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Engineering a better way to rebuild bone inside the body

May 30, 2014 8:05 am | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Traumatic bone injuries are often so severe that the body can’t effectively repair the damage on its own. To aid the recovery, clinicians inject patients with growth factors. The treatment is costly, requiring large amounts of expensive growth factors. The growth factors also disperse, creating unwanted bone formation around the injury. A new technology could provide more efficient delivery of the bone regenerating growth factors.

Hitchhiking nanotubes show how cells stir themselves

May 30, 2014 7:50 am | Videos | Comments

A team of researchers has successfully tracked single molecules inside living cells with carbon nanotubes. Through this new method, the researchers found that cells stir their interiors using the same motor proteins that serve in muscle contraction. The study, which sheds new light on biological transport mechanisms in cells, appears in Science.

Scientists control rapid rewiring of brain circuits using patterned visual stimulation

May 29, 2014 11:33 am | News | Comments

In a new study, researchers show for the first time how the brain rewires and fine-tunes its connections differently depending on the relative timing of sensory stimuli. This marks the first time that direct, real-time evidence from watching brain cells in an intact animal has been used to support a 65-year-old model of how nerve circuits refine their connectivity.

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The pirate in the microbe

May 29, 2014 11:25 am | News | Comments

Bacteria use threadlike appendages, called pili, to creep along a surface, and some disease-causing microbes extend pili in all directions to move. But until now researchers have been unable to explain why bacteria like these are able to travel in a straight line consistently. A new model developed to describe this movement shows that bacteria do not act as randomly as they appear to when moving.

Coating stents with vitamin C could reduce clotting risks

May 29, 2014 11:18 am | News | Comments

Every year, more than 1 million people in the U.S. have little mesh tubes called stents inserted into their blood vessels to prop them open. The procedure has saved many lives, but it still has potentially deadly downsides. Now scientists are reporting that coating stents with vitamin C could lower the implants’ risks even further.

Researchers use light to coax stem cells to repair teeth

May 29, 2014 11:11 am | by Kristen Kusek, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

A Harvard Univ.-led team is the first to demonstrate the ability to use low-power light to trigger stem cells inside the body to regenerate tissue, an advance they reported in Science Translational Medicine. The research lays the foundation for a host of clinical applications in restorative dentistry and regenerative medicine more broadly, such as wound healing, bone regeneration and more.

A cure for dry eye could be a blink away

May 29, 2014 8:37 am | by Susan Gawlowicz, Rochester Institute of Technology | News | Comments

A treatment for dry eye, a burning, gritty condition that can impair vision and damage the cornea, could someday result from computer simulations that map the way tears move across the surface of the eye. To understand dry eye, the team had to begin with the physics and chemistry of tears.

Researchers target brain circuitry to treat intractable mental disorders

May 28, 2014 11:46 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | Videos | Comments

Neuroscientists, engineers and physicians are teaming up for an ambitious five-year, $26 million project to develop new techniques for tackling mental illness. By using devices implanted in the brain, they aim to target and correct malfunctioning neural circuits in conditions such as clinical depression, addiction and anxiety disorders.

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Sneaky bacteria change key protein’s shape to escape detection

May 28, 2014 10:23 am | News | Comments

Every once in a while in the U.S., bacterial meningitis seems to crop up out of nowhere, claiming a young life. Part of the disease’s danger is the ability of the bacteria to evade the body’s immune system, but scientists are now figuring out how the pathogen hides in plain sight. Their findings, which could help defeat these bacteria and others like it, appear in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Cancer, bioelectrical signals and the microbiome connected

May 28, 2014 8:37 am | by Kim Thurler, Tufts Univ. | News | Comments

Developmental biologists at Tufts Univ., using a tadpole model, have shown that bioelectrical signals from distant cells control the incidence of tumors arising from cancer-causing genes and that this process is impacted by levels of a common fatty acid produced by bacteria found in the tadpole and also in humans. 

HIV can cut and paste in the human genome

May 28, 2014 8:31 am | by Kirsten Olesen, Aarhus University | News | Comments

A new technology developed in Denmark uses the HIV virus as a tool in the fight against hereditary diseases and, in the long term, against HIV infection as well. The technology repairs the genome in a new and safer manner by using the virus as nanoparticles to manage the “cut and paste” approach to modifying the genome.

“Nanodaisies” deliver drug cocktail to cancer cells

May 28, 2014 8:16 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed daisy-shaped, nanoscale structures that are made predominantly of anticancer drugs and are capable of introducing a “cocktail” of multiple drugs into cancer cells. The researchers are all part the joint biomedical engineering program at North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kiwi DNA link spurs rethink of flightless birds

May 27, 2014 9:23 am | by Nick Perry, Associated Press | News | Comments

Research linking New Zealand's diminutive kiwi with a giant extinct bird from Africa is prompting scientists to rethink how flightless birds evolved. Instead, it's more likely their chicken-size, flight-capable ancestors enjoyed a window of evolutionary ascendancy about 60 million years ago, after dinosaurs died out and before mammals grew big. The study contradicts earlier theories about the evolution of flightless birds.

