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A.I.-Aided Processes Reduce Chemical Reaction Time, Waste

Ryan Hartman

Ryan Hartman (NewnYork University)

14 Dec. 2018. A chemical engineering lab designed processes with artificial intelligence to screen chemical reactions in small quantities that can reduce the time and waste in current methods. A team from New York University led by chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Ryan Hartman describe their processes in the 4 December issue of the journal Computers and Chemical Engineering (paid subscription required).

Hartman and colleagues study flow chemistry processes in micro scale to enable faster and more economical screening of chemical reactions, compared to current methods requiring large investments in plant, equipment, and time. In previous work, Hartman’s research group at NYU in Brooklyn demonstrated the feasibility of microfluidics, or lab-on-a-chip, devices that operate like miniaturized reactors to screen chemical reactions with samples comprising just a few drops, and more quickly than current larger-scale methods for chemical analysis and drug discovery.

In the new project, the NYU team added more advanced imaging and computational techniques, including those borrowed from artificial intelligence to boost the analytical power of their processes. One of the techniques is infrared thermography that sends infrared beams into a chemical compound, to measure and visualize the changes of colors representing temperature changes in the compound, particularly in small quantities. The thermographic images are then read and compiled with computer vision, a form of artificial intelligence.

The NYU system collects the thermographic images in a database where they train an artificial neural network with machine learning. Algorithms in neural networks become refined from examples they encounter, and become more expert and confident as they experience more data. In this case, the combination of infrared thermography, computer vision, and neural networks enable much faster screening of chemical reactions with much smaller sample quantities and documented high accuracy.

The researchers say this microfluidics process can provide large savings in time and waste, compared to current methods using thermocouple sensors to measure temperature and proportional–integral–derivative or PID controllers now used in the chemical industry. The current processes, say the authors, often require hundreds of liters of samples and at least 24 hours for each reaction. Their microreactor also saves a great deal of energy, as well as waste in test chemicals. The team says its system is the first microreactor guided by artificial intelligence.

“This system,” says Hartman in a university statement, “can reduce the decision-making process about certain chemical manufacturing processes from one year to a matter of weeks, saving tons of chemical waste and energy in the process.” In addition to his chemical engineering research, Hartman is a faculty advisor to NYU’s Future Labs, a business incubator for commercializing discoveries in the university’s engineering school.

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Bluetooth Data Added to Ingestible Capsules

Wireless ingestible sensor

Wireless ingestible sensor system after deployed (Mass. Institute of Technology)

14 Dec. 2018. Engineers created a sensor device, which in tests with pigs can be packed into a capsule, swallowed, and communicate wirelessly for weeks with Bluetooth protocols. A team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and affiliated institutions report their findings in yesterday’s issue of the journal Advanced Materials Technologies (paid subscription required).

Researchers from the MIT lab of biotechnology and materials science professor Robert Langer and gastroenterologist Giovanni Traverso at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston are seeking better diagnostic tools and techniques for closer monitoring of patients. These technologies are available today, but often require invasive techniques, such as surgery, to implant and remove, as well as specialized equipment to extract and process the data they collect.

Traverso and Langer partnered for several years on development of ingestible capsules that reside in the body for extended periods of time, both for diagnostics and to deliver drugs. Their earlier work shows ingestible capsules can monitor a body’s vital signs and be powered with stomach acids, largely removing the need for an added or external power source. In later work, they demonstrate delivery of drugs over 2 weeks with a single capsule, including antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV infections that require more complex delivery schedules.

In their new study, Traverso and Langer, with colleagues from their respective research groups and the Draper Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, developed a tested what they call a gastric resident electronic, or GRE, system. The GRE system, much like the long-term drug delivery capsules for HIV drugs, is made of biodegradable polymers, which can be loaded with the drugs to be delivered and folded into an ingestible capsule.

In this case, the researchers tested a new capability, wireless communications with the capsule using the commercial and widely available Bluetooth protocol that sends and receives data over short distances. The team designed and 3-D printed a Y-shaped ingestible GRE device with arms containing a body temperature sensor and a Bluetooth transmitter. The 3-D printing enabled the researchers to alternate layers of stiff and flexible polymers, allowing the device to withstand the rigors of  stomach acids. Like their earlier long-term drug delivery capsules, this device folds down into an ingestible capsule.

