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Sequencing the Genome in just 26 Hours

The High-Speed Genetic Will Save Lives

When a child is born sickly and conventional diagnosis fails, every second counts. A partnership between Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO and Edico—a bioinformatics start up in California—has yielded a new faster and more accurate genetic test. In just 26 hours, a complete genome sequencing can be complete. While the test works for any patient, the speed is of special significance to newborn children who cannot articulate their symptoms and for whom other tests have yielded no results. The 24 hours saved by the new sequencing could be enough to target treatment and save the infant’s life.



Delivering Lab Samples… with Drones?

Positive Results Could Greatly Aid Rural Outposts

Why would anyone need to fly a blood sample somewhere by drone? Moreover, if they did, would it affect its lab analyses? That’s the question that set researchers at John Hopkins University on their experiment. And what they found was that drones are an acceptable method of transportation. In practice, this means workers are remote clinics may have another way to send samples out and increase their care for people without hospital access. As drones increasingly become part of everyday life, their potential as medical assistive devices has gained traction from this research.



In the Mealworm, Styrofoam Meets Its Match

The Little Critters Can Eat the Stuff, Creating Usable Compost

Styrofoam one of those everyday materials that will go on existing every day for hundreds—if not thousands—of years. The stuff just doesn’t break down. Unless you feed it to some mealworms. That’s the amazing discovery researchers at Stanford University just published. Additionally, the byproduct compost is safe to use on soil. So who knows, it may just be a matter of time before we start filling our landfills with mealworms to speed things up! The team behind this finding also plans to search for an aquatic equivalent that could help breakdown the excess plastic found in Earth’s oceans.



Chemotherapy Gets Camouflage

Cancer Drugs Could Be Disguised as Red Blood Cells to Focus their Attack

One of the worst side-effects of chemical cancer treatment is the destruction of healthy cells along with cancerous ones. That’s why researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill have been working to disguise cancer drugs for the last few years… and they’ve made it work. By disguising drugs as platelets, they go naturally go straight to the cancer cells while avoiding rejection by the immune system. A study on mice showed promising results, but human use is merely theoretical at this point.



New Memory Chips Eschew Electricity for Light

Light is Faster and More Energy Efficient

In their constant quest for faster processing, computer makers have begun transferring data with light instead of electricity. Now researchers have found a way to store information on a chip using light—and it works even when the power is off. Photonic chips have been tested before, but required constant energy. A team of scientists from the Universities of Oxford and Münster have based their chip on “phase-change” material. When light hits this material, it alternates the atoms between crystalline and amorphous, which can be used to write and read information just like a typical hard drive. It’s far from commercialization, but it could radically improve data center efficiency and power, leading to a revolution in the practicality of cloud services.