October 18, 2018

    Frontal and lateral scans of mouse lungs with fibrosis (grey), before and after treatment with nanoparticles carrying drugs. Image: Guillem Garaulet and Francisca Mulero, CNIO
    Nano-carriers for drug release into senescent cells - technology science news

    Senescent cells accumulate during aging, and play an active role in aging-related diseases. Scientists have now developed a drug delivery tool that specifically targets senescent cells by employing the high lysosomal (degradative) activity of these cells. Nanoparticles carrying drugs have been designed in such a way that they will go to the lysosomes, and thus release their drugs in senescent cells. In a mouse model of lung fibrosis, these nanoparticles effectively removed senescent cells, and the lung tissue regenerated. For the treatment of a cancer in mice, chemotherapy first induced the formation of senescent cells, which were then destroyed by the drugs brought by the nanoparticles. This combined therapy reduced the tumor. This versatile drug delivery system is expected to become an efficient tool for the treatment of various illnesses.

    Read the full story: IRB Barcelona
    Scientific publication: EMBO Molecular Medicine


    Cell-sized robots can sense changes in your body, but also in the environment, detecting and reporting problems. Credit: MIT
    Scientists create smallest robots that can sense the environment and store data - science news latest in medical technology

    Researchers from MIT have created the smallest robots – the size of a human cell – with the ability to detect changes in their environment, record data and even perform computations. They were created using two-dimensional materials and small particles called colloids. The colloids make it possible for the electrical circuits inside the robots to work. The applications are countless, from the diagnostic of the human body to measuring water contamination and other industrial applications.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Nature Nanotechnology


    Researchers have developed an imaging technology able to identify hidden mounds to help unravel the history of Native Americans. Credit: Carl Lipo
    Archeology: new imaging method allows identification of North American mounds - science news in brief

    Mounds are artificial elevated structures, like little hills, formed through gradual accumulation of debris upon which a continuously occupied settlement is built. People lived in such areas for hundreds or thousands of years. They are invaluable for archeology, but difficult to find because they are hidden by vegetation or by the landscape. Now, scientists have used a new image-based analysis technique to identify hidden North American mounds, which could reveal valuable information about pre-contact Native Americans. To achieve this, they used satellite images and a special software designed to automatically identify mounds.

    Read the full story: Phys.org
    Scientific publication: Southeastern Archaeology


    Running water depends on proper water supplies. AI may help to protect their quality.
    Artificial Intelligence for protection of water supplies - technology science news

    Artificial Intelligence software combined with microscopy makes it possible to do a rapid and inexpensive automatic analysis of the presence of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, in about two hours, scientist report. Sudden growth of cyanobacteria threatens water supplies, and quick and constant monitoring is therefore essential to protect water supplies. The newly presented method is fast and cheap, and can be used commercially in three to four years according to the latest estimates.

    Read the full story: University of Waterloo
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Psychological therapy delivered in virtual reality has shown promising results in a pioneering study
    Successful psychological therapy delivered in virtual reality - health technology science news

    In a pioneering study with 100 participants, scientists have shown that it is possible to deliver psychological therapy delivered in virtual reality. The therapy was designed to treat fear of heights, not with a human therapist present, but by a computer-generated virtual coach. The treatment is personalized and interactive due to voice recognition technology. Participants in the study had fear of height for more than 30 years, and underwent five sessions of two hours each. All participants showed fear reduction, on average with 68%, and more than half over 75%. These results are superior to those obtained by even the best psychological intervention, demonstrating that therapy delivered in virtual reality might see a golden future.

    Read the full story: University of Oxford
    Scientific publication: The Lancet Psychiatry


    A 3D color image of a wrist with a watch showing part of the finger bones in white and soft tissue in red. Credit: MARS Bioimaging Ltd
    3D color X-ray images obtained using CERN technology - short science news

    The traditional black and white X-ray images are invaluable for medical diagnosis. However, a color image could produce clearer and more accurate pictures. Now, this is possible using a technology called Medipix3, developed at CERN. The technology was used by a New Zeeland company to scan, for the first time, a human body in 3D. Medipix is a family of chips developed for particle imaging and detection. It works like a camera, detecting and counting each particle hitting the pixels when its electronic shutter is open. The technology has multiple applications in medicine, such as cancer detection and the first clinical trial is scheduled in the following months.

