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FDA Approves Rare Infant Disease Gene Therapy

Neurons

(commonfund.nih.gov)

24 May 2019. The Food and Drug Administration today approved a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy in young children that replaces a faulty gene in motor neurons with a healthy one. The approved therapy is sold under the name Zolgensma, made by AveXis in Basel, Switzerland, a company owned by drug maker Novartis.

Spinal muscular atrophy or SMA is an inherited condition in infants where specialized motor nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain stem are missing, leading to wasting away of muscles for crawling, walking, sitting up, and head movements. In severe cases, muscles for breathing and swallowing can also be affected. The disease is caused by a mutation in survival motor neuron 1 or SMN1 gene that encodes for a protein needed for healthy functioning of motor neurons or nerve cells.

“Most children with this disease do not survive past early childhood due to respiratory failure,” says Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in an agency statement. “Patients with SMA now have another treatment option to minimize the progression of SMA and improve survival.”

Zolgensma uses a benign virus, called an adeno-associated virus, given as a single infusion to deliver a healthy SMN1 gene copy into targeted motor neurons that produces the functioning proteins needed by children with SMA. FDA approved Zolgensma in part on results from clinical trials in the U.S. and Europe showing children less than 2 years in age receiving the healthy gene showing more improvement in meeting motor function milestones than children with SMA typically demonstrate, such as controlling head movements or sitting up on their own. The U.S. trial is still underway.

FDA approved Zolgensma for children up to the age of 2 years. The most common adverse effects of the treatments, says the agency, are elevated enzymes and vomiting. FDA requested a boxed warning be included alerting of serious liver damage, particularly in patients with a compromised liver. The agency previously designated Zolgensma as an orphan drug, gave it a “breakthrough” tag, and assigned the biologic therapy priority and fast-track accelerated reviews.

The list price for a Zolgensma treatment is set by AveXis at $2,125,000. The proposed prices received push-back last month from Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, or ICER, an independent group that analyzes drug effectiveness and value, calling them “above commonly accepted cost-effectiveness thresholds.” A statement today from ICER says new clinical trial data show longer-lasting effects of Zolgensma treatments, and as a result, “the price announced today falls within the upper bound of ICER’s value-based price benchmark range.”

AveXis was acquired by Novartis in April 2018 for $8.7 billion, as reported by Science & Enterprise. The company says it is working with insurance companies to work out 5-year repayment and outcomes-based plans for Zolgensma.

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Virtual Reality Harnessed to Detect Alzheimer’s

Virtual reality scene

Scene from virtual reality navigation exercise (University of Cambridge)

24 May 2019. A neuroscience lab in the U.K. designed a process using virtual reality to detect early-stage Alzheimer’s disease in people with mild cognitive impairment. A team from University of Cambridge and University College London describes the test and its findings in yesterday’s issue of the journal Brain.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition, the most common form of dementia affecting growing numbers of older people worldwide. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says as many as 5 million people in the U.S. were living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014, with deaths from Alzheimer’s increasing 50 percent from 1999 to 2014. University of Cambridge cites data showing Alzheimer’s disease also affects some 525,000 people in the U.K.

Researchers led by neuroscientists Dennis Chan at Cambridge and Neil Burgess at University College London are seeking more definitive methods for identifying people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Signs of mild cognitive impairment such as impaired memory are an indicator of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, but loss of some memory may be due to other factors, such as anxiety. This lack of clear-cut indicators of early-stage Alzheimer’s also makes it difficult to enroll participants who can most benefit from clinical trials testing treatments for the disorder.

The team identified a region of the brain called the entorhinal cortex that offers path for better detecting Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages. The entorhinal cortex is part of the medial temporal lobe, a section of the brain that controls memory, and is one of the first areas in the brain damaged by Alzheimer’s. It is also the part of the brain that serves as a mental GPS to recognize spatial positioning and find one’s way through familiar and unfamiliar surroundings. Paper-and-pencil tests of cognitive abilities, say the authors, would not likely catch this functional loss.

Chan, Burgess, and colleagues hypothesize that people with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease would also have difficulty with personal navigation. The researchers developed an virtual reality exercise to simulate a navigation task, and asked 45 individuals at local hospitals and clinics with mild cognitive impairment to take the exercise. The team asked 41 healthy volunteers to take the exercise as well for comparison.