In tests with pigs that have digestive systems similar to humans, the researchers found their device could be delivered into the stomach, with the sensor-transmitter device deployed as designed. The findings show the device can transmit temperature data to smartphone a few feet away. The results also show the device transmits data for about 15 days, and remains in the stomach for up to 36 days, before it breaks up and passes safely through the digestive tract.

The researchers believe the ingestible communicating device and be designed for complex treatment situations where the patient requires close monitoring and quick responses by clinicians. “Our system,” says Traverso in an MIT statement, “could provide closed-loop monitoring and treatment, whereby a signal can help guide the delivery of a drug or tuning the dose of a drug.” Traverso will join MIT’s mechanical engineering faculty next year.

Langer and Traverso are co-founders and serve on the board of the company Lyndra Inc. in Watertown, Massachusetts that licenses their technology for long-term drug delivery systems. As reported earlier this week in Science & Enterprise, the 3 year-old enterprise received notice that a patent based on this technology will be issued soon by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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Reinvesting Your Business Profits Wisely

– Contributed content –

Dollars in the ground

(The Digital Way, Pixabay)

14 Dec. 2018. As we go through life, we often plan our finances to some degree. We might understand exactly what we want to purchase as we wait for the next payday ahead of us, patiently browsing product libraries or crafting plans to set in motion. But then we are paid, and sometimes the lines of priority can be blurred.

Do we really wish to spend in this way? Are there other matters that might take our attention first? How can we reinvest wisely and appropriately to ourselves, or should be use our disposable budget in a manner that simply raises our morale? This is a hard question on an individual level, but just imagine how hard it can be when trying to reinvest business profits wisely.

Trying to do this can be a hard sell to ourselves and our team, no two ways about it. But for the small to intermediately sized business, reinvesting profits is essential to growth. For this article, we are going to assume that all overheads have been paid for and your shareholders have been offered a return if you are a publicly listed company. The funding we hope to talk about should have already been labeled as reinvestment potential by you and your firm. With that, you might consider:

Research & development

Research and development are among the two efforts that keep your product innovative. You might not make industry-breaking developments each and every year, but at least understand the construction of rival popular products on the market, and how to develop them yourself. You might not become an industry leader, but perhaps offer the same function for a cheaper price. Research and development is often misconstrued as top-tier science taking place daily, connecting with the best minds in the world to develop something worthwhile.

Instead, it can be focused on product testing, focus groups, market research, breaking down system or service changes in products you’re trying to compete with, or simply assessing how popular a certain marketing campaign has been for another company. It might be looking to the past to consider how to move forward, or taking inspiration from other businesses that have succeeded, or finding the reasons why other firms failed.

Research and development is information gathering and finding useful ways to apply that data. The importance of which will often change from environment to environment. If you’re a fitness brand, research and development might be concerned with breakthroughs in the nootropics industry. If you’re a small shop, you might try and find better methods of making your product, optimizing your construction process more cheaply without sacrificing quality. In other words, even humble businesses can benefit from this, so be sure to place the proper respect towards reinvestment, as it can sometimes make all the difference.

Sustainable departments

It could be that you’re outsourcing many departments of your business right now. You might be using external invoicing processes, or perhaps outsourcing all of your IT hosting to another firm. You may be hiring legal firms to help you through a range of complex issues. However, as you begin to grow, it could be that hiring these professionals in-house can save you plenty of money, and grow your firm in the long-term.

Sure you’ll be paying a yearly salary for a fully stocked department and that comes with significant overheads, but the utility, preparedness and perfectly individualized services on offer here can make that entire effort fully worth it depending on your business size. If you can warrant it, this is a reliable use of your profit reinvestment.

Office or factory expansion

It can often be that a careful expansion will lead to potential future opportunities through and through. Instead of moving from site to site, continually equipping your business with more and more functionality on home turf can help you save money, potentially craft methods of personal supply instead of relying on business to business and outsourced connections, or simply give you more office space to hire. You might rent out the adjacent buildings, or invest in a large construction project using reliable firms such as R&M Concrete.

