Not just a pretty headband

February 27, 2017

In many occasions ideas and thoughts get lost in translation, from the math teacher who cannot get through to his students, to that funny story you heard at work you’re trying to tell your partner. How do we know if our audiences understand what we’re trying to convey? And better yet, how can we improve that exchange? Drexel University biomedical engineers, in collaboration with Princeton University psychologists, are using a…

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Single flexible fiber delivers signals in the brain

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February 22, 2017

A single flexible fiber no bigger than a human hair has successfully delivered a combination of optical, electrical, and chemical signals back and forth into the brain for the first time ever, putting into practice an idea first proposed two years ago. With some tweaking to further improve its biocompatibility, the new approach could provide a dramatically improved way to learn about the functions and interconnections of different brain regions….

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Optogenetically engineered mice run faster than the pack

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February 21, 2017

The 12-year-old technique of optogenetics, which enables scientists to control brain cells with light, typically requires a multi-step process and several surgeries on animal models. Polina Anikeeva at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and her colleagues came up with an engineering solution that combines those steps into one, and improves the function of the device. The group described their invention today in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Optogenetics enables researchers…

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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

bandagesimageee
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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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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‘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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Heart and kidney treatments found in ‘anti-aging’ hormone

February 13, 2017

Patients with diabetes suffering from the early stages of kidney disease have a deficiency of the protective ‘anti-ageing’ hormone, Klotho. Researchers at King’s College London discovered this in a new study, which has been published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]). The study suggests that Klotho may play a significant role in the development of kidney disease, which is often prevalent in…

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