*Princeton head leads bioethics debate. So did the workload of Princeton
University President Harold T. Shapiro.
*Starvation may be the key to living longer (Sydney Morning Herald)
*Today is the deadline for the discount of the Foresight Conference
*7th Foresight Conference on Molecular NanotechnologyOctober 15-17, 1999
Tutorial October 14Silicon Valley, California http://www.foresight.org/Conferences/MNT7
*The force of gravity is the same for atoms and baseballs. Stanford
physicists have put a modern twist on Galileo's classic 16thcentury experiment of dropping objects from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. http://www.stanford.edu/dept/news/pr/99/atomgravity990825.html
*Solar cells forever
One of the biggest problems with solar cells is they tend to wear out with time. Now David Cahen of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, may have found a way to make them so they last forever. Cahen and his colleagues used copper indium gallium diselenide, a novel material in which it seems that copper atoms can diffuse to damaged areas and effectively heal damage caused by long exposure to light. The solar cells are as efficient as the best ones that are commercially available and may turn out to be cheaper.
ref: Advanced Materials, August 1999.
*Worm aids medical research
An Irish scientist working in Paris is using a microscopic worm in research that could in time lead to cures for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's. (The Irish Times) http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/science/1999/0830/sci1.htm
*A Workout For Your Brain- Forget About Kickboxing: How About Neurobics?
Through Mental Exercises, Keep Your Brain Young. http://www.cbs.com/flat/story_180254.html
*Diagnostic Imaging-Getting the inside view. (Mayo Clinic)
Remember how neat and tidy medical practice was in the original Star Trek television series? Dr. McCoy ("Bones") could instantaneously diagnose a crew member's malady simply by waving a hand-held tricorder over whatever hurt. Real-life diagnostic imaging has not quite progressed to the Star Trek level. But the growth of technology has allowed for astounding changes in how the human body can be viewed.
http://www.mayohealth.org/mayo/9908/htm/imaging.htm (Or see Purdue news) New sensing device reads chemical make up in real time. http://news.uns.purdue.edu/html4ever/9909.Ben.Amotz.sensor.html
*Mozart Sonata's IQ Impact. Can music improve your metal capabilities? (A
*Researchers at the Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and
Environmental Laboratory are creating durable membranes that can be specially tailored to separate different chemicals from water. Fred Stewart, a chemist at the INEEL, will be present his group's work at the 218th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society on Aug. 24 in New Orleans, La.
*Extraterrestrial Water Found Trapped in Meteorite (NASA)
*Head transplants not just the realm of science fiction.
A leading U.S. brain surgeon has unveiled plans to perform the first human head transplant -- a procedure that has already been carried out successfully on dogs and monkeys. It will be offered initially to mortally ill tycoons, who can afford its $2-million Cdn price tag. http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/stories/990829/2789568.html
*Cornell Physicists Report A Breakthrough In Writing Data To Magnetic Chips
That Could Store "Terabits" Of Information Cornell University researchers have demonstrated a new way to write information to magnetic material that could lead to new computer memory chips that will have a very high storage capacity and will be non-volatile, meaning they would not require a constant electric current flowing to maintain stored information. http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/Aug99/magnetic_memory.ws.html
*Researchers studying three families with the same unusual sleep pattern
have uncovered the first hereditary sleep disorder in humans caused by a single gene. Neurologist Christopher Jones and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Louis Ptácek, both at the University of Utah, are now searching for the gene that causes the disorder known as familial advanced sleep phase syndrome (FASPS). http://www.hhmi.org/news/ptacek.htm
*Scientists provide first detailed maps of wiring circuitry in the living
St. Louis, Aug. 31, 1999 -- Researchers have developed a way to visualize nerve fiber bundles that transmit information between different areas of the living human brain. Their study provides new information on the orderly pattern of these fiber connections and may one day lead to improvements in brain surgery, diagnosis of brain ailments, and understanding of neurological diseases.
*Making Mice Live Longer
Researchers Examine Aging’s Effects on Genes in Mice http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/DailyNews/aging_genes990826.html
*Researchers overcome hurdle of transporting large amounts of DNA to the
nucleus using nonviral vectors. University of Pennsylvania bioengineers increased the expression of marker DNA in cardiovascular cells by 60 times over previous attempts with nonviral vectors. They combined a short genetic tag from a nuclear protein with the standard marker gene, which provided the molecular key to the nucleus.
