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The Lead

Surprising new role for calcium in sensing pain

September 2, 2014 7:53 am | by Karl Bates, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

When you accidentally touch a hot oven, you rapidly pull your hand away. Although scientists know the basic neural circuits involved in sensing and responding to such painful stimuli, they are still sorting out the molecular players. Duke Univ. researchers have made a surprising discovery about the role of a key molecule involved in pain in worms, and have built a structural model of the molecule.

Exporting coal to Asia could slash emissions

August 20, 2014 9:26 am | by Tim Lucas, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

Under the right scenario, exporting U.S. coal to power plants in South Korea could lead to a 21...

New brain-based marker of stress susceptibility

July 29, 2014 1:05 pm | by Karl Bates, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

Some people can handle stressful situations better than others, and it’s not all in their genes...

New technologies fuel patient participation, data collection in research

July 10, 2014 9:06 am | by Duke Medicine News and Communications | News | Comments

The changing dynamic of health studies driven by “big data” research projects will empower...

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Protein could put antibiotic-resistant bugs in handcuffs

June 10, 2014 7:38 am | News | Comments

Staph infections that become resistant to multiple antibiotics don't happen because the bacteria themselves adapt to the drugs, but because of a kind of genetic parasite they carry called a plasmid that helps its host survive the antibiotics. Plasmids are rings of bare DNA containing a handful of genes that are essentially freeloaders, borrowing most of what they need to live from their bacterial host.

One and done: Antibiotic could provide single-dose option

June 5, 2014 8:20 am | by Duke Medicine News and Communications | News | Comments

In the battle against stubborn skin infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a new single-dose antibiotic is as effective as a twice-daily infusion given for up to 10 days, according to a large study led by Duke Medicine researchers. Researchers said the advantage of the new drug, oritavancin, is its potential to curtail what has been a key driver of antibiotic resistance.

Small mutation changes brain freeze to hot foot

May 8, 2014 3:50 pm | News | Comments

Ice cream lovers and hot tea drinkers with sensitive teeth could one day have a reason to celebrate a new finding from Duke Univ. researchers. The scientists have found a very small change in a single protein that turns a cold-sensitive receptor into one that senses heat.

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Lab-grown muscle heals itself after animal implantation

April 2, 2014 12:07 pm | News | Comments

Biomedical engineers have grown living skeletal muscle that looks a lot like the real thing. It contracts powerfully and rapidly, integrates into mice quickly, and for the first time, demonstrates the ability to heal itself both inside the laboratory and inside an animal.

Lessons offered by emerging carbon trading markets

March 21, 2014 10:31 am | News | Comments

Although markets for trading carbon emission credits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have stalled in U.S. federal policy-making, carbon markets are emerging at the state level within the U.S. and around the world, teaching us more about what does and doesn't work.

Past HIV vaccine trials reveal new path to success

March 20, 2014 8:05 am | News | Comments

A multinational research team led by Duke Medicine scientists has identified a subclass of antibodies associated with an effective immune response to an HIV vaccine. The finding helps explain why a combination of two vaccines was able to show some effect, when one vaccine alone did not. The study also provides key insights that could aid development of new vaccines.

New lens design improves kidney stone treatment

March 18, 2014 10:53 am | by Ken Kingery, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

Duke Univ. engineers have devised a way to improve the efficiency of lithotripsy—the demolition of kidney stones using focused shock waves. After decades of research, all it took was cutting a groove near the perimeter of the shock wave-focusing lens and changing its curvature.

Acoustic cloaking device hides objects from sound

March 12, 2014 7:35 am | by Ken Kingery, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

Using little more than a few perforated sheets of plastic and a staggering amount of number crunching, Duke Univ. engineers have demonstrated the world’s first 3-D acoustic cloak. The new device reroutes sound waves to create the impression that both the cloak and anything beneath it are not there.

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Chemical signaling simulates exercise in cartilage cells

January 15, 2014 10:48 am | News | Comments

Cartilage is notoriously difficult to repair or grow, but researchers at Duke Medicine have taken a step toward understanding how to regenerate the connective tissue. By adding a chemical to cartilage cells, the chemical signals spurred new cartilage growth, mimicking the effects of physical activity. The findings point to an ion channel called TRPV4 as a potential target for new therapies to treat osteoarthritis or even regrow cartilage.

Tricky protein may help HIV vaccine development

January 13, 2014 3:48 pm | News | Comments

Duke Univ. scientists have taken aim at what may be an Achilles' heel of the HIV virus. Combining expertise in biochemistry, immunology and advanced computation, researchers at Duke have determined the structure of a key part of the HIV envelope protein, the gp41 membrane proximal external region (MPER), which previously eluded detailed structural description.

Superlens extends range of wireless power transfer

January 13, 2014 7:47 am | News | Comments

Inventor Nikola Tesla imagined the technology to transmit energy through thin air almost a century ago, but experimental attempts at the feat have so far resulted in cumbersome devices that only work over very small distances. But now, Duke Univ. researchers have demonstrated the feasibility of wireless power transfer using low-frequency magnetic fields over distances much larger than the size of the transmitter and receiver.

