In this release of Made in China, you will learn about a new way of editing genes; an unusual method of dealing with dangerous mosquitoes and the emergence of facial recognition systems in social housing in Beijing.
Scientists have found a safer way to edit genes
Researchers from Beijing University have developed a new LEAPER technology. According to them, it is a promising alternative to the CRISPR method for editing human genes in order to combat various diseases.
LEAPER, similar to the CRISPR-Cas13 is to edit RNA, not DNA, as implemented in a method called CRISPR-Cas9. Note that with the help of the latter, scientists have recently managed to overcome HIV in animals. The advantage of LEAPER is to make changes only to a component of the body called RNA, whereas CRISPR-Cas13 affects RNA and the enzyme Cas13. As a result, the new method reduces the likelihood of adverse immune reactions in cells.
According to Beijing University researcher Zhou Zhuo, LEAPER technology has great prospects in the field of treatment of diseases. Thus, during the experiments, scientists managed to correct a sufficient number of mutated RNA cells in samples taken from people with severe hereditary disease Hurler Syndrome, causing disorders in the development of the body.
Scientists are preparing for animal trials to test the effectiveness of LEAPER when editing genes in living organisms.
The dangerous mosquitoes for humans began to be replaced by modified ones
The Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus is considered one of the most dangerous in the world. It carries a number of infectious diseases: dengue, chikungunya and zika virus, which affect millions of people around the world every year. It is almost impossible to control the population of these insects, so Chinese scientists have found more radical measures to combat them. They completely destroyed these mosquitoes on two Islands in Guangzhou city and replaced them with modified ones.
To kill mosquitoes, the researchers used small doses of radiation, which is completely harmless to humans, and with the help of a bacterial strain of the genus, Wolbachia has prevented incubation of eggs and the emergence of new individuals. In two years, the number of mosquito bites in humans in the experiment decreased by as much as 97%.
In order not to disturb the balance in nature, experts for two years grown in the laboratory modified asexual mosquitoes that are not able to reproduce and bite people. In total, about 200 million individuals were launched on the Islands, which allowed to preserve the ecosystem in the region.
Public housing in Beijing equipped with the facial recognition system
Beijing authorities have equipped the first 13 social housing complexes with an advanced facial recognition system. By the end of October, it should appear in the remaining 46 blocks in the Chinese capital. Such housing is built by the order of the state and is intended for low-income families and migrant workers.
In order to demonstrate the operation of the system, Zhang Yu, a resident of one of these complexes, got into the building after passing a special turnstile equipped with cameras. The recognition process took about one second. So, such control should not cause queues.
"People who do not live in the complex, such as real estate agents and sellers who go and advertise their products, could previously freely pass into the buildings," Zhang Yu said.
He hopes that the new system will be able to stop strangers at the entrance to protect privacy. According to Yin Na, who works in one of the complexes, scans of residents 'and their families' faces were collected before moving. Currently, more than 133 000 people are registered in the database. In addition to residents, the authentication is carried out by the staff of companies engaged in Express delivery and delivery of food. Shan Janu, Director of the Information Department of the Beijing center for public housing, notes that all personal information of people and their photos are stored in accordance with strict confidentiality protocols. All data is deleted when residents move.
The new technology is not only designed to ensure the safety of people, but also to prevent the rental of government-funded housing.
The recognition system has been tested in some communities of Fengtai County since the end of 2018. A local resident Liang Xinwei said that the surrounding area has become more peaceful and safe.