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Blood-cleansing biospleen device developed for sepsis therapy

September 15, 2014 | by Kristen Kusek, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Univ. | Comments

Things can go downhill fast when a patient has sepsis, a life-threatening condition in which bacteria or fungi multiply in a patient's blood—often too fast for antibiotics to help. A new device inspired by the human spleen and developed by a team at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering may radically transform the way doctors treat sepsis.

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Setting a course for genomic islands

September 16, 2014 11:57 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | Comments

Yale Univ. scientists are exploring uncharted genomic islands to study new chemistry between bacteria and their hosts, from invertebrates to humans. One such discovery is published in Chemistry & Biology. The findings describe a biological pathway that contains a hypothetical protein responsible for the formation of a rare, bicyclic sugar.

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Is the U.S. doing enough to fight Ebola?

September 16, 2014 11:46 am | by Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press | Comments

The American strategy on Ebola is two-pronged: step up desperately needed aid to West Africa and, in an unusual step, train U.S. doctors and nurses for volunteer duty in the outbreak zone. At home, the goal is to speed up medical research and put hospitals on alert should an infected traveler arrive.

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Scientists discover RNA modifications in some unexpected places

September 16, 2014 11:40 am | by Matt Fearer, Whitehead Institute | Comments

Deploying sophisticated high-throughput sequencing technology, a team of Whitehead Institute and Broad Institute researchers have collaborated on a comprehensive, high-resolution mapping that confirms a post-transcriptional RNA modification called pseudouridylation does indeed occur naturally in messenger RNA. This is somewhat surprising finding using a new quantitative sequencing method.

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EEG study findings reveal how fear is processed in the brain

September 16, 2014 8:51 am | Comments

Building on previous animal and human research, a new study has identified an electrophysiological marker for threat in the brain. The findings illustrate how fear arises in the brain when individuals are exposed to threatening images, and the study is the first to separate emotion from threat by controlling for the dimension of arousal, the emotional reaction provoked, whether positive or negative, in response to stimuli.

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Elusive quantum transformations found near absolute zero

September 16, 2014 8:13 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

Heat drives classical phase transitions, but much stranger things can happen when the temperature drops. If phase transitions occur at the coldest temperatures imaginable, where quantum mechanics reigns, subtle fluctuations can dramatically transform a material. Scientists have explored this frigid landscape of absolute zero to isolate and probe these quantum phase transitions with unprecedented precision.

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Early Earth less hellish than previously thought

September 16, 2014 7:53 am | by David Salisbury, Vanderbilt Univ. | Comments

Conditions on Earth for the first 500 million years after it formed may have been surprisingly similar to the present day, complete with oceans, continents and active crustal plates. This alternate view of Earth’s first geologic eon, called the Hadean, has gained substantial new support from the first detailed comparison of zircon crystals that formed more than 4 billion years ago with those formed contemporaneously in Iceland.

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Muscular dystrophy: Repair the muscles, not the genetic defect

September 16, 2014 7:52 am | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

A potential way to treat muscular dystrophy directly targets muscle repair instead of the underlying genetic defect that usually leads to the disease. Muscular dystrophies are a group of muscle diseases characterized by skeletal muscle wasting and weakness. Mutations in certain proteins, most commonly the protein dystrophin, cause muscular dystrophy in humans and also in mice.

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“Squid skin” metamaterials project yields vivid color display

September 16, 2014 7:41 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | Comments

The quest to create artificial “squid skin”—camouflaging metamaterials that can “see” colors and automatically blend into the background—is one step closer to reality, thanks to a breakthrough color-display technology unveiled by Rice Univ. The new full-color display technology uses aluminum nanoparticles to create the vivid red, blue and green hues found in today’s top-of-the-line LCD televisions and monitors.

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Study: Number-crunching could lead to unethical choices

September 15, 2014 5:02 pm | Comments

Calculating the pros and cons of a potential decision is a way of decision-making. But repeated engagement with numbers-focused calculations, especially those involving money, can have unintended negative consequences, including social and moral transgressions, says new study. Several experiments supported these findings and pointed to a “calculative mindset” that can take precedence in reaching conclusions.

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NASA inspector blasts asteroid protection program

September 15, 2014 4:58 pm | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | Comments

On Monday, NASA's inspector general released a report blasting the agency’s Near Earth Objects program, which is meant to hunt and catalog comets, asteroids and relatively large fragments of these objects that pass within 28 million miles of Earth. The purpose is to protect the planet against their potential dangers, but only 10% of the near-Earth objects bigger than 460 ft across have been catalogued, well short of the goal of 90% by 2020.

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Scientists now closer to industrial synthesis of a material harder than diamond

September 15, 2014 12:16 pm | Comments

Researchers in Russia have developed a new method for the industrial synthesis of an ultra-hard material that exceeds diamond in hardness. An article recently published in Carbon describes in detail a method that allows for the synthesis of ultrahard fullerite, a polymer composed of fullerenes, or spherical molecules made of carbon atoms.

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Materials experts construct precise inter-nanotube junctions

September 15, 2014 12:05 pm | Comments

A new method for controllably constructing precise inter-nanotube junctions and structures in carbon nanotube (CNT) arrays, Northeastern Univ. researchers say, is facile and easily scal­able. It will allow them to tailor the phys­ical prop­er­ties of nan­otube net­works for use in appli­ca­tions ranging from elec­tronic devices to CNT-reinforced com­posite mate­rials found in every­thing from cars to sports equipment.

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New glaucoma cause discovered

September 15, 2014 10:57 am | by Marla Paul, Northwestern Univ. | Comments

Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered a novel cause of glaucoma in an animal model, and related to their findings, are now developing an eye drop aimed at curing the disease. They believe their findings will be important to human glaucoma. A cure for glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in the U.S., has been elusive because the basis of the disease is poorly understood.

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Researchers find neural compensation in people with Alzheimer’s-related protein

September 15, 2014 10:43 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | Comments

The human brain is capable of a neural workaround that compensates for the buildup of beta-amyloid, a destructive protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study led by Univ. of California, Berkeley researchers. The findings could help explain how some older adults with beta-amyloid deposits in their brain retain normal cognitive function while others develop dementia.

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Gilead to license generic version of Sovaldi

September 15, 2014 9:37 am | by Tom Murphy - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | Comments

Gilead Sciences has reached a deal with several generic drugmakers to produce a cheaper version of its popular, $1,000-per-pill hepatitis C drug Sovaldi for use in developing countries. Gilead said that the India-based companies will make a generic version of Sovaldi, also known as sofosbuvir, and another investigational drug for distribution in 91 countries.

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