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FDA Urges More Industry Sun Protection Research

Sun exposure

(Yuval Y, Flickr)

23 May 2018. The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking companies making sunscreen to conduct more research on the safety of products that protect against harmful sun rays. FDA administrator Scott Gottlieb made the request yesterday for companies to study new ingredients in sunscreen and implications of greater sunscreen use in an agency statement.

FDA’s regulatory authority over non-prescription sunscreen is based on the Sunscreen Innovation Act, signed into law in 2014. Gottlieb notes that over-the-counter, or OTC, sunscreen was once a product used occasionally at the beach, but is now applied by many people any time they venture out in the sun to protect against ultraviolet rays implicated in skin cancer. Thus, FDA is asking sunscreen manufacturers to learn more about the consequences of increased sunscreen use.

Another concern is absorption of sunscreen through the skin. When sunscreen first came on the market, says Gottleib, sunscreen was thought to stay on the skin surface, but new evidence suggests some active ingredients penetrate the skin. “This combination of a large increase in the amount and frequency of sunscreen usage,” says Gottlieb, “together with advances in scientific understanding and safety evaluation methods, has given rise to new questions about what information is necessary and available to support general recognition of safety and effectiveness of active ingredients for use in OTC sunscreens.”

The Sunscreen Innovation Act, adds Gottlieb, provides new processes for evaluating sunscreen products and the agency issued a draft of proposed guidance yesterday for authorizing a new analytical technique with sunscreen. That technique, called a maximal usage trial, is designed to help understand the implications of topical non-prescription sunscreen, and if more data are needed to evaluate the safety of these products.

FDA also took action yesterday against makers of dietary supplements that claimed to protect against harm from exposure to the sun. The agency sent warning letters to makers of pills and capsules marketed under the brand names Advanced Skin Brightening Formula, Sunsafe Rx, Solaricare, and Sunergetic. These products, says Gottlieb, “are putting people’s health at risk by giving consumers a false sense of security that a dietary supplement could prevent sunburn, reduce early skin aging caused by the sun, or protect from the risks of skin cancer.”

FDA says the companies were told to correct the specified violations, including claims made in their literature and on their web sites, to ensure they’re in compliance with the law. “There’s no pill or capsule that can replace your sunscreen,” notes Gottlieb.

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Simpler Scheme Devised for Prosthetic Hand Controls

Prosthetic and human hnads

Prosthetic hand mimics human hand and arm with sensor (North Carolina State University)

23 May 2018. An engineering team designed a faster and more generic process for translating neuromuscular signals into computer controls for prosthetic hands than current machine-learning models. Researchers from the joint biomedical engineering program at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill describe their techniques in the 18 May early-access issue of IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering (paid subscription required).

Today’s computerized controls for prosthetic limbs and hands often rely on models derived from machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence. These algorithms for controlling prosthetics are learned from patterns in the muscle activity of individual users, which are then translated into commands for the devices, an often time-consuming process. The team led by biomedical engineering professor He (Helen) Huang are seeking a faster and simpler method for developing computer controls that could also be applied to a wide range of users with prosthetic hands.

Huang notes in a university statement that “every time you change your posture, your neuromuscular signals for generating the same hand/wrist motion change. So relying solely on machine learning means teaching the device to do the same thing multiple times.” Instead of machine learning, the researchers devised a generic musculoskeletal model.

“When someone loses a hand, their brain is networked as if the hand is still there,” Huang adds. “So, if someone wants to pick up a glass of water, the brain still sends those signals to the forearm. We use sensors to pick up those signals and then convey that data to a computer, where it is fed into a virtual musculoskeletal model. The model takes the place of the muscles, joints, and bones, calculating the movements that would take place if the hand and wrist were still whole.”

