An estimated 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide. Age-related macular degeneration alone is the leading cause of blindness among older adults in the Western world. However, Eric Tremblay from EPFL in Switzerland unveiled a new prototype of his telescopic contact lens, giving hope for better, stronger vision.
Viruses are masters of outsourcing, entrusting their fundamental function– reproduction– to the host cells they infect. But it turns out this highly economical approach also creates vulnerability. Researchers have found an unexpected way the immune system exploits the flu virus’ dependence on its host’s machinery to create new viruses capable of spreading infection.
Beavers don't brush their teeth, and they don't drink fluoridated water, but a new study reports beavers do have protection against tooth decay built into the chemical structure of their teeth: iron. This pigmented enamel, the researchers found, is both harder and more resistant to acid than regular enamel, including that treated with fluoride.
The large majority of the 50 million people around the world who suffer from epilepsy can be treated by anticonvulsant drugs.
A new, relatively simple process makes it possible to create biocompatible particles called shape-controllable microgels that could be custom designed for specific roles such as drug delivery vehicles, tissue engineering building blocks and biomedical research. The particles are made of two distinctly different materials: polymers called polyNIPAAm and sodium alginate, used in drug delivery.
The delivery of tiny biodegradable microstructures to heart tissue damaged by heart attack may help repair the tissue and prevent future heart failure. A team led by cardiovascular researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin bioengineered the microstructures to be the same size, shape and stiffness as adult heart muscle cells, or cardiomyocytes, with the goal of releasing biologically active peptides that act as cardioprotective agents.
Many people imagine robots today as clunky, metal versions of humans, but scientists are forging new territory in the field of “soft robotics”. One of the latest advances is a flexible, microscopic hand-like gripper. The development could help doctors perform remotely guided surgical procedures or perform biopsies. The materials also could someday deliver therapeutic drugs to hard-to-reach places.
A complex interplay of molecular components governs most aspects of biological sciences: healthy organism development, disease progression and drug efficacy are all dependent on the way life's molecules interact in the body. Understanding these biomolecular interactions is critical for the discovery of new therapeutics and diagnostics to treat diseases, but currently requires scientists to have access to expensive laboratory equipment.
Reducing the use of laboratory animals has been a long-term goal in biological research. Many in vivo assays, like rabbit endotoxin testing or mouse antibody production testing to detect viral contaminants have largely been replaced by in vitro enzyme or PCR-based assays.
When individuals wear their hearing aids for the first time, they are flooded with sounds they haven’t heard in months or years; yet, previous research has shown not all new sounds are welcomed. Ambient noises can be painful, irritating and difficult to ignore, causing some individuals to stop using their hearing aids right away. Now, a Univ. of Missouri researcher has developed an intervention.
Patients with sickle cell disease often suffer from painful attacks known as vaso-occlusive crises, during which their sickle-shaped blood cells get stuck in tiny capillaries, depriving tissues of needed oxygen. Blood transfusions can sometimes prevent such attacks, but there are currently no good ways to predict when a vaso-occlusive crisis, which can last for several days, is imminent.
Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a new, wearable sensor that uses silver nanowires to monitor electrophysiological signals, such as electrocardiography (EKG) or electromyography (EMG). The new sensor is as accurate as the “wet electrode” sensors used in hospitals, but can be used for long-term monitoring and is more accurate than existing sensors when a patient is moving.
The human brain’s complexity makes it extremely challenging to study; not only because of its sheer size, but also because of the variety of signaling methods it uses simultaneously. Conventional neural probes are designed to record a single type of signaling, limiting the information that can be derived from the brain at any point in time. Now researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology may have found a way to change that.
Acute care nurse practitioner students, specializing in flight nursing at Case Western Reserve Univ., will soon be training in the nation’s first state-of-the-art simulator built in an actual helicopter. The simulator creates the sense of treating critically injured patients from takeoff to landing. The helicopter simulator was installed at the university’s Cedar Avenue Service Center.
Scientists have developed the first ultra-thin, flexible device that sticks to skin like a rub-on tattoo and can detect a person’s glucose levels. The sensor, reported in a proof-of-concept study in Analytical Chemistry, has the potential to eliminate finger-pricking for many people with diabetes.
Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have identified a novel synthetic compound that sharply inhibits the activity of a protein that plays an important role in in the progression of breast and pancreatic cancers. In the new study the scientists showed that the compound, known as SR1848, reduces the activity and expression of the cancer-related protein called “liver receptor homolog-1” or LRH-1.
A group led by scientists has developed a new method for effectively extracting and analyzing cancer cells circulating in patients’ blood. Circulating tumor cells are cancer cells that break away from tumors and travel in the blood, looking for places in the body to grow new tumors called metastases. Capturing these rare cells would allow doctors to detect and analyze the cancer so they could tailor treatment for individual patients.
In a laboratory first, Duke Univ. researchers have grown human skeletal muscle that contracts and responds just like native tissue to external stimuli such as electrical pulses, biochemical signals and pharmaceuticals. The laboratory-grown tissue should soon allow researchers to test new drugs and study diseases in functioning human muscle outside of the human body.
Electroporation is a powerful technique in molecular biology. By using an electrical pulse to create a temporary nanopore in a cell membrane, researchers can deliver chemicals, drugs and DNA directly into a single cell. But existing electroporation methods require high electric field strengths and for cells to be suspended in solution, which disrupts cellular pathways and creates a harsh environment for sensitive primary cells.
A simple method to sense DNA, as well as potential biomarker proteins of cancer or other diseases such as Alzheimer's, may soon be within reach thanks to the work of a team of Yokohama National Univ. researchers in Japan. As the team reports in Applied Physics Letters, they created a photonic crystal nanolaser biosensor capable of detecting the adsorption of biomolecules based on the laser's wavelength shift.
The immune system is a complex network of many different cells working together to defend against invaders. Successfully fighting off an infection depends on the interactions between these cells. A new device developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers offers a much more detailed picture of that cellular communication.
Chemists have made a significant advancement to directly functionalize C-H bonds in natural products by selectively installing new carbon-carbon bonds into highly complex alkaloids and nitrogen-containing drug molecules. C-H functionalization is a much more streamlined process than traditional organic chemistry, holding the potential to greatly reduce the time and number of steps needed to create derivatives of natural products.
Proteins and other biomolecules are often analyzed exclusively in aqueous solutions in test tubes. But it is uncertain if these experimental studies can be transferred to the densely packed cellular environment. The Bochum-based researchers have developed a novel method which can be used to analyze the effects of the lack of space in living cells with the aid of a microscope for the first time.
Around 400 BC, Hippocrates was among the first people in recorded history to postulate the brain as the seat of sensation and intelligence. Yet only in the last 100 years have we identified, and closely studied, its key building block: the neuron. A highly specialized cell found in all but the simplest animals, like sponges, the neuron is one of the keys to understanding the brain.
The bionic age is no longer the workings of a far-fetched sci-fi movie; it’s here, now. We have experienced the first bionic eye and limbs. These technologies merge human capabilities with machines. They transform how we live, and who we are. They are improving quality of life. And there’s perhaps no greater example than R&D Magazine’s Innovator of the Year Prof. Hugh Herr.