Among 26 of the 45 participants with mild cognitive impairment, the researchers also took samples of their cerebrospinal fluid to test for biomarkers of amyloid-beta or tau proteins indicating the presence of Alzheimer’s disease. And of this group, 12 participants tested positive for these biomarkers and 14 tested negative. The team also asked participants to complete a set of paper-and-pencil cognitive tests used for Alzheimer’s diagnostics and correlated behavioral performance on the navigation test with entorhinal cortex volume using MRI scans.

The results show participants with mild cognitive impairment and testing positive for Alzheimer’s biomarkers recorded more errors on the virtual reality navigation exercise than other participants with mild cognitive impairment but testing negative for Alzheimer’s indicators, and the healthy volunteers. And results from the virtual reality, or VR, exercise better discriminated between high- and low-risk individuals for Alzheimer’s disease than results on paper-and-pencil cognitive tests.

“These results suggest a VR test of navigation may be better at identifying early Alzheimer’s disease than tests we use at present in clinic and in research studies,” says Chan in a university statement. “We’ve wanted to do this for years” he adds, “but it’s only now that VR technology has evolved to the point that we can readily undertake this research in patients.”

The university says Chan is collaborating with colleagues at Cambridge to develop mobile apps to help diagnose early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. “We live in a world where mobile devices are almost ubiquitous,” notes Chan, “so app-based approaches have the potential to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease at minimal extra cost and at a scale way beyond that of brain scanning and other current diagnostic approaches.”

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Making an Excellent First Impression in Business

– Contributed content –

(Goumbik, Pixabay)

24 May 2019. In business, first impressions are everything.

If your clients and customers get a positive first image of you, then they are more likely to trust and respect you as a business leader. If you convey a negative first image, your clients and customers might assume that carries over into other areas of your business, and that might sabotage your long-term relationships with them. This so-called ‘halo effect’ is unfair we know, because there are some people able to give a good first impression yet who perform terribly elsewhere, and there are those who, for whatever reason, give a bad first impression, but who might ultimately be excellent in business.

According to studies, a person’s judgement of us can take place within 7 seconds. You might understand this already because chances are, you might have created an assumption about somebody on first contact because of the way they dressed, or because of the mannerisms that they exhibited. Hopefully, you would have the grace to look beyond any bad first impressions, because you might want that favor extended to you with the people you meet in business.

We all deserve a second chance, after all. But to ensure you don’t make a terrible first impression with the people you meet, let’s focus on what you can do to win them over to your side quickly.

#1: Focus on your physical appearance

Especially when attending important business meetings or when networking at trade events, you really should make an effort with your appearance. Your clothing matters, so ensure you wear a professional-looking suit that is tailor-made to fit your frame, and ensure your shoes are well-polished too. Then be sure to wear a tie that matches your outfit, as you need to think about color-matching.

Studies have suggested that the colors you choose could have an impact on first impressions when meeting somebody new. Matching colors create a better impression than contrasting colors according to the previously linked article, so think carefully before pairing that bright orange tie with your dark suit!

#2: Focus on your body language

When meeting a potential client or business partner for the first time, you need to carry yourself in the right way. You want to convey an image that is confident and powerful, so stand up tall, pull your shoulders back, and firmly plant your feet on the ground. Be sure to smile too, as you need to show an air of friendliness. Lean forward when you are being spoken too, as this will show that you are being attentive. And give good eye contact, so an not to look unconfident (such as looking at the floor) or rude (such as becoming distracted by other things in the room).

These nonverbal clues are as important as the words that come out of your mouth, so practice in front of a mirror if you have to, as you will then be able to inspire confidence from the people who matter to your business.

#3: Focus on your behavior

Here’s what not to do when you first encounter a client or customer. Don’t interrupt them when they are speaking. Don’t look down at your phone every few seconds. And don’t blurt out words without thinking! To make an excellent first impression, you need to listen more than you talk. You need to make the person feel like they are the most important person in the room. And you need to think before you open your mouth because one ill-thought-out word could instantly derail the impression you are trying to convey.

The way you act is part of what it means to be professional, so for that positive first impression, don’t take any liberties with the other person. You will only get their back up, and that could affect the way they act around you.

