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NEC OncoImmunity AS (NOI), a subsidiary of NEC Corporation (NEC), and Oslo University Hospital (OUH) are pleased to announce that they have recently been awarded a prestigious grant from the Research Council of Norway (RCN) to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that will enable the rapid design of T-cell diagnostics for emerging or endemic infectious diseases. The project will develop a novel T-cell diagnostic for the current COVID-19 pandemic to complement the current serological tests. This will improve the ability to identify immune responses and acquired immunity, which is desperately needed to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

NEC OncoImmunity AS and Oslo University Hospital Team Up to

Image credit: Pixabay (Free Pixabay license)

Current technologies involve extensive trial and error to define exactly which parts of the pathogen induce robust immunity. These so called immunodominant epitopes need to be identified for the general population. These demanding, work-intensive and time-consuming steps are necessary to develop tests to monitor the T-cell response to viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 (the infectious virus that causes COVID-19).

Reliable diagnostic tests to identify immune individuals are critical to overcome the ever-looming threat of COVID-19. The AI based diagnostic to be developed in this project will complement antibody tests and enable individuals who are naturally immune to the virus following infection with SARS-CoV-2 or other seasonal coronaviruses, or who have acquired immunity following vaccination, to be identified.

“Antibody tests are an important aspect of understanding the immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 infection and will remain a mainstay of its diagnosis. However, protective SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses occur in antibody-negative infected individuals who have successfully resolved the infection. In addition, we may already have underlying immunity in the population due to cross-reactivity to endemic seasonal human coronaviruses,” said, Professor Ludvig A. Munthe Ph.D., Head of Research and Group Leader, Department of Immunology, Oslo University Hospital.

Although the technology to develop antibody diagnostics is readily available, this is not the case for T-cell diagnostics, which currently represents a “blind spot” for the monitoring of immunity to COVID-19 in the world’s population. To address this important gap, NOI and OUH, with the support of RCN, have now committed themselves to develop an AI-designed T-cell diagnostic that monitors the underlying T-cell response to the infection. Developing a reliable T-cell diagnostic comes with specific technological challenges with solutions offered by the NEC Immune Profiler at NOI to cater to the global human population.

“T-cells are known to play a central role for initial and long term immunity against viruses. However, T-cell responses are highly variable between different pathogens and genetic groups in the human population, making the prospect of developing a reliable universal T-cell diagnostics for COVID-19 challenging. This challenge has inspired the scientists at NOI to use our AI to seek out the T-cell response to infection as a diagnostic signal. In this project we look forward to adapting the NEC Immune Profiler and other AI technologies at NEC Corporation and leveraging them to develop a COVID-19 T-cell diagnostic for the diverse genetic makeup in the global human population,” said Trevor Clancy Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, NEC OncoImmunity AS.

The development of such an AI platform will not only help to contact-trace and control transmission against COVID-19. In fact, the platform developed by NOI and NEC in this project will be to a large degree pathogen/disease agnostic and may be used in future emergency settings to rapidly develop novel diagnostics against new emerging pandemics caused by novel dangerous infectious agents.

“The AI platform will be applied first to the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, we will design this platform to be future-proof and make it applicable to any future emerging infectious agent that could threaten the global population. This will open up new exciting opportunities in the growing infectious disease diagnostics market for our company,” said Richard Stratford Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, NEC OncoImmunity AS.

It has been over a century since the world has encountered a pandemic like COVID-19. The pandemic has taken over one million lives to date, and the spread of COVID-19 around the globe and the associated mortality has been devastating. The pandemic has sparked fears of a chronic worldwide recession. Shut-downs, social distancing, and travel restrictions have reduced the capacity of the global workforce and destroyed many jobs and businesses. The NOI and OUH collaboration mark an important initiative to develop a reliable diagnostic test that can identify immune members of the global population following natural infection with SARS-CoV-2 or other seasonal coronaviruses.

“A reliable T-cell diagnostic to help alleviate the socio-economic and serious health burden caused by COVID-19 will be important for the world community to overcome this present pandemic crisis. We are proud that NEC’s AI technology can contribute to the resolution of the COVID-19 threat. As a company that seeks to enhance the well-being of society, NEC will continue to capitalize on research and development that maximizes the strengths of our AI technology to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and protect the human population against future pandemic threats,” said Akira Kitamura, General Manager of the AI Drug Development Division, NEC Corporation.

