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Blood Tests Shown Able to Identify Early Lung Cancer

lung illustration

(Kai Stachowiak, Pixabay)

4 June 2018. Results from a large-scale clinical trial show an analysis of blood samples can detect and identify the presence of characteristic DNA indicating a person may have early stages of lung cancer. Findings from the study are scheduled for presentation today by a team from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and Grail Inc. in Menlo Park, California that developed the test at the annual meeting of American Society of Clinical Oncology, or ASCO, in Chicago.

Lung cancers, both small cell and non-small cell, are the second most common type of cancer, accounting for 14 percent of all new cancer cases. Only breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men have higher rate of occurrence. American Cancer Society estimates some 234,000 people in the U.S. will have lung cancer in 2018, leading to more than 154,000 deaths. The group says more people die from lung cancer than other forms of the disease for men and women, eclipsing deaths for colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

Grail Inc.’s technology tests blood samples for the presence of DNA circulating in the blood stream characteristic of tumors to detect, but also identify the type of cancer. Circulating tumor DNA, says the company, makes up only a small fraction of the DNA in blood, resulting in weak signals from tumor DNA, thus requiring intense analysis to separate these signals from background noise. Grail says it sequences DNA captured in blood generating a terabyte of data on each patient, with a deep level of analysis that includes machine learning to determine the type and severity as well as the presence of cancer.

The company is sponsoring a clinical trial enrolling some 15,000 participants to help develop and validate its technology. Of the 15,000 individuals in the trial, known as the Circulating Cell-Free Genome Atlas, 10,500 participants are cancer patients while the remaining 4,500 are a cancer-free comparison group. So far, about 12,000 participants are enrolled at 141 sites in the U.S. and Canada. All participants are providing blood samples, while cancer patients are also offering tissue samples from their tumors, with the individuals’ medical records  tracked annually for 5 years.

A team led by lung cancer specialist Geoffrey Oxnard at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is providing one of the first reports from the trial at the ASCO meeting. The researchers focused on a subset of 1,627 participants divided about equally between newly diagnosed cancer patients and cancer-free individuals for comparison. Blood samples from participants were analyzed with 3 methods in development by Grail:

 – Targeted sequencing of 507 genes to find non-inherited mutations

 – Whole genome sequencing, also to detect non-inherited genomic variations

 – Whole genome sequencing, where DNA is first treated with sodium bisulfite to highlight  changes in the DNA caused by methylation, where the chemical structure of DNA is altered by disease or injury.

The researchers were looking particularly at the ability of the tests to identify the 127 known lung cancer patients in the sample, which ranged from an early-stage localized form of the disease to advanced cases where the cancer metastasizes or spreads to other parts of the body. The results show the targeted sequencing correctly identified the about half (51%) of the earlier stage cancers and the vast majority (89%) of late-stage cancer cases. Whole genome sequencing accurately characterized nearly as many (41%) of the earlier stage cancers and about the same percentage (87%) of the advanced stage disease cases as the targeted sequencing, with whole genome plus bisulfite sequencing returning similar identifications, 38 percent of early stage cases and 89 percent of late stage cancers.

While the findings show high accuracy rates for detecting and identifying cancer, the sequencing processes also found more than half (54%) of non-inherited mutations were caused by a non-cancerous white blood cell condition called clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential. or CHIP, associated with aging. Nonetheless, the authors say the results are encouraging enough to continue development of the tests to provide better tools for early-stage lung cancer diagnosis, but also better accounting for CHIP conditions.

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Infographic – Immigrants Boost High-Value U.S. Start-Ups

Countries of immigrant start-ups

Origin of immigrant entrepreneurs starting new companies valued at $1 billion or more. Click on image for full-size view. (Statista)

2 June 2018. The Department of Homeland Security this week proposed ending the International Entrepreneur Rule that allows immigrant entrepreneurs to start new businesses in the U.S. The Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration, whether illegal or not, alarms our top universities where foreign-born researchers conduct much of their science, as we’ve reported in Science & Enterprise, and now that crackdown is being extended to people starting new businesses.

This weekend’s infographic, from our friends at Statista, shows the potential impact of this action. Based on data from 2016, about half — 44 of 87 — U.S. start-ups valued at $1 billion or more were founded by immigrants, with India providing the largest number of these entrepreneurs. The National Foundation for American Policy that prepared the report says each of these new enterprises creates some 760 jobs. While this issue may not have the emotional pull of other Trump immigration policies, it suggests factors other than good business sense are at work.

