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Cellular mechanisms for attention in the brain found

July 31, 2013


The ability to pay attention to relevant information while ignoring distractions is a core brain function. Without the ability to focus and filter out “noise,” we could not effectively interact with our environment.

But despite much study of attention in the brain, the cellular mechanisms responsible for the effects of attention have remained a mystery.

Researchers from Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine and the University of… read more

Cellular biocomputer diagnoses and zaps cancer

September 8, 2011


Researchers led by ETH Zurich professor Yaakov Benenson and MIT professor Ron Weiss have incorporated a diagnostic biological “computer” network in human cells.

This network recognizes certain cancer cells using logic combinations of five cancer-specific molecular factors, triggering cancer cells’ apoptosis (destruction).

The long-term goal is to construct biocomputers — biological computers that operate in living cells and detect molecules carrying important information about… read more

Cells, Live and in 3-D

August 13, 2007

MIT researchers have designed a microscope for generating three-dimensional movies of live cells in their native state, without staining and in their natural environment.

One potential application may be in drug screening tests in live cells. Researchers could dose cells with a potential therapeutic compound and use the microscope to watch their response.

Cells That Read Minds

January 9, 2006

The monkey brain contains a special class of cells, called mirror neurons, that, surprisingly, fire when the animal sees or hears an action and when the animal carries out the same action on its own.

The discovery is shaking up numerous scientific disciplines, shifting the understanding of culture, empathy, philosophy, language, imitation, autism and psychotherapy.

Everyday experiences are also being viewed in a new light. Mirror neurons reveal… read more

Cells That Go Back in Time

April 11, 2005

Some animals can grow new body parts through a process called dedifferentiation — and humans may be able to do so, too. New regeneration studies could solve ethical concerns about embryonic stem-cell research.

Cells taken from the retina act as ‘ink’ in inkjet printer

December 18, 2013


UK researchers have used inkjet printing technology to successfully use ganglion cells and glial cells taken from the eye as “ink” in printing retinal patterns.

The breakthrough could lead to the production of artificial tissue grafts made from the variety of cells found in the human retina and may aid in the search to cure blindness.

The results are preliminary and provide proof-of-principle that an inkjet printer can… read more

Cells Induced to ‘De-Differentiate’ Back into Stem Cells

March 16, 2004

For the first time, researchers have induced differentiating cells to revert to being stem cells. The achievement with the fruit fly Drosophila suggests that de-differentiation should be explored as yet another route to generating stem cells for therapeutic purposes.

The researchers reported their findings in the March 14, 2004, advanced online edition of the journal Nature.

Cells from small biopsies can be used to grow large numbers of a patient’s own protective brain cells

October 4, 2013

Cells from brain biopsies in patients with Parkinson's Disease.

Scientists at the University of Western Ontario in Canada enrolled patients with Parkinson’s disease who were scheduled to have deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery and removed small biopsies near the surface of the brain.

They then multiplied the cells in culture to generate millions of patient-specific cells that were then subjected to genetic analysis.

These cells exhibited regeneration and characteristics of a fundamental class of brain… read more

Cells as living calculators

May 17, 2013

MIT engineers have created synthetic biology circuits that can perform analog computations such as taking logarithms and square roots in living cells (credit:

By combining existing genetic “parts,” or engineered genes, in novel ways, MIT engineers have transformed bacterial cells into living calculators that can compute logarithms, divide, and take square roots, using three or fewer genetic parts.

The circuits perform those calculations in an analog fashion by exploiting natural biochemical functions that are already present in the cell rather than by reinventing them with digital logic.… read more

Cells Are Like Robust Computational Systems, Scientists Report

June 17, 2009

Gene regulatory networks in cell nuclei use redundancy — backups for master genes — in the same way that large computing systems, such as Amazon and Google, can keep operating despite server failures, an international team led by Carnegie Mellon University computational biologist Ziv Bar-Joseph reports.

Cells are crawling all over our bodies, but how?

October 20, 2011

This is an electron microscope image of two crawling worm sperm magnified ~5,000X (credit: Courtesy, Tom Roberts, FSU Dept. of Biological Science)

Florida State University cell biologist Tom Roberts and his research team have found a novel way to study cell mobility that could lead to development of therapies that target cell motility to interfere with or block the metastasis of cancer, for example.

For better and for worse, human health depends on a cell’s motility — the ability to crawl from place to place. In every human body, millions… read more

Cellphones used for medical imaging?

May 1, 2008

University of California at Berkeley researchers have developed a technique for transmitting medical images via cellphones.

The cell phone, hooked up to the data acquisition device (breast tomoography sensor, xray or MRI machine, etc.), would transmit the raw data to a central server, where the information would be used to create an image. The server would then relay a highly compressed image back to the cell phone, where the… read more

Cellphones to get disaster alerts

May 12, 2011

A national emergency alert system that will send messages to cellphones during disasters is set to be launched in New York City and Washington by the end of year.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, said the Commercial Mobile Alert System will direct messages to cellphones in case of a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or other serious emergency. The plan was approved by Congress in 2006.… read more

Cellphones could be used to build ‘audio Internet’ (article preview)

October 27, 2008

The IBM India Research Laboratory in New Dehli is testing a system for allowing people to create their own voice-based website, or VoiceSite, in just under 4 minutes.

Cellphone-based optometry solution allows for low-cost eye exams

July 5, 2010


MIT Media Lab researchers have developed an interactive, portable, and inexpensive solution for estimating refractive errors in the human eye.

The NETRA system uses an ordinary cell phone. The subject looks into this display at a very close range and aligns (overlaps) displayed patterns . Since the light rays from these patterns pass through different regions of the visual system, the alignment task gives a measure… read more

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