While this might not gather a tangible return on investment, the functionality you develop through a method like this often becomes reliable and worthwhile to take care of, because long-term you can reach higher levels of revenue as you grow and establish your brand further. Many businesses fail to judge the right time for business expansion, so be sure to assess your parameters correctly, and always consider if expanding your actual base of operations is worth it.

With these tips, you’ll be sure to invest in your business correctly, rocketing you forward to further growth.

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Companies to Analyze 40,000 Protein Samples

DNAmolcule model

(Skeeze, Pixabay)

13 Dec. 2018. A partnership between genomic analysis company deCode Genetics and proteomics enterprise SomaLogic Inc. plans to analyze protein activity in 40,000 human samples. Results of the analysis, which the companies call the largest protein study ever, are expected to be used by deCode Genetics in Reykjavik, Iceland and SomaLogic in Boulder, Colorado to advance their respective drug discovery and analytical technologies.

SomaLogic says it’s collecting the world’s largest database of protein measurements. The company says its technology platform, known as SomaScan, provides a snapshot of protein activity in the body in real time. SomaScan, according to the company, measures thousands of proteins simultaneously, but also tracks the activity of proteins in both high and low abundance in the body.

SomaLogic says its analytical engine measures reactions of synthetic single-strand DNA nucleic acids called aptamers that bind to proteins in unique and characteristic ways. As a result, says the company, its SomaScan technology can analyze complex human samples, such as blood, quickly, with the aptamer reactions indicating the presence and activity of proteins detected. The company also uses machine learning and advanced bioinformatics tools as part of its analysis of proteins.

deCode Genetics collects data from 160,000 volunteers in Iceland, more than half the country’s adult population. The company also assembles a genealogical database for the entire country going back 1,000 years to Iceland’s founding as an independent nation. These extensive data sets, combined with the high quality of universal health care in Iceland, says deCode, makes it possible to study most common diseases on a large scale, minimizing the selection bias that can occur in larger and more diverse populations.

The company, a subsidiary of American biopharmaceutical company Amgen, analyzes its databases to identify risk factors between genetic variations and common diseases. For example, as reported by Science & Enterprise in May 2016, a review by deCode Genetics identified genetic sequencing variations associated with risk factors connecting cholesterol levels to heart disease. The researchers analyzed whole genome sequencing and health records, including blood test results, from nearly 120,000 residents of Iceland. The analysis confirmed 14 sequencing variations already associated with changes in cholesterol levels, but also identified 13 rarely occurring variations in 9 other genes that were previously not known.

In the new project, SomaLogic is expected to analyze 40,000 samples provided by deCode Genetics, with each analysis covering some 5,000 proteins. deCODE Genetics is expected to use the data for discovery and development of of new therapeutics. SomaLogic plans to employ the findings to advance clinical applications of the SomaScan system. Financial aspects of the agreement were not disclosed.

Stephen Williams, chief medical officer at SomaLogic, says in a company statement that the collaboration provides an “opportunity to work with one of the most highly characterized and understood data sets in the world.” Williams adds, “We are undertaking together the largest protein study ever performed, over 200 million individual protein measurements, to gain substantial new knowledge about normal and disease biology across many common and rare conditions.”

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Mobile App, Start-Up Find Designated Drivers

Matt Sanford

Matt Sanford (Virginia Tech)

13 Dec. 2018. A group of current and former students at Virginia Tech designed a smartphone app and started an organization to connect designated drivers to party-goers to take them home safely. The organization and app, known as Drop A Pin or DAP, are now in use at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, but its developers plan to make it more widely available.

DAP aims to correct potential problems for drivers with ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft that ask drivers to talk or text with waiting customers while on the way to pick-up locations. The DAP system instead interacts with the driver’s navigation system and handles queuing for customers. “The main goal,” says DAP developer and founder Matt Sanford in a Virginia Tech statement, “is to get drivers to focus on driving, not talking on the phone.”

Organizations, like fraternities and sororities subscribe to DAP for their events. Individual users — members of the subscribing groups — receive a code that connects them to volunteer designated drivers. The drivers make themselves available at certain dates and times, and the app provides users with the driver’s name, pick-up location, and vehicle size. Subscribing organizations also provide the drivers, thus the drivers are friends and acquaintances of the users, who pay nothing from their own pockets.

