Saved by the Snake?
Cobra venom is deadly stuff (about 20,000 fatalities a year globally), but it may also be a healer. A new drug derived from the venom has shown promise against multiple sclerosis (MS) and sister diseases affecting the nervous and immune systems. PhyloMed, a pharmaceutical company in Plantation, Fla., has synthesized a harmless peptide (small protein) from constituents of the snake’s venom, that acts as a kind of decoy. Attacks by immune system cells on myelin-the fatty material surrounding nerve fibers-disrupt signals between nerve cells to create characteristic MS lesions and paralysis. Neurotoxins from cobra venom paralyze nerve cells in much the same way. By binding to nerve cell receptors as a modified peptide instead of as a toxin, the venom-derived drug, called Immunokine, morphs into a therapeutic agent that can reverse MS’s debilitating effects. Clinical trials slated for this summer will target MS and adrenomyeloneuropathy (a progressive genetic disorder of the adrenal gland that results in nervous system deterioration).
Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build
“I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things are going to be more intelligent than us.”
Deep learning pioneer Geoffrey Hinton has quit Google
Hinton will be speaking at EmTech Digital on Wednesday.
Video: Geoffrey Hinton talks about the “existential threat” of AI
Watch Hinton speak with Will Douglas Heaven, MIT Technology Review’s senior editor for AI, at EmTech Digital.
Doctors have performed brain surgery on a fetus in one of the first operations of its kind
A baby girl who developed a life-threatening brain condition was successfully treated before she was born—and is now a healthy seven-week-old.
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