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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:33 pm

hmnnn

Gastric bypass surgery causes sugar-burning gut growth in rats

A beefed-up chunk of intestines might do the heavy lifting of gastric bypass surgery.

The surgery’s rapid diabetes-improving effects appear to stem from growth of new intestinal tissue. After having an operation to remodel the gut, obese rats build the new tissue by drawing sugar from the blood, researchers report in the July 26 Science. This energy drain could explain how the most popular type of gastric bypass lowers diabetic patients’ sugar levels surprisingly swiftly, says coauthor Nicholas Stylopoulos, an obesity researcher at Harvard Medical School.

It’s the first time researchers have linked the effects of gastric bypass surgery to the gut’s sugar use, says Blandine Laferrère, a clinical diabetes researcher at Columbia University. “It’s a fascinating new piece of the puzzle,” she says.

Currently, gastric bypass surgery is one of the best treatment options for morbid obesity and obesity-related diabetes, says Randy Seeley, an obesity and diabetes researcher at the University of Cincinnati. Patients typically lose weight and no longer need insulin shots to lower blood sugar. But it isn’t practical to use the procedure on millions of patients. Beyond the risks and complications of major surgery, Seeley says, “There aren’t enough surgeons or surgery tables to treat everyone.”

So researchers would like to engineer drugs or other scalpel-free treatments that mimic the effects of gastric bypass. But first, scientists have to figure out how the surgery works.

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:42 pm

Interesting...

Surgical tool smokes out cancer in seconds

A new tool could tell surgeons within seconds whether they are slicing through cancerous or healthy tissue. The tool, which analyzes smoke produced by electric currents used to cut or destroy tissue, was about 95 percent accurate in identifying cancers and other human tissues during surgery.

Testing the smoke could help surgeons identify the outer margins of a tumor and remove as much of it as possible, leaving healthy tissue intact. Currently, if doctors need information about the extent of a cancer during a surgical procedure, they must wait 20 to 30 minutes for a tissue sample to be examined under a microscope. The new tool, nicknamed the iKnife, delivers a diagnosis in 2.5 seconds or less, researchers report July 17 in Science Translational Medicine.

The iKnife consists of an electric blade hooked up to an instrument that performs chemical analysis. “They are basically blowing up tissue, making smoke out of it and then sampling that smoke with a mass spectrometer,” says Nicholas Winograd, a chemist at Pennsylvania State University. “I don't think it's at all obvious that this kind of thing would work and I give them a lot of credit for developing it."

Mass spectrometry is an analytical method that converts molecules in complex biological mixtures into electrically charged particles and then identifies them.

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:44 pm

This is the whole article...

News in Brief: Mouse retinas grown in lab

By Tina Hesman Saey
Web edition: July 22, 2013

Retina cells can be grown from mouse stem cells in the laboratory and become working parts of a mouse’s eye, a new study indicates.

Last year, Robin Ali of University College London and colleagues demonstrated that immature retina cells from newborn mice could form rod cells – a type of light-gathering cell – that wire into the retinas of night-blind adult mice (SN: 5/19/12, p. 13). For the technology to help restore sight in people, such as those with macular degeneration, the researchers needed to come up with a ready source of immature retinal cells.

Ali and colleagues report July 21 in Nature Biotechnology that they have devised a way to coax mouse embryonic stem cells to form primitive retinas in a laboratory dish. Most researchers who have tried to grow retinas have failed. The trick, Ali’s team found, was to embed the stem cells in a gel instead of growing the cells on top of the dish. The gel provided cues to mimic normal developmental signals.

The stem cells formed primitive retinas from which the researchers harvested cells to inject into the eyes of adult mice. A small number of those lab-grown cells matured into rods that formed connections with the mice’s optical nerves.

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:46 pm

Men In Black

A flash of light implants false memories in mice

Just a tiny fraction of the brain’s neurons firing at the wrong time can change a real memory into a figment of the imagination. Scientists have come to that conclusion after implanting false memories into the brains of mice.

“It’s fairly astounding,” says neurobiologist Mark Mayford of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif, who was not involved in the research. “Stimulating a small amount of cells can put a thought into an animal’s head.”

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:18 pm

Hmnnn...

