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Targeted brain stimulation aids stroke recovery in mice

Works even when initiated five days after stroke occurred
August 19, 2014

Optogenetic treatment (Credit: Deisseroth Laboratory)

Stanford University School of Medicine have found that light-driven stimulation technology called optogenetics enhances stroke* recovery in mice — even when initiated five days after stroke occurred.

The mice showed significantly greater recovery in motor ability than mice that had experienced strokes but whose brains weren’t stimulated.

“In this study, we found that direct stimulation of a particular set of nerve cells in the brain —… read more

Artificial cells mimic natural protein synthesis

Another barrier between artificial and natural falls
August 19, 2014

Fluorescent image of DNA (white squares) patterned in circular compartments connected by capillary tubes to the cell-free extract flowing in the channel at bottom. Compartments are 100 micrometers in diameter. (Credit: Weizmann Institute)

Weizmann Institute scientists have created an artificial network-like cell system that is capable of reproducing the dynamic behavior of protein synthesis.

This achievement could help gain a deeper understanding of basic biological processes and pave the way toward controlling the synthesis of naturally occurring and synthetic proteins for many uses.

The system was designed by PhD students Eyal Karzbrun and Alexandra Tayar in the lab of… read more

Neuromorphic ‘atomic-switch’ networks function like synapses in the brain

August 19, 2014

atomic-switch network

Researchers in the U.S. and Japan have developed a self-assembled neuromorphic (brain-like) device comprising more than a billion interconnected “atomic-switch” inorganic synapses embedded in a complex network of silver nanowires.

The researchers are located at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (MANA) at the National Institute forread more

Scientists able to zoom in and out as the brain processes sound

Mouse research could lead to better treatments for hearing loss
August 18, 2014

A two-photon microscopy image showing a calcium sensor (green), the nuclei of neurons (red) and supporting cells called astrocytes (magenta). (Credit: John Issa/Johns Hopkins Medicine)

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have mapped a new technique for watching auditory processing in the brains of mice as brain cells lit up when the mice listened to tones and one another’s calls.

The results, which represent a step toward better understanding how our own brains process language, appear online July 31 in the journal Neuron.

In the past, researchers often studied sound processing… read more

Scientists bypass spinal column non-invasively to trigger walking

Could allow paraplegics to walk some day
August 18, 2014

An artificial connection from brain to locomotion circuit (credit: Yukio Nishimura)

Japanese researchers have created an “artificial neural connection” (ANC) from the brain directly to the spinal locomotion center in the lower thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine, potentially one day allowing patients with spinal-cord damage, such as paraplegics, to walk.

The study led by Shusaku Sasada, research fellow, and Yukio Nishimura, associate professor, both of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS), was published… read more

‘Shape-memory polymer’ material could help reconstruct faces

New material molds itself precisely to the shape of the bone defect without being brittle and also supports the growth of new bone tissue
August 18, 2014

A new material that changes shape upon heating could help heal bone lesions caused by injuries, tumor removal or birth defects, such as cleft palates. (The white bar is 1 cm, or less than half an inch long.) (Credit: Melissa Grunlan, Ph.D.)

Texas A&M University researchers have developed a “self-fitting” material that expands with warm salt water to precisely fill bone defects and also acts as a scaffold for new bone growth, as they reported last week at the 248th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Currently, the most common method for filling bone defects in the head, face or jaw (known as the cranio-maxillofacial… read more

A self-organizing thousand-robot swarm

August 15, 2014

The Kilobots, a swarm of one thousand simple but collaborative robots. (Credit: Mike Rubenstein and Science/AAAS.)

The first thousand-robot flash mob has assembled at Harvard University.

“Form a sea star shape,” directs a computer scientist, sending the command to 1,024 little bots simultaneously via an infrared light. The robots begin to blink at one another and then gradually arrange themselves into a five-pointed star. “Now form the letter K.”

The ‘K’ stands for Kilobots, the name given to these extremely simple robots, each just… read more

Could ‘genetically edited’ fruits avoid the GMO backlash?

August 15, 2014

Genetically edited apples that don't brown when sliced could be possible (credit: iStock)

Recent advances in precise editing of genomes now raise the possibility that fruit and other crops might be genetically improved without the need to introduce foreign genes, as in  genetically modified organisms (GMOs), say researchers writing in the Cell Press publication Trends in Biotechnology on August 13.

