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How do bacteria clog medical devices? Very quickly.

March 1, 2013 2:46 pm | News | Comments

A new study has exam­ined how bac­te­ria clog med­ical devices, and the result isn’t pretty. The microbes join to cre­ate slimey rib­bons that tan­gle and trap other pass­ing bac­te­ria, cre­at­ing a full block­age in a star­tlingly short period of time. The find­ing could help shape strate­gies for pre­vent­ing clog­ging of devices such as stents and water fil­ters

Team develops trackable drug-filled nanoparticles

March 1, 2013 8:35 am | News | Comments

Many researchers have been investigating the potential of tiny particles filled with drugs to treat cancer. A team of scientists in Sweden have recently made an advance in this area of research by developing “theranostic” nanoparticles, which combine therapy and diagnostics in the same nanomaterial. They are trackable through magnetic resonance.

Scientists engineer bacterial live wires

February 28, 2013 1:09 pm | News | Comments

Just like electronics, living cells use electrons for energy and information transfer. But cell membranes have thus far prevented us from “plugging” in cells to our computers. To get around this barrier that tightly controls charge balance, a research group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Molecular Foundry has engineered <em>E. coli</em> as a testbed for cellular-electrode communication. They have now demonstrated that these bacterial strains can generate measurable current at an anode.

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Adhesion system of fish studied to create bio-inspired adhesive

February 21, 2013 8:18 am | News | Comments

A new study provides details of the structure and tissue properties of the remora fish's unique adhesion system. The researchers plan to use this information to create an engineered reversible adhesive inspired by the remora that could be used to create pain- and residue-free bandages, attach sensors to objects in aquatic or military reconnaissance environments, replace surgical clamps, and help robots climb.

Researchers coat spinal polymer implants with bioactive film

February 19, 2013 9:29 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State University have, for the first time, successfully coated polymer implants with a bioactive film. The discovery should improve the success rate of such implants. The polymer used in these implants, called PEEK, does not bond well with bone or other tissues in the body. This can result in the implant rubbing against surrounding tissues, which can lead to medical complications and the need for additional surgeries.

Study: Popular drug-carrying nanoparticles get trapped in bloodstream

February 6, 2013 12:05 pm | News | Comments

Many medically minded researchers are in hot pursuit of designs that will allow drug-carrying nanoparticles to navigate tissues and the interiors of cells, but University of Michigan engineers have discovered that these particles have another hurdle to overcome: escaping the bloodstream. According to their work, the immune system can't get rid of some of the promising drug carriers quickly.

Pathway found for membrane building blocks

January 30, 2013 8:55 am | News | Comments

Biomembranes consist of a mosaic of individual, densely packed lipid molecules. These molecules are formed inside the cells. But how do these building blocks move to the correct part of the membrane? Researchers in Germany have discovered the bilayer structural mechanism that demonstrates how this is done.

Bioinspired fibers change color when stretched

January 28, 2013 4:31 pm | News | Comments

A team of materials scientists at Harvard University and the University of Exeter have invented a new fiber that changes color when stretched. Inspired by nature, the researchers identified and replicated the unique structural elements that create the bright iridescent blue color of a tropical plant's fruit.

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Magnetic nanovehicles control, target drug release in the body

January 28, 2013 10:57 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Switzerland have designed tiny vessels that are capable of releasing active agents in the body. These “nanovehicles” are made from a liposome just 100 to 200 nm in diameter. By attaching magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles to the surface, scientists are able to target the vessel, heating it up to release the drug.

Scientists unravel the mysteries of spider silk

January 28, 2013 8:22 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Arizona State University are celebrating their recent success on the path to understanding what makes the fiber that spiders spin—weight for weight—at least five times as strong as piano wire. They have found a way to obtain a wide variety of elastic properties of the silk of several intact spiders' webs using a sophisticated but non–invasive laser light scattering technique.

New antimicrobial hydrogels fight superbugs and drug-resistant biofilms

January 24, 2013 8:20 am | News | Comments

Bacterial biofilms, which diseased groupings of cells found in 80% of infections, are a significant health hazard and one of the biggest headaches for hospitals and their constant battle against disease. Researchers from IBM, with the help of scientists in Singapore, revealed today a synthetic antimicrobial hydrogel that can break through diseased biofilms and completely eradicate drug-resistant bacteria upon contact. It is the first hydrogel to be biodegradable, biocompatible, and non-toxic.

Tissue engineers find cartilage repair success with new biomaterial

January 14, 2013 4:18 pm | News | Comments

In a small study recently conducted at Johns Hopkins Medicine, researchers reported increased healthy tissue growth after surgical repair of damaged cartilage if they put a “hydrogel” scaffolding into the wound to support and nourish the healing process. Physicians encourage cartilage growth by punching tiny holes in bone near the injured cartilage. This stimulates the patients’ stem cells to grow.

