Mass producing custom stem cells and advances in desktop testing.

Let's cut through some FUD: Human stem cells are pretty easy to come by. Embryos have not been involved in the process for well over ten years that I can recall off the top of my head, and probably closer to twenty. Every human body has stockpiles of them that can be extracted with minor surgical procedures. The procedures in question usually involves scarily long needles that reach deeply enough inside the body to extract them, which might be why research into re-embryonization of other kinds of cells has proceeded at a good clip. To summarize, medical science has been …

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Newborns tested for genetic diseases. Parents surprised.

In the United States, genetic testing of newborns for inherited diseases began quietly sometime in the 1960's; the technology of the time, understandably, was in its infancy so it didn't detect a whole lot. Jump forward a half-decade, and you will find that the practice is still going on, plus it's mandatory in every state, and you might not be aware it's been done. Anna Brown gave birth to a bouncing baby girl a while ago (the article doesn't say when), and was understandably shocked when her pediatrician sat her down to tell her that her daughter Isabel carried a …

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I'm here today with absolutely nothing to talk about.. and that's what I want to talk to you about.

Still not dead. Still not sleeping, either.

Work has been keeping me busy lately, but thankfully not due to a certain beastie that was supposed to go off last week. Conflicker.C appears to have been something of a damp squib, and I for one am grateful. I'm not terribly surprised that it didn't bring about The End of the Net as we Know It. Hyperbole and RPG references aside, packing an out-of-date exploit as a primary vector of infection coupled with samples of the Conflicker.C binary itself winding up in the hands of practically every antivirus researcher on …

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From my alma mater, a monkey with a prosthetic arm.

If you've been watching the Net for a while, you've probably heard about the monkey in a research lab at the University of Pittsburgh that has a prosthetic arm wired directly to its brain with an implanted interface. The monkey seems to have gotten pretty good with it, too - while restrained it can use the prosthetic arm to feed itself. If you follow the link to the neuro-bio lab you can even watch it in realtime.

Retinal prostheses now being tested on felines.

Prosthetic retinas are leaving the experimental stage and now are in live animal testing to shake the bugs out. A number of housecats with a condition similiar to retinitis pigmentosa, which causes blindness by killing the rod and cone cells that make up the retinas have been implanted with silicon chips 2mm on a side that replicate some of the functions of organic retinas. The chips are covered with microscopic photodiodes that register light levels, produce miniscule electrical impulses, and feed directly into the optic nerve. Similiar implants have been used in a small number of humans with this disorder …

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