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How to turn your smartphone into a microscope for 1 cent

May 5, 2015

Lens on iPhone 4S (credit: Yulu Sung)

University of Houston (UH) scientists have created an optical lens that  you can directly attach over an inexpensive smartphone camera lens to amplify images 120 times with an imaging resolution of 1 micrometer for just one cent (to create the lens in a lab), according to Wei-Chuan Shih, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UH.

The new lens could also have clinical applications,… read more

Combination immunotherapy significantly more effective for patients with advanced melanoma

The power of the immune system if we can remove the “brakes”
May 4, 2015

A melanoma (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) are reporting exciting results in the field of cancer immunology.

Positive results from a clinical trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine show that the combination of the immunotherapy drugs ipilimumab (Yervoy™) and nivolumab (Opdivo™) produced significantly better outcomes than ipilimumab alone in patients with advanced melanoma.

A second piece in the same… read more

Real-time noninvasive PET imaging to detect tumors

May 4, 2015

Non-invasive PET imaging-ft

Whitehead Institute scientists have developed a method to detect tumors by real-time imaging of the immune system using positron emission tomography (PET). The new method replaces blood draws and invasive biopsies. It’s a potential breakthrough in diagnostics and monitoring the efficacy of cancer therapies.

An example of such a therapy is a new way to get the entire immune system to attack cancer, which KurzweilAI recently reported.… read more

A DNA repair map of the entire human genome

Could lead to better or improved cancer drugs and to repair methods for radiation damage to DNA
May 4, 2015

Researchers in the lab of Aziz Sancar, MD, PhD, created this map of DNA repair for every human chromosome. (Credit: UNC)

A new experimental assay can help scientists find the precise locations of repair of DNA damage caused by radiation and common chemotherapies. The invention could lead to better cancer drugs or improvements in the potency of existing ones, and also to repair methods for radiation damage to DNA.

When the common chemotherapy drugs cisplatin or oxaliplatin hit cancer cells, they damage DNA so that the cells can’t replicate. But… read more

What happens to your brain on the way to Mars?

Long-term galactic cosmic ray exposure leads to dementia-like cognitive impairments
May 4, 2015

radiation effects

Exposure to highly energetic charged particles — much like those found in the galactic cosmic rays that bombard astronauts during extended spaceflights — causes significant damage to the central nervous system, resulting in cognitive impairments, according to a UC Irvine radiation oncology open-access study appearing in the May 1 edition of Science Advances.

“This is not positive news for astronauts deployed on a two- to three-year round… read more

Printing silicon on paper with lasers

May 1, 2015

silicon on paper

Researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have pioneered a method that allows silicon, in the polycrystalline form used in circuitry, to be produced directly on a substrate from liquid silicon ink with a single laser pulse.

The capacity for printing silicon ink onto substrates has existed for some time, but necessitated a 350° C thermal annealing step — far too hot for paper and other common… read more

A whiteboard of the future

May 1, 2015

Handwriting with a magnet-ft

Researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed an inexpensive handwriting-enabled e-paper suited to large displays like whiteboards.

The display is made from black-and-white microparticles about 0.1 millimeter in diameter. One hemisphere of each particle is black and carries a negative charge, while the other is white and carries a positive charge. The particles are sandwiched between two electrodes. By switching the direction of the voltage across the electrodes… read more

Scientists discover key driver of human aging

Salk Institute findings on premature aging syndrome could lead to way of slowing or reversing aging process
May 1, 2015

Salk Institute researchers discovered that a protein mutated in the premature aging disorder, Werner syndrome, plays a key role in stabilizing heterochromatin, a tightly packaged form of DNA. More generally, the findings suggest that heterochromatin disorganization may be a key driver of aging. This image shows normal human cells (left) and genetically modified cells developed by the Salk scientists to model Werner syndrome (right), which showed signs of aging, including their large size. (Credit: Salk Institute for Biological Studies)

A study tying the aging process to the deterioration of tightly packaged bundles of cellular DNA could lead to methods of preventing and treating age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, scientists at the Salk Institute and the Chinese Academy of Science note in a paper published Thursday, April 30 in the journal Science.

