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Technology translation engine launches “organs-on-chips” company

July 28, 2014 | Comments

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. announced that its human “Organs-on-Chips” technology will be commercialized by a newly formed private company to accelerate development of pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic and personalized medicine products.

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Bruker acquires super-resolution microscopy company Vutara

July 29, 2014 10:36 am | Comments

Bruker has announced that it has acquired Vutara Inc., a technology leader in high-speed, 3-D, super-resolution fluorescence microscopy for life science applications. Transaction details were not disclosed. Vutara’s estimated revenue for the full year 2014 is expected to be approximately $2 million.

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Lead pollution beat explorers to South Pole, persists today

July 29, 2014 9:25 am | by Justin Broglio, Desert Research Institute | Comments

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole in December 1911. More than 100 years later, an international team of scientists that includes a NASA researcher has proven that air pollution from industrial activities arrived to the planet’s southern pole long before any human.

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Researchers develop more efficient tool for tagging proteins

July 29, 2014 9:18 am | by Janne Hansen, Aarhus Univ. | Comments

DNA–protein conjugates can be used in diagnostic techniques, nanotechnology and other disciplines, but controlling the conjugation of these macromolecules can be a challenge. Scientists in Denmark have pioneered an easier method that makes it possible to direct the tagging of proteins with DNA to a particular site on the protein without genetically modifying the protein beforehand.

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Mineral magic? Common mineral capable of making, breaking bonds

July 29, 2014 8:39 am | by Nikki Cassis, Arizona State Univ. | Comments

Reactions among minerals and organic compounds in hydrothermal environments are critical components of the Earth’s deep carbon cycle. They provide energy for the deep biosphere, and may have implications for the origins of life. However, very little is known about how minerals influence organic reactions. A team of researchers has demonstrated how a common mineral acts as a catalyst for specific hydrothermal organic reactions.

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New tool for characterizing plant sugar transporters

July 29, 2014 8:28 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

A powerful new tool that can help advance the genetic engineering of “fuel” crops for clean, green and renewable bioenergy, has been developed by researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute, a multi-institutional partnership led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The researchers have developed an assay that enables scientists to identify and characterize the function of nucleotide sugar transporters.

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Forced mutations doom HIV

July 29, 2014 8:16 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Fifteen years ago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor John Essigmann and colleagues from the Univ. of Washington had a novel idea for an HIV drug. They thought if they could induce the virus to mutate uncontrollably, they could force it to weaken and eventually die out—a strategy that our immune system uses against many viruses.

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$1,000 pill now hepatitis C treatment of choice

July 29, 2014 3:19 am | by Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar - Associated Press - Associated Press | Comments

A $1,000-per-pill drug that insurers are reluctant to pay for has quickly become the treatment of choice for a liver-wasting viral disease that affects more than three million Americans. In less than six months, prescriptions for Sovaldi have eclipsed all other hepatitis C pills combined, according to new data from IMS Health.

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New assay tool characterizes plant sugar transporters

July 28, 2014 4:54 pm | Comments

A powerful new tool that could help advance the genetic engineering of “fuel” crops bioenergy, has been developed by researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute. Their new, unique assay enabled them to analyze nucleotide sugar transporter activities in Arabidopsis, a promising source of plant biomass, and characterize a family of six nucleotide sugar transporters that has never before been described.

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New tools help neuroscientists analyze big data

July 28, 2014 4:45 pm | Comments

Big data can mean big headaches for scientists. A new library of software tools from Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus speeds analysis of data sets so large and complex they would take days or weeks to analyze on a single workstation, even if a single workstation could do it at all. The new tool, Thunder, should help interpret data that holds new insights into how the brain works.

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Physicists unlock nature of high-temperature superconductivity

July 28, 2014 4:14 pm | by Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago | Comments

Physicists have identified the “quantum glue” that underlies a promising type of superconductivity—a crucial step towards the creation of energy superhighways that conduct electricity without current loss. The research, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a collaboration between the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago,  Cornell Univ. and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

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Cagey material acts as alcohol factory

July 28, 2014 2:37 pm | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Some chemical conversions are harder than others. Refining natural gas into an easy-to-transport, easy-to-store liquid alcohol has so far been a logistic and economic challenge. But now, a new material, designed and patented by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is making this process a little easier.

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Scientists create model “bead-spring” chains with tunable properties

July 28, 2014 2:25 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers are using magnetic beads and DNA “springs” to create chains of varying flexibility that can be used as microscale models for polymer macromolecules. The experiment is visual proof that “bead-spring” polymers, introduced as theory in the 1950s, can be made as stiff or as flexible as required and should be of interest to materials scientists who study the basic physics of polymers.

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New protein structure could help treat Alzheimer’s

July 28, 2014 2:16 pm | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | Comments

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, but the research community is one step closer to finding treatment. Univ. of Washington bioengineers have a designed a peptide structure that can stop the harmful changes of the body’s normal proteins into a state that’s linked to widespread diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

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Gadget Watch: PadFone novel as phone-tablet hybrid

July 28, 2014 1:26 pm | by Anick Jesdanun - AP Technology Writer - Associated Press | Comments

Companies often blend old products to give you something new. This summer, AsusTek Computer Inc. claims you don't need both a phone and a tablet—as long as you get its new PadFone X. The PadFone works like any other phone and has a screen that measures 5 in diagonally.

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A transistor-like amplifier for single photons

July 28, 2014 11:19 am | by Olivia Meyer-Streng, Max Planck Institute | Comments

With the help of ultracold quantum gas, physicists have achieved a 20-fold amplification of single-photon signals, a step that could aid all-optical data processing efforts. The breakthrough was made with the invention of a new type of optical transistor build from a cloud of rubidium atoms, held just above absolute zero, that is transparent to certain wavelengths of light.

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