Biological threats -- everything from malicious biological weapons to naturally occurring pandemics -- are tricky threats to approach. Pathogens' ability to emerge rapidly and spread even faster over large populations is particularly worrisome, as our usual method of developing medicines and vaccines takes nothing if not time -- lots and lots of time. But the army is looking for a simple procedure -- a quick pffft! of air followed by a short bzzzz!
By Katharine Gammon
Posted 07.29.2010 at 5:32 pm 0 Comments
Farms have always provided a steady supply of milk, cheese and meat. Now add medicine to the list. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first medication produced in genetically modified livestock—ATryn, an anticoagulant grown in goats—and now several drug companies have launched their own animal-made medications. The drugs work as well as the ones synthesized in labs; only the process of making them is different. Scientists insert a human gene for a medically useful protein into an animal embryo’s DNA and place the embryo in a surrogate mother.
By Jesse Empak
Posted 07.29.2010 at 4:52 pm 0 Comments
Charles C. Della Santina has unusual patients: disoriented chinchillas. As with many of the 4.5 million people who suffer from chronic imbalance, a damaged ear makes it nearly impossible for the animals to stand upright. This makes them perfect test subjects for a prosthetic inner ear.
The device, developed by Della Santina, an ear, nose and throat doctor at Johns Hopkins University, connects small gyroscopes and accelerometers to the brain to do the job of the inner ear.
Ears pulled back? Nose bulging? Eyes squinting? Get some morphine for that mouse, stat. The first animal “pain face” scale, published in May by neuroscientists at McGill University in Montreal, measures the agony of lab mice. After giving mice a mild stomachache-inducing drug, the researchers recorded changes to five facial features, such as squinting eyes and bulging cheeks, which they combined to produce a 1-to-10 scale. They then verified it with more than 100 other mice, and it correlated with the degree of pain administered.
By Lauren Gravitz
Posted 07.28.2010 at 2:00 pm 8 Comments
A new, implantable sensor that wirelessly transmits blood-glucose data has the potential to completely change the way most diabetics control their disease.
The round device is just a bit smaller than a Double-Stuf Oreo -- about 1.5 inches wide and half an inch thick -- and would be implanted in a person's torso. It's hermetically sealed, with an integrated antenna that wirelessly transmits data, a long-lived battery, and a pair of sensors.
A new antibacterial paper could lead to food wrappers that keep food fresh longer, shoes that never stink, and bandages with a built-in ability to deter infection. It turns out a paper-like material made of graphene – thin sheets of carbon just a single atom thick – have antibacterial properties that could have vast applications.
Israeli researchers have sniffed out what could become a way to give paraplegics and those suffering from "locked-in" syndrome a means to communicate with the outside world and even drive a wheelchair using their noses. Using a device that converts nasal pressure into electrical signals, the team has successfully enabled locked-in patients to write messages independent of stimulus and allowed paraplegics to effectively navigate an electric wheelchair.
The world’s most sophisticated robots don’t assemble trucks or cruise around Mars. They’re designed to support our surging population of elderly and disabled citizens. Meet 10 of the most promising senior-friendly ’bots.
Taking cues from slime molds, ants, and living biological cells, a team of University of Pittsburgh researchers has designed a system of artificial cells that can communicate with one another and cooperate to carry out tasks. The computer models they've devised could lead to artificial cellular systems that perform highly specialized jobs at the microscopic level.
Former VP Dick Cheney has gone bionic. During a recent heart surgery, doctors implanted a ventricular assist device to augment Cheney’s failing ticker. But it also gives his critics another punchline to work with; because the device moves blood continuously, it doesn’t mimic the pulsating rhythm of the heartbeat. Technically speaking, Dick Cheney no longer has a pulse. Insert Darth Vader comparisons here.
A Nature paper co-authored by Steven Chu, Nobel laureate and Energy Secretary of the United States, describes a big breakthrough in the science of the very small: a method of optical microscopy that can image at resolutions as small as half a nanometer, a full order of magnitude smaller than the previous finest optical resolution.
We’re going to try to avoid using the adjective “cool” to describe this neat little biomedical trick: researchers at the University of Victoria in Canada have swapped a few essential genes from Arctic bacteria into their counterpart mammalian pathogens, creating strains that are harmful enough to provoke an immune response but that can’t survive in warmer parts of the body where they might do serious damage. The method could lead to a new generation of temperature sensitive vaccines that – try as they might – simply can’t make you sick.
Mashing together optical fiber technology and piezoelectrics, MIT scientists have developed a new kind of multifunctional material that can not only carry and modulate light, but can sense or create pressure changes in the material, layering additional sophistication onto already complex materials. The fibers could be used to create smart textiles that monitor the body, structural sensors that detect even the smallest stresses on a structure, or biomedical devices that could be tucked into the tightest corners of the human body.
Researchers at Texas Southwestern Medical Center have discovered a compound that could potentially render Alzheimer's a thing of the past. After testing 1,000 different molecules on the memory hubs of rats suffering from memory loss, scientists there have come up with a compound that protects memory-forming cells in the hippocampus, which could lead to promising treatments for Alzheimer's and other memory affecting disorders.
American researchers are working on three antibodies that may mark a new step on the path toward an HIV vaccine, according to a report published online Thursday in the journal Science.
One of the antibodies suppresses 91 percent of HIV strains, more than any AIDS antibody ever discovered, according to a report on the findings published in the Wall Street Journal. The antibodies were discovered in the cells of a 60-year-old African-American gay man whose body produced them naturally. One antibody in particular is substantially different from its precursors, the Science study says.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.