They found that the genetic mutations underlying… read more

Artificial photosynthesis could help make fuels, plastics, and medicine

New process using semiconductor nanodevices and bacterium-based biocatalysts could cut our reliance on fossil fuels
April 30, 2015

solar powered artificial photosynthetic approach-ft

A team of scientists has invented a new artificial photosynthetic system that could one day reduce industry’s dependence on fossil fuel-derived energy by powering it with solar energy and bacteria.

In the ACS journal Nano Letters, they describe a novel system that converts light and carbon dioxide into building blocks for plastics, pharmaceuticals and fuels — all without electricity.

Plants use photosynthesis to convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide… read more

New tool can switch neural behavior ‘on’ and ‘off’

A BRAIN initiative first
April 30, 2015

updated DREADD-ft

University of North Carolina (UNC) scientists have perfected a noninvasive “chemogenetic” technique that allows them to switch off a specific behavior in mice — such as voracious eating — and then switch it back on. This unique tool — the first to result from the NIH BRAIN Initiative — will help scientists understand how to modulate neurons to more effectively treat diseases.

The method works… read more

IBM demonstrates superconducting quantum computer

New design detects both types of quantum errors and can be scalable to larger systems
April 30, 2015

IBM four qubit square circuit

IBM scientists Wednesday April 29 unveiled two critical advances towards creating a practical quantum computer by detecting and measuring both kinds of quantum errors simultaneously. They also demonstrated a new, square quantum bit circuit design that they suggest is the only physical architecture that could successfully scale to larger dimensions.

Quantum computers promise to open up new capabilities in the fields of optimization and simulation… read more

Making robots more human by detecting human emotions

Stretchable, ultrasensitive strain sensors could provide a simple, low-cost way for robots to detect emotions
April 30, 2015

Schematic illustration of stretchable transparent ultrasensitive strain sensors attached to the forehead, near the mouth, under the eye, and on the neck to sense skin strains induced by muscle movements during expression of emotions and daily activities (credit: Eun Roh et al./ACS Nano)

If robots could detect human emotions, it might make them more “human.” That’s the premise of new research by Korean scientists, who have developed simple, low-cost, ultra-sensitive wearable strain sensors that can detect facial expressions.

This kind if detection is normally done with vision sensors connected to a computer, with facial-analysis algorithms, but such systems are expensive and have low mobility and high complexity, the researchers note in a… read more

The most comprehensive 3-D map of the universe

April 29, 2015

A slice through the 3D map of the nearby universe. Our Milky Way galaxy is in the centre, marked by a cross.  The map spans nearly two billion light years from side to side. Regions with many galaxies are shown in white or red, whereas regions with fewer galaxies are dark blue.  (Credit: University of Waterloo)

Astrophysicists have created a 3D map of the universe that spans nearly two billion light years and is the most complete picture of our cosmic neighborhood to date.

The spherical map of galaxy superclusters will lead to a greater understanding of how matter is distributed in the universe and provide key insights into dark matter, one of physics’ greatest mysteries, the astronomers say.

“The galaxy distribution isn’t uniform… read more

A new material for creating artificial blood vessels

Human trials expected in a few years
April 29, 2015

The artificial material (left) combines well with the biomaterial (right) (montage). (Credit: TU Wien)

Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) and Vienna Medical University (MedUni Vienna) researchers have developed artificial blood vessels made from a special elastomer material (thermoplastic polyurethanes) with excellent mechanical properties.

The artificial blood vessels are designed to be broken down by the body and replaced with its own tissue. At the end of this restorative process, a natural, fully functional vessel will be… read more

Three babies given 3-D printed custom-designed airway splints found healthy in follow-up study

April 29, 2015

A baby’s life was saved with this groundbreaking 3-D printed device that restored his breathing (credit: University of Michigan Health System)

Three babies who received groundbreaking 3-D-printed devices that helped keep their airways open are today healthy, off of ventilators, and no longer need paralytics, narcotics and sedation, say researchers have closely followed their cases to see how well the bioresorable splints implanted in all three patients have worked.

The promising results were published in today’s (April 29) issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Kaiba was just a newborn when he… read more

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