Famed hacker Barnaby Jack dies a week before hacking convention

(Reuters) - Barnaby Jack, a celebrated computer hacker who forced bank ATMs to spit out cash and sparked safety improvements in medical devices, died in San Francisco, a week before he was due to make a high-profile presentation at a hacking conference.

The New Zealand-born Jack, 35, was found dead on Thursday evening by "a loved one" at an apartment in San Francisco's Nob Hill neighborhood, according to a police spokesman. He would not say what caused Jack's death but said police had ruled out foul play.

The San Francisco Medical Examiner's Office said it was conducting an autopsy, although it could be a month before the cause of death is determined.

Jack was one of the world's most prominent "white hat" hackers - those who use their technical skills to find security holes before criminals can exploit them.

His genius was finding bugs in the tiny computers embedded in equipment, such as medical devices and cash machines. He often received standing ovations at conferences for his creativity and showmanship while his research forced equipment makers to fix bugs in their software.

Jack had planned to demonstrate his techniques to hack into pacemakers and implanted defibrillators at the Black Hat hackers convention in Las Vegas next Thursday. He told Reuters last week that he could kill a man from 30 feet away by attacking an implanted heart device.

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:45 pm

So does this mean a new format is coming down the line?

Sony and Panasonic Developing 300GB Successor to Blu-Ray

Right now, a dual layer Blu-ray disc is capable of holding about 50GB of data. And while the next generation of video game consoles will both feature Blu-ray compatibility, it seems Sony isn't satisfied with the current technology's limitations. As mentioned by CNET, Sony has teamed up with Panasonic to create a new optical disc capable of storing up to 300GB of information.

Panasonic released a statement on the collaboration, with the tech companies working jointly to create a new disc standard by the end of 2015. The 300GB optical discs are geared toward professional use (obviously), with the new storage capacity offering unique advantages to archivists and video editors, for example. Both Sony and Panasonic have previously released storage options which combine multiple optical discs into one cohesive drive.

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Postby sdsichero » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:49 am

Insect-Inspired Super Rubber Moves Toward Practical Uses in Medicine

July 31, 2013 — The remarkable, rubber-like protein that enables dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects to flap their wings, jump and chirp has major potential uses in medicine, scientists conclude in an article in the journal ACS Macro Letters. It evaluates the latest advances toward using a protein called resilin in nanosprings, biorubbers, biosensors and other applications.

Kristi Kiick and colleagues explain that scientists discovered resilin a half-century ago in the wing hinges of locusts and elastic tendons of dragonflies. The extraordinary natural protein tops the best synthetic rubbers. Resilin can stretch to three times its original length, for instance, and then spring back to its initial shape without losing its elasticity, despite repeated stretching and relaxing cycles. That's a crucial trait for insects that must flap or jump millions of times over their lifetimes. Scientists first synthesized resilin in 2005 and have been striving to harness its properties in medicine.

Kiick's team describes how their own research and experiments by other scientists are making major strides toward practical applications of resilin. Scientists have modified resilin with gold nanoparticles for possible use in diagnostics, engineered mosquito-based resin to act like human cartilage and developed a hybrid material for cardiovascular applications.

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Postby sdsichero » Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:16 am

Zapped malaria parasite raises vaccine hopes

A malaria vaccine has become the first to provide 100% protection against the disease, confounding critics and far surpassing any other experimental malaria vaccine tested. It will now be tested further in clinical trials in Africa.

The results are important because they demonstrate for the first time the concept that a malaria vaccine can provide a high level of protection, says Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, adding that the findings are cause for "cautious optimism".

No effective malaria vaccine is available at present. The World Health Organization has set a target to develop a malaria vaccine with 80% efficacy by 2025, but until now, says Fauci, "we have not even gotten anywhere near that level of efficacy."

Scientists had previously been sceptical of the vaccine because producing it required overcoming massive logistical hurdles. The vaccine — called PfSPZ because it is made from sporozoites (SPZ), a stage in the life cycle of the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) — uses a weakened form of the whole parasite to invoke an immune response.

In the phase I safety trial, reported today in Science1, the six subjects given five doses intravenously were 100% protected from later challenge by bites of infectious mosquitoes, whereas five of six unvaccinated controls developed malaria — as did three of nine people given only four doses of the vaccine.

