Prosthetic arm technology that detects spinal nerve signals developed by scientists

prosthetic arm

Scientists have developed sensor technology for a robotic prosthetic arm that detects signals from nerves in the spinal cord.

To control the prosthetic, the patient has to think like they are controlling a phantom arm and imagine some simple manoeuvres, such as pinching two fingers together.

The sensor technology interprets the electrical signals sent from spinal motor neurons and uses them as commands.

A motor neuron is a nerve cell that is located in the spinal cord. Its fibres, called axons, project outside the spinal cord to directly control muscles in the body. Continue reading Prosthetic arm technology that detects spinal nerve signals developed by scientists

Genetic ‘switch’ in animals offers clues to evolutionary origins of fine motor skills

gene

Switch drives supply of nerve cells to hands and feet – findings highlight complexity and diversity of cells in the central nervous system that are required for movement

Researchers have identified a genetic signature found exclusively in the nerve cells that supply, or innervate, the muscles of an organism’s outermost extremities: the hands and feet.

This signature, observed in both mice and chicks, involves the coordinated activity of multiple genes, and is fundamentally distinct from cells innervating nearby anatomical regions, such as more proximal muscles in the limb.

The findings suggest that the evolution of the extremities may be related to the emergence of fine motor control, such as grasping – one of biology’s most essential adaptations.

The study, led by neuroscientists at Columbia University’s Mortimer Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and New York University, was published today in the journal Neuron. Continue reading Genetic ‘switch’ in animals offers clues to evolutionary origins of fine motor skills

UCLA physicists map the atomic structure of an alloy

nanoparticles

Researchers measured the coordinates of more than 23,000 atoms in a technologically important material.

The results demonstrate that the positions of tens of thousands of atoms can be precisely identified and then fed into quantum mechanics calculations to correlate imperfections and defects with material properties at the single-atom level.

This research will be published February 2 in the journal Nature. Continue reading UCLA physicists map the atomic structure of an alloy

Genome surgery with CRISPR-Cas9 to prevent blindness

Macular degeneration

IBS study proves that CRISPR-Cas9 can be delivered directly into the eye of living animals to treat age-related macular degeneration efficiently and safely

It is estimated that almost one in every ten people over 65 has some signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and its prevalence is likely to increase as a consequence of the aging population. AMD is a form of blindness, common in Caucasians, which causes distorted vision and blind spots.

Scientists at the Center for Genome Engineering, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) report the use of CRISPR-Cas9 in performing “gene surgery” in the layer of tissue that supports the retina of living mice. Published in Genome Research, this study combines basic research and mouse model applications.

The most common retinopathies causing blindness are “retinopathy of prematurity” in children, “diabetic retinopathy” and “AMD” in older adults. In these diseases, abnormally high levels of the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) are secreted. Continue reading Genome surgery with CRISPR-Cas9 to prevent blindness

Digital chemistry to be performed in space

chemistry
Picture credit: MaxPixel

Cronin Group, the AIM listed company with a business activity of the digitization of chemical space is pleased to note that an experiment designed by its scientific founder is to be carried out on a DIDO2 nano-satellite, successfully launched yesterday on an Indian Space Research Organisation rocket.

Prof Lee Cronin, the University of Glasgow Regius Chair of Chemistry and Founding Scientific Director of the Company, designed the experiment in partnership with SpacePharma, a company which specialises in providing scientists with access to microgravity environments.

The Company owns the commercial rights to intellectual property from the University of Glasgow to develop the Chemputer, which intends to open up chemistry to a wide user-base via digitization. Continue reading Digital chemistry to be performed in space

New findings highlight promise of chimeric organisms for science and medicine

cell

Rapid advances in the ability to grow cells, tissues and organs of one species within an organism of a different species offer an unprecedented opportunity for tackling longstanding scientific mysteries and addressing pressing human health problems, particularly the need for transplantable organs and tissues.

In a tour de force paper published in the January 26, 2017, issue of the journal Cell, scientists at the Salk Institute report breakthroughs on multiple fronts in the race to integrate stem cells from one species into the early-stage development of another. Continue reading New findings highlight promise of chimeric organisms for science and medicine

Breakthrough by Exeter cell biologists

organelles

Scientists have made a breakthrough in understanding how different compartments (or organelles) of human cells interact.