Source: ACN Newswire




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DKK 42 million for sustainable chip-based spectrometers

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In a new four-year Grand Solutions project—supported by Innovation Fund Denmark with DKK 25 million—DTU and four companies will join forces in a consortium called NEXUS to develop the next generation of ultracompact spectrometers based on chip technology:

“We will quite simply make spectrometers in a radically different way that will make them both inexpensive and sustainable,” says the originator of the new Innovation Fund Denmark project, Associate Professor Søren Stobbe from DTU Fotonik. He continues:

“In NEXUS, we will develop the nanotechnology and the chip technology, as well as the modules that will be used to integrate the spectrometers in the industry already during the project. In short, we will make it possible to perform measurements in places where you cannot measure today. And because we can make the spectrometers small and inexpensive, it can also be good business for companies to choose the most environmentally friendly solution.”

Spectrometers to reduce waste at dairies
To begin with, NEXUS’ spectrometers will make a difference for dairies.

Dairies need spectrometers to measure the contents of protein, fat, and water in their milk. But the spectrometers currently available on the market are large and expensive, which means that the dairies only have a very limited number of them. So when, for example, the dairies are to produce a new batch of semi-skimmed milk, they rinse the pipes with milk to be sure of what they have in the pipes. This means that they send around 10,000 litres of milk directly into the sewers every day. This could be avoided if spectrometers were instead installed to measure what is in the pipes.

Jacob Riis Folkenberg—Vice President of Technology at FOSS, which makes food production equipment—is therefore convinced that the new optical spectroscopy technology has the potential to revolutionize the market:

“In addition to being a waste of time and energy, the 10,000 litres of milk going to waste every day also has a fairly high market value.  If you can get the price of a spectrometer down, this will quickly turn into a really good business case for the dairies. We estimate that there is a market potential of three billion Danish kroner at the dairies alone,” he says.

The core of the NEXUS project is DTU’s patented chip technology.

“We have a prototype that works, but we don’t yet have the spectral resolution we need,” says Associate Professor at DTU Fotonik, Søren Stobbe, and continues:

“We need to develop a lot of stuff in the chip, and it must then be built into the whole technology that surrounds it. For it’s one thing to make a chip. But—in reality—a large part of the work is to integrate the chip with the surroundings.”

While DTU Fotonik is responsible for the development of the chip, the companies Beamfox Technologies ApS and ELIONIX INC will develop methods for nanofabrication of the chip. Ibsen Photonics A/S makes the modules in which the chip will be integrated, and FOSS makes the food production probes in which the modules will be installed and which can be used at the dairies.

Wind turbines, aircraft, and health monitoring on the mobile
The NEXUS project starts with the dairies, but the technology will also be relevant in many other contexts.

“The ultimate vision is to be able to make spectrometers so small and inexpensive that it can, for example, be worthwhile to build them into mobile phones. The spectrometer will be able to make a kind of primitive blood test, which could give you an indication of whether you need to see your doctor,” says Søren Stobbe.

“Another example is so-called optical interrogation monitors, which can be used to measure and predict the behaviour of large mechanical structures. They can be built into a bridge, a wind turbine blade, or an aeroplane wing, where they will then monitor whether the material begins to give off some strange vibrations. The area of application for spectrometers—if you can make them in this low price range—is gigantic.”

Source: DTU




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Tinder Expands Its In-App Face-to-Face Video Chat Feature Globally [Update]

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Tinder is expanding its in-app video chat feature globally for all users. After testing the feature in multiple countries, the popular dating app is now globally rolling out its ‘Face to Face’ feature that lets users video call each other through the app itself. Users can video call potential partners without having to rely on a third-party video service or share other contact details. The Face to Face feature will only work if both the parties have opted in.

Announced earlier this year, the Face-to-Face feature was initially available only to iOS and Android devices in select markets, but is rolling out for users across the world now, as per reports. Tinder’s Face-to-Face feature is rolling out to cities across the US and UK, along with Brazil, Australia, Spain, Italy, France, Vietnam, Indonesia, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Peru and Chile, and the exact timeline for reaching other markets has not been announced yet.

