Established in 2020 Monday, August 8, 2022

The developing bird pelvis passes through ancestral dinosaurian conditions

Embryonic quail hindquarters imaged using laser scanning confocal microscopy. The skeleton is in green, nerves are in blue, and muscles are in red. The pelvis of this quail embryo has just transformed into a relatively “modern” bird configuration. Image courtesy: Christopher T. Griffin and Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar.

NEW HAVEN, CT.- All baby birds have a moment prior to hatching when their hip bone is a tiny replica of a dinosaur's pelvis. That's one of the findings in a new, Yale-led study in the journal Nature that explores the evolutionary underpinnings of the avian hip bone. It is also a modern-day nod to the dramatic transformation that led from dinosaurs to birds over tens of millions of years. "Every single bird, in its early life, possesses this dinosaurian form," said Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar, assistant professor of Earth & planetary science at Yale and senior and corresponding author of the new study. "Then, at the last minute, it's like it remembers it's a bird and needs a bird's pelvis." Over the past decade, Bhullar and his collaborators have conducted groundbreaking research on key evolutionary transitions between dinosaur, reptile, and avian species—including the development of the dinosaurian inner ear, the bird beak, the mammalian rolling jaw, ... More

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Stretchy computing device feels like skin-but analyzes health data with brain-mimicking artificial intelligence   Design prevents buildup of scar tissue around medical implants   How pathogenic gene variants lead to heart failure

Asst. Prof. Sihong Wang and PhD student Yahao Dai analyzing a wearable neuromorphic device. Image courtesy: John Zich.

CHICAGO, IL.- It's a brainy Band-Aid, a smart watch without the watch, and a leap forward for wearable health technologies. Researchers at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering have developed a flexible, stretchable computing chip that processes information by mimicking the human brain. The device, described in the journal Matter, aims to change the way health data is processed. "With this work we've bridged wearable technology with artificial intelligence and machine learning to create a powerful device which can analyze health data right on our own bodies," said Sihong Wang, a materials scientist and Assistant Professor of Molecular Engineering. Today, getting an in-depth profile about your health requires a visit to a hospital or clinic. In the future, Wang said, people's health could be tracked continuously by wearable electronics that can detect disease even before symptoms appear. Unobtrusive, wearable compu ... More

With a new approach, the scar tissue (pictured) that usually develops around medical implants has a more aligned architecture that allows drugs to pass through more easily. Image courtesy of the researchers.

CAMBRIDGE, MASS.- Implantable devices that release insulin into the body hold promise as an alternative way to treat diabetes without insulin injections or cannula insertions. However, one obstacle that has prevented their use so far is that the immune system attacks them after implantation, forming a thick layer of scar tissue that blocks insulin release. This phenomenon, known as the foreign body response, can also interfere with many other types of implantable medical devices. However, a team of MIT engineers and collaborators has now devised a way to overcome this response. In a study of mice, they showed that when they incorporated mechanical actuation into a soft robotic device, the device remained functional for much longer than a typical drug-delivery implant. The device is repeatedly inflated and deflated for five minutes every 12 hours, and this mechanical deflection prevent ... More

In this illustration, the diseased heart is displayed as a piñata being hit by a DNA bat to signify the genetic impact of the variants that were studied. Image courtesy: Dr. Eleonora Adami, MDC.

BERLIN.- Cardiomyopathy is not a uniform disease. Rather, individual genetic defects lead to heart failure in different ways, an international consortium reports in Science. The molecular and cellular mechanisms that lead to heart failure in people with cardiomyopathy are determined by the specific gene variant that each patient carries, according to newly published research based on the first comprehensive single-cell analysis of cardiac cells from healthy and failing hearts. The work, reported in the journal Science, was conducted by 53 scientists from six countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. The study shows that cell type compositions and gene activation profiles change according to the genetic variants. The investigators say the findings can inform the design of targeted therapies that take into account each patient's underlying gene defect responsible for their particular form of cardiomyopathy. Examining the genes activated in about 880,000 single cells from 61 failing hearts and ... More

Ultrasensitive optical sensing instrument has broad medical, science uses   Exceeding 100 percent quantum efficiency in the photocurrent of a hybrid inorganic-organic semiconductor   Hyaluranic acid, a naturally occurring compound, awakens stem cells to repair damaged muscle

Dr. Lingze Duan in his laboratory. Image courtesy: University of Alabama in Huntsville.

