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Carbon nanotubes found in cells from airways of asthmatic children in Paris

Carbon nanotubes, possibly from cars, are ubiquitous, found even in ice cores --- we may all have them in our lungs, say Rice scientists
October 19, 2015

carbon in lung cells

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been found in cells extracted from the airways of Parisian children under routine treatment for asthma, according to a report in the journal EBioMedicine (open access) by scientists in France and at Rice University.

The cells were taken from 69 randomly selected asthma patients aged 2 to 17 who underwent routine fiber-optic bronchoscopies as part of their treatment. The… read more

Surgeons reroute nerves to restore hand, arm movement to quadriplegic patients

October 15, 2015

A nerve transfer bypasses the zone of a spinal cord injury (C7). Functional nerves (green) that are under volitional control are rerouted (yellow) to nerves (red) that come off below the spinal cord injury. (credit: Washington University in St. Louis)

A pioneering surgical technique has restored some hand and arm movement to nine patients immobilized by spinal cord injuries in the neck, reports a new study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Bypassing the spinal cord, the surgeons rerouted healthy nerves sitting above the injury site, usually in the shoulders or elbows, to paralyzed nerves in the hand or arm. Once a connection was established, patients… read more

Smaller silver nanoparticles more likely to be absorbed by aquatic life, UCLA study finds

Effects on marine life of the more than 2,000 consumer products that contain nanoparticles are largely unknown
October 7, 2015

Deposits of 20-nanometer silver nanoparticles in zebrafish gill filaments (outlined in red) (credit: Olivia J. Osborne et al./ACS Nano)

A study led by UCLA scientists has found that smaller silver nanoparticles entered fish’s bodies more deeply and persisted longer than larger silver nanoparticles or fluid silver nitrate.

More than 2,000 consumer products today contain nanoparticles — particles so small that they are measured in billionths of a meter. Manufacturers use nanoparticles to help sunscreen work better against the sun’s rays and to make athletic apparel better at wicking… read more

A fast cell sorter shrinks to cell phone size

October 6, 2015

An artist's conception of an acoustic cell sorter is the cover image on the current issue of Lab on a Chip. (credit: Huang Group/Penn State)

Penn State researchers have developed a new lab-on-a-chip cell sorting device based on acoustic waves that is capable of the kind of high sorting throughput necessary to compete with commercial fluorescence activated cell sorters, described in the cover story in the current issue of the British journal Lab on a Chip.

Commercial fluorescence activated cell sorters have been highly successful in the past 40 years at rapidly and… read more

Sleep may strengthen long-term memories in the immune system

New evidence shows that lack of sleep puts your body at risk
October 6, 2015

brain vs. immune ft

Deep (slow-wave*) sleep, which helps retain memories in the brain, may also strengthen immunological memories of encountered pathogens, German and Dutch neuroscientists propose in an Opinion article published September 29 in Trends in Neurosciences.

The immune system “remembers” an encounter with a bacteria or virus by collecting fragments from the microbe to create memory T cells, which last for months or years and help the body… read more

A biomimetic dental prosthesis

September 29, 2015

Cross section of the artificial tooth under an electron microscope (false colour): Ceramic platelets in the enamel are orientated vertically. In the dentin, they are aligned horizontally. (credit: Hortense Le Ferrand/ETH Zürich)

A new procedure that can mimic the complex fine structure of biological composite materials, such as teeth or seashells, has been developed by ETH Zurich researchers. It could allow for creating synthetic materials that are as hard and tough as their natural counterparts.

The secret of these hard natural biomaterials is in their unique fine structure: they are composed of different layers in which numerous micro-platelets are… read more

A new class of anti-obesity compounds with potential anti-diabetic properties

Mice with pre-existing obesity lost 20 percent of their body weight and about 50 percent of their fat mass
September 24, 2015

Prevalence of Self-Reported Obesity Among U.S. Adults by State and Territory, BRFSS, 2014 (credit: Behavorial Risk Factor Surveillance System/CDC)

A molecule known as MnTBAP* has rapidly reversed obesity in mice and could be effective for humans in the future, according to researchers from Skidmore College and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

“In the span of a month, mice with pre-existing obesity lost 20 percent of their body weight and about 50 percent of their fat mass,” said… read more

Smart robot accelerates cancer treatment research by finding optimal treatment combinations

September 23, 2015

Iterative search for anti-cancer drug combinations. The procedure starts by generating an initial generation (population) of drug combinations randomly or guided by biological prior knowledge and assumptions. In each iteration the aim is to propose a new generation of drug combinations based on the results obtained so far. The procedure iterates through a number of generations until a stop criterion for a predefined fitness function is satisfied. (credit: M. Kashif et al./Scientific Reports)

A new smart research system developed at Uppsala University accelerates research on cancer treatments by finding optimal treatment drug combinations. It was developed by a research group led by Mats Gustafsson, Professor of Medical Bioinformatics.

