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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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UW-Stout: 8th Annual Manufacturing Advantage Conference & Technology Showcase November 4-5, 2015

University of Wisconsin - Stout Campus: Menomonie, Wisconsin

The Manufacturing Advantage Conference provides a forum for manufacturers from across the region to learn best practices and participate in practical learning through interactive, hands-on breakout sessions, industry-expert keynote speakers and ample networking opportunities. We strive to carry on a solid tradition of providing impactful experiences to help manufacturers succeed in the areas of strategic direction, top-line growth, process improvement and people and culture.

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Lovell looks to boost Marquette research

Marquette University President Michael Lovell says he wants to double research at Marquette over the next five years.

Speaking at Thursday’s WIN-Milwaukee meeting, Lovell highlighted investments the university has made in facilities and programs that foster innovation, including the purchase of 12.5 acres in downtown Milwaukee that will house an athletic research facility. Developed in partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks and an unnamed health care provider, Lovell said the facility will provide a global draw to the university.

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From pluripotency to totipotency

While it is already possible to obtain in vitro pluripotent cells (ie, cells capable of generating all tissues of an embryo) from any cell type, researchers from Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla’s team have pushed the limits of science even further. They managed to obtain totipotent cells with the same characteristics as those of the earliest embryonic stages and with even more interesting properties. Obtained in collaboration with Juanma Vaquerizas from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine (Münster, Germany), these results are published on 3rd of August in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

Just after fertilization, when the embryo is comprised of only 1 or 2 cells, cells are “totipotent“, that is to say, capable of producing an entire embryo as well as the placenta and umbilical cord that accompany it. During the subsequent rounds of cell division, cells rapidly lose this plasticity and become “pluripotent”. At the blastocyst stage (about thirty cells), the so-called “embryonic stem cells” can differentiate into any tissue, although they alone cannot give birth to a foetus anymore. Pluripotent cells then continue to specialise and form the various tissues of the body through a process called cellular differentiation.

For some years, it has been possible to re-programme differentiated cells into pluripotent ones, but not into totipotent cells. Now, the team of Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla has studied the characteristics of totipotent cells of the embryo and found factors capable of inducing a totipotent-like state.

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Programming adult stem cells to treat muscular dystrophy and more by mimicking nature

"Inducing Stem Cell Myogenesis Using NanoScript" ACS Nano

Stem cells hold great potential for addressing a variety of conditions from spinal cord injuries to cancer, but they can be difficult to control. Scientists are now reporting in the journal ACS Nano a new way to mimic the body’s natural approach to programming these cells. Using this method, they successfully directed adult stem cells to turn specifically into muscle, which could potentially help treat patients with muscular dystrophy.

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Boosting gas mileage by turning engine heat into electricity

"Thermoelectric Power Generation from Lanthanum Strontium Titanium Oxide at Room Temperature Through the Addition of Graphene" ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces

Automakers are looking for ways to improve their fleets’ average fuel efficiency, and scientists may have a new way to help them. In a report in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, one team reports the development of a material that could convert engine heat that’s otherwise wasted into electrical energy to help keep a car running — and reduce the need for fuels. It could also have applications in aerospace, manufacturing and other sectors.

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Wisconsin doctor's invention could benefit patients, investors

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Nearly 10 years ago, Bradley Glenn, a Green Bay doctor, saw a need for a less-invasive way to deliver chemotherapy, antibiotics and nutrients to his patients.

His solution has become the core of a small Wisconsin start-up that is aiming to deliver a big payday to investors.

Stealth Therapeutics Inc. on Tuesday will begin a trial at two Wisconsin health care organizations to determine the best potential market for the company's Invisiport, a vascular access port that is implanted under the skin in a patient's arm.

"Our goal is to use the results from the study to ramp up use of the Invisiport throughout the country," said Sam Adams, Stealth's general manager. "Future commercial success will help us to create a return for our shareholders."

In essence, the study is intended to show potential acquirers how much value the device could add to their product mix, said Ken Johnson, a director of Stealth and the managing director of Kegonsa Capital Partners. Kegonsa is a major investor in Stealth, which has raised a total of $3.35 million, Adams said.

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Elastic Gel to Heal Wounds

A team of bioengineers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), led by Ali Khademhosseini, PhD, and Nasim Annabi, PhD, of the Biomedical Engineering Division, has developed a new protein-based gel that, when exposed to light, mimics many of the properties of elastic tissue, such as skin and blood vessels. In a paper published in Advanced Functional Materials, the research team reports on the new material’s key properties, many of which can be finely tuned, and on the results of using the material in preclinical models of wound healing.

“We are very interested in engineering strong, elastic materials from proteins because so many of the tissues within the human body are elastic. If we want to use biomaterials to regenerate those tissues, we need elasticity and flexibility,” said Annabi, a co-senior author of the study. “Our hydrogel is very flexible, made from a biocompatible polypeptide and can be activated using light.”

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UW-Madison: Dark energy to be topic of Space Place event

"To Infinity and Beyond: The Accelerating Universe," a live broadcast from the World Science Festival about dark energy, an antigravitational force that confounds the conventional laws of physics, will be hosted on the evening of May 28 by UW-Madison'sSpace Place.

Originating from New York and moderated by internationally known theoretical physicist and bestselling author Lawrence Krauss, the broadcast will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Space Place, the UW-Madison astronomy outreach outpost, is located in the Villager Mall, 2300 S. Park St. The event will be held in the mall atrium.

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