Sanford is a senior in computer science at Virginia Tech, who started DAP with 2015 accounting-finance graduate Greg Smith, now a CPA. They were members of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity, and say they volunteered often as designated rivers to get their friends home safely after parties. From its first version, Sanford, Smith, and student colleagues redesigned the app and service, adding further enhancements and features, such as navigation within the app and ride history.

“We took a hard look at how quickly a person could get a ride,” Says Sanford, “and what steps we were having them do previously and what could be done more efficiently. We really wanted to focus on the user experience and make that a lot quicker. As far as the drivers’ portion, we did a lot of redesigning there to make it more distraction-free. There is a lot less physical interaction that has to go into the phone, which is really the main point of the app in general.”

DAP is a student-run not-for-profit organization at Virginia Tech, with 7 groups on campus as subscribers. The DAP app and service are endorsed by Virginia Tech’s campus health services, known as Hokie Wellness. Kelsey O’Hara, a health educator with Hokie Wellness, cites data showing 76 percent of people nationwide who drink always use a designated driver, and 91 percent of people who drink most of the time use a designated driver. “With designated driving in particular,” notes O’Hara, “a lot of times our education is centered around bystander intervention.” She adds, “So, never drive while drinking, don’t ride with someone who has been drinking, and step up if you see a situation occurring.”

To manage and expand the business, Sanford and Smith started the for-profit company Applied LLC to further develop the app and market it to other campuses.

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Prioritizing Health And Safety in Your Business

– Contributed content –

First aid kit

(Rawpixel, Unsplash)

13 Dec. 2018. Prioritizing health and safety in your business is absolutely essential if you want a safe, legally compliant business and happy employees. When your employees are safe, they can be more productive and feel happier at work. Below, we’ll talk about this in more detail:

Having a health and safety policy

Your workplace needs a health and safety policy that protects both physical and mental health. Having a general policy in place will make implementing specific safety guidelines easier. You should mention what your organization sets to achieve to meet legislation, who is responsible for ensuring these objectives are achieved, and how the safety procedures will work.

Designating a health and safety person

It’s so important to appoint a qualified individual to oversee and manage policies and procedures. This eliminates confusion and ambiguity about rules and regulations, and better ensures that everybody remains compliant.

Ensuring equipment is working and safe

Many places use industrial equipment to get the job done. If this equipment is not properly maintained, it can endanger the safety of employees. It should be cleaned and checked over on a regular basis, and repaired or replaced if needs be.

Training And uniforms for employees

Proper training is a must for your employees, but workplace accidents are made worse because employees don’t know how to respond. This can make a simple equipment malfunction into an emergency. Training of staff is an absolute requirement by law, so make sure you do it and do it well.

It’s important that your employees wear appropriate protective equipment too. Sometimes, employers assume that only employees working with heavy machinery need protective gear. However, there are many industries that should enforce dress code standards. For example, you may want to shop for unisex scrubs if you run a clinic or another medical facility, or non-slip shoes for workers in a restaurant.

Mental health should never be undervalued

Many business owners now realize how important it is to focus on reducing levels of work-related stress. This can be caused by all kinds of things in the workplace, including sexual harassment discrimination. Provide training and coaching sessions that help your employees make all people feel safe and included. It’s also important to take note of employees who may feel overworked and underappreciated. You should encourage open and honest communication between managers and employees to combat this.

Show you care about wellness

It’s so important to show your team that you truly care about their well being. Make sure you build time into the workday for employees to walk around and get exercise. Encourage regular breaks, and consider giving them healthier incentives, too, such as gym memberships. Providing a reasonable holiday policy can help also help to promote the wellness of your employees.

Some businesses are even implementing no limit on the holiday time that their employees can have off, and as a result, fewer holiday days are being taken, but more freedom and happiness is enjoyed in the workplace as it is more relaxed. Well rested employees make less mistakes, are more focused, and are much less inclined to be involved in an incident.

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Validation Scheme Proposed for Medical Algorithms

Biocircuits illustration

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

12 Dec. 2018. The use of artificial intelligence continues to grow both in new applications and complexity of the problems they address. A law school professor urges developers, users, and regulators of machine learning in medicine to validate the algorithms that represent their underlying decision-making processes, in today’s issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine (paid subscription required).

