• Les très graves ratés de l’expérience chinoise des « bébés CRISPR »

    L’annonce de la naissance en Chine de Lulu et Nana, des jumelles dont le génome a été modifié en utilisant la technologie de l’édition du génome CRISPR/Cas9, a choqué le monde entier l’année dernière. Une année après cette annonce, Jiankui He, le scientifique chinois a l’origine de la naissance de ces bébés génétiquement modifies, a été condamné à trois ans de prison ferme et 380 000 euros d’amendes pour la pratique illégale de la médecine.


    #CRISPR #Hubris_scientifique #Génomique #Modification_génétique

  • The biggest technology failures of 2019 - MIT Technology Review

    Technology Review be without our annual list of the year’s sorriest tech fails?

    This year’s list includes the deadly, the dishonest, and the simply daft. Read

    Boeing’s out-of-control autopilot
    First one brand-new 737 Max Boeing plane, Lion Air Flight 510, crashed shortly after takeoff. Then another did the same. Everyone aboard died. In each case, pilots had struggled against an autopilot system that took over and plunged the planes to their doom.

    Fake food computer
    The MIT Media Lab has been called the “future factory”—but its “food computer” likely won’t be part of it.

    In a 2015 TED Talk that gathered 1.8 million views, architect Caleb Harper introduced hydroponic boxes stuffed with electronics and AI, which he said would measure millions of combinations of light, temperature, and humidity. His Open Agriculture project, he said, was pioneering “cyber agriculture.”

    Really? The food computer, it turns out, was nothing more than a glorified grow box that didn’t work very well. But by fertilizing the project with buzzwords—“climate hacking,” “open source,” “microbiome”—the Media Lab kept winning attention and funding for it. Claims for the contraption reached an absurd apex in April, when Harper said “machine learning” had been employed to grow basil that an MIT news release called “likely more delicious” than any ever tasted.

    In September, workers stepped forward to blow the whistle, telling the media about fake photo shoots (the plants were purchased), smoke-and-mirror tactics, and environmental violations. By October, MIT officials had “halted most of the work” by the OpenAg group, according to the Boston Globe.

    Genetic gaydar
    Within weeks of a major study identifying genes associated with homosexual behavior, a programmer had launched an app called “How Gay Are You?”

    For $5.50, the app purported to use those research findings to calculate the gayness level of anyone, using results from a DNA test like those sold by 23andMe.

    Controversy ensued. Was the app a “dangerous mischaracterization” of science or did it accurately underscore the main point, which is that there’s no one gene for being gay? Alternatively, did it show that the original research project to try to explain homosexual behavior was ill conceived?

    The gaydar app is now gone (it didn’t survive the controversy), but the promise—or the problem—of genetic predictions isn’t going away. Gene scientists have new ways to link small genetic differences not only to a person’s risk of disease, but to traits like height, intelligence, or earning potential.

    Space stowaways
    This year, an Israeli company launched that country’s first lunar lander, which unfortunately crash-landed on the moon in April. Luckily, no one was onboard. Unfortunately, something was.

    It turned out that a US nonprofit called Arch Mission Foundation had secretly added to the mission payload a capsule full of tardigrades, or water bears. The microscopic, eight-legged creatures can survive in a dormant state through harsh conditions, and maybe even on the moon.

    The concept of planetary protection is the idea that we shouldn’t pollute other worlds with earthly life. There’s the worry over contamination, and what’s more, if you do discover life outside of orbit, you’d like to be sure you didn’t put it there.

    Without some water, the tardigrades aren’t likely to revive and spread. Still, the episode shows that today’s honor system might not be enough to ensure planetary protection.

    Why did Arch do it? The foundation’s mission is to create a backup of planet Earth, and so it tests out technologies for long-lasting archives, like securing information in DNA strands or encapsulating insects in artificial amber. Its payload on the Israeli mission included nickel sheets nanopatterned with 60,000 pages of Wikipedia and other texts.
    In a last-minute switch-up, Arch and its cofounder Nova Spivack decided to add some human hair, blood cells, and thousands of tardigrades. “We didn’t tell them we were putting life in this thing,” Spivack said. “We just decided to take the risk.”

    Apple’s biased credit card
    Why would a wealthy tech entrepreneur get a credit limit 10 times as high his wife’s on the new Apple Card, even though their assets are held in common? When one complained, a rep told him, “It’s just the algorithm.” A sexist algorithm! Steve Wozniak, Apple’s cofounder, said it happened to his wife, too. But what’s the program, and what does it do? Apple and Goldman Sachs, the bank backing the card, didn’t say. And that’s the problem. Computerized bias exists, but it’s hard to hold anyone, or anything, accountable. Facebook this year reached a settlement to stop letting advertisers intentionally discriminate in housing and job ads, yet research shows that unseen algorithms are still skewing results. Ads for taxi drivers on Facebook were automatically shown more often to minorities, and supermarket jobs to women.

