simulate light sensitivity through a small lamp attached to the side.

A Quartz reporter tried the suit out driving across a simple cone path in a big, empty parking lot. Sluggish and confused, he knocked over a full row of cones and found the overall experience thoroughly unpleasant. Honestly, who wouldn’t.

But here’s a question: is hungover driving even a thing? Futurism could find no scientific studies on the subject. And we’re all for safety, but it does seem awfully convenient that Ford engineered a suit that somehow makes its Driving Skills for Life campaign seem even more critical.

But Ford may have a point. Scientists may not know that being hungover doesn’t impair driving, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t. We know that drunk driving killed more than 10,000 people in 2015. But we have no idea of how many people were injured or killed by hungover drivers — there are simply no studies either way. Just watching that video shows that research into hungover driving is probably called for.

Until those studies come, it’s worth being aware that hangovers — suit-induced, or au naturel — could affect your driving. Stay safe out there, y’all.

The post Scientists Engineered A Suit That Makes You Feel Like You’re Driving Hungover appeared first on Futurism.


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In Japan, Chickens Have Been Genetically Engineered to Lay Eggs That Fight Cancer

Genetically Engineered Eggs are Better than Golden Eggs

People often warn about the amount of cholesterol you get from eating too many eggs. But what if there were health benefits to eggs as well — like drugs that fight cancer, hepatitis, and other diseases? Japanese researchers from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) did just that when they successfully genetically engineered chickens to lay eggs that contain a special pharmaceutical agent.

How CRISPR Works: The Future of Genetic Engineering and Designer Humans
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According to a report by The Japan News, the researchers at AIST genetically modified precursor cells of chicken sperm to produce a type of protein that’s related to the immune system called interferon beta.

This protein has been found to be effective in treating malignant skin cancer and hepatitis. The modified cells were used to fertilize eggs that produced male chicks. A few rounds of cross-breeding the male chicks resulted in chickens that inherited the genes with interferon beta.

Cheaper Drugs

Reagent import and sales firm Cosmo Bio Co. in Tokyo, which developed the method together with the AIST researchers and the the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization in Ibaraki Prefecture, now has three hens that lay eggs every one or two day. The egg whites from those eggs contain interferon beta.

Why go through such a tedious process? The project’s goal was to potentially reduce the costs of making drugs. “This is a result that we hope leads to the development of cheap drugs,” Hironobu Hojo, professor at Osaka University, told The Japan News. “In the future, it will be necessary to closely examine the characteristics of the agents contained in the eggs and determine their safety as pharmaceutical products.”

This is just one example of how gene editing methods can reshape industries, especially healthcare. Others have worked on applying gene editing such as CRISPR directly into cancer cells or to a patient. Producing cheap drugs from chicken eggs is another possibility — and a rather creative one, at that.

Moving forward, the researchers plan to work on stabilizing the interferon beta contents of the eggs to produce some a dozen milligrams to 100 milligrams from a single egg.

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Newly Engineered Antibody Can Fight Back Against 99 Percent of HIV Strains

Advanced Antibodies

Research carried out by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in conjunction with pharmaceutical firm Sanofi has produced an antibody capable of attacking 99 percent of HIV strains. The International Aids Society has heralded the finding as an “exciting breakthrough.”

The human body has difficulty fighting HIV because of the way that the virus changes and mutates — a single patient can have numerous unique strains of the infection present in their body simultaneously. However, a slim minority of people who suffer from HIV eventually develop a means of battling back in the form of broadly neutralizing antibodies.

These proteins are capable of killing off numerous HIV strains at once, so for this joint study between NIH and Sanofi, researchers set out to find a way to harness this natural defense.

To that end, they combined three unique antibodies to produce a tri-specific antibody. While the most effective naturally occurring antibodies can only target 90 percent of HIV strains, this tri-specific antibody was observed to take on 99 percent. It was even successful at low concentrations. Furthermore, an experiment in which 24 monkeys were administered with the antibodies and then injected with the virus didn’t result in a single infection.

As Sanofi’s Dr. Gary Nabel told the BBC, “[The tri-specific antibodies] are more potent and have greater breadth than any single naturally occurring antibody that’s been discovered.” The next step to putting these powerful antibodies to work is a clinical trial, which is expected to get underway in 2018.

Still Much to Do

Over the last few decades, we have seen some amazing advances in the fight against HIV. These range from the various treatment methods that are now available to the hugely successful educational campaign that’s been carried out in Africa.

Truly, no stone is being left unturned in the search for better HIV treatments. Scientists in South Africa are investigating the case of a nine-year-old child who was seemingly cured of HIV after receiving antiretroviral therapy. Another study saw researchers look into cows’ ability to produce broadly neutralizing antibodies with the goal of using them to combat the virus.

