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February 2007
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Ultrathin films deliver DNA as possible gene therapy tool

Gene therapy — the idea of using genetic instructions rather than drugs to treat disease — has tickled scientists’ imaginations for decades, but is not yet a viable therapeutic method. One sizeable hurdle is getting the right genes into the right place at the right time.

Chemical and Biological Engineering Assistant Professor David Lynn and his colleagues have created ultrathin, nanoscale films composed of DNA and water-soluble polymers that allow controlled release of DNA from surfaces. When used to coat implantable medical devices, the films offer a novel way to route useful genes to exactly where they could do the most good.

Lynn has used his nanoscale films to coat intravascular stents, small metal-mesh cylinders inserted during medical procedures to open blocked arteries. While similar in concept to currently available drug-coated stents, Lynn's devices could offer additional advantages. For example, Lynn hopes to deliver genes that could prevent the growth of smooth muscle tissue into the stents, a process which can re-clog arteries, or that could treat the underlying causes of cardiovascular disease.

Full story.

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National Cancer Institute Renews $1.4 Million Grant For MRI Brain Tumor Research at Medical College

            The National Cancer Institute has awarded a five-year $1.4 million renewal grant to the Medical College of Wisconsin. It will fund continued development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent methods to study angiogenesis the rapid new growth of blood vessels-- in brain tumors.

Kathleen Schmainda, Ph.D., associate professor of radiology is the ongoing principal investigator. This is the second successful renewal of the grant that was first awarded in 2003.

“Patients with brain tumors are in desperate need of new therapies,” says Dr. Schmainda. “Recent clinical studies combining anti-angiogenic agents with conventional therapies have shown significant improvements in patient response, leading to the first FDA-approved anti-angiogenic agents. Yet, to fully realize the promise of combined therapies, we need non-invasive methods that can answer critical questions about how these agents work and how to combine them optimally.”

Study findings could improve the application and interpretation of MRI dynamic contrast methods to evaluate tumor angiogenesis and combined therapeutic strategies for the benefit of brain tumor patients.

Dr. Schmainda, who holds a secondary appointment in biophysics, is a faculty member of the Medical College’s Functional Imaging Research and Biotechnology and Bioengineering Centers.

She received her BSE in biomedical engineering from Marquette University in 1986, MA and MS degrees in electrical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in1989, and Ph.D. degree in medical engineering from Harvard-MIT, in 1993. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in MRI at Massachusetts General Hospital in Charlestown, Mass. in 1995.

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Stem cell therapy shows promise for rescuing deteriorating vision

MADISON - For the millions of Americans whose vision is slowly ebbing due to degenerative diseases of the eye, the lowly neural progenitor cell may be riding to the rescue.

In a study in rats, neural progenitor cells derived from human fetal stem cells have been shown to protect the vision of animals with degenerative eye disease similar to the kinds of diseases that afflict humans. The new study appears today (March 28) in the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) One.

The lead author of the study, University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher David Gamm, says the cells - formative brain cells that arise in early development - show "some of the best rescue, functionally and anatomically" of any such work to date. In animals whose vision would typically be lost to degenerative retinal disease, the cells were shown to protect vision and the cells in the eye that underpin sight.

The new findings are important because they suggest there may be novel ways to preserve vision in the context of degenerative diseases for which there are now no effective treatments. Macular degeneration, an age-related affliction that gradually destroys central vision, is a scourge of old age, robbing people of the ability to read, recognize faces and live independently.

The finding that the brain cells protected the cells in the eye was a surprise, according to Raymond D. Lund, an author of the new study and an eye disease expert at the University of Utah and the Oregon Health and Sciences University. The neural progenitor cells, which arise from stem cells and further differentiate into different types of cells found in the central nervous system, were being tested for their ability to deliver another agent, a growth factor that has been shown to be effective in treating some types of degenerative disease.

What was surprising, say Gamm and Lund, was that the cells alone demonstrated a remarkable ability to rescue vision.

"On their own, they were able to support retinal cells and keep them alive," says Lund, who has conducted pioneering studies of cell therapy for eye disease. "We didn't expect that at all. We've used a number of different cell types from different sources and these have given us the best results we've ever got."

How the cells act to preserve the deteriorating eye cells remains unknown, says Gamm. Like all cells, neural progenitor cells do many things and secrete many different types of chemicals that may influence the cells around them.

"The idea was to test the cells as a continuous delivery system" to shuttle an agent known as glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor or GDNF, Lund explains. "It's not a sensible thing to inject the eyes many times over years. The idea was to use the cells as a continuous delivery system, but we found they work quite well on their own."

Lund has experimented with other cell types as therapies for preserving vision. The neural progenitor cells, a cell model developed by Wisconsin stem cell researcher Clive Svendsen, have been used experimentally to deliver the same growth factor in models of Parkinson's disease and Lou Gehrig's disease. Svendsen is also an author of the new PloS One report.

"It seems that the cells in and of themselves are quite neuroprotective," says Gamm. "They don't become retinal cells. They maintain their own identity, but they migrate within the outer and inner retina" where they seem to confer some protection to the light-sensing cells that typically die in the course of degenerative eye disease.