The team from Huang’s Neuromuscular Rehabilitation Engineering Lab based the new model on hand and arm movements of 6 able-bodied volunteers with sensors generating data on movements of their wrists, hands, and forearms. The participants performed specific tasks demonstrating different postures of their hands and arms, with the data also used for machine-learning algorithms to control prosthetic hands. The same 6 volunteers and a transradial or hand amputee tested a prosthetic hand controller using the generic model, as well as individual machine-learning models customized for each participant, with minimal training in both cases.

The results show the participants completed assigned hand-wrist posture tasks with controllers using the generic model in about the same amount of time as machine learning models. Controllers with the generic model also had somewhat more accurate performance and operated more efficiently. However, the authors report the able-bodied participants generally performed the tasks better than the amputee.

“By incorporating our knowledge of the biological processes behind generating movement,” says Huang, “we were able to produce a novel neural interface for prosthetics that is generic to multiple users, including an amputee in this study, and is reliable across different arm postures.” The team is seeking more transradial amputees to test the model with prosthetic hands performing day-to-day chores, before planning clinical trials.

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How Are Science And Business Related?

– Contributed content –

No secret science

(Derek Keats, flickr)

23 May 2018. It’s easy to say that business and science are interrelated. For decades now, both industries have been working together and the results have been, and continue to be spectacular. However, to say the journey was smooth is a lie. It’s been a rocky relationship and the odds are high that it’ll stay this way for the foreseeable future. Still, getting along and living in perfect harmony isn’t the most important things. What is essential is that the link continues to stay steady and maintain, even grow if possible. The question is, is this possible? Let’s take a look and find out.

Communication and tech

One of the most significant problems is an open dialogue, and not just the fact that both industries are tight-lipped. There are great reasons for them to keep their cards close to their chest. No, instead, when speaking up suits both parties, it’s essential to have the means to communicate. In the past, this was a major issue because the technology didn’t exist. Nowadays, it’s straightforward for both scientists and entrepreneurs to reach out and ask for help. Or, either can pose questions that will lead to further innovation in the future. Because dialogue is pretty easy, there is no reason for the relationship to weaken in this sense.

Evolution

And this isn’t only a reference to products and services. Sure, the latter is vital for both parties, but there is also a shift in the dynamic between the industries. Speaking to Euro Scientist, Aidan Gilligan says that people report business info without no background. In short, they are scientists spewing out theoretical analysis. The fact that people understand this is the case is an evolution of sorts. Regardless of whether both sides bow, companies can take the basics and adjust them for maximum results.

Toy robot

(Peter Lindberg, Flickr)

Two-way street

Let’s not forget that this is a symbiotic relationship. Without the other, both would struggle to be as successful. Granted, the industries would not collapse by any means but they wouldn’t be the same, either. Think of all the technological advancements recently, from an in-house virtual service to a health monitor in a watch. From an entrepreneurial perspective, they have a lot to gain because it helps to shift units. Scientists also have funding to secure, and they do this by showcasing their work. Without a guinea pig for a partner, there would be less money and fewer innovations.

Supply and demand

Science and business aren’t the only two industries in play, here; consumers are involved too. Don’t forget that they have become used to buying the best products and services on the market. In fact, society is based on technology, from social media posts to working remotely. If this were to disappear, it would greatly annoy the market. There is no reason for either side to give up a good thing when the demand is high and they control the supply. It’s a no-brainer to maintain the status quo.

Although it’s a tricky dynamic, the benefits are too good for either side to give up now.

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Long-Term Effects Shown from Hemophilia Gene Therapy

Drop of blood

(Alden Chadwick, Wikimedia Commons)

22 May 2018. Participants in a clinical trial testing a one-time genetic therapy to treat a rare form of hemophilia sharply reduced their bleeding incidents after a year, with few adverse effects, none considered serious. Results of the trial, sponsored by Spark Therapeutics in Philadelphia, are scheduled to be reported today at a meeting of the World Federation of Hemophilia in Glasgow, Scotland.