*Gene chip to aid in research on aging (The San Diego Union-Tribune) Biologists have gained a deep insight into the nature of aging by means of a new device known as a gene expression chip. The chip has shown both that a specific pattern of genetic changes occurs in aging, and that these changes can be largely prevented by caloric restriction: putting mice on a diet with only 75 percent of normal calories. The research supports the long-standing idea that a semistarvation diet prolongs life in mice, and maybe people, but its wider significance is that the chip offers for the first time a way to measure aging at the cellular level. The gene chip, about the size of a business card but roughly one- quarter of an inch thick, is made of glass and contains DNA. When read by a laser, the device quickly reveals activity levels for thousands of individual genes in tissue placed in it. Similar chips should help to test whether present anti-aging remedies do any good and to screen for better drugs, including perhaps ones that might give the same effect as low calorie diets but without the pain. "If we understood how caloric restriction works we might be able someday to elicit its benefits without having to undergo the dietary restriction, so in that sense this is a very important study," said Dr. Leonard Guarente, an expert on aging at the [ Massachusetts Institute of Technology ] . The new research, reported in today's issue of Science, builds on the view held by many biologists that aging is not an inexorable process but rather the outcome of a genetic program that could be manipulated. It also gives comfort to those who argue that a manageably small number of genes are involved. The study, by Dr. Richard Weindruch, Dr. Tomas Prolla and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, depends on injecting mouse muscle samples into the special chip. Made by Affymetrix of Santa Clara, the chip was programmed to recognize the activity of some 6,000 mouse genes. Mice probably have about 100,000 different genes, and the 6,000 were those whose DNA sequence had already been decoded and filed in public data banks. Weindruch is known for his studies of caloric restriction in mice and he has in progress a long term study with rhesus monkeys to see if their life span can be extended by a low calorie diet. In the new study, Weindruch and Prolla looked first at the muscles of elderly mice fed a normal mouse diet and then at mice of the same age who had been on a diet restricted in calories. They examined the animals' calf muscles because muscle, along with the brain and heart, is one of the tissues not renewed during life and often is the first to show signs of aging. Providing the first broad snapshot of how gene activity changes in the aging cell, the Affymetrix chip shows that in elderly mice fed a normal diet, most of the cell's genes continue as usual. But 1 percent of the genes -- those involved in responding to stress and to nerve damage -- become very much more active. Another 1 percent, genes involved in generating energy from glucose, become very much less active. In elderly mice of the same age fed a diet restricted in calories, the researchers report, most of these changes were prevented, giving the cells a profile similar to those of much younger cells. But cells from the mice on restricted diets had their own pattern of changes, notably decreased activity by genes that repair damaged DNA and proteins. Weindruch and Prolla believe most of these changes can be explained in terms of the chemical damage caused by glucose metabolism. The process of combining glucose with oxygen creates harmful chemicals known as free radicals that damage many structures in the cell, particularly the energy-generating units known as mitochondria. The gene expression chip, they believe, will allow them to pinpoint the genetic changes that underlie aging in human tissues. "The technique allows us to measure the aging process at the molecular level. Now for the first time we have molecular biomarkers of aging," Prolla said, referring to the characteristic patterns of gene expression revealed by the Affymetrix chip. "It's our goal to test a patient's biological age from a drop of blood," Weindruch said. Affymetrix has already produced chips programmed to detect the activity of human genes. (Copyright 1999) _____via IntellX_____
*Organogenesis' Conditioned Medium Stimulates Generation of Vital New Skin
Cells (Bus. Wire)
CANTON, Mass.--(BW HealthWire)--Aug. 30, 1999--[ Organogenesis Inc. ] (AMEX:ORG) today announced the presentation of data on its conditioned medium at the European Tissue Repair Society/Wound Healing Society multinational meeting in Bordeaux, France. In this presentation, the conditioned medium was shown to stimulate the generation of new skin cells. This conditioned medium is being evaluated for potential cosmetic and skin care applications. About Conditioned Medium -Organogenesis manufactures the only FDA-approved medical product containing living human skin cells. Conditioned medium is produced during this manufacturing process by the interaction of the healthy young skin cells, which are producing cytokines and other growth factors, with the Company's proprietary cell culture medium. Study Design and Findings -The presentation, entitled "Effect of Growth Factors Secreted from Bioengineered Living Tissue on the Migration of Human Keratinocytes", discussed the effects of conditioned medium on the generation of new human skin cells in vitro. The effects of conditioned medium were compared with those of Organogenesis' proprietary