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Graphene rubber bands: flexible, low-cost body sensors

August 21, 2014

(E) Rubber band soaking in toluene. (F) An untreated<br />
rubber band. (G) a band section after soaking in toluene for<br />
3.5 hours. (H) A graphene-infused band prepared by swelling<br />
in toluene then soaking in an N-methyl-pyrrolidone-water-graphene mixture<br />
for 4 hours followed by washing and drying. (Credit: Conor S. Boland et al./ACS NANO)

Q: What do you get when you add graphene to a rubber band?

A: A flexible sensor sensitive enough for medical use that can be made cheaply.

So say researchers from the University of Surrey and Trinity College Dublin, who have done just that.

Once treated, the rubber bands remain highly pliable, the researchers report, and graphene can be used as a sensor to measure a patient’s… read more

Remote-controlled cyborg moth ‘biobots’ to monitor emergency-response operations

Also a great spy device
August 21, 2014

Credit: Alper Bozkurt)

North Carolina State University researchers have developed methods for electronically manipulating the flight muscles of moths and for monitoring the electrical signals that moths use to control those muscles. The goal: remotely-controlled moths, or “biobots,” for use in emergency response, such as search and rescue operations.

“The idea would be to attach sensors to moths … to create a flexible, aerial sensor network that can identify survivors… read more

Engineering new bone growth with coated tissue scaffolds

Help the body grow new bone to repair injuries or congenital defects
August 21, 2014

Pictured is a scanning electron micrograph of a porous, nanostructured poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) membrane. The membrane is coated with a polyelectrolyte (PEM) multilayer coating that releases growth factors to promote bone repair. (Credit: Nasim Hyder and Nisarg J. Shah)

MIT chemical engineers have devised a new treatment for bone injuries or defects: an implantable tissue scaffold (structure) coated with bone-growth factors that can be released slowly over a few weeks to induce the body to rapidly form new bone that looks and behaves just like the original tissue.

On Monday this week, KurzweilAI described a shape-memory polymer that expands with warm salt water to… read more

‘Nanojuice’ could help diagnose gastrointestinal illnesses

August 20, 2014

The combination of "nanojuice" and photoacoustic tomography illuminates the intestine of a mouse (credit: Jonathan Lovell)

University at Buffalo researchers are developing a new imaging technique using nanoparticles suspended in liquid to form “nanojuice” that patients would drink to help diagnose irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and other gastrointestinal illnesses.

Doctors would strike the nanoparticles, once they reach the small intestine, with a harmless laser light, providing an unparalleled, non-invasive, real-time view of the organ.

Described July 6 in the… read more

‘Normal’ bacteria vital for keeping intestinal lining intact, preventing disorders

August 20, 2014

Snapshot images show intestines of wild-type and knockout mice injected with dextran (red) and imaged using intravital two-photon microscopy from the intestine lumen. DAPI (blue) illustrates stained cells within the intestinal epithelium. Dye tracking (red) between DAPI (blue) labelled cells indicates a 'leaky' intestinal epithelium. (Credit: Kamal Khanna, Ph.D., University of Connecticut, Farmington)

Bacteria that aid in digestion keep the intestinal lining intact, scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and associates have found.

The findings, reported online in the journal Immunity, could yield new therapies for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and a wide range of other disorders.

The research involved the intestinal microbiome, which contains some 100 trillion bacteria. The role of these microorganisms in… read more

Do gut bacteria control your mind?

August 20, 2014

gut to mind

Bacteria within you — which outnumber your own cells about 100 times — may be affecting both your cravings and moods to get you to eat what they want, and may be driving you toward obesity.

That’s the conclusion of an article published this week in the journal BioEssays by researchers from UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and University of New Mexicoread more

Targeted brain stimulation aids stroke recovery in mice

Works even when initiated five days after stroke occurred
August 19, 2014

Optogenetic treatment (Credit: Deisseroth Laboratory)

Stanford University School of Medicine have found that light-driven stimulation technology called optogenetics enhances stroke* recovery in mice — even when initiated five days after stroke occurred.

The mice showed significantly greater recovery in motor ability than mice that had experienced strokes but whose brains weren’t stimulated.

