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The Lead

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...

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

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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.

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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.

Engineers develop basis for electronics that stretch at the molecular level

May 5, 2014 11:37 am | News | Comments

Current approaches to flexible electronics, in which very thin semiconductor materials are applied to a thin, flexible substrate in wavy patterns and then applied to a deformable surface such as skin or fabric, are still built around hard composite materials that limit their elasticity. Researchers in California have made several discoveries, however, that could lead to electronics that are "molecularly stretchable."

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Engineers develop new materials for hydrogen storage

April 15, 2014 9:43 am | News | Comments

Researchers in California have created, for the first time, compounds made from mixtures of calcium hexaboride, strontium and barium hexaboride. They also demonstrated that these ceramic materials could be manufactured using a simple, low-cost manufacturing method known as combustion synthesis.

Good vibrations: Using light-heated water to deliver drugs

April 2, 2014 5:55 am | News | Comments

Pharmaceutical researchers in California, in collaboration with materials scientists, engineers and neurobiologists, have discovered a new mechanism for using near-infrared light to activate polymeric drug-delivering nanoparticles and other targeted therapeutic substances inside the body. This discovery represents a major innovation; up to now only a handful of strategies using light-triggered release from nanoparticles have been reported.

Crystals ripple in response to light

March 7, 2014 8:12 am | by Susan Brown, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Light can trigger coordinated, wave-like motions of atoms in atom-thin layers of crystal, scientists have shown. The waves, called phonon polaritons, are far shorter than light waves and can be "tuned" to particular frequencies and amplitudes by varying the number of layers of crystal, they report.

Team develops multi-scale simulation software for chemistry research

February 19, 2014 11:00 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center have developed software that greatly expands the types of multi-scale QM/MM (mixed quantum and molecular mechanical) simulations of complex chemical systems that scientists can use to design new drugs, better chemicals or improved enzymes for biofuels production.

Metamaterial could speed up underwater communications by orders of magnitude

January 24, 2014 11:46 am | News | Comments

Researchers in California have made progress in a project to develop fast-blinking light-emitting diode systems for underwater optical communications. They have shown that an artificial metamaterial can improve the “blink speed” of a fluorescent light-emitting dye molecule 76 times faster than normal while increasing brightness 80-fold.

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Drug discovery potential of natural microbial genomes

January 23, 2014 1:31 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at the Univ. of California, San Diego have developed a new genetic platform that allows efficient production of naturally occurring molecules, and have used it to produce a novel antibiotic compound. Their study, published in PNAS, may open new avenues for natural product discoveries and drug development.

Biomaterials get stem cells to commit to a bony future

January 7, 2014 8:34 am | News | Comments

With the help of biomimetic matrices, a research team led by bioengineers at the Univ. of California, San Diego has discovered exactly how calcium phosphate can coax stem cells to become bone-building cells. The team has traced a surprising pathway from these biomaterials to bone formation. Their findings will help them refine the design of biomaterials that encourage stem cells to give rise to new bone.

Researchers engineer breakthrough for biofuel production

November 21, 2013 8:10 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the Univ. of California, San Diego have developed a method for greatly enhancing biofuel production in tiny marine algae. As reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Scripps graduate student Emily Trentacoste led the development of a method to genetically engineer a key growth component in biofuel production.

UC San Diego plans to open stem cell center

November 4, 2013 6:35 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Officials at the University of California, San Diego announced that philanthropist T. Denny Sanford has committed $100 million to the creation of the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center. The center is intended to accelerate development of drugs and therapies derived from human stem cell research through clinical trials and patient therapies.

Scientists solve mystery of odd patterns of oxygen in solar system’s earliest rocks

October 25, 2013 8:33 am | News | Comments

Cosmochemists at the Univ. of California, San Diego have solved a long-standing mystery in the formation of the solar system: Oxygen, the most abundant element in Earth’s crust, follows a strange, anomalous pattern in the oldest, most pristine rocks, one that must result from a different chemical process than the well-understood reactions that form minerals containing oxygen on Earth.

NSF awards $12 million to deploy Comet supercomputer

October 7, 2013 2:24 am | News | Comments

The San Diego Supercomputer Center at the Univ. of California, San Diego, has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to build Comet, a new petascale supercomputer designed to transform advanced scientific computing by expanding access and capacity among research domains. Comet will be capable of an overall peak performance of nearly two petaflops, or two quadrillion operations per second.

New electron beam writer enables next-gen biomedical, information tech

August 13, 2013 10:37 am | News | Comments

Electron beam (e-beam) lithography enables researchers to write very small patterns on large substrates with a high level of precision. In the Nano3 cleanroom facility at the Univ. of California, San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute, a new Vistec e-beam writer is helping to develop nanoscale transistors for integrated electronics, as well as neural probes for brain diagnostics.

Shape-shifting nanoparticles flip from sphere to net in response to tumor signal

May 29, 2013 8:10 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego have designed tiny spherical particles to float easily through the bloodstream after injection, then assemble into a durable scaffold within diseased tissue. An enzyme produced by a specific type of tumor can trigger the transformation of the spheres into net-like structures that accumulate at the site of a cancer.

Seahorse's armor gives engineers insight into robotics designs

May 1, 2013 12:55 pm | News | Comments

The tail of a seahorse can be compressed to about half its size before permanent damage occurs, engineers at the University of California, San Diego have found. The tail’s exceptional flexibility is due to its structure, made up of bony, armored plates, which slide past each other. Researchers are hoping to use a similar structure to create a flexible robotic arm equipped with muscles made out of polymer.

Biomimetic nanosponges absorb toxins released by bacterial infections, venom

April 15, 2013 8:58 am | News | Comments

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have invented a "nanosponge" capable of safely removing a broad class of dangerous toxins from the bloodstream. These nanosponges, which thus far have been studied in mice, can neutralize "pore-forming toxins," which destroy cells by poking holes in their cell membranes.

Computer scientists develop video game that teaches java programming

April 8, 2013 6:21 pm | News | Comments

Java is one of the most common programming languages in use today, which is partly why researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed an immersive, first-person player video game designed to teach students in elementary to high school how to use the language effectively, despite never having been exposed to programming previously.

Supercomputer assists in crunching LHC data

April 5, 2013 9:42 am | News | Comments

Gordon, the unique supercomputer launched last year by the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, recently completed its most data-intensive task so far: rapidly processing raw data from almost one billion particle collisions as part of a project to help define the future research agenda for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

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