Scientists Tell Cancer Cells to Switch Off
MIT scientists have developed a way to deliver messages to cancer-causing genes using a method known as RNA interference. The tool could help treat neurological and immune disorders, too.
What's the Latest Development?
MIT scientists have developed a way to deliver messages to cancer-causing genes using RNA, telling them to shut off. The method, known as RNA interference, is a naturally occurring process that allows cells to fine-tune their genetic expression, but scientists have had difficultly controlling the process because it requires such precise bundling of microscopic genetic material. The MIT team, however, "have now come up with a novel delivery vehicle in which RNA is packed into microspheres so dense that they withstand degradation until they reach their destinations."
What's the Big Idea?
In an experiment, the MIT team was able to keep tumors in mice from growing by delivering specific messages encoded in RNA. The new way of packaging the genetic instructions could have effects that reach beyond cancer, say researchers, to help treat neurological and immune disorders, as well. "In future studies, the researchers plan to design microspheres coated with polymers that specifically target tumor cells or other diseased cells. They are also working on spheres that carry DNA, for potential use in gene therapy."
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The Russian-built FEDOR was launched on a mission to help ISS astronauts.
Most people think human extinction would be bad. These people aren't philosophers.
- A new opinion piece in The New York Times argues that humanity is so horrible to other forms of life that our extinction wouldn't be all that bad, morally speaking.
- The author, Dr. Todd May, is a philosopher who is known for advising the writers of The Good Place.
- The idea of human extinction is a big one, with lots of disagreement on its moral value.
Picking up where we left off a year ago, a conversation about the homeostatic imperative as it plays out in everything from bacteria to pharmaceutical companies—and how the marvelous apparatus of the human mind also gets us into all kinds of trouble.
- "Prior to nervous systems: no mind, no consciousness, no intention in the full sense of the term. After nervous systems, gradually we ascend to this possibility of having to this possibility of having minds, having consciousness, and having reasoning that allows us to arrive at some of these very interesting decisions."
- "We are fragile culturally and socially…but life is fragile to begin with. All that it takes is a little bit of bad luck in the management of those supports, and you're cooked…you can actually be cooked—with global warming!"