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New algorithm helps evaluate, rank scientific literature

April 23, 2013


Keeping up with current scientific literature is a daunting task, considering that hundreds to thousands of papers are published each day. Now researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a computer program to help them evaluate and rank scientific articles in their field.

The researchers use a text-mining algorithm to prioritize research papers to read and include in their Comparative Toxicogenomics Databaseread more

Nano compartments may aid drug delivery, catalyst design

April 23, 2013

This false-color image (left) depicts the core lattice in blue, where drugs can be placed in compartment pores for targeting in the body. In the hexagon-shaped cylinder branches, other types of drugs may be place for delivery. Simultaneous delivery of pharmaceuticals can thus be optimized for each drug separately. The accompanying illustration (right) offers a clear vision of the left image. (Credit:

Cornell researchers have created spongelike nanoparticles with separate compartments that could deliver two or more different drugs to the same location, with precise control over the amounts,  avoiding unpleasant side effects.

The technology might also be applied to catalysts used to enhance chemical reactions, which are sometimes formed into porous nanoparticles to expose more surface area. Compartmented particles could allow two or more catalysts to… read more

Breakdowns in DNA copying process lead to cancer, other diseases

April 23, 2013

(credit: University of York)

The cell protein machines that copy DNA in a model organism pause frequently during this copying process, creating the potential for dangerous mutations to develop that can contribute to cancer and other diseases., University of York researchers have discovered.

The project focused on a bacterium called Escherichia coli, a powerful model for studying the DNA copying process.

“We have analyzed what causes most of… read more

A frog-like robot that crawls inside your abdomen

April 22, 2013

intra-abdominal robot on steel plate-1

Researchers at the University of Leeds are using the feet of tree frogs as a model for a tiny robot designed to crawl inside patients’ bodies during keyhole surgery.

It is designed to move across the internal abdominal wall of a patient, allowing surgeons to see what they are doing on a real-time video feed.

The tree frog’s feet provide a solution to the… read more

Smaller thermal cameras with smaller pixels for warfighters

Compact five-micron-pixel LWIR camera demonstrated
April 22, 2013

(credit: DARPA)

DARPA researchers have demonstrated a new five-micron-pixel long-wave infrared (LWIR) camera that could make this class of camera smaller and less expensive. (A micron is a millionth of a meter.)

The military uses LWIR (also know as “far IR”) cameras as thermal imagers to detect humans at night. These cameras are usually mounted on vehicles as they are too large to be carried by a… read more

Nanosponges soak up toxins released by bacterial infections and venom

April 22, 2013

From left, nanosponge cross section and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) (credit: UC San Diego)

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have invented a “nanosponge” capable of safely removing a broad class of dangerous toxins from the bloodstream — including toxins produced by MRSA, E. coli, poisonous snakes and bees.

These nanosponges, thus far studied in mice, can neutralize “pore-forming toxins,” which destroy cells by poking holes in their cell membranes. Unlike other anti-toxin platforms that need to… read more

Securely storing and interpreting the genome

Avoiding the Gattaca scenario
April 22, 2013


At a time when sequencing the genome is becoming democratized, questions have arisen about the interpretation of these data and their secure storage. Sophia Genetics, an EPFL Science Park start-up, specializes in this area.

Complete sequencing of the genome will soon enable personalized treatments. Moreover, new prescription drugs based on genetic markers are coming on the market. Given the drastic reduction in the… read more

New private rocket launches into orbit on maiden voyage

April 22, 2013


A new commercial U.S. rocket soared into the Virginia sky Sunday  (April 21) on a debut flight that paves the way for eventual cargo flights to the International Space Station for NASA, reports.

The private Antares rocket, built by Orbital Sciences, is a two-stage booster designed to launch tons of supplies to the International Space Station aboard a new unmanned cargo ship called Cygnus.… read more

Cancer centers racing to map patients’ genes

April 22, 2013

Human genome sequence

Major academic medical centers in New York and around the country are spending and recruiting heavily in what has become an arms race within the war on cancer.

The investments are based on the belief that the medical establishment is moving toward the routine sequencing of every patient’s genome in the quest for “precision medicine,” a course for prevention and treatment based on the special, even unique characteristics of… read more

Making text more readable on wearable displays

April 22, 2013


Osaka University researchers have developed a text-display algorithm that places the current message on the darkest region in view at any given moment and in a readable color, making wearable displays like Google Glass more usable, New Scientist reports.

This is done using the headset’s camera, which plots a constantly changing heat map of viable on-screen reading locations. The algorithm can also split up a message into two… read more

Bigelow Aerospace and NASA look at private exploration

April 22, 2013


Bigelow Aerospace and NASA say they’ve agreed to look at ways for private ventures to contribute to human exploration missions, perhaps including construction of a moon base, but not asteroids and Mars, NBC News Cosmic Log reports.

The Moon ranks high among the targets that Bigelow Aerospace has in mind. The Nevada-based company has been working on moonbase concepts for years, including a… read more

Biosensor patch monitors brain, heart, muscle signals

April 22, 2013

A close-up view of the Bio-patch (credit: KTH The Royal Institute of Technology)

The future of health care could be found in a tiny, paper-thin skin patch that collects vital information.

The Bio-patch sensor developed by KTH Royal Institute of Technology researchers is inexpensive, versatile, and comfortable to wear. It measures bioelectrical signals through the skin when applied to different parts of the body.

“On the chest it provides electrocardiography (ECG), on the skull it measures brainwaves… read more

Google fiber now coming to the ‘Silicon slopes’

April 21, 2013


The Google Fiber team is in Provo, Utah, where Mayor John Curtis announced that Google intends to make Provo its third Google Fiber City (after Kansas City and Austin), Google Fiber Blog reports.

Google has signed an agreement to purchase iProvo, an existing fiber-optic network owned by the city, upgrade the network to gigabit technology, and finish network construction so that every home along the existing… read more

Will robots create new jobs when they take over existing ones?

April 19, 2013


At a robotics industry event organized by business blog Xconomy in Menlo Park last week, people working on better industrial robots claimed their robotics technology will actually boost the U.S. economy and create more jobs, even if some jobs do disappear forever, MIT Technology Review reports.

“We’re replacing jobs that people don’t want to do and really shouldn’t be doing,” said Aldo Zini, whose company… read more

New technique to deliver life-saving drugs to the brain

April 19, 2013


Researchers from Florida International University (FIU)’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine have developed a revolutionary technique that can deliver and fully release the anti-HIV drug AZTTP into the brain.

Madhavan Nair, professor and chair, and Sakhrat Khizroev, professor and vice chair of the HWCOM’s Department of Immunology, used magneto-electric nanoparticles (MENs) to cross the blood-brain barrier and send a significantly increased level… read more

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