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'programmable droplets' could enable high-volume biology experiments

mit researchers have developed hardware that uses electric fields to move droplets of chemical or biological solutions around a surface, mixing them in ways that could be used to test thousands of reactions in parallel.the researchers view their system as an alternative to the microfluidic devices now commonly used in biological research, in which biological solutions are pumped through microscopic channels connected by mechanical valves. the new approach, which moves solutions around in computationally prescribed patterns, could enable experiments to be conducted more efficiently, cost-effectively, and at larger scales."traditional microfluidic systems use tubes, valves, and pumps," says udayan umapathi, a researcher at the mit media la...




virtual reality goes magnetic | eurekalert! science news

image: controlling virtual light bulbs without touching them -- hzdr's ultrathin electronic magnetic sensor makes it possible. depending on the fields of a permanent magnet, the movement and the position of... view more credit: d. makarovthe recent success of pokémon go made many people very familiar with the concept of "augmented reality": computer-generated perception blends into the real and virtual worlds. so far, these apps have largely used optical methods for motion detection. physicists at the german helmholtz-zentrum dresden-rossendorf (hzdr) working together with colleagues at the leibniz institute for solid state and materials research (ifw) and the johannes kepler university linz (jku) (austria) have now developed an ultra...




cystic fibrosis bacterial burden begins during first years of life

image: this is a microscopic image of staphylococcus aureus, a problematic pathogen that infects the airways of children with cystic fibrosis. view more credit: wolfgang lab, unc school of medicinechapel hill, nc - cystic fibrosis (cf) shortens life by making the lungs prone to repeated bacterial infections and associated inflammation. unc school of medicine researchers have now shown for the first time that the lungs' bacterial population changes in the first few years of life as respiratory infections and inflammation set in. the study, published in plos pathogens, offers a way to predict the onset of lung disease in children with cf and suggests a larger role for preventive therapies, such as hypertonic saline."lung symptoms in ki...




thanks for the memory: nist takes a deep look at memristors

image: illustration shows an electron beam impinging on a section of a memristor, a device whose resistance depends on the memory of past current flow. as the beam strikes different parts... view more credit: nistin the race to build a computer that mimics the massive computational power of the human brain, researchers are increasingly turning to memristors, which can vary their electrical resistance based on the memory of past activity. scientists at the national institute of standards and technology (nist) have now unveiled the long-mysterious inner workings of these semiconductor elements, which can act like the short-term memory of nerve cells.just as the ability of one nerve cell to signal another depends on how often the cells have...




'explosive evolution' of techniques to restore blood flow to the brain

maywood, il - recent decades have seen an "explosive evolution" of techniques to restore blood flow to areas of the brain endangered by stroke or clogged arteries, according to a report by loyola medicine neurologists and neurosurgeons.historically, the introduction of operating microscopes enabled surgeons to perform delicate microsurgeries to clear clogged arteries and remove blood clots that cause strokes. more recently, physicians have begun using minimally invasive endovascular techniques."the last 50 to 60 years have witnessed an explosive evolution of techniques geared at restoring blood flow to compromised regions of the brain, senior author camilo r. gomez, md, and colleagues wrote in the nov. 9, 2017 medlink neurology.endovascula...




radioactivity from oil and gas wastewater persists in pennsylvania stream sediments

image: treated oil and gas wastewater flows into a stream in western pennsylvania. a new duke study finds stream sediments at disposal sites such as this one have levels of radioactivity... view more credit: avner vengosh, duke universitydurham, n.c. - more than seven years after pennsylvania officials requested that the disposal of radium-laden fracking wastewater into surface waters be restricted, a new duke university study finds that high levels of radioactivity persist in stream sediments at three disposal sites.the contamination is coming from the disposal of conventional, or non-fracked, oil and gas wastewater, which, under current state regulations, can still be treated and discharged to local streams. "it's not only fracking f...