The notion is that “genetically edited” fruits might be met with greater acceptance than GMOs. This could mean “super bananas” that produce more vitamin… read more

Complex 3D physical tissue model simulates live cortex biochemical and electrical behavior

August 15, 2014

(Credit: Tufts University)

Tufts University researchers have developed the first reported complex three-dimensional model made of material that simulates cortical tissue’s biochemical and electrophysiological responses.
“Rather than reconstructing a whole-brain network, we aimed at reducing the structural complexity to fundamental features that are relevant to tissue-level physiological functions,” the authors note in a paper in the August 11 Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Funded by… read more

Could hemp nanosheets topple graphene for better supercapacitor electrodes?

No, you can't smoke the supercapacitor
August 14, 2014

Hemp field in Côtes-d'Armor, Brittany, France (credit: Barbetorte, Creative Commons)

As hemp* makes a comeback in the U.S. after a decades-long ban on its cultivation, scientists are reporting that fibers from the plant can pack as much energy and power as graphene, long-touted as the model material for supercapacitors.

David Mitlin, Ph.D., explains that supercapacitors are energy storage devices that have huge potential to transform the way future electronics are powered.

Unlike today’s rechargeable… read more

Eco-friendly ‘pre-fab’ self-assembling nanoparticles could revolutionize nano manufacturing

August 14, 2014

Pre-assembly of molecules and polymer chains from the<br />
molecular scale to form nanoscale "pre-fab" building modeules will<br />
allow making large, mesoscale assemblies for devices.  In this way<br />
the mesoscale patterns can utilize the improved electronic properties<br />
in the pre-assembled modules.

University of Massachusetts Amherst scientists have developed a breakthrough technique for creating water-soluble nano-modules and controlling molecular assembly of nanoparticles over multiple length scales.

The new method should reduce the time nanotech manufacturing firms spend in trial-and-error searches for materials to make electronic devices such as solar cells, organic transistors, and organic light-emitting diodes.

“The old way can take years,” says materials chemist Paul Lahti,… read more

Blood-brain-barrier disruption with high-frequency pulsed electric fields

August 14, 2014

A cortical microvessel stained for blood–brain barrier protein ZO-1 (credit: Nathan S. Ivey/Wikimedia Commons/)

A team of researchers from Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences have developed a new technique for using pulsed electric energy to open the blood-brain-barrier (BBB) for treating brain cancer and neurological disorders.

Their Vascular Enabled Integrated Nanosecond pulse (VEIN pulse) procedure consists of inserting minimally invasive needle electrodes into the diseased tissue and applying multiple bursts of 850-nanosecond pulsed electric… read more

Robot-assisted ultrasound imaging supported in two research studies

August 13, 2014

Telerobotic ultrasound

Two recent research studies “lift robotic imaging and telemedicine to the next level,” says Sherif F. Nagueh, MD, Medical Director of the Echocardiography Laboratory at the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center in Houston, Texas in JACC-Imaging.

In Germany, Partho P. Sengupta, MD, of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai used a small, lightweight robotic-arm connected to a personal computer in Munich to do… read more

Implanted neuronal stem cells generate neurons and synapses, becoming a functioning part of mouse brain

August 13, 2014

Part of a brain slice in which a transplanted induced neural stem cell is fully integrated in the neuronal network of the brain (blue) to develop into a complex and functional neuron (credit: University of Luxembourg)

Scientists at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg have grafted induced neuronal stem cells (iNSC) into the brains of mice, with long-term functionality and stability, for the first time. Six months after implantation, the new neurons, reprogrammed from skin cells, became fully and functionally integrated into the brain, creating synapses and glial cells.

This successful implantation of neurons raises… read more

Nanocubes of magnetic material align into DNA-like helical structures

Research could lead to future novel self-assembled materials
August 12, 2014

SEM image of a well-defined double helix (credit: Weizmann Institute of Science)

Weizmann Institute scientists have found that given the right conditions, cube-shaped nanoparticles self-assemble into unexpectedly beautiful and complex helical structures.

The scientists describe their research in the journal Science.

Rafal Klajn, PhD, and postdoctoral fellow Gurvinder Singh, PhD, of the Institute’s Organic Chemistry Department used nanocubes of an iron oxide material called magnetite, which has magnetic properties.

Together with the research group of… read more

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