Genes. Forcibly Activated.
And the politics of Shasta County.
1. The work of creating a possible U.S. digital dollar inched ahead Thursday with initial research by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston into the code that eventually could support such a currency. The Boston Fed, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Digital Currency Initiative, released a 35-page white paper on the findings of its technological research, which focused on developing software to process transactions. The researchers created and examined two possible code bases, including one that was capable of handling 1.7 million transactions per second. “Both architectures met and exceeded out speed and throughput requirements,” the central bank branch said in an executive summary of the report. The researchers wanted to be able to process 100,000 transactions per second and settle them in less than 5 seconds. The two code bases beat those projections. More on this here (from MIT). (Sources: bostonfed.org, bloomberg.com, news.mit.edu)
2. CRISPR genome editing has served as a powerful tool for deleting or altering DNA sequences and studying the resulting effect. Now, researchers at Gladstone Institutes and UC San Francisco (UCSF) have co-opted the CRISPR-Cas9 system to forcibly activate genes—rather than edit them—in human immune cells. The method, known as CRISPRa, let them discover genes that play a role in immune cell biology more thoroughly and rapidly than previously possible. “This is an exciting breakthrough that will accelerate immunotherapy research,” says Alex Marson, MD, PhD, director of the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology and senior author of the new study. “These CRISPRa experiments create a Rosetta Stone for understanding which genes are important for every function of immune cells. In turn, this will give us new insight into how to genetically alter immune cells so they can become treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases.” Research paper is here. (Sources: eurekalert.org, science.org)
3. The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on the planet, and the toll on Greenland's massive ice sheet is becoming achingly clear. According to new satellite data compiled by Polar Portal, a collection of four Danish government research institutions, Greenland has lost more than 5,100 billion tons (4,700 billion metric tons) of ice in the past 20 years — or roughly enough to flood the entire United States in 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) of water. This extensive ice loss has contributed to half an inch (1.2 centimeters) of global sea-level rise in just two decades, the researchers wrote on their website. (Source: livescience.com)
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