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New drug reverses effects of Alzheimer’s disease in mice

August 7, 2014

TC-2153, a novel inhibitor of the STEP protein (credit: Jian Xu et al./PLoS Biology)

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have discovered a new drug compound that reverses the brain deficits of Alzheimer’s disease in mice. Their findings are published in the Aug. 5 issue of the journal PLoS Biology (open access).

The compound, TC-2153, inhibits the negative effects of a protein called STtriatal-Enriched tyrosine Phosphatase (STEP) on learning and memory. These cognitive functions are impaired in Alzheimer’s.

“Decreasing STEP levels reversed… read more

New protein structure could help diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s, many related diseases

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, but researchers are one step closer to finding a treatment
August 7, 2014

An abnormal protein, left, is intercepted by the UW’s compound that can bind to the toxic protein and neutralize it, as shown at right (credit: University of Washington)

University of Washington (UW) bioengineers have designed a peptide structure that they say could stop the harmful changes of the body’s proteins linked to widespread diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The new synthetic molecule blocks these proteins as they shift from their normal state into an abnormally folded form, by targeting a toxic intermediate phase.

The discovery… read more

Using lasers and carbon nanotubes to look inside living brains

August 7, 2014

A fluorescent image of the mouse brain taken in the 1300-1400 nm NIR-IIa region, which clearly shows the brain vasculature of a live mouse through the intact scalp and skull (credit: Dai lab)

Stanford chemists have developed an non-invasive technique using lasers and carbon nanotubes to capture an unprecedented look at blood flowing through a living brain.

The new technique was developed for mice but could one day be applied to humans, potentially providing vital information in the study of stroke and migraines, and perhaps even Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, the researchers say.

The work is described in the… read more

Recovering audio from videos

August 6, 2014

Recovering sound -ft

Researchers at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have developed an algorithm that can reconstruct an audio signal by analyzing minute vibrations of objects depicted in video.

In one set of experiments, they were able to recover intelligible speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag photographed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass.

In other experiments, they extracted useful audio signals from videos… read more

How to enable the Internet of Things without batteries

August 6, 2014

Wi-Fi Backscatter system includes a Wi-Fi reader, a Wi-Fi helper, and a RF-powered device (Wi-Fi Backscatter tag) (credit: University of Washington)

University of Washington engineers have designed a clever new communication system called Wi-Fi backscatter that uses ambient radio frequency signals as a power source for battery-free devices (such as temperature sensors or wearable technology) and also reuses the existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to provide Internet connectivity for these devices.

“If Internet of Things devices are going to take off, we must provide connectivity to the potentially… read more

Virtual acoustic ‘bottle’ bends path of sound waves better than metamaterials

Applications include super-high-resolution medical imaging, acoustic levitation, and acoustic cloaking and trapping
August 6, 2014

After being emitted from a planar-phased source, sound energy forms a 3D acoustic bottle of high-pressure walls and a null region in the middle. Pressure field at bottom shows self-bending ability of the bottle beam to circumvent 3D obstacles. Dashed arrows indicate wave front direction. (Credit: Xiang Zhang group)

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers have developed a technique to generate an acoustic bottle-like “object” in open air from sound. The virtual object can bend the paths of sound waves along prescribed convex trajectories.

The new technique could allow for super-high-resolution imaging, acoustic cloaking (without requiring engineered metamaterials), and other exotic applications.

As shown in the illustration above, the acoustic “bottle” is in the… read more

Atomically precise self-assembling nanoscale fibers mimic living cells

Reversible fibrous self-assembly has been long sought for tissue engineering, drug delivery, nanoreactors, and imaging
August 5, 2014

Carnegie Mellon chemists have created a self-assembling nano fiber using green fluorescent protein (credit: Carnegie Mellon University)

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed a novel method for creating self-assembled protein/polymer nanostructures that resemble fibers found in living cells.

The work offers a promising new way to fabricate materials for drug delivery and tissue engineering applications.