#4: Focus on your brand

Making an excellent first impression is not only about the way you look and behave. You need to think about the way you showcase your brand, as well. This includes the brochures and business cards you give out to others, the website you create for your online image, and even the badges you wear when walking around business conferences. If any are shoddily produced, potential clients might assume this is reflected in your service or products.

Therefore, do the sensible thing and use a professional printing company for your promotional material, acquire the services of a web designer for your site, and visit lanyardsfactory.com.au or any similar company for your lanyards and badges. These, along with the outfits you wear, the body language you convey, and the way you respond to others, will improve your professional image and help you make that excellent first impression.

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High-Speed 3-D Organ Printing in Development

Green laser beams

(SD-Pictures, Pixabay)

23 May 2019. A research team in Europe and Israel is devising a new process for faster bio-printing of human organs with three-dimensional printing. The Brighter project — short for Bio-printing by light sheet lithography: engineering complex tissues with high resolution at high speed — is scheduled to begin in July and funded by a 3-year grant of €3.45 million ($US 3.9 million) from the European Commission.

The Brighter project applies lithography techniques similar to those in semiconductor fabrication for producing human tissue and organs for transplant. The work aims to correct problems in bio-printing from low speeds and resolution with conventional 3-D printers. The long times needed for bottom-up printing decreases the viability of cells distributed through printer heads, and the low resolution fails to match the complex nature of native tissue, with results that cannot include vital components, such as blood vessels..

The project team is led by Elena Martínez at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain, whose biomimetic systems for cell engineering lab studies micro-fabrication of 3-D cell and tissue cultures. The team includes researchers from Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, Technion in Haifa, Israel, and the companies Cellendes in Reutlingen, Germany, and Mycronic in Täby, Sweden.

The Brighter team is developing a 3-D printing technology more like semiconductor lithography than conventional 3-D printing. The Brighter technique uses hydrogels, water-based and bio-compatible polymers, with light-sensitive molecules that respond to a light source beamed through the printer head. That light source is a thin laser like that used in light sheet microscopy to visualize light-sensitive tissue and cells, such as in embryos.

This light sheet technique, from the Physical Biology Group at Goethe University led by Ernst Stelzer, not only allows for much faster production than conventional 3-D printing, it also enables much more complex structures, including different tissue densities and fine tubes for growth of blood vessels through the printed tissue. After exposure to the lasers, unused hydrogel is washed out, leaving a matrix for seeding by stem cells, which can then differentiate into functioning tissue and eventually organs.

“This method will enable us to adjust the spatial structure and the stiffness with an unprecedented resolution so that we can create the same heterogeneous microstructures that cells find in natural tissues,” says Francesco Pampaloni, a cell biologist in Stelzer’s lab and member of the Brighter team in a Goethe University statement. The project team plans to produce 3-D printed skin tissue, with hair follicles and sweat glands, as well as allow for the growth of a blood vessel network.

The Brighter project is part of the EU-wide Horizon 2020 framework, under its Future and Emerging Technologies Open program.

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A.I., Robotics Studied for Military Trauma System

Medevac training in Afghanistan

Medical evacuation training exercise in Afghanistan in 2013 (DoDLive.mil)

23 May 2019. Medical and robotics labs at two universities in Pittsburgh are developing a portable, autonomous trauma care device to stabilize wounded military service people in the field. The 4-year project to develop the system is funded by contracts from the U.S. Department of Defense totaling $7.2 million with researchers at University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

The system called Trauma care in a rucksack, or Tracir, aims to stabilize wounded service people in remote areas where medical evacuation is difficult. Tracir plans to provide a stretcher-platform with a vest or suit to fit around the patient, while non-invasive sensors in the suit assess the individual’s medical condition. Data from the sensors will then use algorithms in control units to provide treatments to the patient or guide care by non-medical colleagues.

The goal of Tracir is to keep the patient stable until evacuation, called the golden hour, a term derived from a mandate by then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in 2009 to medically evacuate critically injured service people in 60 minutes or less. A study published in 2016 shows the mandate reduced the time for providing professional care and improved survival outcomes. But because service people are now deployed in very remote regions, it may not always be possible to evacuate combat casualties and deliver them to professional medical care in 60 minutes.