    Read the full story: CERN


    Inspiration from nature: a cockroach at the basis of a new minirobot that can walk under water
    A microbot that can walk under water - technology science news

    Scientists have designed a small robot that cannot only walk on land, but also under water, and it can swim on the surface of water. It resembles a cockroach that is a terrestrial animal but can survive under water for 30 minutes. The robot uses multifunctional foot pads that rely on surface tension. A voltage can be applied to break the surface of the water, making the robot sink. This process is known as electrowetting. This new robot can therefore explore many different environments, with endless applications to be expected in the near future.

    Read the full story: Harvard
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Technical breakthrough paves the way for the next generation of solar cells
    Technical breakthrough in the fabrication of efficient solar panels - technology science news

    While most of the solar cells in use today are crystalline silicon based, researchers are now working the next generation, known as Perovskite cells. They are as efficient as the silicon-based ones, but are way cheaper. However, Perovskite cells suffer from an unwanted process, known as non-radiative recombination, which basically means that energy and efficiency are lost. Now, a team of scientists have solved this problem by the technique of Solution-Process Secondary growth, which increases the voltage of Perovskite cells by 100 millivolts to reach 1.21 volts, while keeping electricity flow through a device intact. This technical breakthrough shows that Perovskite cells hold a lot of promise, and might become the solar cells of the future.

    Read the full story: University of Surrey
    Scientific publication: Science


    While kid-friendly robots are already used by therapists to help autistic children recognize emotions from other people’s faces, new robots have been developed that can also interpret the child’s own behavior. This is a major advantage, as the robot can learn whether the child is interested, excited or paying attention. The assessment of the child’s behavior correlated for 60% with the assessment by human experts. Ultimately, the robots can convey information that the therapists can use to personalize the therapy for each individual child, and make the interactions with the robot more naturalistic.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Science Robotics


    Big data could get it totally wrong
    Maybe what big data knows about you is totally wrong - short science articles

    Scientists have long believed that bigger the sample size of human subjects better it is. However, new research suggests that this big-data approach could be way off-target. Averaging data of a large number of human subjects gives only a snapshot image, but mental illness, emotions and behaviours are variably expressed in us over time. Scientists used statistical models to compare data of people collected in hundreds of people suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD and panic disorders. But when the analysis was applied to each individual, there were wide variations sometimes well above the group average. They state that relying on big data in social, behavioural and medical sciences could lead to misdiagnosis, prescription of wrong treatments and continued research which isn't individualized.

    Read the full story: University of Berkeley
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    A robot with lab-on-chip application could fasten blood testing
    Robot for faster blood tests - short science articles

    Researchers have designed an automatic blood drawing and testing device which can also provide rapid results that could efficiently fasten the workflow in hospitals thereby giving more time to healthcare workers to deal with patients. Terming the device as 'the holy grail of blood testing technology', scientists developed an integrated miniature robotic system which is a lab-on-chip robot that can provide accurate results like the white blood cell count. The robot uses an image-guided robot to draw blood samples from the vein and it is combined with a centrifuge-based blood analyzer. They plan to increase the number of tests possible with this device in the future.

    Read the full story: Rutgers University
    Scientific publication: Technology


    Scientists who had previously shown that they could extract water from the air, successfully field tested their next generation system recently. Using the highly porous material called the metal-organic framework (MOF), they could extract water from air, even when the humidity fell to 8% indicating that it wouldn't be difficult to scale up the model. The MOF are solids with so many internal channels that a small cube of MOF could have a surface area of six football fields and hence it can extract large volumes of water. This latest model is about 150 times cheaper and can capture twice as much water; about 400 mL of water per kilogram of MOF. They are now preparing to field test this new model in the Death Valley where temperatures reach 110 degrees in daytime.

