Seven From Seven: Wax Worm Salvia Fighting Plastic Waste and Satellite Technology Helping the Environment

7th October 2022

Each week, we scour the worlds of innovation, tech for good and social impact to bring you seven of our top stories…

  1. The government has recently launched a Tees Valley-based competition with a £20 million prize to incentivise innovators to develop technologies that use hydrogen as a renewable fuel source. £300,000 is also being set aside to help train a workforce that can develop and use these technologies created from the competition.
  2. Satellite tech start-up Esper Satellite Imagery is using satellite technology to deliver climate-friendly outcomes in agribusiness and mining – the two industries that emit the largest amounts of greenhouse gas. The satellite is hyperspectral, meaning companies in these industries will be able to discover what is beneath the earth’s surface and therefore use this information to look for alternative ways to help them in their environmental ambitions.
  3. The saliva of waxworms can break down plastic in a matter of hours, making the creepy crawlies an unlikely player in the fight against plastic pollution. According to a study by Federica Bertocchini – an author and amateur beekeeper – there are two enzymes in their saliva which speed up chemical reactions, allowing it to chemically break down polyethylene. By breaking down plastic, waxworms could be farmed on a wider scale to help deal with the swathes of plastic waste that’s been piling up on our land and drifting through our oceans.
  4. Doctors are now using artificial tools for digital imagining. These tools allow doctors to examine x-rays on virtual screens, and use features like touch screens to better examine medical conditions. These tools are highly effective in the diagnosis and treatment predictions of epilepsy, and the care of patients with traumatic brain injuries. While these technologies can define the future of healthcare, they will not be used to replace human doctors, but instead assist them.
  5. New technology can help detect and treat sepsis more quickly. Chemicals are used to break down infected blood samples, and technology is then used to dry it out resulting in a porous structure that traps the bacterial DNA inside. Doctors can then enlarge the target DNA and analyse the blood, meaning they can accurately detect and treat the disease. Sepsis is one of the most feared conditions because it spreads so quickly. Treating it requires the services of highly skilled, specialised medical practitioners, so it’s hoped this technology will enable more lives to be saved without having to rely on these practitioners.
  6. There are hopes that asthma treatment could be revolutionised as scientists down under have found a drug that don’t suppress the immune system’s response to other infections, like other types of asthma treatments do. 2.7 million people in Australia have asthma (that’s over 10% of the population), so the new type of drug, called a ‘calcium release-activated calcium channel inhibitor’ could be life changing for a significant amount of people not only across Australia, but the world too.
  7. The University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust have launched a trial that revolutionises skin cancer technology. The study will train a unique ‘skinometer’ that can identify how far cancers have travelled under the skin. The ‘skinometer’ works by producing waves that bounce off the skin and these allow doctors to see how far the cancer has spread – by analysing the waveforms. If successful, this will allow health professionals to cut down on operating times and therefore improve the patient experience.

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