cell culture medium prior to cell exposure, which served as a control. The data show that the conditioned medium stimulates the generation of the key cell types found in healthy human skin. Exposure to conditioned medium was shown to stimulate growth of new keratinocytes (epidermal cells), fibroblasts (dermal cells) and endothelial cells (blood vessel cells) more than the baseline cell culture medium. The effect was also concentration dependent, with higher concentrations producing a greater effect than lower concentrations. About Organogenesis -Organogenesis Inc. designs, develops and manufactures medical products containing living cells and/or natural connective tissue. The Company's product development focus includes living tissue replacements, cell-based organ assist devices and other tissue- engineered products. Lead product Apligraf living skin construct is marketed in the US and Canada. The research pipeline also includes VITRIX(TM) living soft tissue replacement, a bioartificial liver and a vascular graft. Statements in this press release which are not historical fact are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and involve risks and uncertainties. There can be no assurance that Organogenesis Conditioned medium will be used in cosmetic or skin care products or of the commercial acceptance of these products when and if marketed. (Copyright 1999) _____via IntellX_____
*DALLAS, August 31-- In the largest study of its kind, researchers have
found that consuming two to six alcoholic drinks per week was associated with a reduced risk of sudden cardiac death in men, according to a report in today's Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. "This is the largest prospective study to look at alcohol consumption and sudden cardiac death in men and the first prospective study to find a reduction in sudden cardiac death from light drinking," says Christine M. Albert, M.D., associate physician in the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Albert is also a cardiac electrophysiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
*August 30: North by Northwest to Catch A Neutrino in the Act - A
century-old radiation detection tool may be pressed into service to see if neutrinos change flavor. The answer may change our models of subatomic particles and the universe.
*3-D, virtual man simulates radiation's effect on the body
Xie George Xu, assistant professor of nuclear engineering and engineering physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has created a 3-D virtual man called "Visible Photographic Man" (VIP-Man) that is so sophisticated it can model the effects of radiation on the skin, lens of the eye, optic nerve, GI- tract mucous membranes, and bone marrow--areas previously too minute to accurately model, but which are highly susceptible to radiation. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/research/visible/
*Could physicists accidentally make killer black holes or lethal strange
matter that would swallow the Earth? (New Scientist Planet Science article) http://www.newscientist.co.uk/ns/19990828/ablackhole.html
*Scientists have looked inside the cells of Dolly the cloned sheep to
determine the origin of her genetic material. What they found surprised them and may provide useful information to researchers who study inherited diseases like neuromuscular and kidney problems, which are passed down on the mother_s side only.
*Researchers Wonder How to Make
Robots Work With People
1.00 p.m. ET (1700 GMT) August 30, 1999 By Tim Molloy PITTSBURGH — Scientists are learning to make robots that do what they're supposed to do when they're supposed to do it. Now if only human beings would play along. A Carnegie Mellon research assistant makes an adjustment to a robot designed to search for landmines. Researchers from all over the world gathered Sunday at Carnegie Mellon University to show each other the latest in robots made to help their human masters. One common problem: making the programmed machines work alongside unpredictable human nature. For example, a team of scientists at Carnegie Mellon is working on robots that serve as museum guides. The technology could eventually be used to build robot nurses. But kids at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., had other ideas when a robot named Minerva debuted there last summer — they jumped on Minerva and tried to take it for a ride. To make sure people respected Minerva's space, designers gave it a voice and moving mouth and eyebrows. "I need to get through," the robot said, frowning at Smithsonian guests who dawdled in front of it. Minerva smiled at those who moved. People responded, said Sebastian Thrun, a Carnegie Mellon assistant computer science professor working on the museum robots. Thrun's conclusion: People like it when machines interact with them. Now he's using that theory when building other robots. Most of the technology spotlighted Sunday is not yet available commercially, but researchers are hopeful. Among those looking for corporate sponsorship was Gerard Lacey, a designer from Ireland's Trinity College. His team tested robots to help blind and elderly people who don't have the strength to walk with canes or guide dogs. The robot, which resembles a lawn mower, allows blind people to walk holding its handles for support. They point the robot in the direction they want to go, and its built-in sensors slow it down and stop it from hitting walls. The robot became popular quickly at a nursing home where it was tested. "Life in a nursing home is very regimented," Lacey said. "There's a time for