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New synthesized molecule could reduce brain damage in stroke victims

March 14, 2016

This graphic depicts a new inhibitor, 6S, locking up an enzyme (red) to block the production of hydrogen sulfide (yellow and white). Hydrogen sulfide concentrations have been shown to climb after the onset of a stroke, leaving to brain damage. (credit: Matthew Beio, University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

A new molecule known as 6S has reduced the death of brain tissue from ischemic stroke by up to 66 percent in rats while reducing the accompaning inflammation, researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the National University of Singapore reported March 9 in an open-access paper published by the journal ACS Central Science.

The inhibitor molecule works by binding to cystathionine beta-synthase… read more

Using machine learning to rationally design future electronics materials

Why machine-learning algorithms will replace lab experiments
March 14, 2016

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Replacing inefficient experimentation, UConn researchers have used machine learning to systematically scan millions of theoretical compounds for qualities that would make better materials for solar cells, fibers, and computer chips.

Led by UConn materials scientist Ramamurthy ‘Rampi’ Ramprasad, the researchers set out to determine which polymer atomic configurations make a given polymer a good electrical conductor or insulator, for example.

A polymer is a large… read more

Freaked out by robots? Recall a familiar robot movie.

A tip for robot designers: incorporate features that remind older adults of robots in movies and TV
March 12, 2016


Older adults who recalled more robots portrayed in films had lower anxiety toward robots than seniors who remembered fewer robot portrayals, Penn State researchers found in a study.

That could help elders accept robots as caregivers, said S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory.

“Increasingly, people are talking about smart homes and health care facilities and the roles… read more

Scientists grow eye lens from patients’ own stem cells, restoring vision

In pioneering new cataract treatment of 12 pediatric patients, the eye grew a new lens from its own stem cells after cloudy lens was removed
March 11, 2016

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Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Shiley Eye Institute, with colleagues in China, have developed an eye lens restoration treatment that has been tested in monkeys and in a small human clinical trial. It produced much fewer surgical complications than the current standard-of-care and resulted in regenerated lenses with superior visual function in all 12 of the pediatric cataract patients who received the new surgery.… read more

Are you ready for soft, morphing, crawling robots with glowing skin displays?

Turn and face the strange.
March 11, 2016


Your future robot or mobile device could have soft, morphable, stretchable “skin” that displays information, according to research by Cornell University engineers. Imagine a health-care robot that displays your blood glucose level and oxygenation, and even your mood — perhaps also your remote physician’s face in 3D.

“When robots become more and more a part of our lives, the ability for them to have an emotional connection with… read more

Dramatic remissions in blood cancer in immunotherapy treatment trial

"We are at the precipice of a revolution in cancer treatment based on using immunotherapy." --- Stanley Riddell, MD
March 10, 2016

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*****UPDATE JULY 12, 2016*****

Juno Therapeutics, Inc. announced July 7 that it has received notice from the FDA that it has placed a clinical hold on an immune-cell cancer treatment known as the “ROCKET” trial, which was reported on KurzweilAI on Mar. 10, 2016.

The clinical hold was initiated after two patient deaths, which followed the recent addition of fludarabine to the pre-conditioning regimen. Juno has… read more

Amputee feels texture with a ‘bionic’ fingertip

Other artificial-touch uses include robotics in surgery, rescue, and manufacturing
March 10, 2016

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Amputee Dennis Aabo Sørensen is the first person in the world to recognize texture (smoothness vs. roughness) using an artificial “bionic” fingertip surgically connected to nerves in his upper arm. The experimental system was developed by EPFL (Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) and SSSA (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna).

“The stimulation felt almost like what I would feel with my hand,” says Sørensen. “I felt the texture sensations at the tip of… read more

CRISPR enhancements: improving the ability to delete genes

March 9, 2016

Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs) technology employs a guide RNA to direct the Cas9 enzyme (light blue) to a target DNA sequence. Once there, Cas9 will bind when it finds a protospacer-adjacent motif sequence (red) in the DNA and cut both strands, priming the gene sequence for editing. (credit: Adapted from OriGene Technologies)

Scientists have found a way to improve the efficiency of the controversial gene editing technology, CRISPR/Cas9 (“CRISPR”).

