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Alzheimer’s researchers creating ‘designer tracker’ to quantify elusive brain protein, provide earlier diagnosis

April 26, 2013

Dual channel fluoresecence microscopy of Alzheimer’s disease brain reveals presence of extracellular Abeta- (red) and intracellular tau- (green) bearing lesions.  Figure courtesy of Kristen E Funk, PhD.

By using computer-aided drug discovery, an Ohio State University molecular biochemist and molecular imaging chemist are collaborating to create an imaging chemical that attaches predominantly to tau-bearing lesions in living brain.

Their hope is that the “designer” tracer will open the door for earlier diagnosis — and better treatments for Alzheimer’s, frontal temporal dementia and traumatic brain injuries like those suffered by professional athletes, all… read more

A noninvasive avenue for Parkinson’s disease gene therapy

Nanoparticles bypass the blood-brain barrier to treat Parkinson's disease
April 26, 2013

Glial cell derived neurotrophic factor structure (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers at Northeastern University in Boston have developed a gene therapy approach that may one day stop Parkinson’s disease (PD) in it tracks, preventing disease progression and reversing its symptoms.

The novelty of the approach lies in the nasal route of administration and nanoparticles containing a gene capable of rescuing dying neurons in the brain.

Parkinson’s is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder caused… read more

Researchers bypass the blood-brain barrier, widening treatment options for neurodegenerative and central nervous system disease

April 26, 2013

murine_graft_model

The first known method to permanently bypass the blood-brain barrier*, using mucosa, or the lining of the nose, has been demonstrated by researchers in the department of Otology and Laryngology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School and the Biomedical Engineering Department of Boston University.

The method opens the door to new treatment options for those with neurodegenerative and CNS disease.… read more

Discovery yields supertough, strong nanofibers

April 26, 2013

unl_nanofibers

University of Nebraska-Lincoln materials engineers have developed a structural nanofiber that is both strong and tough, a discovery that could transform everything from airplanes and bridges to body armor and bicycles.

“Whatever is made of composites can benefit from our nanofibers,” said the team’s leader, Yuris Dzenis, McBroom Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and a member of UNL’s Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience.… read more

Discovery of wound-healing genes in flies could mitigate human skin ailments

April 26, 2013

Puncturing a Drosophila embryo with the enzyme trypsin activates genes throughout the epidermis that help in wound healing, shown in green. Credit: Rachel Patterson, UC San Diego

Biologists at UC San Diego have identified eight genes never before suspected to play a role in wound healing that are called into action near the areas where wounds occur.

Their discovery, detailed this week in the open-access journal PLOS ONE (open access), was made in the laboratory fruit fly Drosophila. But the biologists say many of the same genes that regulate biological processes in the… read more

Robot hands gain a gentler touch

April 26, 2013

Designed by researchers in the Harvard Biorobotics Laboratory at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, this sensor (pictured), called TakkTile, is intended to put what would normally be a high-end technology within the grasp of commercial inventors, teachers, and robotics enthusiasts (credit: Leif Jentoft/Harvard University)

Researchers at the HarvardSchool of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed an inexpensive but sensitove tactile sensor for robotic hands.

Designed by researchers in the Harvard Biorobotics Laboratory at SEAS, the sensor, called TakkTile, is intended to put what would normally be a high-end technology within the grasp of commercial inventors, teachers, and robotics enthusiasts.

TakkTile takes… read more

Potential diabetes breakthrough

Harvard researchers discover hormone that spurs beta cell production
April 26, 2013

betatrophin_cell

Researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) have discovered a hormone that holds promise for a dramatically more effective treatment of type 2 diabetes, a metabolic illness afflicting an estimated 26 million Americans.

The researchers believe that the hormone might also have… read more

World’s most human-like android head

April 26, 2013

GF2045

Dr. Dmitry Itskov, founder of the 2045 Initiative and Global Future 2045 congress (GF2045), announced Thursday that he will unveil Dr. David Hanson’s latest android, the Dmitry Avatar-A head — the “world’s most human-like android head” — at the GF2045 congress, scheduled for June 15–16 at Lincoln Center in New York City.

The new android, a robotic replica of Itskov’s head, is being created by… read more

Bringing people back from the dead

April 25, 2013

672px-CPR_training-04

A doctor says people can be revived several hours after they have seemingly died, BBC News reports. Should this change the way we think about death?

“While 45 minutes is absolutely remarkable and a lot of people would have written her off, we now know there are people who have been brought back, three, four, five hours after they’ve died and have led remarkably good quality lives,”… read more

3D printer makes tiniest human liver ever

April 25, 2013

organovo_liver_tissue_model

Lab-grown livers have come a step closer to reality thanks to a 3D printer loaded with cells, New Scientist reports.

Created by Organovo in San Diego, California, future versions of the system could produce chunks of liver for transplant.

The mini-livers that Organovo made are just half a millimeter deep and 4 millimeters across but can perform most functions of the real thing.… read more

Diamond shows promise for a quantum Internet

Crystal could be used to connect distant quantum networks
April 25, 2013

quantum internet

Today’s Internet runs on linked silicon chips, but a future quantum version might be built from diamond crystals, Nature News reports.

Physicists report in Nature that they have entangled information kept in pieces of diamond 3 meters apart, so that measuring the state of one quantum bit (qubit) instantly fixes the state of the other — a necessary step for exchanging quantum information over large distances.… read more

The speed of light in a vacuum may not be a constant after all

Ephemeral vacuum particles induce speed-of-light fluctuations
April 25, 2013

speed_of_light

Two European Physical Journal D papers challenge established wisdom about the nature of vacuum.

In one paper, Marcel Urban from the University of Paris-Sud and colleagues identified a quantum-level mechanism for interpreting vacuum as being filled with pairs of virtual particles with fluctuating energy values.

As a result, the inherent characteristics of vacuum, such as the speed of light, may not be a constant… read more

Battery and memory device in one package

Future nanoelectronic information storage devices are also tiny batteries --- astounding finding opens up new possibilities
April 25, 2013

Configuration of a resistive storage cell (ReRAM): An electric voltage is built up between the two electrodes so that the storage cells can be regarded as tiny batteries. Filaments formed by deposits during operation may modify the battery's properties. (Credit: Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA))

Resistive memory cells (ReRAM) are actually not purely passive components but must be regarded as tiny batteries, researchers at Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA) have demonstrated and published in Nature Communications (open access).

Unlike the building blocks of conventional hard disk drives and memories, ReRAM cells are regarded as a promising solution for future generations of computer memories. They promise to dramatically reduce the energy… read more

How a ‘nano-suit’ will let you survive in a vacuum (if you’re a bug)

Attention, future astronauts: this could someday let you survive in the vacuum of space
April 25, 2013

Nano-suit: images of a larva protected by electron-beam-irradiated Tween 20. The small white square in C are is shown magnified (D), with high resolution. [Scale bars: 0.3 mm (C) and 1 μm (D)]

Put a fruit fly larva in a spacelike vacuum, and within minutes, the animal will collapse into a crinkled, lifeless husk.

Now, researchers have found a way to protect the bugs: bombard them with electrons, which form a “nano-suit” around their bodies, according to an open-access paper in Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The advance could help scientists take high-resolution photographs of tiny living… read more

Virtual reality coming to Second Life

April 25, 2013

(Credit: Oculus)

Linden Lab intends to integrate the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset with Second Life, Wagner James Au reports on New World Notes.

“The Oculus could become Second Life’s killer app, but only if Linden Lab is willing to go all in,” said Au. “Sounds like they are doing just that, in an official capacity.

We’ll get to experience Second… read more

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