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Graphene’s potential to reshape neurosurgery

April 29, 2014

Schematic illustration of a recently developed graphene electric field stimulator (credit: Biomaterials)

Graphene may lead to exciting new applications in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases, according to a report in the May issue of Neurosurgery, official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. The paper can also serve as a general introduction to the properties of graphene and its future uses.

Tobias A. Mattei, MD, of Invision Health/Brain & Spine Center, Buffalo, New York and Azeem A.… read more

Electric pulses for delivering gene therapy may restore hearing quality for cochear-implant users

Could also be used for treating other neurological disorders, including Parkinson's disease and psychiatric conditions
April 28, 2014

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Researchers at UNSW Australia have used electrical pulses from a cochlear implant to deliver gene therapy in animals, successfully regrowing auditory nerves.

The research also heralds a possible new way of treating other neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, and psychiatric conditions such as depression through this novel way of delivering gene therapy, the researchers say.

The research was published Thursday April 24 in the journal Scienceread more

Skin layer grown from human stem cells could replace animals in drug and cosmetics testing

April 28, 2014

iPSC-derived keratinocytes colonies

An international team led by King’s College London and the San Francisco Veteran Affairs Medical Center (SFVAMC) has developed the first lab-grown epidermis (the outermost skin layer) with a functional permeability barrier akin to real skin.

The new epidermis, grown from human pluripotent stem cells, offers a cost-effective alternative lab model for testing drugs and cosmetics, and could also help to develop new therapies for rare and… read more

A new ‘off’ switch for neurons

"Will greatly enhance work in large-brained organisms like rats and primates" -- Karl Deisseroth
April 28, 2014

Modified light-sensitive channelrhodopsin structure, with the nine mutations to achieve neuron silencing shown in orange (credit: Andre Berndt et al./Science)

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists have found a way to silence (turn off) individual neurons, using optogenetics, which previously could only turn on neurons.

Optogenetics is a method used by neuroscientists to study how specific neurons work. They shine LED or laser light on genetically modified neurons (light-activated) proteins (such as channelrhodopsin) that function as ion channels, which then turn on the… read more

Cloaked DNA nanodevices

April 25, 2014

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Scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have built the first DNA nanodevices that survive the body’s immune defenses.

The results pave the way for smart DNA nanorobots that could use logic to diagnose cancer earlier and more accurately than doctors can today, target drugs to tumors, or even manufacture drugs on the spot to cripple cancer, the researchers report in the April 22 online… read more

IBM invents ’3D nanoprinter’ for microscopic objects

April 25, 2014

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IBM scientists have invented a tiny “chisel” with a nano-sized heatable silicon tip that creates patterns and structures on a microscopic scale.

The tip, similar to the kind used in atomic force microscopes, is attached to a bendable cantilever that scans the surface of the substrate material with the accuracy of one nanometer.

Unlike conventional 3D printers, by applying heat and force, the nanosized tip can… read more

Less myelin found in neocortex: the future of the brain?

Less myelin in higher regions of the cerebral cortext may allow emergence of highly complex neuronal behaviors
April 24, 2014

Myelin605

Harvard neuroscientists have made a discovery about myelin that turns 160 years of neuroanatomy on its head.

Myelin, the electrical insulating material in the body long known to be essential for the fast transmission of impulses along the axons of nerve cells, is not as ubiquitous as thought, according to new work led by Professor Paola Arlotta of the Harvard Stemread more

New optical microscopy technique unravels role of ‘oxidative stress’ in neural tissue

April 24, 2014

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Scientists at the Technische Universität München (TUM) and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) have developed a new optical microscopy technique to unravel the role of “oxidative stress” in healthy as well as injured nervous systems. The work is reported in the latest issue of Nature Medicine.

Reactive oxygen species are important intracellular signaling molecules, but their mode of action is complex. In low concentrations they regulate key aspects… read more

A fast way to measure DNA repair

April 24, 2014

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MIT researchers have developed a test that can rapidly assess several DNA repair systems, which could help determine individuals’ risk of developing cancer and help doctors predict how a given patient will respond to chemotherapy drugs.

Our DNA is under constant attack from many sources, including environmental pollutants, ultraviolet light, and radiation. Fortunately, cells have several major DNA repair systems that can fix… read more

Gecko-like adhesives now work on real-world surfaces

UMass Amherst Scientists Develop New, More Versatile Version of Geckskin
April 23, 2014

Geckskin scansor-1

University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers report in Advanced Materials how they have expanded their design theory to allow Geckskin to adhere powerfully to a wider variety of surfaces found in most homes such as drywall, wood, and metal, not just glass — an elusive goal of many research teams across the world.

“Imagine sticking your tablet on a wall to watch your favorite movie and then moving… read more

Excitons observed in action for the first time

Could lead to significant advances in electronics
April 23, 2014

mit_excitons

Scientists at MIT and the City University of New York have imaged excitons’ motions directly for the first time.

A quasiparticle called an exciton — responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits — has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within materials had never been directly observed.

The finding could enable research leading to significant… read more

Future chips may operate at atomic dimensions

April 23, 2014

perovskite

In an effort to shrink down electronic devices to atomic dimensions, researchers from Cornell University and Brookhaven National Laboratory have shown how to switch exotic transition metal oxide material from a metal to an insulator by making the material less than a nanometer thick.

Transition metal oxides seem to have it all: superconductivity, magnetoresistance, and other exotic properties. These possibilities have scientists excited to understand… read more

Laser could trigger rain and lightning

April 22, 2014

Illustration of a high-intensity laser dressed with a secondary laser that helps provide fuel to extend the distance of the primary beam.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida’s College of Optics & Photonics and the University of Arizona have further developed a new technique to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning.

The solution: surround the beam with a second beam to act as an energy reservoir, sustaining the central beam to greater distances than previously possible. The secondary “dress” beam… read more

Building ‘smart’ cell-based therapies

April 22, 2014

building-smart-cell-based-therapies-header

A Northwestern synthetic biology team has created a new technology for modifying human cells to create programmable therapeutics that could travel the body and selectively target cancer and other sites of disease.

Engineering cell-based biological devices that monitor and modify human physiology is a promising frontier in clinical synthetic biology. However, no existing technology has enabled bioengineers to build devices that sense a patient’s physiological state and respond in… read more

Creating spontaneous ‘cell’ division in artificial cell models

April 22, 2014

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Scientists of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Triest have taken a first step toward the creation of functioning artificial cells by reproducing motility in their computer models, causing the “cells” to divide spontaneously without the action of external forces

The research could provide a better understanding of the development of life on our planet.

Droplets of filamentous material enclosed in a lipid membrane… read more

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