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Nanoprobes for deep-tissue optical imaging of proteins in neurons

April 1, 2014

Schuck-UCNPs

In a potential breakthrough in brain-tissue imaging, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers have developed ultra-tiny (sub-10-nanometers), ultra-bright nanoprobes for single-molecule deep-tissue optical imaging of proteins in neurons in the brain and other tissues.

Scientists often study proteins within cells by labeling them with light-emitting probes, but finding probes that are bright enough for imaging — but not so large as to disrupt the protein’s function… read more

A ‘mini heart’ to help return venous blood

A solution for chronic venous insufficiency, one of the most widespread diseases in the Western world
April 1, 2014

CardioVein snapshot

George Washington University (GW) researcher Narine Sarvazyan, Ph.D., has invented a new organ to help return blood flow from veins lacking functional valves. A rhythmically contracting cuff made of cardiac muscle cells surrounds the vein acting as a ‘mini heart’ to aid blood flow through venous segments. The cuff can be made of a patient’s own adult stem cells, eliminating the chance of implant rejection.… read more

Generating entangled photons by linking LEDs and superconductors

March 31, 2014

A magnet levitating above a high-temperature superconductor, cooled with liquid nitrogen (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A team of University of Toronto physicists led by Alex Hayat has proposed a novel and efficient way to leverage quantum entanglement: combining light-emitting diodes (LEDs) with a superconductor to generate entangled photons.

The method could open up a rich spectrum of new physics as well as devices for quantum technologies, including quantum computers and quantum communication, the researchers suggest.

“A usual light source… read more

A record quantum entanglement: 103 dimensions

More quantum dimensions easier to achieve than more qubits, researchers find
March 31, 2014

multi-dimensional-entanglement

An international team of researchers has created an entanglement of 103 dimensions with only two photons, beating the previous record of 11 dimensions.

The discovery could represent an advance toward toward better encryption of information and quantum computers with much higher processing speeds, according to a statement by the researchers.

Until now, to increase the “computing” capacity of these particle systems, scientists have mainly turned to increasing the number… read more

Einstein’s skepticism about quantum mechanics may lead to ultra-secure Internet

March 31, 2014

Albert Einstein portrait taken in 1935 in Princeton

Einstein’s skepticism* about quantum mechanics may lead to an ultra-secure Internet, suggests a new paper by researchers from Swinburne University of Technology and Peking University.

Associate Professor Margaret Reid from Swinburne’s Center for Quantum and Optical Science said Einstein’s reservations about quantum mechanics were highlighted in a phenomenon known as “spooky action at a distance,” which is the strange way entangled particles stay… read more

Keeping secrets in a world of spies and mistrust

March 31, 2014

Nature_Cover_27March

An article in Nature reviewing developments in quantum cryptography describes how we can keep our secrets secret even when faced with the double challenge of mistrust and manipulation.

In the March 27 issue of NatureCenter for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore ( CQT)’s Director Artur Ekert and Renato Renner review what physics tells us about keeping our secrets secret.… read more

The search for seeds of black holes

Galaxy mergers are not necessary to create big black holes, new observations suggest
March 31, 2014

The galaxy NGC 4395 is shown here in infrared light, captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A new study using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has turned up what might be the cosmic seeds from which a supermassive black hole will sprout.

The smallest black holes, only a few times greater in mass than our sun, form from exploding stars. The biggest, billions of times the mass of our sun, grow together with their host galaxies over time, deep in the… read more

Filtering light based on direction

Potential uses include solar photovoltaics, telescopes, microscopes, and privacy filters for display screens
March 31, 2014

angular-selective-sample

MIT researchers have developed a system that allows light of any color to pass through only if it is coming from one specific angle; the technique reflects all light coming from other directions.

This new approach could ultimately lead to advances in solar photovoltaics, detectors for telescopes and microscopes, and privacy filters for display screens.

The work is described in a paper appearing in the journal… read more

MIT’s fast synthesis system could boost peptide-drug development

Peptide drugs are expected to become a $25 billion market by 2018, but current archaic manufacturing methods are too slow
March 28, 2014

mit_peptides

Small protein fragments, also called peptides, are promising as drugs because they can be designed for very specific functions inside living cells, but manufacturing the peptides takes several weeks, making it difficult to obtain large quantities, and to rapidly test their effectiveness.

A team of MIT chemists and chemical engineers has designed a way to manufacture peptides in mere hours. The new system, described in… read more

First comprehensive atlas of human gene activity released

March 28, 2014

Samples profiled in FANTOM5 (credit: Alistair R. R. Forrest et al./Nature)

A large international consortium of researchers has produced the first comprehensive, detailed map of the way genes work across the major cells and tissues of the human body. The findings describe the complex networks that govern gene activity, and the new information could play a crucial role in identifying the genes involved with disease.

“Now, for the first time, we are able to pinpoint the… read more

Bio-printing tissues for cheaper, faster drug testing

3D-printing technology specifically tailored to printing biological materials, not repurposed
March 28, 2014

3d_printed_tube

Bio-printed tissues can help better predict and test whether a drug will be effective on people and at less cost, researchers at the University of British Columbia Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and spinoff Aspect Biosystems hope to prove.

Ultimately, this work could also lead to growing organs for human transplant.

Developing a new drug costs upward of $4 billion, a fee that gets passed… read more

The bioretrosynthesis solution: shifting evolution into reverse to make cheaper drugs

March 27, 2014

bioretrosynthesis_R7hires

Reversing the conventional process of creating new drugs, Vanderbilt University researchers have used an alternative approach called bioretrosynthesis to produce the expensive HIV drug didanosine.

“These days synthetic chemists can make almost any molecule imaginable in an academic laboratory setting,” said Vanderbilt associate professor of chemistry Brian Bachmann, who first proposed bioretrosynthesis four years ago. “But they can’t always make them cheaply or in large quantities. Using… read more

Simulated human liver achieved in ‘benchtop human’ project

March 27, 2014

The ATHENA organ project combines heart, liver, kidney, and lung features in a desktop toxicity testing platform (credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory)

Significant progress toward creating “homo minutus” — a benchtop human — was reported at the Society of Toxicology meeting on Mar. 26 in Phoenix.

The advance — successful development and analysis of a liver human organ construct that responds to exposure to a toxic chemical much like a real liver — was described in a presentation by John Wikswo, the Gordon A. Cain University Professor… read more

Facebook acquires Oculus VR

March 26, 2014

Oculus VR logo

“We started Oculus VR with a vision of delivering incredible, affordable, and ubiquitous consumer virtual reality to the world,” said Oculus VR in a public statement.

“We’ve come a long way in the last 18 months: from foam core prototypes built in a garage to an incredible community of active and talented developers with more than 75,000 development kits ordered.

“In the process, we’ve… read more

A better way to make muscle cells from human stem cells

No required genetic modifications, which would prohibit future clinical applications
March 26, 2014

suzuki_muscle_cellESC

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have discovered a new way to make large concentrations of skeletal muscle cells and muscle progenitors from human stem cells.

The new method, described in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, could be used to generate large numbers of muscle cells and muscle progenitors directly from human pluripotent stem cells. (Pluripotent stem cells, such as embryonic (ES) or induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells,… read more

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