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Berkeley Lab captures first high-res 3D images of DNA segments

DNA segments are targeted to be building blocks for molecular computer memory and electronic devices, nanoscale drug-delivery systems, and as markers for biological research and imaging disease-relevant proteins
April 7, 2016

In a Berkeley Lab-led study, flexible double-helix DNA segments connected to gold nanoparticles are revealed from the 3-D density maps (purple and yellow) reconstructed from individual samples using a Berkeley Lab-developed technique called individual-particle electron tomography or IPET. Projections of the structures are shown in the background grid. (credit: Berkeley Lab)

An international research team working at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has captured the first high-resolution 3D images of double-helix DNA segments attached at either end to gold nanoparticles — which could act as building blocks for molecular computer memory and electronic devices (see World’s smallest electronic diode made from single DNA molecule), nanoscale drug-delivery systems, and as markers for biological research and for imaging… read more

MIT AI Lab 3D-prints first mobile robot made of solids and liquids

April 7, 2016

hexapod robot ft

Ever want to just push a button and print out a hydraulically-powered robot that can immediately get to work for you?

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) researchers have designed a system that does just that: 3D-prints moving robots with solid and liquid materials in a single step and on a commercially available 3D printer. No assembly required.

“All you have to do is stick… read more

A stem-cell repair system that can regenerate any kind of human tissue

...including disease and aging; human trials next year
April 6, 2016

The UNSW researchers said the therapy has enormous potential for treating spinal disc injury and joint and muscle degeneration and could also speed up recovery following complex surgeries where bones and joints need to integrate with the body (credit: UNSW TV)

A stem cell therapy system capable of regenerating any human tissue damaged by injury, disease, or aging could be available within a few years, say University of New South Wales (UNSW Australia) researchers.

Their new repair system*, similar to the method used by salamanders to regenerate limbs, could be used to repair everything from spinal discs to bone fractures, and could transform current treatment approaches to regenerative medicine.

The… read more

Electrical stimulation of brain pleasure center reduces chronic pain

In testing with rats, electrode implant also triggers pleasure-associated dopamine
April 6, 2016

Image is a representative slice showing the electrode tip location (green arrow) (credit: Ai‑Ling Li et al./ Experimental Brain Research)

Are you in pain, but your doc won’t increase your hydrocodone dosage (or you don’t want to overdose)?

University of Texas at Arlington researchers may have a (future) drug-free fix: electrical stimulation of a deep middle-brain structure that blocks pain signals at the spinal cord level while triggering release of pleasure-associated dopamine to reduce the associated emotional distress.

“This is the first study to use a… read more

World’s smallest electronic diode made from single DNA molecule

Electronic components 1,000 times smaller than with silicon may be possible
April 6, 2016

DNA diode ft

Nanoscale electronic components can be made from single DNA molecules, as researchers at the University of Georgia and at Ben-Gurion University in Israel have demonstrated, using a single molecule of DNA to create the world’s smallest diode.

A diode is a component vital to electronic devices that allows current to flow in one direction but prevents its flow in the other direction.… read more

What happens when drones and people sync their vision?

The future of drone air traffic control?
April 5, 2016

Multiple recon drones in the sky all suddenly aim their cameras at a person of interest on the ground, synced to what persons on the ground see …

That could be a reality soon, thanks to an agreement just announced by the mysterious SICdrone, an unmanned aircraft system manufacturer, and CrowdOptic, an “interactive streaming platform that connects the world through smart devices.”… read more

Hacking life: how to program new functions for living bacteria and yeast

Engineering bacteria to aid digestion or yeast to produce custom beer
April 4, 2016


MIT biological engineers have created a programming language for bacteria. It allows anyone to rapidly design complex, DNA-encoded circuits that add new functions to living cells — no genetic engineering knowledge required.

For example: design bacterial cells that can produce a cancer drug when they detect a tumor or create yeast cells that can halt their own fermentation process if too many toxic byproducts build up.… read more

3D-printing a structure with active chemistry

Forget labs --- now you can simply print objects in your kitchen that create cool chemical reactions (attention: CIA and Homeland Security)
April 4, 2016

Flashforge Creator ft

Researchers at American University have demonstrated the first use of commercial 3D printers to create a structure with active chemistry — in this case, a structure that acts to mitigate pollution.