With any luck, methodology will continue to improve at a fast pace. At the end of 2015, 36.7 million people around the world were living with HIV/AIDS, so clearly a lot more work needs to be done. However, this new research project and others like it could lead to the next level of advancements with regards to the virus.

The post Newly Engineered Antibody Can Fight Back Against 99 Percent of HIV Strains appeared first on Futurism.


Shutterstock has reverse engineered Google’s watermark-removal app

Stock photo vendors might not be all that screwed up in the end. Only a week after Google released a paper detailing how its researchers built an algorithm that automatically removes watermarks from stock photos, Shutterstock has already put together an antidote. Taking a cue from the internet giant, the popular stock photo distributor managed to reverse engineer Google’s software in order to stop copyright thieves from editing out watermarks and using their images for free. To pull this off, its engineers built a smart watermark technology that counteracts the algorithm by deliberately inserting minor inconsistencies in the watermark patterns.…

This story continues at The Next Web

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You Can Now Buy Genetically Engineered Salmon in Canada

GM Salmon In Stores

After 25 years of pushback from environmentalists and various controversies, genetically modified (GM) salmon have at last made it to shelves on the Canadian marketplace. AquaBounty Technologies has sold approximately five tons of “AquAdvantage Salmon” in Canada since its approval there last year. Although the fish were cleared by the FDA in late 2015, conflicts about labeling the fillets have stalled sales in the U.S.

The Maynard, Massachusetts company is the force bringing the GM Atlantic salmon to market. The salmon boast two extra genes that allow them to grow faster: a chinook salmon growth hormone gene that speeds their growth, and a gene from the ocean pout that keeps the chinook growth hormone gene “on” permanently. The end result of these changes is that the engineered AquAdvantage Salmon grow two times faster than typical salmon while consuming 20 to 25 percent less food.

Image Credit: AquaBounty Technologies
Image Credit: AquaBounty Technologies

These AquAdvantage Salmon are the first GM animal in the world to go on sale. As such, the product has garnered serious opposition from environmental groups. Beyond the labeling issue, these opponents fear that the fish pose a contamination risk to natural populations should they escape from their breeding tanks. However, as the fish are rendered sterile, and the FDA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have inspected the facility and judged its containment measures to be adequate.

Controversy Over GM Foods

The fiery opposition to GM foods is no surprise. Although a comprehensive analysis from 2016 penned by 20 scientists and based on more than 1,000 studies, testimony from 80 witnesses in public meetings and webinars, and 700 comments submitted by the public found that GM crops are safe to eat and do not harm the environment, many in the public remain unconvinced. Meanwhile, farmers in India are beginning to plant GM mustard crops, and scientists are working to prove the safety of wheat “supercrops.”

Next Gen GMOs
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Stranger examples of GM organisms (GMOs) have been making the news recently, such as the GM surrogate hens being tested in the hopes they’ll be able to save rare species of poultry from extinction, and the Impossible Foods meatless burger, which has only recently run into a snag at the FDA concerning not its GM status, but its potential to act as an allergen.

The real breakthrough for products like AquAdvantage Salmon might be time and short consumer memory. As the salmon continues to sell successfully in Canada, other species may join it on the market’s shelves.

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Can engineered ‘meat’ replace hamburgers?

Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown argues the merits of plant-based burgers on Too Embarrassed to Ask.

Pat Brown doesn’t care how much ground beef you eat — just so long as it doesn’t come from a cow.

Brown is the CEO of Impossible Foods, the Silicon Valley company developing plant-based meat that it says will be cheaper and better for the environment than “real” meat, without sacrificing the taste. Its first product, the Impossible Burger, is found in a handful of restaurants throughout the country and will be headed to supermarket shelves “within a few years,” Brown said on the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask.

“Our mission requires us to compete successfully for the hardcore, uncompromising meat lover who has no interest or minimal interest in replacing meat, but will replace meat if you deliver something that outperforms in terms of what they value,” Brown told Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode. “To do that is a really hard scientific problem.”

Impossible Foods is also working on engineered steak, chicken, chicken eggs and fish (“a high priority”). Global meat consumption is expected to rise by 50 percent in the next 25 years, which Brown said could have “catastrophic” consequences for land, water and air; however, he’s optimistic about the company’s ability to compete for those same tastebuds.

“The advantage that we have that guarantees our success [is] we can continue to improve this forever and the cow is not going to get any better at being meat,” he said. “They’re not even thinking about it. I mean, look at those cows. They’re not deep in thought about how to be delicious.”

