Monthly Archives: December 2018

How To Nullify Proteins That Allow Cancer Cells To Grow

A physicist in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University hopes to improve cancer detection with a new and novel class of nanomaterials. Liviu Movileanu, professor of physics, creates tiny sensors that detect, characterize and analyze protein-protein interactions (PPIs) in blood serum. Information from PPIs could be a boon to the biomedical industry, as researchers seek to nullify proteins that allow cancer cells to grow and spread.

Movileanu’s findings are the subject of a paper in Nature Biotechnology (Springer Nature, 2018), co-authored by Ph.D. student Avinash Kumar Thakur. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has supported their work with a four-year, $1.17 million grant award.

 

A digital illustration of a cancer cell undergoing mitosis

Detailed knowledge of the human genome has opened up a new frontier for the identification of many functional proteins involved in brief physical associations with other proteins,” Movileanu says. “Major perturbations in the strength of these PPIs lead to disease conditions. Because of the transient nature of these interactions, new methods are needed to assess them.”

Enter Movileanu’s lab, which designs, creates and optimizes a unique class of biophysical tools called nanobiosensors. These highly sensitive, pore-based tools detect mechanistic processes, such as PPIs, at the single-molecule level.

Source: https://news.syr.edu/

Could Spruce Forests Offset Global Warming?

Researchers from the University of Lund in Sweden,  are measuring terpene particles emitted by spruce/fir forests, which are believed to have a cooling effect on the climate. They believe that planting more of this type of forest could help offset global warmingPlanting spruce forests could increase the carbon uptake. They would release aerosol particles which have a cooling effect on the earth.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

We saw that in the 1990s there was a big eruption of a volcano called Mount Pinatubo. It released an enormous amount of atmospheric particles into the air. Then the global climate was cooled for two years. And that’s how the atmospheric particles are acting on the climate. That’s one example of how the terpenes can cool the climate via atmospheric particles,” says Adam Kristensson, Nuclear physicist at the Lund University. Various of air samples  are being tested through solution reacting with carbon to find out if carbon comes from natural sources or fossil fuel burning.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/

Artificial Synapses Made from Nanowires

Scientists from Jülich together with colleagues from Aachen and Turin have produced a memristive element made from nanowires that functions in much the same way as a biological nerve cell. The component is able to both save and process information, as well as receive numerous signals in parallel. The resistive switching cell made from oxide crystal nanowires is thus proving to be the ideal candidate for use in building bioinspired “neuromorphic” processors, able to take over the diverse functions of biological synapses and neurons.

Image captured by an electron microscope of a single nanowire memristor (highlighted in colour to distinguish it from other nanowires in the background image). Blue: silver electrode, orange: nanowire, yellow: platinum electrode. Blue bubbles are dispersed over the nanowire. They are made up of silver ions and form a bridge between the electrodes which increases the resistance.

Computers have learned a lot in recent years. Thanks to rapid progress in artificial intelligence they are now able to drive cars, translate texts, defeat world champions at chess, and much more besides. In doing so, one of the greatest challenges lies in the attempt to artificially reproduce the signal processing in the human brain. In neural networks, data are stored and processed to a high degree in parallel. Traditional computers on the other hand rapidly work through tasks in succession and clearly distinguish between the storing and processing of information. As a rule, neural networks can only be simulated in a very cumbersome and inefficient way using conventional hardware.

Systems with neuromorphic chips that imitate the way the human brain works offer significant advantages. Experts in the field describe this type of bioinspired computer as being able to work in a decentralised way, having at its disposal a multitude of processors, which, like neurons in the brain, are connected to each other by networks. If a processor breaks down, another can take over its function. What is more, just like in the brain, where practice leads to improved signal transfer, a bioinspired processor should have the capacity to learn.

With today’s semiconductor technology, these functions are to some extent already achievable. These systems are however suitable for particular applications and require a lot of space and energy,” says Dr. Ilia Valov from Forschungszentrum Jülich. “Our nanowire devices made from zinc oxide crystals can inherently process and even store information, as well as being extremely small and energy efficient,” explains the researcher from Jülich’s Peter Grünberg Institute.

Source: http://www.fz-juelich.de/

AI and Big Data To Fight Eye Diseases

In future, it will be possible to diagnose diabetes from the eye using automatic digital retinal screening, without the assistance of an ophthalmologist‘: these were the words used by Ursula Schmidt-Erfurth, Head of MedUni Vienna‘s Department of Ophthalmology and Optometrics. The scientist has opened the press conference about the ART-2018 Specialist Meeting on new developments in retinal therapy. The automatic diabetes screening, has been recently implemented at MedUni Vienna.
Patients flock to the Department to undergo this retinal examination to detect any diabetic changes. It takes just a few minutes and is completely non-invasive

Essentially this technique can detect all stages of diabetic retinal diseasehigh-resolution digital retinal images with two million pixels are taken and analyzed within seconds – but Big Data offers even more potential: nowadays it is already possible to diagnose an additional 50 other diseases in this way. Diabetes is just the start. And MedUni Vienna is among the global leaders in this digital revolution.

The Division of Cardiology led by Christian Hengstenberg within the Department of Medicine II is working on how digital retinal analysis can also be used in future for the early diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases.

This AI medicine is ‘super human’,” emphasizes Schmidt-Erfurth. “The algorithms are quicker and more accurate. They can analyze things that an expert cannot detect with the naked eye.” And yet the commitment to Big Data and Artificial Intelligence is not a plea for medicine without doctors, which some experts predict for the not-to-distant future. “What we want are ‘super doctors’, who are able to use the high-tech findings to make the correct, individualized therapeutic decision for their patients, in the spirit of precision medicine, rather than leaving patients on their own.”

