Solving Humanities Greatest Challenges

By Frank Diana | 9 August 2022
Reimagining the Future


Every so often, the knowledge base of society expands in a way that can be felt across multiple domains. When science pushed technology to new heights starting in the 1870s, it put society on a path towards transformative change. With science continuing to produce amazing breakthroughs in a synergistic relationship with technology, it feels much like that period so long ago. Take a look at the headlines from the past week:

Australian researchers discover breakthrough treatment for arthritis – Queensland researchers have made a breakthrough in the potential treatment of arthritis, repurposing an existing 60-year-old drug used to treat cystitis. An article on the topic can be found here.

Brain punching nanobodies could treat Parkinson’s and dementia – Using nanobodies to treat neurocognitive diseases is promising especially because recent research has revealed that many neurocognitive diseases actually start in the gut or the nose before making their way to the brain. An article on the topic can be found here.

This breakthrough stem-cell therapy could reverse genetic blindness – The scientists injected immunosuppressed dogs with advanced stages of inherited retinal degeneration with the precursors to photoreceptor cells coaxed from human stem cells. They found that the immature cells developed into full-grown photoreceptors — and that they started to form connections with the dogs’ neurons. The research offers a critical first step toward using stem-cell therapies to treat eye conditions, including inherited forms of blindness. An article on the topic can be found here.

Parkinson’s research: Experimental nanobody targets toxic proteins – Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative condition that is increasing in prevalence worldwide. There is currently no cure for the condition, which causes tremors, muscle weakness, and mood changes. Now, scientists have designed a nanobody that can untangle the misshapen proteins in the brain that lead to many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s. This finding could be key to studying the disease and developing new treatments. An article on the topic can be found here.

Novel drug increases human life span by 30%, finds Mayo Clinic – Scientists may never find the elixir of life, but they are finding new ways to extend our life spans. One day, protecting our cells from aging may be as easy as taking a pill. Mayo Clinic researchers say senolytic drugs can boost a key protein in the body that may protect older people against aspects of aging and a range of diseases. An article on the topic can be found here.

Scientists rewrite DNA to cure killer heart diseases – An injectable cure for inherited heart muscle conditions that can kill young people in the prime of their lives could be available within a few years, after an international team of researchers were announced as the winners of the British Heart Foundation’s Big Beat Challenge. An article on the topic can be found here.

In war on cancer, new drugs and therapies suggest we are on our way to finding cures – In recent months, there has been talk of novel vaccines that train the immune system to destroy pancreatic cancer; immunotherapy which unmasks mutating cells in rectal cancer patients, making it easier for the body’s defenses to destroy them; and drugs that slow the growth of cancerous breast cells once thought to be untreatable. An article on the topic can be found here.

CRISPR cure for high cholesterol enters first human trial – A quarter of Americans have high cholesterol or are taking statins to keep it down. A new gene therapy using CRISPR is designed to permanently deactivate a gene in the liver that controls the production of PCSK9 — a protein that prevents the removal of excess cholesterol from the body. In monkey trials, the treatment reduced LDL cholesterol levels by 70% in just two weeks. An article on the topic can be found here.

AI tackles the challenge of materials structure prediction – Researchers have designed a machine learning method that can predict the structure of new materials with five times the efficiency of the current standard, removing a key roadblock in developing advanced materials for applications such as energy storage and photovoltaics. An article on the topic can be found here.

Alzheimer’s breakthrough as scientists identify the mechanisms behind learning and memory – These findings are sure to be glad tidings for patients with AD and their loved ones and provide hope for the development of new treatments that can improve learning and memory function. An article on the topic can be found here.

DeepMind has predicted the structure of almost every protein known to science – DeepMind says its AlphaFold tool has successfully predicted the structure of nearly all proteins known to science. From today, the Alphabet-owned AI lab is offering its database of over 200 million proteins to anyone for free. An article on the topic can be found here.

Robot Outperforms a Surgeon in a Precision Training Task – a multinational team of researchers reported the results of a study where a robot was able to complete a common surgery training task with the same accuracy as an experienced surgeon, while completing the task more quickly and consistently. An article on the topic can be found here.

A new scientific revolution is upon us. The last one changed the world – I expect nothing less with this one.

Reprinted with permission from the author.

Frank DianaFrank Diana is a recognized futurist, thought leader and frequent keynote speaker. He has served in various executive roles throughout his career and has over 30 years of leadership experience. At Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), he is a thought leader and advisor in the context of business, societal and economic evolution. He blends a futurist perspective with a pragmatic, actionable approach – leveraging horizon scanning and story telling to see possible futures. His leadership experience obtained through various executive roles connects practical realities with the need to focus on an emerging future filled with complexity and change.

Imagining CRISPR Cures | Fyodor Urnov | TEDxBerkeley

Radical new gene therapy restores sight to patients with rare eye condition – BBC News

AlphaFold: The making of a scientific breakthrough

Welcome to DeepMind: Embarking on one of the greatest adventures in scientific history

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