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CleanTech Partners, Inc., wins $1.5 million U.S. Department of Energy Grant for the Development of Cellulosic Ethanol

MADISON, Wis. (November 28, 2006) – CleanTech Partners received notification from the U.S. Department of Energy that its proposal for producing cellulosic ethanol at paper mills by extracting the sugars from wood chips before they are pulped for paper making has been funded. The total project cost is nearly $2.7 million, of which the Department of Energy will contribute just over $1.5 million.

Masood Akhtar, CleanTech Partners’ President and principal investigator on this project, led the consortium that applied for the grant. Other participants included a major pulp and paper company with numerous locations in Wisconsin, the USDA Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin as well a number of other non-Wisconsin paper companies, universities and enzyme companies.

The research project has two major focuses:

• Use of enzymes, acids and other additives to aid extraction of hemicellulose sugars from wood chips prior to pulping for paper fiber, while maintaining the value and quality of the pulp and paper products.

• High-yield conversion of the complex mixture of sugars and their fermentation to ethanol, with recovery of marketable acetic acid as a co-product.

The resulting chips should be more easily pulped since diffusion of the pulping chemicals should be enhanced, and the energy needed to break the chips down into paper fibers should be reduced. If successful, a typical Kraft-process paper mill could produce 10-15 million gallons of ethanol each year using the new technology, without adversely affecting paper production or quality. Additional environmental and commercial benefits would come from the use of wood resources that have a well-developed and sustainable production and harvesting infrastructure.

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Nanotechnology hits a patent roadblock

PROCESSING APPLICATIONS TAKES NEARLY FOUR YEARS
By Jon Van
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO - Just as it's getting traction spawning new companies and products, the hot nanotechnology sector is running into a roadblock at the U.S. Patent Office.

As the time it takes to process patent applications now averages almost four years, double the time it took in 2004, nanotech entrepreneurs are beginning to worry that their ability to raise money to develop products may be stifled.

``Clearly there's a danger,'' Stephen Maebius, a partner in the Foley & Lardner law firm, said of the patent application backlog. ``If you cross a threshold and it's taking too long, potential financial backers wonder if what you have is patentable or not.''

Full story.

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Nanotechnology impacts under UW staffs' microscopes

Nanotechnology impacts under UW staffs' microscopes
By Bill Novak
Federal regulators are clamping down on the use of microscopic particles of silver in consumer products because of potential harmful effects on the environment, but scientists are working on testing standards as the new nanotechnology industries develop, according to a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor.


The Environmental Protection Agency announced new regulations this week on the use of nanosilver, tiny particles of silver a few ten-thousandths the diameter of a human hair thick, that have been infused into products such as food containers, shoe liners and bandages to kill bacteria.

The EPA decided that since germ-fighting nanosilver could also possibly be killing beneficial bacteria and aquatic organisms if particles wash down the drain into the water system, it now falls under the guidelines of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, according to an article this week in the Washington Post.

This could be bad news for companies that make products using nanosilver as a germ-fighting feature, but it is a problem the emerging nanotechnology sciences pose for government agencies empowered to regulate them and to safeguard the public from potential health hazards.

UW-Madison has about 80 nanotechnology researchers in various departments on campus.

One of the scientists working on the evolving technology is David C. Schwartz, professor of chemistry and genetics.


Full story.

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Genetic breakthrough that reveals the differences between humans

Scientists hail genetic discovery that will change human understanding
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 23 November 2006

Scientists have discovered a dramatic variation in the genetic make-up of humans that could lead to a fundamental reappraisal of what causes incurable diseases and could provide a greater understanding of mankind.

The discovery has astonished scientists studying the human genome - the genetic recipe of man. Until now it was believed the variation between people was due largely to differences in the sequences of the individual " letters" of the genome.

It now appears much of the variation is explained instead by people having multiple copies of some key genes that make up the human genome.

Until now it was assumed that the human genome, or "book of life", is largely the same for everyone, save for a few spelling differences in some of the words. Instead, the findings suggest that the book contains entire sentences, paragraphs or even whole pages that are repeated any number of times.

