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Researchers generate lab-grown human tissue model for food tube cancer

Human gastroesophageal junction-derived organoid, modified by dual-knockout of key tumor suppressor genes (TP53/CDKN2A) using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology, which caused cells to become more cancerous. Image courtesy: Stephen Meltzer, M.D.

BALTIMORE, MD.- Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine say they have created a laboratory-grown three-dimensional "organoid" model that is derived from human tissue and designed to advance understanding about how early stages of cancer develop at the gastroesophageal junction (GEJ)—the point where the digestive system's food tube meets the stomach. A report on the organoid model findings, published in Science Translational Medicine, also reveals a possible biological target for treating GEJ cancers with a drug that the researchers have already shown can slow down or stop growth of such tumors in mice. According to the American Cancer Society, gastroesophageal cancers claim more than a million lives every year worldwide, with rates of GEJ cancer increasing more than twofold in recent decades, from 500,000 to 1 million new cases annually. Acid reflux, smoking and Helicobacter pylori bacterial infection of the stomach are well-established ... More





Brain cells use a telephone trick to report what they see   Physicists observe wormhole dynamics using a quantum computer   Going back to basics yields a printable, transparent plastic that's highly conductive


Single brain cells in a macaque’s visual cortex relay unique signals about each object in a set of two along a single neuron, but only if they’re spaced apart. Image courtesy: Jared Lazarus/Duke.

DURHAM, NC.- “How many fingers am I holding up?” For vision-sensing brain cells in a monkey’s visual cortex, that answer depends on whether the digits are next to each other or partially overlapping. A new study from Duke University finds that single neurons conveying visual information about two separate objects in sight do so by alternating signals about one or the other. When two objects overlap, however, the brain cells detect them as a single entity. The new report is out Nov. 28 in the journal eLife. The findings help expand what is known about how the brain makes sense of its complicated and busy world. Most research on sensory processing, be it sounds or sights, sets the bar too low by testing how brain cells react to a single tone or image. “There are lots of reasons to keep things simple in the lab,” said Jennifer Groh, Ph.D., a faculty member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences and senior author of the new repo ... More
 

Artwork depicting a quantum experiment that studies traversable wormholes. Image courtesy: inqnet/A. Mueller (Caltech).

PASADENA, CA.- Scientists have, for the first time, developed a quantum experiment that allows them to study the dynamics, or behavior, of a special kind of theoretical wormhole. The experiment has not created an actual wormhole (a rupture in space and time), rather it allows researchers to probe connections between theoretical wormholes and quantum physics, a prediction of so-called quantum gravity. Quantum gravity refers to a set of theories that seek to connect gravity with quantum physics, two fundamental and well-studied descriptions of nature that appear inherently incompatible with each other. "We found a quantum system that exhibits key properties of a gravitational wormhole yet is sufficiently small to implement on today's quantum hardware," says Maria Spiropulu, the principal investigator of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science research program Quantum Communication Channels for Fundamental Physics (QCCFP) and the Shang-Yi Ch'en Professor of Physics at ... More
 

The polymer created by Georgia Tech researchers is initially a bluish tint when it's cast as a film and not transparent. Further processing results in a flexible, highly conductive, transparent plastic. Image courtesy: James Ponder.

ATLANTA, GA.- It was a simple idea — maybe even too simple to work. Research scientist James Ponder and a team of Georgia Tech chemists and engineers thought they could design a transparent polymer film that would conduct electricity as effectively as other commonly used materials, while also being flexible and easy to use at an industrial scale. They’d do it by simply removing the nonconductive material from their conductive element. Sounds logical, right? The resulting process could yield new kinds of flexible, transparent electronic devices — things like wearable biosensors, organic photovoltaic cells, and virtual or augmented reality displays and glasses. “We had this initial idea that we have a conductive element that we're covering with a nonconductive material, so what if we just get rid of that,” said Ponder, who earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at Georgia Tech and returned as a research scientist in mechanical enginee ... More



A new self-powered ingestible sensor opens new avenues for gut research   Autism-linked gene shapes nerve connections   New theory explains magnetic trends in high-temperature superconductors


Instead of a battery, this “smart pill” is powered by a non-toxic fuel cell that runs on glucose. Image courtesy: David Baillot for the Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego.