PfSPZ was developed by Sanaria, a company based in Rockville, Maryland, and led by Stephen Hoffman, a veteran malaria researcher who also led the PfSPZ clinical trial. Most malaria-vaccine candidates are recombinant-subunit vaccines containing just a handful of parasite proteins, but Hoffman decided to test the whole-sporozoite vaccine on the basis of past experiments dating back to the 1970s showing that strong and long-lived protection could be obtained by exposing volunteers to thousands of bites from irradiated infected mosquitoes2.

That the vaccine works so well is a "pivotal success," says Stefan Kappe, a malaria researcher at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute in Washington."The trial results constitute the most important advance in malaria vaccine development since the first demonstration of protection with radiation attenuated sporozoite immunization by mosquito bite in the 70s."

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:25 pm

New Twist in the Graphene Story: Tiny Twist in Bilayer Graphene May Solve a Mystery

Aug. 12, 2013 — Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have discovered a unique new twist to the story of graphene, sheets of pure carbon just one atom thick, and in the process appear to have solved a mystery that has held back device development.

Electrons can race through graphene at nearly the speed of light -- 100 times faster than they move through silicon. In addition to being superthin and superfast when it comes to conducting electrons, graphene is also superstrong and superflexible, making it a potential superstar material in the electronics and photonics fields, the basis for a host of devices, starting with ultrafast transistors. One big problem, however, has been that graphene's electron conduction can't be completely stopped, an essential requirement for on/off devices.

The on/off problem stems from monolayers of graphene having no bandgaps -- ranges of energy in which no electron states can exist. Without a bandgap, there is no way to control or modulate electron current and therefore no way to fully realize the enormous promise of graphene in electronic and photonic devices. Berkeley Lab researchers have been able to engineer precisely controlled bandgaps in bilayer graphene through the application of an external electric field. However, when devices were made with these engineered bandgaps, the devices behaved strangely, as if conduction in those bandgaps had not been stopped. Why such devices did not pan out has been a scientific mystery until now.

Working at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source (ALS), a DOE national user facility, a research team led by ALS scientist Aaron Bostwick has discovered that in the stacking of graphene monolayers subtle misalignments arise, creating an almost imperceptible twist in the final bilayer graphene. Tiny as it is -- as small as 0.1 degree -- this twist can lead to surprisingly strong changes in the bilayer graphene's electronic properties.

"The introduction of the twist generates a completely new electronic structure in the bilayer graphene that produces massive and massless Dirac fermions," says Bostwick. "The massless Dirac fermion branch produced by this new structure prevents bilayer graphene from becoming fully insulating even under a very strong electric field. This explains why bilayer graphene has not lived up to theoretical predictions in actual devices that were based on perfect or untwisted bilayer graphene."

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:31 am

Your Thoughts Can Release Abilities Beyond Normal Limits

There seems to be a simple way to instantly increase a person’s level of general knowledge. Psychologists Ulrich Weger and Stephen Loughnan recently asked two groups of people to answer questions. People in one group were told that before each question, the answer would be briefly flashed on their screens — too quickly to consciously perceive, but slow enough for their unconscious to take it in. The other group was told that the flashes simply signaled the next question. In fact, for both groups, a random string of letters, not the answers, was flashed. But, remarkably, the people who thought the answers were flashed did better on the test. Expecting to know the answers made people more likely to get the answers right.

Our cognitive and physical abilities are in general limited, but our conceptions of the nature and extent of those limits may need revising. In many cases, thinking that we are limited is itself a limiting factor. There is accumulating evidence that suggests that our thoughts are often capable of extending our cognitive and physical limits.

Can our thoughts improve our vision? We tend to believe that an essentially mechanical process determines how well we see. Recent research by Ellen Langer and colleagues suggests otherwise. It is a common belief that fighter pilots have very good vision. The researchers put people in the mindset of an Air Force pilot by bringing them into a flight simulator. The simulator consisted of an actual cockpit including flight instruments. The cockpit was mounted on hydraulic lifts that mimic aircraft movement and performance. People were given green army fatigues; they sat in the pilot’s seat, and performed simple flight maneuvers. They took a vision test while “flying” the simulator. A control group took the same vision test in the cockpit while the simulator was inactive. People’s vision improved only if they were in the working simulator.

