Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition! I already did.
It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Technology cateches up - artificial nerves, dna detectors and more, 2010

Take a look on those artificial spy-flies!
The worst is that I think I've seen such already.
Also, check the list of the TOP 10 TECHNOLOGIES of today. Thinking about it, mobile phones and MRI are really unbelievable!
Today:

  1. Major advance in organic solar cells
  2. Salt and Paper Battery May One Day Replace Lithium Batteries
  3. Stimulating sight: New retinal implant developed
  4. Scientists create artificial nerve cell connections with plastic beads
  5. Rapid DNA Detection Quickly Diagnoses Infections
  6. Nanoparticles used in common household items caused genetic damage in mice

Major advance in organic solar cells

October 19th, 2009

Professor Guillermo Bazan and a team of postgraduate researchers at UC Santa Barbara's Center for Polymers and Organic Solids (CPOS) today announced a major advance in the synthesis of organic polymers for plastic solar cells.

Bazan's team:

  • reduced reaction time by 99%, from 48 hours to 30 minutes, and
  • increased average molecular weight of the polymers by a factor of more than 3.
The reduced reaction time effectively cuts production time for the organic polymers by nearly 50%, since and purification time are approximately equal in the production process, in both laboratory and commercial environments.

The higher molecular weight of the polymers, reflecting the creation of longer chains of the polymers, has a major benefit in increasing current density in by as much as a factor of more than four. Over batches with varying average molecular weights, produced using varying combinations of the elements of the new methodology, the increase in current density was found to be approximately proportional to the increase in average molecular weight.source

My comment: I just can't understand why after all these lovely news on solar panels I published, there is still no an exciting new types of cheap panel to buy for our homes. Are they making those discoveries for the science or they after all directed to the market. And because I don't believe they do not want to sell them to the business the question is who bought/paid the patents and what they are doing with them -producing or just stalling the production.

Salt and Paper Battery May One Day Replace Lithium Batteries

September 15th, 2009 by John Messina
(PhysOrg.com) -- Salt and paper battery can be used in many low-power devices, such as medical implants, RFID tags, wireless sensors and smart cards. This battery uses a thin-film which makes it an attractive feature for many portable devices that draws a low current.

At Uppsala University in Sweden, researchers have developed a flexible made of two inexpensive materials: cellulose and salt.

The cellulose is derived from a polluting algae found in seas and lakes. The algae's walls contain cellulose that has a different , which gives it 100 times the surface area.

The battery is made by coating the paper, made from this cellulose, with a conducting polymer and inserting a salt-solution-soaked filter paper between the paper electrodes.

The battery can be recharged in tens of seconds because the ions flow through the thin quickly. In comparison to a that would take 20 minutes to recharge.

The salt and paper battery is still in the early stages of development as compared to other thin-film technologies. The battery could be produced commercially in about three years and made available to distributors. source

My comment: Nice! Seriously, the lithium is kind of limited and mostly to Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Tibet. And it is essential for other production lines so if we can decrease its use in other products that would be great. And off course, paper and salt are much easier recycled.

Stimulating sight: New retinal implant developed

September 23rd, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Inspired by the success of cochlear implants that can restore hearing to some deaf people, researchers at MIT are working on a retinal implant that could one day help blind people regain a useful level of vision.

The implant is designed for people who have lost their vision from retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration, two of the leading causes of . The retinal prosthesis would take over the function of lost retinal cells by electrically stimulating the that normally carry visual input from the retina to the brain.

Such a chip would not restore normal vision but it could help blind people more easily navigate a room or walk down a sidewalk.

Led by John Wyatt, MIT professor of electrical engineering, the team recently reported a new prototype that they hope to start testing in blind patients within the next three years.

Patients who received the implant would wear a pair of glasses with a camera that sends images to a microchip attached to the eyeball. The glasses also contain a coil that wirelessly transmits power to receiving coils surrounding the eyeball.

When the microchip receives visual information, it activates electrodes that stimulate nerve cells in the areas of the retina corresponding to the features of the visual scene. The electrodes directly activate optical nerves that carry signals to the brain, bypassing the damaged layers of retina.

About 10 years ago, the research team attached electrodes to the retinas of six blind patients for several hours. When the electrodes were activated, patients reported seeing a small number of "clouds" or "drops of blood" in their field of vision. When there was no stimulus, patients accurately reported seeing nothing. Those tests confirmed that retinal stimulation can produce some kind of organized vision in blind patients, though further testing is needed to determine how useful that vision can be.

After those initial tests, with grants from the Boston Veteran's Administration Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health, the researchers started to build an implantable chip, which would allow them to do more long-term tests. Their goal is to produce a chip that can be implanted for at least 10 years.

One of the biggest challenges the researchers face is designing a surgical procedure and implant that won't damage the eye. In the latest version, described in the October issue of IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, the implant is attached to the outside of the eye, and the electrodes are implanted behind the retina.

That subretinal location, which reduces the risk of tearing the retina and requires a less invasive surgical procedure, is one of the key differences between the MIT implant and retinal prostheses being developed by other research groups.

While they have not yet begun any long-term tests on humans, the researchers have tested the device in Yucatan miniature pigs, which have roughly the same size eyeballs as humans. Those tests are only meant to determine whether the implants remain functional.

