A dash of clay, a dab of fiber from crab shells, and a dollop of DNA: This strange group of materials are actually the ingredients of promising green fire retardants invented by researchers at NIST. Applied to polyurethane foam, the bio-based coatings greatly reduced the flammability of the common furniture padding after it was exposed to an open flame.
A route for constructing protein nanomachines engineered for specific applications may now be closer to reality. Recent research has described the development of new Rosetta software that enables the design of protein nanomaterials composed of multiple copies of distinct protein subunits, which arrange themselves into higher order, symmetrical architectures. It has been used to create a nanocage, built by itself from engineered components.
Hospital germs can be fatal, since they are resistant to antibiotics. As a result, alternative methods of defense against bacteria are in demand. Fortunately, a German-French research team has been able to develop bone implants that keep the germs at bay. The solutions depends on a breakthrough that allows scientists to imbue apatite crystals with calcium phosphate.
One of the biggest challenges for medical researchers studying the effectiveness of stem cell therapies is that transplants or grafts of cells are often rejected by the hosts. This rejection can render experiments useless. Now, researchers at the Univ. of Missouri have shown that a new line of genetically modified pigs will host transplanted cells without the risk of rejection.
Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. The disease can be caused by both external and internal factors; and, if the spread isn’t controlled, it can result in death. The annual cancer statistics report from the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 1,885,540 new cancer cases and 585,720 cancer deaths in the U.S. for 2014.
Artificial joints have a limited lifespan. After a few years, many hip and knee joints have to be replaced. More problematic are intervertebral disc implants, which cannot easily be replaced after they “expire” and are usually reinforced, which restrict a patient’s movement. Researchers in Switzlernad have now succeeded in coating mobile intervertebral disc implants so that they show no wear and will now last for a lifetime.
A fast and cost-effective genetic test to determine the correct dosage of blood thinning drugs for the treatment of stroke, heart problems and deep vein thrombosis has been developed by researchers in Singapore. The new test, which uses gold nanoparticles mixed with DNA samples in solution, can quickly recognize three of the most common genetic variations associated with warfarin response.
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.
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.
Scientists have recently combined optical coherence tomography (OCT) with other instruments to help doctors provide safer, less painful, and more effective care for women in labor and people with diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Their work, to be showcased at CLEO in San Jose, Calif., in June 2014, will enable precision-guided epidural needles and blood flow measurements without contrast agents.
Conventional radiographic procedures generate images based on the absorption of x-rays as they pass through tissue. Newly developed x-ray dark-field radiography uses new technology to monitor wave changes during tissue transmission to create higher resolution images. Researchers in Germany have recently tested this technique for the first time on a living organism and report that the method shows promise in detecting diseases earlier.
Biologists and doctors rely heavily on incubators and microscopes. Researchers have invented a new type of microscope that combines the functions of both these tools in a compact system. The incubator microscope is ideally suited for time-lapse examination over a number of weeks and for automatic observation of cell cultures. No bigger than a soda can, it costs 30 times less than buying an incubator and a microscope separately.
Researchers at the Univ. of Massachusetts will lead an international team of scientists in the development and implementation of a new optogenetic platform that can remotely activate neurons inside a free-moving organism. Using a new class of nanoparticles they propose to selectively turn on non-image forming photoreceptors inside mice and Drosophila, unencumbered by the fiber optic wires currently used in optogenetic technologies.
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.
To the relief of patients diagnosed with hepatitis C, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two new treatments late last year, and a few more are on the way. Now scientists are solving another side of the disease’s problem: identifying the millions more who have the virus but don’t know it—and unwittingly pass it on. A report in Analytical Chemistry describes a novel, scrapbook-inspired test that does just that.
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.
When doctors perform an MRI, they administer a contrast agent: a chemical that, when injected into the bloodstream or ingested by the patient just before the MRI, improves the clarity of structures or organs in the resulting image. Researchers in Illinois have turned contrast agent technology “inside out” to develop a scalable new way of building multipurpose agents using nanoparticles.
A new “lab-on-a-chip” platform developed at the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Spain is capable of detecting detect very low concentrations of protein cancer markers, enabling diagnoses of the disease in its earliest stages. The device, just a few square centimeters in size, uses recent advances in plasmonics, nano-fabrication, microfluids and surface chemistry.
Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists have a potential solution for how to more effectively kill tumor cells using cancer-killing viruses. The investigators report that trapping virus-loaded stem cells in a gel and applying them to tumors significantly improved survival in mice with glioblastoma multiforme, the most common brain tumor in human adults and also the most difficult to treat.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an effective treatment for easily accessible tumors such as oral and skin cancer. But the procedure, which uses lasers to activate special drugs called photosensitizing agents, isn’t adept at fighting cancer deep inside the body. That could change because of a new technology that could bring PDT into areas of the body which were previously inaccessible.
Researchers have created a prototype system that uses a mathematical model to predict—and a portable inkjet technology to produce—precise medication dosages tailored for specific patients, an advance in personalized medicine that could improve drug effectiveness and reduce adverse reactions.
A U.S. and Korean research team has developed a chip-like device that could be scaled up to sort and store hundreds of thousands of individual living cells in a matter of minutes. The system is similar to a random access memory chip, but it moves cells rather than electrons.
The final step in the production of a biotech medicine is finishing with the correct sugar structure. This step is essential for the efficacy of the medicine, but it also makes the production process very complex and expensive. Researchers in Belgium have developed a technology that shortens the sugar structures whilst retaining the therapeutic efficiency. This technology could make production of biotech medicines simpler and cheaper.
Researchers from The Univ. of Texas at Dallas and the Univ. of Tokyo have created electronic devices that become soft when implanted inside the body and can deploy to grip 3-D objects, such as large tissues, nerves and blood vessels. These biologically adaptive, flexible transistors might one day help doctors learn more about what is happening inside the body, and stimulate the body for treatments.
In new work, a research team has shed light on a type of molecular motor used to package the DNA of a number of viruses, including such human pathogens as herpes and the adenoviruses. The scientists found that this viral packaging motor exerts torque to rotate DNA and adapts to changing conditions in order to coordinate its mechano-chemical activity.