You can listen to the new podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

As Goode notes at the start of the episode, this interview was taped before the New York Times reported FDA concerns about the use of soy leghemoglobin in the Impossible Burger. That’s the crucial ingredient that gives the burgers their juicy beef-like texture.

“Without heme, you can’t make meat,” Brown said. “If you crave meat, if you crave the flavor of meat, what you crave is the flavor of heme and its reaction products.”

On the new podcast, he said he’s uninterested in appealing to vegetarians or vegans with the Impossible Burger, calling that “a complete waste in terms of our mission.” That’s because switching them from one beef alternative to another doesn’t make a dent in the one billion pounds of beef sold in the United States each month.

“Anyone else who’s making a product that can compete against meat from an animal for a meat-eating consumer is an ally, not a competitor,” he said. “When you look at the scale of the problem that we’re taking on, I would say seriously, we would welcome anyone else who’s doing that well. The market size of the meat industry is more than a trillion dollars a year. The market size of the meat replacements, I don’t even know how big it is, but it’s miniscule by comparison.”

Have questions about Impossible Foods that we didn’t get to in this episode? Tweet them to @Recode with the hashtag #TooEmbarrassed, or email them to

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Is Getting Genetically Engineered a Human Right?

Paying For Cures

CRISPR, a gene editing tool, is at the heart of numerous new medical treatments and technologies. Some of the incredible uses of CRISPR we’ve seen in the past year alone include editing phages to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria; targeting cancer’s “command center” in mice, boosting survival rates from 0 to 100 percent; repairing the gene defects that cause sickle cell disease; and copying the T-cells of naturally HIV-immune individuals.

However, even as CRISPR moves toward clinical trials and practical use, its future remains unclear. This is due to the extreme cost of CRISPR treatments; most people simply cannot afford them, and whether insurance carriers will pay the tab is uncertain. Some insurance companies have already implemented no coverage policies for gene therapies; the American healthcare system is ever-changing, and it’s seeming increasingly likely that these extremely expensive therapies might be out of reach even for people with insurance.

How CRISPR Works: The Future of Genetic Engineering and Designer Humans
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StatNews reports that oncologist and author Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, who wrote the bestseller Emperor of All Maladies, told the American Society of Clinical Oncology in spring that the world would soon be divided “into the rich who can afford personalized cancer treatment and the poor who cannot.” The case of Glybera, a gene therapy infamously called “the most expensive drug in the world,” adds more credence to this concern. At a whopping $ 1.4 million per patient, Glybera was sold only once in Germany, abandoned in the EU, and never came to the US market due to its cost.

Much of the issue arises as we try to treat and cure rare diseases, which the United States defines as diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 people and the European Union defines as one that affects fewer than 1 in 2,000 people. However, cumulatively, rare diseases effect an estimated 25 to 30 million Americans, and there could be up to 7,000 rare diseases.

Funding Research Matters

The tension comes at the nexus between multiple market forces: drug companies who want to invest in research and profit from their investment; insurance companies who must maximize profit for shareholders while insuring as many people as possible; governments and leaders with different policies about intervention into the system; scientists who may have independent interest in conducting research but must find a way to fund it; and patients (some with insurance, some without) who are interested or, in some cases, desperate for treatments and cures. How to relieve the tension and allow science to progress in the best way for the most people is a difficult question, but various experts have ideas.

University of Alberta law and policy expert Tania Bubela suggests to StatNews that insurers should be allowed to reimburse drug companies for gene therapies before they receive FDA approval, requiring them to amass more data before increasing drug costs to full price. Another partial solution might be to grant CRISPR licenses one gene at a time rather than issuing exclusive patents on tools like CRISPR. Other creative intellectual property strategies have been proposed by the Rare Genomics Institute. Pediatric oncologist Stuart Orkin and Phillip Reilly, a Third Rock Ventures partner, along with FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, advocate for spreading insurer payments to companies out over years of time contingent upon the drug’s continued performance, a sort of annuities structure; this would recognize the value in paying for even expensive drugs rather than years of care and treatment for expensive diseases.

Some form of government intervention is probably inevitable, according to most experts. The US Orphan Drug Act, for example, facilitates the development of treatments and drugs for rare diseases; Orkin and Reilly argue that funds from the Act could pay for gene therapies. The 2009 Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act made generic biologics, called biosimilars, possible. However, generic forms of CRISPR are not likely to come for decades. Where does this leave us?

StatNews writer Jim Kozubek frames the ultimate issue, suggesting two possible outcomes. “One of two things will happen: either we will embrace a national health care system with broad access but that severely limits expensive new drugs, gene therapies, and CRISPR-based biologics; or these treatments will be available to only the wealthiest among us who can pay for them, a dystopian vision which is perverse but perhaps more realistic considering the pressures for a return on investment.”

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