SAN DIEGO, CA.- Engineering researchers have developed a battery-free, pill-shaped ingestible biosensing system designed to provide continuous monitoring in the intestinal environment. It gives scientists the ability to monitor gut metabolites in real time, which wasn’t possible before. This feat of technological integration could unlock new understanding of intestinal metabolite composition, which significantly impacts human health overall. The work, led by engineers at the University of California San Diego, appears in the December issue of the journal Nature Communications. The ingestible, biofuel-driven sensor facilitates in-situ access to the small intestine, making glucose monitoring easier while generating continuous results. These measurements provide a critical component of tracking overall gastrointestinal health, a major factor in studying nutrition, diagnosing and treating various diseases, preventing obesity, and more. “In our expe ... More
 

Brain connectivity is changed upon removal of an autism-associated gene. Neuron is on one side of the brain (labeled in red) and nerve endings are coming from the other side of the brain (labeled in green). Image courtesy: Camilo Ferrer.

ITHACA, NY.- A gene linked to autism spectrum disorders plays a critical role in early brain development and may shape the formation of both normal and atypical nerve connections in the brain, according to a new study by Weill Cornell Medicine investigators. The study, published Nov. 28 in Neuron, employed a combination of sophisticated genetic experiments in mice and analysis of human brain imaging data to better understand why mutations in a gene called Gabrb3 are linked to a high risk of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a related condition called Angelman Syndrome. Both conditions involve abnormal behaviors and unusual responses to sensory stimuli, which appear to stem, at least in part, from the formation of atypical connections between neurons in the brain. “Neuronal connections in the brain, and developmental synchronization of neuronal networks, are perturbed in individuals with autism spectrum disorders, and there ar ... More
 

Garnet Chan, Bren Professor of Chemistry at Caltech. Image courtesy: Caltech.

PASADENA, CA.- In just about any situation in which electricity is being used, whether it is lighting a bedroom at night, keeping frozen food cold, or powering a car that is taking a commuter to work, some of that electrical energy is lost as heat. This is called resistance. Materials with lower resistance are better at conducting electricity while materials with higher resistance are worse at it. Though nearly all conductors exhibit some resistance, there are some materials that have no electrical resistance whatsoever. These are called superconductors, and their unique properties are used in technologies ranging from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to levitating trains. However, most superconductors only superconduct when they are cold—really cold. Even so-called "high temperature" superconductors need to be cooled with liquid nitrogen to roughly -200 degrees Celsius to work. That need for intense cooling adds a big complication to the use of superconductors. For decades, researchers have sou ... More



Fossil discovery in storeroom cupboard shifts origin of modern lizard back 35 million years   Photonics chip allows light amplification   Do women age differently from men?


Artist’s impression of Cryptovaranoides when it was alive. Image courtesy: Lavinia Gandolfi.

BRISTOL.- A specimen retrieved from a cupboard in the Natural History Museum in London has shown that modern lizards originated in the Late Triassic and not the Middle Jurassic as previously thought. This fossilized relative of living lizards such as monitor lizards, gila monsters and slow worms was identified in a stored museum collection from the 1950s, including specimens from a quarry near Tortworth in Gloucestershire, South West England. The technology didn't exist then to expose its contemporary features. As a modern-type lizard, the new fossil impacts all estimates of the origin of lizards and snakes, together called the Squamata, and affects assumptions about their rates of evolution, and even the key trigger for the origin of the group. The team, led by Dr. David Whiteside of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, have named their incredible discovery Cryptovaranoides microlanius meaning "small butcher" in tribute to its jaws that we ... More
 

The photonic integrated circuits used in this study. Image courtesy: Tobias Kippenberg, EPFL.