HUNTSVILLE, AL.- In research that could broadly benefit science, medicine and engineering, a new kind of ultrasensitive optical sensing instrument has been developed by a doctoral student at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Called a Mach Zehnder-Fabry Perot (MZ-FP) hybrid fiber interferometer, it combines the advantages of the two types of interferometers that are currently available, making it both compact and highly sensitive. Precision measuring devices, interferometers work by creating a measurable interference pattern between two streams of light that can be thought of like the collision of two sets of waves in a pond that were created by throwing in two stones, says Dr. Nabil Md Rakinul Hoque. Originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dr. Hoque is a May 2022 UAH doctoral graduate in optical science and engineering, who developed the new interferometer under a National Science Foundation grant while advised by Dr. Lingze Duan, a professor of phys ... More

By synthesizing a semiconducting material containing tin-based nanoparticles known as quantum dots, an international team of researchers including KAUST achieved impressive light-power conversion. Image courtesy: KAUST/Heno Hwang.

THUWAL.- Tiny crystals, known as quantum dots, have enabled an international team to achieve a quantum efficiency exceeding 100 percent in the photocurrent generated in a hybrid inorganic-organic semiconductor. Perovskites are exciting semiconductors for light-harvesting applications and have already shown some impressive performances in solar cells. But improvements in photo-conversion efficiency are necessary to take this technology to a broader market. Light comes in packets of energy known as photons. When a semiconductor absorbs a photon, the electromagnetic energy is transferred to a negatively charged electron and its positively charged counterpart, known as a hole. An electric field can sweep these particles in opposite directions, thereby allowing a current to flow. This is the basic operation of a solar cell. It might sound simple, but optimizing the quantum efficiency, or getting as many electron-hole pairs from the incoming photons as possible, has been a long-standing goal. One cau ... More

Lead author Dr. Kiran Nakka, a research associate with Dr. Jeffrey Dilworth, conducted this research as part of his postdoctoral studies. Image courtesy: The Ottawa Hospital.

OTTAWA.- A new study published in the journal Science reveals a unique form of cell communication that controls muscle repair. In damaged muscle, stem cells must work together with immune cells to complete the repair process, yet how these cells coordinate to ensure the efficient removal of dead tissue before making new muscle fibers has remained unknown. The scientists have now shown that a natural substance called hyaluronic acid, which is used in cosmetics and injections for osteoarthritis, is the key molecule that manages this fundamental interaction. "When muscles get damaged, it is important for immune cells to quickly enter the tissue and remove the damage before stem cells begin repair," said Dr. Jeffrey Dilworth, senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa and senior author on the study. "Our study shows that muscle stem cells are primed to start repair right away, but the immune cells ... More

How image features influence reaction times   New study explores cell receptor crucial for cardiovascular health   Drosophila embryonic development at single-cell resolution

Research exploring how quickly people react after observing a displayed visual target recently garnered best-paper honors. Image courtesy: ACM Digital Library.

NEW YORK, NY.- It's an everyday scenario: you're driving down the highway when out of the corner of your eye you spot a car merging into your lane without signaling. How fast can your eyes react to that visual stimulus? Would it make a difference if the offending car were blue instead of green? And if the color green shortened that split-second period between the initial appearance of the stimulus and when the eye began moving towards it (known to scientists as the saccade), could drivers benefit from an augmented reality overlay that made every merging vehicle green? Qi Sun, a joint professor in Tandon's Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), is collaborating with neuroscientists to find out. He and his Ph.D. student Budmonde Duinkharjav—along with colleagues from Princeton, the University of North Carolina, and NVIDIA Research—recently authored the paper "Image Features ... More

The illustration shows a portion of the receptor pGC-A, known as the extracellular domain, which protrudes from cell surfaces in the cardiovascular system. Image courtesy: Jason Drees.