The findings mean that instead of humanity being 99.9 per cent identical, as previously believed, we are at least 10 times more different between one another than once thought - which could explain why some people are prone to serious diseases.

The studies published today have found that instead of having just two copies of each gene - one from each parent - people can carry many copies, but just how many can vary between one person and the next.

The studies suggest variations in the number of copies of genes is normal and healthy. But the scientists also believe many diseases may be triggered by an abnormal loss or gain in the copies of some key genes.

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World's largest superconducting magnet switches on

Geneva, 20 November 2006. The largest superconducting magnet ever built has successfully been powered up to its nominal operating conditions at the first attempt. Called the Barrel Toroid because of its shape, this magnet provides a powerful magnetic field for ATLAS, one of the major particle detectors being prepared to take data at CERN1's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the new particle accelerator scheduled to turn on in November 2007.

The ATLAS Barrel Toroid consists of eight superconducting coils, each in the shape of a round-cornered rectangle, 5m wide, 25m long and weighing 100 tonnes, all aligned to millimetre precision. It will work together with other magnets in ATLAS to bend the paths of charged particles produced in collisions at the LHC, enabling important properties to be measured. Unlike most particle detectors, the ATLAS detector does not need large quantities of metal to contain the field because the field is contained within a doughnut shape defined by the coils. This increases the precision of the measurements it can make.

At 46m long, 25m wide and 25m high, ATLAS is the largest volume detector ever constructed for particle physics. Among the questions ATLAS will focus on are why particles have mass, what the unknown 96% of the Universe is made of, and why Nature prefers matter to antimatter. Some 1800 scientists from 165 universities and laboratories representing 35 countries are building the ATLAS detector and preparing to take data next year.

The ATLAS Barrel Toroid was first cooled down over a six-week period in July-August to reach –269°C . It was then powered up step-by-step to higher and higher currents, reaching 21 thousand amps for the first time during the night of 9 November. This is 500 amps above the current needed to produce the nominal magnetic field. Afterwards, the current was switched off and the stored magnetic energy of 1.1 GigaJoules, the equivalent of about 10 000 cars travelling at 70km/h, has now been safely dissipated, raising the cold mass of the magnet to –218°C.

"We can now say that the ATLAS Barrel Toroid is ready for physics," said Herman ten Kate, ATLAS magnet system project leader.

Full story.

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UW technology transfer extends reach

UW technology transfer extends reach
Marshfield Clinic will be first non-university client
By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Nov. 21, 2006

Marshfield Clinic said Monday that it will become the first organization outside of the state's public university system to use the system's technology transfer expertise to commercialize the work of researchers.

Marshfield has signed a contract with WiSys Technology Foundation Inc. that will give the clinic instant patenting and licensing expertise and encourage collaboration between Marshfield and state public research institutions.

"It literally just fast-forwards our development cycle for the technology transfer office overnight," said Robert A. Carlson, director of Marshfield Clinic Applied Sciences, which will oversee the agreement.

WiSys is a subsidiary of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, one of the oldest and most successful university technology transfer organizations in the country. It is an arm of the University of Wisconsin system.

WARF, armed with a $1.6 billion endowment, does patenting and commercialization work for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the biggest academic research institutions in the country with more than $750 million of annual research spending.

Marshfield has a much smaller effort with about $25 million of annual spending, about the size of that of UW-Milwaukee. The clinic has more than 700 physicians and is one of the largest private group medical practices in the U.S. - and it has specializations in important areas such as human genetics, agricultural health and safety and bioinformatics.

Full story.

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Heads win at Viasys NeuroCare

Heads win at Viasys NeuroCare
JUDY NEWMAN jdnewman@madison.com
Viasys NeuroCare is a Fitchburg company that wants to keep an eye on your brain.

The company received federal approval this week to start selling a product in the United States that will help accomplish that.

Sonara is a noninvasive, transcranial, digital Doppler system. That means it measures the speed of blood flowing through arteries in your brain by sending high-frequency sound waves coursing through your head, providing 250 views inside the brain.

