The next generation of mRNA vaccines is on its way


Another thing

Babies and AI learn language in very different ways. The former rely on a relatively small set of experiences. The latter relies on data sets that encompass a trillion words. But this week I wrote about a new study that shows AI can learn language like a baby—at least some aspects of language. The researchers found that a neural network trained on things a single child saw and heard over the course of a year and a half could learn to match words to the objects they represent. Here’s the story. 

Read more from MIT Technology Review’s archive

mRNA vaccines helped tackle covid, but they can help with so much more—malaria, HIV, TB, Zika, even cancer. Jessica Hamzelou wrote about their potential in January, and I followed up with a story after two mRNA researchers won a Nobel Prize. 

Using self-amplifying RNA isn’t the only way to make mRNA vaccines more powerful. Researchers are tweaking them in other ways that might help boost the immune response, writes Anne Trafton. 

From around the web

Elon Musk says his company Neuralink has implanted a brain chip in a person for the first time. The device is designed to allow people to control external devices like smartphones and computers with their thoughts. (Washington Post)

In August I  wrote about Vertex’s quest to develop a non-opioid pain pill. This week the company announced positive results from phase 3 trials. The company expects to seek regulatory approval in the coming months, and if approved, the drug is likely to become a blockbuster. (Stat)

In some rare cases, it appears that Alzheimer’s can be transmitted from one person to another. That’s the conclusion of a new study: it found that eight people who received growth hormone from the brains of cadavers before the 1980s had sticky beta-amyloid plaques in their brains, a hallmark of the disease. The growth hormone they received also contained these proteins. And when researchers injected these proteins into mice, the mice also developed amyloid plaques. (Science)

Correction: A previous version of this article mischaracterized the therapy Arcturus is developing for ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency as using saRNA. It involves regular mRNA.

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