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Researchers regrow human corneas in mice

July 7, 2014

This is a restored functional cornea following transplantation of human ABCB5-positive limbal stem cells to limbal stem cell-deficient mice. Transplants consisting of human ABCB5-positive limbal stem cells resulted in restoration and long-term maintenance of a normal clear cornea, whereas control mice that received either no cells or ABCB5-negative cells failed to restore the cornea. (Credit: Kira Lathrop, Bruce Ksander, Markus Frank, and Natasha Frank)

A team of Boston medical researchers has identified a way to trigger regrowth of human corneal tissue using stem cells. The finding could restore vision for victims of chemical injury and others with damaging eye diseases.

Limbal stem cells, which reside in the eye’s limbus, help maintain and regenerate corneal tissue. Their loss due to injury or disease is one of the leading causes of blindness.… read more

Nanoshell shields foreign enzymes used to starve cancer cells from immune system

July 3, 2014

The shell’s pores are too small for the enzyme to escape but big enough for diffusion of amino acids that feed cancer cells in and out of the particle. The enzymes remain trapped inside where they deplete any amino acids that enter.  (Credit: Inanc Ortac)

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a nanoshell to protect foreign enzymes used to starve cancer cells as part of chemotherapy.

Enzymes are naturally smart machines that are responsible for many complex functions and chemical reactions in biology. However, despite their huge potential, their use in medicine has been limited by the immune system, which is designed to attack foreign intruders.

For… read more

A new battery that’s cheap, clean, rechargeable, and organic

Could pave the way for renewable energy sources to make up a greater share of a country's energy generation by economically storing energy at night
July 3, 2014

USC professor Sri Narayan's research focuses on the fundamental and applied aspects of electrochemical energy conversion and storage to reduce the carbon footprint of energy use and by providing energy alternatives to fossil fuel (credit: USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Scientists at USC have developed a water-based organic battery that is long-lasting and built from cheap, eco-friendly components (no metals or toxic materials).

The new battery is intended for use in power plants, where it could make the energy grid more resilient and efficient by creating a large-scale means to store energy for use as needed.

“The batteries last for about 5,000 recharge cycles, giving them an estimated… read more

Engineered red blood cells could carry therapeutic or diagnostic payloads

July 3, 2014

Human red blood cells supported on a glass slide (credit: Whitehead Institute)

Whitehead Institute scientists and associates have modified red blood cells (RBCs) to carry a range of valuable therapeutic and diagnostic payloads — such as drugs, vaccines, and disease-detecting imaging agents  — for delivery to specific sites throughout the body.

“We wanted to create high-value red cells that do more than simply carry oxygen,” says Whitehead Founding Member Harvey Lodish, who collaborated with Whitehead Member… read more

Muscle-powered bio-bots walk on command

July 2, 2014

Tiny walking “bio-bots” are powered by muscle cells and controlled by an electric field (credit: University of Illinois)

Engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated a class of walking “bio-bots” powered by muscle cells and controlled with electrical pulses, giving researchers unprecedented command over their function.

The group published its work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (open access).

“Biological actuation driven by cells is a… read more

An electronic switch just three atoms thick

July 2, 2014

In the top panel, this three-atom thick crystal is shown as semiconductor that is non-conductive. An outward tug on the material (shown in the middle panel) clicks the crystal into a metallic, or conductive state. The third panel shows the crystal back in a non-conductive state. (Credit, Karel-Alexander Duerloo)

Three Stanford researchers have discovered a flexible, switchable material that can form a paper-like sheet just three atoms thick and  behave like a switch.

As noted in articles on KurzweilAI, there’s a lot of interest in developing electronic devices based on such materials, which could enable a cell phone to be woven into a shirt, for example.

The new Stanford material can be mechanically pulledread more

Robot astronaut inspires medicine and manufacturing spinoffs

July 1, 2014

The version of Robonaut currently on the station (credit: NASA)

Robonaut, a human-like robot designed by NASA and General Motors (GM), whose aim is to avoid the scenario in the movie Gravity — and perform other tasks  to free up human crew time and energy — has spun off three other astronaut helpers.