Spark Therapeutics is a developer of gene therapies to treat inherited diseases, including hemophilia-B, a disorder where the blood does not coagulate, due to a missing protein that mixes with blood platelets. About 8 in 10 people with hemophilia have type A of the disease, where the protein clotting factor 8 is missing. In type B, clotting factor 9 is missing. Factor 9 is made in the liver, and circulates dormant in the blood stream until a blood vessel is damaged, when it is activated by other proteins that set in motion the processes to coagulate into a clot.

The Spark Therapeutics technology is based on research conducted at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a teaching hospital of University of Pennsylvania. Healthy genes are transferred into patients to replace damaged or mutated genes with engineered adeno-associated viruses, benign microbes designed to deliver genetic material, in this case to the liver, where factor 9 is produced. Among Spark’s founders is Katherine High, a hematologist at Children’s Hospital and UPenn who pioneered adeno-associated virus delivery of gene therapies, and is now president of the company.

The clinical trial is an early- and intermediate-stage study assessing the gene therapy’s safety, but also changes in activity levels of factor 9 in participants’ blood. The trial recruited 15 individuals with hemophilia-B at several sites in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Participants were given a single gene-therapy treatment, code-named SPK-9001, then followed-up at 12 weeks and tracked for 1 year overall. All participants in the study were given the gene therapies; there was no placebo or comparison group.

None of the gene therapy recipients reported serious adverse effects, including blood clotting events, during that period. Two of the participants, however, were found to have elevated enzyme levels in their livers after 12 weeks, and were treated with corticosteroids. At the 12-week checkpoint, the other 13 participants reached stable levels of factor 9 in their blood of more than 12 percent, which continued over the year they were monitored. For 10 of the participants receiving the original SPK-9001 formulation, factor 9 rates ranged from 14 to 77 percent. Another 3 recipients of an enhanced version of SPK-9001 reported factor 9 rates of 38 to 55 percent.

The company also reported on other efficacy measures not originally specified for the trial. All 15 recipients found they could discontinue their supplemental infusions of factor 9 concentrates. In addition, annualized rates of bleeding incidents or supplemental infusions dropped to less than 1 percent each.

Spark is developing SPK-9001 with drug maker Pfizer. As reported by Science & Enterprise in December 2014, Spark is licensing SPK-9001 to Pfizer in a deal that could bring Spark as much $280 million. Under the agreement, Pfizer is responsible for late-stage clinical trials of SPK-9001, and that transition is expected to complete this summer.

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Disclosure: The author owns shares in Pfizer

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Self-Repair Developed for Soft Materials Circuits

Digital counter tests

Tests of self-repairing circuits with a digital counter that keeps functioning, even when broken and material is removed. (courtesy, Nature Materials)

22 May 2018. Materials scientists and engineers developed the ability for electronic circuits in soft materials, like those found in wearable devices, to repair themselves if ruptured. A team from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh describes the technology in yesterday’s issue of the journal Nature Materials (paid subscription required).

Researchers led by mechanical engineering professor Carmel Majidi are seeking ways to make more robust electronic circuits in soft materials used in robotic devices that come in contact with humans, as well as wearable devices linked to mobile systems. Their goal, says Majidi in a university statement, is to have circuits in these materials restore their functions should they break. “Other research in soft electronics,” notes Majidi, “has resulted in materials that are elastic and deformable, but still vulnerable to mechanical damage that causes immediate electrical failure.”

Majidi’s Integrated Soft Materials Lab studies new types of electronics that simulate the mechanical properties of human tissue. The researchers work with highly elastic silicone polymers having tiny microscale channels embedded in the material. Those channels contain liquefied metal alloy, such as galium, that remains in liquid form, even as the surrounding flexible materials bends and stretches.

In the new study, the researchers tested the ability of the liquid metal to restore its connections if broken. The circuits in this case are made with liquid metal droplets, which if the circuits are ruptured, reconnect with other nearby droplets, enabling the electronic connections to be restored. The team says this rerouting process takes place spontaneously, without manual intervention or external heat sources.