bingo, there's a time for tea. There's a time for whatever. Now there was a time to walk around. They guarded it very jealously." Meeting older people's needs called for some adjustments, Lacey said. At one point the robot had a joystick like those used in arcade games, which had to change. "Elderly people have never used a joystick in their life," he said. "It's probably not going to be a successful interface for them." Other robots unveiled Sunday included a wheelchair that automatically finds its way through shifting crowds. Once the chair is programmed to move in a given direction, the person sitting in it can ride with hands folded as the chair charts the movements of people nearby, chooses a path around them and moves at normal walking speed. Another robot tracked people's eye movements. One of the designers, Alex Zalinski of Australian National University, said it could be used in cars to make sure drivers are keeping their eyes open and on the road, even if they move their heads or change the lighting in the car. (Fox)
*LONDON — Computer software that evolves like a human brain is set to try to
pick winners on the stock market. http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/
*SMART DUSTClean freaks have a new rationale for their pathological hatred
of dust - it could soon be spying on them. Packed full of sensors, particles of "smart dust" are being designed to communicate with one another. The tiny dust particles, called "motes" are being developed at the University of California as part of a program to produce the smallest possible devices that can communicate with each other. The latest motes not only have a battery powering them but also a solar cell to recharge the battery. Today each of these motes is five millimetres long, but researchers say in the future they could be small enough to remain suspended in mid-air, buoyed by air currents, sensing and communicating for hours. And why, you ask? Researchers say in the future, we could send smart dust in the air to detect chemical weapons, conducting space research, or monitoringweather patters.
*WEARABLE COMPUTERS GO ACEDEMIC
When "wearable computers" are discussed, many people in the computer science industry think of Steve Mann. Mr. Mann has had a computer and wireless video camera strapped to him for nearly 20 years now. He transmits what his camera sees 24 hours a day on his web site at http://www.wearcam.org . And now, what seemed like an oddity has gone acedemic: Mann is now a professor at the University of Toronto where he is teaching post-graduate studies in, well, walking around with a camera on your head. (Of course, the U of T calls it "computer mediated interaction.") :-) When he started in 1980, you could barely pick out a person from behind all the gear; now, all you see is a guy wearing sunglasses. The glasses are actually computer monitors, and all the high-tech gadgetry is under his shirt.
*DNA FOR THE DEADWe've seen cremation jewelry and designer caskets with
that included even golf - a ``Fairway to Heaven'' motif. Now funeral homes are beginning to collect DNA samples from the dead - for a fee - to preserve a genetic record that could provide medical information. While experts are divided on the usefulness of the data, some think the service will be a strong seller - and that in the future, nearly every funeral home might offer the service. For $350, the service retains a bit of hair, some blood, and body fluids. The samples are sent to a lab where molecular biologists extract the DNA and sends the family a confidential genetic fingerprint of the deceased. But not everyone thinks this is a great idea - ethicists question taking DNA from people before getting their approval before they die. The DNA samples also could be used to determine paternity, which might reveal a few unexpected and unwanted surprises. making some secrets taken to the grave a thing of the past.
12-year-old Emily Lang is no stranger to surgeries. She's already had 121 of them correct bone deformities she was born with. But the one she underwent a couple of weeks ago was different. Physicians applied bone protein to holes in Emily's skull. The protein is a new synthetically created product that kickstarts molecular activity that causes the body to grow new bone-forming cells called osteoblasts. These osteoblasts then develop into healthy new bone structures. Emily was the first child to ever have the protein applied to existing bone and have it successfully grow. Until now, it's only been used to grow bone in lab animals. In the future, the development could help heal athletic injuries faster and possibly correct birth defects before the child is born.
*PACEMAKERS FOR THE BRAINYou've heard of pacemakers, the electric devices
thousands of heart patients. Well now comes word of a pacemaker for the brain - one that in the future could help people with epilepsy. It works like this: surgeons make a pocket in the chest to hold a small transmitter. When the patient feels a seizure coming on, they simply place a magnet across their chest. That gives the episode a shorter duration and makes it seem less intense. The nerve stimulator has a generator similar to those used in heart pacemakers - and it's powered by a battery that can last up to five years. Researchers are taking what they've learned from this device and trying to find other neuro-conditions that may be helped by this implant.
(Last 5 from Tod Maffin)
I'm back from vacation and ready to repair my computer withdrawl symptoms.
Gina "Nanogirl" Miller
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