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Master genetic switch for brain development discovered

November 24, 2015

Figure 1: Cells in which NeuroD1 is turned on are reprogrammed to become neurons. Cell nuclei are shown in blue (Höchst stain) and neurons, with their characteristic long processes, are shown in red (stained with neuronal marker TUJ1). (credit: A. Pataskar/J. Jung & V. Tiwari)

Scientists at the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) in Mainz, Germany have unraveled a complex regulatory mechanism that explains how a single gene, NeuroD1, can drive the formation of brain cells. The research, published in The EMBO Journal, is an important step towards a better understanding of how the brain develops and may lead to breakthroughs in regenerative medicine.

Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, are often… read more

An ultrafast 3-D imaging system to investigate traumatic brain injury

November 24, 2015

Still frame filmed at 200,000 frames/sec of a violently collapsing vapor bubble inside a brain-mimicking collagen gel (bubble size is approximately 100 microns). Inside the gel are thousands of brain cells (neurons). (credit: J. Estrada (Franck Lab)/Brown U)

Researchers at Brown University are using an ultrafast 3-D imaging system to investigate the effects of microcavitation bubbles on traumatic brain injury (TBI), experienced by some soldiers and football players.

In the fleeting moments after a liquid is subjected to a sudden change in pressure, microscopic bubbles rapidly form and collapse in a process known as cavitation.

In mechanical systems such as propellers, the resulting shock waves and… read more

First real-time imaging of neural activity invented

November 24, 2015

A series of images from a Duke engineering experiment show voltage spreading through a fruitfly neuron over a matter of just 4 milliseconds, a hundred times faster than the blink of an eye. The technology can see impulses as fleeting as 0.2 millisecond -- 2000 times faster than a blink. (credit: Yiyang Gong, Duke University)

Researchers at Stanford University and Duke University have developed a new technique for watching the brain’s neurons in action with a temporal (time) resolution of about 0.2 milliseconds — a speed that is just fast enough to capture the action potentials in mammalian brains in real time for the first time.

The researchers combined genetically encoded voltage indicators, which can sense individual action potentials from… read more

Quantum entanglement achieved at room temperature in macroscopic semiconductor wafers

November 23, 2015

quantum entanglement in silicon chip

Researchers in Prof. David Awschalom’s group at the Institute for Molecular Engineering have demonstrated macroscopic entanglement at room temperature and in a small (33 millitesla) magnetic field.

Previously, scientists have overcome the thermodynamic barrier and achieved macroscopic entanglement in solids and liquids by going to ultra-low temperatures (-270 degrees Celsius) and applying huge magnetic fields (1,000 times larger than that of a typical refrigerator magnet) or… read more

Physicists plan a miniaturized particle accelerator prototype in five years

November 23, 2015

Three “accelerators on a chip” made of silicon. A shoebox-sized particle accelerator would use a series of these “accelerators on a chip” to boost the energy of electrons. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has awarded $13.5 million to Stanford University for an international effort to build a working particle accelerator the size of a shoebox, based on an “accelerator on a chip” design, a novel technique using laser light to propel electrons through a series of glass chips, with the potential to revolutionize science, medicine, and other fields by dramatically shrinking the size and cost… read more

Storing solar, wind, and water energy underground could replace burning fuel

November 23, 2015

WWS solution

Stanford and UC Berkeley researchers have a solution to the problem of storing energy from wind, water and solar power overnight (or in inclement weather): store it underground. The system could result in a reliable, affordable national grid, replacing fossil fuel, they believe.

How it would work

  • Summer heat gathered in rooftop solar collectors could be stored in soil or rocks and used for heating

read more

E-coli bacteria, found in some China farms and patients, cannot be killed with antiobiotic drug of last resort

"One of the most serious global threats to human health in the 21st century" --- could spread around the world, requiring "urgent coordinated global action"
November 20, 2015

meat sampling & patient screening ft

Widespread E-coli bacteria that cannot be killed with the antiobiotic drug of last resort — colistin — have been found in samples taken from farm pigs, meat products, and a small number of patients in south China, including bacterial strains with epidemic potential, an international team of scientists revealed in a paper published Thursday Nov. 19 in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The scientists in… read more