Tests of the materials show restoration of these circuits, when the circuits are severed, punctured, and even if material is removed. The researchers also evaluated the circuits under more real-life conditions in working devices, such as a digital counter and a miniature quadruped robot. The results show the digital counter circuits repair themselves when broken and the robot continues to function, even after encountering significant damage (see image below).

“The unprecedented level of functionality of our self-healing material,” says Majidi, “can enable soft-matter electronics and machines to exhibit the extraordinary resilience of soft biological tissue and organisms.” In addition to wearable devices and soft robotics, the researchers envision self-repairing circuits being used by first-responder robots performing human rescues even if damaged, and with inflatable structures in remote locations, even under extreme environmental conditions, such as on the planet Mars.

Miniature quadruped robot

Miniature quadruped robot keeps functioning, even after researchers physically break circuits (Carnegie Mellon University)

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Taking Care of Tech Issues in the Workplace

– Contributed content –

Computer monitor and teapot

(Pexels.com)

22 May 2018. We’re living in a technological age and everyone has been drawn into making use of various tech products and services in all aspects of their lives, from their homes to their workplaces. Now, if you experience tech problems at home, they tend to be (at most) an inconvenience. Usually, they only affect your entertainment. However, tech problems in the workplace can cause severe disruptions and delays which can have a knock-on effect on business, negatively affecting your professional image and potentially reducing your profits. So, let’s take a look at a few common tech problems and consider how to resolve them!

Develop your own software

If you’re using premade software to complete your work on, chances are that it’s going to have its limitations. You should bear in mind that it is produced with the mass market in mind, so its features and functions are going to be generalized to meet as many people’s needs and requirements as possible. So, if you want software that is going to do everything that you need it to in a manner that suits your business plan, you should look into developing your own software. This will provide you with something that is unique and functional. However, unless you have an extensive knowledge of coding, you’re likely to struggle to bring your ideas to life alone. This is where a reliable software development company can come in handy. A consultation will allow them to completely understand what you have in mind and make your concept a reality.

Make use of professional IT support

Every now and then, something is going to happen that throws your tech into disarray. Identifying the problem can be a long and drawn-out process if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, leaving you and your employees offline for extended periods of time. This is bad for business. So make sure you have a professional IT support team on hand to help resolve any issues that might arise. They should monitor your server and computers around the clock, identifying warning signs of potential problems and rectifying issues before they even manifest themselves. This minimizes interruptions and keeps your company in operation at all times. Perfect!

Laptop keyboard

(Pexels.com)

 

Backup your documents

Your business will run smoothly as long as you have all of your documents to hand and the best place to store documents is on your desktop computer or laptop. Why? Well, physical documents are easily destroyed. You could easily spill something on them, they could blow out of the window on a gust of wind. They can also be difficult to find and when time is money you don’t want to spend hours at a time searching for a single document that’s lost somewhere among heaps of paperwork or tucked in some obscure folder in an extensive filing cabinet. By storing your documents on your laptop they are no longer in a tangible form that can be easily destroyed, and all you have to do bring them up, all you have to do is type their name into a search bar et voila! You have them!

However, when storing documents in digital form, you need to ensure that you have everything backed up. If you want to go down a traditional route, you could back them up onto a hard drive, but nowadays there are more advanced options too. Consider saving copies of all of your files to the cloud. The cloud allows you to store everything remotely and access everything you’ve saved at any given time from any device that you can log into.

Install anti-virus

If you are using Microsoft devices that use Windows, it is absolutely essential that you use anti-virus. This is specialist software that protects your device from computer viruses. It detects threats and destroys them. Now, Microsoft dominates the market when it comes to computers, laptops, and various different pieces of software, so hackers are more likely to design viruses to attack Microsoft devices. However, other alternatives are still prone to attack, so generally speaking it’s a good idea to invest in anti-virus no matter what you’re doing your work on.

