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Weighing particles at the attogram scale

January 13, 2014 3:37 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have devised a way to measure the mass of particles with a resolution better than an attogram. Weighing these tiny particles, including both synthetic nanoparticles and biological components of cells, could help researchers better understand their composition and function.

Researchers develop artificial bone marrow

January 10, 2014 12:51 pm | News | Comments

A new porous structure under development in German possesses essential properties of natural bone marrow and can be used for the reproduction of stem cells in the laboratory. The specific reproduction of these hematopoietic cells outside the body might facilitate new therapies for leukemia in a few years.

New way to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria: Target human cells instead

January 10, 2014 12:07 pm | News | Comments

As more reports appear of a grim “post-antibiotic era” ushered in by the rise of drug-resistant bacteria, a new strategy for fighting infection is emerging that targets a patient’s cells rather than those of the invading pathogens. The approach involves looking at a class of proteins called phosphatases that is crucial for bacterial but involves the use of the host cell’s machinery.

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A Synthetic Solution Saves Lives

January 9, 2014 2:24 pm | by Lindsay Hock | Articles | Comments

In the 2nd century BC, Indian surgeon Sushruta used autografted skin transplantation in nose reconstruction, also known as rhinoplasty. This was the first reasonable account of organ transplantation recorded. The first successful human corneal transplant was performed in 1905 in the Czech Republic, and the first steps to skin transplantation occurred during World War I. The first successful kidney transplant happened in 1962 in the U.S.

Eye-catching electronics

January 8, 2014 2:03 pm | by Peter Rüegg, ETH Zürich | News | Comments

Researchers in Switzerland are developing electronic components that are thinner and more flexible than before. They can even be wrapped around a single hair without damaging the electronics. This opens up new possibilities for ultra-thin, transparent sensors that are literally easy on the eye.

New nanotechnology “traps” viruses before they infect host cells

January 7, 2014 9:57 am | News | Comments

Developed by a team of researchers in Massachusetts and California, “nanotraps” are nanoparticles that act as viral traps using specific molecules found naturally within the human body. Initial testing on the treatments, which each use tiny, non-toxic particles that can be injected, inhaled, or eaten, has shown them to be effective and safe against a multitude of strains of disease.

Measuring photoactivation efficiency at the single molecule level

January 7, 2014 8:55 am | News | Comments

The ability to determine protein stoichiometry and monitor the ratio of protein types allows scientists to see the difference between a properly functioning cell and a diseased cell. Photoactivation fluorescences studies have resulted in undercounting of proteins, however, leading a science group to recently establish new methodology for determining protein stoichiometry.

Kinect-based virtual reality training promotes brain reorganization after stroke

December 27, 2013 1:11 pm | News | Comments

Recently, a study team from the First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen Univ. in China has verified that virtual reality training using the Kinect system from the Xbox 360 could promote the recovery of upper limb motor function in subacute stroke patients, and brain reorganization by Kinect-based virtual reality training may be linked to the contralateral sensorimotor cortex.

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Chinese biologist seeks out productive biofuel sources

December 27, 2013 12:47 pm | News | Comments

In a recent achievement, Cui Qiu, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology, turned a few shy members of the Clostridium germ family into highly productive workers. Some chewed up wood fiber and churned out sugar, while others ate the sugar and made ethanol. These small creatures could bring huge changes to the world, Cui says.

Pilot alertness aboard the Solar Impulse

December 23, 2013 10:59 am | News | Comments

Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard put his mental and physiological limits to the test during a 72-hour simulated flight across the Atlantic Ocean which ended Friday. Scientists from the Swiss Federal Polytechnic Institute in Lausanne monitored his mental states and cardiac rhythm throughout the flight to test his mental and physiological boundaries during strenuous flight conditions.

Drug blocks HIV in lab study, human tests planned

December 20, 2013 12:59 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Can an experimental drug developed to treat epilepsy block the AIDS virus? A preliminary lab study suggests it's possible, and researchers are eager to try it in people. When tested in human tissues in the laboratory, the drug "works beautifully" to prevent HIV from destroying key cells of the immune system.

First plant-based “microswimmers” could propel drugs to the right location

December 19, 2013 7:30 pm | News | Comments

In the quest to shrink motors so they can maneuver in tiny spaces like inside and between human cells, scientists have taken inspiration from millions of years of plant evolution and incorporated, for the first time, corkscrew structures from plants into a new kind of helical “microswimmer.” The low-cost development, which appears in ACS’ journal Nano Letters, could be used on a large scale in targeted drug delivery and other applications.

