The Innovation
All content is freely available to readers and supported through open access

Jul 12, 2022

Volume 3Issue 4
Open Access
On the cover: The pace of science and technology is accelerating, and the future is arriving quickly. During the great process of reaching the future, the now highly comprehensive and interdisciplinary network of science, so-called “ScienceX” by The Innovation, plays a more important role than ever before. We believe the development of interdisciplinary science and technology concerns our destiny in the coming future....
On the cover: The pace of science and technology is accelerating, and the future is arriving quickly. During the great process of reaching the future, the now highly comprehensive and interdisciplinary network of science, so-called “ScienceX” by The Innovation, plays a more important role than ever before. We believe the development of interdisciplinary science and technology concerns our destiny in the coming future.


  • Different virus, same mistakes: Why (re-) emerging viruses are one step ahead of us

    • Pauline Vetter,
    • Frédérique Jacquérioz,
    • Isabella Eckerle
    An unexpected global outbreak of monkeypox virus challenges our knowledge of this long-known pathogen and raises questions about the reasons for its re-emergence. Here, we discuss the unusual aspects of this outbreak and the urgency for a coordinated public-health strategy and present knowledge gaps on epidemiology and molecular epidemiology, clinical presentation, transmission, treatment, and prevention. Similar to other re-emerging viruses of the past decades, the current monkeypox outbreak highlights the fact that threats of emerging pathogens can only be addressed on a global scale by improving preparedness and control strategies in endemic countries before viruses re-emerge globally.
  • Beyond natural tooth enamel

    • Zhiyong Tang
    With the rapid development of aerospace, national defense technology, and biological hard-tissue repair, engineers and scientists always aim at the design and manufacture of composites with higher stiffness, viscoelasticity, strength, and toughness, but unfortunately, these properties—stiffness/viscoelasticity and strength/toughness—are generally thought to be mutually counteracted. The mixture of two intrinsically complementary components such as stiff ceramic and soft polymer is the classic strategy to ameliorate the foregoing conflicting performances.


  • Global impacts of COVID-19 on sustainable ocean development

    • Qutu Jiang,
    • Zhenci Xu,
    • Hongsheng Zhang
    The abrupt outbreak of coronavirus disease in 2019, also known as COVID-19, has led to an unprecedented global public health crisis. Current studies have paid immense attention to the impacts of COVID-19 posed to the atmosphere and the land-based sectors in areas such as air quality, carbon emission, economic sentiment, educational and social equality, etc. It is depicted that carbon emission had dropped about 8.8% in the first half of 2020 compared to 2019;1 significant reduction of air pollutants such as PM2.5 and NO2 were moreover reported at national, regional, and global levels.
  • Why is the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant milder?

    • Bingqing Xia,
    • Yi Wang,
    • Xiaoyan Pan,
    • Xi Cheng,
    • Hongying Ji,
    • Xiaoli Zuo,
    • Hualiang Jiang,
    • Jia Li,
    • Zhaobing Gao
    In November 2021, a new SARS-CoV-2 variant emerged in South Africa and was designated the fifth variant of concern and named Omicron. It was detected in more than 26 countries worldwide, including China. The Omicron variant is highly transmissible and has extensive morbidity, which has raised concerns related to antiviral therapy. Recent reports have revealed that the Omicron variant exhibits a longer cycle of viral shedding and a decreased replication capacity and results in substantially attenuated lung pathology, indicating that the pathogenic ability of the Omicron variant is lower than that of previous variants.
  • Accelerating deep learning with high energy efficiency: From microchip to physical systems

    • Huanhao Li,
    • Zhipeng Yu,
    • Qi Zhao,
    • Tianting Zhong,
    • Puxiang Lai
    In the era of digits and internet, massive data have been continuously generated from a variety of sources, including video, photo, audio, text, internet of things, etc. It is intuitive that more accurate patterns can be obtained by feeding more data for effective analysis; despite the data redundancy, a clearer picture can be delineated for better decision-making. However, traditional methods, even in machine learning, do not benefit from the expanding amount of data, whose performance nearly saturates when the data collection is large enough (Figure 1A).
  • LHAASO and Galactic cosmic rays