Mussels inspire innovative new adhesive for surgery

January 9, 2013 6:33 pm | News | Comments

Mussels can be a mouthwatering meal, but the chemistry that lets mussels stick to underwater surfaces may also provide a highly adhesive wound closure and more effective healing from surgery. Researchers have incorporated the chemical structure from the mussel's adhesive protein into the design of an injectable synthetic polymer. The bioadhesives adhere well in wet environments, have controlled degradability, and improved biocompatibility.

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Mussel goo inspires blood vessel glue

December 12, 2012 8:08 am | News | Comments

A University of British Columbia researcher has helped create a gel—based on the mussel's knack for clinging to rocks, piers, and boat hulls-that can be painted onto the walls of blood vessels and stay put, forming a protective barrier with potentially life-saving implications.

Carbon nanotubes lower nerve-damaging chloride in cells

December 11, 2012 8:10 am | News | Comments

A nanomaterial engineered by researchers at Duke University can help regulate chloride levels in nerve cells that contribute to chronic pain, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. The findings were demonstrated in individual nerve cells as well as in the brains of mice and rats, and may have future applications in intracranial or spinal devices to help treat neural injuries.

Inspiration from a porcupine’s quills

December 10, 2012 5:46 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Anyone unfortunate enough to encounter a porcupine’s quills knows that once they go in, they are extremely difficult to remove. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brigham and Women’s Hospital now hope to exploit the porcupine quill’s unique properties to develop new types of adhesives, needles and other medical devices.

New biomaterial gets 'sticky' with stem cells

December 10, 2012 8:00 am | News | Comments

Just like the bones that hold up your body, your cells have their own scaffolding that holds them up. This scaffolding, known as the extracellular matrix, or ECM, not only props up cells but also provides attachment sites, or "sticky spots," to which cells can bind, just as bones hold muscles in place. A new study by researchers in the U.S. and the U.K. found these sticky sports are distributed randomly throughout the ECM in the body, an important discovery with implications for researchers trying to figure out how to grow stems cells in the laboratory in ways that most closely mimic biology.

Multitasking plasmonic nanobubbles kill some cells, modify others

December 3, 2012 3:30 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice University | News | Comments

Researchers at Rice University have found a way to kill some diseased cells and treat others in the same sample at the same time. The process, which uses tunable plasmonic nanobubbles previously invented in the laboratory of Dmitri Lapotko, is activated by a pulse of laser light and leaves neighboring healthy cells untouched.

Electrically spun fabric offers dual defense against pregnancy, HIV

November 30, 2012 1:52 pm | News | Comments

A new form of contraception could take an unexpected shape: electrically spun cloth with nanometer-sized fibers. These fibers, designed by a University of Washington team, can dissolve and release drugs, providing a cheap and discreet platform for protecting against unintended pregnancy, as well as HIV infection.

Implantable silk optics multi-task in the body

November 29, 2012 9:49 am | News | Comments

Tufts University School of Engineering researchers have demonstrated silk-based implantable optics that offer significant improvement in tissue imaging while simultaneously enabling photothermal therapy, administering drugs, and monitoring drug delivery. The devices also lend themselves to a variety of other biomedical functions.

Sieve holds nanoparticles, acts as solar absorber

November 26, 2012 12:43 pm | News | Comments

Colloidal suspensions of metal nanoparticles in water passes too easily through commonly used macroporous polymeric membranes. To handle these nanofluids, researchers have built a membrane equipped functionalized proteins that can act as filters for nanoscaled particles in aqueous solutions. Such a nano-sieve could act as a catalyzer or could capture solar energy.

Gold nanoparticle catalyst that learns from enzyme in nature

November 15, 2012 12:25 pm | News | Comments

Scientists in Japan have developed a high activity gold nanoparticle catalyst that simplifies the function of enzymes in capturing substances. This new type of catalyst mimics enzyme function on the surface of cell membranes, which capture molecules of designated lengths and shapes. The findings indicate that gold nanoparticles thus equipped could support biological activities as a catalyst in the reactions of the living body.

Building bones from wood

November 9, 2012 8:42 am | News | Comments

A research project in Europehas the aim of building bone implants that have been sourced from wood. The wood serves as a scaffolding that transforms to a ceramic identical to the mineral part of bone tissue: hydroxyapatite. The researchers believe the approach could appear in a clinical setting within ten years.

Enzymatic pretreatment eliminates infectious bacteria from medical textiles

October 16, 2012 8:52 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Spain have improved the antimicrobial properties of medical textiles using an enzymatic pre-treatment combined with simultaneous deposition of nanoparticles and biopolymers under ultrasonic irradiation. The technique is used to create completely sterile antimicrobial textiles that help prevent hospital-acquired infections.

Spider silk’s hidden talents may produce eco-friendly optics

October 11, 2012 12:25 pm | News | Comments

At this week’s Frontiers in Optics 2012, physicists are presenting possible applications based on research that uses natural spider silk to catch light. Recent findings could present an eco-friendly alternative to glass or plastic fiber optics: the traditional materials for manipulating light. Silk-enabled implantable biosensors, lasers, and microchips could result.

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