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Stem Cell Transplants Found Safe for Spinal Cord Injuries

Spine model

(Michael Dorausch, Flickr)

1 June 2018. Results from a clinical trial testing transplants of neural stem cells for spinal cord injuries show the therapies are safe for patients, with signs of improvement in most participants 1 to 2 years after treatment. The findings from a team at University of California in San Diego appear in today’s issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell (paid subscription required).

Spinal cord injuries are often caused by a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that bruises or tears into spinal cord tissue, resulting in fractures or compression to vertebrae, or in some cases severing the spinal cord. Depending on severity, people with spinal cord injuries often suffer loss of feeling or motor function in the limbs, and in some cases complete paralysis. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, spinal cord injuries occur in 54 out of 1 million people in the U.S., adding some 17,500 new cases each year.

The UC-San Diego team led by neurosurgery professor Joseph Ciacci is testing an experimental treatment for spinal cord injuries, particularly in chronic cases where the injuries continue for longer than 6 months. The treatments are given as transplants from neural stem cell lines developed by biotechnology company Neuralstem Inc. in Germantown, Maryland. Neuralstem says the stem cell line, code-named NSI-566, helps create new spinal cord nerve cells that transmit signals from the brain to points in the body at or below the injury site.

The clinical trial enrolled 4 individuals with spinal cord injuries occurring 1 to 2 years earlier, with enrollment still open for 4 more participants. The early-stage study is looking mainly at the safety of the Neuralstem treatments, particularly reports of adverse effects in the first 6 months. Participants are also tracked for 5 years for signs of the stem cell grafts’ survival, as well as immune system reaction to the transplants. The trial has no control or comparison group.

Ciacci and colleagues say after 18 to 27 months following the transplants, the procedures were well tolerated and none of the participants reported serious adverse effects. While efficacy measures were not part of the original trial protocol, the researchers say 3 of the 4 participants show at least some improvement in neural functions. In addition, 2 of the 4 participants show 1 to 2 levels of improvement on standard sensory and motor assessment rating scales for spinal cord injury patients.

The researchers emphasize the results reflect a small sample size, as well as no control or comparison group. Nonetheless they consider the results encouraging and recommend larger-scale tests of higher stem cell doses, both for safety and if they accelerate repair and recovery.

Neuralstem is also assessing its NSI-566 stem cells in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. As reported in Science & Enterprise in March 2015, clinical trial results show ALS patients receiving transplants with NSI-566 cells nearly stopped their functional decline, and in some cases improved their muscle functions.

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Nanoscale Cell-Like Robots Shown to Clean Blood

Coated nanorobots

Scanning electron microscope image of nanorobots with hybrid blood cell membrane coating (courtesy Esteban-Fernández de Ávila and Science Robotics)

1 June 2018. Engineering researchers developed tiny robotic devices, powered by ultrasound and designed to look and act like blood cells, which in lab tests cleared human blood of dangerous bacteria and toxins. A team from University of California in San Diego describes the devices and test results in the 30 May issue of the journal Science Robotics (paid subscription required).

Researchers from the labs of nanoengineering professor Joseph Wang and nano/bioengineering professor Liangfang Zhang are collaborating on this project to develop systems able to work inside the body for decontaminating bodily fluids. Both research groups deal with nanoscale devices, where 1 nanometer equals 1 billionth of a meter. Wang’s lab studies the fabrication and operation of nanoscale devices, while Zhang’s group focuses on nanoscale delivery of drugs and vaccines.

To move devices this small, the team chose to power the robots externally, using ultrasound waves, with the core of the devices made of gold nanoscale wires, which respond to ultrasound. The researchers created a a hybrid of outer membranes from red blood cells and blood platelets with high-frequency sound waves, then coated the nanowires with this biomaterial using electrodeposition. These membrane materials were chosen not only for the devices to look like cells, but also interact like cells with their targets. Platelets bind to microbes in blood, including antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus bacteria, while red blood cells absorb the toxins produced by these bacteria. The hybrid membrane surface, say the authors, also discourages proteins from collecting and fouling the devices.

