By monitoring stem cell differentiation on gels that mimic the stiffness and nanofibrous structure of biological tissue, researchers have identified the specific molecules that stem cells use when selecting bone and cartilage fates.
Many in the general public think scientific and technological innovations bring helpful change to society, but they are more concerned than excited when it comes to the potential use of emerging technologies to make people's minds sharper, their bodies stronger and healthier than ever before, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
In 2014, an international trio won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, a technique that made it possible to study molecular processes in living cells. Now a Northwestern Engineering team has improved this groundbreaking technology by making it faster, simpler, less expensive, and increasing its resolution by four fold.
For the first time, researchers led by Tufts University engineers have integrated nano-scale sensors, electronics and microfluidics into threads - ranging from simple cotton to sophisticated synthetics - that can be sutured through multiple layers of tissue to gather diagnostic data wirelessly in real time, according to a paper published in Microsystems & Nanoengineering.
With an eye to the next generation of tech gadgetry, a team of physicists at The University of Texas at Austin has had the first-ever glimpse into what happens inside an atomically thin semiconductor device. In doing so, they discovered that an essential function for computing may be possible within a space so small that it's effectively one-dimensional.
Research completed through a collaboration with University of Missouri engineers, biologists, and chemists could transform how scientists study molecules and cells at sub-microscopic (nanoscale) levels. Shubra Gangopadhyay, an electrical and computer engineer and her team at MU recently published studies outlining a new, relatively inexpensive imaging platform that enables single molecule imaging.
Researchers at MIT's research center in Singapore have developed a new microfluidic device that tests the effects of electric fields on cancer cells. They observed that a range of low-intensity, middle-frequency electric fields effectively stopped breast and lung cancer cells from growing and spreading, while having no adverse effect on neighboring healthy cells.
Ideally, injectable or implantable medical devices should not only be small and electrically functional, they should be soft, like the body tissues with which they interact. Scientists from two UChicago labs set out to see if they could design a material with all three of those properties.
Based on insights from mussels - which are able to attach themselves very tightly to even metallic surfaces due to special proteins found in their byssal threads - scientists from RIKEN have successfully attached a biologically active molecule to a titanium surface, paving the way for implants that can be more biologically beneficial.
Vaccines against killer diseases from polio to hepatitis are fragile and can easily be made useless if they get too hot or too cold. The problem is particularly acute in the developing countries where nearly one in five of the world's population - 1.3 billion people - live without access to electricity.
Graphic: Tiny robots with arms are swimming alondside red blood cells
Even though the field of medical technology has already discovered the nanoworld a long time ago, it is still not as fully researched as it should be. Physicians dream about curing diseases such as cancer with an injection containing nanoparticles. But this is still a long way off in the future since research is continuously facing obstacles.
The trend towards miniaturization is progressing in medical technology. This in turn also means that electronics must be adapted to size relations, for example of implants. Smaller structures and components are in demand as never before. Thus, the demands on the technology and production simultaneously grow.