For researchers, the work is intriguing because the progenitor cells come from the brain itself, and not from the part of the nervous system devoted to vision.

"This cell type isn't derived from the retina. It is derived from the brain," says Gamm. "But we're not asking it to become a retina. They survive in the environment of the eye and don't disrupt the local architecture. They seem to live in a symbiotic relation ship" with retinal cells.

Gamm and Lund emphasize that the new work is preliminary, and that much remains to be done before the cells can be tested in humans: "The first thing is to show that something works, which we have done," says Lund. "Now we need to find out why, but this is a good jumping off point. "

Continue reading "Stem cell therapy shows promise for rescuing deteriorating vision" »

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From a failure comes success

HARVEY BLACK For the State Journal

Gillware is a Madison company whose beginning was failure - specifically the failure of the hard drive on the computer of Tyler Gill, one of its founders.

The year was 2003.

The UW-Madison student was faced with what could be called the nightmare of anyone who uses a desktop or laptop computer.

Could he find a company to recover the data on that failed hard drive?

"I was looking around and couldn't find anything cheaper than $1,200 or $2,500. I didn't have $200 to spend on it," he said.

The hard drive is a thin, rapidly spinning disc on which all the computer's data and operating software are stored.

If it fails - and it can fail for mechanical, electronic or software reasons - a computer owner is faced with a serious problem.

Can the data, which can include everything from personally valuable photos to business information, be recovered?

Well, Tyler Gill and his roommates - including his brother, Brian, and Greg Piefer - started a company called Gillware with that mission in mind. Today, Tyler Gill is vice president and chief operating officer of the company.

Full story.

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New developments in 'artificial photosynthesis'

Inspired by nature, scientists explore pathways to clean, renewable solar fuel

CHICAGO, IL -- Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory are trying to design catalysts inspired by photosynthesis, the natural process by which green plants convert sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbohydrates. The goal is to design a bio-inspired system that can produce fuels like methanol, methane, and hydrogen directly from water and carbon dioxide using renewable solar energy. Four Brookhaven chemists will discuss their research on this so-called "artificial photosynthesis" at the 233rd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Full story.

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With cellulosic ethanol, there is no food vs. fuel debate according to MSU scientist

CHICAGO — As more and more corn grain is diverted to make ethanol, there have been public concerns about food shortages. However, ethanol made from cellulosic materials instead of corn grain, renders the food vs. fuel debate moot, according to research by a Michigan State University ethanol expert.

Bruce Dale, an MSU chemical engineering and materials science professor, has used life cycle analysis tools, which include agricultural data and computer modeling, to study the sustainability of producing biofuels – fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel that are made from renewable resources.

Dale will present his findings today at the American Chemical Society annual meeting in Chicago.

"We grow animal feed, not human food in the United States," Dale said. "We could feed the country's population with 25 million acres of cropland, and we currently have 500 million acres. Most of our agricultural land is being used to grow animal feed. It's a lot simpler to integrate animal feed production into cellulosic ethanol production than it is to integrate human food production. With cellulosic ethanol, the 'food vs. fuel' debate goes away."

Full story.

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Stem cells speed growth of healthy liver tissue

OAK BROOK, Ill.—For the first time, researchers have used adult bone marrow stem cells to regenerate healthy human liver tissue, according to a study published in the April issue of the journal Radiology.

When large, fast-growing cancers invade the liver, some patients are unable to undergo surgery, because removing the cancerous tissue would leave too little liver to support the body.

Researchers at Heinrich-Heine-University in Düsseldorf, Germany, used adult bone marrow stem cells to help quickly regenerate healthy liver tissue, enabling patients to eventually undergo a surgical resection.

“Our study suggests that liver stem cells harvested from the patient’s own bone marrow can further augment and accelerate the liver’s natural capacity to regenerate itself,” said Günther Fürst, M.D., co-author and professor of radiology.

In the study, researchers compared the results of portal vein embolization (PVE), a technique currently used to help regenerate liver tissue, to a combination of PVE and an injection of bone marrow stem cells into the liver.

PVE blocks blood flow to the diseased portion of the liver and diverts blood to the organ’s healthy tissue, promoting liver growth. Bone marrow stem cells extracted from the patient’s hip bone and injected into the liver also help the liver regenerate.

Continue reading "Stem cells speed growth of healthy liver tissue" »

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2006 Breast Cancer Showhouse Proceeds to Fund Three Studies and a Lab Grant, Totaling $500,000

The Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse Board has awarded over $500,000 in grants to three Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center scientists to pursue promising research studies in breast and prostate cancer, and to endow a dedicated laboratory fund. The funds are proceeds of the 2006 Showhouse and related events.

“Generous sponsors, designers, volunteers, Showhouse owners and the strong support of the community have all contributed to the great success of these events,” says Board Chairman Katherine “Squeakie” Bruce. “Their dedication, energy and loyalty continue to grow each year, along with their hope of defeating these devastating diseases.”

“It is an honor to work with such dedicated volunteers, donors and designers, without whom we could not make these substantial contributions in support of outstanding local breast and prostate cancer research,” adds Showhouse co-chair Judy Simonitsch.