Not only can Sonara find blood clots that may be causing a stroke, it may also help break up those clots, said Lori Cross, group president of Viasys NeuroCare.

Clinical trials indicate that used with a clot-busting drug, Sonara can expand the window of opportunity to minimize stroke damage to six hours after a stroke occurs, from the current three hours, Cross said.

"It's a very exciting opportunity for stroke patients," she said.

For now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Sonara's use to diagnose and monitor blood clots. Tests are still under way on its use as a treatment, said Viasys product engineer Mike Keller.

Full story.

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U-M researchers use nanoparticles to target brain cancer

U-M researchers use nanoparticles to target brain cancer

Nanoparticles can carry drugs designed to image, treat tumors, study finds

ANN ARBOR, MI – Tiny particles one-billionth of a meter in size can be loaded with high concentrations of drugs designed to kill brain cancer. What’s more, these nanoparticles can be used to image and track tumors as well as destroy them, according to researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Researchers incorporated a drug called Photofrin along with iron oxide into nanoparticles that would target cancerous brain tumors. Photofrin is a type of photodynamic therapy, in which the drug is drawn through the blood stream to tumor cells; a special type of laser light activates the drug to attack the tumor. Iron oxide is a contrast agent used to enhance magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI.

“Photofrin goes into tumor blood vessels and collapses the vasculature, which then starves the tumor of the blood flow needed to survive. The problem with free photofrin therapy is that it can cause damage to healthy tissue. In our study, the nanoparticle becomes a vehicle to deliver the drug directly to the tumor,” says study author Brian Ross, Ph.D., professor of radiology at the U-M Medical School and co-director of Molecular Imaging at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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Silver bullet: UGA researchers use laser, nanotechnology to rapidly detect viruses

Silver bullet: UGA researchers use laser, nanotechnology to rapidly detect viruses
Writer: Sam Fahmy, 706/542-5361, sfahmy@uga.edu
Contact: Ralph Tripp, 706/542-1557, rtripp@vet.uga.edu; Richard Dluhy, 706/542-1950, dluhy@chem.uga.edu
Nov 15, 2006, 09:37

Athens, Ga. – Waiting a day or more to get lab results back from the doctor’s office soon could become a thing of a past. Using nanotechnology, a team of University of Georgia researchers has developed a diagnostic test that can detect viruses as diverse as influenza, HIV and RSV in 60 seconds or less.

In addition to saving time, the technique – which is detailed in the November issue of the journal Nano Letters – could save lives by rapidly detecting a naturally occurring disease outbreak or bioterrorism attack.

“It saves days to weeks,” said lead author Ralph Tripp, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Vaccine Development at the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. “You could actually apply it to a person walking off a plane and know if they’re infected.”

The technique, called surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), works by measuring the change in frequency of a near-infrared laser as it scatters off viral DNA or RNA. This change in frequency, named the Raman shift for the scientist who discovered it in 1928, is as distinct as a fingerprint.

This phenomenon is well known, but Tripp explained that previous attempts to use Raman spectroscopy to diagnose viruses failed because the signal produced is inherently weak.

Full story.

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Gadget recharging goes wireless

Gadget recharging goes wireless
14 November 2006

You could soon charge your mobile phone by simply leaving it on a desk or tabletop, thanks to physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who have proposed a new way to power electronic gadgets without an electrical cable. Marin Soljacic and colleagues have used computers to simulate a wireless technique that uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy from a power source to a device several metres away (arXiv.org/physics/ 0611063).

While electromagnetic radiation can be used to power a remote device, current technologies are often inefficient and sometimes dangerous. This is because the electromagnetic waves radiate in all directions from the power source and most of the energy is lost to the environment. These problems can be partially overcome by using highly-directional radiation such as laser light -- or electromagnetic induction, which operates at very short range. However, these techniques require the gadget to be in a specific location and therefore are not really convenient for charging a mobile phone left casually on a tabletop.

