Virtual reality app takes the fear out of MRI scans for children

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February 17, 2017

A resident physicist at King’s College Hospital, Jonathan Ashmore, keeps a pair of sound-cancelling headphones on his desk. He dons them every time a very young patient arrives at the MRI scanner in the room next door, to drown out the sounds. “Sometimes the parents are the worst part – and the kids read off of them,” Ashmore tells WIRED. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of any medical procedure involving a…

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Bandages light up when in contact with certain chemicals

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February 17, 2017

A new ‘living material’—a tough, stretchy, biocompatible sheet of hydrogel injected with live cells that are genetically programmed to light up in the presence of certain chemicals has been designed by a team of engineers and biologists at MIT. In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers demonstrate the new material’s potential for sensing chemicals, both in the environment and in…

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Timely diagnosis of serious diseases with smart mobile tool

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February 17, 2017

A key challenge for researchers worldwide for decades has been finding practical solutions to detect proteins, cancer biomarkers, viruses and other small objects. These solutions hold promise for saving lives through more timely diagnosis and treatment of serious infections and diseases. Now a UCLA team’s new research shows how such detections might be done for a fraction of the cost by using ‘smart’ mobile devices designed by machine learning. One…

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Nanoelectronic thread brain probes don’t leave a scar

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February 16, 2017

At The University of Texas at Austin, engineering researchers have designed ultra-flexible, nanoelectronic thread (NET) brain probes that can achieve more reliable long-term neural recording than existing probes and don’t elicit scar formation when implanted. The researchers described their findings in a research article published on February 15th in Science Advances. A team led by Chong Xie, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the Cockrell School of…

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What came first- the decision or the movement?

February 15, 2017

Your brain is an incredible organ, and is constantly making decisions about your movement. Whether you are navigating a route to work, or browsing through some produce at the grocery store, the little guy is continuously at work. Should I cross the street now or at the intersection? Should I reach for the red apple or the green apple? When you’re presented with two options, your brain’s motor neurons prep…

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This is the rhythm of your brain

February 15, 2017

It may appear that even if you are not a Michael Jackson or Gene Kelly, there is still hope in terms of your rhythmic skills, even those who have two left feet, will have rhythm in your brains. From breathing to walking to chewing, our days are filled with repetitive actions that depend on the rhythmic firing of neurons. Yet the neural circuitry underpinning such seemingly ordinary behaviors is not…

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‘Matchmaker’ needed to aid SMA in infants

February 15, 2017

The leading genetic cause of death in infants, SMA (spinal muscular atrophy), has always left many unanswered questions. The disorder leads to reduced levels of the SMN protein, which is thought to be involved in processing RNA, something that occurs in every cell in the body. So why does interfering with a process that happens everywhere affect motor neurons first? Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine have been building…

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Does the future hold designer babies?

February 15, 2017

Can you imagine photo-shopping your unborn child to make sure it is perfect before it’s born? No, but a major new ethics report suggests one day there may be a possibility to alter human heredity to fight genetic diseases. This will be done with stringent oversight, using new tools that precisely edit genes inside living cells. Don’t expect designer babies anytime soon, but what’s called genome editing is already transforming…

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Visibly mapping out the heart’s electrical system

February 14, 2017

The CardioInsight vest could answer all doctor’s and heart patients worries, as it could help pinpoint electrical malfunctions in the heart. A 252-electrode vest which can map the heart’s electrical system has been commercialized by medical device developer, Medtronic. The device could help doctors pinpoint the locations of electrical malfunctions in the heart that cause irregular heartbeats. Doctors began using the system commercially last week after the US Food and Drug…

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First the ice bucket challenge, now zebrafish used to find MND cure

February 13, 2017

The first researchers in the world, to use a refined UV laser ablation technique to study the cellular behavior of MND (Motor Neuron Disease) in living Zebrafish, are the team at Macquarie University’s MQ Health. These new findings aims to better-understand how the disease spreads from neuron to neuron, through the body, in order to ultimately stop the debilitating disease in its tracks, and were published in the Journal of…

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