“The idea is to create multifunctional nanorobots that can perform as many different tasks at once,” says postdoctoral researcher and first author Berta Esteban-Fernández de Ávila in a university statement. “Combining platelet and red blood cell membranes into each nanorobot coating is synergistic. Platelets target bacteria, while red blood cells target and neutralize the toxins those bacteria produce.” In September 2015, Science & Enterprise reported on Zhang and colleagues developing nanoparticles disguised as blood platelets for therapies.

Tests of the devices in blood samples show the devices, responding to ultrasound waves, can travel up to 35 micrometers per second; 1 micrometer, or micron equals 1 millionth of a meter. In other tests, the team mixed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, bacteria into the blood samples, as well as the pore-forming toxins they produce. MRSA bacteria are a continuing public health threat, responsible for a number of infections, including in hospitals and clinics. After 5 minutes of ultrasound exposure, blood with the nanorobots reduced blood cell damage by 40 percent, compared to 17 percent for the devices placed in blood without ultrasound, as well as lowering the volume of bacteria and toxins.

The researchers plan to continue developing the nanorobots beyond this proof-of-concept device. A key step is finding a more biocompatible material than gold for the core of the device, which will enable tests of the nanorobots on live animals. Esteban-Fernández de Ávila and Wang tell more about the devices in the following video.

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Data Tools Designed for Genomics-Based Precision Cancer Care

Computational biology illustration

(Lawrence Livermore National Lab)

31 May 2018. A computerized system is available that analyzes the genomic composition of cancer patients and recommends personalized treatments that its designers say take into account a larger array of factors than comparable systems. The system known as PanDrugs, developed by a team at Spain’s National Cancer Research Centre, or CNIO, in Madrid, is described in today’s issue of the journal Genome Medicine.

PanDrugs seeks to offer computational tools for selecting cancer treatments personalized for patients based on documented evidence of those therapies addressing the molecular nature of the patients’ tumors. While many current precision medicine systems take into account the genomic profile of a patient’s tumors, the PanDrugs team says its system goes further by including evidenced-based data representing the signaling pathways corresponding to genomic alterations in the tumors, as well as biomarkers, or characteristic proteins, associated with those mutations.

The result says Fatima Al-Shahrour, director of CNIO’s bioinformatics unit that developed PanDrugs, is a richer resource for physicians in determining a treatment strategy for cancer patients. “The main novelty introduced in this methodology compared with current tools,” says  Al-Shahrour in a CNIO statement, “is the broadening of the search space to provide therapeutic options.” The addition of signaling pathway evidence from these biological circuits, adds Al-Shahrour, enriches “the therapeutic arsenal against tumors and opens new avenues for personalized medicine.”

The PanDrugs portal collects data from 24 cancer databases. Of those sources, 18 databases are curated by experts, while the other 6 databases represent gene-drug associations from experimental drug screenings. As of the publication date, PanDrugs includes data on 9,092 drugs, 4,804 unique genes, and 43,909 direct, and non-redundant gene-drug interactions. The system returns a Gene Score indicating the most relevant genetic alterations responsible for the cancer, and a Drug Score indicating the most responsive and suitable treatments for the patient.

The CNIO team tested PanDrugs’ recommendations against data in the Cancer Genome Atlas, a database of genomic mappings for 200 types of cancer, hosted by National Cancer Institute, part of National Institutes of Health in the U.S. The atlas includes data from cancerous and non-cancerous tissue samples donated by 11,000 patients, from which the researchers drew some 7,000 samples representing 20 types of tumors. The results, say the authors, show PanDrugs identified expanded treatment options for 93 percent of the patients sampled.

In addition, the researchers tested the findings from a PanDrugs analysis of a patient’s squamous cell lung cancer tumor tissue grafted on a mouse. The PanDrugs analysis identified a number of drugs for treating the human cancer in the mouse, with two of the recommended treatments showing measurable reduction in tumor growth.

The PanDrugs system and database are freely available from CNIO, also which offers an application program interface enabling connections with other analytical systems, and a docker image from GitHub for downloading containers with an all-in-one PanDrugs server. The following infographic describes the PanDrugs workflow; click on the image for a full-size view.

PanDrugs workflow

PanDrugs workflow, click on image for full-size view. (CNIO)

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FDA Delays Crispr Trial for Inherited Blood Diseases

Crispr-Cas9 illustration

Crispr-Cas9 illustration (

31 May 2018. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration put a hold on beginning a clinical trial of the emerging genome editing technique known as Crispr to treat inherited blood disorders. FDA’s action was reported yesterday by Crispr Therapeutics in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Boston, the companies planning the study.