Soljacic and colleagues used theoretical calculations and computer simulations to propose a method that uses an electromagnetic field to couple the power source to the gadget to be charged. Energy is transferred to the gadget because its antenna resonates at the same frequency as the transmitter, while other objects in the room do not absorb energy because they do not resonate at this frequency. The researchers call this process non-radiative energy transfer. In addition, much of the energy that is not absorbed by the gadget would be reabsorbed by the transmitter.

Full story.

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Bone drug still viable: DeLuca

Bone drug still viable: DeLuca
By Jeff Richgels

Despite the ending of its partnership with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Madison-based Deltanoid Pharmaceuticals remains confident about prospects for its lead drug.

"It's a very safe compound and it looks like it might work," said UW-Madison Professor Hector DeLuca, who led the team that developed 2MD, a potentially revolutionary osteoporosis drug that is the first to show the ability to stimulate new bone formation, rather than just prevent bone loss.

Osteoporosis is a disease involving the loss of normal bone that results in a susceptibility to fractures. The disease affects some 25 million people in the U.S. and is most frequently seen in postmenopausal women, elderly people and those taking corticosteroids.

Deltanoid is preparing to initiate the second of three phases of clinical trials for 2MD.

Pfizer, which signed a deal with Deltanoid in January 2003, had been conducting its own Phase II trials of 2MD but quit after six months, ending the relationship with Deltanoid last December, DeLuca said.

"It was their design and we did not have any controlling vote in the design of the trial," DeLuca said. "They started out and used very low doses, much lower than we would use. We worked extensively with animals and knew what (dosage) they would tolerate."

"The reasons they didn't go further are not entirely known to us," DeLuca added.

One possibility, he said, is business because Pfizer has several drugs in development "and our's may not have reached their highest priority."

Another is that Pfizer said it did not see any bone density increases in the six months, but DeLuca said that was not enough time.

Full story.

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Neural networking nanotubes

Neural networking nanotubes

Bridging neurons and electronics with carbon nanotubes
New implantable biomedical devices that can act as artificial nerve cells, control severe pain, or allow otherwise paralyzed muscles to be moved might one day be possible thanks to developments in materials science. Writing today in Advanced Materials, Nicholas Kotov of the University of Michigan, USA, and colleagues describe how they have used hollow, submicroscopic strands of carbon, carbon nanotubes, to connect an integrated circuit to nerve cells. The new technology offers the possibility of building an interface between biology and electronics.

Continue reading "Neural networking nanotubes" »

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‘Tornadoes’ Are Transferred From Light to Sodium Atoms

For the first time, tornado-like rotational motions have been transferred from light to atoms in a controlled way at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The new quantum physics technique can be used to manipulate Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs), a state of matter of worldwide research interest, and possibly used in quantum information systems, an emerging computing and communications technology of potentially great power.

As reported in the Oct. 27 issue of Physical Review Letters,* the research team transferred orbital angular momentum—essentially the same motion as air molecules in a tornado or a planet revolving around a star—from laser light to sodium atoms.

The NIST experiment completes the scientific toolkit for complete control of the state of an atom, which now includes the internal, translational, and rotational behavior. The rotational motion of light previously has been used to rotate particles, but this new work marks the first time the motion has been transferred to atoms in discrete, measurable units, or quanta. Other researchers, as well as the NIST group, previously have transferred linear momentum and spin angular momentum (an internal magnetic state) from light to atoms.

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Jefferson researchers find nanoparticle shows promise in reducing radiation side effects

Jefferson researchers find nanoparticle shows promise in reducing radiation side effects

(PHILADELPHIA) With the help of tiny, transparent zebrafish embryos, researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Medical College are hoping to prove that a microscopic nanoparticle can be part of a "new class of radioprotective agents" that help protect normal tissue from radiation damage just as well as standard drugs.

Reporting November 7, 2006 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology in Philadelphia, they show that the nanoparticle, DF-1 – a soccer ball-shaped, hollow, carbon-based structure known as a fullerene – is as good as two other antioxidant drugs and the FDA-approved drug, Amifostine in fending off radiation damage from normal tissue.