The Tracir project combines researchers in emergency medicine at University of Pittsburgh with artificial intelligence and robotics engineers at Carnegie Mellon. The Pitt team, led by Ron Poropatich, director of the university’s military medical research center, and Michael Pinsky, a professor of critical care at Pitt, are receiving $3.7 million from DoD to study medical technologies for Tracir. A robotics and artificial intelligence research team led by Artur Dubrawski at Carnegie Mellon is receiving $3.5 million to create the autonomous systems in Tracir.

A resource expected to speed development of Tracir is a library of detailed physiologic data collected from more than 5,000 University of Pittsburgh Medical Center trauma patients. Pinsky and Dubrawski used those libraries to train algorithms for better detecting signs of deteriorating health in critical care patients before the damage is irreversible. Tracir expects to build on that experience with more sophisticated algorithms that provide autonomous care or directions to non-medical personnel. The project also calls for demonstrating the practicality of Tracir ‘s individual components.

Dubrawski notes in a joint university statement that Tracir is envisioned as, “an autonomous or nearly autonomous system,  a backpack containing an inflatable vest or perhaps a collapsed stretcher, that you might toss toward a wounded soldier. It would then open up, inflate, position itself and begin stabilizing the patient.” He adds, “Whatever human assistance it might need could be provided by someone without medical training.”

Poropatich notes Tracir also has potential civilian uses. “Tracir could be deployed by drone to hikers or mountain climbers injured in the wilderness,” says Poropatich. “It could be used by people in submarines or boats; it could give trauma care capabilities to rural health clinics or be used by aid workers responding to natural disasters. And, someday, it could even be used by astronauts on Mars.”

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Viral Disease Biotech Joins ElevateBio, Gains $120M

T-cells illustration

T-cells (NASA.gov)

22 May 2019. A biotechnology company developing immunotherapies for viral diseases is joining the ElevateBio consortium providing manufacturing for cell and gene therapies. The company, AlloVir in Houston, Texas is also raising $120 million in its second round of venture financing.

AlloVir, formed originally under the name ViraCyte LLC, develops engineered cell therapies for viral diseases that restore natural T-cell immunity in people with compromised immune systems, such as stem cell and organ transplant patients. These individuals, says the company are particularly susceptible to viral infections and lack the robust immune systems to fight them off. And current treatments for their condition do not address the patients’ underlying weakened immune systems.

The company licenses discoveries from Baylor College of Medicine, also in Houston, for its off-the-shelf synthetic T-cells for patients with compromised immune systems. AlloVir’s synthetic cells have proteins that stimulate the immune system from healthy donated T-cells exposed to fragments of viruses designed to trigger an immune response. The fragments, while targeting specific viruses, are not able to cause an infection in the patients. In July 2017, Science & Enterprise reported on the licensing deal between Baylor and ViraCyte.

The company tested its engineered T-cells in a mid-stage clinical trial among patients receiving blood-forming stem cell transplants from bone marrow donors, for treating blood-related cancers like lymphoma and leukemia. The 38 patients in the trial reported a total of 45 infections from 5 different viruses. Findings published in August 2017 show a single infusion of the engineered T-cells resulted in complete or partial clearing of the viruses in nearly all (92%) of the participants. Only 2 of the patients reported adverse immune system reactions, a mild form of graft-versus-host disease.

ElevateBio was formed only last week to offer companies like AlloVir facilities to develop cell and gene therapy products spun-off from academic research labs. As reported by Science & Enterprise, a central feature of ElevateBio is its Basecamp, a central product development lab and manufacturing facility for gene and cell therapies shared among ElevateBio’s portfolio companies.

AlloVir is testing its lead product Viralym-M in a clinical study with 80 stem cell transplant patients to treat infections from 6 viruses, including those in the earlier trial. AlloVir co-founder and chief scientist Ann Leen, also a professor at Baylor, says in a company statement that taking part in the ElevateBio consortium provides the infrastructure for larger-scale testing and production of its products. “This partnership,” says Leen, “provides AlloVir with fully integrated bench-to-bedside capabilities to accelerate the development and commercialization of our allogeneic, off-the-shelf, multi-virus specific T-cell immunotherapies.”