Crispr, short for clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, makes it possible to edit genomes of organisms harnessing bacterial defense mechanisms that use RNA to identify and monitor precise locations in DNA. The actual editing is done most often by the Crispr-associated protein 9, or Cas9, enzyme that programs RNA to silence genes and provide immunity against invading genetic material. Cas9 also harnesses RNA to cut DNA at precise points in genomes, making it possible to delete, insert, or correct defects in human genomes.

Crispr Therapeutics and Vertex are developing a treatment, code-named CTX001, adapting Crispr for the inherited blood disorders sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia. Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder affecting hemoglobin, a protein in blood that delivers oxygen to cells in the body. People with sickle cell disease have hemoglobin molecules that cause blood cells to form into an atypical crescent or sickle shape. That abnormal shape causes the blood cells to break down, lose flexibility, and accumulate in tiny capillaries, leading to anemia and periodic painful episodes. People with beta-thalassemia have lower production of hemoglobin in their blood.

CTX001, say the companies, is designed to treat these disorders with a patient’s own blood-forming stem cells. The stem cells are edited with Crispr to produce high levels of healthy fetal hemoglobin, a type of the protein in the blood of newborns, later replaced by adult hemoglobin. The higher levels of fetal hemoglobin from CTX001 are intended to reduce the painful sickle-cell episodes and lower the number of transfusions needed by beta-thalassemia patients.

Crispr Therapeutics and Vertex formed their alliance in October 2015 to develop gene-editing treatments for cystic fibrosis and inherited blood disorders. As reported in Science & Enterprise, Vertex has an exclusive license from Crispr Therapeutics to develop up to 6 treatments for these diseases, as well as other genetic conditions later on. Among the scientific founders of Crispr Therapeutics is Emmanuelle Charpentier, a pioneer in genome editing with Crispr and Cas9.

In December 2017, Crispr Therapeutics and Vertex agreed to move ahead with clinical trials for CTX001, beginning with combined early- and intermediate stage studies in the U.S. and Europe. In April, the companies filed an investigational new drug application with FDA for CTX001, which authorizes clinical trials of experimental therapies. FDA yesterday returned a number of questions about the trial, which the companies say they plan to resolve quickly. Plans for an early- and intermediate-stage trial of CTX001 in Europe among beta-thalassemia patients are continuing.

Also as reported in Science & Enterprise earlier this month, FDA approved an investigational new drug application from Bioverativ, a division of drug-maker Sanofi and Sangamo Therapeutics, for early- and intermediate-stage clinical trials of genome editing to treat sickle cell disease. That therapy, however, uses zinc-finger nucleases, an earlier form of genome editing.

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A Guide To Buying Industrial Machinery

– Contributed content –

Industrial machine

(Malaysian Chinese News)

31 May 2018. Many modern companies rely on industrial machinery to function. It’s important to choose the right machinery for your needs while keeping within your budget. Here are few tips for buying and maintaining machinery.

Weigh up the initial cost vs quality

When shopping on a budget, many companies focus on the initial price, but often it’s the cost in the long run that’s really worth taking into account. More expensive high-end machinery is often built to last, so you’ll spend less in repairs. Such machinery may also have greater precision, helping to minimize mistakes. That said, you may not want to invest in a top-quality machine if you’re only going to get occasional use out of it. Determine what your company really needs.

Shop second hand

You don’t have to buy machinery brand new from a manufacturer in order to ensure good quality. It’s possible you’ll find machinery in mint condition on used sites such as Gumtree at a much cheaper price (e.g. reclaimed machinery, machinery being sold due to liquidation). If possible, you should always inspect the machinery in person before buying so that you have a good idea of the condition.

Hire machinery

It’s also possible to hire or lease machinery rather than buying it outright as a way of saving costs. Hiring can be a great option for machinery that you may need only for a temporary job, whilst leasing is a better option for machinery that you want to use on a regular basis. Hire companies often supply top quality machines, although you should shop around to find a hire company that is reputable. You’ll find established machinery hire companies such as Speedy Services online.

