News: A volunteer in New Zealand has become the first person to undergo DNA editing to lower blood cholesterol, a step that could herald widespread use of the technology to prevent heart attacks.
How did they do it?: The experiment involved injecting a version of the gene-editing tool CRISPR to modify a single letter of DNA in a patient’s liver cells. According to the company, that small change should be enough to permanently lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, a fatty molecule that causes arteries to clog and harden over time.
Why is it important?: Although the patient had an inherited risk of extra high cholesterol and already suffered from heart disease, the company believes the same technique could eventually be used to prevent cardiovascular disease. In the 10 years since scientists developed CRISPR, it has only been tested on people suffering from rare diseases and only in research trials. If successful, it could signal a far wider use of gene editing to prevent common conditions. Read the full story.
This is the James Webb Space Telescope’s “poetic” first image of space
The first stunning image taken by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been released, showing thousands of galaxies, some dating back more than 13 billion years.
The image, unveiled last night by President Biden, shows a small patch of sky – comparable to the span of a grain of sand held at arm’s length – greatly enhanced by JWST’s extraordinary light-gathering power. The more distant galaxies date from shortly after the birth of the universe, and the massive foreground galaxies are magnified. Read the full story.
There are more images to come later today – be sure to check back at technologyreview.com to see them.
Inside a radical new project to democratize AI
Inside France’s National Center for Scientific Research, on the outskirts of Paris, a supercomputer spent 117 days building a new large-scale language model (LLM) called BLOOM that its creators hope represents a radical departure from the way AI is typically developed.
Unlike other, more well-known big-language models, BLOOM is designed to be as transparent as possible, with researchers sharing details about the data it’s trained on in hopes of making lasting changes to the culture of AI development—and helping to democratize access to cutting-edge AI technologies for researchers around the world. Read the full story.
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