While we may have addressed more potential tech issues than you might have initially had in mind, we’re only covering some of the basics and common issues here. There are plenty more tech problems that can present themselves to you in the workplace. So keep an eye out for them. However, by following the above advice, hopefully you can reduce the frequency with which you come into contact with common tech problems.

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Gene Therapy Safety Study for Heart Failure Underway

Heartbeat graphic

(Maxpixel.net)

21 May 2018. An early-stage clinical trial is testing gene therapy to treat malfunctioning heart muscle cells in people with heart failure, where the heart cannot pump enough blood for the body. The study, sponsored by Precigen Therapeutics Inc., a subsidiary of synthetic biology company Intrexon Corp. in Germantown, Maryland, that says the first patient in the trial began receiving gene therapy treatments.

Precigen says the treatments, code-named INXN-4001, are designed to help people with heart failure rebuild their damaged heart muscle cells. Heart failure is a condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, a condition affecting some 5.7 million people in the U.S., according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most cases of heart failure affect both the left and right sides of the heart, although in some cases only one side is affected. The leading causes of heart failure are conditions that weaken or damage the heart, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

INXN-4001 is a synthetic DNA molecule containing genes with instructions for producing proteins that help build heart muscles. The genes are delivered as a plasmid, a circular DNA molecule produced separate from chromosomes, and are a characteristic of bacterial DNA. In this case, the plasmid contains genes that carry instructions to cells for producing three proteins needed by damaged cardiomyocytes, cells in heart muscles. The company cells the proteins address multiple malfunctions in damaged heart muscle cells.

The early-stage clinical trial is testing the safety of INXN-4001 in a small group of heart failure patients. The study is enrolling 12 patients at University of Arizona’s heart health center in Tucson who suffer from heart failure. The patients also use a left-ventricle assist device, a surgically implanted mechanical pump that helps the damaged heart pump blood throughout the body. Participants are receiving two doses of INXN-4001, and are being followed for 12 months following their treatments, with the study team looking primarily for occurrences of adverse effects within 6 months of their treatments.

Helen Sabzevari, president of Precigen, says in a company statement that the trial is “also the first use of the retrograde coronary sinus infusion procedure in left ventricular assist device patients.” Retrograde coronary sinus infusion delivers the plasmids with a catheter through the coronary sinus, a primary vein, instead of using benign viruses, often employed for delivery of gene therapies. The study team is also tracking the ability of patients to wean themselves from their left-ventricle assist devices, measured by their ability to walk for 6 minutes, and quality of life. In addition, the trial is testing the feasibility of wearable biosensors to collect data on the patients’ daily activity.

Precigen was founded in 2017 to develop and commercialize synthetic gene and cell therapies initially discovered by Intrexon, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intrexon Corp. The company says it is also developing treatments for cancer and autoimmune disorders.

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Trial Testing Gene-Edited, Modified Oilseed Plants

Camelina plant

Camelina plant (Rothamsted Research)

21 May 2018. An agricultural science lab in the U.K. is beginning research on sustainable methods for growing genome-edited camelina plants, along with modifying the plant’s genetics by adding genes from other plant species. The study by Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, England is expected to start later this month.

The research team led by Rothamsted plant scientist Johnathan Napier is studying these techniques to boost production of omega-3 fatty acids in camelina plants. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, camelina was long considered a weed, but is now recognized as an oilseed crop, with oils making up 30 to 40 percent of its seeds’ weight. Camelina oil is marketed largely in Europe in salad dressing and for cooking, for its high content in polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids.

In addition to camelina, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in flax plants — another name for camelina is “false flax” — as well as nuts and fish. Their three main types are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), all of which are either made in small quantities in humans or in the case of ALA, not at all. The acids are part of cell membranes and found in higher levels in the eyes, brain, sperm, heart, lungs, immune system, and endocrine glands. Because the body produces so few omega-3 fatty acids, they need to be consumed in food or with supplements.

