Livin' on the MDedge

Printed meat in space and diesel-pattern baldness


If at first you don’t succeed …

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Dozens of new drugs are approved every year, but for every promising new medication, there are far more that fail to get past the clinical trial stage. The causes can vary: The drug didn’t do enough, it caused too many adverse events, and so on.

DNA topoisomerase inhibitors have been extensively researched as an anticancer agent, but many examples failed their clinical trials. These molecules are flat and made up of neatly stacked columns of electrically conductive rings, and operate by inserting themselves into DNA to stop replication.

That molecular structure is what interested a team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In research published in Nature Communications, the researchers noted that DNA topoisomerase inhibitors are structured much like organic semiconductors, but with a bonus. Those columns that make up the molecule are linked by hydrogen bonds, which allow bridges to form across the entire molecule, transforming the entire thing into a semiconductor.

That property, along with their easy printability and their high-specificity interactions with biological material, make the inhibitors an excellent candidate for use in biosensors or biotransistors.

A word to the manufacturer of those topoisomerase inhibitors, though, now that we’ve gotten you all excited again: We doubt you’ll be able to charge as much for the molecule. Semiconductors are hardly as glamorous as treating cancer.

Houston, we have a cultivated meat product

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The Delmonico brothers didn’t do it. Ronald McDonald didn’t do it. Neil Armstrong never even tried. Same goes for Julia Child.

None of these culinary giants or astronauts ever grew beef in space. That honor belongs to Aleph Farms of Rehovot, Israel. The company, a self-proclaimed “global leader in the cultivated meat industry,” collaborated with 3D Bioprinting Solutions of Moscow and others to produce slaughter-free beef in the Russian segment of the International Space Station in September.

The actual process of growing a steak mimics natural “muscle-tissue regeneration occurring inside the cow’s body” and somehow uses a 3-D bioprinter to assemble “a small-scale muscle tissue.” We don’t really understand it, but the scientists and engineers here at LOTME Co. assure us it makes sense.

But why, you may ask, did they do it on the space station? Think of it as a stand-in for New York City. You know … if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. We’ll let Didier Toubia, cofounder and CEO of Aleph Farms, explain: “In space, we don’t have 10,000 or 15,000 liter (3962.58 gallon) of water available to produce 1 kilogram (2.205 pounds) of beef.” It’s all about sustainable food production.

The next phase of the project, we think, is going to be even more interesting. For a proper fine dining experience in space, they’re going to grow a snooty French waiter to serve cultivated steak to the astronauts.

Pollution Hair Club for Men

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By now, most people are well aware that air pollution is linked with cancer. And chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. And asthma. And cardiovascular disease. And Germanic automotive emissions system cheating. Yawn.

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