    Read the full story: University of Berkeley
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    An AI could identify cancer by analysis of breath in patients
    AI which can smell and detect illness in human breath - short science articles

    For several years labs around the world are using gas-chromatography mass-spectrometers to detect extremely small amounts of several substances in the air. Of the several substances present in the human breath a few could point towards the presence of various cancers. However, the sheer volume of data produced makes this process time consuming since it needs to be manually inspected by experts. However, scientists are now using the latest artificial intelligence algorithms like deep learning which can learn about different types of compounds in the breath. In a preliminary experiment, they found that these algorithms accurately analyzed breath samples of human cancer patients within minutes as compared to human experts. Further, this algorithm could learn over time thereby becoming more efficient day by day.

    Read the full story: The Conversation


    An optimal dosage of coffee using machine learning algorithm
    Optimal caffeine dosage and timing for alertness determined by a new algorithm - short science articles

    Scientists have developed a machine learning algorithm which determines the amount and time of caffeine required for optimizing alertness. Their algorithm used a mathematical model which could predict the effects of sleep loss and caffeine on the psychomotor vigilance test and used it to improve alertness by 64% following coffee drinking. Further, it reduced the caffeine consumption by up to 65% while maintaining the effect of coffee. This algorithm could help develop personalized schedule for the coffee intake to a particular sleep/wake schedule and maximize alertness, especially during sleep-loss conditions.

    Read the full story: American Academy of Sleep Medicine
    Scientific publication: Journal of Sleep Research


    Nanorobots could help create technology for rapid decontamination of biological fluids
    Nanorobots which mimic cells to clear toxins and bacteria from blood created - short science articles

    Researchers have built nanorobots by coating gold wires with platelets and RBC membranes. These hybrid cell membranes help the nanorobot to bind to bacteria like the antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and also neutralize toxins produced by them. Further, these nanorobots respond to ultrasound giving them the ability to swim around without chemical fuels. This can help in targetting these nanorobots to specific sites in the body and thus speed up the process of detoxification. This could help create technology which could safely and effectively detoxify biological fluids.

    Read the full story: University of California San Diego
    Scientific publication: Science Robotics


    Virtual reality will soon be more realistic with a new technology that gives the illusion of infinite walking
    Is the holodeck here? Scientists achieve infinite walking in virtual reality - science news in brief

    Virtual reality is constantly evolving, but many challenges remain. One of them is the ability to move continuously in a virtual space, while being confined to a small space, like a room. To solve this, computer scientists from Stony Brook University, NVIDIA and Adobe have collaborated on a computational framework that gives VR users the perception of infinite walking in the virtual world, even when limited to a small physical space. To do this, the researchers focused on manipulating the user's walking direction by exploiting a natural phenomenon of the human eye, called saccade (quick eye movements). Maybe this is a small step towards achieving the perfect VR space like the holodecks from the Star Trek TV series.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss


    A software presenting virtual activities may instruct robots how to perform them in the real world
    Virtual home could teach robots everyday household activities - science news in brief

    Soon you could have a robot preparing your coffee, or cleaning the table after you eat. Scientists have developed a virtual home that demonstrates how various household chores are performed in order to help robots learn how to correctly perform them. The advantage of describing actions as computer programs is that this language is much clearer for robots. It is unambiguous and includes all the necessary steps to perform a given task. This is essential because robots, unlike humans, need more explicit instructions to complete easy activities since they can not infer and reason with ease.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: VirtualHome


    Chloroplasts in plant cells produce ATP under the influence of sun light. This has now been harnessed in artificial cells.
    Photosynthesis in an artificial cell to drive metabolism - biotechnology science news

    In the process of developing artificial cells, researchers have reached the milestone of integrating photosynthesis in a cell-like structure. It is now possible to activate metabolic activity with light, and use the resulting energy in the form of ATP for protein synthesis in artificial organelles. This is an important step for further development of more complex artificial cells that can build protein networks and perform complex cellular behavior. In the long term, artificial cells might be used as cellular prosthetics to treat diseases or repair damaged tissue.