Showhouse members work not only to raise the funds, but also to determine their best use, which is done at an annual meeting held each January, according to interim Cancer Center Director Bruce Campbell, M.D., professor of otolaryngology at the Medical College.

“Local funding helps make these distinctive research projects possible, and relevant, in terms of potential for expanded exploration and ultimately clinical application,” says Dr. Campbell. “Seed grants from the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse position our researchers to compete for major federal research funding.”

The 2006 grant recipients, their award amounts and research projects are:

  • Guan Chen, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pharmacology & toxicology - $150,000, for a study to address the role of estrogen receptor protein in the progression of breast cancer. Early-stage breast cancers require estrogen and an estrogen receptor (ER) for proliferation. However, as the disease progresses the cancer cells no longer require estrogen for growth. They become invasive and resistant to anti-estrogens. This project will directly test the hypothesis that the loss of ER protein contributes to breast cancer invasion. If successful, it could provide a novel strategy for inhibiting breast cancer cell invasion.
  • Balaraman Kalyanaraman, Ph.D., chairman and professor of biophysics -$116,563, for study of a drug with the potential  to enhance the anti-tumor effect of doxorubicin, an antibiotic widely used in treatment of breast and other cancers, while reducing its heart-damaging side effects. Based on the recent discovery that doxorubicin kills tumor cells and cardiac cells by two different mechanisms, it may be possible to reduce the dangerous side effects of doxorubicin without affecting, and perhaps actually enhancing, the anticancer effect of the drug. Medical College researchers have already generated data suggesting that a single drug, Mito-Q, when combined with doxorubicin can accomplish both goals. This study will test the efficacy and safety of Mito-Q, in combination with doxorubicin, in an animal model.
  • Kasem Nithipatikom, Ph.D., associate professor, pharmacology and toxicology - $150,000, for studies to address the mechanism by which a naturally occurring acid (EET) stimulates the spread of prostate tumors. The project will focus on three mechanisms. First, to evaluate the role of oxygen deficiency in prostate cancer cells on EET regulation; second, to use molecular and pharmacological approaches to increase EET and address whether this promotes cancer cell proliferation and invasion; and third, to address EET–mediated signaling pathways that target the oxygen deficiency factor.
  • An additional $84,000 has been set aside for the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse Laboratory Fund at the Medical College. This fund will be used by a senior investigator to purchase equipment, set up unique laboratory initiatives and enhance care research facilities.
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Light-based probe 'sees' early cancers in first tests on human tissue

DURHAM, N.C. -- In its first laboratory tests on human tissue, a light-based probe built by researchers at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering almost instantly detected the earliest signs of cancer in cells that line internal organs.

If the preliminary success of the "optical biopsy" is confirmed through clinical trials, such a device could ultimately provide a particular advantage for early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of many types of cancer, according to the researchers. The vast majority of cancers start in the body's epithelial cells, which line the mucous membranes in the lungs, esophagus and gut.

"About 85 percent of all cancers start in the epithelium. It may be, for example, brain cancer that causes a patient's death, but that cancer might have originated in the colon or other site of epithelial tissue," said Adam Wax, professor of biomedical engineering. "Being able to detect pre-cancer in epithelial tissues would therefore help prevent all types of cancer by catching it early, before it has a chance to develop further or spread."

In some instances, the technique, known as "fa/LCI" (frequency-domain angle-resolved low coherence interferometry), might ultimately enable doctors and their patients to avoid removal of tissue for biopsy, Wax said. In other instances, he added, fa/LCI could help physicians pinpoint suspicious cells during a traditional biopsy procedure, making it less likely for a cancerous lesion to escape detection.

Full story.

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New 'biofuel cell' produces electricity from hydrogen in plain air

CHICAGO, March 26 —A pioneering “biofuel cell” that produces electricity from ordinary air spiked with small amounts of hydrogen offers significant potential as an inexpensive and renewable alternative to the costly platinum-based fuel cells that have dominated discussion about the “hydrogen economy” of the future, British scientists reported here today.

The research was presented at the week-long 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

Fraser Armstrong, Ph.D., described how his research group at Oxford University built the biofuel cell with hydrogenases — enzymes from naturally occurring bacteria that use or oxidize hydrogen in their metabolism. The cell consists of two electrodes coated with the enzymes placed inside a container of ordinary air with 3 percent added hydrogen.

That is just below the 4 percent danger level at which hydrogen becomes an explosion hazard. The research established for the first time that it is possible to generate electricity from such low levels of hydrogen in air, Armstrong said.

Prototype versions of the cell produced enough electricity to power a wristwatch and other electronic devices. Armstrong foresees advanced versions of the device as potential power sources for an array of other electronic products that only require low amounts of power.

“The technology is immensely developable,” Armstrong said. “We are at the tip of a large iceberg, with important consequences for the future, but there is still much to do before this generation of enzyme-based fuel cells becomes commercially viable. The idea of electricity from hydrogen in air, using an oxygen-tolerant hydrogenase is new, although other scientists have been investigating enzymes as electrocatalysts for years. Most hydrogenases have fragile active sites that are destroyed by even traces of oxygen, but oxygen tolerant hydrogenases have evolved to resist attack.”

