Month: January 2023

“AI Aquarium” in Taiwan wins U.S. CES award Photo: AI Aquarium Enables Eye Tracking and Interactive Display of Marine Life Information (Courtesy of ITRI) The AI Aquarium uses technology that fuses the virtual world with reality to display information about marine life in real time according to the visitor’s line of sight. Using gestures, visitors can also intuitively operate the aquarium without touching it.

China’s R&D spending in 2022 reached 2.55 % of GDP China spent a record 3.09 trillion yuan ($443 billion) on research and development in 2022, a 10.4 percent year-on-year increase that came from the nation’s accelerated efforts to enhance its innovation capability for more breakthroughs. According to the National Bureau of Statistics China’s R&D expenditures accounted for 2.55 percent of the GDP last year, which is 0.12 percentage point higher than the previous year. That percentage of R&D spending is close to the average of 2.67 percent among OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) economies. It moved China to the 12th place globally, ahead of France’s 2.35 percent and the Netherlands’ 2.32 percent.

Team in Academia Sinica Taiwan: a single cell atlas for embryonic spinal motor neurons A research team, led by Jun-An Chen, Ph.D. from Academia Sinica Taiwan in Taipei, sequenced 10,000 motor neurone (MNs) in the spinal cord of mouse embryos at the single-cell level. The team discovered new subtypes within known MN types and reported their genetic markers. They also compared subtype diversity among different species. The single-cell-level cell atlas of spinal cord MNs provided by this study will be a valuable resource for neuroscience research and will help unravel the mysteries surrounding the vulnerability of MNs to neurodegenerative diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The research is also expected to help solve the mystery of MN vulnerability to neurodegenerative diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Electrochemical reduction of CO2/CO waste gas can be tuned to ethylene or acetic acid formation: CAS DICP The iron and steel industry emits a large amount of carbon dioxide/carbon monoxide mixed waste gas. By applying carbon dioxide/carbon monoxide electrocatalytic reduction in an alkaline membrane electrolyzer with a copper oxide cathode, different products could be prepared. With the increase of carbon monoxide pressure in the feed gas, the main product of electrolysis gradually changed from ethylene to acetic acid, and the current density increased significantly. Under the condition of 0.6 MPa CO, the faradaic efficiency of acetate is 48%, and the total current density reaches 3 A cm-2. Mechanistic studies indicated that  low CO coverage favored the formation of ethylene, and high CO coverage and high local pH favored the formation of acetic acid. Under optimized electrolysis conditions, the Faradaic efficiency and partial current density of multi-carbon products reached 90.0% and 3.1 A cm-2, respectively, corresponding to 100.0% carbon selectivity and 75.0% yield. To further verify the feasibility of the electrolysis process, the team assembled four 100 cm2 alkaline membrane stacks with a maximum electrolysis power of 2.85 kW. When the total current was 150 A, the ethylene generation rate was 457.5 mL min-1 ; When the total current was 250 A, the generation rate of acetic acid was 2.97 g min-1.

Caloric restriction inhibits tumor growth in mice through enrichment of bifido bacteria Scientists from Fudan University found in rodent experiments that after caloric restriction, Bacterium bifidum is enriched. Then the tumor growth is significantly inhibited. The administration of these bacteria is sufficient to achieve antitumor effects in microbiota-depleted mice. The study shows that B. bifidum mediates caloric restriction-induced antitumor effect through acetate production and also depends on the accumulation of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment.

China encourages foreign-funded R&D centers The State Council issued a circular requesting departments concerned and regional authorities to further support foreign investors in setting up research and development (R&D) centers in China. The circular said scientific and technological innovations call for improved services, and basic research should be encouraged. Foreign-funded R&D centers will gain support in establishing open innovation platforms, financing, and participation in national scientific and technological missions and programs. To help R&D operations, work will be done to support the legal cross-border circulation of R&D data, optimize the management of intellectual property rights for external transfer and technology imports and exports, and improve the clearance and regulation process of scientific research materials. The introduction of overseas talent is indispensable as well, the circular said. To that end, departments concerned and all provincial-level authorities should make it more convenient for overseas talent to work in China. The circular also stressed better intellectual property protection. Departments concerned should accelerate the improvement of the protection system for confidential business information, strengthen the construction of intellectual property protection centers, and enhance law enforcement.

Biosynthesis of starch and protein from corn stalks by yeast displaying cellulolytic enzymes Researchers at the CAS Institute of Industrial Biotechnology have developed a highly efficient biosynthesis of artificial starch and microbial proteins from available and abundant agricultural residues. A one-pot biotransformation using an in vitro coenzyme-free synthetic enzymatic pathway and baker’s yeast can simultaneously convert dilute sulfuric acid-pretreated corn stover to artificial starch and microbial protein under aerobic conditions. The β-glucosidase-free commercial cellulase mixture plus an ex vivo two-enzyme complex containing cellobiose phosphorylase and potato α-glucan phosphorylase displayed on the surface of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, showed better cellulose hydrolysis rates than a commercial β-glucosidase-rich cellulase mixture. This is because the channeling of the hydrolytic product from the solid cellulosic feedstock to the yeast mitigated the inhibition of the cellulase cocktail. Animal tests have shown that the digestion of artificial amylose results in slow and relatively small changes in blood sugar levels, suggesting that it could be a new health food component that prevents obesity and diabetes.

A drone which delivers first-aid medication through a micro-needle patch – animal experiments (includes video) A team led by Professor Gu Sheng of Zhejiang University’s School of Pharmacy and Jinhua Research Institute has developed an unmanned, direction-specific medication first-aid system. The first-aid system consists of an unmanned aircraft, a drug throwing device, and a micro-needle patch containing an emergency medication. When the drone arrives at the patient’s location, it automatically administers the medication without any other assistance. This eliminates the problem of emergency services not being available in time due to lack of emergency facilities near the patient or due to traffic congestion or unfavorable geographic location. The team performed rapid first aid on a hypoglycemic model pig, effectively preventing a sustained drop in the pig’s blood glucose level and increasing blood glucose levels to a normal range. According to the information, the microneedle has two release modules. The front end releases the chemical smoothly, while the back end can respond to changes in blood glucose levels. If the blood glucose level is stable, the drug is released slowly.

Nearly 1700 science and technology museums in China According to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), China’s science dissemination expenditures increased significantly in 2021, and the construction of science dissemination halls was promoted continuously. A total of 107,700 online and offline science and technology exhibitions were held, with a total of 205 million participants. A total of 36,800 online and offline science and technology contests were held, with a total of 726 million participants, up 294.22% from the previous year.

Genetic engineering of cotton provides pink cotton fibres The CAAS Cotton Research Institute has created cotton with pink fibers by accumulating betalains in cotton fibers through genetic engineering. The related research results were published online in the open access journal Plant Biotechnology Journal. The study first performed codon optimization of three key genes associated with betalain synthesis to create a new cotton material rich in betalain. Driving a constitutive promoter resulted in pink coloration of cotton fibers and other tissues.  The concentration of betalains in mature fibers decreased due to vacuolar degradation, resulting in a shallower color. Scientific researchers plan to conduct further studies on the mechanism that allows betalains to deposit without fading.

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