Acid mine drainage reduces radioactivity in fracking waste

January 9, 2014 11:34 am | News | Comments

Much of the naturally occurring radioactivity in fracking wastewater might be removed by blending it with another wastewater from acid mine drainage, according to a Duke Univ.-led study. Blending fracking wastewater with acid mine drainage also could help reduce the depletion of local freshwater resources by giving drillers a source of usable recycled water for the hydraulic fracturing process.

Supercomputers join search for “cheapium”

January 6, 2014 7:48 am | News | Comments

In the search for cheaper materials that mimic their purer, more expensive counterparts, researchers are abandoning hunches and intuition for theoretical models and pure computing power. In a new study, researchers from Duke Univ.’s Pratt School of Engineering used computational methods to identify dozens of platinum-group alloys that were previously unknown to science but could prove beneficial in a wide range of applications.

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Engineers make strides toward artificial cartilage

December 13, 2013 1:50 pm | News | Comments

A Duke Univ. research team has developed a better recipe for synthetic replacement cartilage in joints. Combining two innovative technologies, the team found a way to create artificial replacement tissue that mimics both the strength and suppleness of native cartilage. Articular cartilage is the tissue on the ends of bones where they meet at joints in the body.

Copper promises cheaper, sturdier fuel cells

November 22, 2013 11:01 am | News | Comments

Converting solar energy into storable fuel remains one of the greatest challenges of modern chemistry. Chemists have commonly tried to use indium tin oxide (ITO) because it has transparency, but it also expensive and rare. Researchers at Duke Univ. has created something they hope can replace ITO: copper nanowires fused in a see-through film.

Artificial protein mimics a part of the HIV outer coat

October 23, 2013 8:35 am | News | Comments

A team of scientists has created an artificial protein coupled with a sugar molecule that mimics a key site on the outer coat of HIV where antibodies can bind to neutralize a wide variety of HIV strains. The finding provides a potential new strategy in vaccine development to elicit the broadly neutralizing antibodies considered essential for long-lasting protection from the ever-changing HIV virus.

Glowing neurons reveal networked link between brain, whiskers

October 16, 2013 11:04 am | News | Comments

Human fingertips have several types of sensory neurons that are responsible for relaying touch signals to the central nervous system. Scientists have long believed these neurons followed a linear path to the brain with a "labeled-lines" structure. But new research on mouse whiskers reveals a surprise: At the fine scale, the sensory system's wiring diagram doesn't have a set pattern.

Urine test could diagnose eye disease

October 9, 2013 11:54 am | News | Comments

You might not think to look to a urine test to diagnose an eye disease. But a new Duke Univ. study says it can link what is in a patient's urine to gene mutations that cause retinitis pigmentosa, or RP, an inherited, degenerative disease that results in severe vision impairment and often blindness.

Growing bacteria keep time, know their place

October 8, 2013 4:41 pm | News | Comments

Working with a synthetic gene circuit designed to coax bacteria to grow in a predictable ring pattern, Duke Univ. scientists have revealed an underappreciated contributor to natural pattern formation: time. A series of experiments published by the Duke team show that their engineered gene circuit functions as a timing mechanism, triggering a predictable ring growth pattern that adjusts to the size of its environment.

Radioactive shale gas contaminants found at wastewater discharge site

October 2, 2013 11:56 am | News | Comments

According to a recent study led by scientists at Duke Univ., elevated levels of radioactivity, salts and metals have been found in river water and sediments at a site where treated water from oil and gas operations is discharged into a western Pennsylvania creek.

China’s synthetic natural gas plants will have heavy environmental toll

September 26, 2013 9:01 am | News | Comments

Coal-powered synthetic natural gas plants being planned in China would produce seven times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional natural gas plants, and use up to 100 times the water as shale gas production, according to a new study by Duke Univ. researchers. These environmental costs have been largely neglected in the drive to meet the nation’s growing energy needs, the researchers say.

Computer model to help design flexible touchscreens

September 4, 2013 7:33 am | News | Comments

Electronic devices with touchscreens rely on transparent conductors made of indium tin oxide, or ITO. But cost and the physical limitations of this material are limiting progress in developing flexible touchscreens. A research collaboration between the Univ. of Pennsylvania and Duke Univ. is exploring the use of nanowires to replace ITO, and are using simulation tools to determine how they might work.

Materials break, then remake, bonds to build strength

August 5, 2013 7:40 am | News | Comments

Microscopic tears in a new kind of man-made material may actually help the substance bulk up like a bodybuilder at the gym. A Duke Univ. team has shown how normally destructive mechanical forces can be channeled to bring about stronger materials. The material responses are like Silly Putty transforming into a solid as stiff as a pen cap or a runny liquid transforming into soft Jell-O.

Light, nanoprobes detect early signs of infection

June 21, 2013 8:00 am | News | Comments

Duke Univ. biomedical engineers and genome researchers have developed a proof-of-principle approach using light to detect infections before patients show symptoms. The approach was demonstrated in human samples, and researchers are now developing the technique for placement on a chip, which could provide fast, simple and reliable information about a patient. A diagnostic device based on this chip also could be made portable.

Video gamers really do see more

June 12, 2013 9:24 am | News | Comments

Hours spent at the video gaming console not only train a player's hands to work the buttons on the controller, they probably also train the brain to make better and faster use of visual input, according to Duke Univ. researchers.

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