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A future cochlear implant with no exterior hardware required

February 13, 2014

(Credit: M. Yip et al.)

A new low-power signal-processing chip that could lead to a cochlear implant that does not require external devices has been developed by researchers at MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratory (MTL), together with physicians from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI).

The chip uses the natural microphone of the middle ear rather than a skull-mounted microphone. The implant would be… read more

First map of core white-matter connections of human brain developed at USC

May help better address clinical challenges such as traumatic brain injury
February 12, 2014


USC neuroscientists have systematically created the first map of the core white-matter “scaffold” (connections) of the human brain — the critical communications network that supports brain function.

Their work, published Feb. 11 in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, has major implications for understanding brain injury and disease, the researchers say.

By detailing the connections that have the greatest influence over all other connections, the researchers offer… read more

New self-healing polymers require no chemicals or catalysts

February 12, 2014


University of Illinois researchers have developed new self-healing materials that do not require extra chemicals or catalysts.

“The key advantage of using this material is that it’s catalyst-free and low-temperature, and can be healed multiple times,” said U. of I. materials science and engineering professor Jianjun Cheng. “This can heal the crack before it causes major problems by propagating.”

Other self-healing material… read more

Red-light-sensitive protein discovery enables more complex studies of neuron interactions

February 12, 2014


Optogenetics is a technique that allows scientists to control neurons’ electrical activity with light by engineering them to express light-sensitive proteins. It’s a  powerful tool for discovering the functions of different types of cells in the brain.

Most of these light-sensitive proteins, known as opsins, respond to light in the blue-green range.

Now, a team led by MIT has discovered an opsin that is sensitive to… read more

Capturing ultrasharp images of multiple cell components simultaneously

Could shed light on complex cellular pathways and lead to new ways to diagnose and monitor disease
February 12, 2014


A new microscopy method could enable scientists to generate images of dozens of different biomolecules in a human cell simultaneously, a team from the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University reported in Nature Methods.

Such images could shed light on complex cellular pathways and potentially lead to new ways to diagnose disease, track its prognosis, or monitor the effectiveness of therapies at a cellular… read more

New live-cell printing technology improves on inkjet printing

February 11, 2014


A new way to print living cells onto any surface and in almost any shape has been developed by researchers led by Houston Methodist Research Institute nanomedicine faculty member Lidong Qin.

Unlike a similar inkjet printing process, almost all cells survive.

The new process, called Block-Cell-Printing (BloC-Printing), produces 2-D cell arrays in half an hour, prints the cells as close together as 5 microns (most animal cells… read more

Nanomotors that are controlled, for the first time, inside living cells

February 10, 2014


Penn State University chemists and engineers have, for the first time, placed tiny synthetic motors inside live human cells in a lab, propelled them with ultrasonic waves, and steered them magnetically.

KurzweilAI has covered a number of designs for microbots studies in laboratories (and one that uses a pill that is swallowed) that could one day be passively or actively propelled through the… read more

Wearable ‘neurocam’ records scenes when it detects user interest

February 10, 2014


Keio University scientists have developed a “neurocam” — a wearable camera system that detects emotions, based on an analysis of the user’s brainwaves.

The hardware is a combination of Neurosky’s Mind Wave Mobile and a customized brainwave sensor.

The algorithm is based on measures of “interest” and “like” developed by Professor Mitsukura and the neurowear team.

The users interests are quantified… read more

Searching space dust for minute quantities of life’s ingredients

February 10, 2014


Goddard Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory scientists have applied advanced technology to inspect extremely small meteorite samples for the components of life.

“We found amino acids in a 360 microgram sample of the Murchison meteorite,” said Callahan. “This sample size is 1,000 times smaller than the typical sample size used.

“We got the same results looking at a very small fragment as we did a much larger fragment… read more

X-ray imaging protein molecules at atomic resolution using a graphene cage

New imaging method could provide new insights into illness at the molecular level
February 10, 2014


Michigan Technological University researchers have developed a method of achieving transmission electron microscopy (TEM) atomic-resolution images and nanometer-resolution spectroscopy of biological samples by encapsulating them between two layers of graphene.

The method overcomes the limitations* of TEM imaging of biological samples, and uses a low-dose-rate X-ray imaging technique, so electron beam radiation damage can be reduced to hydrogen-bond-breakage level.

The researchers tried their technique on a biochemical… read more

Nanoparticle pinpoints blood-vessel plaques

A step toward identifying plaques vulnerable to rupture that causes heart attack and stroke
February 7, 2014

An artery with plaque buildup (credit: NIH)

A team of researchers led by scientists at Case Western Reserve University has developed a multifunctional nanoparticle that enables magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to pinpoint blood vessel plaques caused by atherosclerosis.

The technology is a step toward creating a non-invasive method of identifying plaques vulnerable to rupture — the cause of heart attack and stroke — in time for treatment.

Currently, doctors can identify only blood vessels that… read more

Mimicking atherosclerosis with blood cells on a microchip

Speeding up nanomedicine research by bypassing the 15-year FDA process for nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems
February 7, 2014


Georgia Institute of Technology scientists have engineered a microchip coated with blood vessel cells. The objective: learn more about the conditions under which nanoparticles accumulate in the plaque-filled arteries of patients with atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of myocardial infarction and stroke.

They coated microchips with a thin layer of endothelial cells, which make up the interior surface of blood vessels.

In healthy blood vessels, endothelial cells act as… read more

IBM’s $100M ‘Project Lucy’ brings Watson to Africa

February 7, 2014

(Credit: IBM)

IBM has launched a 10-year initiative to bring Watson and other cognitive systems to Africa to fuel development and spur business opportunities across the world’s fastest growing continent. Dubbed “Project Lucy” after the earliest known human ancestor, IBM will invest US$100 million in the initiative, giving scientists and partners access to the world’s most advanced cognitive computing technologies for use in key… read more

A microchip for studying cancer metastasis

February 7, 2014


To visualize how cancer cells invade specific organs, researchers from MIT, Italy, and South Korea have developed a three-dimensional microfluidic platform (microchip) that mimics the spread of breast cancer cells into a bonelike environment.

(Nearly 70 percent of patients with advanced breast cancer experience skeletal metastasis, in which cancer cells migrate from a primary tumor into bone — a painful development that can cause fractures and spinal… read more

New form of graphene allows electrons to behave like photons

Could lead to ultra-fast graphene-based computing devices and superconductivity
February 6, 2014


Using electrons more like photons could provide the foundation for a new type of electronic device that would capitalize on the ability of graphene to carry electrons with almost no resistance even at room temperature — a property known as ballistic transport.

Research reported this week in the journal Nature shows that electrical resistance in nanoribbons of epitaxial graphene changes in discrete steps following quantum mechanical principles. The research… read more

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