Update: Gadgets 360 was informed by Tinder India on Friday that the video calling feature is now available in the country.

Tinder’s new Face-To-Face video chat feature aims to make dating from home simpler. It is a helpful feature especially during the pandemic, with meeting people often coming with an added risk.

This otherwise interesting feature does come with the risk of it being misused. Users can report a match if needed by navigating to the match’s profile and scrolling down to click on Report. They can then follow instructions given on the screen.

How to use Tinder’s Face-to-Face feature

To opt in for the Face-to-Face feature, navigate to the match’s’ messages, and tap on the video icon on the top of the screen. Slide the toggle to the right to unlock Face to Face. After both parties have unlocked the feature, you’ll see a confirmation message in the app. After that, tap the video call icon at the top of the chat screen with the match. You’ll get a live video preview, after which you can tap on Call.

An on-going video call can be ended by clicking on the red End button. If a match calls you but you don’t want to accept the call, you can decline the call in the app itself, or let it ring. The match will be notified that you’re currently available.


Are iPhone 12 mini, HomePod mini the Perfect Apple Devices for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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How to install the FreeIPA identity and authorization solution on CentOS 8

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Jack Wallen walks you through the process of installing an identity and authorization platform on CentOS 8.

Image: CentOS

FreeIPA is an open source identity and authorization platform that provides centralized authorization for Linux, macOS, and Windows. This solution is based on the 389 Directory Server and uses Kerberos, SSSD, Dogtag, NTP, and DNS. The installation isn’t terribly challenging, and you’ll find a handy web-based interface that makes the platform easy to administer.

I’m going to walk you through the steps of getting FreeIPA up and running on CentOS 8. 

SEE: CentOS: A how-to guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic) 

What you’ll need

How to set your hostname

The first thing you must do is set your hostname. I’m going to be demonstrating with a LAN-only FQDN (which then must be mapped in /etc/hosts on any client machine that wants to access the server). 

Set your hostname with the command:

sudo hostnamectl set-hostname HOSTNAME

Where HOSTNAME is the FQDN of the server.

After you’ve set the hostname, you must add an entry in the server’s hosts file. Issue the command:

sudo nano /etc/hosts

Add a line at the bottom like this:

SERVER_IP HOSTNAME

Where SERVER_IP is the IP address of the server and HOSTNAME is the FQDN of the server.

Save and close the file.

How to install FreeIPA

The installation of FreeIPA starts with enabling the idm:DL1 repository with the command:

sudo module enable idm:DL1

When that command completes, sync the repository with the command:

sudo dnf distro-sync

Install FreeIPA with the command:

sudo dnf install ipa-server ipa-server-dns -y

How to set up FreeIPA Server

Next you have to run the configuration script for FreeIPA Server. To do that, issue the command:

sudo ipa-server-install

The first question you must answer is whether or not you want to install BIND for DNS. Accept the default (no) by pressing Enter on your keyboard. You must then confirm the domain and realm name, which will both be detected by the script. Once you’ve confirmed those entries, you’ll need to set a directory manager password, an IPA admin password for the web interface, and then accept the default (no) for the installation of chrony. 

After you’ve taken care of the above, you’ll be presented with the details of your installation (Figure A).

Figure A

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The details of my installation of FreeIPA Server.

Type y and hit Enter on your keyboard. The configuration will begin. This does take a bit of time, so either sit back and watch the text fly by or set about to take care of another task.

When the configuration completes, you’re ready to continue on.

How to access the web interface

Open a browser and point it to https://SERVER_IP (where SERVER IP is the IP address of the hosting server). You should be prompted for a username and password (Figure B). The username is admin and the password is the one you set for IPA admin during the configuration. 

Figure B

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The FreeIPA login screen.

Upon successful login, you’ll find yourself at the FreeIPA main window, where you can begin managing your centralized authentication server (Figure C).

Figure C

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The FreeIPA main window is ready to work.

And that’s all there is to getting FreeIPA installed on CentOS. You can now spend some time adding users and other bits to make your identity and authorization solution work for your business.

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