In addition, AlloVir is raising $120 million in its second venture funding round. The financing is led by Fidelity Management and Research Company, the investment advisor to Fidelity Investments. Joining the round is biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, and venture investors F2 Ventures, Redmile Group, Invus, EcoR1 Capital, Samsara BioCapital, and Leerink Partners Co-investment Fund.

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Pharmas Join Digital Clinical Trial Project

Stethoscope and iPhone

(Pexels.com)

21 May 2019. Four pharmaceutical companies are signing on to an initiative that promises to make clinical trials friendlier to patients and make better use of digital technology. The companies — Novartis, Otsuka, Pfizer, and Sanofi — are joining Project Baseline, a program offered by Verily Life Sciences, a division of Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google.

Project Baseline started in 2017 as an effort to streamline the conduct of clinical trials, a key element in the development of new drugs and medical devices, but with continued high costs and difficulty in recruiting participants. Verily cites data from a 2017 survey by the organization Research America showing less than 10 percent of the U.S. population takes part in clinical studies. In addition, clinical trial participants often perceive little direct value from their experience, and data from trials are not easy to aggregate or integrate with other databases.

Taking part in Project Baseline up to recently are the medical schools at Stanford and Duke universities, American Heart Association, and Google. The project is developing standardized and interoperable trial enrollment processes, better integration with electronic health records, and more understandable dashboards and analytics for trial participants and managers. Among Project Baseline’s benefits to participants are faster and more understandable medical test and fitness results returned to individuals.

The four drug makers are joining Project Baseline to advance the initiative’s goals, but are also exploring gaining access to data routinely referenced and collected by the project as real-world evidence of health status and outcomes. Verily says the pharma companies are also planning clinical studies conducted through Project Baseline testing treatments in fields such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, mental health, dermatology, and diabetes.

Jessica Mega, Verily’s chief medical officer, says in a company statement that the four drug makers are “early adopters of advanced technology and digital tools to improve clinical research operations, and together we’re taking another step towards making research accessible and generating evidence to inform better treatments and care.” Mega adds, “We need to be inclusive and encourage diversity in research to truly understand health and disease, and to provide meaningful insights about new medicines, medical devices, and digital health solutions.”

Last week, Verily expanded medical center participation in Project Baseline, adding five more institutions to Duke and Stanford: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Mayo Clinic, Regional Health in South Dakota, and University of Pittsburgh. The medical centers plan to run a pilot study this year analyzing their current research programs using Project Baseline’s tools.

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Disclosure: The author owns shares in Pfizer.

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Flying, Driving Drone Robot Unveiled

FSTAR hybrid robot

FSTAR flying-driving robot (American Associates, Ben Gurion University)

21 May 2019. A robot device is being developed that can fly through the air and drive along the ground with a single motor, and adjust its width for tight spaces. The device called FSTAR, short for flying sprawl-tuned autonomous robot, is scheduled for demonstration today at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Montreal.

FSTAR is a product of the Bio-Inspired and Medical Robotics Lab at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, in Beersheva, Israel. The lab is led by mechanical engineering professor David Zarrouk, and studies robotic devices small and large that travel through difficult and unusual environments for search and rescue, space, maintenance, agricultural, and medical purposes. The group specializes in simple devices, easy to control and operate, that maximize performance with a minimum of hardware.

The hybrid FSTAR device uses a sprawling motion, with the wheels pitched at an angle and controlled by a single motor. By adjusting the angle of the wheels, from flat to 55 degrees, the wheels can drive the device along the ground, and lower itself to crawl under obstacles. FSTAR can also pull the wheels in toward the center of the device body to fit through tight spaces, or transfer the motor’s power to propellers inside the wheels that fly the device like a quadcopter.

FSTAR’s developers say the device can travel along the group at 2.6 meters (8 feet) per second, which  keeps energy consumption low. Current FSTARs can carry loads weighing up to 400 grams (0.9 pounds). The prototype demonstrated in Montreal was produced on a 3-D printer.

The group believes the FSTAR device can fill a need for delivery drones that can both fly to a location, then drive along the ground to precise delivery points inside buildings. FSTAR can also be used in agriculture, maintenance, cleaning, filming, and entertainment, as well as law enforcement and anti-terrorist applications.