The need for more transparency in medical machine learning algorithms is outlined by W. Nicholson Price, a professor of law at University of Michigan, as well as at University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Price describes the expanding use of machine learning algorithms in decision-support software in radiology, pathology, and diagnostics. He cites tests of algorithms showing they interpret images of skin lesions as well as board-certified dermatologists, and can identify trauma patients for risk of hemorrhage without constant expert consultation. In addition, algorithms are filtering down to smartphone apps to identify, for example, developmental disorders in children, and expanding to decisions on allocating resources in health systems.

One problem Price notes is the opaque nature of these machine-learning routines, which he calls black box algorithms. While these algorithms can provide interpretations, recommendations, and predictions, they typically do not provide an explanation of how they compute those interpretations, recommendations, and predictions. And as a result, a tension emerges between restricting algorithms to more mechanistic and easily understood models, or trusting results of block-box algorithms on highly complex and nuanced problems without question.

Also, machine-learning algorithms are almost by definition constantly changing, a feature Price calls plasticity. As these algorithms encounter new data, they’re designed to adjust their computations to reflect the richness and complexity of those data. In contrast, medical interventions are largely designed to remain stable, with consistent quality a prized feature of drugs and medical devices.

3-step validation process

These features of opacity and plasticity, says Price, make it imperative that medical A.I. algorithms are reviewed and rigorously evaluated. He proposes a 3-stage process that applies consistent standards, but allows as well for flexibility and adjustments as algorithms encounter new data. The first stage is procedural, where the algorithm’s underlying model is reviewed for real-world accuracy and the data for initially training the algorithm are vetted for quality.

The second validation stage is reliability testing, where algorithms are assessed against independent data sets, and not only against the data they encounter from current and previous users. And the third validation step is performance reports showing the extent of success or failure in dealing with real-world cases. Price notes that these performance reports can also serve as training data for new algorithms and for updating existing routines with hard day-to-day evidence.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration plays a special role, since the agency regulates medical devices. Price cites recent draft guidance and planning documents issued since December 2017 showing FDA recognizes that role with what the agency calls clinical decision support software. However, FDA’s enabling legislation requires an initial risk-based analysis that can exempt many machine learning algorithms, and also calls for a one-time authorization of medical devices, while black box algorithms are by definition constantly changing as they engage new data.

A key issue noted by Price is the need for better tools for regulatory oversight of black-box algorithms, with conventional clinical trials largely inadequate for the task. As described in Science & Enterprise in September, a new type of adaptive clinical trial that adjusts with the evidence it encounters, much like machine-learning algorithms, is gaining traction. One such trial is testing breast cancer treatments based on patients’ biomarkers and MRI images, and employs an adaptive design with algorithms that make it possible to alter factors such as treatment regimens or sample sizes based on interim results.

In addition, FDA earlier this month recognized a public database of genomics and diseases to provide independent data sets for assessing diagnostics tests using genetic data for precision medicine. This kind of database could also offer data for independent evaluations of black box algorithms.

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Lilly, Biopharm Partner on Alzheimer’s Treatment in $2B Deal

Neurons illustration

Neurons (Laura Struzyna, University of Pennsylvania, NIH.gov)

12 Dec. 2018. Eli Lilly and Co. is licensing a a treatment candidate for Alzheimer’s disease from biopharmaceutical company AC Immune that aims to block accumulation of tau proteins in the brain. The agreement with drug maker Eli Lilly in Indianapolis could bring AC Immune in Lausanne, Switzerland as much as $2 billion if all aspects of the deal are fulfilled.

AC Immune develops diagnostics, vaccines, and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition, the most common form of dementia affecting growing numbers of older people worldwide. People with Alzheimer’s disease often have deposits of abnormal substances in spaces between brain cells, known as amyloid-beta proteins, as well as misfolded tangles of proteins inside brain cells known as tau. The company cites data showing 46.8 million people worldwide with dementia, a number expected to grow to 131.5 million by 2050.

