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Implantable brain electronics is here

Invented by Harvard and Chinese scientists, the new method could treat neurodegenerative disorders and paralysis
June 10, 2015

Bright-field image showing the mesh electronics being injected through sub-100 micrometer inner diameter glass needle into aqueous solution. (credit: Lieber Research Group, Harvard University)

In a world first,  U.S. and Chinese scientists have developed a method to inject microelectronic devices such as wires and transistors directly into the brain (or other body parts) to measure or stimulate neural activity. The new method could lead to sophisticated new ways to treat conditions ranging from neurodegenerative disorders to paralysis.

Developed by researchers in Charles Lieber’s lab at Harvard University and the National Center for… read more

Real Jurassic World not far from reality?

June 9, 2015

Jurassic_World_poster-ft

Jurassic World, the fourth installment in the successful film series, in theaters June 12, will take viewers back to a world in which dinosaurs have been revived.

It’s not just be a movie, says Andrew Torrance, professor at the University of Kansas School of Law. We are close to “de-extinction” — reviving extinct creatures, he suggests.

While dinosaur fossils are too old and… read more

Virtual-reality display allows stroke patients to spontaneously recover use of paralyzed arm

June 9, 2015

stroke recovery

In a clinical study, Spanish researchers have used a Microsoft Kinect to help stroke patients increase their ability to use a paralyzed arm.

Stroke patients with “hemiparesis” —- reduced muscle strength on one side of the body — often under-use their affected limbs even though they still have some motor function. A long period of non-use of the affected “paretic” limb can lead to further loss of… read more

Your entire viral infection history from a single drop of blood

June 8, 2015

VirScan-ft

New technology called called VirScan developed by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers makes it possible to test for current and past infections with any known human virus by analyzing a single drop of a person’s blood.

With VirScan, scientists can run a single test to determine which viruses have infected an individual, rather than limiting their analysis to particular viruses. That unbiased approach could uncover unexpected… read more

Creating DNA-based nanostructures without water

Could lead to complex nanoelectronic chips
June 8, 2015

Georgia Tech postdoctoral researcher Isaac Gállego shows the viscosity of a new solvent used for assembling DNA nanostructures (credit: Rob Felt)

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered an new process for assembling DNA nanostructures in a water-free solvent, which may allow for fabricating more complex nanoscale structures — especially, nanoelectronic chips based on DNA.

Scientists have been using DNA to construct sophisticated new structures from nanoparticles (such as a recent development at Brookhaven National Labs reported by KurzweilAI May 26), but the use… read more

South Korean Team Kaist wins DARPA Robotics Challenge

Top three teams awarded total of $3.5 million in prizes
June 8, 2015

Team KAIST's DRC-Hubo robot turns valve 360 degrees in DARPA Robotics Challenge Final (credit: DARPA)

First place in the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals this past weekend in Pomona, California went to Team Kaist of South Korea for its DRC-Hubo robot, winning $2 million in prize money.

Team IHMC Robotics of Pensacola, Fla., with its Running Man (Atlas) robot came in at second place ($1 million prize), followed by Tartan Rescue of Pittsburgh with its CHIMP robot ($500,000 prize).… read more

Super-resolution electron microscopy of soft materials like biomaterials

Breakthrough technique allows for noninvasive nanoscale imaging with electron beams, bypassing optical microscopy limitations
June 5, 2015

CLAIRE image-ft

Soft matter encompasses a broad swath of materials, including liquids, polymers, gels, foam and — most importantly — biomolecules. At the heart of soft materials, governing their overall properties and capabilities, are the interactions of nano-sized components.

Observing the dynamics behind these interactions is critical to understanding key biological processes, such as protein crystallization and metabolism, and could help accelerate the development of important new technologies, such as artificial… read more

3-D printing tough biogel structures for tissue engineering or soft robots

New stretchable, biocompatible materials with complex patterning could be used for creating a human nose or ear
June 5, 2015

3-D printing tough, biocompatible PEG–alginate–nanoclay hydrogels into ear and nose shapes (credit: Sungmin Hong et al./ Advanced Materials)

Researchers at three universities have developed a new way of making tough — but soft and wet — biocompatible hydrogel materials into complex and intricately patterned shapes. The process might lead to scaffolds for repair or replacement of load-bearing tissues, such as cartilage. It could also allow for tough but flexible actuators for future robots, the researchers say.

