But mRNA’s story likely will not end with COVID-19: Its potential stretches far beyond this pandemic. This year, a team at Yale patented a similar RNA-based technology to vaccinate against malaria, perhaps the world’s most devastating disease. Because mRNA is so easy to edit, Pfizer says that it is planning to use it against seasonal flu, which mutates constantly and kills hundreds of thousands of people around the world every year. The company that partnered with Pfizer last year, BioNTech, is developing individualized therapies that would create on-demand proteins associated with specific tumors to teach the body to fight off advanced cancer. In mouse trials, synthetic-mRNA therapies have been shown to slow and reverse the effects of multiple sclerosis.
“I’m fully convinced now even more than before that mRNA can be broadly transformational,” Özlem Türeci, BioNTech’s chief medical officer, told me. “In principle, everything you can do with protein can be substituted by mRNA.”
This study paves the way for research into drugs that can target cancer stem cells. “In the future, the DN gel could be used to enhance cancer cell type diagnosis and to produce personalized medicines, which could improve the prognosis of cancer patients,” said Shinya Tanaka.
The same team has now created life forms that self-assemble a body from single cells, do not require muscle cells to move, and even demonstrate the capability of recordable memory. The new generation Xenobots also move faster, navigate different environments, and have longer lifespans than the first edition, and they still have the ability to work together in groups and heal themselves if damaged.
“It’s one thing to prove that you can empty the bin—that’s interesting on one level,” says Goldberg. But it’s another thing to do it quickly and reliably. Goldberg says that Ambi Robotics’ system can do this sorting job twice as fast as humans. He adds that its products are not meant to replace human workers, but to supplement them. “This is just one piece of a pipeline that happens with packages,” Goldberg says. “And all throughout that pipeline, there’s steps that need human intervention.”
“The autonomy itself is a core technology, in my view. If you sort of step back, the car, in a lot of ways, is a robot. An autonomous car is a robot. And so there’s lots of things you can do with autonomy. And we’ll see what Apple does,” Cook said in an interview released Monday with Kara Swisher on the “Sway” podcast.
“We investigate so many things internally. Many of them never see the light of day. I’m not saying that one will not,” Cook added.
In a blog post explaining his decision to resign as CEO, but remain with Waymo as an advisor, Krafcik wrote, “now, with the fully autonomous Waymo One ride-hailing service open to all in our launch area of Metro Phoenix, and with the fifth generation of the Waymo Driver being prepared for deployment in ride-hailing and goods delivery, it’s a wonderful opportunity for me to pass the baton to Tekedra and Dmitri as co-CEOs.”
The project is intended to store energy so that the energy produced by the solar farm can be used during the night as well as during the day, and Cupertino says the project will store enough energy to “power over 7,000 homes for one day.” Apple plans to share some of what it learns from the project with other companies, executives have said.