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Researchers capture images of elusive protein HIV uses to infect cells

October 9, 2014 11:00 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | Comments

HIV is adept at eluding immune system responses because the protein it uses to infect cells is constantly changing. Now a team of researchers including scientists from Yale Univ. have stripped the cloak from this master of disguise, providing a high-resolution image of this surface spike protein and monitoring how it constantly changes its shape, information that suggests new ways to attack the virus through drugs and vaccines.

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Light frequencies sniff out deadly materials from a distance

October 9, 2014 10:56 am | Comments

Spectroscopic chemical sensing has great promise, but current technologies lack sensitivity and broad spectral coverage. DARPA’s Spectral Combs from UV to THz (SCOUT) program aims to overcome these limitations. The goal is to develop chip-sized, optical frequency combs that accurately identify even tiny traces of dangerous biological and chemical substances several football fields away, DARPA is now soliciting proposals for a solution.

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“Cyberwar” against cancer gets boost from intelligent nanocarriers

October 9, 2014 10:48 am | Comments

New research involving scientists in the U.S. and Israel offers new insight into the lethal interaction between cancer cells and the immune system's communications network. The study authors devised a new computer program that models a specific channel of cell-to-cell communication involving exosomes that both cancer and immune cells harness to communicate with other cells. This “cyberwarfare” model reveals three distinct states of cancer.

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Electrically conductive plastics promising for batteries, solar cells

October 9, 2014 10:46 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

An emerging class of electrically conductive plastics called "radical polymers” may bring low-cost, transparent solar cells, flexible and lightweight batteries, and ultrathin antistatic coatings for consumer electronics and aircraft. Researchers have established the solid-state electrical properties of one such polymer, called PTMA, which is about 10 times more electrically conductive than common semiconducting polymers.

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Hybrid materials could smash the solar efficiency ceiling

October 9, 2014 8:57 am | Comments

Researchers have developed a new method for harvesting the energy carried by particles known as “dark” spin-triplet excitons with close to 100% efficiency, clearing the way for hybrid solar cells which could far surpass current efficiency limits. To date, this type of energy transfer had only been shown for “bright” spin-singlet excitons.

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New weapons against multi-drug resistance in tuberculosis

October 9, 2014 8:51 am | by Nik Papageorgiou, EPFL | Comments

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium that infects the lungs of an estimated 8.6 million people worldwide. The fight against the disease is hampered by the fact that treatment requires a long time and that the bacterium often develops multi-drug resistance. Scientists have used a sensitive screening assay to test new compounds that can be used against the bacterium, and have discovered two small molecules that show remarkable promise.

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New high-quality finishing technique eradicates harmful manufacturing impacts

October 9, 2014 8:43 am | Comments

Fiber-reinforced polymer matrix composites are employed in a vast array of industries, and are painted or sprayed onto products to provide a high-quality finish. But that finishing process releases the vapors of a volatile organic compound called styrene, found in polyesters and vinyl-esters. A new “closed mold” method of applying these finishes has been shown to reduce the harmful impact of styrene by more than 98%.

NIST quantum probe enhances electric field measurements

October 9, 2014 8:37 am | Comments

Researchers at NIST and the Univ. of Michigan have demonstrated a technique based on the quantum properties of atoms that directly links measurements of electric field strength to the International System of Units. The new method could improve the sensitivity, precision and ease of tests and calibrations of antennas, sensors, and biomedical and nano-electronic systems and facilitate the design of novel devices.

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New way to extract bone-making cells from fat tissue

October 9, 2014 8:23 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | Comments

Within our fat lives a variety of cells with the potential to become bone, cartilage or more fat if properly prompted. This makes adipose tissue, in theory, a readily available reservoir for regenerative therapies such as bone healing if doctors can get enough of those cells and compel them to produce bone. In a new study, scientists demonstrate a new method for extracting a wide variety of potential bone-producing cells from human fat.

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Researchers detect brightest pulsar ever recorded

October 9, 2014 8:09 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

Astronomers have detected a pulsating dead star that appears to be burning with the energy of 10 million suns, making it the brightest pulsar ever detected. The pulsar—a rotating, magnetized neutron star—was found in the galaxy Messier 82 (M82), a relatively close galactic neighbor that’s 12 million light-years from Earth.

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U.S. Ebola patient dies; airport screening expanded

October 8, 2014 6:37 pm | by Mike Stobbe - Associated Press - Associated Press | Comments

The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. died Wednesday despite intense but delayed treatment, and the government announced it was expanding airport examinations to guard against the spread of the deadly disease. The checks will include taking the temperatures of hundreds of travelers arriving from West Africa at five major American airports.

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IBM opens new Watson headquarters

October 8, 2014 2:39 pm | by Mae Anderson - AP Technology Writer - Associated Press | Comments

IBM revealed details about new projects for its Watson cognitive computing software as it opened its New York headquarters. The company has been developing business uses for Watson with clients since it announced in January it was investing more than $1 billion in the technology, including about $100 million in startup companies working on Watson projects.

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Technology that controls brain cells with radio waves earns early BRAIN grant

October 8, 2014 12:30 pm | Comments

A proposal to develop a new way to remotely control brain cells from Sarah Stanley, a research associate in Rockefeller Univ.’s Laboratory of Molecular Genetics is among the first to receive funding from President Barack Obama’s BRAIN initiative. The project will make use of a technique called radiogenetics that combines the use of radio waves or magnetic fields with nanoparticles to turn neurons on or off.

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Breakthrough allows researchers to watch molecules “wiggle”

October 8, 2014 12:11 pm | Comments

A new crystallographic technique, called fast time-resolved crystallography, developed in the U.K. is set to transform scientists’ ability to observe how molecules work. Although this method, also known as Laue crystallography, has previously been possible, it has required advanced instrumentation that is only available at three sites worldwide. Only a handful of proteins have been studied using the traditional technique.

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Neuroscientists use snail research to help explain “chemo brain”

October 8, 2014 12:00 pm | Comments

It is estimated that as many as half of patients taking cancer drugs experience a decrease in mental sharpness, but what causes “chemo brain” has eluded scientists. In the study involving a sea snail that shares many of the same memory mechanisms as humans and a drug used to treat cancer, scientists in Texas identified memory mechanisms blocked by the drug. Then, they were able to counteract the mechanisms by administering another agent.

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