For the first time, neuroscientists have shown they can control muscle movement by applying optogenetics, a technique that allows scientists to control neurons’ electrical impulses with light, to the spinal cords of animals that are awake and alert. Previously, scientists have used electrical stimulation or pharmacological intervention to control neurons’ activity, but these approaches were not precise enough.
Iowa State University assistant professor of materials science and engineering Ludovico Cademartiri wanted something modular, scalable and structurally precise to serve as the building blocks for controlled environments to support his study of plants. Microfluidics was too expensive and complex, so he turned to the toy aisle.
Imagine a low-cost treatment for a life-threatening infection that could cure up to 90% of patients with minimal side effects, often in a few days.It may sound like a miracle drug, but this cutting-edge treatment is profoundly simple—though somewhat icky: take the stool of healthy patients to cure those with hard-to-treat intestinal infections.
Confined water exists widely and plays important roles in natural environments, particularly inside biological nanochannels. After several years of work, scientists in China have developed a series of biomimetic nanochannels that can serve as the base for confined transportation of water. The technology suggests a potential use in energy conversion systems.
A team of scientists in Japan and New Zealand have combined lasers, nanotechnology, and neuroscience to develop a new, versatile drug delivery system. The precise timing of a femtosecond laser is used to release dopamine, a neurochemical, that is dysfunctional in Parkinson’s Disease in a controlled and repeatable manner that mimics the natural dynamic release mechanism.
Researchers compare the processing of biological fluid samples with searching for a needle in a haystack—only in this case, the haystack could be diagnostic samples, and the needle might be tumor cells present in just ppm concentrations. Now, a new way of processing these samples could make such detections possible in real time.
Trillions of bacteria live in and on the human body; a few species can make us sick, but many others keep us healthy by boosting digestion and preventing inflammation. Although there's plenty of evidence that these microbes play a collective role in human health, we still know very little about most of the individual bacterial species that make up these communities.
A team of researchers in California has zeroed in on the important process of “attenuation,” the way cells guard against potentially harmful overreactions to the external cues that enable them to adapt to prevailing conditions. This bimolecular mutually assured destruction (MAD) mechanism of signaling attenuation broadens our understanding of the range of mechanisms nature has evolved to enact this critical function.
Lung cancer causes more deaths in the U.S. than the next three most common cancers combined, and the main reason is poor detection methods. A new device developed by a team of Israeli, American and British cancer researchers may turn the tide by both accurately detecting lung cancer and identifying its stage of progression. The breathalyzer test is embedded with a "NaNose" nanotech chip to literally "sniff out" cancer tumors.
A biological detection technology developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists can detect bacterial pathogens in the wounds of U.S. soldiers that have previously been missed by other technologies. This advance may, in time, allow an improvement in how soldiers' wounds are treated.
After a large stroke, motor skills barely improve, even with rehabilitation. An experiment conducted on rats demonstrates that a course of therapy combining the stimulation of nerve fiber growth with drugs and motor training can be successful. The key, however, is the correct sequence: Paralyzed animals only make an almost complete recovery if the training is delayed until after the growth promoting drugs have been administered.
Your eye could someday house its own high-tech information center, tracking important changes and letting you know when it’s time to see an eye doctor. Univ. of Washington engineers have designed a low-power sensor that could be placed permanently in a person’s eye to track hard-to-measure changes in eye pressure.
Scientists have made big progress on a "bionic pancreas" to free some people with diabetes from the daily ordeal of managing their disease. A wearable, experimental device passed a real-world test, constantly monitoring blood sugar and automatically giving insulin or a sugar-boosting drug as needed, doctors say.
A large team of scientists have developed a “nanobarrel” molecular container that traps and concentrates light onto single molecule. These nanobarrels, which act as tiny test tubes, have been combined with gold nanoparticles so that researchers can detect what is in each one. The invention could be used as a low-cost and reliable diagnostic test.
Researchers have developed nanoparticles that not only bypass the body’s defence system, but also find their way to the diseased cells. The procedure uses fragments from a particular type of antibody that only occurs in camels and llamas. The small particles were even successful under conditions which are very similar to the situation within potential patients’ bodies.
Researchers in Germany have converted the frequencies of droplets flowing through thin channels into musical notes. This is more than just a gimmick: The fact that droplets can be controlled so precisely that they become musical instruments means they are also of interest with regard to medical diagnostics applications.
Much as human DNA can be used as evidence in criminal trials, genetic information about microorganisms can be analyzed to identify pathogens or other biological agents in the event of a suspicious disease outbreak. The tools and methods used to investigate such outbreaks belong to the new field of microbial forensics, but the field faces substantial scientific and technical challenges, says a new report from the National Research Council.
Scientists in Switzerland have invented a molecule that can easily and quickly show how much drug is in a patient’s system. All that is needed to perform accurate measurements is a conventional digital camera. The result of innovative protein engineering and organic chemistry, the molecule has been shown to work on a range of common drugs for cancer, epilepsy and immunosuppression.
A new nanoparticle platform developed in California increases the efficiency of drug delivery and allows excess particles to be washed away. A simple etching technique using biocompatible chemicals rapidly disassembles and removes the silver nanoparticles outside living cells. This method leaves only the intact nanoparticles for imaging or quantification, revealing which cells have been targeted and how much each cell internalized.
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.