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Could this common painkiller become a future cancer-killer?

January 12, 2016

(credit: iStock)

Diclofenac, a common painkiller, has significant anti-cancer properties, researchers from the Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project have found.

ReDO, an international collaboration between the Belgium-based Anticancer Fund and the U.S.- based GlobalCures, has published their investigation into diclofenac in the open-access journal ecancermedicalscience.

Diclofenac is a well-known non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) widely used to treat pain in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, fever, acute… read more

Self-adaptive material heals itself, stays tough

May be a useful biocompatible material for tissue engineering or a lightweight, defect-tolerant structural component
January 12, 2016

Rice University postdoctoral researcher Pei Dong holds a sample of SAC, a new form of self-adapting composite. The material has the ability to heal itself and to regain its original shape after extraordinary compression. (credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)

A flexible adaptive material invented at Rice University combines self-healing and reversible self-stiffening properties.

The material, called SAC (for self-adaptive composite), consists of sticky, micron-scale rubber balls that form a solid matrix. The researchers made SAC by mixing two polymers and a solvent that evaporates when heated, leaving a porous mass of gooey spheres. When cracked, the matrix quickly heals, over and over. And like a sponge, it… read more

DNA ‘lock and key’ allows for precision drug delivery to target cancer and other cells

January 12, 2016

DNA nanopore ft

Scientists at University College London (UCL) and Nanion Technologies in Munich have developed synthetic DNA-based pores that control which molecules can pass through a cell’s wall, achieving more precise drug delivery.

Therapeutics, including anti-cancer drugs, are ferried around the body in nanoscale carriers called vesicles, targeted to different tissues using biological markers. The new DNA-based pore design is intended to improve that process.

DNA Lock-and-key drug delivery

In… read more

Why evolution may be intelligent, based on deep learning

Like neural networks, evolution appears to "learn" from previous experience, which may explain how natural selection can produce such apparently intelligent designs
January 11, 2016

Moth Orchid (credit: Imgur.com)

A computer scientist and biologist propose to unify the theory of evolution with learning theories to explain the “amazing, apparently intelligent designs that evolution produces.”

The scientists — University of Southampton School of Electronics and Computer Science professor Richard Watson* and Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest) professor of biology Eörs Szathmáry* — say they’ve found that it’s possible for evolution to exhibit some of the same intelligent… read more

‘Robotic falcon’ can capture, retrieve renegade drones

January 11, 2016

Mo Rastgaar's drone catcher speeds toward a rogue drone. (credit: Michigan Technological University)

Mo Rastgaar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Technological University, and his team have developed a drone catcher that can pursue and capture rogue drones that might threaten military installations, air traffic, sporting events, and even the White House — as startled Secret Service officers discovered when one crash-landed on the White House lawn last January.

It’s a simple system (see video below):… read more

A battery that shuts down at high temperatures and restarts when it cools

Good news for future hoverboard and laptop users
January 11, 2016

Stanford researchers have developed a thin polyethylene film that prevents a lithium-ion battery from overheating, then restarts the battery when it cools. The film is embedded with spiky nanoparticles of graphene-coated nickel. (credit: Zheng Chen)

Stanford researchers have invented a lithium-ion battery that shuts down before overheating to prevent the battery fires that have plagued laptops, hoverboards and other electronic devices. The battery restarts immediately when the temperature cools.

The design is an enhancement of a wearable sensor that monitors human body temperature invented by Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. The sensor is made of a plastic material… read more

Do we have free will?

Neuroscientists run the ultimate experiment to find out: a "duel" between human and brain-to-computer interface (BCI)
January 8, 2016

This image shows a participant during the experiment. (credit: Charité, Carsten Bogler)

It’s a question that’s been debated by philosophers for centuries. Now neuroscientists from Charité –Universitätsmedizin Berlin have run an experiment to find out, using a “duel” game between human and brain-computer interface (BCI).

As KurzweilAI reported last year:
In the early 1980s, University of California, San Francisco neuroscientist Benjamin Libet conducted an experiment to assess the nature of free will. Subjects hooked up to an electroencephalogram (EEG)… read more

Cognitive-stimulation experiment suggests new tools for healthy brain aging

May also have a "preventive and therapeutic role in association with early AD-type neurodegeneration"
January 8, 2016

DMN connections

Neuroscientists in Italy and the U.K. have developed cognitive-stimulation exercises and tested them in a month-long experiment with healthy aging adults. The exercises were based on studies of the brain’s resting state, known as the “default mode network”* (DMN).

