CRISPR start-up puts pig organs into monkeys to test future transplants

14 Jun 2019

Image: © shantihesse/

This week in future tech, a start-up using CRISPR gene-editing technology is implanting pig organs into monkeys while Uber eyes up the skies.

A company called eGenesis has spent the past few years trying to solve the ever-present organ transplant shortage using the CRISPR gene-editing tool and pig organs. As revealed in MIT Technology Review, the start-up has said it is now placing these genetically modified organs into the bodies of monkeys to see if they could one day work in humans.

While not specifying the organs being studied or implanted in the monkeys – or even the species of monkeys involved – the researchers claim they are most highly engineered pig organs that surgeons have ever created.

Previous attempts at xenotransplantation have led to some promising results, such as researchers at the US National Institutes of Health keeping pig hearts beating within the bodies of baboons for two years, in addition to each monkey’s own heart.

In this latest breakthrough, eGenesis chief scientist and co-founder Luhan Yang said a “double-digit” number of gene edits will make the pig organs less likely to trigger an immune reaction.

Uber to use drones for food delivery

Tech giant Uber has plans to take food delivery to the skies by using drones for its Uber Eats service. According to AFP (via Yahoo News), the company revealed the plan at its Uber Elevate Summit and added that it has regulatory approval to start sending out delivery drones in San Diego.

“Our goal is to expand Uber Eats drone delivery so we can provide more options to more people at the tap of a button,” said Luke Fischer, head of flight operations at Uber Elevate. “We believe that Uber is uniquely positioned to take on this challenge as we’re able to leverage the Uber Eats network of restaurant partners and delivery partners as well as the aviation experience and technology of Uber Elevate.”

However, the major caveat is that the drones won’t actually deliver to your door, but rather to a drop-off point where an Uber Eats driver will then take it to the customer. In the future, the company wants to find a way for the drone to land on a parked vehicle for a human Uber Eats person to deliver the food.

San Francisco wants AI to prevent racial profiling in court

Despite AI’s less-than-stellar reputation when it comes to discouraging bias, lawmakers in the city of San Francisco hope to use the technology to create a “bias mitigation tool” to prevent racial bias.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, this tool developed by researchers at Stanford University sifts through police reports and redacts information that could allude to a person’s race, such as eye colour or hair colour. Prosecutors in a case will then have access to these redacted reports in order to determine whether they want to charge a suspect. Once this decision is made, they will then see the unredacted report.

“This technology will reduce the threat that implicit bias poses to the purity of decisions which have serious ramifications for the accused,” said the city’s district attorney, George Gascón. “That will help make our system of justice more fair and just.”

Half the world will use digital wallets by 2024

A new study from Juniper Research has found that the number of people using digital wallets will increase from 2.3bn this year to nearly 4bn – or 50pc of the world’s population – by 2024. This in turn will push wallet transaction values up by more than 80pc to more than $9trn per annum.

According to the study, strongest growth is expected to come through online payments for remote purchases. The study argued that increases here would be driven by a greater volume of transactions conducted via stored credentials. For example, in the US, annual spend per digital wallet is expected to increase from around $3,350 this year to more than $6,400 by 2024.

However, NFC-based contactless wallets, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, face a growing challenge from wallets based on QR codes, particularly in China and developing Asia.

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic