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High-speed drug screen

September 30, 2014 | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have devised a way to rapidly test hundreds of different drug-delivery vehicles in living animals, making it easier to discover promising new ways to deliver a class of drugs called biologics, which includes antibodies, peptides, RNA and DNA, to human patients.

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A new dimension for integrated circuits: 3-D nanomagnetic logic

September 30, 2014 1:39 pm | Comments

Electrical engineers in Germany have demonstrated a new kind of building block for digital integrated circuits. Their experiments show that future computer chips could be based on 3-D arrangements of nanometer-scale magnets instead of transistors. In a 3D stack of nanomagnets, the researchers have implemented a so-called “majority” logic gate, which could serve as a programmable switch in a digital circuit.

Adding natural uncertainty improves mathematical models

September 30, 2014 1:11 pm | Comments

Mathematicians from Brown Univ. have introduced a new element of uncertainty into an equation used to describe the behavior of fluid flows. Ironically, allowing uncertainty into a mathematical equation that models fluid flows makes the equation much more capable of correctly reflecting the natural world, including the formation, strength, and position of air masses and fronts in the atmosphere.

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New discovery approach accelerates identification of potential cancer treatments

September 30, 2014 9:50 am | by Laura Williams, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Michigan have described a new approach to discovering potential cancer treatments that requires a fraction of the time needed for more traditional methods. They used the platform to identify a novel antibody that is undergoing further investigation as a potential treatment for breast, ovarian and other cancers.

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Glaciers in the Grand Canyon of Mars?

September 30, 2014 8:56 am | Comments

For decades, planetary geologists have speculated that glaciers might once have crept through Valles Marineris, the 2000-mile-long chasm that constitutes the Grand Canyon of Mars. A research team has now identified what could be the first mineralogical evidence of past glaciers within the Valles Marineris: a layer of mixed sulfate minerals halfway up three-mile-high cliffs in the canyon system.

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Research suggests new strategies for fighting TB

September 30, 2014 8:22 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | Comments

Over the past few years, a class of compounds called ADEPs (cyclic acyldepsipeptides) has emerged as a promising new weapon in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria. The compounds work by attaching themselves to a cellular enzyme called ClpP, which bacterial cells use to rid themselves of harmful proteins. With an ADEP attached, ClpP can’t function properly, and the bacterial cell dies.

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Wildlife populations plummet for 3,000 species

September 30, 2014 8:19 am | by John Heilprin, Associated Press | Comments

About 3,000 species of wildlife around the world have seen their numbers plummet far worse than previously thought, according to a new study by one of the world's biggest environmental groups. The Switzerland-based WWF says improved methods of measuring populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles explain the huge difference from the 28% decline between 1970 and 2008 that the group reported in 2012.

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Researchers develop transparent nanoscintillators for radiation detection

September 30, 2014 7:56 am | by Traci Peterson, Univ. of Texas at Arlington | Comments

A Univ. of Texas at Arlington research team says recently identified radiation detection properties of a light-emitting nanostructure built in their lab could open doors for homeland security and medical advances. In a paper to be published in Optics Letters, the team describes a new method to fabricate transparent nanoscintillators by heating nanoparticles composed of lanthanum, yttrium and oxygen until a transparent ceramic is formed.

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Fat molecules influence form, function of key photosynthesis protein

September 30, 2014 7:48 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | Comments

A mysterious space within a protein critical to photosynthesis is filled with fat molecules that influence both the protein’s architecture and electrical properties, according to two recent studies. Researchers studied the atomic structure of, and electrical interactions within, the cytochrome bf complex, a protein complex central to the transport of electrons within membranes of a plant cell, a critical step in photosynthesis.

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Scientists identify the signature of aging in the brain

September 29, 2014 12:58 pm | Comments

How the brain ages is still largely an open question because this organ is mostly insulated from direct contact with other systems in the body. In recent research, scientists in Israel found evidence of a unique “signature” that may be the “missing link” between cognitive decline and aging. The scientists believe that this discovery may lead, in the future, to treatments that can slow or reverse cognitive decline in older people.

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Biologists find early sign of cancer

September 29, 2014 11:10 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Years before they show any other signs of disease, pancreatic cancer patients have very high levels of certain amino acids in their bloodstream, according to a new study. This finding, which suggests that muscle tissue is broken down in the disease’s earliest stages, could offer new insights into developing early diagnostics for pancreatic cancer, which kills about 40,000 Americans every year.

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Simulations reveal an unusual death for ancient stars

September 29, 2014 11:01 am | by Linda Vu, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Certain primordial stars—those between 55,000 and 56,000 times the mass of our sun, or solar masses—may have died unusually. In death, these objects—among the universe’s first-generation of stars—would have exploded as supernovae and burned completely, leaving no remnant black hole behind.

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Tech-friendly cities struggle with new biz rules

September 29, 2014 9:12 am | by Philip Marcelo, Associated Press | Comments

A renowned technology hub that is home to some of the country's top universities, Boston is emerging as an unlikely battleground for web-based businesses like Airbnb and Uber, with some saying more regulations are needed to prevent the upstarts from disrupting more established industries. Cities like Boston have been wrestling with the same questions and developing solutions ranging from outright bans to minimum safety requirements.

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Unlocking enzyme synthesis of rare sugars to create drugs with fewer side effects

September 29, 2014 8:57 am | by Katie Bethea, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory team has unlocked the enzymatic synthesis process of rare sugars, which are useful in developing drugs with low side effects. In a recently published paper, the team reported the pioneering use of neutron and x-ray crystallography and HPC to study how the enzyme D-xylose isomerase, or XI, can cause a biochemical reaction in natural sugar to produce rare sugars.

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Green light for clever algae

September 29, 2014 8:46 am | by Meike Drießen, Ruhr Univ. Bochum | Comments

Cryptophytes, complex single-cell algae that make up a lot of the ocean's phytoplankton, have, in the course of evolution, adapted their light-harvesting mechanisms to their environment and have thus become capable of utilizing green light. Researchers in Germany have recently been the first ones to reveal similarities and differences in the assembly of this light-harvesting machinery compared to cyanobacteria and red algae.

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New molecule found in space connotes life origins

September 29, 2014 8:43 am | by Blaine Friedlander, Cornell Univ. | Comments

Hunting from a distance of 27,000 light years, astronomers have discovered an unusual carbon-based molecule—one with a branched structure—contained within a giant gas cloud in interstellar space. Like finding a molecular needle in a cosmic haystack, astronomers have detected radio waves emitted by isopropyl cyanide. The discovery suggests that the complex molecules needed for life may have their origins in interstellar space.

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