Continue reading "New 'biofuel cell' produces electricity from hydrogen in plain air" »

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Wisconsin Medical College Receives $1.6 Million Grant To Study Process of Corneal Wound Healing

The National Eye Institute has awarded the Medical College of Wisconsin a five-year, $1.6 million renewal grant for a study of wound healing in the cornea. The study, initially funded in August 1999, may provide help for those patients, among the thousands having elective photorefractive surgery each year, who don’t heal properly.

Sally Twining, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and ophthalmology, is principal investigator for the study. “Wound healing in the cornea is incompletely understood; yet each year thousands of people elect to have corrective photorefractive surgery,” says Dr. Twining. “Identification of the mechanisms involved in corneal wound healing may lead to the development of treatments for patients who do not heal properly”

In this project, Dr. Twining will study the role of thrombin, a protease, or protein-splitting enzyme that generates fibrin (a fibrous protein found in blood clots) and regulates cellular processes.

Dr. Twining received her Ph.D. degree in physiological chemistry from Ohio State University in 1976, and did postdoctoral work at the Mayo Clinic in immuno-chemistry, and at the Medical College in proteinase activation from 1976 to 1980. She joined the Medical College faculty in 1980.

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Now scientists create a sheep that's 15% human

By CLAUDIA JOSEPH

Comments

Scientists have created the world's first human-sheep chimera - which has the body of a sheep and half-human organs.

The sheep have 15 per cent human cells and 85 per cent animal cells - and their evolution brings the prospect of animal organs being transplanted into humans one step closer.

Professor Esmail Zanjani, of the University of Nevada, has spent seven years and £5million perfecting the technique, which involves injecting adult human cells into a sheep's foetus.

He has already created a sheep liver which has a large proportion of human cells and eventually hopes to precisely match a sheep to a transplant patient, using their own stem cells to create their own flock of sheep.

The process would involve extracting stem cells from the donor's bone marrow and injecting them into the peritoneum of a sheep's foetus. When the lamb is born, two months later, it would have a liver, heart, lungs and brain that are partly human and available for transplant.

Full story.

 

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Physicists control light at the nanoscale

Physicists in Europe have unveiled a new technique that can control the intensity distribution of laser pulses at dimensions that are much smaller than the wavelength of the laser light. The method combines pulse-shaping techniques with near-field optics and the researchers claim that it is a major step forward in the development of laser-based tools for the manipulation of matter on a very small length scales (Nature 446 301).

Full story.

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Biodiesel for school buses

Dane County and the Wisconsin Soybean Program provided the money and students at Wright Middle School provided the science in the unveiling Thursday of a plan to reimburse school districts for using biodiesel fuel in their buses.

Full story.

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Wow! Astronomers Explode a Virtual Star

Jeanna Bryner
Staff Writer
SPACE.comThu Mar 22, 5:30 PM ET

For years astronomers have tried in vain to blow up an Earth-size star using strings of computer code. Finally, mission accomplished. And the resulting 3-D simulation has revealed the step-by-step process that fuels such an explosion.

Dubbed white dwarfs, stars about the size of Earth and weighing as much as the Sun end their lives with quite a show. When their core furnace begins to burn out, white dwarfs explode in so-called type-1a supernovas that astronomers say could be responsible for producing most of the iron in the universe.

Until now, a peek beneath the hood of such a white-dwarf explosion has been tricky.

Prior attempts to produce the simulated explosion required scientists manually tell the computer model to detonate the star, which meant the model was not quite right or it would have generated its own cataclysm. With more tweaking of models, University of Chicago scientists generated natural detonations of white dwarf stars in simplified, two-dimensional simulations.

"There were claims made that it wouldn't work in 3-D," said Don Lamb, director of the University of Chicago's Center for Astrophysical Thermonuclear Flashes. With some extreme computing, the team produced a 3-D detonation.

Full story.

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FTC Charges Invention Promotion Swindlers with Contempt

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a civil contempt action against four individuals and eight business entities for allegedly operating a fraudulent invention promotion business in violation of a court order.

The individuals were employed by International Product Design Inc., which the FTC charged with fraudulent business practices in 1997. A court order issued in 1998 prohibited Julian Gumpel, Darrell Mormando, and Greg Wilson from deceptively marketing invention promotion services, but Gumpel later revived the same scam under the name, “Patent and Trademark Institute of America” (PTI).

For a fee of $895 to $1,295, PTI promised to evaluate the marketability and patentability of inventors’ ideas, but its evaluations were almost always positive and were not meaningful, according to the FTC. For a fee of $5,000 to $45,000, PTI’s clients were offered legal protection and assistance to obtain commercial licenses for their inventions. They also were told that PTI would help them earn substantial royalties from their inventions, but PTI did not help consumers license their inventions, and clients did not earn royalties.

The FTC alleges that PTI’s business practices violated the court order, which prohibited the defendants from falsely promising to evaluate invention ideas and falsely claiming that consumers would profit financially if they bought PTI’s invention promotion services. The FTC also alleges that PTI never sent consumers the “Affirmative Disclosure” form required by the order; the form should have disclosed PTI’s non-existent track record in bringing inventions to market.

