Thursday, 4 July 2013

Biotechnology - Exercise Reorganizes the Brain to Be More Resilient to Stress

Physical activity reorganizes the brain so that its response to stress is reduced and anxiety is less likely to interfere with normal brain function, according to a research team based at Princeton University.

The researchers report in the Journal of Neuroscience that when mice allowed to exercise regularly experienced a stressor -- exposure to cold water -- their brains exhibited a spike in the activity of neurons that shut off excitement in the ventral hippocampus, a brain region shown to regulate anxiety.
These findings potentially resolve a discrepancy in research related to the effect of exercise on the brain -- namely that exercise reduces anxiety while also promoting the growth of new neurons in the ventral hippocampus. Because these young neurons are typically more excitable than their more mature counterparts, exercise should result in more anxiety, not less. The Princeton-led researchers, however, found that exercise also strengthens the mechanisms that prevent these brain cells from firing.

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Biotechnology - Antifreeze, Cheap Materials May Lead to Low-Cost Solar Energy


          A process combining some comparatively cheap materials and the same antifreeze that keeps an automobile radiator from freezing in cold weather may be the key to making solar cells that cost less and avoid toxic compounds, while further expanding the use of solar energy.

          And when perfected, this approach might also cook up the solar cells in a microwave oven similar to the one in most kitchens.
Engineers at Oregon State University have determined that ethylene glycol, commonly used in antifreeze products, can be a low-cost solvent that functions well in a "continuous flow" reactor -- an approach to making thin-film solar cells that is easily scaled up for mass production at industrial levels.

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Thursday, 4 April 2013

Third-Generation Device Significantly Improves Capture of Circulating Tumor Cells

A new system for isolating rare circulating tumor cells (CTCs) -- living solid tumor cells found at low levels in the bloodstream -- shows significant improvement over previously developed devices and does not require prior identification of tumor-specific target molecules. Developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center for Engineering in Medicine and the MGH Cancer Center, the device rapidly delivers a population of unlabeled tumor cells that can be analyzed with both standard clinical diagnostic cytopathology and advanced genetic and molecular technology.

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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Saturn V Engines Recovered in Atlantic

Some of the powerful engines that sent the first humans to the moon have been recovered from the sea. Jeff Bezos, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the aerospace company Blue Origin and, announced on Wednesday, March 20, that his expedition has recovered two of the Saturn V's first-stage engines from the Atlantic Ocean.

The F-1 engine -- the most powerful single-nozzle, liquid-fueled rocket engine ever developed -- boosted the Saturn V rocket off the launch pad and on to the moon during NASA's Apollo program during the 1960s and 1970s. NASA is again looking at the large gas generator cycle engine to help develop the nation's next heavy-lift launch vehicle the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Hope for Autism Lies in Century-Old Drug

Testing a new theory, researchers have used a newly discovered function of an old drug to restore cell communications in a mouse model of autism, reversing symptoms of the disorder.

“Our cell danger theory suggests that autism happens because cells get stuck in a defensive metabolic mode and fail to talk to each other normally, which can interfere with brain development and function,” says Robert Naviaux, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and co-director of the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. “We used a class of drugs that has been around for almost a century to treat other diseases to block the ‘danger’ signal in a mouse model, allowing cells to return to normal metabolism and restore cell communication.”

Nearly a dozen UC San Diego scientists from different disciplines collaborated to find a unifying mechanism that explains autism. Describing a completely new theory for the origin and treatment of autism using antipurinergic therapy (APT), Dr. Naviaux and colleagues introduce the concept that a large majority of both genetic and environmental causes for autism act by producing a sustained cell danger response—the metabolic state underlying innate immunity and inflammation.“When cells are exposed to classical forms of dangers, such as a virus, infection, or toxic environmental substance, a defense mechanism is activated,” Dr. Naviaux explained. “This results in changes to metabolism and gene expression, and reduces the communication between neighboring cells. Simply put, when cells stop talking to each other, children stop talking.”

Since mitochondria play a central role in both infectious and noninfectious cellular stress, innate immunity, and inflammation, Dr. Naviaux and colleagues searched for a signaling system in the body that was both linked to mitochondria and critical for innate immunity. They found it in extracellular nucleotides like adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and other mitokines—signaling molecules made by distressed mitochondria.

These mitokines have separate metabolic functions outside of the cell where they bind to and regulate receptors present on every cell of the body. Fifteen types of purinergic receptors are known to be stimulated by these extracellular nucleotides, and the receptors are known to control a broad range of biological characteristics with relevance to autism.The researchers tested suramin—a well-known inhibitor of purinergic signaling used medically for the treatment of African sleeping sickness since shortly after it was synthesized in 1916—in mice. They found that this APT mediator corrected autism-like symptoms in the animal model, even if the treatment was started well after the onset of symptoms.

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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Philips Wants Devs' Bright Ideas for Its Web-Connected Light Bulbs

Dutch electronics giant Philips, which launched its Hue Web-connected LED home lighting system in October, released a development kit Monday in the hopes of integrating official applications -- and more possible home uses -- for its technology.

Developers can use the API as they choose, and can keep all their earnings from commercializing products. Some have already developed unofficial Hue apps, and Philips is trying to organize a robust development community that can lead to other potential devices for consumers to monitor and control home environments.

"It's my understanding that Philips does see a broad market for this offering and has invested appropriately in developing and promoting the product and the technology behind it," said Jonathan Collins, a principal analyst at ABI Research.
"There's a market for not just light bulbs, but also for connecting devices in the home," Julien Blin, a directing analyst at Infonetics, told TechNewsWorld. "But, until you add more intelligence -- meaning if you can make it connected to all other appliances in the home and add a smart algorithm that could learn and predict personal behaviors -- this might remain a science project."

For details visit: Philips Wants Devs' Bright Ideas for Its Web-Connected Light Bulbs

Indian Origins of Pumpkins and Cucumbers Confirmed

  In 2010, it was shown that melons and cucumbers can be traced back to India. Because of the importance of the region for an understanding of Cucurbitaceae evolution and diversity, a new checklist of the Cucurbitaceae of India was produced to update the information on that family.

   The study was published in the open access journal PhytoKeys.
   Vegetables are essential components of a healthy daily diet, not just in India but around the globe. Compared to grains and pulses, however, vegetables are under-investigated taxonomically, and information on their genome is scarce. The cucumber family, Cucurbitaceae, includes many of our favorite foods: pumpkins, melon, cucumber, watermelon, bottle gourds, and bitter gourd. Molecular data have recently revealed that both cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) and melon (Cucumis melo L.) are indigenous to India and likely to have originated from the foothills of the Himalayas.
   Arun Pandey from the Department of Botany, University of Delhi, India and Susanne Renner from the Departments of Systematic Botany and Mycology, University of Munich, Germany decided to produce a checklist of the Cucurbitaceae of India that would bring up-to-date the information available for that family. The list treats 400 relevant names and provides information on the collecting locations for all type specimens. The list includes 94 species (10 of them endemic to India) from 31 genera.

For more visit: Indian origins of pumpkins and cucumbers confirmed