AC Immune’s technologies focus on the misfolding of proteins, particularly tau that builds up inside of neurons in the brain, and spreads between cells, and amyloid-beta proteins that accumulate as plaques outside of neurons. The company’s vaccines and treatments are designed to arrest these accumulations before they cause irreversible damage to neurons. One of AC Immune’s technologies, called morphomers, produces small molecule therapies that target misfolded and accumulated tau proteins. The company says proof-of-concept tests show its morphomers reduce tau accumulations and associated inflammation in neurons.

The deal gives Lilly a global license to develop AC Immune’s treatment candidate code-named ACI-3024 as an Alzheimer’s disease therapy that the company says in preclinical research blocks tau accumulations. AC Immune will continue development of ACI-3024 through early-stage clinical trials, after which Lilly will be responsible for further clinical studies, and commercialization worldwide. AC Immune will retain some rights to ACI-3024 for rare diseases and to co-develop therapies for disorders other than Alzheimer’s disease.

In exchange, Lilly is paying AC Immune an initial fee of 80 million Swiss francs ($US 86.4 million), with Lilly providing a $50 million loan, convertible into an equity stake in AC Immune. In addition, AC Immune is eligible for near-term development milestone payments of 60 million Swiss francs ($64.8 million), and longer-term development, regulatory, and commercial milestones of 1.7 billion Swiss francs ($1.8 billion).

Andrea Pfeifer, founder and CEO of AC Immune says in a joint statement that the “partnership with Lilly is transformational for the future of AC Immune.” She adds, “Lilly’s substantial experience in neurology, and particularly in Alzheimer’s disease, is a major validation of our small molecule platform for CNS (central nervous system) therapeutics.” Lilly has several therapies in development for neurodegenerative disorders, including 5 treatments in clinical trial for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

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Different Ways To Market Your Business

– Contributed content –

Marketing calendar

What does your marketing calendar look like? (Daniele Riggi, Unsplash)

12 Dec. 2018. As the owner of your company, you want your operations to be noticed. You want to draw in both customer and investor alike, as well as simple browsing parties that you could tempt back for networking purposes. It’s the first rule of marketing after all: you need people to know you there in order to search you out and buy from you, and rarely does this happen by accident.

But in such an oversaturated market, how are you meant to stand out? What kind of marketing can you employ to keep your turnover on the healthy line? What if nothing has quite worked the way you want it to before now? Where do you go next?

Marketing a business is done in many different ways, anyway, but sometimes you’ve got to think out of the box on a level basis to try and reach the customers you want. After all, there’s barely any original ideas left on the market, and that leaves you with hundreds of competitors to try and blow out of the water! So you’re going to need to find some different ways to get your business’ name and message out there, and finally settle into the market you’ve been meaning to capitalise on since the beginning. Why not read on for a few ideas if you’re looking for some advice in this area?

Be more creative

Being creative is something you always want to keep in mind when you’re trying to market a business. Creativity is the only thing that’s going to keep you innovating your marketing methods, using all the research and feedback you’ve garnered from your previous attempts; having the imagination to take your ideas one step further is the saving grace here. And if you struggle with thinking about where you can take a step next, this is a good learning curve to go down. After all, creativity is something we can learn as we go, and the more you get used to marketing your company, the more options will open up for you. Not to mention how many better, lead generating ideas will form in your head!

So you’re going to need to incorporate some kind of guerilla tactics in your marketing method, and make sure these are varying in what you come up with. As a small business, this is where your marketing know how can shine, and do a lot more for your profits and loss margin than a bigger corporation would ever manage. This is because you’re targeting your market on a more personal level, with a much more memorable experience than long lasting brand loyalty or TV adverts, and it’s long been hailed as the number one method for a startup to employ.

Maybe try out some graffiti signs, and partner with local artists in your area to get these images up on the walls of the town or city you work in. Maybe you could try some interactive advert boards, just waiting for people to look at and try out when they’re waiting for the bus or a taxi. Either way, you need to stand out in the consumer’s mind, and cause some kind of interruption to their daily life and how it works – that’s the only way they’re going to remember to look you up when they get home again.