TEMPE, AZ.- Cardiovascular diseases remain a leading cause of death around the world. A primary contributor to these afflictions is high blood pressure, or hypertension. While treatments exist for the condition, which affects tens of millions of Americans, these remedies are not without side effects, and some variants of the disorder are treatment-resistant. The need for more effective therapies to address hypertension-related disease is therefore acute. The illustration shows a portion of the receptor pGC-A, known as the extracellular domain, which protrudes from cell surfaces in the cardiovascular system. Small molecules bind with the receptor and exert subtle control over blood pressure. The new research offers the first sneak peek at the full-length receptor, a vital step in the development of new drugs to treat hypertension and other afflictions. To accomplish this however, biologists need more detailed maps of the mechanisms underlying cardiovascular regulation. One such regulator is a prote ... More

A new atlas that maps the continuum of embryo development in fruit flies has gone beyond, thanks to machine learning. Image courtesy: Isabel Romero Calvo/EMBL.

HEIDELBERG.- Scientists have constructed the most complete and detailed single-cell map of embryo development in any animal to date, using the fruit fly as a model organism. Published in Science, this study, co-led by Eileen Furlong at EMBL and Jay Shendure at the University of Washington, harnesses data from more than one million embryonic cells spanning all stages of embryo development and represents a significant advance at multiple levels. This fundamental research also aids scientists' ability to pursue questions like how mutations lead to different developmental defects. In addition, it provides a path to understand the vast non-coding part of our genome that contains most disease-associated mutations. "Just capturing the entirety of embryogenesis—all stages and all cell types—to obtain a more complete view of the cell states and molecular changes that accompany development is a feat in its own right," said Eileen Furlong, Head of ... More

Stanford-based initiative will monitor wastewater for COVID-19, monkeypox, influenza A, and RSV genetic markers   A simple, cheap material for carbon capture, perhaps from tailpipes   Researchers achieve world's first international holographic teleportation

Stanford undergraduate Julia Simon collects wastewater from the Codiga Resource Recovery Center on the Stanford campus for analysis. Image courtesy: Harry Gregory.

STANFORD, CA.- Researchers at Stanford University and Emory University have launched a nationwide initiative to monitor monkeypox, COVID-19, and other infectious diseases in communities by measuring viral genetic material in wastewater. The effort will also provide health officials and the public with free, high-quality data, which is critical to informing public health decision making. The initiative is already producing data, including the first detections of monkeypox DNA in wastewater in the United States. This new, Stanford-led effort, called WastewaterSCAN, significantly expands access to the analytical approach and public reporting developed by the scientists and 11 Northern California communities through the Sewer Coronavirus Alert Network (SCAN) that launched in November 2020. Beginning with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, SCAN has provided frequent information that is comparable over time and from place to place about the co ... More

UC Berkeley researchers developed a brand-new family of sustainable, scalable, solid-state materials — polyamine-appended, cyanuric acid-stabilized, melamine nanoporous networks — that spontaneously adsorb CO2 for carbon capture and storage. Image: Haiyan Mao and Jeffrey Reimer, UC Berkeley.

BERKELEY, CA.- Using an inexpensive polymer called melamine — the main component of Formica — chemists have created a cheap, easy and energy-efficient way to capture carbon dioxide from smokestacks, a key goal for the United States and other nations as they seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The process for synthesizing the melamine material, published this week in the journal Science Advances, could potentially be scaled down to capture emissions from vehicle exhaust or other movable sources of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning makes up about 75% of all greenhouse gases produced in the U.S. The new material is simple to make, requiring primarily off-the-shelf melamine powder — which today costs about $40 per ton — along with formaldehyde and cyanuric acid, a chemical that, among other uses, is added with chlorine to swimming pools. “We wanted to think about a carbon capture material that was derived from sources that were really cheap and easy to ... More

Image courtesy: University of Western Ontario.

LONDON, ON.- Holographic teleportation sounds like something out of Star Wars or Star Trek, but instead of the bridge of a flashy interstellar spaceship, a world-first technological achievement took place in a nondescript boardroom on campus at Western recently. The term holographic teleportation, or holoport, is a combination of hologram and teleport: when a hologram of a person or object is transmitted instantaneously to another location. On the afternoon of July 27, a small group of students from the Western Institute for Space Exploration (Western Space) gathered to witness and take part in the world's first international holoport demonstration. "We had the incredible opportunity to demonstrate the first international, two-way holographic teleportation," said project leader Leap Biosystem's co-founder, Dr. Adam Sirek, a faculty member at the Schulich School of Medicine Dentistry, and Western Space. In April, NASA successfully holoported a doctor ... More