On January 8, 2007, the Commission initiated contempt proceedings against Gumpel and eight corporate entities under his control: Technical Lithographers Inc., d/b/a Patent and Trademark Institute of America (PTI), United Licensing Corporation, International Patent Advisors Inc., Datatech Consulting Inc., International Product Marketing Inc., Unicorp Consulting Inc., d/b/a/ UNI Corp. Inc, Azure Communications Inc., and London Communications Inc.

On January 10, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued an order placing PTI in court receivership pending the outcome of the contempt litigation. According to a report prepared by the receiver, PTI has taken approximately $60 million from more than 17,000 consumers since 2000 but could not identify a single successful consumer.

On March 9, the court issued an order to show cause why Michael Fleisher, Wilson, and Mormando, a/k/a Darrell Johnson, should not also be held in contempt for violating the court order issued in 1998. The FTC alleges that they knew about and were subject to the court order, but repeatedly violated it in their roles as managers and salesman for PTI. A hearing on the FTC's charges against all of the defendants is scheduled for April 30, 2007.

The FTC has established a phone line for consumers who may have been harmed by PTI's conduct. Consumers may call 202-326-2926 for more information.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Frank Dorman,
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2674

STAFF CONTACT:

Elizabeth Tucci or Matthew Wilshire
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2402 or -2976

(FTC File No. X97-0071)

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Soybean ethanol may accelerate

Enzymes could help turn crop into biofuel, increase output from corn, too

By RICK BARRETT
rbarrett@journalsentinel.com
Posted: March 20, 2007

In a modern form of alchemy, research is under way to turn soybeans into ethanol, a biofuel that's become a form of liquid gold for corn farmers.

The research, from a Middleton biotech company, could pump billions of dollars into the nation's soybean farms, which already are prolific suppliers of food products, livestock feed and soy oil used for biodiesel fuel.

"It's cutting-edge technology. There's nothing else like it," said Bob Karls, executive director of the Wisconsin Soybean Program.

Making ethanol from soybeans also could relieve some of the pressure on corn, the current most popular U.S. biofuel feedstock.

The Bush administration wants the U.S. to produce 35 billion gallons a year of ethanol and other alternative fuels, such as soybean-based biodiesel, by 2017. That would be a five-fold increase over current requirements and would require a massive increase in domestic corn production.

State officials have said they would like about 25% of our liquid fuel to come from renewable sources by 2025, a huge increase.

Some of the latest biofuel research comes from C5-6 Technologies, a Middleton firm that's developing enzymes to make ethanol from soybeans and also increase efficiency in ethanol production from corn.

Full story.

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Idle Patents Attract Entrepreneurs


Updated: 3/19/2007

MILWAUKEE

Dilip Kotecha figured his working days were over when he retired from the food-manufacturing industry. But after an unused patent for instant yogurt landed in his lap, he couldn't resist turning the dormant technology into a business.

 

''I would say our company wouldn't even be there without that patent,'' the 59-year-old entrepreneur said.

 

Countless patents — including the one used to start up Kotecha's company, Yokit — sit unused when companies decide not to develop them into products. Now, not-for-profit groups and state governments are asking companies to donate dormant patents so they can be passed to local entrepreneurs who try to build businesses out of them.

 

Kotecha's patent covered the formulation of instant yogurt. Consumer-products company SC Johnson of Racine, Wis., was awarded it in 1984 but tabled its plans.

 

Instead of gathering dust, the donated patent spawned a startup that Kotecha hopes will revolutionize the vending-machine industry and provide snacks to troops overseas.

 

There are countless other patents that are promising but sitting idle, business developers say.

Full story.

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Lunar dust 'may harm astronauts'

By Paul Rincon
Science reporter, BBC News, Houston
 

Scientists are investigating the possible threat posed to astronauts by inhaling lunar dust.

A study suggests the smallest particles in lunar dust might be toxic, if comparisons with dust inhalation cases on Earth apply.

Teams hope to carry out experiments on mice to determine whether this is the case or not.

Nasa has set up a working group to look into the matter ahead of its planned return to the Moon by 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A team at the University of Tennessee (UT) in Knoxville is also looking at ways of using magnets to filter dust from the living environments of lunar bases and spacecraft.

 

 

 

 

The health effects of inhaling lunar dust have been recognised since Nasa's Apollo missions.

 

 

Astronaut Harrison H (Jack) Schmitt, the last man to step on to the Moon in Apollo 17, complained of "lunar dust hay fever" when his dirty space suit contaminated the habitation module after an energetic foray on the lunar surface.

 

 

The US space agency (Nasa) is now keen to assess the effects of more prolonged exposure and to address the problem before humans are sent back to the Moon in just over a decade.

 

 

Details of the work were presented to the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas.

Full story.

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Privateer Elon Musk has launched his budget rocket, Falcon-1, from the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific.

The 21m-long vehicle lifted off at 1810 California time (0110 GMT) and rose to an altitude of 320km (200 miles).

Mr Musk, who co-founded the internet financial system PayPal, wants to lower the cost of access to space.

The flight did not achieve all its goals, but the he said it demonstrated the vision of his Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX).