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Tiny muscles help bats fine-tune flight

May 27, 2014 8:20 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

A new study of bats reveals a capability within their wondrous wings that may help them fine-tune their flight. Bats employ a network of nearly hair-thin muscles embedded in the membrane of their inherently floppy wing skin to adjust the wings’ stiffness and curvature while they fly, Brown Univ. researchers report.

DNA nanotechnology places enzyme catalysis within an arm’s length

May 27, 2014 8:06 am | by Joe Caspermeyer, Arizona State Univ. | News | Comments

Using molecules of DNA like an architectural scaffold, Arizona State Univ. scientists, in collaboration with colleagues at the Univ. of Michigan, have developed a 3-D artificial enzyme cascade that mimics an important biochemical pathway that could prove important for future biomedical and energy applications.

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.

Doctors design mini dialysis machine for babies

May 23, 2014 12:41 pm | by Maria Cheng, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Doctors in Italy have designed a miniature dialysis machine for babies, used for the first time last year to save a newborn girl. Usually, doctors adapt standard dialysis machines for babies, but that can be risky since the devices can't always be accurately tweaked. About 1 to 2% of hospitalized infants have kidney problems that may require dialysis, which cleans toxins from the blood when the kidneys aren't working.

Chip produces, detects specialized gas for biomedical analysis

May 23, 2014 8:27 am | News | Comments

A chip-scale device that both produces and detects a specialized gas used in biomedical analysis and medical imaging has been built and demonstrated at NIST. Described in Nature Communications, the new microfluidic chip produces polarized (or magnetized) xenon gas and then detects even the faintest magnetic signals from the gas.

Researchers discover immune system’s rules of engagement

May 22, 2014 2:06 pm | News | Comments

A new study reveals how T cells, the immune system’s foot soldiers, respond to an enormous number of potential health threats. X-ray studies at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, combined with Stanford Univ. biological studies and computational analysis, revealed remarkable similarities in the structure of binding sites which allow a given T cell to recognize many different invaders that provoke an immune response.

Study finds crowding has big effects on biomolecules

May 22, 2014 1:58 pm | News | Comments

Crowding has notoriously negative effects at large size scales, blamed for everything from human disease and depression to community resource shortages. But relatively little is known about the influence of crowding at the cellular level. A new JILA study shows that a crowded environment has dramatic effects on individual biomolecules.

Capillary device significantly improves manufacture of quality liposomes

May 22, 2014 9:29 am | News | Comments

Widespread application of manufactured liposomes as artificial drug carriers has been hindered by factors such as inconsistency in size, structural instability, and high production costs. Researchers have designed a new liposome production system from bundled capillary tubes. It costs less than a $1 to make, requires no special fabrication technology, and consistently yields large quantities of uniform and sturdy vesicles.

Not just for the heart, red wine shows promise as cavity fighter

May 22, 2014 8:17 am | News | Comments

For anyone searching for another reason to enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner, here’s a good one: A new study has found that red wine, as well as grape seed extract, could potentially help prevent cavities. They say that their report, which appears in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, could lead to the development of natural products that ward off dental diseases with fewer side effects.

Researchers sequence genome of primitive termite

May 21, 2014 8:23 am | by Mick Kulikowski, North Carolina State Univ. News Services | News | Comments

North Carolina State Univ. entomologists are part of a research team that has for the first time sequenced the genome of a member of the termite order, the dampwood termite (Zootermopsis nevadensis). The findings on the genetic blueprint of the dampwood termite, one of the world’s most primitive social insects, highlight key differences and similarities with other social insects and provide insight into how social insects evolved.

Cognitive test can differentiate between Alzheimer’s and normal aging

May 21, 2014 8:06 am | by Chelsey Coombs, Life Sciences Intern, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a new cognitive test that can better determine whether memory impairments are due to very mild Alzheimer’s disease or the normal aging process. Previous research has shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease often have impairments in hippocampal function. So the team designed a task that tested participants’ relational memory abilities.

Britain launches $17 million science prize

May 20, 2014 9:33 am | News | Comments

Britain is offering 10 million pounds (almost $17 million) to whoever can solve one of humanity's biggest scientific challenges. What’s the challenge? Organizers said Monday the public would vote on which of six challenges the prize should tackle, ranging from reversal of paralysis to making air travel environmentally friendly.

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