    #Technologie #Arnaques #Hubris_scientifique

  • Des mutations inquiétantes sur les bébés chinois génétiquement modifiés par CRISPR - UP’ Magazine

    Les jumelles chinoises nées l’an dernier d’embryons génétiquement modifiés par les ciseaux moléculaires « CRISPR » ont probablement des mutations imprévues dans leur génome à la suite de cette manipulation. C’est un journaliste américain qui révèle cette information ce 3 décembre après avoir obtenu une version non publiée de l’étude détaillant l’expérience.

    L’annonce avait choqué le monde en novembre 2018 : le scientifique He Jiankui avait révélé à Hong Kong qu’il avait modifié des embryons, dans le cadre d’une fécondation in vitro pour un couple, afin de tenter de créer une mutation de leurs génomes qui leur conférerait une immunité naturelle contre le virus du sida au cours de leur vie. Cette nouvelle avait provoqué un tollé car la procédure employée n’avait aucune justification médicale, présentait de graves dangers pour la santé et contrevenait aux règles éthiques les plus élémentaires.

    LIRE DANS UP : Les Chinois auraient mis au monde deux bébés génétiquement modifiés par CRISPR

    Des jumelles étaient nées, nommées Lulu et Nana, mais elles et leurs parents sont restés anonymes, et on ignore totalement ce qu’elles sont devenues.

    L’expérience d’He Jiankui avait vivement été condamnée par la communauté scientifique internationale et les autorités de son pays, et l’affaire avait relancé les appels à une interdiction des « bébés Crispr ».
    Le manuscrit de l’étude révélé

    Un journaliste de la MIT Technology Review a reçu le manuscrit de l’étude que He Jiankui a tenté de faire publier par des revues scientifiques prestigieuses, et qui détaille sa méthode et ses résultats. Mais le texte de l’étude confirme ce que beaucoup d’experts suspectaient : selon des généticiens interrogés, il ne montre en réalité pas que la mutation tentée, sur une partie du gène CCR5, a effectivement réussi. L’étude affirme que la mutation accomplie est « similaire » à celle qui confère l’immunité, et non identique.
    Des conséquences imprévisibles

    En outre, des données incluses en annexe montrent que les jumelles ont subi des mutations ailleurs dans leur génome, et probablement différentes d’une cellule à l’autre, ce qui rend les conséquences imprévisibles.

    « CRISPR » est une technique révolutionnaire de modification du génome inventée en 2012, bien plus simple et facile d’utilisation que les technologies existantes. Mais les ciseaux coupent souvent à côté de l’endroit ciblé, et les généticiens répètent que la technologie est encore loin d’être parfaite pour être utilisée à des fins thérapeutiques.

    « Il y a énormément de problèmes dans l’affaire des jumelles CRISPR. Tous les principes éthiques établis ont été violés, mais il y a aussi un grand problème scientifique : il n’a pas contrôlé ce que CRISPR faisait, et cela a créé plein de conséquences imprévues », a dit le professeur de génétique Kiran Musunuru, de l’université de Pennsylvanie, dans un entretien récent à l’AFP.

    Dans la MIT Technology Review, le généticien Fyodor Urnov déclare : « La recherche était toutefois incomplète et le manuscrit passe sous silence un point clé : les cellules prélevées sur les embryons au stade précoce pour les tester n’ont pas réellement contribué aux corps des jumeaux. Les cellules restantes, celles qui se multiplieraient et se développeraient pour devenir les jumeaux, auraient pu aussi avoir des effets hors cible, mais il n’y aurait eu aucun moyen de le savoir avant le début de la grossesse. » Il ajoute : « Une déformation flagrante des données réelles qui ne peut, encore une fois, être décrite que comme un mensonge flagrant. Il est techniquement impossible de déterminer si un embryon modifié « n’a présenté aucune mutation hors cible » sans détruire cet embryon en inspectant chacune de ses cellules. Il s’agit d’un problème clé pour l’ensemble du domaine de l’édition d’embryons, un problème que les auteurs balaient sous le tapis ici. »

    #CRISPR #Hubris_scientifique #Génomique #Modification_génétique

  • Linguistic red flags from Facebook posts can predict future depression diagnoses — ScienceDaily

    Research finds that the language people use in their Facebook posts can predict a future diagnosis of depression as accurately as the tools clinicians use in medical settings to screen for the disease.

    In any given year, depression affects more than 6 percent of the adult population in the United States — some 16 million people — but fewer than half receive the treatment they need. What if an algorithm could scan social media and point to linguistic red flags of the disease before a formal medical diagnosis had been made?

