Weekly roundup 27/01/2017

27 January 2017


In the news recently:

Making metamaterials
A group of researchers from the University of Michigan has developed a new way to design a metamaterial that switches between hard and soft states without damaging or altering the material itself. Researchers can manipulate the structure of metamaterials to achieve desirable properties. This material has potential uses for shock absorption in cars or rocket launch systems if it can be scaled up successfully. ‘When you're driving a car, you want the car to be stiff and to support a load’, said Xiaoming Mao, one of the researchers. ‘During a collision, you want components to become softer to absorb the energy from the collision and protect the passenger in the car.’ Read more here.

Brexit developments
There were further updates on the UK’s exit from the European Union this week, with the UK Supreme Court ruling that Parliament would have to pass a bill to approve invoking Article 50, which will begin the formal negotiations. The government responded quickly, with the briefly worded European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (HC Bill 132). Previously, UK Prime Minister Theresa May had announced the 10 key pillars of her new Industrial Strategy for the UK.

They are:

  • Investing in science, research and innovation
  • Developing skills
  • Upgrading infrastructure
  • Supporting businesses to start and grow
  • Improving procurement
  • Encouraging trade and inward investment
  • Delivering affordable energy and clean growth
  • Cultivating world-leading sectors
  • Driving growth across the whole country
  • Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places

Read more here.

Pompe disease progress
A gene therapy has been developed by researchers at Duke Health, Duke University, that could enhance or even replace the only FDA-approved treatment currently available to patients suffering from Pompe disease – a rare, life-threatening condition that cripples the muscles. The therapy, so far only demonstrated in mice, uses a modified virus to deliver a gene to the liver that then produces GAA, a missing enzyme in sufferers. The researchers have received approval from the US FDA to launch a Phase 1 clinical trial in humans and are now working to secure funding. Read more about the disease and this new approach here.

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