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Creating artificial nanostructures to house living cells

Important for artificially growing biotissue, finding new drugs, and stem cell research
February 6, 2013

A three dimensional grid can be produced, which keeps the cell in place (credit: Aleksandr Ovsianikov et al./Vienna University of Technology)

Using lasers, a research team at the Vienna University of Technology is developing microstructures for embedding living cells.

The process allows living cells to be incorporated into intricate custom structures, similar to biological tissue, in which cells are surrounded by the cell’s normal extracellular matrix.

This technology is particularly important for artificially growing biotissue, for finding new drugs, or for stem cell research.… read more

3D-printing human embryonic stem cells for drug testing, future replacement of human organs

New 3D printing process is first to print the more delicate (and more useful) hESCs
February 6, 2013

3D printing with embryonic stem cells (credit: )

A new 3D printing process using human stem cells could pave the way to custom replacement organs for patients, eliminating the need for organ donation and immune suppression, and solving the problem of transplant rejection.

The process, developed at Edinburgh-based Heriot-Watt University, in partnership with Roslin Cellab, could also speed up and improve the process of reliable, animal-free drug testing by growing three-dimensional human tissues and structures… read more

A fiber-optic method of arresting epileptic seizures

February 5, 2013

Blocking a seizure. The vertical green bar indicates online seizure detection, prior to the start of stage 4–5 behaviour (arrow). The yellow bars under the trace highlight the theoretical window for intervention.


UC Irvine neuroscientists have developed a way to stop epileptic seizures with fiber-optic light signals, heralding a novel opportunity to treat the most severe manifestations of the brain disorder.

Using a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy, Ivan Soltesz, Chancellor’s Professor and chair of anatomy & neurobiology, and colleagues created an EEG-based brain-waves-sensing) computer system that lights up hair-thin fiber optic… read more

How to use Amazon Cloud supercomputers to view molecules in remarkable detail

Cloud computing code speeds processing of data-intensive microscopy data
February 5, 2013

Salk Institute for Biological Studies researchers have shared a how-to secret for biologists: code for Amazon Cloud that significantly reduces the time necessary to process data-intensive microscopic images.

The method promises to speed research into the underlying causes of disease by making single-molecule microscopy of practical use for more laboratories.

“This is an extremely cost-effective way for labs to process super-resolution images,” says … read more

Defect-free graphene discovery could led to large-scale manufacturing of graphene-based devices

New method could open the way to large-scale manufacturing of graphene-based devices with applications in fields such as electronics, energy, and healthcare
February 5, 2013

Scanning Electron Microscope image of well-aligned hexagonal graphene domains (credit:

A team led by Oxford University scientists has overcome a key problem of growing graphene — a one atom-thick layer of carbon — without the defects that weaken it and prevent electrons from flowing freely within it when using chemical vapor deposition.

With the previous methods, tiny flakes of graphene form with random orientations, leaving defects or seams between flakes that grow together.… read more

Dramatic improvements in quantum-dot performance

New production method could enable everything from more efficient computer displays to enhanced biomedical testing
February 5, 2013

An MIT  research team has developed a major new process for producing quantum dots with four important qualities:

  • uniform sizes and shapes;
  • bright emissions, producing close to 100 percent emission efficiency;
  • a very narrow peak of emissions, meaning that the colors emitted by the particles can be precisely controlled;
  • elimination of a tendency to blink on and off, which

read more

British Army deploys tiny helicopters

February 4, 2013


A tiny remote-control helicopter is being used for surveillance on the front line to detect enemy threats to British troops.

British troops are using a nano drone just 10cm long and weighing 16 grams on the front line in Afghanistan to provide vital information on the ground, Sky News reports.

They are the first to use the state-of-the-art handheld tiny surveillance helicopters, which relay reliable full… read more

If you give people virtual superpowers, will they use those abilities for good or evil?

February 4, 2013


Researchers at Stanford recently investigated the subject by giving people the ability of Superman-like flight in the university’s Virtual Human Interaction Laboratory (VHIL).

While several studies have shown that playing violent videogames can encourage aggressive behavior, the new research suggests that games could be designed to train people to be more empathetic in the real world.

To test this hypothesis, the group — which… read more

Mind-meld brain power is best for steering spaceships

February 4, 2013


Researchers are discovering that they get better results in some tasks by combining the signals from multiple brain-computer interface (BCI) users.

Until now, this “collaborative BCI” technique has been used in simple pattern-recognition tasks, but a team at the University of Essex in the UK wanted to test it more rigorously, New Scientist reports.

So they developed a simulator in which pairs of BCI… read more

Software predicts tomorrow’s news by analyzing today’s and yesterday’s

February 4, 2013


Prototype software can give early warnings of disease or violence outbreaks by spotting clues in news reports.

Researchers have created software that predicts when and where disease outbreaks might occur, based on two decades of New York Times articles and other online data. The research comes from Microsoft and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, MIT Technology Review reports.

The system could someday help aid organizations and… read more

Meta’s AR headset lets you play with virtual objects in 3D space

February 4, 2013


A new augmented reality headset from Meta puts a full twin-display digital environment — controlled by two-hand 3D tracking — in front of the user, Slashgear reports.

The prototype headset uses Epson Moverio BT-100 see-through glasses with a low-latency 3D camera mounted on top.

Both components reportedly feed into custom electronics in a separate wearable computer, which can track individual fingertips and… read more

Could stem cells repair damaged cones in retinas, allowing for daylight color vision?

Yet another awesome zebrafish story.
February 4, 2013

Zebrafish cone photoreceptor mosaic (credit: Brittany Fraser et al./PLOS ONE

University of Alberta (UA) researchers have discovered that a zebrafish’s stem cells can selectively regenerate its damaged photoreceptor cells.

UA lead researcher Ted Allison says that for some time geneticists have known that stem cells in zebrafish can replace damaged vision cells.

Rods and cones are the most important photoreceptors. In humans, rods provide us with night vision while cones give us… read more

Drug-delivery nanoparticles mimic white blood cells to avoid immune rejection

February 4, 2013

Camouflaged nanoparticles (yellow) cloaked in the membranes of white blood cells rest on the surface of an immune system cell (phagocyte, blue) without being recognized, ingested, and destroyed (credit: Methodist Hospital, Houston)

Scientists at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute have found a possible way to fool the immune system to prevent it from recognizing and destroying nanoparticles before they deliver their drug payloads.

“Our goal was to make a particle that is camouflaged within our bodies and escapes the surveillance of the immune system to reach its target undiscovered,” said Department of Medicine Co-Chair Ennio Tasciotti, Ph.D.,… read more

Watching fish thinking

February 1, 2013


Neuroscientists have found a way to watch neurons fire in an independently moving animal for the first time. The study was done in fish, but it may hold clues to how the human brain works, Science Now reports.

Junichi Nakai of Saitama University’s Brain Science Institute in Japan and colleagues selected a glowing marker known as green fluorescent protein (GFP) and linked it to a compound that… read more

Tools of modern gunmaking: plastic and a 3D printer

February 1, 2013

30 round magazine opened in FreeCAD (credit: Distributed Defense)

Representative Steve Israel, Democrat of New York wants to extend an existing law, set to expire this year, that makes weapons that are undetectable by security scanners — like a printed all-plastic gun — illegal, The New York Times reports.

But there are also major technical obstacles to creating an entire gun on a 3-D printer, not the least of which is that a plastic gun would… read more

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