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Chronic stroke patients safely recover after injection of human stem cells

Stanford researchers now actively recruiting 156 patients for new trial
June 3, 2016

Sonia Olea Coontz had a stroke in 2011 that affected the movement of her right arm and leg. After modified stem cells were injected into her brain as part of a clinical trial, she says her limbs "woke up." (credit: Mark Rightmire/Stanford University School of Medicine)

Injecting specially prepared human adult stem cells directly into the brains of chronic stroke patients proved safe and effective in restoring motor (muscle) function in a small clinical trial led by Stanford University School of Medicine investigators.

The 18 patients had suffered their first and only stroke between six months and three years before receiving the injections, which involved drilling a small hole through their skulls.

For most… read more

Dietary fiber has biggest influence on successful aging, research reveals

June 2, 2016

(credit: iStock)

Eating the right amount of dietary fiber from breads, cereals, and fruits can help us avoid disease and disability into old age, according to an open-access paper published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences by scientists from The Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Australia.

Using data compiled from the Blue Mountains Eye Study, a benchmark population-based study… read more

Soft, safe robot actuators inspired by human bicep muscles

"A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm." --- Isaac Asimov's first law of robotics
June 2, 2016

VAMP

If robots are going work around humans, they will have to be softer and safer. A Harvard team has designed a new actuator with that in mind. Its movements are similar to those of a human bicep muscle, using vacuum power to automate soft rubber beams. Like real muscles, the actuators are soft, shock-absorbing, and pose no danger, according to the researchers.

The work is led by… read more

Implanted neuroprosthesis improves walking ability in stroke patient

June 1, 2016

gait-assist system ft

A surgically implanted neuroprosthesis has led to substantial improvement in walking speed and distance in a patient with limited mobility after a stroke, according to a single-patient study in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.

The system, programmed to stimulate coordinated activity of hip, knee, and ankle muscles, “is a promising intervention to provide assistance to stroke survivors during daily walking,” write Nathaniel S. Makowski, PhD,… read more

‘On-the-fly’ 3-D printing system prints what you design, as you design it

June 1, 2016

This wire frame prototype of a toy aircraft was printed in just 10 minutes, including testing for correct fit, and modified during printing to create the cockpit. The file was updated in the process, and could be used to print a finished model. (credit: Cornell University)

Cornell researchers have developed an interactive prototyping system that prints a wire frame of your design as you design it. You can pause anywhere in the process to test or measure and make needed changes, which will be added to the physical model still in the printer.

In conventional 3-D printing, a nozzle scans across a stage depositing drops of plastic, rising slightly after each pass to… read more

How to make opaque AI decisionmaking accountable

May 31, 2016

transparency report ft

Machine-learning algorithms are increasingly used in making important decisions about our lives — such as credit approval, medical diagnoses, and in job applications — but exactly how they work usually remains a mystery. Now Carnegie Mellon University researchers may devised an effective way to improve transparency and head off confusion or possibly legal issues.

CMU’s new Quantitative Input Influence (QII) testing tools can generate “transparency reports” that provide the… read more

Cell-phone-radiation study finds associated brain and heart tumors in rodents

May 27, 2016

Glioma in rat brain (credit: Samuel Samnick et al./European Journal of Nuclear Medicine)

A series of studies over two years with rodents exposed to radio frequency radiation (RFR) found low incidences of malignant gliomas (tumors of glial support cells) in the brain and schwannoma tumors in the heart.*

The studies were performed under the auspices of the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP).

Potentially preneoplastic (pre-cancer) lesions were also observed in the brain and heart of male rats… read more

How to erase bad memories and enhance good ones

May 27, 2016

controlling_fear ft

Imagine if people with dementia could enhance good memories or those with post-traumatic stress disorder could wipe out bad memories. A Stony Brook University research team has now taken a step toward that goal by manipulating one of the brain’s natural mechanisms for signaling involved in emotional memory: a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.

The region of the brain most involved in emotional memory is thought to… read more

Deep learning applied to drug discovery and repurposing

May 27, 2016

Deep neural networks for drug discovery (credit: Insilico Medicine, Inc.)

