Volume 2, Number 2, April, 1984

Future File

Recent developments of long term significance as selected be JANE TALTSMAN and ERIC GEISLINGER. editors of ——Claustrophobia.

"Hemosponge: A Breath of Fresh Air" Science News, December 24-31. 1983.

Joe and Celia Bonaventure: two biochemists at Duke University, have developed a method to immobilize proteins, like hemoglobin, in a polyurethane sponge, while retaining the molecule's biological activity. The Bonaventures have sold the process to an underwater development company where they are perfecting a system whereby oxygen is extracted directly from seawater. The new system promises to revolutionize underwater activities, leading to such things as fuel-burning combustion in underwater power plants, and allowing individuals to breathe underwater like a fish.

"Brain Transplants Imminent" Cryonics. December, 1983.

IN AN INTERVIEW ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED in the Chicago Sun-Times, Dr. Robert White of Cleveland's Metropolitan General Hospital and Case Western Reserve University stated that "he could develop all the instruments and procedures necessary to perform a head transplant in less than a year." Dr White, one of the world's most distinguished neurosurgeons, has repeatedly performed head transplant operations on a number of primates. Dr. White feels that the procedure will be more ready for humans after the problems involved with regenerating spinal cords are solved. The transplant procedure would presently leave the patient paralyzed from the neck down.

"America Dominates in Biotechnology" Science, February 3, 1984.

THE OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT recently completed a study of the biotechnology industry which concludes that U.S. firms have a commanding lead in virtually every area, from basic research to attraction of high-risk capital over the rest of the world. One of the major factors given credit was the recent changes in the tax laws which gave a little breathing space to venture capital firms.

"EPA Revs Up to Regulate Biotechnology": Science, November 18 , 1983.

The Environmental Protection Agency is gearing up to add another layer of regulation to the biotechnology industry. The EPA already had the authority to regulate the commercial production of genetically engineered microbes. Now, Donald R. Clay, assistant administrator of the office of pesticides and toxic substances, is looking to play an active role in regulating such things as field tests. Several companies have already threatened to sue if he pursues this course. Says Clay, "It doesn't upset me. If I win, I win. If I lose, then Congress can legislate a new law."

"FDA unlikely to Follow British Lead in Drug-Approval Revisions." Medical World News, November 14, 1983

Drug approval times have always been shorter in the United Kingdom than in the U.S. At its worst, the United Kingdom delay has been about about two-thirds that in the U.S.: 86.6 months versus 131.8 months. A few years ago, Britain decided to streamline their procedures because British patients weren't receiving the benefits of new drugs, British doctors weren't gaining experience and keeping up, the pharmaceutical industry was moving abroad, etc. (See Perkmeters #83 for U.S. situation summary.) After adopting a significantly faster approval process two years ago, clinical trials tripled: new drugs being studied doubled, no increase in hazard has been detected, and the drug companies are being more responsible. FDA spokesperson Christopher Smith has recently stated that the drug approval revisions planned for later this year will not [... scan garbled --editor]

"New Flat-panel Display Technology Produces 3-D Color Images." Electric Engineering Times January 30, 1984.

Binary Star Inc. of Bellevue, Washington, has developed a new technology which promises three-dimensional displays, high resolution. full-color images, and cost competitive with current CRT technology. The display uses tiny micro-beads of tungsten sandwiched between two sheets of glass. Panel size is limited only by the size of the glass sheets. 3-D displays are created by stacking multiple layers of the pixel elements and the substrates. Since the beads produce a full spectrum incandescent light, colorfilter layers can be used to generate color displays. The small size of the tungsten beads gives them a very small thermal inertia allowing them to be turned on and off in as little as 20 ns to display moving pictures. Binary Star also claims to have developed simple, cost-effective circuitry to drive the displays.

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