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Free-Electron Laser Shines at Over 14 Kilowatts in the Infrared

Free-Electron Laser Shines at Over 14 Kilowatts in the Infrared
Released: 11/9/2006

Newport News, Va. – The most powerful tunable laser in the world just shattered another power record: the Free-Electron Laser (FEL), supported by the Office of Naval Research and located at the U.S. Department of Energy´s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab), produced a 14.2 kilowatt (kW) beam of laser light at an infrared wavelength of 1.61 microns on October 30.

“This wavelength is of interest to the Navy for transmission of light through the maritime atmosphere and for material science applications,” said Fred Dylla, Jefferson Lab’s Chief Technology Officer and Associate Director of the Free-Electron Laser Division. The FEL is supported by the Office of Naval Research, the Naval Sea Systems Command, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Joint Technology Office, as well as by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The laser’s new capabilities will enhance a wide range of applications, such as shipboard antimissile defense and other defense applications as well as manufacturing technologies and the support of scientific studies in chemistry, physics, biology and medicine.

Full story.

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Stem cell cure for heart attacks

Stem cell cure for heart attacks
By JULIE WHELDON

Last updated at 23:43pm on 7th November 2006

Emergency heart attack patients will be injected with their own stem cells in a dramatic new treatment.

The procedure, being pioneered by British doctors, holds out hope of a 'cure' as the stem cells repair damaged heart muscles.

The low-cost treatment, which involves removing stem cells from the patient's bone marrow, could be given within a few hours of a heart attack.

It is intended to stop patients suffering further attacks and developing heart failure, something existing treatments fail to do in many cases.

If the initial trials in London are successful, the treatment is likely to be extended to NHS hospitals across the country.

Researchers have called the project - the first of its kind in the world - "very exciting" and say it could have a significant impact on the annual toll of deaths from heart disease.

Full story.

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Plan to create human-cow embryos

Plan to create human-cow embryos
By Fergus Walsh
BBC News, Medical correspondent

UK scientists have applied for permission to create embryos by fusing human DNA with cow eggs.

Researchers from Newcastle University and Kings College, London, have asked the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority for a three-year licence.

The hybrid human-bovine embryos would be used for stem cell research and would not be allowed to develop for more than a few days.

But critics say it is unethical and potentially dangerous.

Full story.

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U of M researchers invent 'flashy' new process to turn soy oil, glucose into hydrogen

U of M researchers invent 'flashy' new process to turn soy oil, glucose into hydrogen

Process could significantly improve the efficiency of fuel production from renewable energy sources
Anyone who's overheated vegetable oil or sweet syrup knows that neither oil nor sugar evaporates--oil smokes and turns brown, sugar turns black, and both leave a nasty film of carbon on the cookware. Now, a University of Minnesota team has invented a "reactive flash volatilization process" that heats oil and sugar about a million times faster than you can in your kitchen and produces hydrogen and carbon monoxide, a mixture called synthesis gas, or syngas, because it is used to make chemicals and fuels, including gasoline. The new process works 10 to 100 times faster than current technology, with no input of fossil fuels and in reactors at least 10 times smaller than current models. The work could significantly improve the efficiency of fuel production from renewable energy sources. It will be published Nov. 3 in Science.

"It's a way to take cheap, worthless biomass and turn it into useful fuels and chemicals," said team leader Lanny Schmidt, a Regents Professor of chemical engineering and materials science at the university. "Potentially, the biomass could be used cooking oil or even products from cow manure, yard clippings, cornstalks or trees."

One up-and-coming fuel is biodiesel, which is produced from soy oil. Currently, the key step in conversion of the oil to biodiesel requires the addition of methanol, a fossil fuel. The new process skips the biodiesel step and turns oil straight into hydrogen and carbon monoxide gases by heating it to about 1,000 degrees C. About 70 percent of the hydrogen in the oil is converted to hydrogen gas. Similarly, using a nearly saturated solution of glucose in water, the process heats the sugar so fast that it, too, breaks up into syngas instead of its usual products: carbon and water.