The mission was the second attempt to loft the rocket; the first, in March 2006, ended when a fire fed by a fuel leak led to the shut down of the main-stage engine just 29 seconds after lift-off.

Full story.

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MIT: Lack of fuel may limit US nuclear power expansion

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--Limited supplies of fuel for nuclear power plants may thwart the renewed and growing interest in nuclear energy in the United States and other nations, says an MIT expert on the industry.

Over the past 20 years, safety concerns dampened all aspects of development of nuclear energy: No new reactors were ordered and there was investment neither in new uranium mines nor in building facilities to produce fuel for existing reactors. Instead, the industry lived off commercial and government inventories, which are now nearly gone. worldwide, uranium production meets only about 65 percent of current reactor requirements.

That shortage of uranium and of processing facilities worldwide leaves a gap between the potential increase in demand for nuclear energy and the ability to supply fuel for it, said Dr. Thomas Neff, a research affiliate at MIT's Center for International Studies.

Continue reading "MIT: Lack of fuel may limit US nuclear power expansion" »

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Madison-based Alfalight receives $1.7 million contract

By AVRUM D. LANK

alank@journalsentinel.com
Posted: March 20, 2007

A small, fast-growing Madison company said Tuesday that it won a $1.7 million contract from the Army to help build high-power lasers.

Alfalight Inc. is to use the money to develop very high-power pump blocks, which are power sources for lasers.

The one-year contract is from the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Md., for its scalable, high-efficiency solid-state laser program.

"We expect to develop both usable pump prototypes and provide valuable research results to the Army Research Laboratory upon completion," said Manoj Kanskar, vice president of research and development for Alfalight.

In addition to helping the Army develop lasers, the pump blocks could have uses in commercial material-handling equipment, Alfalight said.

Full story.

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National Institutes of Health Renews Medical College of Wisconsin CORE Grant for Vision Research for $2.9 Million over Five Years

The National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute has renewed the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Core Grant for Vision Research which has been continuously funded for over 30 years. The five-year, $2.9 million grant supports five shared-use resource modules at the Froedtert & the Medical College Eye Institute under the direction of principal investigator Dr. Janice M. Burke, the Marjorie and Joseph Heil Professor of Ophthalmology at the Medical College.

The resource modules provide support and equipment for Dr. Burke and five other module directors, as well as faculty scientists in the Eye Institute and other Medical College departments and institutes who use the core modules for assistance with their studies of the eye and the visual system of the brain.

Other module directors include Dr. Maureen Neitz, the Richard O. Schultz/Ruth Works Professor of Ophthalmology; Dr. Jay Neitz, the RD and Linda Peters Professor of Ophthalmology; Dr. D.J. Sidjanin, assistant professor of ophthalmology; Dr. Brian Link, associate professor of cell biology, neurobiology & anatomy, and Dr. Sally Twining, professor of biochemistry. 

In addition to the module directors, Core collaborators include Eye Institute researchers Dr. William J. O'Brien, professor of ophthalmology, and Dr. Joe Carroll, assistant professor of ophthalmology; Cell Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy researchers Dr. Joseph Besharse, Chairman and Marvin Wagner Professor, and Professor Margaret Wong-Riley, Ph.D.; as well as Edgar DeYoe, Ph.D., professor of radiology research; Elena Semina, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics; and Drs. Tadeusz Sarna and Witold Subczynski, visiting professors in the Medical College’s Biophysics Research Institute.

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GM mosquito 'could fight malaria'

A genetically modified (GM) strain of malaria-resistant mosquito has been created that is better able to survive than disease-carrying insects.

It gives new impetus to one strategy for controlling the disease: introduce the GM insects into wild populations in the hope that they will take over.

The insect carries a gene that prevents infection by the malaria parasite.

Details of the work by a US team appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

The researchers caution that their studies are still at an early stage, and that it could be 10 years or more before engineered insects are released into the environment.

"What we did was a laboratory, proof-of-principle experiment; we're not anywhere close to releasing them into the wild right now," co-author Dr Jason Rasgon, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, told BBC News.

The approach exploits the fact that the fitness of infected mosquitoes is itself compromised by the parasite they spread. Insects that cannot be invaded by the parasite are therefore likely to out-compete their disease-carrying counterparts.

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Biotech company planning stock sale

NimbleGen files for initial offering

By JOEL DRESANG
jdresang@journalsentinel.com
Posted: March 19, 2007

NimbleGen Systems Inc. has become the second Madison technology company in two months to file for an initial public stock offering through federal regulators.

The maker of chips used in genetic research has not yet determined the number of shares it will offer or the price range. NimbleGen has requested that its stock be listed on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol NMBL.

In its prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission, NimbleGen says its proprietary technologies and services are useful for analyzing genome variation, which it says has scientific and commercial applications in developing diagnostics, therapeutics and agricultural products.

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A promotion firm stands accused of offering inventors the moon but only taking their money

Richard J. Dalton Jr.
Consumer Watch

March 18, 2007

When Marie Gonzalez of Bellport was scrubbing toilet bowls, a light bulb went off: She realized the surface would be much easier to wipe if the toilet seat's hinges were flush with the surface.