Google Glass helps cardiologists complete difficult coronary artery blockage surgery

November 20, 2015

coronary artery ft

Cardiologists from the Institute of Cardiology, Warsaw, Poland have used Google Glass in a challenging surgical procedure, successfully clearing a blockage in the right coronary artery of a 49-year-old male patient and restoring blood flow, reports the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

Chronic total occlusion, a complete blockage of the coronary artery, sometimes referred to as the “final frontier in interventional cardiology,” represents a major challenge for catheter-based… read more

A sensory illusion that makes yeast cells self-destruct

A possible tactic for cancer therapeutics
November 20, 2015

fooling yeast ft

UC San Francisco researchers have discovered that even brainless single-celled yeast have “sensory biases” that can be hacked by a carefully engineered illusion — a finding that could be used to develop new approaches to fighting diseases such as cancer.

In the new study, published online Thursday November 19 in Science Express, Wendell Lim, PhD, the study’s senior author*, and his team discovered that yeast cells… read more

Researchers discover signaling molecule that helps neurons find their way in the developing brain

November 20, 2015

This image shows a section of the spinal cord of a mouse embryo. Neurons appear green, and those that express the Robo3 receptor are labeled red. Commissural axons appear as long, u-shaped threads, and the bottom, yellow segment of the structure represents the midline. (credit: Laboratory of Brain Development and Repair at The Rockefeller University)

Rockefeller University researchers have discovered a molecule secreted by cells in the spinal cord that helps guide axons (neuron extensions) during a critical stage of central nervous system development in the embryo. The finding helps solve the mystery: how do the billions of neurons in the embryo nimbly reposition themselves within the brain and spinal cord, and connect branches to form neural circuits?

Working in mice, the… read more

This app lets autonomous video drones with facial recognition target persons

One small step for selfies, one giant leap for cheap deep-learning autonomous video-surveillance drones
November 19, 2015

selfie ft

Robotics company Neurala has combined facial-recognition and drone-control mobile software in an iOS/Android app called “Selfie Dronie” that enables low-cost Parrot Bebop and Bebop 2 drones to take hands-free videos and follow a subject autonomously.

To create a video, you simply select the person or object and you’re done. The drone then flies an arc around the subject to take a video selfie (it moves with the… read more

Growing functional vocal cords in the lab

November 19, 2015

Engineered vocal-cord tissue in lab (credit: Changying Ling et al./Tissue Engineering)

University of Wisconsin scientists have succeeded in growing functional vocal-cord tissue in the laboratory and bioengineering it to transmit sound, a major step toward restoring voice for people who have lost their vocal cords to cancer surgery or other injuries.

Dr. Nathan Welham, a speech-language pathologist and an associate professor of surgery in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and colleagues began with vocal-cord tissue… read more

Pigeons diagnose breast cancer on X-rays as well as radiologists

When "flock-sourcing," they do better, with 99 percent accuracy --- and they work for seeds
November 19, 2015

pigeon training environment

“Pigeons do just as well as humans in categorizing digitized slides and mammograms of benign and malignant human breast tissue,” said Richard Levenson, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at UC Davis Health System and lead author of a new open-access study in PLoS One by researchers at the University of California, Davis and The University of Iowa.

“The pigeons were able to generalize what they had… read more

Exercise may protect against neurodegenerative diseases

November 19, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Exercise may protect aging brains against the neurodegenerative diseases resulting from energy-depleting stress caused by neurotoxins and other factors, according to researchers at the National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Program and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

They found that running-wheel exercise increased the amount of SIRT3 in neurons of normal mice and protected them against degeneration.

However, mice models genetically modified to not produce SIRT3 became… read more

Modulating brain’s stress circuity might prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Drug significantly prevented onset of cognitive and cellular effects in mice
November 17, 2015

AD drug treatment ft

In a novel animal study design that mimicked human clinical trials, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that long-term treatment using a small-molecule drug that reduces activity of  the brain’s stress circuitry significantly reduces Alzheimer’s disease (AD) neuropathology and prevents onset of cognitive impairment in a mouse model of the neurodegenerative condition.

The findings are described in the current online issue of… read more

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