The researchers added titanium dioxide nanoparticles to standard ABS filament material (used in 3D printers) and extruded a filament that they then used to print a small, sponge-like plastic object on a low-cost Flashforge Creator… read more

Largest network of cortical neurons mapped from ~100 terabytes data set

"Functional connectomics" research bridges gap between function and wiring in the brain --- a major step in an IARPA project to create a roadmap for reverse-engineering the brain
April 1, 2016

A network of cortical neurons whose connections were traced from a multi-terabyte 3D data set. The data were created by an electron microscope designed and built at Harvard Medical School to collect millions of images in nanoscopic detail, so that every one of the “wires” could be seen, along with the connections between them. Some of the neurons are color-coded according to their activity patterns in the living brain. This is the newest example of functional connectomics, which combines high-throughput functional imaging, at single-cell resolution, with terascale anatomy of the very same neurons. (credit: Clay Reid, Allen Institute; Wei-Chung Lee, Harvard Medical School; Sam Ingersoll, graphic artist)

The largest network of the connections between neurons in the cortex to date has been published by an international team of researchers from the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Harvard Medical School, and Neuro-Electronics Research Flanders (NERF).

In the process of their study*, the researchers developed new tools that will be useful for “reverse engineering the brain by discovering relationships between circuit wiring… read more

Creating custom drugs on a portable refrigerator-size device

A breakthrough for responding quickly to disease outbreak and producing small quantities of custom drugs needed for clinical trials, treating rare diseases, or use as personalized "orphan drugs"
April 1, 2016

custom drugs ft

MIT researchers have developed a compact, portable pharmaceutical manufacturing system that can be reconfigured to produce a variety of drugs on demand — if you have the right chemicals.

The device could be rapidly deployed to produce drugs needed to handle an unexpected disease outbreak, to prevent a drug shortage caused by a manufacturing plant shutdown, or produce small quantities of drugs needed for clinical trials or… read more

How to use laser cloaking to hide Earth from remote detection by aliens

NASA's Kepler telescope detects habitable exoplanets by watching for tiny dips in the light from stars. What if aliens have the same idea when observing our Sun?
April 1, 2016

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We could use lasers to conceal the Earth from observation by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization by shining massive  laser beams aimed at a specific star where aliens might be located — thus masking our planet during its transit of the Sun, suggest two astronomers at Columbia University in an open-access paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The idea comes from the NASAread more

An astounding nanoscale magnified view of bacterial ‘motors’

The molecular secrets of the strongest motor known in nature revealed
March 30, 2016


Caltech researchers have used a state-of-the-art imaging technique to capture detailed 3D views of the complex mobile nanomachinery in bacteria for the first time.

Grant Jensen, a professor of biophysics and biology at Caltech and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and his colleagues used a technique called electron cryotomography to capture 3D images of intact cells with a resolution… read more

Nanoparticle ‘cluster bombs’ destroy cancer cells

New delivery method directly penetrates tumor cells, avoiding toxic side effects of cisplatin chemotherapy drug
March 30, 2016

nanoparticle cluster bomb_ft

Scientists have devised a triple-stage stealth “cluster bomb” system for delivering the anti-cancer chemotherapy drug cisplatin, using nanoparticles designed to break up when they reach a tumor:

  1. The nanoparticles start out relatively large  — 100 nanometers wide — so that they can move through the bloodstream and smoothly transport into the tumor through leaky blood vessels.
  2. As they detect acidic conditions close to tumors, the nanoparticles discharge

read more

On/off button for passing along epigenetic ‘memories’ to our children discovered

March 29, 2016

Transgenerational Small RNA Inheritance-ft

According to epigenetics — the study of inheritable changes in gene expression not directly coded in our DNA — our life experiences may be passed on to our children and our children’s children. Studies on survivors of traumatic events have suggested that exposure to stress may indeed have lasting effects on subsequent generations.

But exactly how are these genetic “memories” passed on?

A new Tel Aviv University (… read more

A biosensor that’s 1 million times more sensitive

Aims at detecting cancers earlier, improving treatment and outcomes
March 29, 2016

miniaturized GC-HMM sensor devic-ft

An optical sensor that’s 1 million times more sensitive than the current best available has been developed by Case Western Reserve University researchers. Based on nanostructured metamaterials, it can identify a single lightweight molecule in a highly dilute solution.

The research goal is to provide oncologists a way to detect a single molecule of an enzyme produced by circulating cancer cells. That could allow doctors to diagnose and monitor… read more

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