    • Ruizhi Yang
    Cosmic rays (CRs) are relativistic charged particles in the interstellar medium (ISM). They are mainly protons (hydrogen nuclei) with about 10% fraction of helium nuclei and smaller abundances of heavier elements. CRs are an important component in ISM. In our galaxy, the energy density of CRs is similar to that of the magnetic fields and interstellar radiation fields (ISRFs). CRs also determine the ionization rate and heating of gas in the dense core of molecular clouds, thus playing a leading role in the astro-chemistry processes therein and controling the star-forming processes.
  • Another surprise in receptor binding of C. difficile toxins

    • Klaus Aktories
    Clostridioides difficile (formerly named Clostridium difficile) is the dominant causative agent of a spectrum of illnesses, which frequently occur as the consequence of antibiotic treatment of patients. C. difficile infections (CDIs) cause mild to severe diarrhea (so-called antibiotic-associated diarrhea) but also pseudomembranous enterocolitis with complications like toxic megacolon, bowel perforation, and death. Three protein toxins are involved in the pathology of CDIs, toxin A (TcdA) and toxin B (TcdB), which are the prototypes of large clostridial glucosylating toxins, and C. difficile ADP-ribosyltransferase CDT.
  • Toward a sustainable grassland ecosystem worldwide

    • Jian Sun,
    • Yi Wang,
    • Shilong Piao,
    • Miao Liu,
    • Guodong Han,
    • Junran Li,
    • Eryuan Liang,
    • Tien Ming Lee,
    • Guohua Liu,
    • Andreas Wilkes,
    • Shiliang Liu,
    • Wenwu Zhao,
    • Huakun Zhou,
    • Mesenbet Yibeltal,
    • Mulatu Liyew Berihun,
    • Dawn Browning,
    • Ayele Almaw Fenta,
    • Atsushi Tsunekawa,
    • Joel Brown,
    • Walter Willms,
    • Mitsuru Tsubo
    Globally, grasslands, covering about 40% of the Earth’s land area, are vital for supporting important ecosystem functions, services, and livelihoods of millions of humans. Currently, grassland degradation is a major threat to the maintenance of ecological services,1 food security, and sustainable development, and directly hinders the global efforts with meeting goals and targets such as the The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Does having more sustainable communities bring better sustainability?

    • Junze Zhang,
    • Shuai Wang,
    • Yanxu Liu,
    • Wenwu Zhao,
    • Bojie Fu
    Sustainable communities, while not explicitly defined universally, are now essential tools used by many countries to explore ways of enhancing regional sustainability, especially in China.1 To reduce the burden on the environment resulting from economic growth and to examine effective social governance models, China launched the construction of the Comprehensive Experimental Community for Social Development in 1986, since renamed the China National Sustainable Community (NSC) in 1997.2 Generally, NSCs are regions approved by the central government of China for exploring comprehensive solutions to various sustainable development challenges in the context of their development potential and to provide lessons for other regions, and they could be established in different administrative units such as cities or towns.


  • Demetallation of organometallic and metal-mediated reactions

    • Chao-Jun Li
    The use of stoichiometric organometallic reagents and stoichiometric metals formed the basis of vast majority of classical reactions for constructing carbon–carbon bonds. The indispensable requirement of stoichiometric metals for such reactions constitutes significant challenges in terms of resource sustainability, operational safety, and chemical-waste management. The recent developments in C–H functionalizations, hydrogenative alkene/alkyne addition to electrophiles, the hydrazone umpolung chemistry, and other emerging fields such as the electrosynthesis and photoredox chemistry provide potential solutions to overcome these inherent challenges.