Be more cosmetic

If you’re more cosmetic about your marketing, it means a potential customer can pick up something that directly advertises your brand and take it home with them, either to wear or use in day to day life. Using domestic and cosmetics methods to get your business’ name out there is best used in places such as a free sample booth in a supermarket, free items that are given out with any purchase at a previously established store, and at business events and networking conferences. Anyone who takes an item home with them is going to have a literal advertisement in their hands.

But what kind of products can you offer, that give you the most mileage? Well, the number one item would be a pen or pencil, as these merchandise pieces have all kinds of uses and can be put to regular use in someone’s life. On the other hand, offering out clothing items, such as patches or badges you can make yourself via this website, could be a good way to naturally produce a local, long running advertisement. If something is wearing something with your name on it, everyone they come into contact with is going to see it.

Be more of a content creator

If you’re become more of an influencer about the product you’re trying to sell, you’re going to be able to branch out in all different kinds of marketing methods across the social media platform. No longer are you going to have to rely on advert banners and sponsored posts that someone might not have blocked on their Facebook feed. Instead, you can try and build yourself a real community that you can rely on in return.

Having an influencer mindset when running a business means you’re going to be able to target your customers on a more personal level, and ultimately put your methods to better use than simply coming up with a tagline you think tells someone everything about your business. You’re allowed to go the extra mile here in applicable ways, as well as spend a lot of time and energy creating blog posts, status updates, videos, reviews, and anything else you can read online to try and get your product out there. And there’s always someone reading items like this, the blogging platform alone has almost 200 million active users.

As we said before, there’s many different ways you can market your business, but some of them are going to matter more because of your small business standards. Make sure you’re focusing on these in your effort to thrive and expand, and reach the right market out there.

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Nanotech Gene Therapy Company Raises $8.5M in Seed Funds

Editing DNA

(LaCasadeGoethe, Pixabay)

11 Dec. 2018. A start-up company developing nanoscale particles to deliver gene-editing enzymes, including those for Crispr, is raising $8.5 million in its seed funding round. GenEdit Inc. in Berkeley, California is a spin-off enterprise from University of California in Berkeley, founded by a biomedical engineering professor and 2 recent Ph.D. graduates leading the company.

GenEdit is developing a delivery technology for gene editing processes, with the best known technique being Crispr, short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. Crispr is based on bacterial defense mechanisms that use RNA to identify and monitor precise locations in DNA. The actual editing of genomes with Crispr in most cases today uses an enzyme known as Crispr-associated protein 9 or Cas9. RNA molecules guide the editing enzymes to specific genes needing repair, making it possible to address root causes of many diseases.

Up to now, most Crispr processes use benign viruses, such as adenoviruses, to deliver the editing enzymes to DNA in the target cells. Adenoviruses, while relatively harmless to most people, can be troublesome for people with weakened immune systems, or people with respiratory or cardiac disorders. As a therapeutic technology, Crispr would need to find a way of removing risks of adverse effects from viruses that deliver editing enzymes, or use a method other than viruses for delivery.

GenEdit is commercializing research from the lab of UC-Berkeley professor Niren Murthy that studies delivery of small molecule and biologic therapies with micro- and nanoscale particles. Murthy, with doctoral students at the time Kunwoo Lee and Hyo Min Park, demonstrated the use of gold nanoparticles to deliver Cas9 enzymes with Crispr to edit the relevant genes in lab mice induced with the inherited diseases Duchenne muscular dystrophy and fragile X syndrome, a common single-gene form of autism spectrum disorders.

In an August 2018 publication, Murthy, Lee, and Park demonstrated delivery of the more precise Crispr Cpf1 enzyme with nanoscale particles made of polymers instead of gold. GenEdit’s technology offers this polymer nanoparticle method to deliver enzymes for Crispr, as well as the other genome editing techniques zinc finger nucleases and TALENs. The company says it’s creating a library of polymer nanoparticles to deliver these enzymes and proteins designed to interact with specific cells and tissue in nerves, muscle, liver, and blood.

GenEdit was founded by Lee, now the company’s CEO, with Park and Murthy in 2016. While GenEdit gained initial funds for its launch, the company now raised another $8.5 million in seed funds, led by technology investment companies Data Collective in Palo Alto and San Francisco, and SK Holdings in Seoul, South Korea. Joining the seed round were GenEdit’s earlier funders Sequoia Capital and Bow Capital.

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