Robonatu has been on the International Space Station since February 2011. Researchers have been testing the robot’s ability to perform… read more

Bio-printing transplantable tissues and organs is now a step closer

July 1, 2014

Blood vessels (credit: University of Sydney)

Scientists from the Universities of Sydney, Harvard, Stanford, and MIT have bio-printed artificial vascular networks mimicking the body’s circulatory system.

These networks are necessary for growing large complex transplantable tissues and organs for people affected by major diseases and trauma injuries.

“Thousands of people die each year due to a lack of organs for transplantation,” says study lead author and University of Sydney researcher Luiz Bertassoni. ”Many more are… read more

Giant space telescope could detect hints ot life on exoplanets

June 30, 2014

An artist’s concept of the ATLAST telescope under construction in space. This design has a segmented mirror 20 metres across. Credit: NASA/STScI)

Advanced Technologies Large Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST) — a giant telescope in space 20 meters across that could give scientists a good chance of detecting hints of life on exoplanets (planets around other stars) — has been proposed by U.S. and European scientists.

In a recent talk at the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2014), Prof. Martin Barstow of the University of Leicester and President of… read more

Crowdsourcing for robots

Humans acting like robots teach robots to act like humans
June 30, 2014

The UW’s robot builds a turtle model (credit: University of Washington)

Crowdsourcing can be a quick and effective way to teach a robot how to complete tasks, University of Washington computer scientists have shown.

Learning by imitating a human is a proven approach to teach a robot to perform tasks, but it can take a lot of time. But if the robot could learn a task’s basic steps, then ask the online community for additional input, it could collect more… read more

Wearable computing gloves can teach Braille, even if you’re not paying attention

June 27, 2014

A wearable computing technology helps people learn how to read and write Braille as they concentrate on other tasks (credit: Georgia Tech)

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have developed wearable computing technology to help people learn how to read and write Braille.

Surprisingly, people wearing the glove don’t have to pay attention while learning.

“The process is based on passive haptic learning (PHL),” said Thad Starner, a Georgia Tech professor and wearable computer pioneer. “We’ve learned that people can acquire motor skills through vibrations without devoting active attention… read more

Ultrasonic waves allow for precision micro- and nano-manufacturing of thin-film chips

"By tuning the sound waves, we can create any pattern we want on the surface of a microchip."
June 27, 2014

sawchip

Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have developed a method for using ultrasonics to enable precision micro- and nano-manufacturing, precisely controlling the spread of a thin-film fluid along a specially designed chip.

Thin-film technology is the bedrock of microchip and microstructure manufacturing, and applications of the research range from thin-film coatings for paint and wound care to 3D printing, micro-casting, and micro-fluidics.

“Manufacturing using thin… read more

A 36-core chip design with an Internet-style communication network

Chips of the future will resemble little Internets
June 27, 2014

The MIT researchers' new 36-core chip is "tiled," meaning that it simply repeats the same circuit layout 36 times. Tiling makes multicore chips much easier to design (Credit: Bhavya K. Daya et al.)

The more cores — or processing units — a computer chip has, the bigger the problem of communication between cores becomes.

Now, Li-Shiuan Peh, the Singapore Research Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, speaking at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture, hasread more

A self-powered cardiac pacemaker

June 26, 2014

This picture shows that a self-powered cardiac pacemaker is enabled by a flexible piezoelectric energy harvester (credit: KAIST)

A research team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed a self-powered artificial cardiac pacemaker operated semi-permanently by a flexible piezoelectric nanogenerator.

Currently, pacemaker batteries last seven years on average, requiring frequent replacements, which may pose patients to a potential risk involved in medical procedures.

The nanogenerator directly stimulated a living rat’s heart using electrical energy converted from the small body… read more

Google innovations at Google I/O

June 26, 2014

Android Wear (credit: Google)

Google announced several innovations at  7th annual Google I/O developer conference (Google I/O) Wednesday. Among them:

Android Wear connects your phone to your wrist (say “Ok Google” to ask questions, read or send a text, get alerts, schedule a meeting, etc.). Google also announced that two Android wearables, the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, are available to order today, and the Moto 360 from Motorola… read more

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