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Drug-carrying nanoparticles delivered orally to replace injections

May have a major impact on the treatment of many diseases by enabling drugs currently limited by low bioavailability to be efficiently delivered though oral administration
December 2, 2013

nanoparticle transport - featured

MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers have developed a new type of nanoparticle that can be delivered orally and absorbed through the digestive tract, allowing patients to simply take a pill instead of receiving injections.

The new nanoparticles are coated with antibodies that act as a key to unlock receptors found on the surfaces of cells that line the intestine, allowing the nanoparticles to break… read more

Amazon hopes to deliver packages via drones within 5 years

December 1, 2013

(Credit: Amazon)

Amazon hopes to use autonomous octocopter drones to deliver small packages to customers within 30 minutes, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced Sunday in a 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose.

Amazon says putting the new Amazon Prime Air service into commercial use “will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the… read more

Hangout on Air: The Future of Cryonics (Sunday Dec. 1)

November 30, 2013

london_futurists

What lies in the future for cryonics — the practice of low-temperature suspended animation of people who have died of an incurable disease, in the hope of a future cure?

This London Futurists Hangout on Air will feature a live discussion between an international panel of people with practical experience of the world of cryonics: Max More, Anders Sandberg, Natasha Vita-More, and Garret Smyth.

The discussion aims to… read more

Mechanism behind blood stem cells’ longevity discovered

November 29, 2013

A blood stem cell dividing. Myosin IIB is labeled green and is concentrated on the side that will remain a stem cell.

A study from the University of Pennsylvania has uncovered one of the mechanisms that allow blood stem cells to keep dividing in perpetuity.

Background

The blood stem cells that live in bone marrow are at the top of a complex family tree. Such stem cells split and divide down various pathways that ultimately produce red cells, white cells, and platelets.

These “daughter” cells must be… read more

Molecular switch that controls neuron communication discovered

November 29, 2013

Cell image of RIM and SUMO colocalization in neurons (credit: University of Bristol)

University of Bristol researchers are a step closer to understanding how some of the brain’s 100 billion nerve cells coordinate communications.

Defects in this communication are associated with disorders such as epilepsy, autism and schizophrenia, and therefore these findings could lead to the development of novel neurological therapies.

Background

Neurons in the brain communicate with each other using chemicals called neurotransmitters. This release of neurotransmitter… read more

A material that can regenerate itself when damaged

November 29, 2013

This is a self-generating composite image.<br />
Credit: University of Pittsburgh

What if you could program  a broken or damaged object to regenerate itself — replenishing the damaged or missing components, and extending its lifetime — instead of replacing it or requiring costly repairs? Now University of Pittsburgh researchers have developed computational models of a new polymer gel that could do just that.

“This is one of the holy grails of materials science,” noted Anna C. Balazs, PhD,… read more

A genetically engineered weight-loss implant

Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner --- they're working on it
November 28, 2013

implantable_slimming_aid

ETH-Zurich biotechnologists have constructed an implantable genetic regulatory circuit that monitors blood-fat levels. In response to excessive levels, it produces a messenger substance that signals satiety (fullness) to the body. Tests on obese mice revealed that this helps them lose weight.

According to the WHO, over half the population in many industrialized nations is overweight, one in three people extremely so, with high-calorie and fatty food a lifetime on… read more

Creating synthetic antibodies to detect molecules

Synthetic polymers coating a nanoparticle surface can recognize specific molecules, just like an antibody, for detecting neurotransmitters, diseases, or environmental toxins, for example
November 27, 2013

MIT chemical engineers created this sensor that can recognize riboflavin by coating a carbon nanotube with amphiphilic polymers.<br />
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE RESEARCHERS

MIT chemical engineers have developed a novel way to generate nanoparticles that can recognize specific molecules, opening up a new approach to building durable sensors for many different compounds, among other applications.

To create these “synthetic antibodies,” the researchers used carbon nanotubes — hollow, nanometer-thick cylinders made of carbon that naturally fluoresce when exposed to laser light.

The MIT team coated the nanotubes with specifically designed… read more

Talk to Google on Chrome

November 27, 2013

Google mic

Now you can talk to Google whenever you’re using Chrome — hands-free, no typing. Simply say “Ok Google” and then ask your question.

To access hands-free search on your laptop, just download the free Google Voice Search Hotword extension from the Chrome Web Store (available in English in the U.S.).

Sony files patent for wearable-electronics wig

November 27, 2013

SmartWig (credit: USPTO)

Sony has filed a patent for a wig with wearable electronic devices that could be “visually hidden” and controlled.

“The usage of a wig has several advantages that, compared to known wearable computing devices, include significantly increased user comfort and an improved handling of the wearable computing device,” Sony said in its patent application.

Sony claims include a variety of wearable devices that could be embedded… read more

Self-soldering nanotubes could replace silicon transistors for flexible electronics

November 27, 2013

Depiction of junction heating caused by current flow across resistive nanotube-nanotube junctions.’

University of Illinois researchers have developed a way to solder (connect) carbon nanotubes, which are too small for even the world’s tiniest soldering iron.

Researchers have been exploring using carbon nanotubes as transistors instead of traditional silicon, because they are easier to transport onto alternate substrates, such as thin sheets of plastic, for low-cost flexible electronics or flat-panel displays.

Carbon nanotubes are high-quality conductors, but creating single tubes… read more

A patient-specific 3D virtual birth simulator

November 26, 2013

uea_virtual_childbirth

Computer scientists from the University of East Anglia are developing a virtual birthing simulator that will help doctors and midwives prepare for unusual or dangerous births.

The new program will take into account factors such as the shape of the mother’s body and the positioning of the baby to provide patient-specific birth predictions.

“We are creating a … simulation of childbirth using 3D graphics to simulate… read more

Berkeley Lab scientists record first inside look at carbon-capture molecular structure

November 26, 2013

Mg-MOF-74 is an open metal site MOF whose porous crystalline structure could enable it to serve as a storage vessel for capturing and containing the carbon dioxide emitted from coal-burning power plants. (National Academy of Sciences)

Researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have recorded the first electronic structure observations of the adsorption of carbon dioxide inside a metal-organic framework (MOF).

The “Mg-MOF-74″ MOF’s porous crystalline structure could enable it to serve as a storage vessel for capturing and containing the carbon dioxide emitted from coal-burning power plants.

MOFs are molecular systems consisting of a metal oxide center surrounded by organic… read more

FDA orders 23andMe to halt sales of its its Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service

November 26, 2013

(Credit: 23 And Me

The FDA has told 23andMe, Inc., the Google-backed DNA analysis company cofounded by Anne Wojcicki, to halt sales of its Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service (PGS).

In a letter, the FDA said the company was acting “without marketing clearance or approval in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act)….”

“Most of the intended uses for PGS listed on your… read more

Steering toxic drug-filled nanoparticles to zap cancer, not healthy cells

November 26, 2013

Multifunctionalized drug-loaded nanoparticle

North­eastern researchers are developing sim­u­la­tion soft­ware called Mag­nasim to more accu­rately steer simulated drug-filled mag­netic nanopar­ti­cles to tumor masses where they can safely dis­charge their con­tents.

The drugs used to kill cancer cells are just as toxic to neigh­boring healthy cells, so researchers have long sought a drug delivery method that tar­gets only cancer cells, bypassing the healthy ones.

Func­tional Mag­netic Res­o­nance Imaging (fMRI) is being… read more

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