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Innovative contact lens delivers glaucoma medication continuously

December 9, 2013 10:10 am | News | Comments

For nearly 50 years, contact lenses have been proposed as a means of ocular drug delivery that may someday replace eye drops, but achieving controlled drug release has been a significant challenge. Researchers in Massachusetts have made an advance in this direction with the development of a drug-eluting contact lens designed for prolonged delivery glaucoma medication.

Recycled plastic effective in killing drug-resistant fungi

December 9, 2013 9:46 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Singapore and at IBM Research in California have discovered a new, potentially life-saving application for polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is widely used to make plastic bottles. They have successfully converted PET into a non-toxic biocompatible material with superior fungal killing properties. This could help prevent and treat various fungus-induced diseases such as keratitis.

Micro­robots could become soft, move like biological organisms

December 6, 2013 8:49 am | News | Comments

A researcher team from Spain and Italy say that when envisioning in vivo microrobots of the future, we should forget cogwheels, pistons and levers. These miniature robots will be soft, and behave much like euglenids, tiny unicellular aquatic animals. Their work in studying these creatures have given them insights on how to design soft robots with effective mechanical structures.

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Osteoarthritis medicine delivered on-demand

December 5, 2013 9:23 am | News | Comments

Scientists are reporting development of a squishy gel that, when compressed at a key location such as a painful knee joint, releases anti-inflammatory medicine. The new material could someday deliver medications when and where osteoarthritis patients need it most.

Engineer, cardiologist team up to make implanted devices “sticky”

November 27, 2013 9:24 am | by Eric Swedlund, Univ. of Arizona | News | Comments

Univ. of Arizona agricultural and biosystems engineering associate professor Jeong-Yeol Yoon and cardiology professor Dr. Marvin Slepian are testing nanotextured surfaces to improve how cardiovascular implant devices are attached in the body. The goal is to create a selectively sticky surface, favoring endothelial cell attachment, without favoring platelet attachment.

Study: Hybrid nanomaterials could replace human tissue, today’s pills

November 22, 2013 8:12 am | News | Comments

A team of researchers has uncovered critical information that could help scientists understand how protein polymers interact with other self-assembling biopolymers. The research helps explain naturally occurring nanomaterial within cells and could one day lead to engineered bio-composites for drug delivery, artificial tissue, bio-sensing, or cancer diagnosis.

“Molecular Velcro” may lead to cost-effective alternatives to natural antibodies

October 30, 2013 10:49 am | News | Comments

Taking inspiration from the human immune system, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have created a new material that can be programmed to identify an endless variety of molecules. The new material resembles tiny sheets of Velcro, each just one-hundred nanometers across. But instead of securing your sneakers, this molecular Velcro mimics the way natural antibodies recognize viruses and toxins.

SRC launches synthetic biology research effort at six universities

October 24, 2013 9:04 am | News | Comments

Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) has launched a new research program on hybrid bio-semiconductor systems that they hope will provide insights and opportunities for future information and communication technologies. The Semiconductor Synthetic Biology (SSB) program will initially fund research at six universities.

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Vitamin boost for 3-D printing

October 23, 2013 7:52 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ., the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Laser Zentrum Hannover have discovered that a naturally occurring compound can be incorporated into 3-D printing processes to create medical implants out of non-toxic polymers. The compound is riboflavin, which is better known as vitamin B2.

Physical cues help mature cells revert into embryonic-like stem cells

October 21, 2013 7:49 am | News | Comments

Bioengineers at the Univ. of California, Berkeley have shown that physical cues can replace certain chemicals when nudging mature cells back to a pluripotent stage, capable of becoming any cell type in the body. The researchers grew fibroblasts on surfaces with parallel grooves measuring 10 µm wide and 3 µm high.

Football-shaped particles bolster body’s defense against cancer

October 14, 2013 7:58 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Univ. have succeeded in making flattened, football-shaped artificial particles that impersonate immune cells. These football-shaped particles seem to be better than the typical basketball-shaped particles at teaching immune cells to recognize and destroy cancer cells in mice.

Creating a permanent bacteria barrier

October 11, 2013 9:35 am | by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office | News | Comments

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.

Spider’s super-thin ribbons key to silk tech

October 10, 2013 8:57 am | News | Comments

The silk of a spider feared for its venomous bite could be the key to creating new super-sticky films and wafer-thin electronics and sensors for medical implants that are highly compatible with the human body. A team of scientists studied the brown recluse spider (Loxosceles recluse), which produces super-thin ribbons of silk as opposed to the round fibers typically spun by spiders. 

