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University of Wisconsin - Madison Engineer Aims to Grow Spinal Tissue in Lab

By Silke Schmid

For a soldier who suffered a spinal cord injury on the battlefield, the promise of regenerative medicine is to fully repair the resulting limb paralysis. But that hope is still years from reality.

“When regenerative medicine started, its stated goal was to replace damaged body parts and restore their function,” says Randolph Ashton, a University of Wisconsin–Madison professor of biomedical engineering. “But one of its less-anticipated applications is the ability to create human tissues and watch diseases occur in a dish, which is extremely powerful for developing new therapies.”

Not only powerful, but efficient. Studying diseases in lab-created tissue may help reduce the price tag — now roughly $1.8 billion — for bringing a new drug to market, which is one of the reasons Ashton received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for advancing tissue engineering of the human spinal cord. During the project’s five-year funding period, his lab in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery will fine-tune the technology for growing a neural tube, the developmental predecessor of the spinal cord, from scratch.

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MSOE Students Making Advancements In Artificial Blood Creation

Students at the Milwaukee School of Engineering say they are working on a possible solution to blood shortages that we have seen in Milwaukee County lately.

The school is calling this discovery groundbreaking and they believe it could potentially change the blood industry in the future.

Students in the bio-molecular engineering program here at MSOE have been working on creating red blood cells for the past several years.

Original story with video

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Antenna design turns entire vehicles into broadcasting equipment

High-frequency antennas transmit radio waves across vast distances and even over mountain ranges using very little energy, making them ideal for military communications. These devices, however, have one big problem: They need to be huge to operate efficiently.

Instead of adding more bulk, University of Wisconsin–Madison engineers are working to increase the effective size of antennas by turning the military vehicles that carry them into transmitters — using the structures that support the antennas themselves to help broadcast signals.

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Britain gives scientists permission to genetically modify human embryos

By Rachel Feltman February 1

 On Monday, Britain's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority greenlighted experiments that will attempt to edit the genes of human embryos. The work, which will be the world's first officially approved use of public funding for human-genome editing, is to be led by The Francis Crick Institute's Kathy Niakan.

The news comes less than a year after the first reports of human-gene editing — published by Chinese scientists in the journal Protein and Cell — using the fantastic and at times troubling technology known as CRISPR. By harnessing an ancient defense mechanism built into bacteria, CRISPR allows scientists to target, delete and replace specific genes. It has been used extensively in other organisms, but research in humans has been slow.

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UW-Madison engineers reveal record-setting flexible phototransistor

MADISON, Wis. -- Inspired by mammals' eyes, University of Wisconsin-Madison electrical engineers have created the fastest, most responsive flexible silicon phototransistor ever made.

The innovative phototransistor could improve the performance of myriad products -- ranging from digital cameras, night-vision goggles and smoke detectors to surveillance systems and satellites -- that rely on electronic light sensors. Integrated into a digital camera lens, for example, it could reduce bulkiness and boost both the acquisition speed and quality of video or still photos.

Developed by UW-Madison collaborators Zhenqiang "Jack" Ma, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and research scientist Jung-Hun Seo, the high-performance phototransistor far and away exceeds all previous flexible phototransistor parameters, including sensitivity and response time.

The researchers published details of their advance this week in the journal Advanced Optical Materials.

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