The scientist only imposes two things, namely truth and sincerity, imposes them upon himself and upon other scientists. Erwin Schrödinger

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New research on the emergence of the first complex cells challenges orthodoxy
TEMPE, AZ.- In the beginning, there was boredom. Following the emergence of cellular life on earth, some 3.5 billion years ago, simple cells lacking a nucleus and other detailed internal structure dominated the planet. Matters would remain largely unchanged in terms of evolutionary development in these so-called prokaryotic cells—the bacteria and archaea—for another billion and a half years. Then, something remarkable and unprecedented took place. A new type of cell, known as a eukaryote, emerged. The eukaryotes would evolve many complex internal modules or organelles, including the endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi apparatus and the mitochondria, forming wildly diverse cell types—precursors to all subsequent plant and animal life on earth. Prokaryotic cells, which include bacteria and archaea, are ... More

Extending the shelf life of vaccines
ZURICH.- Nearly half of all vaccines go to waste. This is due to the logistical obstacles involved in transporting them to diverse regions of the world. Most vaccines require strict temperature regulation from the manufacturing line to injection into a human arm. Maintaining a constant temperature along the cold (supply) chain is a challenging feat in the best of circumstances. In sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions, for example, limited transport infrastructure and unreliable electricity compounds the already immense challenges of delivering viable vaccines. Rising to the challenge, scientists from ETH Zurich's Macromolecular Engineering and Organic Chemistry Labs and entrepreneurs from Colorado-based Nanoly Bioscience worked together to develop a safe, versatile platform to increase the thermal st ... More

Researchers decipher a new, unconventional functional mechanism in leukemia cells
LEIPZIG.- Although there has been significant progress in the treatment of rare forms of blood cancer in recent years and new drugs have been approved in Germany, the prognosis for many affected individuals remains unfavorable. Research teams at Leipzig University's Faculty of Medicine are working on several preclinical and translational projects to gain a better understanding of these diseases. The researchers are investigating how bone marrow cancer develops. In addition, they have found a new molecular functional mechanism and have shown that patients with even low amounts of leukemia cells have a high risk of relapse. Why do up to 80% of patients with bone marrow cancer (multiple myeloma) develop bone damage (osteolysis) in some regions of the body while others are spared this damage? This ... More

Up a creek without a paddle? Researchers suggest 'gunwale bobbing'
TORONTO.- Stand up in a canoe and you’ll probably find yourself in the water before too long. Jump up and down on the upper edges of the sides of the canoe, and you’ll likely end up in the drink as well. But get the balance right and you’ll be able to move yourself along by as much as one metre per second, according to a study published in Physical Review Fluids examining gunwale bobbing. In gunwale (pronounced “gunnel”) bobbing, a canoeist stands on the sides of the canoe – the gunwales – near the rear of the craft and jumps up and down, moving it forward by surfing the waves produced. After an initial period of instability before finding its rhythm, the canoe achieves a cruising velocity which satisfies a balance between the thrust generated from pushing downwards into the surface of the waves and the ... More

Complex coacervate droplets as a model material for studying the electrodynamic response of biological materials
HOUSTON, TX.- Manipulating solid particles of a few micrometers in size using an electric field has been of great interest to physicists. These controllable particles can be assembled into dynamic chains that can effectively control the flow of liquids in thin tubes like capillaries. Replacing these solid particles with liquid droplets would allow for previously unachievable electrorheology applications in biotechnology, as liquid droplets can store and utilize various biomolecules such as enzymes. Until now, it was not possible to use liquid droplets for electrorheology, as they tend to coalesce or deform, rendering them ineffective as electrorheological fluids. New research led by the ... More

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On a day like today, Nobel Prize laureate Paul Dirac was born
August 08, 1902. Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac (8 August 1902 - 20 October 1984) was an English theoretical physicist who is regarded as one of the most significant physicists of the 20th century. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, a professor of physics at Florida State University and the University of Miami, and a 1933 Nobel Prize recipient. Dirac made fundamental contributions to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics. Among other discoveries, he formulated the Dirac equation which describes the behaviour of fermions and predicted the existence of antimatter. Dirac shared the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics with Erwin Schrödinger "for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory". He also made significant contributions to the reconciliation of general relativity with quantum mechanics.

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