science + technology news

Multi-layer nanoparticles glow when exposed to invisible near-infrared light

Emit light for bioimaging, solar energy, and currency security
November 11, 2015

An artist's rendering shows the layers of a new, onion-like nanoparticle whose specially crafted layers enable it to efficiently convert invisible near-infrared light to higher energy blue and UV light. (credit: Kaiheng Wei (Davidwei_loga@foxmail.com))

A new onion-like nanoparticle developed at the State University of New York University at Buffalo could open new frontiers in biomaging, solar-energy harvesting, and light-based security techniques.

The particle’s innovation lies in its layers: a coating of organic dye, a neodymium-containing shell, and a core that incorporates ytterbium and thulium. Together, these strata convert invisible near-infrared light to higher energy blue and UV light with record-high efficiency.… read more

New ‘tricorder’ technology might be able to ‘hear’ tumors

November 9, 2015

packaged CMUT-ft

Stanford electrical engineers have developed an enhancement of technology intended to safely find buried plastic explosives and spot fast-growing tumors, using a combination of microwaves and ultrasound to develop a detector similar to the legendary Star Trek tricorder.

The work, led by Assistant Professor Amin Arbabian and Research Professor Pierre Khuri-Yakub, grows out of DARPA research designed to detect buried plastic… read more

3D-printed microchannels deliver oxygen, nutrients from artery to tissue implant

Solves one of the biggest challenges in regenerative medicine: keeping implant tissues alive during growth in a lab
November 6, 2015

A miniature 3D-printed network of microchannels designed to link up an artery to a tissue implant to ensure blood flow of oxygen and nutrients. Flow rate at the inlet is equal to 0.12 mL/min. (credit: Renganaden Sooppan et al./Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods)

Scientists have designed an innovative structure containing an intricate microchannel network of simulated blood vessels that solves one of the biggest challenges in regenerative medicine: How to deliver oxygen and nutrients to all cells in an artificial organ or tissue implant that takes days or weeks to grow in the lab prior to surgery.

The new study was performed by a research team led by Jordan Miller, assistant professor… read more

A new 3-​​D printing method for creating patient-​​specific medical devices

Especially valuable for creating catheters for prema­ture babies
November 4, 2015

Preemie (credit: March of Dimes)

Northeastern University engineers have devel­oped a 3-D printing process that uses mag­netic fields to shape com­posite materials (mixes of plas­tics and ceramics) into patient-specific biomedical devices, such as catheters.

The devices are intended to be stronger and lighter than cur­rent models and the cus­tomized design could ensure an appro­priate fit, said Ran­dall Erb, assis­tant pro­fessor in the Depart­ment of Mechan­ical and Indus­trial Engi­neering.

The magnetic field… read more

Just one junk-food snack triggers signals of metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes
November 3, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Just one high-calorie milkshake was enough to make metabolic syndrome worse for some people. And overindulgence in just a single meal or snack (especially junk food) is enough to trigger the beginnings of metabolic syndrome, which is associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes (obesity around the waist and trunk is the main sign).

That finding… read more

Single-agent phototherapy system diagnoses and kills cancer cells

November 2, 2015

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Researchers at Oregon State University have announced a new single-agent phototherapy (light-based) approach to combating cancer, using a single chemical compound (SiNc-PNP), for both diagnosis and treatment.

The compound makes cancer cells glow when exposed to near-infrared light so a surgeon can identify the cancer. The compound includes a copolymer called PEG-PCL as the biodegradable carrier. The carrier causes the silicon naphthalocyanine to accumulate selectively in cancer… read more

How to 3-D print a heart

October 23, 2015

Coronary artery structure being 3-D bioprinted (credit: Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering)

Carnegie Mellon scientists are creating cutting-edge technology that could one day solve the shortage of heart transplants, which are currently needed to repair damaged organs.

“We’ve been able to take MRI images of coronary arteries and 3-D images of embryonic hearts and 3-D bioprint them with unprecedented resolution and quality out of very soft materials like collagens, alginates and fibrins,” said Adam Feinberg, an… read more

Custom 3-D printed ear models help surgeons carve new ears

October 21, 2015

Children with under-formed or missing ears can undergo surgeries to fashion a new ear from rib cartilage, as shown in the above photo. But aspiring surgeons lack lifelike practice models. (credit: University of Washington)

A University of Washington (UW) otolaryngology resident and a bioengineering student have used 3-D printing to create a low-cost pediatric rib cartilage model that more closely resembles the feel of real cartilage, which is used in an operation called auricular reconstruction (ear replacement).

The innovation could make it possible for aspiring surgeons to become proficient in the sought-after but challenging procedure. And because the UW… read more

How to control heartbeats more precisely, using light

October 20, 2015

Using computer-generated light patterns, researchers were able to control the direction of spiralling electrical waves in heart cells. (credit: Eana Park)

Researchers from Oxford and Stony Brook universities has found a way to precisely control the electrical waves that regulate the rhythm of our heartbeat — using light. Their results are published in the journal Nature Photonics.

Cardiac cells in the heart and neurons in the brain communicate by electrical signals, and these messages of communication travel fast from cell to cell as “excitation waves.”… read more

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

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