Napier and colleagues will test genetically modified camelina plants, with genome-edited and wild-type varieties. Some 17 varieties of camelina, genetically modified to include algae genes, will be evaluated for their production of EPA and DHA oils. Other modified varieties are being assessed for production of natural pigments with anti-oxidant properties known as ketocarotenoids, as well as wax esters, another type of fatty acid, and for improved structural traits including stem thickness and photosynthetic capability.

Two of the camelina varieties tested in the trial will be genome-edited. The researchers, with colleagues in France, are editing the camelina genome with Crispr, short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, using Cas-9 enzymes to perform the edits. In this part of the study, the team is looking into the feasibility and efficiency of growing genome-edited strains, which the researchers say could produce more precise results and more quickly than with adding genes from different species. Napier adds that the study also “will improve our understanding of lipid metabolism.”

Editing the genomes of plants may also bypass European Union and U.K. rules on genetic modification, which the Rothamsted researchers consider onerous. In a February 2018 essay, Rothamsted crop scientist Nigel Halford notes that genome editing techniques like Crispr-Cas9 knocks out specific genes, causing mutations much like those that occur in nature, such as when plants are exposed to chemicals or radiation. These modifications are already exempt from EU genetic modification regulations, and thus, says Halford,  genome-edited varieties should be exempt as well, since the EU’s rules were drawn up a decade before the emergence of genome editing.

In January 2018, a European court issued a preliminary opinion that any mutation-causing change that could occur naturally should be exempt from the EU regulations on genome modification, ostensibly including genome editing, which the full court is now considering. In March, George Eustice, the U.K. Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs answered a parliamentary question in much the same way, saying “the Government’s view is that specific regulation of this technology is not required where the induced genetic change could have occurred naturally or been achieved through traditional breeding methods.”

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Asset Segmentation, Tokenization, And Blockchain Technology

– Contributed content –

21 May 2018. In terms of industries being able to survive, perhaps the notion of relying on the wealthy 1% of the world makes sense. They not only have a lot of capital, they also are generally people more seasoned with money. They’re calmer and able to see money as an object, therefore, they don’t attach emotions to their investment making them great clients. Survival is never the aim of an industry, thriving and advancing is, however. So would it be best to rely on just a small percentage of the population to do all the heavy lifting?

Of course not, because the more people there are ready to invest, the more chance there is expanding and success throughout the industry. Allowing as many investors as possible regardless of their capital seems like the only way for modern companies to achieve their grandiose goals. This is where blockchain technologies come in as they have the system of segmenting already figured out. The more opportunity you give to small investors, the more people are holding your entity upright. But is this all just theory or could this be the future of investing?

Opening new doors

Blockchain technology is like a slow rumbling avalanche. Economists and technology experts can see it coming but the vast majority of people are facing the other way. The mainstream knowledge of blockchaining is very limited which means traditional ways of investing seem to not only be the best option but the only option. Sooner or later the avalanche will sweep you up whether you’re prepared for it or not. Imagine for a second that you aren’t considered a wealthy investor. You don’t have money to throw around as you wish, but you have saved up enough to where you have a small amount of capital. Now, you don’t have enough to buy a house or an expensive car, but what if you could own a piece of a valuable property and performance car?

You’ve probably raised an eyebrow and asking yourself if that’s even possible. Take the new exciting business of Bitcar. Don’t have enough money to buy that exotic supercar you’ve always wanted? Well with Bitcar you can own a piece of a supercar, which comes in the form of asset tokenization giving your fractional ownership. The title of each asset is split up and each piece is assigned a token. The token value is pegged to the US dollar value of the asset on the market. If you wish to own all the tokens of an asset, you effectively own the title to the car. You can take the car you now own off the Bitcar platform and use it as you would a normal car or choose to still keep it on the platform. Since the hard asset price on the market can go up and down, tokens can end up making you money if you sell at the right time. In the meantime, you still have the right to take the car out for a spin since you own part of the title. Pretty awesome for those who can’t afford to outright buy an exotic car for themselves with cold hard cash.

