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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Biotechnology

In Elemental. More on Medium.

Vast banks of medical data are slowly being digitized, allowing A.I. to address the growing demand for pathologists

Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

If you became concerned about a mole on your back — perhaps it had become painful or looked unsightly — your doctor might decide to remove it and have it evaluated. She’d send it to a pathology lab, where a sample of the tissue would be prepared in the form of a slide. It would then be sent to a pathologist, who would examine the slide to determine whether the tissue had any problematic elements, like cancer. After taking a look, the pathologist might ship it to a specialist at another lab for a second opinion. Each time the slide…


Some families with genetic diseases are finding hope in the controversial technology

Credit: Marcos Silva/iStock/Getty Images Plus

In November 2018, a Rubicon was crossed in biomedical science. Chinese researcher He Jiankui announced he had created the first “CRISPR babies” — infants whose genomes were edited before they were born. The outcry was swift and scathing. Scientists condemned the experiments as unethical, unsafe, and perhaps worst of all, unnecessary. On Monday, it was announced that a Chinese government investigation determined He “seriously violated” state laws, and that he would likely face criminal charges.

But for some families with severe genetic disorders, the experiment offered something else: hope.

The gene-editing technology CRISPR emerged in 2013 as a sort of…


“If we can make [insulin] in our janky lab on a $10,000 a year budget, there’s no way it should cost this much,” says Thornton Thompson. Photography: Alex Welsh

Diabetes is a punishingly expensive disease. In an Oakland warehouse, scientists are going DIY.

David Anderson pipettes yeast under a laboratory fume hood that’s surrounded by graffiti. From a beaker, he extracts a tiny amount of the microscopic fungus and transfers it to a test tube, which he then spins in a centrifuge to separate the proteins from the rest of the broth. The next day, he will inject the protein mix into an electrically charged gel, and if all goes well, the smallest protein will wiggle to the front, identifying itself as insulin.

Anderson is not a biochemist; he didn’t even major in science in college. He is part of the Open Insulin…

Elemental

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