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High-resolution structure of photosynthetic catalyst holds promise for clean energy

Learning How Nature Splits Water
High-resolution structure of photosynthetic catalyst holds promise for clean energy
Contact: Dan Krotz, (510) 486-4019, dakrotz@lbl.gov

BERKELEY, CA — About 3.2 billion years ago, primitive bacteria developed a way to harness sunlight to split water molecules into protons, electrons and oxygen, the cornerstone of photosynthesis that led to atmospheric oxygen and more complex forms of life — in other words, the world and life as we know it.

Today, scientists have taken a major step toward understanding this process by deriving the precise structure of a catalyst composed of four manganese atoms and one calcium atom that drives this water-splitting reaction. Their work, detailed in the Nov. 3, 2006 issue of the journal Science, could help researchers synthesize molecules that mimic this catalyst, which is a central focus in the push to develop clean energy technologies that rely on sunlight to split water and form hydrogen to feed fuel cells or other non-polluting power sources.

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Stem cells engage in dialogue with cells that regulate their future

Stem cells engage in dialogue with cells that regulate their future
CONTACT: Leila Gray leilag@u.washington.edu 206-543-3620

Dialogue, not a monologue, is the basis of all good communication. Stem cells are no exception. Recent University of Washington (UW) research has found an early indication of two-way cellular communication. This two-way cell-to-cell signaling occurs in the miniscule niches of the body where the futures of stem cells are determined.

Stem cells require these niches - nest-like microenvironments made up of regulatory cells -- in order to self-renew. Stem cells can divide and turn into many types of new cells. The niches help regulate the amount and kinds of new cells produced to meet current demands.

The niches also help maintain a supply of stem cells for later use. Inside your body, for example, there are separate niches for stem cells that will become blood, for cells that will become skin, and so on. Niches are places where your stem cells can replenish themselves and your tissue cells throughout your lifetime.

Problems in the niches can lead to diseases in the body. For example, if cell multiplication in a niche gets out of hand, cancer might form. A decline in cell production might contribute to the frailty of old age.

While a few stem-cell niches have been known for a long time, what's been harder to discover are the characteristics of the cells making up these niches and how they make it possible for stem cells to do their job. Signaling between cells in the niche plays a role in stem-cell upkeep and development. Most research has focused on the signaling of niche cells to stem cells.

"We looked at the possibility that two-way communication exists between stem cells and niche cells,"said UW stem-cell niche researcher Hannele Ruohola-Baker, professor of biochemistry and a member of the UW Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. "Demonstrating that stem cells can contribute to niche function has far-reaching consequences for stem-cell therapies and may provide insight on how cancer might spread throughout the body via populations of cancer stem cells.”

Ruohola-Baker added that stem cells hold high hope in regenerative medicine: tapping into the ways cells repair the body to create therapies to fix or replace injured tissues. She mentioned that it is thought that most, if not all, adult tissues contain stem cells.

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Dopamine Used to Prompt Nerve Tissue to Regrow

Dopamine Used to Prompt Nerve Tissue to Regrow

Team led by Georgia Tech/Emory researchers induces nerve growth using dopamine-based polymer

ATLANTA (November 2, 2006) — When Yadong Wang, a chemist by training, first ventured into nerve regeneration two years ago, he didn’t know that his peers would have considered him crazy.

His idea was simple: Because neural circuits use electrical signals often conducted by neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) to communicate between the brain and the rest of the body, he could build neurotransmitters into the material used to repair a broken circuit. The neurotransmitters could coax the neurons in the damaged nerves to regrow and reconnect with their target organ.

Strange though his idea might have seemed to others in his field, Wang, an assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, discovered that he could integrate dopamine, a type of neurotransmitter, into a polymer to stimulate nerve tissues to send out new connections. The discovery is the first step toward the eventual goal of implanting the new polymer into patients suffering from neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s or epilepsy, to help repair damaged nerves. The findings were published online the week of Oct. 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

“We showed that you could use a neurotransmitter as a building block of a polymer,” said Wang. “Once integrated into the polymer, the transmitter can still elicit a specific response from nerve tissues.”


