Most people know about ultrasound through its role in prenatal imaging: those grainy, grey outlines of junior constructed from reflected sound waves. A new technology called an "acoustic diode” that would transmit sound in one direction may dramatically improve future ultrasound images by changing the way sound waves are transmitted.
Microbeam radiation therapy provides tremendous promise for cancer patients through its ability to destroy tumor cells while protecting surrounding healthy tissue. Yet research into its clinical use has been limited by the sheer size of the technology required to generate the beams. Until now.
A brain stimulation technique that is used to treat tough cases of depression could be considerably improved with a new headpiece designed by Univ. of Michigan engineers. Computer simulations showed that the headpiece—a square array of 64 circular metallic coils—could one day help researchers and doctors hit finer targets in the brain that are twice as deep as they can reach today, and without causing pain.
The ability to shrink laboratory-scale processes to automated chip-sized systems would revolutionize biotechnology and medicine. One of the challenges of lab-on-a-chip technology is the need for miniaturized pumps to move solutions through microchannels. A super-thin silicon membrane developed at the Univ. of Rochester could now make it possible to shrink the power source, paving the way for diagnostic devices the size of a credit card.
Accurate and rapid testing for drug toxicity just became easier, thanks to a half-dozen Rice Univ. student interns working at Houston-based startup Nano3D Biosciences (n3D). The bioengineering and nanoscale physics students just wrapped up a year-long effort to aid the company in developing a new method for conducting high-throughput, in vitro cytotoxicity assays.
The act of walking is seldom given a second thought, but upon closer inspection locomotion is less straightforward. In particular, the ankle is an anatomical jumble, and its role in maintaining stability and motion has not been well characterized. A device called the “Anklebot” could help matters by measuring the stiffness of the ankle in various directions.
Researchers in The Netherlands have recently unveiled their “photoacoustic mammoscope,” a new device that could someday be used for routine breast cancer screenings. Instead of x-rays, which are used in traditional mammography, the photoacoustic breast mammoscope uses a combination of infrared light and ultrasound to create a 3-D map of the breast.
In remote regions of the world where electricity is hard to come by and scientific instruments are even scarcer, conducting medical tests at a doctor’s office or medical laboratory is rarely an option. Scientists are now reporting progress toward an inexpensive point-of-care, paper-based device to fill that void with no electronics required.
For those wanting to keep their distance from health threats like E. coli-contaminated lettuce or the flu, there are two upcoming apps for that. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory hosted a competition last summer where graduate students used Android development tools and web-based analytics to design mobile apps that could help fight the threats of food-related illnesses and the flu.
OnTarget Laboratories LLC has teamed with partners in academia to test a novel optical imaging technology developed at Purdue Univ. that could help surgeons see cancer tissue during surgery. The technology is based on the over-expression of specific receptors on solid cancerous tumors and enables illumination of the tumor tissue during surgery.
Everyone grows older, but scientists don't really understand why. Now a Univ. of California, Los Angeles study has uncovered a biological clock embedded in our genomes that may shed light on why our bodies age and how we can slow the process.
During open surgery, doctors rely on their sense of touch to identify anatomical structures: a procedure they call palpation. But this practice is not possible in minimally invasive surgery where surgeons work with small, specialized tools and miniature cameras. A small, wireless capsule has been developed that can restore the sense of touch that surgeons are losing as they shift increasingly from open to minimally invasive surgery.
The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. and AstraZeneca have announced a collaboration that will leverage the Institute's organs-on-chips technologies to better predict safety of drugs in humans. Human organs-on-chips are composed of a clear, flexible polymer about the size of a computer memory stick, and contain hollow microfluidic channels lined by living human cells.
An Israeli nonprofit group has awarded a $1 million prize to a U.S.-based research team that is developing technology that allows paralyzed people to move things with their thoughts. BrainGate is developing a brain implant that can read brain signals and allow the paralyzed to move robotic limbs or computer cursors.
Researchers at Princeton Univ. have found that microRNAs, which are small bits of genetic material capable of repressing the expression of certain genes, may serve as both therapeutic targets and predictors of metastasis, or a cancer’s spread from its initial site to other parts of the body.
Details have been released by IBM Research on Watson-related cognitive technologies that are expected to help physicians make more informed and accurate decisions faster and to cull new insights from electronic medical records (EMR). The new computing capabilities allow for a more natural interaction between physicians, data and EMRs.
New research at the Univ. of Chicago is laying the groundwork for touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs that one day could convey real-time sensory information to amputees via a direct interface with the brain. The research marks an important step toward new technology that, if implemented successfully, would increase the dexterity and clinical viability of robotic prosthetic limbs.
Walking is tricky business. And while most artificial feet and limbs do a pretty good job restoring mobility to people who have lost a leg, they have a ways to go before they equal the intricacy of a natural gait. As a result, over half of all amputees take a fall every year, compared to about one-third of people over 65. Researchers are taking a giant step toward solving the problem.
Any medical device implanted in the body attracts bacteria to its surface, causing infections and thrombosis that lead to many deaths annually. Devices can be coated with antibiotics and blood thinners, but these eventually dissolve, limiting their longevity and effectiveness. Now, Semprus BioSciences is developing a novel biomaterial for implanted medical devices that barricades these troublesome microbes from the device’s surface.
For many, music is a universal language that unites people when words cannot. But for those who use cochlear implants hearing music remains extremely challenging. Univ. of Washington scientists hope to change this. They have developed a new way of processing the signals in cochlear implants to help users hear music better.
A new technique developed by researchers at the Stanford Univ. School of Medicine could pave the way to an era of personalized epigenomics. The technique could quickly yield huge amounts of useful information about which genes are active in particular cells. The technology involved is cheap, fast and easy to use, and all that would be needed from the patient is a blood sample or needle biopsy.
The announcements of this year's Nobel Prize winners will start Monday with the medicine award and continue with physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics. The secretive award committees never give away any hints in advance of who could win, but here's a look at five big scientific breakthroughs that haven't yet received a Nobel prize.
A microfluidic chip developed at the Univ. of Michigan is among the best at capturing elusive circulating tumor cells from blood—and it can support the cells' growth for further analysis. The device, believed to be the first to pair these functions, uses the advanced electronics material graphene oxide. In clinics, such a device could one day help doctors diagnose cancers.
Tracking blood flow in the laboratory is an important tool for studying ailments and is usually measured in the clinic using professional imaging equipment and techniques like laser speckle contrast imaging. Now, developers have built a new biological imaging system 50 times less expensive than standard equipment, and suitable for imaging applications outside of the laboratory.
At the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, experts have been conducting research of “organs” on microchips. Unlike the few other laboratories conducting these types of studies, the Army is specifically looking at potential scenarios that will affect warfighters, especially chemical agent exposure.