A microscopic, living robot that can heal and power itself has been created out of frog skin cells. To create the spherical xenobots, the team extracted tissue from 24-hour-old frog embryos which formed into spheroid structures after minimal physical manipulation. The xenobots, which are between a quarter and half a millimetre in size, operate in robot swarms, meaning that a group of individual xenobots can work together to complete a task. “The fundamental finding here is that when you liberate skin cells from their normal context, and you give them a chance to reimagine their multicellularity, they can build other things than what they normally build.”
The team’s clear, adhesive bandage uses two types of sensors and a batteryless near-field communication (NFC) tag. One sensor monitors the patient’s temperature while the other one checks how much strain is being put on the skin. It is the first bandage to use sensors that simultaneously measure how much strain is being put on the skin and the patient’s temperature, which can affect the healing process. The NFC tag transmits the data from the sensors wirelessly to the smartphone app. The smart bandage can also be used to check lung function – when the patch is placed on the patient’s chest, its strain sensor can detect erratic breathing.
Researchers used CRISPR to develop pig embryos that lacked the genes required to develop pig skeletal muscle tissue. This allowed the researchers to inject either pluripotent human stem cells or porcine blastomeres in their place to signal to the pig embryo to grow either human muscle tissue or muscle tissue of a porcine relative. The intraspecies chimeras wpiglets appeared to be totally normal on all fronts, ranging from the tissue structure to their ability to sniff and roam about the lab. The researchers report that the human-pig embryos also showed promising results, with human muscle tissue detected between days 20 and 27 of incubation.
Drinking beetroot juice promotes a mix of mouth bacteria associated with healthier blood vessels and brain function, according to a new study of people aged 70-80. The results showed higher levels of bacteria associated with good vascular and cognitive health, and lower levels of bacteria linked to disease and inflammation. Systolic blood pressure dropped on average by five points (mmHg) after drinking the beetroot juice. “Our findings suggest that adding nitrate-rich foods to the diet – in this case via beetroot juice – for just ten days can substantially alter the oral microbiome (mix of bacteria) for the better.”
Kering-owned fashion brands Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga have gone fur-free. The announcement follows the Humane Society International (HSI) working with the parent company for more than a decade on adopting a fur-free policy. “Every time a big fashion name like Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga goes fur-free, it sends a clear message that fur has no place in modern society.” Saint Laurent and Brioni are the only remaining Kering brands still to announce fur-free policies. According to HSI, an opinion poll commissioned by them in 2020 found that 93% of Brits reject wearing real animal fur, and 72% support a sales ban on fur.
New Zealand is raising its minimum wage to $20 an hour and increasing the top tax rate for the country’s highest earners to 39%. The government estimates the minimum wage increase – a rise of $1.14 per hour – will affect up to 175,500 workers, and increase wages across the economy by $216m. The new top tax rate will apply to anyone earning more than $180,000 a year, about 2% of New Zealanders. The government estimates it will bring in an additional $550m in revenue this year. Many of the country’s essential workers have been minimum wage earners – including those who work at the airport and in border jobs, and are considered the frontline defence against the virus.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih declared a list of single-use plastics to be banned for import into the country starting from 1st June 2021 with the hope to negate the harmful effects of single use plastic on the Maldives’ vulnerable marine environment and on human health. The government also plans to start an Extended Producer Responsibility programme, to increase awareness, while policy measures will also be introduced to strengthen the producer responsibility for single-use plastics and strategic actions will be taken to strengthen the collection and recycling of single-use plastics.
A collaborative effort between Chinese police and gaming giant Tencent has led to the closure of what police say is the biggest ever video-game-cheat operation. The gang designed and sold cheats to popular video games, including Overwatch and Call of Duty Mobile. Roughly $76m in revenue was made by the organisation which charged a subscription fee to clients. With players able to win millions in gaming tournaments around the world, a crackdown on cheating has intensified in recent years. In 2019, a survey revealed around a third of gamers admit to using cheats to improve their chances online.