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Z machine melts diamond to puddle

Z machine melts diamond to puddle
As capsule for nuclear-fusion fuel, even diamonds aren’t forever

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia’s Z machine, by creating pressures more than 10 million times that of the atmosphere at sea level, has turned a diamond sheet into a pool of liquid.

The object of the experiment was to better understand the characteristics of diamond under the extreme pressure it would face when used as a capsule for a BB- sized pellet intended to fuel a nuclear fusion reaction.

The experiment is another step in the drive to release enough energy from fused atoms to create unlimited electrical power for humanity. Control of this process has been sought for 50 years.

Half a bathtub full of seawater in a fusion reaction could produce as much energy as 40 train cars of coal.

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Creativeprotection.com

Creativeprotection.com

Gehrke & Associates, SC is pleased to announce the launch of Creative Protection, an informational blog that covers copyright and trademark law. The blog also covers news and events of interest to authors, artists, publishers, programmers, musicians and others who may benefit from copyright or trademark protection.

Gehrke & Associates, SC also maintains a general IP law blog featuring selected downloadable resources at www.gehrkelaw.com .

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Should severely disabled kids be kept small?

NEW YORK - In a report published in a medical journal this month, two doctors describe a 6-year-old girl with profound, irreversible developmental disability who was given high doses of estrogen to permanently halt her growth so that her parents could continue to care for her at home.

The controversial growth-attenuation treatment, which included hysterectomy, was requested by the child's parents and initiated after careful consultation and review by an ethics committee.

In their report in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Drs. Daniel F. Gunther and Douglas S. Diekema, both at the University of Washington in Seattle, explain the reasoning behind what they hope will generate a healthy debate. Gunther is at the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, and Diekema is at the Center for Pediatric Bioethics.


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Physics Legends

Physics Legends
Critical Point: November 2006

The history of science is full of mythical stories that we repeat, even when we suspect that they are probably wrong. Robert P Crease recounts several and asks for yours

Richard Feynman starts his book QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter with a remarkable confession. He tells a brief story about the origins of his subject – quantum electrodynamics – and then says that the "physicist’s history of physics" that he has just related is probably wrong. "What I am telling you", Feynman says, “is a sort of conventionalized myth-story that the physicists tell to their students and those students tell to their students, and is not necessarily related to the actual historical development, which I do not really know!”

. . .

False legends

In contrast, many other common legends are entirely unfounded. Sometimes they persist because they conveniently reinforce established dogma, such as the story that the Catholic Church condemned the use of zero and Arabic numerals. Naturalists are also said to have convincingly proved evolution in action by showing in the 1950s that the increased abundance of industrial soot in the environment led to more melanic (darker, mutant) peppered moths. This experiment is now known to be badly flawed.

Other false stories are popular simply because they are fun. An example is the one about physicist Donald Glaser coming up with the idea of the bubble chamber one night at a bar after popping open a beer. A few years ago, after hearing this story one too many times, I called Glaser to ask if it were true. He assured me that it was false – he came up with the idea behind the bubble chamber via the application of cold, hard reason. However, Glaser admitted that, for sheer amusement, he once tried to see charged particle tracks in soda bottles.


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U of MN researchers turn cord blood into lung cells

U of MN researchers turn cord blood into lung cells

Discovery step toward developing treatment for various lung diseases
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have, for the first time, coaxed umbilical cord blood stem cells to differentiate into a type of lung cell.

The cord blood cells differentiated into a type of lung cell called type II alveolar cells. These cells are responsible for secreting surfactant, a substance which allows the air sacs in the lungs to remain open, allowing air to move in and out of the sacs. The cells are also responsible for helping to repair the airway after injury.

"In the future, we may be able to examine cord blood from babies who have lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, to do more research to understand how these diseases evolve as well as to develop better medical treatments," said David McKenna, M.D., assistant professor of lab medicine and pathology and medical director of the Clinical Cell Therapy Lab at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview.

The research paper is currently available online, and will be published in the Nov. 7, 2006, issue of the journal Cytotherapy.

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