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Computer-Designed Drugs Could Thwart Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Researchers use computer algorithms to tweak enzymes that make antibiotics

3 min read

18 February 2009—A computer program may eventually hold the key in the never-ending struggle between evolving bacteria and the drugs we use to kill them.

Researchers from Duke University have designed software that can simulate modifications to an enzyme used to make a common antibiotic. Mutating genes that produce the enzyme will make for slightly different variants of the drug. The researchers say this technique could eventually be used to design new variants of existing antibiotics to which bacteria have built up resistance. The results were detailed this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
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A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic
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Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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