The new process is described in a paper in the… read more

Building and transplanting a bioengineered forelimb

Experimental technique used to create whole organs appears feasible for creation of complex tissues
June 5, 2015

A suspension of muscle progenitor cells is injected into the cell-free matrix of a decellularized rat limb, which provides shape and structure onto which regenerated tissue can grow. (credit: Bernhard Jank, MD, Ott Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine)

A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has made the first steps towards developing bioartificial replacement limbs suitable for transplantation.

In a Biomaterials journal report, the researchers describe using an experimental approach previously used to build bioartificial organs to engineer rat forelimbs with functioning vascular and muscle tissue. They also provided evidence that the same approach could be applied to the limbs of primates.

“The… read more

First multi-organ transplant that includes skull and scalp

June 5, 2015

James Boyson (credit: KPRC TV)

James Boysen, a 55-year-old software developer from Austin, Texas has become the first patient to receive a scalp and skull transplant while receiving kidney and pancreas transplants.

More than 50 health care professionals from Houston Methodist Hospital and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center assisted with or supported the double surgery over a period of more than 24 hours.

“This was a… read more

Planarian regeneration model discovered by AI algorithm

Could help improve bioengineered regeneration of complex organs
June 4, 2015

Head-trunk-tail planarian regeneration results from experiments (credit: Daniel Lobo and Michael Levin/PLOS  Computational Biology)

An artificial intelligence system has for the first time reverse-engineered the regeneration mechanism of planaria — the small worms whose extraordinary power to regrow body parts has made them a research model in human regenerative medicine.

The discovery by Tufts University biologists presents the first model of regeneration discovered by a non-human intelligence and the first comprehensive model of planarian regeneration, which had eluded human scientists for more than… read more

Next-generation energy-efficient light-based computers

New algorithm automates design of optical interconnect devices
June 4, 2015

Infrared light enters this silicon structure from the left. The cut-out patterns, determined by an algorithm, route two different frequencies of this light into the pathways on the right. This is a greatly magnified image of a working device that is about the size of a speck of dust. (credit: Alexander Piggott)

Stanford University engineers have developed a new design algorithm that can automate the process of designing optical interconnects, which could lead to faster, more energy-efficient computers that use light rather than electricity for internal data transport.

Light can transmit more data while consuming far less power than electricity. According to a study by David Miller, the MIT W.M. Keck Foundation Professor of Electrical Engineering, up to 80… read more

‘Brainprints’ could replace passwords

June 3, 2015

Sarah Laszlo, an assistant professor of Psychology, is photographed at her laboratory in Science IV. (credit: Jonathan Cohen, Binghamton University)photographer

The way your brain responds to certain words could be used to replace passwords, according to a study by researchers from Binghamton University, published in academic journal Neurocomputing.

The psychologists recorded volunteers’ EEG signals from volunteers reading a list of acronyms, focusing on the part of the brain associated with reading and recognizing words.

Participants’ “event-related potential” signals reacted differently to each acronym, enough that a computer… read more

Autistic brain is hyper-functional — needs predictable, paced environments, study finds

Challenges conventional treatments for autism
June 3, 2015

Part of the "Squeeze Machine," designed by Temple Grandin (credit: Therafin Corp.)

A new open-access study shows that social and sensory overstimulation drives autistic behaviors and supports the unconventional view that the autistic brain is actually hyper-functional. The research offers new hope, with therapeutic emphasis on paced and non-surprising environments tailored to the individual’s sensitivity.

For decades, autism has been viewed as a form of mental retardation, a brain disease that destroys children’s ability to learn, feel and empathize, thus leaving… read more

Improving the experience of the audience with digital instruments

June 2, 2015

Virtual content being displayed on stage and overlapping the instruments and the performers (credit: Dr Florent Berthaut)

University of Bristol researchers have developed a new augmented-reality display that allows audiences to better appreciate digital musical performances

The research team from the University’s Bristol Interaction and Graphics (BIG) has been investigating how to improve the audiences experience during performances with digital musical instruments, which are played by manipulating buttons, mic, and various other controls.

Funded by a Marie Curie grant, the IXMI project, led by Florent Berthaut, aims to… read more

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