Sometimes, it’s hard to appreciate how far technology has progressed, especially prosthesis technology. Scientists can now create prosthetics that are controlled by nerve impulses and might soon be able to develop devices that can simulate the sensation of touch. But let’s step back a bit and examine at the origins of prosthetics, mostly because archaeologists have finally found what they think is the world’s first prosthetic.
Recently, Egyptologists from the University of Basel, Switzerland, as well as researchers from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich, examined an artificial wooden toe found on the mummified foot of a woman buried in the necropolis of Shiekh ‘Abd el-Qurna. The archaeologists used modern microscopy, X-ray technology, and computer tomography and were able to determine how the prosthetic was made. Furthermore, not only did the researchers determine that the toe is one of the oldest prosthetics to date — around 3000 years old — but they also believe that the person who created it was “very familiar with the human physiognomy.” Apparently, the wooden toe belonged to a priest’s daughter and, according to the team, “The fact that the prosthesis was made in such a laborious and meticulous manner indicated that [the woman] valued the natural look, aesthetics and wearing comfort and that she was able to count on highly qualified specialists to provide this.”
The prosthetic is fairly simple by today’s standards and is merely a single toe connected to panels via straps, but keep in mind the prosthetic is from the “early first Millennium BC.” The artisan had to measure the woman’s foot, carve a piece of wood, fit it, and hope it worked, something that researchers say wasn’t always the case since the toe was apparently refitted several times. Although, the press release is unclear if this is due to a mistake on the creator’s part or if the woman merely outgrew the prosthesis, but regardless of the refitting, the prosthetic is a testament to the skill of ancient Egyptian prosthetists, as well as how far prosthetic technology has progressed. The woman probably only could have afforded the prosthetic due to her family’s wealth (ancient Egyptian priests were extremely high on the social status ladder, second only to the pharaoh), but most people today can afford vastly superior prosthetics. Who knows how much prosthetics will advance, and become affordable, in another 3000 years.
The First 3D-Printed Vegan Salmon Is In Stores
Revo Foods’ “THE FILET – Inspired By Salmon” salmon fillet may be the first 3D-printed food to hit store shelves. said that firm CEO Robin Simsa remarked, “With the milestone of industrial-scale 3D food printing, we are entering a creative food revolution, an era where food is being crafted exactly according to customer needs.”
Mycoprotein from filamentous fungi is used to make the salmon alternative and other meat substitutes. Vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids are in the product, like in animals. Is high in protein, at 9.5 grams per 100 grams, although less than conventional salmon.
Revo Foods and Mycorena developed 3D-printable mycoprotein. Years of research have led to laser-cooked cheesecakes and stacked lab-grown meats.
One reason for this push is because printed food alternatives may make food production more sustainable, which worries the fishing sector. Overfishing reduces fish populations in 34% of worldwide fish stocks.
Over 25% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions come from food production, with 31% from livestock and fish farms and 18% from supply chain components including processing and shipping. According to Revo Foods’ website, vegan salmon fillet production consumes 77 to 86% less carbon dioxide and 95% less freshwater than conventional salmon harvesting and processing.
The salmon alternative’s sales potential is unknown. In order to succeed, Revo Foods believes that such goods must “recreate an authentic taste that appeals to the flexitarian market.”
The commercial distribution of 3D-printed food could change food production.
Open-source Microsoft Novel protein-generating AI EvoDiff
All diseases are based on proteins, natural molecules that perform vital cellular functions. Characterizing proteins can reveal disease mechanisms and ways to slow or reverse them, while creating proteins can lead to new drug classes.
The lab’s protein design process is computationally and human resource-intensive. It involves creating a protein structure that could perform a specific function in the body and then finding a protein sequence that could “fold” into that structure. To function, proteins must fold correctly into three-dimensional shapes.
Not everything has to be complicated.
Microsoft introduced EvoDiff, a general-purpose framework that generates “high-fidelity,” “diverse” proteins from protein sequences, this week. Unlike other protein-generating frameworks, EvoDiff doesn’t need target protein structure, eliminating the most laborious step.