    Read the full story: Harvard – John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Scientific publication: Nature Biotechnology


    A 3D printed cornea could address the world shortage of corneas
    3D printed corneas are here - short science articles

    Cornea plays an important role in focusing vision as it is the outermost layer of the human eye. Still, there is a global shortage of corneas for transplant since 10 million people require surgeries to avoid corneal blindness. Now, researchers have 3D printed the human cornea using an innovative method. They mixed human stem cells from a healthy donor cornea, mixed with alginate and collagen to create a solution that can be printed, so a 'bio-ink'. Then by using a simple low-cost 3D printer, the bio-ink was printed in concentric circles in the shape of a human cornea. Further, scientists claim that they can also build corneas to match a patient's unique requirements by scanning their eyes to print corneas which match their size and shape. This could be the first step towards addressing the worldwide shortage of corneas necessary for surgeries.

    Read the full story: Newcastle University


    Scientists have developed tiny fibres made of elastomers which can incorporate materials like electrodes. These fibres can detect minute pressures and strains and also withstand huge deformations of more than 500% but still come back to their original shapes. This could be used not only for developing smart clothing and prosthesis but also for artificial nerves for robots. Scientists use the thermal drawing process to make these fibres which is normally used for optical-fibre manufacturing and rigid materials like nanopolymers, metals, thermoplastics as well as liquid metals can be introduced in the fibres. They also integrated fibres in robotic fingers as artificial nerves and whenever these fingers touched anything, the electrodes in fibres transmitted information of the robot's interaction with the environment. This gets sensors to the next level of sophistication.

    Read the full story: EPFL
    Scientific publication: Advanced Materials


    Researchers have built an ingestible sensor equipped with genetically engineered bacteria that can sense certain molecules that are related to stomach bleedings or other gastrointestinal health problems. These sensor relays the information to an electronic circuit and data can be read by a smartphone. This new type of diagnostics, which has now been tested in pigs, is expected to facilitate diagnosis and prevent for instance endoscopy, which requires patients to be sedated.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Science


    Driverless cars could change lanes like a human driver using this algorithm
    Driverless cars could change lanes like a human driver using this algorithm - science news - technology

    MIT researchers have developed a computer algorithm that allows self-driving cars to change lanes like a human driver. The problem is that the car has to take this type of decision on the fly and sometimes the amount of information available is very little. The system allows driverless cars to compute a buffer zone around the vehicle and if this does not allow changing lanes immediately, a new buffer zone can be computed on the fly. In parallel, other computations will be performed in order to avoid collisions and thus, the maneuvers will be more similar to those performed by a human.

    Read the full story: MIT


    Self healing material could hep develop biorobots
    A self-healing material for bio-robots - short science articles

    While several living organisms are able to repair themselves, researchers have now developed materials so that manufactured machines can mimic this property. This self-healing material can repair itself spontaneously even if it suffers extreme mechanical damage. This material is composed of liquid metal droplets which are suspended in soft elastomers and when damaged the droplets from new connections with surrounding droplets thereby help reroute electric signals thereby producing circuits which are fully functional. Since this material exhibits high electric conductivity when stretched it is ideal for use in power or data transmission. This could also pave the way for building machines which are more compatible with the human body and the natural environment.

    Read the full story: Carnegie Mellon University
    Scientific publication: Nature Materials


    To image assembly and disassembly of proteins and other molecules within a living cell is crucial to understand how cells work. To make this possible, scientists have made a new mode of atomic force microscopy that has a resolution of single molecules. With the new microscope, the scanning of the samples is highly accelerated as compared to the traditional atomic force microscopes, and is now fast enough to observe dynamic changes in the cell.

    Read the full story: EPFL
    Scientific publication: Nature Nanotechnology


    Soon, pilots could be equipped with devices that “read” their brain activity to improve flight safety
    Reading the mind of pilots real-time with new system - science news in brief

    Scientists have developed a brain-machine interface to record in real time the brain activity of pilots during flights. The new system uses near-infrared spectroscopy and has the advantage of being portable. It is able to measure blood oxygenation changes in the prefrontal cortex. The system was tested both on pilots flying real planes and on pilots training in simulators, proving the feasibility of monitoring cognitive workload in realistic scenarios. Scientists hope that one day this device will be used to assess the cognitive and emotional states of pilots in order to increase the safety of flights.

    Read the full story: Drexel University
    Scientific publication: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience


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