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Altering stem cells to make growth factors needed for replacement tissue inside the body

February 21, 2014

stem_cells_scaffold

By combining a synthetic scaffolding material with gene delivery techniques to direct stem cells into becoming new cartilage, Duke University researchers are getting closer to being able to generate replacement cartilage where it’s needed in the body.

Performing tissue repair with stem cells typically requires applying copious amounts of growth factor proteins — a task that is very expensive and becomes challenging once the developing material is… read more

New algorithm arranges pictures artistically

Should we add graphic designers and art curators to the list of jobs that will be replaced by future computers?
February 21, 2014

butterfly

In an Oxford study last year on jobs being replaced by computerization, the authors recommended that workers “will have to acquire creative and social skills.” The movie Her suggests some “social” skills may soon not be needed, and a new image-design algorithm suggests some “creative” skills won’t be either.

The algorithm, developed by Max Planck Institute for Informatics researchers and running on a computer’s GPU (for… read more

A light switch for pain

February 20, 2014

opsins

A team of Bio-X researchers at Stanford has developed mice whose sensitivity to pain can be dialed up or down simply by shining light on their paws.

The research could help scientists understand and eventually treat chronic pain in humans.

The mice in Scott Delp’s lab, unlike their human counterparts, can get pain relief  from the glow of a yellow light.

“This is an entirely… read more

World’s most powerful terahertz laser chip

February 20, 2014

Terahertz laser chip (credit: University of Leeds)

University of Leeds researchers have taken the lead in the race to build the world’s most powerful terahertz laser chip.

Terahertz waves, which lie in the part of the electromagnetic spectrum between infrared and microwaves, can penetrate materials that block visible light.

They have a wide range of possible uses, including chemical analysis, security scanning, remote sensing of chemical signatures of explosives in unopened envelopes, non-invasive… read more

Are bots taking over Wikipedia?

February 20, 2014

bots-vs featured

As crowdsourced Wikipedia has grown too large — with more than 30 million articles in 287 languages — to be entirely edited and managed by volunteers, 12 Wikipedia bots have emerged to pick up the slack.

The bots use Wikidata — a free knowledge base that can be read and edited by both humans and bots — to exchange information between entries and between the… read more

Gigabit Internet may be coming to 35 US cities

February 20, 2014

Google Fiber projects in the U.S. (credit: Google)

Google has invited cities in nine metro areas around the U.S. — 34 cities altogether — to “work with us to explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber” at gigabit speeds — “100 times faster than what most of us live with today,” said Milo Medin, VP, Google Access, writing on the Google Fiber blog.

“We aim to provide updates by the end… read more

Stretchable, bendable optical interconnections for body sensors and robotic skin

February 20, 2014

bent_optical_circuit

Belgian researchers say they have created the first optical circuit that uses interconnections that are stretchable as well as bendable.The technology has applications like wearable body sensors and robotic skin.

These new interconnections, made of a rubbery transparent material called PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane), guide light along their path even when stretched up to 30% and when bent around an object the diameter of a human finger.

By… read more

New type of MRI ‘whole body’ scan could improve treatment of bone-marrow cancer

February 19, 2014

Patient setup for WB-DWI (credit: Institute of Cancer Research)

A new type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan could improve care for a type of cancer called myeloma and reduce reliance on bone marrow biopsies, which can be painful for patients and often fail to show doctors how far the disease has spread.

The research, published Feb. 18 in the journal Radiology, was carried out by researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The… read more

Intelligent alien life could be found by 2040, says SETI astronomer

February 19, 2014

Artist's rendition of an Earth-like exoplanet Gliese 436b (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

“By 2040 or so, astronomers will have scanned enough star systems to give themselves a great shot of discovering alien-produced electromagnetic signals,” said Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute, Space.com reports.

Shostak spoke at the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) symposium on Feb. 6 at Stanford University.

He will also speak at the Contact conference on March 21–23… read more

Zeroing in on how Alzheimer’s-disease toxins are created

Results may generate new targets for drug development
February 19, 2014

IFT_oligomers

Using the Gordon supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, researchers have achieved new insights into how toxic molecular complexes associated with Alzheimer’s disease are created.

Igor Tsigelny, a research scientist with SDSC, the UCSD Moores Cancer Center, and the Department of Neurosciences, focused on a small peptide called amyloid-beta, which pairs up… read more

A drug that can help wipe out reservoirs of cancer cells in bone marrow

February 19, 2014

iv_bottle

Cancer drugs that recruit antibodies from the body’s own immune system to help kill tumors have shown much promise in treating several types of cancer. But the tumors often return.

A new study from MIT reveals a way to combat these recurrent tumors with a drug that makes them more vulnerable to the antibody treatment. This drug, known as cyclophosphamide, is already approved by the… read more

Apple patents health-and-fitness monitoring headphones

February 19, 2014

Fitness-heath-tracking

Apple has been awarded U.S. Patent No. 8,655,004 for a “sports monitoring system for headphones, earbuds and/or headsets,” Apple Insider reports.

The devices include accelerometers for detecting motion, and sensors for temperature, perspiration, heart-rate, activity, fitness, and other data.

Apple has “allegedly hired a number of experts in the field non-intrusive medical sensors,” Apple Insider reported last year.

The publication also notedread more

Chips that listen to bacteria

Sensing and disrupting biofilms
February 18, 2014

columbia_biofilms

A Columbia University research team has demonstrated that integrated circuit technology can be used for a study of signaling in bacterial colonies.

The researchers have developed a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) chip that enables them to electrochemically image the signaling molecules from these colonies spatially and temporally.

In effect, they have developed chips that “listen” to bacteria.

“This is an exciting new application for CMOS technology that will… read more

Growing number of chemicals linked with brain disorders in children

214 human neurotoxicants now identified -- many widely used and disseminated extensively in the global environment
February 18, 2014

MRI-scans---mercury

Toxic chemicals may be triggering the recent increases in neurodevelopmental disabilities among children — such as autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dyslexia — according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The researchers say a new global prevention strategy to control the use of these substances is urgently needed.

The report was published online February… read more

New multilayer graphene structure allows ‘ultraprecise,’ ‘ultrafast’ water filtering

Next step: reduce the filter size to filter out even the smallest salts like in seawater for drinkable water -- "no longer science fiction"
February 18, 2014

graphene_water

University of Manchester researchers have taken another key step toward a seawater filter: they’ve developed one-atom-wide graphene-oxide (GO) capillaries by building multilayer GO membranes (laminates).

As described in Science, these new laminates allow for “ultraprecise” selection of molecules that can go through the filter and “ultrafast” flow of water.

The new GO filters have an “astonishingly” accurate mesh that allows them to distinguish between atomic species… read more

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