Read reviews

Online reviews of machinery can help you to make a better judgement on which machine to buy by seeing what other users think. Sites like Trust Pilot are great for reading user reviews on machines and suppliers. Professional reviews meanwhile may offer a more educated opinion – there are plenty of comparison guides such as this Expert Reviews guide to the best commercial coffee machines. Don’t rely on testimonials found on a company website as these are often biased and won’t point out any of the negatives, which are important to take into account when buying a machine.

Try it out

Some sellers may allow you to give machines a test drive. This could be useful for helping you to determine whether its the right machine for you, giving you a better idea of how user-friendly the machine is. Another option could be to get the seller to demo the product so that you can see how well it works and whether there are any faults (useful for second-hand machines).

Earth moving equipment


Consider the delivery method

When getting a machine delivered, it’s important to consider the delivery process. Large machines may need to be delivered in parts – you may have the option to assemble them yourself or pay extra for professionals to do it for you. With smaller machines it’s possible you may be able to hire a van and collect them yourself.

Consider licensing and training

Some machinery such as forklifts and tractors may require a license to operate. Other machinery may not require any legal qualifications to use but could still be complex enough that training could be useful. Factor in the cost of licensing and training when looking at these machines and shop around for the best course. You’ll also want to put your employees through training – or otherwise hire new staff that are already trained to use this equipment.

Consider maintenance

Some machines can be difficult to maintain. Make sure that you know the maintenance required to keep any machines you buy in good condition. You may need to install other machinery such as coolers and ventilation to keep this machinery fully working. Some machinery may also need regular servicing from a qualified technician. Alternatively, you may have the know-how to maintain it yourself (some machinery may simply need to be cleaned and topped up with fluids and may come with its own diagnostics for helping to spot faults).

Put in place health and safety measures

Health and safety is important when handling machinery. You may need to supply safety equipment for any employees using this machinery as well as installing signage. Training your staff is also important and could prevent accidents from occuring. Workplace injuries are a common source of lawsuits with many solicitors such as David Resnick y Asociados making this their niche. On top of this workplace injuries could affect your reputation – the rise of social media has made it easier than ever for news of negligence to spread. Invest in all the health and safety measures possible to make your employees safe and protect your company legally. You could even consider hiring a health and safety inspector to offer their opinion on the health and safety measures required for each machine.

Get insured

Industrial machinery can sometimes be a target for thieves due to its high value. It’s worth getting your machinery insured just in case theft occurs. Industrial machinery insurance may also be able to protect against damage caused by fire or natural disaster. You can compare business machinery insurance costs at sites like Simply Business. In some cases, business property insurance may cover contents such as machinery – if you’ve already got property insurance, this could be worth looking into before you take out another scheme.

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Patent Awarded for Nasal Delivered Cancer Immunotherapy

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (A. Kotok)

30 May 2018. A technology for cancer therapies that harnesses the immune system with nanoscale droplets suspended in an emulsion and delivered through the nose received a U.S. patent. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded patent number 9,974,844 on 22 May to University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, with the rights to the intellectual property already licensed to the company BlueWillow Biologics, also in Ann Arbor.

BlueWillow Biologics is a spin-off enterprise from the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences, led by immunologist James Baker, also the founder of NanoBio Corp. that changed its name to BlueWillow Biologics earlier this month. BlueWillow licenses and commercially develops research on vaccines that trigger antibodies in the mucous membranes. Up to now, the company focused mainly on respiratory and sexually-transmitted diseases, but as reported in Science & Enterprise in April, the company is also testing a vaccine to protect against peanut allergies.

The BlueWillow NanoVax technology produces vaccines as an adjuvant or modifier of the vaccine’s main ingredients. The vaccine’s active biologic ingredients, such as deactivated viruses or synthetic proteins, are formulated as ultrafine droplets, 400 to 500 nanometers across — 1 nanometer equals 1 billion of a meter — suspended in an oil-and-water emulsion. The droplets are sent into the nose, either as a spray or in drops, where immune-presenting cells in mucous membranes deliver the active biologics to antigens that generate an immune response, either in the mucous membranes or throughout the body.

The patent, which lists Baker as one of its inventors, extends that technology to cancer vaccines, given to prevent or treat cancers involving mucous membranes. In this case, the cancer-fighting ingredients are cancer cells deactivated or disrupted by techniques such as ultraviolet radiation, as well as neoantigens, peptides or short chains of amino acids resembling proteins, expressed by cancer patients’ tumors.