“We plan to develop larger and smaller versions to expand this family of sprawling robots for different applications,” says Zarrouk in a university statement, “as well as algorithms that will help exploit speed and cost of transport for these flying-driving robots.”

Ben Gurion University’s technology transfer company, BGN Technologies, has an initiative called ABC Robotics, for commercializing agriculture, biological, and cognitive robots based on the university’s research.  That program includes devices developed in Zarrouk’s lab. The following video shows the FSTAR in operation both inside buildings and outside.

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Start-Up to Use Stem Cells for Hearing Loss

Headphones

(Pexels, Pixabay)

20 May 2019. A new enterprise in the U.K. is creating treatments with stem cells to repair damaged nerve cells in the inner ear that causes hearing loss. Rinri Therapeutics in Sheffield, England is a spin-off business from University of Sheffield, also raising £1.4 million ($US 1.8 million) in seed funds from venture investors.

Rinri Therapeutics is developing treatments for sensorineural hearing loss, a condition caused by damage to the inner ear. In that part of the ear, hair cells that act as sensory receptors and the auditory nerve can become damaged from a number of causes, including genetics, trauma, advanced age, and repeated exposure to loud noise. The company cites data showing some 64 million people in the U.S. and 34 million in Europe are affected by sensorineural hearing loss.

Rinri’s treatments are designed to treat sensorineural hearing loss from damage to nerve cells in the ear, and restore the functioning of these nerve cells. The company’s technology is based on research by Sheffield stem cell biologist Marcelo Rivolta, His lab in the university’s Centre for Stem Cell Biology studies precursor stem cells to adult auditory nerve cells, particularly fetal inner ear cells that transform into adult nerve cells in the cochlea section of the inner ear.

Research by Rivolta and colleagues shows cultured embryonic stem cells can be transformed into adult inner-ear hair and auditory nerve cells. Implanting the transformed adult inner ear cells into lab gerbils induced with hearing loss also shows average recovered hearing in the animals of about 46 percent, a higher rate than untreated animals, some 4 weeks after receiving the implanted cells.

“We believe this an important step forward,” said Rivolta in a university statement at the time of the paper’s publication in 2012. “We now have a method to produce human cochlear sensory cells that we could use to develop new drugs and treatments, and to study the function of genes. And more importantly, we have the proof-of-concept that human stem cells could be used to repair the damaged ear.”

Seed funds — immediate start-up financing for new companies — for Rinri Therapeutics totaling £1.4 million are provided by the Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and UCB Ventures, the venture capital arms of those drug companies. BioCity, a life science and health care start-up incubator in the U.K., joined in the fund-raising.

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MIT, Air Force to Open A.I. Accelerator Lab

USAF maintenance

Air Force maintenance personnel at an air base in Japan (U.S. Air Force)

20 May 2019. The U.S. Air Force is funding research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to speed development of artificial intelligence advances for its mission. The Air Force says it plans to spend $15 million per year on a new research center called the MIT-Air Force A.I. Accelerator, although the length of time of the initiative was not disclosed.

The program aims to fill a need by the Air Force for faster prototyping, scaling, and application of A.I. algorithms and systems, bringing together MIT scholars and Air Force experts. Some 10 projects are expected to be formed covering Air Force operations and related issues, such as disaster response and medical readiness. MIT says advances from the funded research are also expected to benefit the broader society.

The agreement calls for MIT to form interdisciplinary groups to study underlying A.I. technology issues, including control theory, machine learning, robotics, and computer perception. But the teams are also expected to bring in experts on broader issues of technology policy, history, and ethics. The program anticipates conducting research on A.I. to assist humans in aspects of planning and control of data management, maintenance and logistics, vehicle safety, and cyber resiliency.

“We plan to assemble interdisciplinary teams that will collaborate across disparate fields of A.I. to create new algorithms and solutions,” says Daniela Rus, director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, in a university statement. Rus adds, “Our objective is to advance the underlying science behind A.I. and facilitate societal applications, including helping create solutions in fields like disaster relief and medical preparedness that are of interest to the Air Force.”

The MIT-Air Force A.I. Accelerator will be part of a new College of Computing at MIT that plans to open in the fall of 2019. The Accelerator program will reside at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, a research and development center funded by the Department of Defense.

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