length of opioid prescription spell highest risk for misuse after surgery

image: this is gabriel brat, md, a trauma surgeon at beth israel deaconess medical center and an instructor in surgery and in biomedical informatics at harvard medical school. view more credit: beth israel deaconess medical centerboston - with opioid overdoses now a leading cause of nonintentional death in the united states, data show most of these deaths can be traced back to an initial prescription opioid. a new study led by investigators at beth israel deaconess medical center (bidmc) and harvard medical school (hms) sheds light on the possible link between physicians' opioid prescription patterns and subsequent abuse.while most clinical efforts have focused on minimizing risk through dosage management, the new findings - published to...




breakthrough study shows how plants sense the world

image: this is shahid mukhtar. view more credit: uabbirmingham, ala. - plants lack eyes and ears, but they can still see, hear, smell and respond to environmental cues and dangers -- especially to virulent pathogens. they do this with the aid of hundreds of membrane proteins that can sense microbes or other stresses.only a small portion of these sensing proteins have been studied through classical genetics, and knowledge on how these sensors function by forming complexes with one another is scarce. now, an international team of researchers from four nations -- including shahid mukhtar, ph.d., and graduate student timothy "tc" howton at the university of alabama at birmingham -- has created the first network map for 200 of these protei...




cells lacking nuclei struggle to move in 3-d environments

university of north carolina lineberger comprehensive cancer center researchers have revealed new details of how the physical properties of the nucleus influence how cells can move around different environments - such as "soft" tissue like brain and fat, or "stiff" tissue like cartilage or bone.the researchers removed the nucleus from cells or disconnected them from the cell's structural scaffolding known as the "cytoskeleton." they watched how the modified cells were able to move in different surfaces to better understand the role of this central cell structure in movement. their findings from the study, published in the journal of cell biology, contribute to the basic scientific understanding of the mechanical properties of the nucle...




infant mortality rates in texas vary dramatically from one zip code to the next

image: within houston, mortality rates for infants of black mothers varied eight-fold from 3.3 to 28.1 deaths per 1,000 in zip codes 77077 and 77026, respectively. view more credit: the university of texas systeminfant mortality rates in texas vary dramatically even across neighboring zip codes, according to a new analysis and mapping tool from researchers at the university of texas system and ut health northeast. the analysis and searchable map, which are the first of their kind in texas, use data from texas vital statistics linked birth and death records from 2011-2014.in fort worth, for example, the infant mortality rate was over six times higher in the 76164 zip code than in neighboring 76107. among just black mothers in houston, t...




climate change linked to more flowery forests, fsu study shows

image: assistant professor of geography stephanie pau studied a 28-year record of flower activity in panama's lush barro colorado forest view more credit: stephanie pautallahassee, fla. -- new research from a florida state university scientist has revealed a surprising relationship between surging atmospheric carbon dioxide and flower blooms in a remote tropical forest.fsu researchers studying the rich tropical forests of panama's barro colorado island found that climbing rates of carbon dioxide have set the stage for a multidecade increase in overall flower production. the findings were outlined in a paper published in the journal global change biology"it's really remarkable," said assistant professor of geography stephanie pau, w...




increasing number of adolescents receive a psychiatric or neurodevelopmental diagnosis

according to a national register study comparing finnish birth cohorts from 1987 and 1997, an increasing number of adolescents receive a psychiatric or neurodevelopmental diagnosis. the number of diagnosed adolescents increased especially for girls in the younger cohort. the results of the study conducted by the university of turku, finland, and the national institute for health and welfare (thl) were published in the lancet psychiatry journal.the share of girls who received a diagnosis was 10 percent in the older and 15 percent in the younger cohort. whereas for boys, 6 percent in the older cohort and 9 percent in the younger cohort received a diagnosis. the diagnoses were recorded for both cohorts between ages 12 and 18. quantitatively, th...




postoperative wound monitoring app can reduce readmissions and improve patient care

image: woundcheck is a hipaa-compliant, user-tested ios app that enables patients to transmit daily surgical wound images from their home to a clinician. view more credit: journal of the american college of surgeonschicago (jan. 19, 2017): a new smartphone app called woundcare is successfully enabling patients to remotely send images of their surgical wounds for monitoring by nurses. the app was developed by researches from the wisconsin institute of surgical outcomes research (wisor), department of surgery, university of wisconsin, madison, with the goal of earlier detection of surgical site infections (ssis) and prevention of hospital readmissions. the study results appear as an "article in press" on the website of the journal of t...