In a paper published in Brain Research Bulletin, the researchers explain that in aging (and at a pathological level in AD patients), the posterior (back) region of the DMN in the… read more

‘Fast radio burst’ signals from space a better test of Einstein’s General Relativity theory

January 7, 2016

This is a schematic illustration of CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope receiving the polarised signal from the new 'fast radio burst'. (Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions)

Physicists have developed a new way to test one of the basic principles underlying Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, which states that the geometry of spacetime is curved by the mass density of individual galaxies, stars, planets, and other objects.

The new method uses brief blasts of rare radio signals from space called fast radio bursts (FRBs) (see “Mysterious cosmic burst of radio waves detected by astronomers“… read more

‘Solar thermal fuel’ polymer film can harvest sunlight by day, release heat on-demand

Clothing that keeps you warm and windshields that melt ice are two of the possible uses
January 7, 2016

Solar thermal fuel polymer film comprised of three distinct layers (4 to 5 microns in thickness for each). Cross-linking after each layer enables building up films of tunable thickness. (credit: Courtesy of the researchers)

MIT researchers have developed a new transparent polymer film that can store solar energy during the day and release it later as heat, whenever needed. The material could be applied to many different surfaces, such as window glass or clothing.

The new material solves a problem with renewable solar energy: the Sun is not available at night or on stormy days. Most solutions have focused on storing and recovering… read more

An 18-inch video display you can roll up like a newspaper

January 6, 2016

(credit: LG)

LG is creating a buzz at CES with its concept demo of the world’s first display that can be rolled up like a newspaper.

LG says they’re aiming for 4K-quality 55-inch screens (the prototype resolution is 1,200 by 810 pixels), BBC reports.

The trick:  switching from LED to thinner, more-flexible OLED technology (organic light-emitting diodes), allowing for a 2.57 millimeter-thin display. One limitation: the screen… read more

Cell-free protein synthesis device is potential lifesaver

Lives of soldiers and others injured in remote locations could be saved with a cell-free protein synthesis device; could also produce custom orphan drugs and personalized medicines at low cost
January 6, 2016

This section of a serpentine channel reactor shows the parallel reactor and feeder channels separated by a nanoporous membrane. At left is a single nanopore viewed from the side; at right is a diagram of metabolite exchange across the membrane. (credit: ORNL)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists have developed a device that uses microfabricated bioreactors to produce therapeutic proteins for medicines and biopharmaceuticals. These miniature factories are cell-free, eliminating the need to maintain a living system, which radically simplifies the process and lowers cost, and makes the device easily adaptable for use in isolated locations and at disaster sites.

On-demand, point-of-care therapeutic protein synthesis requires that a dose of… read more

New synthetic molecular prosthetic cell acts as AND gate for disease treatment

January 6, 2016

Cytokine converter ft

An advanced “molecular prosthetic” — a cell with synthetic gene circuits that can be implanted into an organism to take over metabolic functions that the organism cannot perform itself — has been developed by  ETH Zurich scientists.

Previous gene circuits typically monitored only whether one disease-causing molecule (called a cytokine) was present in their environment and if so, produced a single therapeutic cytokine as a response. The… read more

Can human-machine superintelligence solve the world’s most dire problems?

January 5, 2016

New human-computation technologies: In creating problem-solving ecosystems, researchers are beginning to explore how to combine the cognitive processing of many human contributors with machine-based computing to build faithful models of the complex, interdependent systems that underlie the world’s most challenging problems. (credit: Pietro Michelucci and Janis L. Dickinson/Science)

Human Computation Institute | Dr. Pietro Michelucci

“Human computation” — combining human and computer intelligence in crowd-powered systems — might be what we need to solve the “wicked” problems of the world, such as climate change and geopolitical conflict, say researchers from the Human Computation Institute (HCI) and Cornell University.

In an article published in the journal Science, the authors present a new vision of human computation… read more

Real-time 3-D video of nematode brains links neurons with motion and behavior

January 5, 2016

C elegans neural activity

Princeton University researchers have captured some of the first near-whole-brain recordings of 3-D neural activity of a free-moving animal, and at single-neuron resolution. They studied the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, a worm species 1 millimeter long with a nervous system containing just 302 neurons.

The three-dimensional recordings could provide scientists with a better understanding of how neurons coordinate action and perception in animals.

As the researchers report in… read more

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