    Ah oui, ce serait fantastique pour les Big Pharma : la dépression est une maladie complexe, dont les symptômes graves sont souvent confondus avec la déprime qui est un état sychologique que nous connaissons tous. Notre Facebook, couplé avec notre assistant vocal Amazon nous gorgerait de Valium, et tout irait pour le mieux dans le Meilleur des mondes.

    Considering conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD , for example, you find more signals in the way people express themselves digitally."

    For six years, the WWBP, based in Penn’s Positive Psychology Center and Stony Brook’s Human Language Analysis Lab, has been studying how the words people use reflect inner feelings and contentedness. In 2014, Johannes Eichstaedt, WWBP founding research scientist, started to wonder whether it was possible for social media to predict mental health outcomes, particularly for depression.

    “Social media data contain markers akin to the genome,” Eichstaedt explains. “With surprisingly similar methods to those used in genomics, we can comb social media data to find these markers. Depression appears to be something quite detectable in this way; it really changes people’s use of social media in a way that something like skin disease or diabetes doesn’t.”

    Il y a au moins une bonne nouvelle sur la déontologie scientifique :

    Rather than do what previous studies had done — recruit participants who self-reported depression — the researchers identified data from people consenting to share Facebook statuses and electronic medical-record information, and then analyzed the statuses using machine-learning techniques to distinguish those with a formal depression diagnosis.

    Les marqueurs considérés sont aussi des marqueurs sociaux et économiques, qu’il faudrait traiter autrement qu’avec des médicaments.

    They learned that these markers comprised emotional, cognitive, and interpersonal processes such as hostility and loneliness, sadness and rumination, and that they could predict future depression as early as three months before first documentation of the illness in a medical record.

    La conclusion est fantastique : il faut rendre le balayage obligatoire !!!

    Eichstaedt sees long-term potential in using these data as a form of unobtrusive screening. “The hope is that one day, these screening systems can be integrated into systems of care,” he says. “This tool raises yellow flags; eventually the hope is that you could directly funnel people it identifies into scalable treatment modalities.”

    Despite some limitations to the study, including its strictly urban sample, and limitations in the field itself — not every depression diagnosis in a medical record meets the gold standard that structured clinical interviews provide, for example — the findings offer a potential new way to uncover and get help for those suffering from depression.

    #Dépression #Facebook #Foutaises #Hubris_scientifique #Big_pharma #Psychologie

  • The smartphone app that can tell you’re depressed before you know it yourself - MIT Technology Review

    A startup founded in Palo Alto, California, by a trio of doctors, including the former director of the US National Institute of Mental Health, is trying to prove that our obsession with the technology in our pockets can help treat some of today’s most intractable medical problems: depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse.

    Mindstrong Health is using a smartphone app to collect measures of people’s cognition and emotional health as indicated by how they use their phones. Once a patient installs Mindstrong’s app, it monitors things like the way the person types, taps, and scrolls while using other apps. This data is encrypted and analyzed remotely using machine learning, and the results are shared with the patient and the patient’s medical provider.

    The seemingly mundane minutiae of how you interact with your phone offers surprisingly important clues to your mental health, according to Mindstrong’s research—revealing, for example, a relapse of depression.

    The seemingly mundane minutiae of how you interact with your phone offers surprisingly important clues to your mental health, according to Mindstrong’s research—revealing, for example, a relapse of depression.❞

    For now, Insel says, the company is working mainly with seriously ill people who are at risk of relapse for problems like depression, schizophrenia, and substance abuse. “This is meant for the most severely disabled people, who are really needing some innovation,” he says. “There are people who are high utilizers of health care and they’re not getting the benefits, so we’ve got to figure out some way to get them something that works better.” Actually predicting that a patient is headed toward a downward spiral is a harder task, but Dagum believes that having more people using the app over time will help cement patterns in the data.

    There are thorny issues to consider, of course. Privacy, for one: while Mindstrong says it protects users’ data, collecting such data at all could be a scary prospect for many of the people it aims to help. Companies may be interested in, say, including it as part of an employee wellness plan, but most of us wouldn’t want our employers anywhere near our mental health data, no matter how well protected it may be.

    #Données_médicales #Maladie_mentale #Surveillance #Algorithmes_prédictifs #Hubris_scientifique

  • Manifeste contre la géo-ingénierie : bas les pattes ! - Attac France

    Plus de 110 organisations du monde entier, provenant de 5 continents, dont Attac France, publient à l’occasion de la réunion du GIEC en Corée du Sud un manifeste exigeant l’arrêt immédiat des expériences de géo-ingéniérie actuelles et prévues dans les mois à venir et l’interdiction pure et simple de la géo-ingéniérie. Cet ensemble de solutions techniques à grande échelle visant à bloquer une partie des rayons du soleil, réfléchir la lumière du soleil ou capturer les émissions de gaz à effet de serre, avec des effets dévastateurs sur l’environnement, les écosystèmes et les communautés du monde entier. A l ’occasion de la publication du rapport du GIEC sur le 1.5°C, cette coalition d’organisation appelle à déployer les solutions déjà éprouvées et moins risquées, mais qui restent marginalisées dans les délibérations sur le changement climatique.