News & Buzz

  • CHES: An astrometry mission searching for nearby habitable planets

    • Jianghui Ji,
    • Su Wang,
    • Haitao Li,
    • Liang Fang,
    • Dong Li
    The Closeby Habitable Exoplanet Survey (CHES), a proposed space-borne mission to detect Earth-like planets orbiting 100 nearby solar-type stars (∼10 pc or approximately 32 light years from the sun) via micro-arcsecond relative astrometry, is currently being considered by the Chinese Academy of Sciences as a possible space mission for future launch (Figure 1). The discovery of Earth-like planets (or Earth twins, planets with an orbit, mass, and environment similar to Earth) in the habitable zones around nearby solar-type stars will be another “giant leap for mankind” and help us begin to answer essential scientific questions such as “Are we alone in the universe?”, “Is Earth unique?”, and “How do planets become the cradle of life?” Finding such planets could even enable future human visits and identify new habitable places to live.
  • The ET mission to search for earth 2.0s

    • Jian Ge,
    • Hui Zhang,
    • Hongping Deng,
    • Steve B. Howell
    • the ET team
    “Are we alone in the universe?” This fundamental question is as old as humankind itself. Since the dawn of civilization, humanity has wondered whether there is life elsewhere in the universe and, if so, whether it is hosted on a second Earth. The discovery of the first extrasolar planet (also called an exoplanet), 51 Pegasi b, around a sun-like star in 19951 dramatically changed our understanding of the extrasolar planet worlds and challenged the uniqueness of our solar system. Mayor and Queloz were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2019 for this major achievement.


  • Wastewater alkalinity addition as a novel approach for ocean negative carbon emissions

    • Wei-Jun Cai,
    • Nianzhi Jiao
    Anthropogenic CO2 emissions have greatly increased atmospheric CO2 contributing to global warming and leading to ocean acidification (Figure 1). As reflected in the recent IPCC report, the scientific community's consensus is that emissions reductions alone are not sufficient or timely enough to avoid a global warming catastrophe. Thus, negative-carbon-emission technologies are needed to avoid atmospheric CO2 overshoot scenarios and limit global warming to less than 2°C by the end of this century per the Paris Agreement.

Translational Patent


  • Combining printing and nanoparticle assembly: Methodology and application of nanoparticle patterning

    • Weidong Zhao,
    • Yanling Yan,
    • Xiangyu Chen,
    • Tie Wang
    Functional nanoparticles (NPs) with unique photoelectric, mechanical, magnetic, and chemical properties have attracted considerable attention. Aggregated NPs rather than individual NPs are generally required for sensing, electronics, and catalysis. However, the transformation of functional NP aggregates into scalable, controllable, and affordable functional devices remains challenging. Printing is a promising additive manufacturing technology for fabricating devices from NP building blocks because of its capabilities for rapid prototyping and versatile multifunctional manufacturing.
  • Circulating cell-free DNA for cancer early detection

    • Qiang Gao,
    • Qiang Zeng,
    • Zhijie Wang,
    • Chengcheng Li,
    • Yu Xu,
    • Peng Cui,
    • Xin Zhu,
    • Huafei Lu,
    • Guoqiang Wang,
    • Shangli Cai,
    • Jie Wang,
    • Jia Fan
    Effective screening modalities are currently available for only a small subset of cancers, and they generally have suboptimal performance with complicated procedures. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop simple, accurate, and non-invasive methods for early detection of cancers. Genetic and epigenetic alterations in plasma circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) have shown the potential to revolutionize methods of early detection of cancers and facilitate subsequent diagnosis to improve survival of patients.
  • Recent progress in Chinese fusion research based on superconducting tokamak configuration