However, it is not only in the diagnosis of diseases that Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, plus virtual reality, provide better results. “We are already performing digitized operations with support from Artificial Intelligence. This involves projecting a virtual and precise image of the area of the eye being operated on onto a huge screen – and the surgeon then performs the operation with a perfect viewon screen” as it were, while actually operating on the patient with a scalpel.”

Source: https://www.news-medical.net/

How To Heal Arthritis

Osteoarthritis, a disease that causes severe joint pain, affects more than 20 million people in the United States. Some drug treatments can help alleviate the pain, but there are no treatments that can reverse or slow the cartilage breakdown associated with the disease.

In an advance that could improve the treatment options available for osteoarthritis, MIT engineers have designed a new material that can administer drugs directly to the cartilage. The material can penetrate deep into the cartilage, delivering drugs that could potentially heal damaged tissue.

Six days after treatment with IGF-1 carried by dendrimer nanoparticles (blue), the particles have penetrated through the cartilage of the knee joint.

This is a way to get directly to the cells that are experiencing the damage, and introduce different kinds of therapeutics that might change their behavior,” says Paula Hammond, head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering, a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and the senior author of the study. Treating  rats, the researchers showed that delivering an experimental drug called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) with this new material prevented cartilage breakdown much more effectively than injecting the drug into the joint on its own.

Brett Geiger, an MIT graduate student, is the lead author of the paper, which appears in Science Translational Medicine.

Source: http://news.mit.edu/

3D Printed Electric Motorcycle

BigRep has revealed the world’s first 3D-printed electric motorcycle with groundbreaking features like airless tires, embedded electronics, and forkless steering.developed by marco Mattia Cristofori and Maximilian Sedlak, part of the german manufacturer’s innovation lab and consultancy NOWlab, Nera features fully 3D-printed parts such as tires, rims, frame, fork, and seat, excluding only electrical components.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

‘The Nera combines several innovations developed by NOWlab, such as the airless tire, functional integration and embedded sensor technology,’ explains Daniel Büning, co-founder and managing director of the lab.  ‘This bike and our other prototypes push the limits of engineering creativity and will reshape am technology as we know it.’ For now, the motorcycle has only been launched in the form of a prototype as part of BigRep’s research into the potential of 3D printing.

In building Nera, the engineers didn’t simply adapt existing motorcycle designs, but instead envisioned a bike for large-format FFF technology. Among the many innovations featured in Nera are the airless tires with customized tread; a lightweight rhomboid wheel rim, as well as flexible bumpers (instead of suspension) and the electric engine, which is fitted in a customizable case.

Source: https://bigrep.com
AND
https://www.designboom.com/

Telepathy For Real Within 8 Years

Imagine if telepathy were real. If, for example, you could transmit your thoughts to a computer or to another person just by thinking them. In just eight years it will be, says Openwater founder Mary Lou Jepsen, thanks to technology her company is working on.

Jepsen is a former engineering executive at Facebook, Oculus, Google[x] (now called X) and Intel. She’s also been a professor at MIT and is an inventor on over 100 patents. And that’s the abbreviated version of her resume. Jepsen left Facebook to found Openwater in 2016. The San Francisco-based start-up is currently building technology to make medical imaging less expensive.

I figured out how to put basically the functionality of an M.R.I. machine — a multimillion-dollar M.R.I. machine — into a wearable in the form of a ski hat,” Jepson said, though she does not yet have a prototype completed.

Current M.R.I. technology can already see your thoughts: “If I threw [you] into an M.R.I. machine right now … I can tell you what words you’re about to say, what images are in your head. I can tell you what music you’re thinking of,” says Jepsen. “That’s today, and I’m talking about just shrinking that down.”

One day Jepsen’s tech hat could “literally be a thinking cap,” she says. Jepsen explains the goal is for the technology to be able to both read and to output your own thoughts, as well as read the thoughts of others. In iconic Google vocabulary, “the really big moonshot idea here is communication with thought — with telepathy,”adds Jepsen.

How To Fine-Tune the Gene Scissors CRISPR

When researchers and doctors use the tool CRISPR to correct genetic errors, it may have side effects on the human genome. Now, researchers from the University of Copenhagen have learned how the molecular machinery behind CRISPR works and thus expect to be able to fine-tune CRISPR and remove the undesired effects.

The introduction of the tool for gene editing, the so-called gene scissors CRISPR, in 2007 was a revolution within medical science and cell biology. But even though the perspectives are great, the launch of CRISPR has been followed by debate, especially focussing on ethical issues and the technology’s degree of accuracy and side effects.

However, in a new study published in the scientific journal Cell researchers from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research have described how one of the CRISPR technologies, the so-called Cas12a, works – all the way down to the molecular level. This makes it possible to fine-tune the gene-editing process to only achieve the desired effects.

If we compare CRISPR to a car engine, what we have done is make a complete 3D map of the engine and thus gained an understanding of how it works. This knowledge will enable us to fine-tune the CRISPR engine and make it work in various ways – as a Formula 1 racer as well as an off-road truck’, says Professor Guillermo Montoya from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research.

The researchers have used a so-called cryo-electron microscope to map the technology. The recently inaugurated cryoEM facility at the University of Copenhagen has established the state-of-the-art technology enabling the researchers to take photographs of the different shapes of the molecule when CRISPR-Cas12a cuts up the DNA strand.

According to the researchers, their new findings can explain why CRISPR technology can have side effects on the genome. Once the DNA strand has been cut, the three ‘security checks’ remain open. This can cause the process to last longer than wanted, because the machinery behind gene editing continues to run and can cause genetic changes. However, now the researchers expect their new knowledge to put an end to this. They believe it can be used to fine-tune the gene-editing technology right away.

Source: https://healthsciences.ku.dk/