conserving our biodiversity: priorities for well-connected protected areas

only one-third of the world´s countries, and half of eu member states, currently meet global targets when it comes to the connectivity of their designated natural protected areas (pas).while 14.7% of land around the world is covered by pas, only 7.5% of the land of the world's countries is covered by pas that are connected.this currently falls short of meeting the un target for 2020 of having 17% of the land covered by well-connected pa systems. considerable efforts are therefore needed to improve pa connectivity globally.these results come from the first global assessment of the connectivity of terrestrial pa systems at country level, conducted by the jrc and published in biological conservation.pas, such as natura 2000 sites or national p...




national school lunch program aces safety test

the national school lunch program's strict safety standards work, which is good news for millions of children who participate in the program daily, according to a new university of connecticut study.but, less stringent standards applied to the beef sold commercially means that school might be safest place to eat.the study, led by researchers from uconn and the united states department of agriculture (usda), found that the food safety standards for ground beef supplied to the program are highly effective in keeping harmful bacteria out of school lunches nationwide.however, ground beef that fails national school lunch program inspection can be sold to other vendors and eventually make its way onto consumers' plates, says john bovay, study co...




hedgehog signaling proteins keep cancer stem cells alive

image: colon cancer cells grow into three-dimensional organoids in the culture dish. view more credit: dr. joseph regan / charité - universitätsmedizin berlincolon cancer is the third most common cancer and fourth most common cause of death worldwide. colon tumors consist of different types of cells, which play different roles in the growth of the tumor. the development and spread of cancer is thought to be caused by a subpopulation of cells that possess stem cell characteristics, including the capacity for self-renewal, differentiation and therapy resistance. these 'cancer stem cells' are also thought to be the source cancer recurrence following initial treatment success.as part of oncotrack project (an international consortium of sc...




older hospitalized adults are infrequently tested for influenza

this year's flu season is shaping up to be an especially serious one, and it's important for clinicians to promptly recognize, diagnosis, and treat influenza in hospitalized patients, especially in vulnerable populations such as older individuals. a new study published in the journal of the american geriatrics society, however, indicates that adults aged 65 years and older who are hospitalized with fever or respiratory symptoms during influenza seasons are less likely to have a provider-ordered influenza test than younger patients.the highest rates of hospitalization and death associated with influenza infections are experienced by older adults. to see if these individuals are being adequately tested for influenza by their doctors when they...




researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating als

cincinnati--researchers at the university of cincinnati (uc) college of medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of gdf8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for limiting muscle, is activated. that knowledge could someday help in finding a better treatment to improve muscle function in diseases such as muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (als) or lou gehrig's disease, and cancer cachexia, a muscle wasting condition, says tom thompson, phd, professor in the uc department of molecular genetics, biochemistry and microbiology. muscular dystrophy is a hereditary condition marked by weakness and progressive wasting of the muscles, while als impacts nerve ce...




city lights setting traps for migrating birds

on their fall migration south in the northern hemisphere, scores of birds are being lured by artificial light pollution into urban areas that may be an ecological trap, according to the university of delaware's jeff buler.buler, associate professor in ud's department of entomology and wildlife ecology, and his research team used 16 weather surveillance radars from the northeastern united states over a seven-year period to map the distributions of migratory birds during their fall stopovers. the research is published in the scientific journal ecology letters.since most of the birds that migrate in the u.s. are nocturnal and leave their stopover sites at night, buler and his research group took snapshots of the birds as they departed."sho...




new technique for finding life on mars

researchers demonstrate for the first time the potential of existing technology to directly detect and characterize life on mars and other planets. the study, published in frontiers in microbiology, used miniaturized scientific instruments and new microbiology techniques to identify and examine microorganisms in the canadian high arctic -- one of the closest analogs to mars on earth. by avoiding delays that come with having to return samples to a laboratory for analysis, the methodology could also be used on earth to detect and identify pathogens during epidemics in remote areas."the search for life is a major focus of planetary exploration, but there hasn't been direct life detection instrumentation on a mission since the 70s, during th...