    #Géoengineering #Hubris_scientifique

  • US nuclear tests killed American civilians on a scale comparable to Hiroshima and Nagasaki — Quartz

    When the US entered the nuclear age, it did so recklessly. New research suggests that the hidden cost of developing nuclear weapons were far larger than previous estimates, with radioactive fallout responsible for 340,000 to 690,000 American deaths from 1951 to 1973.

    The study, performed by University of Arizona economist Keith Meyers, uses a novel method (pdf) to trace the deadly effects of this radiation, which was often consumed by Americans drinking milk far from the site of atomic tests.

    Those measurements, however, did not capture the full range of effects over time and geography. Meyers created a broader picture by way of a macabre insight: When cows consumed radioactive fallout spread by atmospheric winds, their milk became a key channel to transmit radiation sickness to humans. Most milk production during this time was local, with cows eating at pasture and their milk being delivered to nearby communities, giving Meyers a way to trace radioactivity across the country.

    The National Cancer Institute has records of the amount of Iodine 131—a dangerous isotope released in the Nevada tests—in milk, as well as broader data about radiation exposure. By comparing this data with county-level mortality records, Meyers came across a significant finding: “Exposure to fallout through milk leads to immediate and sustained increases in the crude death rate.” What’s more, these results were sustained over time. US nuclear testing likely killed seven to 14 times more people than we had thought, mostly in the midwest and northeast.

    #NUcléaire #Bombe_atomique #Hubris_scientifique

  • Gene editing opens doors to seedless fruit with no need for bees | New Scientist

    Don’t like the seeds in tomatoes? You might be pleased to know that seedless ones have been created by gene editing.

    The technique will make it possible to make a much wider range of seedless fruits than is currently available – and also means farmers might not have to rely on declining bee populations. Whether we ever see such fruits on supermarket shelves, however, may depend on how regulators decide to treat gene-edited crops.

    Une belle entrée en matière... on aurait aussi pu ajouter qu’on aurait plus besoin de paysans.

    Mais tout est du même acabit... en théorie tout est devenu possible.

    “We haven’t tasted them yet, but in theory they should taste the same,” says Osakabe.

    The downside for farmers is that seedless plants have to be grown from cuttings, which may be more labour-intenstive. Tomatoes are usually grown from seed, but they can also be propagated by cuttings.

    Some people also like the flavour that tomato seeds add. Seedless versions would, however, be ideal for processing into sauces and pastes.

    On retrouve à nouveau cette logique anti-naturelle qui fait remonter du process agro-alimentaire vers la production agricole : ce sera mieux pour les plats préparés et les sauces en boîte.

    Mais le plus beau reste la conclusion :

    Whether these seedless varieties make it to shop shelves may depend on whether gene-edited plants have to meet the same criteria for approval as genetically modified plants, which would greatly increase costs. Some argue that where gene-editing is used to introduce mutations already found in some of the plant we eat, it should not require such strict regulation.

    Si c’est pareil, c’est la même chose, et donc ça reste pareil. Ne venez pas regarder de plus près, ça coûte trop cher.

    #CRISPR #alimentation #hubris_scientifique

  • The CRISPR Tomato That Has No Seeds

    Le résumé des trois articles parlant de cette tomate sans graines publié dans la lettre de la MIT Technology Review est proprement sidérant. Des fruits qui murissent avant de faire des graines et qui n’ont pas besoin de pollinisateurs... voilà ce qui va garantir la sécurité alimentaire. Hubris scientifique poussé à son maximum, et en même temps acceptation de la dystopie climatique qui nous menace. Avoir peur de l’avenir, ne pas faire confiance aux paysans (qui ne pourront pas ressemer ces tomates sans graines, bien ouej) et inventer un techno-fix qui va rapporter des millions.

    A newly engineered tomato could help increase food security. The CRISPR gene-editing tool shows great promise in helping us engineer better food. And now researchers from Tokushima University in Japan have used it to create seedless tomatoes, by introducing a genetic modification to increase production of a hormone that causes fruits to develop before seeds have formed. As New Scientist notes, the resulting plants don’t require pollination, which means that they could be grown in areas where insect life fails to help nature’s reproduction.

    #CRISPR #alimentation #OGM #hubris_scientifique