So Gonzalez, who runs a cleaning business, invented a toilet seat with hinges that don't protrude.

She contacted the Patent and Trademark Institute of America, or PTI, a Garden City company that promises to help inventors turn their ideas into products.

Gonzalez paid PTI $1,295 in December 2005 for a book to assess the potential of her invention and then $10,150 two months later to patent the idea.

So far, the only moneymaker has been the Patent and Trademark Institute.

Gonzalez is not alone, according to documents filed earlier this month by the Federal Trade Commission in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

PTI's principal director, Julian Gumpel, 55, of Roslyn Heights, had a previous run-in with the FTC when his company was based in Virginia. The agency filed a lawsuit in 1997 charging him and co-defendants with deceptive acts in violation of the FTC Act: lying to customers that the invention promotion services would make them money. Gumpel, who declined to comment for this article, settled with the FTC in 1998, agreeing not to falsely promote his patent services.

But in recent years, the FTC received complaints about PTI from consumers around the country, including a letter from the New York State Consumer Protection Board asking the FTC to reopen its investigation of Gumpel's activities.

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Wisconsin Medical College’s Annual Becker Lecture, April 23, 2007

Medical College's Annual Becker Lecture, April 23, to Address Baking Bread without Yeast: Are We Missing a Critical Ingredient in Our Approach to Health Policy?

Roz Lasker, M.D., director of the center for the advancement of collaborative strategies in health and the division of public health at The New York Academy of Medicine, is the keynote speaker for the Medical College of Wisconsin’s ninth annual Robert and June Becker Lecture, Mon., April 23rd, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

A nationally known public health and health policy expert, she will present Baking Bread without Yeast: Are We Missing a Critical Ingredient in Our Current Approach to Health Policy?

The free public lecture is offered in the Health Research Center Auditorium, 8701 Watertown Plank Rd. by the Medical College’s Department of Population Health. It is supported through a generous gift from First Health, a utilization and quality management organization founded by Dr. Becker, a 1949 alumnus of the Marquette University School of Medicine, now the Medical College of Wisconsin. The lectureship honors Dr. Becker for his pioneering achievements in quality assurance, cost containment and health care utilization management.

Dr. Lasker’s current research focuses on how broadly participatory collaborative processes strengthen the ability of communities to identify, understand, and solve complex problems. A former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health (Policy), she also served as Principal Policy Analyst for the Physician Payment Review Commission. Over the last 15 years, she has written extensively on health policy and collaborative problem solving.

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Physicists watch the "birth, life and death of a photon"

14 March 2007

Physicists in France are the first to watch single photons appear spontaneously, live a brief life, and then vanish into thin air. The experiment is the best realization so far of "quantum non-demolition" (QND) measurements on single photons, whereby the presence of a photon is determined without destroying it. As well as providing an elegant demonstration of quantum mechanics, the researchers also believe that the technique could be exploited in quantum information systems (Nature 446 297).

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New biofuels process promises to meet all U.S. transportation needs

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University chemical engineers have proposed a new environmentally friendly process for producing liquid fuels from plant matter - or biomass - potentially available from agricultural and forest waste, providing all of the fuel needed for "the entire U.S. transportation sector."

The new approach modifies conventional methods for producing liquid fuels from biomass by adding hydrogen from a "carbon-free" energy source, such as solar or nuclear power, during a step called gasification. Adding hydrogen during this step suppresses the formation of carbon dioxide and increases the efficiency of the process, making it possible to produce three times the volume of biofuels from the same quantity of biomass, said Rakesh Agrawal, Purdue's Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering.

 

The researchers are calling their approach a "hybrid hydrogen-carbon process," or H2CAR.

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U.S. bans farmers from planting GMO-tainted rice

Fri Mar 9, 11:54 PM ET

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday banned farmers from planting a variety of rice containing genetically modified material that has not been approved by the government, and it told growers to destroy any plantings of the seed.

"Testing...has confirmed the presence of trace levels of genetic material not yet approved for commercialization in Clearfield 131 (CL131) rice seed," USDA said, adding, "This seed is not an option for planting this crop season."

Government tests confirmed results received from private testing announced on Monday, which prompted USDA to order seed dealers to stop selling the long-grain rice seed.

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Light to detect wound infection

UK scientists have identified a way of using light to rapidly detect the presence of bacteria. The technology could have wide applications in wound healing, counter-terrorism and screening patients for MRSA infection. The team at Sheffield University are developing a portable kit in which specially designed molecules emit a light signal when bound to bacteria. Current laboratory-based detection of bacteria can take hours or even days. The team have spent five years designing special large molecules, or polymers, which can bind to cells.

Once bound the polymer changes shape and emits a light signal.  This can either be a coloured light, such as a red glow, or a light that is invisible to the naked eye but can be detected under a fluorescent lamp, depending on the type of polymer that is used. With funding from the Ministry of Defence, the researchers are now developing polymers which can attach to bacterial cells. Putting the polymers into a wound would show doctors whether there was a bacterial infection by the presence of a light signal. The technology would be particularly useful in a war-zone where laboratory facilities are not readily available, said the researchers. The kit, which could be available in three years, could also be used to detect deliberate release of bacteria, for example in an anthrax attack.

