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NEWSRESEARCH


SCIENTISTS TO TEST ZIKA VIRUS ON BRAIN


TUMOURS In a revolutionary first, Cancer Research UK-funded scientists will test whether the Zika virus can destroy brain tumour cells, potentially leading to new treatments for one of the hardest to treat cancers.


Dr Harry Bulstrode at the University of Cambridge has received a Cancer Research UK Pioneer Award to test the effect of the Zika virus on glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive form of brain tumour.


The research, using tumour cells in the laboratory and in mice, will see if the virus can destroy cancer cells.


Each year around 2,300 people are diagnosed with glioblastoma in England. And fewer than 5% of patients survive their disease for five years or more.


NASA SELECTS THREE AERONAUTICS TEAMS TO EXPLORE


'AMBITIOUS' IDEAS Three teams of NASA researchers who have dreamed up potential solutions for pieces of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) puzzle have been given the go-ahead to officially begin formal feasibility studies of their concepts.


The trio of investigations are part of NASA’s Convergent Aeronautics Solutions (CAS) project and are expected to take between 24 and to 30 months to complete.


“Our idea is to invest a very modest amount of time and money into new technologies that are ambitious and potentially transformative,” said Richard Barhydt, NASA’s acting director of the Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program (TACP). “They may or may not work, but we won’t know unless we try.”


The studies will explore whether and how it might be possible to:


06 | Tomorrow’s Laboratories


attacking stem cells in the developing brain. But in adults, since the brain is fully developed, Zika usually causes no more than mild flu-like symptoms.


In glioblastoma, the cancer cells resemble those in the developing brain, suggesting that the Zika infection could attack them too.


This early stage research will explore how the virus targets stem cells and provide the starting point to develop new treatments that seek out the tumour and spare the surrounding healthy brain tissue.


Existing treatments are limited by their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, and doses must be kept low to avoid damage to healthy tissue. The Zika virus can cross the blood- brain barrier, and could target cancer cells, sparing normal adult brain tissue and opening a potential new way to attack the disease.


Zika virus infection in pregnancy causes severe disability in babies by


1. Build a path toward safe inclusion and certification of autonomous systems in aviation. Autonomous systems, such as self-driving cars and future UAS, rely on learning algorithms that adapt to new goals and environments. The idea is to develop autonomy- enabling algorithms that lay a foundation for establishing justifiable confidence in machine decisions and, ultimately, lead to certification of autonomous systems.


2. Develop new methods and technologies for a remotely- piloted drone to make sure it’s ‘fit to fly’ before every single flight. The idea is to verify the aircraft is structurally and mechanically sound, and that all its onboard systems have not been damaged or hacked in some way. If it’s not sound, the aircraft will ground itself.


3. Use quantum computing and communication technology to build a secure and jam-


Dr Harry Bulstrode, a Cancer Research UK scientist at the University of Cambridge, said: “We hope to show that the Zika virus can slow down brain tumour growth in tests in the lab. If we can learn lessons from Zika’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and target brain stem cells selectively, we could be holding the key to future treatments.”


www.cancerresearchuk.org


free network capable of accommodating hundreds of thousands of drones flying each day. Because of the manner in which data is organised and processed, quantum computing enables certain computations and communications to be done much more efficiently than a regular computer. For example, quantum computers may be able to solve certain problems in a few days that would take millions of years on the average computer.


The three studies were selected by a team of NASA aeronautics managers, led by recently retired TACP Director Doug Rohn, who made their decisions after hearing proposals offered by the principal investigators.


To be considered, research teams had to form on their own, represent multidisciplinary talents, and have members from more than one of NASA's aeronautics centers in Virginia, California and Ohio.


www.nasa.gov/aero www.tomorrowslaboratories.com


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