Computer models, observations inside a cell reveal RNA’s interesting “machines”

December 19, 2013 7:26 pm | by Elizabeth Dougherty, Massachusetts Institute of Technology | News | Comments

New collaborative work from computational biologists in Massachusetts and California combines computational and experimental approaches to identify biologically meaningful RNA folds. The work could open the door to a better understanding of RNA machinery, which includes the ribosome, microRNAs and riboswitches, and long noncoding RNAs whose diverse functions are only beginning to be understood.

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Cells from the eye inkjet printed for the first time

December 18, 2013 2:05 pm | News | Comments

A group of researchers from the U.K. have used inkjet printing technology to successfully print cells taken from the eye for the very first time. The breakthrough, detailed in Biofabrication, could lead to the production of artificial tissue grafts made from the variety of cells found in the human retina and may aid in the search to cure blindness.

Microprinting leads to low-cost artificial cells

December 18, 2013 9:12 am | by A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Easily manufactured, low-cost artificial cells manufactured using microprinting may one day serve as drug and gene delivery devices, according to engineers at Penn State Univ. who are creating large arrays of artificial cells. Made of lipids and proteins, these uniformly sized cells can either remain attached to the substrate on which they grow, or become separated and used as freely moving vessels.

Water in cells behaves in complex and intricate ways

December 18, 2013 7:40 am | News | Comments

In a sort of biological "spooky action at a distance," water in a cell slows down in the tightest confines between proteins and develops the ability to affect other proteins much farther away, Univ. of Michigan researchers have discovered. The finding could provide insights into how and why proteins clump together in diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Researchers develop advanced 3-D “force microscope”

December 17, 2013 3:19 pm | News | Comments

Until recently, the microscopic study of complex membrane proteins has been restricted due to limitations of “force microscopes” that are available to researchers and the one-dimensional results these microscopes reveal. Now, researchers at the Univ. of Missouri have built a 3-D microscope that will yield unparalleled information on membrane proteins and how they interact in cells. The innovation could speed up drug development.

DNA motor “walks” along nanotube, transports tiny particle

December 17, 2013 2:45 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have created a new type of molecular motor made of DNA and demonstrated its potential by using it to transport a nanoparticle along the length of a carbon nanotube. The design was inspired by natural biological motors that have evolved to perform specific tasks critical to the function of cells.

Berkeley Lab creates first soluble 2-D supramolecular organic frameworks

December 17, 2013 12:53 am | News | Comments

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are commanding considerable research attention because of their appetite for greenhouse gases. But now supramolecular organic frameworks (SOFs), held together by non-covalent bonds, have joined the field. Researchers have unveiled the first 2-D SOFs that self-assemble in solution, an important breakthrough that holds implications for sensing, separation technologies, and biomimetics.

Golden trap: Highly sensitive system detects individual nanoparticles

December 17, 2013 12:45 am | by Uta Bilow, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf | News | Comments

Medical diagnostics seeks to learn early on whether a serious disease is developing or what its course will be. In many cases, treacherous molecules are present only in trace amounts, however. Researchers in Germany have come up with a new method of detection which has allowed them to notice the presence of only 17 dye molecules. The highly sensitive method might one day be used to scan a tiny drop of blood for potential diseases.

The synaptic mechanisms behind brain waves

December 17, 2013 12:20 am | News | Comments

How information is processed and encoded in the brain is a central question in neuroscience. But the brain's underlying synaptic mechanisms have so far remained unclear. In a recent study, researchers have discovered the synaptic mechanisms underlying oscillations in the hippocampus. Furthermore, the researchers suggest a role for these oscillations in the coding of information by the principal neurons in that area of the brain.

Hybrid carrier five times more effective in delivering genetic material into cells

December 16, 2013 2:48 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in New York City have developed a carrier in their lab that is five times more efficient in delivering DNA into cells than today’s commercial delivery methods: reagent vectors. This novel complex is a peptide-polymer hybrid, assembled from two separate, less effective vectors that are used to carry DNA into cells.

3-D printed implants may soon fix complex injuries

December 13, 2013 2:54 pm | by Katie Feldman, National Science Foundation | News | Comments

Researchers are adapting technology for 3-D printing metals, ceramics, and other materials to create custom medical implants designed to fix complicated injuries. Using a technology called Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS), these new implants integrate into the body more effectively, encouraging bone regrowth that ultimately results in a stronger, longer lasting implant.

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.

Temperature-sensitive gelling scaffolds to regenerate craniofacial bone

December 11, 2013 2:59 pm | News | Comments

Rice Univ. bioengineers have developed a hydrogel scaffold for craniofacial bone tissue regeneration that starts as a liquid, solidifies into a gel in the body and liquefies again for removal. The material developed in a Rice laboratory is a soluble liquid at room temperature that can be injected to the point of need. At body temperature, it turns into a gel to help direct the formation of new bone to replace that damaged by injury.

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