LAUSANNE.- Scientists at EPFL have developed photonic integrated circuits that demonstrated a new principle of light amplification on a silicon chip. It can be employed for optical signals like those used in Lidar, trans-oceanic fiber amplifiers or in data center telecommunications. The ability to achieve quantum-limited amplification of optical signals contained in optical fibers is arguably among the most important technological advances that are underlying our modern information society. In optical telecommunications, the choice of 1550 nm wavelength band is motivated not only by loss minima of silica optical fibers (a development recognized with the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics), but equally to the existence of ways to amplify these signals, crucial to achieve trans-oceanic fiber optical communication. Optical amplification plays a key role in virtually all laser-based technologies such as optical communication, used for instance in data-ce ... More
 

Rapamycin prolongs lifespan only in female fruit flies. Image courtesy: © K. Link.

COLOGNE.- The effect of medicines on women and men can differ significantly. This also applies to the currently most promising anti-ageing drug rapamycin, as researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne and University College London have now shown. They report that the drug only prolongs the lifespan of female fruit flies, but not that of males. In addition, rapamycin only slowed the development of age-related pathological changes in the gut in female flies. The researchers conclude that the biological sex is a crucial factor in the effectiveness of anti-ageing drugs. The life expectancy of women is significantly higher than that of men. However, women also suffer more often from age-related diseases and adverse drug reactions. “Our long-term goal is to make men live as long as women and also women as healthy as men in late life. But for that, we need to understand where the differences come from”, expl ... More



New process allows 3-D printing of microscale metallic parts   How touch dampens the brain's response to painful stimuli   Study IDs genes that can help fruit adapt to drought


Rebecca Gallivan operating a scanning electron microscope. Image courtesy: Bob Paz.

PASADENA, CA.- Engineers at Caltech have developed a method for 3-D printing pure and multicomponent metals, at a resolution that is, in some cases, an order of magnitude smaller than previously possible. The process, which uses water-based chemistry and 3-D printing, was described in a paper published in Nature on October 20. The new process can be used for a variety of metals—even multiple types in the same manufactured part—with only minor adjustments. It has the potential to pave the way for fabricating tiny components for microelectronic mechanical systems (MEMS)—precise components for vehicles and space applications, heat exchangers, or biomedical devices. In 3-D printing (also known as additive manufacturing) an object is built up layer by layer, allowing for the creation of structures that would be impossible to manufacture by conventional metal-forming methods like forging and inkjet molding, or via subtractive methods suc ... More
 

Neurons in the thalamus (green) project to the somatosensory cortex and relay tactile information. These neurons are required for touch-mediated pain relief. Image courtesy: Fan Wang.

CAMBRIDGE, MASS.- When we press our temples to soothe an aching head or rub an elbow after an unexpected blow, it often brings some relief. It is believed that pain-responsive cells in the brain quiet down when these neurons also receive touch inputs, say scientists at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, who for the first time have watched this phenomenon play out in the brains of mice. The team’s discovery, reported Nov. 6 in the journal Science Advances, offers researchers a deeper understanding of the complicated relationship between pain and touch and could offer some insights into chronic pain in humans. “We’re interested in this because it’s a common human experience,” says McGovern investigator Fan Wang. “When some part of your body hurts, you rub it, right? We know touch can alleviate pain in this way.” But, she says, the phenomenon has b ... More
 

Carmen Catalá is an assistant professor at Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI). Image courtesy: Cornell University.

ITHACA, NY.- Researchers from Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) and Cornell have identified genes that could help plant breeders develop drought-resistant fruit, through a study that provided the first-ever comprehensive picture of how a fruit’s gene expression changes in response to water stress. Published in the December issue of the journal Plant Physiology, the work was led by the research team of Carmen Catalá, an assistant professor at BTI and a senior research associate in the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Collaborating researchers include Jocelyn Rose, a professor in SIPS, and BTI professors Jim Giovannoni, Zhangjun Fei and Lukas Mueller, who are also adjunct professors in SIPS. First author is Philippe Nicolas, a postdoctoral researcher in Catalá’s lab. “We identified a number of genes that are involved in water stress response in the tomato fruit,” Catalá s ... More