So far, the prototypes have been successfully implanted in pigs for up to 10 months, but further safety refinements need to be made before clinical trials in humans can begin. source

My comment: Also nice even if in preliminary phase and kind of rough. I mean, the goal isn't to cause bloody clouds in one's vision, but to restore the vision as much as possible. But it's better than nothing and it is a good start. Though, the article I posted about seeing trough the tong seemed more optimistic.


Rapid DNA Detection Quickly Diagnoses Infections

October 5th, 2009 by John Messina
(
PhysOrg.com) -- A new portable device can detect bacteria and help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. This new tool takes from 15 minutes to 2 hours to diagnose a patient for infectious diseases and can be used in hospitals, doctor's office and at home.

Diagnosing bacterial infections today requires growing cultures in a lab. This process takes days but with this new type of DNA sensor, common bacterial infections can be diagnosed within an hour or two.

The new ultrafast DNA nanosensor is based on various that are under development for ultrasensitive, fast DNA detection.

Each nanosensor contains a folded strand of DNA, which is complementary to the being targeted. The remains folded until a target genetic sequence is linked to it. By using disposable cartridges with the nanosensor, blood or urine samples can be placed directly on the cartridge for testing.

Benjamin Miller a professor and biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester Medical Center stated: "In the cartridge there are steps for cleaning up samples, that is, extracting material you're interested in and amplifying the bacterial DNA". The cartridge is then placed in a small portable device for analysis. The disposable cartridges would only cost a few dollars, thereby making it economical.

By placing different DNA strands in cartridges, you can test for multiple pathogens. Researchers have developed sensors to detect antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria that cause skin infections.

Researchers are working on other sensors for rapid DNA detection that uses carbon nanotubes, , and nanoparticles. All these methods promise low cost and high accuracy. source

My comment: Now this is awesome. I so dream of those little devices that can be brought everywhere and detect everything. Really cool. I wish them luck.

Scientists create artificial nerve cell connections with plastic beads

WASHINGTON: In a breakthrough study, scientists have successfully created nerve cell connections with the help of artificial substances, a major advance, which the researchers say, will help make nerve cell repair possible.

Scientists from Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) and McGill University created the artificial nerve cell connections using plastic beads coated with a substance that encourages adhesion, and attracts nerve cells.

The novel approach will help healthy nerve cells form functional contacts with artificial substrates in order to create a paradigm that can be adapted to model systems in which neurons are damaged.

It will be combined with strategies to encourage the outgrowth of damaged neuronal branches through which these connections, or synapses, are formed.

The synapses generated in this study are virtually identical to their natural counterparts except the 'receiving' side of the synapse is an artificial plastic rather than another nerve cell or the target tissue itself.

"Even though components of synapses have been induced in similar earlier studies, their functionality was not proven. In order to assess function - that is transmission of a signal from the synapse, we stimulated the nerve cells with electricity, sending the signal, an action potential, to the synapse.

"By artificially stimulating nerve cells in the presence of dyes, we could see that transmission had taken place as the dyes were taken up by the synapses.

"We believe that within the next five years we will have a fully functional device that will be able to directly convey natural nerve cell signals from the nerve cell itself to an artificial matrix containing a mini-computer that will communicate wirelessly with target tissues," Colman added. source
My comment: Awesome! Really! I can only hope that this research will soon find its place in medicine, because it's badly needed.

Nanoparticles used in common household items caused genetic damage in mice

November 16, 2009

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles, found in everything from cosmetics to sunscreen to paint to vitamins, caused systemic genetic damage in mice, according to a comprehensive study conducted by researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The TiO2 nanoparticles induced single- and double-strand DNA breaks and also caused chromosomal damage as well as , all of which increase the risk for . The UCLA study is the first to show that the nanoparticles had such an effect, said Robert Schiestl, a professor of pathology, radiation oncology and environmental health sciences, a Jonsson Cancer Center scientist and the study's senior author.

Once in the system, the TiO2 nanoparticles accumulate in different organs because the body has no way to eliminate them. And because they are so small, they can go everywhere in the body, even through cells, and may interfere with sub-cellular mechanisms.

In the past, these TiO2 nanoparticles have been considered non-toxic in that they do not incite a chemical reaction. Instead, it is surface interactions that the nanoparticles have within their environment- in this case inside a mouse - that is causing the genetic damage, Schiestl said. They wander throughout the body causing oxidative stress, which can lead to .

It is a novel mechanism of toxicity, a physicochemical reaction, these particles cause in comparison to regular chemical toxins, which are the usual subjects of toxicological research, Schiestl said. source

My comment: Case closed for toxicity of these nanoparticles. And I'm sure that more and more will be found toxic. Not all of them, hopefully, because they can be very useful. But their random use is really hazardous and shouldn't be done the way we do it currently.

How fish is cooked affects heart-health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids

November 17, 2009

If you eat fish to gain the heart-health benefits of its omega-3 fatty acids, baked or boiled fish is better than fried, salted or dried, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2009. source

My comment: That's odd and I think you have to read it. But it certainly makes sense.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi happy new year to yous all
alfie