“In this study, we found that direct stimulation of a particular set of nerve cells in the brain —… read more

Artificial cells mimic natural protein synthesis

Another barrier between artificial and natural falls
August 19, 2014

Fluorescent image of DNA (white squares) patterned in circular compartments connected by capillary tubes to the cell-free extract flowing in the channel at bottom. Compartments are 100 micrometers in diameter. (Credit: Weizmann Institute)

Weizmann Institute scientists have created an artificial network-like cell system that is capable of reproducing the dynamic behavior of protein synthesis.

This achievement could help gain a deeper understanding of basic biological processes and pave the way toward controlling the synthesis of naturally occurring and synthetic proteins for many uses.

The system was designed by PhD students Eyal Karzbrun and Alexandra Tayar in the lab of… read more

Neuromorphic ‘atomic-switch’ networks function like synapses in the brain

August 19, 2014

atomic-switch network

Researchers in the U.S. and Japan have developed a self-assembled neuromorphic (brain-like) device comprising more than a billion interconnected “atomic-switch” inorganic synapses embedded in a complex network of silver nanowires.

The researchers are located at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (MANA) at the National Institute forread more

Scientists able to zoom in and out as the brain processes sound

Mouse research could lead to better treatments for hearing loss
August 18, 2014

A two-photon microscopy image showing a calcium sensor (green), the nuclei of neurons (red) and supporting cells called astrocytes (magenta). (Credit: John Issa/Johns Hopkins Medicine)

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have mapped a new technique for watching auditory processing in the brains of mice as brain cells lit up when the mice listened to tones and one another’s calls.

The results, which represent a step toward better understanding how our own brains process language, appear online July 31 in the journal Neuron.

In the past, researchers often studied sound processing… read more

Scientists bypass spinal column non-invasively to trigger walking

Could allow paraplegics to walk some day
August 18, 2014

An artificial connection from brain to locomotion circuit (credit: Yukio Nishimura)

Japanese researchers have created an “artificial neural connection” (ANC) from the brain directly to the spinal locomotion center in the lower thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine, potentially one day allowing patients with spinal-cord damage, such as paraplegics, to walk.

The study led by Shusaku Sasada, research fellow, and Yukio Nishimura, associate professor, both of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS), was published… read more

‘Shape-memory polymer’ material could help reconstruct faces

New material molds itself precisely to the shape of the bone defect without being brittle and also supports the growth of new bone tissue
August 18, 2014

A new material that changes shape upon heating could help heal bone lesions caused by injuries, tumor removal or birth defects, such as cleft palates. (The white bar is 1 cm, or less than half an inch long.) (Credit: Melissa Grunlan, Ph.D.)

Texas A&M University researchers have developed a “self-fitting” material that expands with warm salt water to precisely fill bone defects and also acts as a scaffold for new bone growth, as they reported last week at the 248th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Currently, the most common method for filling bone defects in the head, face or jaw (known as the cranio-maxillofacial… read more

A self-organizing thousand-robot swarm

August 15, 2014

The Kilobots, a swarm of one thousand simple but collaborative robots. (Credit: Mike Rubenstein and Science/AAAS.)

The first thousand-robot flash mob has assembled at Harvard University.

“Form a sea star shape,” directs a computer scientist, sending the command to 1,024 little bots simultaneously via an infrared light. The robots begin to blink at one another and then gradually arrange themselves into a five-pointed star. “Now form the letter K.”

The ‘K’ stands for Kilobots, the name given to these extremely simple robots, each just… read more

Could ‘genetically edited’ fruits avoid the GMO backlash?

August 15, 2014

Genetically edited apples that don't brown when sliced could be possible (credit: iStock)

Recent advances in precise editing of genomes now raise the possibility that fruit and other crops might be genetically improved without the need to introduce foreign genes, as in  genetically modified organisms (GMOs), say researchers writing in the Cell Press publication Trends in Biotechnology on August 13.

The notion is that “genetically edited” fruits might be met with greater acceptance than GMOs. This could mean “super bananas” that produce more vitamin… read more

Complex 3D physical tissue model simulates live cortex biochemical and electrical behavior

August 15, 2014

(Credit: Tufts University)

Tufts University researchers have developed the first reported complex three-dimensional model made of material that simulates cortical tissue’s biochemical and electrophysiological responses.
“Rather than reconstructing a whole-brain network, we aimed at reducing the structural complexity to fundamental features that are relevant to tissue-level physiological functions,” the authors note in a paper in the August 11 Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Funded by… read more

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