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The Lead

Nanosponge-filled gel cleans up MRSA infections

May 18, 2015 7:23 am | by Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Nanoengineers at the Univ. of California, San Diego developed a gel filled with toxin-absorbing nanosponges that could lead to an effective treatment for skin and wound infections caused by MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This "nanosponge-hydrogel" minimized the growth of skin lesions on mice infected with MRSA, without the use of antibiotics.

Nanomaterials inspired by bird feathers

May 13, 2015 12:24 pm | by Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Inspired by the way iridescent bird feathers play with light, scientists have created thin films...

Combination treatment strategy to “checkmate” giloblastoma

May 11, 2015 8:09 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Therapies that specifically target mutations in a person’s cancer have been much-heralded in...

PTSD linked to accelerated aging

May 8, 2015 10:21 am | by Scott LaFee, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

In recent years, public health concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have risen...

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Molecular homing beacon redirects human antibodies

May 7, 2015 8:28 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | Videos | Comments

With the threat of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens growing, new ideas to treat infections are sorely needed. Researchers at Univ. of California, San Diego report preliminary success testing an entirely novel approach: tagging bacteria with a molecular “homing beacon” that attracts pre-existing antibodies to attack the pathogens.

Computer scientists speed up mine detection

May 5, 2015 8:22 am | by Ioana Patringenaru, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Computer scientists at the Univ. of California, San Diego, have combined sophisticated computer vision algorithms and a brain-computer interface to find mines in sonar images of the ocean floor. The study shows that the new method speeds detection up considerably, when compared to existing methods, which mainly consist of visual inspection by a mine detection expert.

“Holey” graphene for energy storage

April 22, 2015 8:32 am | by Liezel Labios, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Engineers at the Univ. of California, San Diego have discovered a method to increase the amount of electric charge that can be stored in graphene. The research may provide a better understanding of how to improve the energy storage ability of capacitors for potential applications in cars, wind turbines and solar power.

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Chemists create modular system for placing proteins on membranes

April 21, 2015 8:12 am | by Susan Brown, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

With a tag, an anchor and a cage that can be unlocked with light, chemists have devised a simple, modular system that can locate proteins at the membrane of a cell. The chemists fused proteins to molecules called SNAP-tags, modified enzymes that recognize a particular chemical group called a benzylguanine.

Why skin is resistant to tearing

April 14, 2015 8:21 am | by Ioana Patringenaru, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Skin is remarkably resistant to tearing and a team of researchers from the Univ. of California, San Diego and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory now have shown why. Using powerful x-ray beams and electron microscopy, researchers made the first direct observations of the micro-scale mechanisms that allow skin to resist tearing.

“Open” stem cell chromosomes reveal new possibilities for diabetes

April 2, 2015 12:08 pm | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Stem cells hold great promise for treating a number of diseases, in part because they have the unique ability to differentiate, specializing into any one of the hundreds of cell types that comprise the human body. Harnessing this potential, though, is difficult.

Skin tough

April 1, 2015 7:31 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

When weighing the pluses and minuses of your skin add this to the plus column: Your skin, like that of all vertebrates, is remarkably resistant to tearing. Now, a collaboration of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Univ. of California, San Diego, has shown why.

Antarctic ice shelves rapidly thinning

March 27, 2015 10:08 am | by Mario Aguilera, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

A new study led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the Univ. of California, San Diego, researchers has revealed that the thickness of Antarctica’s floating ice shelves has recently decreased by as much as 18% in certain areas over nearly two decades, providing new insights on how the Antarctic ice sheet is responding to climate change.

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Data structures influence speed of quantum search in unexpected ways

March 17, 2015 3:25 pm | by Susan Brown, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Using the quantum property of superposition, quantum computers will be able to find target items within large piles of data far faster than conventional computers ever could. But the speed of the search will likely depend on the structure of the data. Such a search would proceed as a quantum particle jumps from one node of a connected set of data to another. Intuition says that the search would be fastest in a highly connected database.

Pens filled with high-tech inks for DIY sensors

March 3, 2015 9:06 am | by Ioana Patringenaru, Jacobs School of Engineering | Videos | Comments

A new simple tool developed by nanoengineers at the Univ. of California, San Diego, is opening the door to an era when anyone will be able to build sensors, anywhere. The team developed high-tech bio-inks that react with several chemicals, including glucose. They filled off-the-shelf ballpoint pens with the inks and were able to draw sensors to measure glucose directly on the skin and sensors to measure pollution on leaves.

New insights into 3-D genome organization, genetic variability

February 18, 2015 8:03 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

While genomics is the study of all of the genes in a cell or organism, epigenomics is the study of all the genomic add-ons and changes that influence gene expression but aren’t encoded in the DNA sequence. A variety of new epigenomic information is now available in a collection of studies published in Nature by the National Institutes of Health Roadmap Epigenomics Program.

Engineers put the “squeeze” on human stem cells

February 10, 2015 2:10 pm | by Ioana Patringenaru, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

After using optical tweezers to squeeze a tiny bead attached to the outside of a human stem cell, researchers now know how mechanical forces can trigger a key signaling pathway in the cells. The squeeze helps to release calcium ions stored inside the cells and opens up channels in the cell membrane that allow the ions to flow into the cells, according to the study led by Univ. of California, San Diego bioengineer Yingxiao Wang.