The findings were published in the July 28 issue of Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

“We have demonstrated that, by adding flexible linkers to protein molecules, we can form… read more

‘Rewired’ mice show signs of longer lives with fewer age-related illnesses

Gene deletion boosts energy production while slowing cell proliferation
August 5, 2014

Mitochondrion (credit: BruceBlaus/Creative Commons)

Mice lacking a specific protein (TRAP-1) live longer lives with fewer age-related illnesses, such as tissue degeneration, obesity, and spontaneous tumor formation, when compared with normal mice, researchers at The Wistar Institute have discovered.

In healthy cells, TRAP-1 is an important regulator of metabolism and has been shown to regulate energy production in mitochondria, which are organelles that generate chemically useful energy for the cell.

In the… read more

‘Active’ surfaces that control fluids or particles

Self-cleaning solar cells in the desert is one application
August 5, 2014

Photo shows a water droplet sitting on a ferrofluid-impregnated surface, which has cloaked the droplet with a very thin layer.

Imagine a treated surface that that can actively control how fluids or particles move across it.

That’s what researchers at MIT and in Saudi Arabia have developed, using a simple microtextured surface, with bumps or ridges just a few micrometers across.

They impregnated the surface with a fluid that can be manipulated — for example, an oil infused with tiny magnetic particles, or ferrofluid, which can… read more

Elon Musk: AI is ‘potentially more dangerous than nukes’

August 5, 2014

Terminator 3

Elon Musk warned in a tweet Saturday that “we need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes,” and recommended Nick Bostrom’s book, Superintelligence.

Musk followed that up a day later with “Hope we’re not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence. Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable.” (A boot loader is a small program that loads other programs at… read more

Light pulses control how graphene conducts electricity

Change graphene from a conductor to a semiconductor
August 4, 2014

MIT researchers have found a way to control how graphene conducts electricity — using an extremely short but intense light pulse, which could enable graphene’s use as a broadband light detector.

By controlling the concentration of electrons in a graphene sheet, they could change the way the material responds to the light pulse:

  • At low electron concentration, the pulse increases the material’s electrical conductivity (this

read more

Could fossils be discovered on the Moon?

August 4, 2014

(Credit: Janet Ramsden)

University of Kent physicists have tested what would happen if a piece of rock containing microscopic fossils from Earth was launched into space and hit the surface of the moon.

Professor Mark Burchell and researchers from Kent ’s Centre for Astrophysics simulated the condition that fossilized diatoms — microscopic algae with detailed shells — might have faced if… read more

Ebola outbreak: second patient to be flown to Atlanta hospital Tuesday; 1603 cases, 887 deaths and rising

August 1, 2014

#EbolaOutbreak. Send newstips here. UPDATED:  August 5, 2014 at 2:07 am EDT (new content on top; new videos at bottom of this page)

  • Terror threat of lethal Ebola dirty bomb — The Sun
  • Ebola risk unheeded as Guinea’s villagers keep on eating fruit bats. — The Guardian 8/4/2014
  • The death toll from Ebola increased from 720 to

read more

Engineered biomaterial may regenerate damaged skeletal muscle

August 1, 2014

Cell-derived extracellular matrix (credit: Jeffrey C. Wolchok and Patrick A. Tresco/Biomaterials)

A biomaterial that can regenerate damaged skeletal muscle is being developed by University of Arkansas biomedical engineering researcher Jeffrey Wolchok, funded by a National Institutes of Health three-year, $437,248 grant.

Living cells secrete fibrous proteins and polysaccharide gels called extracellular matrix, which support cell survival and tissue strength. Minor muscle injuries affect tissue cells but not the extracellular components. In severe injuries, however, the extracellular matrix does not… read more

Nanostructured metal-oxide catalyst efficiently converts CO2 to methanol

August 1, 2014

Scanning tunneling microscope image of a cerium-oxide and copper catalyst (CeOx-Cu) used in the transformation of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) gases to methanol (CH3OH) and water (H2O). In the presence of hydrogen, the Ce4+ and Cu+1 are reduced to Ce3+ and Cu0 with a change in the structure of the catalyst surface. (Credit: BNL)

Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered a new catalytic system for converting carbon dioxide (CO2) to methanol — a key commodity used to create a wide range of industrial chemicals and fuels. With significantly higher activity than other catalysts now in use, the new system could make it easier to get normally unreactive CO2 to participate in these reactions.

“Developing an effective catalyst for synthesizing methanol… read more

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