Everybody Dance Now

A team from UC Berkeley created a short video and paper displaying the following:

We propose a method to transfer motion between human subjects in different videos. Given two videos – one of a target person whose appearance we wish to synthesize, and the other of a source subject whose motion we wish to impose onto our target person – we transfer motion between these subjects via an end to end pixel-based pipeline.

>>> Everybody Dance Now, paper

Successful womb transplant from a dead donor

Ben Spencer for the Daily Mail:

Luisa’s (pictured) delivery last December – weighing 5lb 10oz – proved the procedure can be carried out safely using a dead donor’s womb – giving doctors the confidence to replicate the process

It was a major undertaking, performed against the clock to make sure the womb was implanted before it began to die.

While surgeons removed organs from the dead donor, another team started to prepare Luisa’s mother for her new womb – a procedure which itself took two hours – dissecting blood vessels and creating space in the tissue of her abdomen.

The womb was then lowered into her body and connected to her veins and arteries, ligaments and vaginal canal. Each vessel had to be carefully stitched to the new womb. After surgery, she was in intensive care for two days, then spent six days recovering on a ward.

Ten previous attempts, in the US, Czech Republic and Turkey, to transplant a womb from a dead donor ended in failure.

Dr Srdjan Saso of Imperial College London, part of the British team, said: ‘For those of us involved in uterine transplantation research, this is extremely exciting.

‘This successful demonstration demonstrates a few advantages over live donation. It enables use of a much wider potential donor population, applies lower costs and avoids live donors’ surgical risks.’

Just when you think you’ve seen everything, something like this pops up. Technology is beutiful sometimes.


Blood Test That Can Detect Cancer in 10 Minutes

Fox News:

“Virtually every piece of cancerous DNA we examined had this highly predictable pattern,” he said.

If you think of a cell as a hard-drive, then the new findings suggest the disease needs certain genetic programs, or “apps,” in order to run.

“It seems to be a general feature for all cancer. It’s a startling discovery,” Trau said. “The test to detect cancerous cells can be performed in 10 minutes.”

This will help aid in detecting it early, so you have to really give it to those who discovered this.

I hope it pans out, think of all the lives it could save.


The Fat Gene

Sophie Tanno for the Daily Mail:

While there are always more natural ways for obese people to shed the pounds, the scientist told Daily Mail Australia he believes the research is important

He revealed the university has received funding from the Australian government to seek out ways of combating obesity.

Professor Keating added that the results show ‘we can potentially make a real difference in the fight again obesity’.

Researchers fed the mice missing the RCAN1 gene various different diets, including the high fat one thought to cause weight gain.

The rodents followed the diet for as little as eight weeks and up to six months. Each time period produced similar results.

Blocking RCAN1 helps transform unhealthy white fat into the healthier brown version, according to the team of researchers.

Eat up.


Robots That Feel Pain

Tristian Greene for The Next Web:

A team of scientists from Cornell University recently published research indicating they’d successfully replicated proprioception in a soft robot. Today, this means they’ve taught a piece of wriggly foam how to understand the position of its body and how external forces (like gravity or Jason Vorhees’ machete) are acting upon it.

The researchers accomplished this by replicating an organic nervous system using a network of fiber optics cables. In theory, this is an approach that could eventually be applied to humanoid robots – perhaps connecting external sensors to the fiber network and transmitting sensation to the machine’s processor – but it’s not quite there yet.


The Controversial Experiment that created the World’s First Gene Edited Babies

Christina Larson writing for the AP:

A Chinese researcher claims that he helped make the world’s first genetically edited babies — twin girls born this month whose DNA he said he altered with a powerful new tool capable of rewriting the very blueprint of life.

The researcher, He Jiankui of Shenzhen, said he altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, with one pregnancy resulting thus far. He said his goal was not to cure or prevent an inherited disease, but to try to bestow a trait that few people naturally have — an ability to resist possible future infection with HIV, the AIDS virus.

There is no independent confirmation of He’s claim, and it has not been published in a journal, where it would be vetted by other experts. He revealed it Monday in Hong Kong to one of the organizers of an international conference on gene editing that is set to begin Tuesday, and earlier in exclusive interviews with The Associated Press.

“I feel a strong responsibility that it’s not just to make a first, but also make it an example,” He told the AP. “Society will decide what to do next” in terms of allowing or forbidding such science.

Cool, great, but I feel real story for me though lies in the execution of the experiment.

Several scientists reviewed materials that He provided to the AP and said tests so far are insufficient to say the editing worked or to rule out harm.

They also noted evidence that the editing was incomplete and that at least one twin appears to be a patchwork of cells with various changes.

There also are questions about the way He said he proceeded. He gave official notice of his work long after he said he started it — on Nov. 8, on a Chinese registry of clinical trials.

It’s unclear whether participants fully understood the purpose and potential risks and benefits. For example, consent forms called the project an “AIDS vaccine development” program.

The Rice scientist, Deem, said he was present in China when potential participants gave their consent and that he “absolutely” thinks they were able to understand the risks. The study participants are not ethicists, He said, but “are as much authorities on what is correct and what is wrong because it’s their life on the line.” Deem said he worked with He on vaccine research at Rice and considers the gene editing similar to a vaccine.

“That might be a layman’s way of describing it,” he said.

Both men are physics experts with no experience running human clinical trials.

The Chinese scientist, He, said he personally made the goals clear and told participants that embryo gene editing has never been tried before and carries risks. He said he also would provide insurance coverage for any children conceived through the project and plans medical follow-up until the children are 18 and longer if they agree once they’re adults.

Sure, right.

He sought and received approval for his project from Shenzhen Harmonicare Women’s and Children’s Hospital, which is not one of the four hospitals that He said provided embryos for his research or the pregnancy attempts.

Some staff at some of the other hospitals were kept in the dark about the nature of the research, which He and Deem said was done to keep some participants’ HIV infection from being disclosed.

The study participants are not ethicists, He said, but “are as much authorities on what is correct and what is wrong because it’s their life on the line.”

Pretty remarkable on multiple levels. Edited genes “successfully” but at a major cost ethically.