Pictured together for the first time: A chemokine and its receptor

January 23, 2015 8:12 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Researchers report the first crystal structure of the cellular receptor CXCR4 bound to an immune signaling protein called a chemokine. The structure, published in Science, answers longstanding questions about a molecular interaction that plays an important role in human development, immune responses, cancer metastasis and HIV infections.

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Researchers generate tunable photon-pair spectrum

December 16, 2014 9:14 am | by Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

A team of researchers have demonstrated a way to emit and control quantum light generated using a chip made from silicon—one of the most widely used materials for modern electronics. The researchers say practical applications of quantum optics will seem more feasible if devices for generating and controlling these photons can be manufactured using conventional materials from the semiconductor industry.

Chemical disguise transforms RNAi drug delivery

November 18, 2014 7:57 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Small pieces of synthetic RNA trigger a RNA interference (RNAi) response that holds great therapeutic potential to treat a number of diseases, especially cancer and pandemic viruses. The problem is delivery: It’s extremely difficult to get RNAi drugs inside the cells in which they are needed.

With phased-array radar, electrical engineers aim to make car travel safer

October 29, 2014 12:55 pm | News | Comments

Electrical engineers from the Univ. of California, San Diego have developed hardware for a new generation of automotive radar systems designed to keep drivers, and the pedestrians around them they may not see, safe. Their project is part of an initiative led by Toyota Technical Center that won a 2014 R&D 100 Award for its “Automotive Phased Array Radar.”

Program predicts placement of chemical tags that control gene activity

September 22, 2014 9:20 am | by Susan Brown, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Biochemists in California have developed a program that predicts the placement of chemical marks that control the activity of genes based on sequences of DNA. By comparing sequences with and without epigenomic modification, the researchers identified DNA patterns associated with the changes. They call this novel analysis pipeline Epigram and have made both the program and the DNA motifs they identified openly available to other scientists.

New algorithms lets owners swap, recharge battery modules in electric cars

September 17, 2014 1:51 pm | News | Comments

Imagine being able to switch out the batteries in electric cars just like you switch out batteries in a photo camera or flashlight. Engineers in California are trying to accomplish just that, in partnership with a local San Diego engineering company. Rather than swapping out the whole battery, which is cumbersome and requires large, heavy equipment, engineers plan to swap out and recharge smaller units within the battery, known as modules.

Radar for Pedestrian Safety

August 19, 2014 11:22 am | Award Winners

Several types of radar-enabled early warning and pedestrian sensing systems have been developed by automotive OEMs, but Toyota Motor Corp. is the first to manufacture an Automotive Phased Array Radar (APAR) that satisfies the requirements for widespread use in vehicle safety system while also providing a wide 100-degree sensing arc capable of effectively detecting pedestrians.

Researchers discover cool-burning flames in space

July 28, 2014 2:04 pm | by Ioana Patringenaru, Jacobs School of Engineering | Videos | Comments

A team of international researchers has discovered a new type of cool burning flames that could lead to cleaner, more efficient engines for cars. The discovery was made during a series of experiments on the International Space Station by a team led by Forman Williams, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Univ. of California, San Diego.

Nanoshell shields foreign enzymes used to starve cancer cells from immune system

June 17, 2014 11:24 am | News | Comments

Nanoengineers at UC San Diego have developed a nanoshell to protect foreign enzymes used to starve cancer cells as part of chemotherapy. Enzymes are naturally smart machines that are responsible for many complex functions and chemical reactions in biology. However, despite their huge potential, their use in medicine has been limited by the immune system, which is designed to attack foreign intruders.

A key step toward a safer strep vaccine

June 12, 2014 8:17 am | News | Comments

An international team of scientists, led by researchers at the Univ. of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have identified the genes encoding a molecule that famously defines Group A Streptococcus (strep), a pathogenic bacterial species responsible for more than 700 million infections worldwide each year.

App paired with sensor measures stress and delivers advice to cope in real time

June 4, 2014 12:21 pm | News | Comments

Computer scientists at Microsoft Research and the University of California, San Diego have developed a system, called ParentGuardian, that combines a mobile application and sensor to detect stress in parents. The system, initially tested on parents of children with ADHD, delivers research-based strategies to help decrease stress during emotionally charged interactions with children.

Computer scientists develop tool to make the Internet of Things safer

June 3, 2014 9:40 am | by Ioana Patringenaru, Jacobs School of Engineering | News | Comments

Computer scientists at the Univ. of California, San Diego have developed a tool that allows hardware designers and system builders to test security—a first for the field. There is a big push to create the so-called Internet of Things, where all devices are connected and communicate with one another. As a result, embedded systems—small computer systems built around microcontrollers—are becoming more common.

Relaxation helps pack DNA into a virus

May 27, 2014 7:57 am | by Susan Brown, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Taking a moment to pause and relax can help if you find yourself in a tight spot. This strategy can work for molecules as well as people, it turns out. Researchers at the Univ. of California, San Diego have found that DNA packs more easily into the tight confines of a virus when given a chance to relax.

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