The news: A volunteer in New Zealand is the first person to undergo DNA editing to lower their blood cholesterol, a move 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 alter a single letter of DNA into the patient’s liver cells. According to the company, that small adjustment should be enough to permanently lower a person’s levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, the fat molecule that causes arteries to clog and harden over time.
Why it’s important?: Although the patient had an inherited risk of extra-high cholesterol and was already suffering 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 as part of exploratory studies. If successful, it could indicate a much wider use of gene editing to prevent common disorders. Read the full story.
This is the “poetic” first image of the universe by the James Webb Space Telescope
The first stunning image taken by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been released, showing thousands of galaxies, some of which are more than 13 billion years old.
The image, unveiled last night by President Biden, shows a small portion of the sky — comparable to the wingspan of a grain of sand held at arm’s length — greatly enhanced by the JWST’s remarkable light-gathering power. The more distant galaxies date from not long after the birth of the Universe, and are magnified by a huge galaxy in the foreground. Read the full story.
More images to come later today – be sure to come back to technologyreview.com to check them out.
Within a radical new project to democratize AI
At the French National Center for Scientific Research, on the outskirts of Paris, a supercomputer has spent 117 days developing a new large language model (LLM) called BLOOM, which its creators hope represents a radical departure from the way AI usually developed.
Unlike other better-known major 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 long-lasting changes to the culture of AI development — and increasing access. help democratize to advanced AI technology for researchers around the world. Read the full story.
The must reads
I’ve scoured the internet to find today’s funniest/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.