The patent lists a number of solid tumor cancers that the vaccines would prevent or treat, but the company highlights tumors in mucous membranes found in the mouth, nose, throat, and lungs as the most likely targets. In addition, BlueWillow says tests in animals show the vaccine reduces the metastasis or spread of colon cancer to the lungs.

In addition to changing its name on 7 May, the company also raised $10 million in its first venture funding round. The financing was led by North Coast Technology Investors, Line Moon Ventures, and the university’s Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups, or MINTS, program.

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3-D Print Advance Creates More Accurate Medical Models

3-D print foot model and CT image

3-D printed foot model, left, and its cross section CT image (Steven Keating and Ahmed Hosny, Wyss Institute, Harvard University)

30 May 2018. A new three-dimensional modeling and printing process can produce more accurate models of human anatomy in less time and with less effort than current techniques. A team from the Wyss Institute, a biomedical engineering center at Harvard University and the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology describe the process in yesterday’s issue of the journal 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing.

Researchers from the labs of Wyss Institute engineering professor James Weaver and Media Lab computational design professor Neri Oxman are seeking more detailed and accurate 3-D physical models from medical imaging data. With today’s techniques, say the authors, detailed images from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans cannot be easily modeled on 3-D printers, requiring compromises in the amount of detail produced, or taking extended periods of time.

While using different imaging technologies, both MRI and CT scans produce highly detailed images of the anatomy, providing cross-sectional views that in principle can be represented in 3-D models. Many of these images, while detailed, also have many irregular shapes and do not provide well-defined borders between objects. Most of today’s 3-D printing techniques, say the authors, rely on thresholding, a process for partitioning images into foreground and background sections, that isolates and converts objects from grayscale pixels into solid black or white.

Current processes also use file formats, such as STereo Lithography or *.stl, to create mesh frameworks that convert quickly and easily into 3-D printer commands. While these methods are fast, they can result in models that exaggerate or underestimate the size of objects in images, or wash out important details.

The researchers, which include radiologists and other medical practitioners in the U.S. and Germany, offer an alternative process for interpreting and translating medical images for 3-D printing. Their new approach uses bitmaps, where each pixel from a grayscale image is assigned a value representing a mix of black and white pixels, with the more black content in the mix, the darker the shade of gray. This process makes it possible to convert volumetric data for visualization, such as those produced by highly detailed MRI and CT scans, into commands for producing highly detailed 3-D models.

This process, say the authors, enables modelers to bypass creation of mesh diagrams and extraction of isosurfaces — a representation of points with equal values in a 3-D data distribution — required with current 3-D printing methods, making the new process faster. The bitmap-generated commands can also drive printing with multiple types of materials. As a result, 3-D printing with this process can represent properties such as stiffness in the models that would not be possible using current techniques.

The team demonstrated their process with 3-D printing of brain tumor, heart, and foot models from MRI and CT scans, and their volumetric data sets. The heart model also used different materials to show variations in stiffness in heart valves.

“Our approach not only allows for high levels of detail to be preserved and printed into medical models, but it also saves a tremendous amount of time and money,” notes Weaver in a Wyss Institute statement. “Manually segmenting a CT scan of a healthy human foot, with all its internal bone structure, bone marrow, tendons, muscles, soft tissue, and skin, for example, can take more than 30 hours, even by a trained professional. We were able to do it in less than an hour.”

The project is more than an academic exercise to Media Lab researcher and co-author Steven Keating, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor while a graduate student. Keating tried to make a 3-D printed model of his tumor and discovered the limitations of current 3-D printing technology. His efforts to create a better modeling system for doctors and patients, says Wyss Institute, energized the project, with his brain tumor as one of its first models.

The process still needs to overcome other limitations before becoming routine practice. CT and MRI scans are usually compressed when stored in today’s medical records systems, and will need to revert back to their raw states for this process. In addition, 3-D bitmap printing software will need to be upgraded to produce the kind of detailed models needed. Nonetheless, MIT filed a patent application for the process.

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Investing – The Path To True Wealth

– Contributed content –

Digital finance display

(Ahmad Ardity, Pixabay)

30 May 2018. Whether you read the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki or The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco, you’ll notice there is a common theme in the sense that both books talk about the difference between how the wealthy use their time and resources.

See, the rich invest their time building assets and then leverage these assets time and time again rather than trade time for money like traditional employees.