More News
Penn Medicine study gives peek of how ketamine acts as 'switch' in the brain
PHILADELPHIA, PA.- Ketamine, an established anesthetic and increasingly popular antidepressant, dramatically reorganizes activity in the brain, as if a switch had been flipped on its active circuits, according to a new study by Penn Medicine researchers. In a Nature Neuroscience paper released this month, the team described starkly changed neuronal activity patterns in the cerebral cortex of animal models after ketamine administration — observing normally active neurons that were silenced and another set that were normally quiet suddenly springing to action. This ketamine-induced activity switch in key brain regions tied to depression may impact our understanding of ketamine’s treatment effects and future research in the field of neuropsychiatry. “Our surprising results reveal two distinct populations of ... More

Iron for energy storage
DÜSSELDORF.- Energy from sun or wind is weather-dependent and lacks an efficient way to store and transport it. Scientists from the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung and TU Eindhoven are investigating iron as a possible energy carrier. The idea is to store excess energy in iron and release it through combustion of iron into iron oxide. The team is working to understand the underlying processes and upscale the technique to industrial relevance. Gaining sustainable energy from wind, solar and water is commonly known and applied. However, renewable sources depend on environmental conditions: in peak times of wind and sun, excess energy is produced that is needed in times of less wind and sunshine. But how to store and transport this excess energy efficiently? So far, no reliable, safe and cheap ... More

Flowers show their true colors
TOKYO.- A plant common to Japan, Causonis japonica, is the first to show a newly discovered trait. Its flowers can change color depending on the stage of its maturation cycle, and then change back to its original color. Although many flowers have been shown to change color depending on their maturation phase, Causonis japonica is the only known example of bidirectional color change. The pigments involved in the colors are related to nutrient-rich colorful vegetables, so understanding the flowers’ color-changing tricks could have downstream applications in improving nutrient yields in certain food crops. We all like flowers, and one of the most appealing things about flowers is presumably the wide array of shapes, sizes and, of course, colors they come in. But did you know that some flowers can change ... More

Webb Space Telescope, Keck team up to study Saturn's moon Titan
BERKELEY, CA.- The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has turned its infrared cameras on Saturn’s moon Titan, giving astronomers another eye on the largest and one of the most unusual moons in the solar system. The only satellite with a dense atmosphere, it’s also the only world besides Earth that has standing bodies of liquid on its surface, including rivers, lakes and seas — though the liquid is thought to be methane, ethane and other hydrocarbons that are toxic to humans. The new observations, combined with those from Earth-bound telescopes, will help astronomers understand the weather patterns on Titan in advance of a NASA mission to the moon, called Dragonfly, that is scheduled for launch in 2027. A multirotor lander, Dragonfly will assess the habitability of Titan’s unique env ... More

Graphene heads to the moon
CAMBRIDGE.- Cambridge researchers are part of a European project testing graphene’s ability to protect spacecraft against the sticky, sharp dust on the moon’s surface – a challenge for lunar missions since the Apollo era. The Rashid lunar rover will soon be launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida as part of the Emirates Lunar Mission. The rover will land in Atlas crater, a geologically rich but little-explored area on the moon’s nearside – the side that always faces Earth. During one lunar day, equivalent to approximately 14 days on Earth, Rashid will investigate different geological features on the moon’s surface. The rover’s wheels will be used for repeated exposure of different materials to the lunar surface. As part of the Material Adhesion and abrasion Detection (MAaD) experiment, graphene-based com ... More



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Janavis: new species of toothed bird from the Age of Dinosaurs



Flashback
On a day like today, Nobel Prize laureate Manne Siegbahn was born
December 03, 1886. Karl Manne Georg Siegbahn (3 December 1886 - 26 September 1978) was a Swedish physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1924 "for his discoveries and research in the field of X-ray spectroscopy". Manne Siegbahn began his studies of X-ray spectroscopy in 1914. Initially he used the same type of spectrometer as Henry Moseley had done for finding the relationship between the wavelength of some elements and their place at the periodic system. Shortly thereafter he developed improved experimental apparatus which allowed him to make very accurate measurements of the X-ray wavelengths produced by atoms of different elements. Also, he found that several of the spectral lines that Moseley had discovered consisted of more components. By studying these components and improving the spectrometer, Siegbahn got an almost complete understanding of the electron shell.



 


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