The “lab robot” system plans and conducts experiments with many substances, and draws its own conclusions from the results. The idea is to gradually refine combinations of substances so that… read more

3D-printed silicone guide with chemical cues helps regenerate complex nerves after injury

Research could help more than 200,000 people annually who suffer from nerve injuries or disease
September 18, 2015

3D scans of a nerve are used to create a custom regeneration guide. (credit: University of Minnesota)

A national team of researchers used a combination of 3-D imaging and 3-D printing techniques to create a custom silicone guide implanted with biochemical cues to help nerve regeneration after an injury.

Nerve regeneration is a complex process, which is why regrowth of nerves after injury or disease is very rare and often permanent, according to the Mayo Clinic.

As a test, the researchers used a 3-D scanner… read more

Controlling brain cells with ultrasound

Sonogenetics may be able to selectively activate brain, heart, muscle, and other cells using ultrasonic waves, similar to optogenetics
September 15, 2015

For the first time, sound waves are used to control brain cells. Salk scientists developed the new technique, dubbed sonogenetics, to selectively and noninvasively turn on groups of neurons in worms that could be a boon to science and medicine. (credit: Salk Institute)

Salk scientists have developed a new method, dubbed sonogenetics, to selectively activate brain, heart, muscle and other cells using ultrasonic waves (the same type of waves used in medical sonograms).

This new method may have advantages over the similar light-based approach known as optogenetics, particularly for human therapeutics. It is described today (Sept. 15, 2015) in the journal Nature Communications.

Sreekanth Chalasani,… read more

Cocoa flavanols lower blood pressure and increase blood-vessel function in healthy people

Poor diet and high blood pressure now number one risk factors for death
September 14, 2015

Cocoa pods (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Two recently published studies in the journals Age and the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN) demonstrate that consuming cocoa flavanols improves cardiovascular function and lessens the burden on the heart that comes with the aging and stiffening of arteries, while reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD)

As we age, our blood vessels become less flexible and less able to expand to let blood flow and circulate normally, and… read more

‘Lab-on-a-Chip’ microfluidics technology may cut costs of lab tests for diseases and disorders

Requires 90 percent less sample fluid
September 14, 2015

The Rutgers lab-on-a chip is three inches long and an inch wide -- the size of a glass microscope slide. (credit: Mehdi Ghodbane)

Rutgers engineers have developed a breakthrough microfluidics device that can significantly reduce the cost of sophisticated lab tests while using 90 percent less sample fluid than needed in conventional tests.

It uses miniaturized channels and valves to replace “benchtop” assays — tests that require large samples of blood or other fluids and expensive chemicals that lab technicians manually mix in trays of tubes or plastic platesread more

Cancer patient receives 3D-printed ribs in world-first surgery

September 12, 2015

(Credit: CSIRO)

A Spanish cancer patient has received a 3D-printed titanium sternum and rib cage.

Suffering from a chest wall sarcoma (a type of cancerous tumor that grows, in this instance, around the rib cage), the 54 year old man needed his sternum and a portion of his rib cage replaced. This part of the chest is notoriously tricky to recreate with prosthetics, due to the complex geometry and design required… read more

First known magnetic wormhole created

Could make MRIs more comfortable for patients and improve magnetic imaging
September 7, 2015

magnetic-wormhole ft

A wormhole* that can connect two regions of space magnetically has been created in the laboratory and experimentally demonstrated by physicists at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain.

This is not a wormhole in space, as in the movie Interstellar. It’s a special design that transfers a magnetic field from one location in space to another in such a way that the process is magnetically… read more

Life expectancy climbs worldwide but people spend more years living with illness and disability

Global life expectancy has risen by more than six years since 1990
September 2, 2015

Life expectancy at birth, both sexes, 2013 (credit: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation)

The good news: as for 2013, global life expectancy for people in 188 countries has risen 6.2 years since 1990 (65.3 to 71.5). The bad news: healthy life expectancy (HALE) at birth rose by only 5.4 years (56.9 to 62.3), due to fatal and nonfatal ailments (interactive visualization by country here).

In other words, people are living more years with illness and disability. Ischemic heart disease, lower… read more

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