    • Jinxing Zheng,
    • Jinggang Qin,
    • Kun Lu,
    • Min Xu,
    • Xuru Duan,
    • Guosheng Xu,
    • Jiansheng Hu,
    • Xianzu Gong,
    • Qing Zang,
    • Zhihong Liu,
    • Liang Wang,
    • Rui Ding,
    • Jiming Chen,
    • Pengyuan Li,
    • Lei Xue,
    • Lijun Cai,
    • Yuntao Song
    Fusion energy is a promising source of clean energy, which could solve energy shortages and environmental pollution. Research into controlled fusion energy has been ongoing for over half a century. China has created a clear roadmap for magnetic confinement fusion development, where superconducting tokamaks will be used in commercial fusion reactors. The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) is the world’s first fully superconducting tokamak with upper and lower divertors, which aims at long-pulse, steady-state, H-mode operation, and 101-s H-mode discharge had been achieved.


  • Synergistic engineering of CRISPR-Cas nucleases enables robust mammalian genome editing

    • Yangcan Chen,
    • Yanping Hu,
    • Xinge Wang,
    • Shengqiu Luo,
    • Ning Yang,
    • Yi Chen,
    • Zhikun Li,
    • Qi Zhou,
    • Wei Li
    The naturally occurring prokaryotic CRISPR-Cas systems provide valuable resources for the development of new genome-editing tools. However, the majority of prokaryotic Cas nucleases exhibit poor editing efficiency in mammalian cells, which significantly limits their utility. Here, we have developed a method termed Improving Editing Activity by Synergistic Engineering (MIDAS). This method exerts a synergistic effect to improve mammalian genome-editing efficiency of a wide range of CRISPR-Cas systems by enhancing the interactions of Cas nuclease with the protospacer adjacent motif (PAM) and the single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) substrate in the catalytic pocket simultaneously.


  • Toripalimab in advanced biliary tract cancer

    • Wei Li,
    • Yueqi Wang,
    • Yiyi Yu,
    • Qian Li,
    • Yan Wang,
    • Chenlu Zhang,
    • Xiaojing Xu,
    • Xi Guo,
    • Yu Dong,
    • Yuehong Cui,
    • Qing Hao,
    • Lujia Huang,
    • Houbao Liu,
    • Tianshu Liu
    Gemcitabine combined with platinum/fluorouracil drugs is the standard first-line treatment for advanced biliary tract cancers (BTCs). We explored the safety and efficacy of toripalimab plus gemcitabine and S-1 (GS) as the first-line treatment for advanced BTCs. At a one-sided significance level of 0.025, a total of 50 patients could provide 80% power to show the efficacy at targeted progression-free survival (PFS) rate at 6 months of 70% versus 40% for the combined treatment. This single-arm, phase II study enrolled 50 patients with advanced BTCs who previously received no systemic treatment.
  • Realizing the thinnest hydrodynamic cloak in porous medium flow

    • Mengyao Chen,
    • Xiangying Shen,
    • Lei Xu
    Transformation mapping theory offers us great versatility to design invisible cloaks for the physical fields whose propagation equations remain invariant under coordinate transformations. Such cloaks are typically designed as a multi-layer shell with anisotropic material properties, which makes no disturbance to the external field. As a result, an observer outside the cloak cannot detect the existence of this object from the field disturbances, leading to the invisible effect in terms of field prorogation.
  • Spin engineering of single-site metal catalysts

    • Zichuang Li,
    • Ruguang Ma,
    • Qiangjian Ju,
    • Qian Liu,
    • Lijia Liu,
    • Yufang Zhu,
    • Minghui Yang,
    • Jiacheng Wang
    Single-site metal atoms (SMAs) on supports are attracting extensive interest as new catalytic systems because of maximized atom utilization and superior performance. However, rational design of configuration-optimized SMAs with high activity from the perspectives of fundamental electron spin is highly challenging. Herein, N-coordinated Fe single atoms are successfully distributed over axial carbon micropores to form dangling-FeN4 centers (d-FeN4). This unique d-FeN4 demonstrates much higher intrinsic activity toward oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in HClO4 than FeN4 without micropore underneath and commercial Pt/C.