To rule out the possible effect of motivation, the researchers brought another group of people into the cockpit and asked them to read a brief essay on motivation. After people finished reading, they were strongly urged to be as motivated as possible and try hard to perform well in the vision test. The test was conducted while the simulator was inactive. They did not show a significant improvement.

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Thu Aug 15, 2013 7:16 pm

New material could make for smart windows that adjust to building’s needs

Inefficient buildings are a major cause of wasted energy, a problem that is being addressed by better materials and better ways of managing heating, cooling, and lighting. For example, some window materials can allow outside light in (cutting the need for lighting) while blocking infrared light (in turn cutting the need for air conditioning). But those are fixed solutions. If you want to let more warmth in on a cold day, they're not going to help.

The solution is a smart material, one that can adjust according to the building's needs. In the most recent issue of Nature, some researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (joined by a colleague in Spain) report on just such a material. By passing a voltage through a specially designed glass, the researchers can switch it among three states: completely transparent, blocking infrared light, or blocking both infrared and visible wavelengths.

The new glass was based on the team's earlier work on indium-tin-oxide (ITO) nanocrystals. This material is able to absorb near-infrared light, but only if it's in the right electronic state (the ability depends on having enough free electrons around). Since glasses aren't crystalline materials, ITO crystals are inappropriate for use in this application, at least in bulk.

For the new material, the authors figured out a way to embed the nanocrystals in an amorphous material, making a hybrid that has the properties of a glass in terms of transparency to a wide range of wavelengths. They first chemically linked the nanocrystals to a coating that contained niobium and then packed them at a high density. At that point, they chemically converted the niobium compound to a niobium oxide, which formed an amorphous glass. This process gave them control over factors like the density of the nanocrystals within the glass, allowing them to try a number of combinations of the material.

Just like the nanocrystals themselves, the resulting material showed an ability to block near-infrared light that depended on their electronic state. By switching the voltage across the glass from 4V to 2.3V, they could switch it from being transparent to infrared to blocking these wavelengths.

As they dropped the voltage further, an additional change took place, one that altered the oxidation state of the niobium. When the voltage difference reached 1.5V, the changes in the material's structure that resulted from the alterations in oxidation state blocked visible light as well.

That's the good news; the bad news is that there are still a few things that need to be worked out before this gets put into production. For example, the window acts like a battery in many ways, as it needs a lithium electrode, and lithium ions diffuse into the material when the voltage changes. It has better durability than many batteries—keeping 96 percent of its performance even after 2,000 cycles—but we certainly don't want a battery with reactive materials like lithium and an electrolyte coating a large office tower.

The authors also don't say how long the material holds its voltage on its own. Depending on how often you have to recharge the material in order to keep it in the state you want, it might not actually save energy in the end.

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Thu Aug 22, 2013 12:34 pm

Hmn not entirely stable though...

Carbyne: The New Strongest Stuff on Earth
A few decades ago, scientists learned about a curious form of carbon, known as carbyne, thought to be even stronger than graphene and diamond, two of the strongest materials known to man. They managed to synthesize chains of it in the lab and some astronomers even think they’ve detected its signature in space, but no one really understood its properties—until now.

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:57 pm

Experimental Compound Reverses Down Syndrome-Like Learning Deficits in Mice

Sep. 4, 2013 — Researchers at Johns Hopkins and the National Institutes of Health have identified a compound that dramatically bolsters learning and memory when given to mice with a Down syndrome-like condition on the day of birth. As they report in the Sept. 4 issue of Science Translational Medicine, the single-dose treatment appears to enable the cerebellum of the rodents' brains to grow to a normal size.
The scientists caution that use of the compound, a small molecule known as a sonic hedgehog pathway agonist, has not been proven safe to try in people with Down syndrome, but say their experiments hold promise for developing drugs like it.

"Most people with Down syndrome have a cerebellum that's about 60 percent of the normal size," says Roger Reeves, Ph.D., a professor in the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "We treated the Down syndrome-like mice with a compound we thought might normalize the cerebellum's growth, and it worked beautifully. What we didn't expect were the effects on learning and memory, which are generally controlled by the hippocampus, not the cerebellum."

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