Chopping up property

You’ll never look at a commercial office building the same ever again. Picture a 30-story building which has different investors for each floor. It’s an amazingly intriguing thought but it’s an actual reality. Giving normal everyday people access to a lucrative asset means that a property has a stable foundation of interested investors. Now if a property owner wants to garner as much attention and investment as possible, rather than going to a real estate agent, they would go to a blockchain platform. Real estate blockchain technology allows them to first register with the platform and then with a smart contract, segment their property. These segments will go through a financial institution that then offers them to the wider public. The public can buy the segments and enter into the tokenized economy of the blockchain platform. Their token represents a security i.e. the piece of the asset they bought.

Since the value of the property of which they partly own can go up or down, their token may end up being worth much more than what they paid for it. As with the principles of a blockchain, the exchange of ownership is done on the blockchain platform. The history of ownership and the smart contract openly states what the property consists of. The buying and selling is done in front of the entire community which keeps records of the transaction. There’s no need to involve a financial institution or government authority for them to give their approval. No need to sign a contract, you simply inherit the contract once the exchange has occurred. What this means for the wider public is that they have an increased chance of getting into real estate investments. If you don’t have enough capital to buy a commercial office or residential property, you can access parts of it through tokenization and blockchain trading.

 

Bar graph, arrow

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

Would values go down?

To someone looking in from the outside, they could be forgiven for thinking that values of assets would go down thanks to the segmentation effect. It makes sense at first because surely an intact chocolate bar is worth more than one that has been broken up in the wrapper right? Assets have been almost exclusive to a certain part of the investment world. Usually, you would be expected to be somewhat wealthy so asset owners could rely on you to pass a credit score of their satisfaction. They want someone who is reliable and enough stomach to not get the jitters if their industry the asset was in were to experience a period of volatility. With more investors involved in the prosperity of an asset, this gives the asset more time and reliability to mature and increase in value. Whenever there are more people to prop up an asset, the less risk there is that having one or a few investors; it’s simply a numbers game.

Wouldn’t you love to say you own a piece of the title to a supercar? Not only can you take your exotic car for a spin but you stand to make a profit the more the market value of the car goes up. Tokenization in the real estate market has allowed asset exchanges to be faster and safer thanks to the blockchain technology platforms.

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Infographic – Graphene Investment in Decline

Investments in graphene start-ups

Investments in graphene start-ups, 2008 to 2017. Click on image for full-size view. (CB Insights)

19 May 2018. Almost from the day we started Science & Enterprise, we’ve reported on research and development on graphene, a material with many highly desired properties for a wide range of industries. Graphene is closely related to graphite like that used in pencils. The material is very light, strong, chemically stable, and can conduct both heat and electricity, with applications in electronics, energy, and health care. In 2010, two researchers at University of Manchester in the U.K. received the Nobel Prize in physics for their discoveries on graphene.

In the time we’ve reported on graphene, we also waited for meaningful commercialization of the technology. In a report this week, our friends at CB Insights show that the investment community is also waiting for graphene to reach a critical commercial mass, but their patience may be running out, the highlight of this weekend’s infographic.

As noted by CB Insights, venture investment in start-up enterprises developing graphene applications peaked in 2015, with more than $36 million placed in 11 deals, but since then has dropped off markedly. In 2017, start-ups working in graphene raised only 2.3 million, down from $17 million in 2016. The only bright spot in the report is the number of investment deals rose in 2017 to 8, from a near decade-low 2 deals in the previous year.  The CB Insights report shows as well a similar pattern for investments in carbon nanotube technologies.

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