Robert Kiyosaki, especially, talks about the difference between how the wealthy use their time and resources versus the less wealthy, and of particular interest, is the concept Kiyosaki came up with known as the Cashflow Quadrant.

Here he posits there to be four categories that everyone falls into, in terms of how they make money – employees, small business owners, big business owners and investors.  While each have pros and cons in terms of social value, if the aim to get rich then it’s important to note there are intrinsic limits on how much money one can make as an employee or small business owner… because they are stuck on a treadmill of swapping their time for money.

Kiyosaki suggests the fundamental difference between small business owners and employees vs. investors and big business owners is that the small business owner and employee are both trading time for money in a very linear and transactional way; for instance the factory worker and the lawyer are both directly swapping their time for money.  Admittedly, in different amounts, but the principle remains true.

The same can be said for small business owners, as just because someone has a business, doesn’t guarantee they will become rich or financially free.  Indeed, a small business can be the worst of both worlds where people trade a reliable income in a secure job, that they can leave in the office, for an insecure income where they are working all hours and can never switch off — yet they are still stuck in the financial trap of trading time for money.  For instance, a consultant charging $300 per hour is still “stuck” in the sense of wealth creation because they only get paid when they are trading their most valuable commodity; time. If the high paid consultant can’t find any gigs, or gets sick, of goes on holiday – their income stops.

Whereas, on the other side of the cash flow quadrant where the big business owners and investors reside, they are focused on building assets and creating income generating networks that can be leveraged time and time again.

Employees are, of course, the most common demographic, yet they are usually the most taxed and the lowest paid.  It could be surmised that employees appreciate the certainty of a steady paycheck and the convenience that employment brings.  Being an employee, therefore does have a number of benefits and one of the greatest benefits when compared with being a small business owner is the ability to switch off at the end of the day, or week… however, being employed or self-employed is not usually the path to wealth as employees tend to have salaries that are dictated to them by management… and even the self-employed are trading their man-hours for cash meaning there’s an intrinsic limit to how much they can earn as there are only so many hours in a week.

We’ve already discussed the limit associated with small business owners, in that they are limited in how much they can viably make as they are still stuck in the trap of swapping their time for money.  The core difference is that they own their job. This is particularly true of solo practitioners such as personal trainers, accountants, hairdressers, graphic designers and even high paid lawyers. See, you could be the best lawyer in town, bringing in a fair amount of income – and you’ll certainly have a lot of cash… but wealth goes beyond the amount you are trading your time for.

True wealth offers a balance of having both the time and money to do whatever it is you want, when you want, with who you want… and if you’re stuck on the treadmill of trading time for money – this isn’t allowing you the freedom that is associated with true wealth.

The big business owner, in comparison, has leverage – and it’s this leverage that leads to true wealth… see, when you build an asset, let’s take a book for example, it takes a lot of initial effort but once it is created you can leverage that asset multiple times to generate income that you aren’t having to trade your time for.  This is known as passive income, and if an author gets paid a $2 royalty on each book that is sold and sells 100,000 copies each year, that’s a passive income of $200,000 – meaning they are being rewarded multiple times on their initial effort.

See, a “big business” in this context doesn’t refer to someone with a huge enterprise, it could be someone that has a few ice cream trucks and teenage employees that go out on the weekend to sell ice creams.  The point is, the big business owner has leverage – in that they have stopped directly trading their time for money in the sense of being paid X per hour, as they now have an asset and a system they can leverage.

This it the path to true wealth; because they are now managing assets rather than trading their time for money – meaning they have the time freedom to enjoy life.

Similarly, investors leverage their financial resources in order to make money – they might spend some time monitoring the temperamental wobbles of cryptocurrency or researching new trends such as in order to invest their resources wisely – but what they aren’t doing is directly trading their time for money in the same way as most people do.

The investor is leveraging his or her assets; meaning that rather than working for his or her money they have their resource of money working for them.  To grasp the magnitude of this, just think about how much you would be worth today, if a few years ago, you invested a few thousand dollars into bitcoin!  This is the power of leveraging assets.

In summary, investing be that in a business context, a real estate context or a pure financial context is the only path to true wealth because true wealth isn’t just about being paid a high salary and therefore having a bulging bank balance.  It’s about having the time and freedom to enjoy life on your terms.

Editor’s note: the opinions expressed in this post are those of the contributor and not those of Science & Enterprise.

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