Organelles are the functional units of a cell. Like organs in a body, they perform specialised functions. To allow survival of the cell, organelles have to interact and cooperate. How this is mediated and regulated in the cell is an important and challenging question in cell biology. Continue reading Breakthrough by Exeter cell biologists

New model predicts once-mysterious chemical reactions

radiation from hydrogen

A team of researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Curtin University in Australia developed a theoretical model to forecast the fundamental chemical reactions involving molecular hydrogen (H2), which after many decades and attempts by scientists had remained largely unpredicted and unsolved

“Chemical reactions are the basis of life so predicting what happens during these reactions is of great importance to science and has major implications in innovation, industry and medicine,” said Mark Zammit, a post-doctorate fellow in the Physics and Chemistry of Materials group at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “Our model is the first to very accurately calculate the probability of fundamental electron-molecular hydrogen reactions.” Continue reading New model predicts once-mysterious chemical reactions

Scientists develop genetic path to tastier tomatoes

tomatoes
Picture credit: UF/IFAS

Some consumers crave tastier tomatoes than those available at the supermarket.

Now, scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and their partners have found a way to get tomatoes to produce the compounds that make them more flavorful.

Their findings were published today in the journal Science. Continue reading Scientists develop genetic path to tastier tomatoes

Metallic hydrogen, once theory, becomes reality: Harvard physicists succeed in creating ‘the holy grail of high-pressure physics’

metallic hydrogen

The material – atomic metallic hydrogen – was created by Thomas D. Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences Isaac Silvera and post-doctoral fellow Ranga Dias. In addition to helping scientists answer fundamental questions about the nature of matter, the material is theorized to have a wide range of applications, including as a room-temperature superconductor. The creation of the rare material is described in a January 26 paper published in Science.

“This is the holy grail of high-pressure physics,” Silvera said. “It’s the first-ever sample of metallic hydrogen on Earth, so when you’re looking at it, you’re looking at something that’s never existed before.” Continue reading Metallic hydrogen, once theory, becomes reality: Harvard physicists succeed in creating ‘the holy grail of high-pressure physics’

Soft robot can help a heart to pump

harvard soft robot for heart

An innovative soft robotic sleeve which can help a heart to beat has been developed by researchers including Dr Ellen Roche of National University of Ireland Galway.

The soft robotic sleeve wraps around the organ, twisting and compressing in synch with the beating heart, potentially opening new treatment options for people suffering from heart failure.

Dr Roche is the paper’s first author and former PhD student at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and The Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. The research took place at Harvard and at Boston Children’s Hospital. Continue reading Soft robot can help a heart to pump

Researchers discover ‘marvel microbes’ explaining how cells became complex

microbes

Article from Uppsala University website

In a new study, published in Nature this week, an international research group led from Uppsala University in Sweden presents the discovery of a group of microbes that provide new insights as to how complex cellular life emerged.

The study provides new details of how, billions of years ago, complex cell types that comprise plants, fungi, but also animals and humans, gradually evolved from simpler microbial ancestors.

Life on our planet can be divided into three major groups. Two of these groups are represented by tiny microbes, the Bacteria and the Archaea. The third group of organisms comprises all visible life, such as humans, animals, and fungi – collectively known as eukaryotes.

Whereas the cells of bacteria and archaea are generally small and simple, eukaryotes are made up of large and complex cell types.

The origin of these complex cell types has long been a mystery to the scientific community, but now an international collective of researchers led by Uppsala University has identified a group of microorganisms that provides a unique insight into the evolutionary transition from simple to complex cells. Continue reading Researchers discover ‘marvel microbes’ explaining how cells became complex

Physicists say they’ve manipulated ‘pure nothingness’ and observed the fallout

waves

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by Professor Alfred Leitenstorfer has now shown how to manipulate the electric vacuum field and thus generate deviations from the ground state of empty space which can only be understood in the context of the quantum theory of light.

With these results, the researchers from the field of ultrafast phenomena and photonics build on their earlier findings, published in October 2015 in the scientific journal Science, where they have demonstrated direct detection of signals from pure nothingness.

This essential scientific progress might make it possible to solve problems that physicists have grappled with for a long time, ranging from a deeper understanding of the quantum nature of radiation to research on attractive material properties such as high-temperature superconductivity. Continue reading Physicists say they’ve manipulated ‘pure nothingness’ and observed the fallout

Solar storms could cost USA tens of billions of dollars

sun

The daily economic cost to the USA from solar storm-induced electricity blackouts could be in the tens of billions of dollars, with more than half the loss from indirect costs outside the blackout zone, according to a new study led by University of Cambridge researchers.

Previous studies have focused on direct economic costs within the blackout zone, failing to take account of indirect domestic and international supply chain loss from extreme space weather.

According to the study, published in the journal Space Weather, on average the direct economic cost incurred from disruption to electricity represents just under a half of the total potential macroeconomic cost. Continue reading Solar storms could cost USA tens of billions of dollars