Scientists from Insilico Medicine, Inc. have trained deep neural networks (DNNs) to predict the potential therapeutic uses of 678 drugs, using gene-expression data obtained from high-throughput experiments on human cell lines from Broad Institute’s LINCS databases and NIH MeSH databases.

The supervised deep-learning drug-discovery engine used the properties of small molecules, transcriptional data, and literature to predict efficacy, toxicity, tissue-specificity, and heterogeneity of response.

“We used LINCSread more

Automated top-down design technique simplifies creation of DNA origami nanostructures

Nanoparticles for drug delivery and cell targeting, nanoscale robots, custom-tailored optical devices, and DNA as a storage medium are among the possible applications
May 27, 2016

The boldfaced line, known as a spanning tree, follows the desired geometric shape, touching each vertex just once. A spanning tree algorithm is used in the new DNA origami method to map out the proper routing path for the DNA strand. (credit: Public Domain)

MIT, Baylor College of Medicine, and Arizona State University Biodesign Institute researchers have developed a radical new top-down DNA origami* design method based on a computer algorithm that allows for creating designs for DNA nanostructures by simply inputting a target shape.

DNA origami (using DNA to design and build geometric structures) has already proven wildly successful in creating myriad forms in 2- and… read more

Triggering the protein that programs cancer cells to kill themselves

May 24, 2016

apoptosis

WEHI | Apoptosis

Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Australia have discovered a new way to trigger cell death that could lead to drugs to treat cancer and autoimmune disease.

Programmed cell death (a.k.a. apoptosis) is a natural process that removes unwanted cells from the body. Failure of apoptosis can allow cancer cells to grow unchecked or immune cells to inappropriately… read more

Diamonds closer to becoming ideal power semiconductors

May 24, 2016

A diode array on a natural single crystalline diamond plate. (The image looks blurred due to light scattering by the array of small pads on top of the diamond plate.) Inset shows the deposited anode metal on top of heavy doped silicon nanomembrane, which is bonded to natural single crystalline diamond. (credit: Jung-Hun Seo)

Researchers have developed a new method for doping (integrating elements to change a semiconductor’s properties) single crystals of diamond with boron at relatively low temperatures, without degradation.

Diamonds have properties that could make them ideal semiconductors for power electronics. They can handle high voltages and power, and electrical currents also flow through diamonds quickly, meaning the material would make for energy-efficient devices. And they are thermally conductive, which means… read more

No longer ‘junk DNA’ — shedding light on the ‘dark matter’ of the genome

A new tool called "LIGR-Seq" enables scientists to explore in depth what non-coding RNAs actually do in human cells
May 23, 2016

A plot of human RNA-RNA interactions detected by ligr-seq (credit: University of Toronto)

What used to be dismissed by many as “junk DNA” has now become vitally important, as accelerating genomic data points to the importance of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) — a genome’s messages that do not specifically code for proteins — in development and disease.

But our progress in understanding these molecules has been slow because of the lack of technologies that allow for systematic mapping of their functions.… read more

Cancer-patient big data can save lives if shared globally

May 23, 2016

Data-sharing vision as facilitated by GA4GH through its working groups (credit: GA4GH)

Sharing genetic information from millions of cancer patients around the world could revolutionize cancer prevention and care, according to a paper in Nature Medicine by the Cancer Task Team of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH).

Hospitals, laboratories and research facilities around the world hold huge amounts of this data from cancer patients, but it’s currently held in isolated “silos” that don’t talk to each other, according to… read more

Gene helps prevent heart attack, stroke; may also block effects of aging

May turn out to be the "fountain-of-youth gene," say researchers
May 20, 2016

This is an atherosclerotic lesion. Such lesions can rupture and cause heart attacks and strokes. (credit: UVA School of Medicine)

University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered that a gene called Oct4 — which scientific dogma insists is inactive in adults — actually plays a vital role in preventing ruptured atherosclerotic plaques inside blood vessels, the underlying cause of most heart attacks and strokes.

The researchers found that Oct4 controls the conversion of smooth muscle cells into protective fibrous “caps” inside plaques, making the plaques less likely to… read more

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