Lauded as a groundbreaking technology that allows scientists to modify genes* for many different applications, CRISPR/Cas9 has hit stormy waters over the ethics of editing human embryos. Although the technology is faster and cheaper than past gene editing techniques, one of the problems cited is that the efficiency of deleting unwanted… read more

AlphaGo machine-learning program defeats top Go player in first match

March 9, 2016

AlphaGo (left) vs. Sedol (right) in last minute of Match 1 (credit: DeepMind)

Google DeepMind’s machine-learning AlphaGo program has defeated South Korean Go champion Lee Sedol in the first match of five historic matches between human and AI, taking place in Seoul.

The second round will take place today (Wednesday March 9 in U.S.) at 11 PM ET (1 PM KST), also covered on YouTube.

Last October, AlphaGo defeated European Go champion Fan Hui 5-0, making it the first… read more

Rats vs. computers vs. rat cyborgs in maze navigation

Is there a human metaphor here somewhere?
March 7, 2016

Electrode implant in a laboratory rat used to deliver electrical stimulation to the brain (credit: Vdegroot at Dutch Wikipedia/Creative Commons)

What would happen if we combined synthetic and biological systems, creating an intelligent cyborg rat? How would it perform?

Researchers in China decided to find out by comparing the problem-solving abilities of rats, computers, and rat-computer “cyborgs,” as they reported in an open-access PLOS ONE paper.

Rats: Six rats were trained for a week to run a series of unique mazes. After training, the researchers tested… read more

Deep learning helps robots perfect skills

March 7, 2016

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BRETT (Berkeley Robot for the Elimination of Tedious Tasks) has learned to improve its performance in household chores through deep learning and reinforcement learning to provide moment-to-moment visual and sensory feedback to the software that controls the robot’s movements.

For the past 15 years, Berkeley robotics researcher Pieter Abbeel has been looking for ways to make robots learn. In 2010 he and his students programmed BRETT to… read more

Stretchable, flexible ‘meta-skin’ cloaks objects from radar at a range of frequencies

"Invisibility cloak" may be further developed to operate in visible or infrared light ranges
March 7, 2016

Wraparound meta-skin (credit: Siming Yang et al./Scientific Reports)

Iowa State University engineers have developed a new flexible, stretchable, and  tunable “meta-skin” (metamaterial) “invisibility cloak” that uses rows of small liquid-metal devices to cloak an object from radar over a wide range of frequencies — and possibly at visible or infrared light ranges in the future.

The  skin has rows of split ring resonators embedded inside layers of silicone sheets. The… read more

Human-skin discovery suggests new anti-aging treatments

March 4, 2016

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For the first time, researchers have reported decreases in levels of a key molecule in aging human skin, which could lead to developing new anti-aging treatments and screening new compounds.

Scientists have known for some time that major structures in the cell called mitochondria (which generate and control most of the cell’s supply of energy) are somehow involved in aging, but the exact role of the mitochondria… read more

Converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into carbon nanotubes for use in batteries

March 4, 2016

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The electric vehicle of the future will be carbon negative (reducing the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide) not just carbon neutral (not adding CO2 to the atmosphere), say researchers at Vanderbilt University and George Washington University (GWU).

The trick: replace graphite electrodes in lithium-ion batteries (used in electric vehicles) with carbon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers recovered from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The new technology… read more

How to trigger self-powered mechanical movement

Could be used for detecting substances, moving particles to build small structures, and delivering medications
March 3, 2016


A new way to use the chemical reactions of certain enzymes to trigger self-powered mechanical movement has been developed by a team of researchers at Penn State University and the University of Pittsburgh.

These enzyme micropumps could be used for detecting substances, moving particles to build small structures, and delivering medications.

“One potential use is the release of insulin to a diabetes patient from a reservoir at a… read more

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