Microsoft senior researcher Kevin Yang says EvoDiff, which is open source, could be used to create enzymes for new therapeutics, drug delivery, and industrial chemical reactions.
Yang, one of EvoDiff’s co-creators, told n an email interview that the platform will advance protein engineering beyond structure-function to sequence-first design. EvoDiff shows that ‘protein sequence is all you need’ to controllably design new proteins.
A 640-million-parameter model trained on data from all protein species and functional classes underpins EvoDiff. “Parameters” are the parts of an AI model learned from training data that define its skill at a problem, in this case protein generation. The model was trained using OpenFold sequence alignment data and UniRef50, a subset of UniProt, the UniProt consortium’s protein sequence and functional information database.
Modern image-generating models like Stable Diffusion and DALL-E 2 are diffusion models like EvoDiff. EvoDiff slowly subtracts noise from a protein made almost entirely of noise to move it closer to a protein sequence.
Beyond image generation, diffusion models are being used to design novel proteins like EvoDiff, create music, and synthesize speech.
“If there’s one thing to take away [from EvoDiff], I think it’s this idea that we can — and should — do protein generation over sequence because of the generality, scale, and modularity we can achieve,” Microsoft senior researcher Ava Amini, another co-contributor, said via email. “Our diffusion framework lets us do that and control how we design these proteins to meet functional goals.”
EvoDiff can create new proteins and fill protein design “gaps,” as Amini noted. A protein amino acid sequence that meets criteria can be generated by the model from a part that binds to another protein.
EvoDiff can synthesize “disordered proteins” that don’t fold into a three-dimensional structure because it designs proteins in “sequence space” rather than structure. Disordered proteins enhance or decrease protein activity in biology and disease, like normal proteins.
EvoDiff research isn’t peer-reviewed yet. Microsoft data scientist Sarah Alamdari says the framework needs “a lot more scaling work” before it can be used commercially.
“This is just a 640-million-parameter model, and we may see improved generation quality if we scale up to billions,” Alamdari emailed. WeAI emonstrated some coarse-grained strategies, but to achieve even finer control, we would want to condition EvoDiff on text, chemical information, or other ways to specify the desired function.”
Next, the EvoDiff team will test the model’s lab-generated proteins for viability. Those who are will start work on the next framework.
Redwire Space produces human knee cartilage in space for the first time
Redwire Space has “bioprinted” a human knee meniscus on the International Space Station, which could treat Earthlings with meniscus issues.
The meniscus cartilage was manufactured on Redwire’s ISS BioFabrication Facility (BFF). The BFF printed the meniscus using living human cells and transmitted it to Redwire’s Advanced Space Experiment Processor for a 14-day enculturation process for BFF-Meniscus-2.
SpaceX’s Crew-6 mission returned the tissue to Earth after culturing. UAE astronaut Sultan Al-Neyadi and NASA astronauts Frank Rubio, Warren Hoburg, and Stephen Bowen investigated.
Redwire collaborated with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Center for Biotechnology, which studies warfighter remedies, for the trial. Meniscus injuries are the most prevalent orthopedic injuries in U.S. service members.
In recent months, Redwire Space has advanced biotechnology. The subsidiary of Redwire Corporation launched a 30,000-square-foot biotech and microgravity research park in Indiana this summer.
Redwire EVP John Vellinger called the printing “groundbreaking milestone.”
He stated, “Demonstrating the ability to print complex tissue such as this meniscus is a major leap forward toward the development of a repeatable microgravity manufacturing process for reliable bioprinting at scale.”
The company has long-term bioprinting and space microgravity research goals. Redwire will fly microgravity pharmaceutical drug development and cardiac tissue bioprinting payloads on a November SpaceX Commercial Resupply trip to the ISS.
Sierra Space agreed to integrate Redwire’s biotech and in-space manufacturing technology into its Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE) space station module. Orbital Reef, a private space station designed by Blue Origin, Boeing, and others, will include LIFE.
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