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Turning skin cells directly into cells that insulate neurons

April 17, 2013


Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have succeeded in transforming skin cells directly into oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs), the cells that myelinate nerve cells (wrap them in the insulating myelin sheaths that help nerve signals propagate) and would work successfully when transplanted into the brains of mice with a myelin disorder.

The current research was done in mice and rats. If the approach also works… read more

Mass. General team develops implantable, bioengineered rat kidney

April 16, 2013


Bioengineered rat kidneys developed by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators successfully produced urine both in a laboratory apparatus and after being transplanted into living animals.

This is important, cutting-edge research by Mass General, which conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the U.S. On Monday, the hospital received 29 patients, eight in critical condition, victims of Monday’s twin explosions near the finish lineread more

New hybrid nanopore system to improve DNA sequencing

April 16, 2013

16-channel nanopore device for DNA sequencing

A DNA sequencing system that combines a solid-state nanopore with a technique known as DNA origami for use in DNA sequencing, protein sensing and other applications, has been developed by Dr. Ulrich Keyser of Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory, along with PhD student Nick Bell and other colleagues.

The technology has been licensed for development and commercialization to UK-based company Oxford Nanopore, which is… read more

Better batteries from waste sulfur

April 16, 2013


A new chemical process can transform waste sulfur into a lightweight plastic that may improve batteries for electric cars, reports a University of Arizona-led team.

The new plastic also has other potential uses, including optical uses.

The team has successfully used the new plastic to make lithium-sulfur batteries.

Next-generation lithium-sulfur, or Li-S, batteries based on the plastic will be better for electric and… read more

Electrical pulse treatment pokes tiny holes to kill cancer

April 16, 2013

Lung tumor before (left) and after (right)

A new, minimally invasive treatment that creates microscopic holes in tumors without harming healthy tissue is a promising treatment for challenging cancers, suggests a preliminary study being presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology‘s 38th Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans.

“Irreversible electroporation (or IRE) is a new way to attack cancer, using microsecond electrical pulses to kill cancer at the cellular level… read more

Organic transistors for brain mapping

April 15, 2013

This micro transistor can now obtain high-quality amplification and brain-signal recording better than ever before. A French scientific team used the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility to develop the prototypes. (Credit: Department of Bioelectronics, Ecole des Mines)

To improve brain mapping, a group of French scientists have produced the world’s first biocompatible microscopic organic transistors that can amplify and record signals directly from the surface of the brain, building on prototypes developed at the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility (CNF).

This is the first in vivo use of transistor arrays to record brain activity directly on the surface of the cortex… read more

How the Internet (and sex) amplifies irrational group behavior

April 15, 2013

(Credit: New Line Home Video)

New research from the University of Copenhagen combines formal philosophy, social psychology, and decision theory to understand and tackle these phenomena.

“Group behavior that encourages us to make decisions based on false beliefs has always existed.

However, with the advent of the Internet and social media, this kind of behavior is more likely to occur than ever, and on a much larger scale, with… read more

Tiny wireless LED activates neurons to release dopamine

April 15, 2013

This implantable LED light can activate brain cells to release dopamine and is smaller than the eye of a needle (credit: John A Rogers, Ph.D. and Michael R. Bruchas, Ph.D./Washington University in St. Louis)

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed tiny devices containing light-emitting diodes (LEDs) the size of individual neurons that activate brain cells with light.

“This strategy should allow us to identify and map brain circuits involved in complex behaviors related to sleep, depression, addiction, and anxiety,” says co-principal investigator Michael R. Bruchas, PhD, assistant… read more

Google Glass: how it works (infographic)

April 15, 2013


German artist Martin Missfeldt has created an infographic that attempts to show how Google Glass works, based on various sources (listed below). One correction: an image is actually not projected directly onto the retina; it is refracted by the cornea and focused by the lens.

Optogenetic/PET-scan technique for mapping brain activity in moving rats

PET scans monitor brain circuits activated by light, opening new window to brain diseases
April 12, 2013

Immunolabeling of c-Fos expression following optogenetic stimulation in rats

A technique that uses light-activated proteins to stimulate particular brain cells and positron emission tomography (PET) scans to trace their effects throughout the entire brain of fully-awake, moving animals has been developed by U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory

The method will allow researchers to map exactly which downstream neurological pathways are activated or deactivated by stimulation of targeted brain regions, and how that brain activity… read more

‘Germanane’ may replace silicon for lighter, faster electronics

May replace silicon in semiconductors
April 12, 2013

Germanane single- or multiple-atom-layer sheets can be place onto silicon dioxide or silicon surfaces

In a paper published online in the journal ACS NanoJoshua Goldberger, assistant professor of chemistry at Ohio State University, and colleagues describe how they created a stable, one-atom-thick single layer of germanium atoms.

In this form, the crystalline material is called germanane.

The chemists found that it conducts electrons more than ten times faster than silicon and five times faster than conventional germanium — the same material that… read more

Future ‘microrockets’ and ‘micromotors’ to deliver drugs, perform microsurgery

April 12, 2013

Self-propelled microrockets (left, purple) and micromotors (right, green) could someday deliver drugs, perform microsurgery or clean up oil spills (credit: Wei Gao and Joseph Wang, Ph.D./American Chemical Society)

An advance in micromotor technology is opening the door to broad new medical and industrial uses for these tiny devices, scientists said the national American Chemical Society meeting this week.

Akin to the invention of cars that fuel themselves from the pavement or air, rather than gasoline or batteries,

Joseph Wang, D.Sc., who leads research on the motors, said that efforts to build minute,… read more

Ultra-high-res 100,000 dpi color printing

April 12, 2013

Variation in post size and spacing in the metal array alters which incoming wavelength of light (red, green or blue) is reflected back (K. Kumar et al./A*STAR)

Commercial laser printers typically produce pin-sharp images with spots of ink about 20 micrometers apart, resulting in a resolution of 1,200 dots per inch (dpi).

By shrinking the separation to just 250 nanometers — 80 times smaller, a research team at A*STAR can now print images at an incredible 100,000 dpi, the highest possible resolution for a color image.

These images could be used… read more

Pentagon says nuclear missile is in reach for North Korea

April 12, 2013

North Korean test site where a nuclear test took place February 12, 2013 (credit: Google Earth)

A new assessment by the Pentagon’s intelligence arm has concluded for the first time, with “moderate confidence,” that North Korea has learned how to make a nuclear weapon small enough to be delivered by a ballistic missile, according to The New York Times Thursday.

But late Thursday, the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., released a statement saying that the assessment did not represent a consensus of… read more

Distracted driving habits of San Diegans

Phoning and driving increases the risk of crashes four-fold, with hands-free and handheld devices equally dangerous; equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content at the legal limit of .08
April 12, 2013


A team of researchers has released survey results that reveal the habits of San Diego County drivers who use their cell phone while behind the wheel — currently the leading cause of driver distraction crashes in California.

“Studies have shown that phoning and driving increases the risk of crashes four-fold, with hands-free and handheld devices equally dangerous; this is the same as driving with a blood alcohol… read more

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