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X-ray science taps bug biology to design better materials, reduce pollution

September 18, 2013 8:01 am | News | Comments

Bug spray, citronella candles, mosquito netting—most people will do anything they can to stay away from insects during the warmer months. But those creepy crawlers we try so hard to avoid may offer substantial solutions to some of life’s problems. Researchers using x-ray technology at the Advanced Photon Source were able to take an inside look at several insects, gathering results that go beyond learning about insect physiology and biology.

Researchers fabricate camouflage coating from squid protein

September 10, 2013 8:18 am | News | Comments

What can the U.S. military learn from a common squid? A lot about how to hide from enemies, according to researchers at Univ. of California, Irvine. As detailed in a study published online in Advanced Materials, they have created a biomimetic infrared camouflage coating inspired by Loliginidae, also known as pencil squids or your everyday calamari.

Genome of elastomeric materials creates novel materials

September 10, 2013 7:54 am | News | Comments

A wide range of biologically inspired materials may now be possible by combining protein studies, materials science and RNA sequencing, according to an international team of researchers. The researchers looked at proteins because they are the building blocks of biological materials and also often control sequencing, growth and self-assembly. RNA produced from the DNA in the cells is the template for biological proteins.

Material in dissolvable sutures could treat brain infections

August 29, 2013 2:59 pm | News | Comments

A plastic material already used in absorbable surgical sutures and other medical devices shows promise for continuous administration of antibiotics to patients with brain infections, scientists are reporting in a new study. Use of the material, placed directly on the brain’s surface, could reduce the need for weeks of costly hospital stays now required for such treatment.

New “nanobiocomposite” material made from nanotubes and butterfly wings

August 28, 2013 2:28 pm | News | Comments

Leveraging the amazing natural properties of the Morpho butterfly's wings, scientists have developed a hybrid material that shows promise for wearable electronic devices, highly sensitive light sensors and sustainable batteries. A honeycomb network of carbon nanotubes has actually been grown on Morpho butterfly wings, creating a composite material that can be activated with a laser.

A durable, bacteria-killing surface for hospitals

August 20, 2013 12:13 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at Switzerland have developed a new method for making antimicrobial surfaces that can eliminate bacteria under a minute. The breakthrough relies on a new sputtering technique that uses a highly ionized plasma to, for the first time, deposit antibacterial titanium oxide and copper films on 3-D polyester surfaces. This promotes the production of free radicals, which are powerful natural bactericides.

An organized approach to 3-D tissue engineering

August 20, 2013 7:43 am | News | Comments

Tissues designed with pre-formed vascular networks are known to promote rapid vascular integration with the host. Generally, prevascularization has been achieved by seeding or encapsulating endothelial cells, but these methods are slow. Hydrogels have also been tried, but a new technique developed in Singapore uses hydrogels with a new patterning process to quickly incorporate different cell types separately into different fibers.

Scientist measure and control the temperature inside living cells

August 5, 2013 6:26 pm | News | Comments

Using imperfections in diamonds as nanoscale thermometers, and gold nanoparticles implanted in cells as laser-induced heating mechanisms, a team of researchers working on DARPA’s Quantum-Assisted Sensing and Readout program recently demonstrated sub-degree temperature measurement and control at the nanometer scale inside living cells.

New coating turns ordinary glass into superglass

August 5, 2013 8:08 am | News | Comments

A new transparent, bio-inspired coating makes ordinary glass tough, self-cleaning and incredibly slippery, a team from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. reported. The new coating could be used to create durable, scratch-resistant lenses for eyeglasses, self-cleaning windows, improved solar panels and new medical diagnostic devices.

Light that moves and molds gels

August 1, 2013 4:08 pm | News | Comments

Some animals, like the octopus and cuttlefish, transform their shape based on environment. For decades, researchers have worked toward mimicking similar biological responses in non-living organisms, as it would have significant implications in the medical arena. Now, researchers at the Univ. of Pittsburgh have demonstrated such a biomimetic response using hydrogels.

Insect-inspired super rubber moves toward practical uses in medicine

July 31, 2013 10:52 am | News | Comments

A recent publication evaluates the latest advances toward using a protein called resilin in nanosprings, biorubbers, biosensors and other applications. This remarkable protein is rubber-like and enables dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects to flap their wings, jump and chirp. Resilin could have major potential uses in medicine.

Just hanging on: Why mussels are so good at it

July 23, 2013 12:37 pm | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Unlike barnacles, which cement themselves tightly to surfaces, mussels dangle more loosely from these surfaces, attached by a collection of fine filaments known as byssus threads. This approach lets the creatures drift further out into the water, where they can absorb nutrients. Despite the fragile appearance of these threads, they can withstand impact forces that are nine times greater than forces exerted by stretching in one direction.

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