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Researchers from the University of Toronto have discovered a way to trick the body’s natural defenses into allowing medicines in the bloodstream without an injection.
Drugs used to treat diseases such as diabetes and osteoporosis, which currently can only be delivered through an injection because the body would disintegrate them before they move from the stomach into the blood, could soon be offered as a simple pill.
Philip Kim, professor of computer science and molecular genetics in the University of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, explained his work in a press release: “Mirror image peptides are not recognized and degraded by enzymes in the stomach or bloodstream and therefore have a long-lasting effect.”
Peptides are molecules made of two or more amino acids. Naturally, a chain of amino acids is arranged in what is called left-handed, or “L” configuration. The human body is equipped to defend itself from these naturally occurring amino acids, even when the compounds are beneficial to us. To allow drugs to slip past the body’s defense, the researchers flipped this configuration, creating molecules arranged in the opposite way. This shape is known as dextrorotary, or “D”.
The scientists then matched the molecules with a series of drug compounds and tested their ability to do the work of the original drugs. When tested in the lab, mirror image drugs worked similarly to their natural counterparts, but also had longer lasting effects. The researchers are now looking into whether the medications would have the same effect when orally administered to patients. According to Kim, “for frequently dosed medication, this is of great interest, as taking a pill is much easier than having an injection. This could lead to many more peptide drugs being taken as pills.”
Kim and his team will now take the discovery to its next step by first patenting the tech and then seeking to work with the pharmaceutical industry to monetize it. Their work will also expand to other peptides including some that could help in the fight against the Dengue and Zika viruses.
These days, it’s almost impossible to talk about any kind of science-fiction TV anthology without comparing it to Charlie Brooker’s future-fears series Black Mirror. It’s the question most SF fans and telephiles will immediately ask. The new Amazon Prime Video anthology Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams does have some comparison points to Brooker’s series, and it’s unlikely that either Amazon or its UK television partner, Channel 4, mind having their fledgling series mentioned alongside Netflix’s well-established, buzzy technological creepshow. But Electric Dreams is decidedly brighter than Black Mirror. Co-creators Ronald D. Moore and Michael Dinner are every bit as pessimistic as Brooker about how technology is going to transform the…
Kohler, a maker of kitchen and bath products, seems to believe that you should never have to touch their products if at all possible. They’re coming to CES with a new voice and motion-control platform so that you can get Alexa in your bathroom mirror, operate your kitchen faucet with gestures, and talk to your toilet. Not kidding!
Kohler Konnect (that’s right, connect with a “K”) will connect the company’s hardware to Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit, enabling consumers to interact with Kohler’s products through voice commands, gestures, and presets.
Technology-based horror is nothing new for The X-Files, which had FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully confront their first murderous AI back in the 1993 episode “Ghost in the Machine.” But technological threats have always had the same status as other monster-of-the week problems on the show, which used to give futuristic fears the same weight as the series’ multiple episodes about killer fungus.
That’s changed since The X-Files returned for its 10th season in 2015. In that season’s premiere episode, Mulder (David Duchovny) learned that the alien invasion he feared for decades isn’t happening, and may never have actually been planned. The revelation helped cut ties with the series’ original nine-year run, and the extremely convoluted…