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European patent on stem cells may be a possibility

As long as the research meets the usual requirements for a patent, isolated embryonic stem cells should be considered for both method and product patents.

This conclusion, which runs counter to the views of the European Group on Ethics under the European Commission, was reached by an interdisciplinary group at the Center for Bioethics at the Karolinska Institute and Uppsala University in an academic article in the international journal Stem Cells.

The article is the result of a unique collaborative effort involving ethics researchers Mats G. Hansson and Gert Helgesson at the Center for Bioethics, Richard Wessman at the Department of Law, Uppsala University, and one of the world's leading stem cell researchers, Rudolf Jaenisch at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"Our conclusion is that, in principle, stem cells can be patentable and that this is consonant with ethical views that the human embryo should enjoy special protection owing to its capacity to develop into a human being. This will be of interest to a great many people," says Professor Mats G. Hansson.

Research on embryonic and adult stem cells may yield new possibilities for treating and curing diseases. At the same time, it is ethically controversial, especially the use of stem cells from human embryos. The possibility of patenting these cells has been excluded by several instances, including several European patent authorities and the European Commission's European Group on Ethics (EGE). According to the EGE, only genetically altered stem cells or cells that have been further developed into certain bodily parts can be eligible for patents. In several European countries patents for stem cells are out of the question, and the European Patent Organization, like various national patent offices, has a wait-and-see policy.

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UW-Madison stellerator a step forward in plasma research

March 9, 2007

A project by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers has come one step closer to making fusion energy possible.

The research team, headed by electrical and computer engineering Professor David Anderson and research assistant John Canik, recently proved that the Helically Symmetric eXperiment (HSX), an odd-looking magnetic plasma chamber called a stellarator, can overcome a major barrier in plasma research, in which stellarators lose too much energy to reach the high temperatures needed for fusion.

Published in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters, the new results show that the unique design of the HSX in fact loses less energy, meaning that fusion in this type of stellarator could be possible.

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Attacking cancer from the inside

JUDY NEWMAN
608-252-6156
March 9, 2007

Cellectar, a Madison biotech company developing a shot-in-the-arm treatment for cancer, is about to take a big leap forward, thanks to a healthy wad of cash, a one-of-a-kind machine and a new, well-credentialed chief executive with big hopes and plans.

Once in the bloodstream, Cellectar's drug identifies cancerous tumors, vividly lighting them up in a computer image. A second, more potent dose then shrinks the malignancies.

So far, the drug - known as CLTR-404 - has been shown to diagnose and treat 37 types of cancer, based on studies using mice, said Cellectar co-founder Jamey Weichert. It hunts for cancer cells, from the brain to the colon, ignoring benign tumors.

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Patients, doctors, hospital here part of stem cell clinical heart trial

From staff/news services

A Middleton man whose angina is so severe that he gets chest pains watching the Badgers play basketball has become the first person in the state to join a stem cell clinical trial that uses patients' own cells to treat their heart disease.

 

"A good basketball game is a three-nitro game for me," Steve Myrah, 68, of Middleton, said of the number of nitroglycerin tablets he typically takes to ease the pain during a game.

In the trials, doctors at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics and other locations will harvest adult stem cells from a patient's bone marrow and inject them into blood-deprived areas of the heart. The hope is that the cells will stimulate the formation of new blood vessels or the expansion of existing ones, restoring blood flow. If the therapy is successful, it would be a major step forward in regenerating lost heart cells, which has not been possible using traditional methods.

Only one-third of the patients in Myrah's clinical trial will receive about 50 million stem cells, however, while another third will get 10 million cells, and the rest will be injected with a placebo saline solution. Neither the doctors nor the patients know which patients are getting what.

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Lockheed Martin to patent quantum radar

Quantum computers are still a long way away, even though the basics have been resolved and already work in the lab. But up to now, "entanglement" has only worked with a few qubits. No information is transmitted between entangled, but spatially separated photons in the classic sense of the term; rather, the photons form a pair, with the polarisation of one, for instance, directly determining that of the other regardless of the distance between them.

Now, the Guardian of Britain is reporting that a patent filed by US defense firm Lockheed Martin at the European Patent Office (no. EP1750145) uses Einstein's "spooky action at a distance" for a radar system that allegedly overcomes the limits of conventional radar systems.

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Fermilab data hint at Higgs boson

6 March 2007

Physicists analyzing data taken by the HyperCP experiment at Fermilab in the US claim it may have glimpsed the first Higgs boson -- the particle many think is responsible for all mass in the universe. However, for their claim to be correct our current 30-year-old Standard Model of particle physics would have to be set aside in favour of an alternative "supersymmetric" model (Phys. Rev. Lett. 98 081802).

The great triumph of the Standard Model is that it unites two of the fundamental forces – the weak and electromagnetic force – into a single, symmetric "electroweak" force at high energies. But at low energies, a symmetric electroweak theory would imply that particles have no mass, which is clearly wrong.

This is where the Higgs boson comes in – a particle that can break the electroweak symmetry at low energies. If our current Standard Model is correct, the much-sought Higgs would have a mass somewhere in the 100 GeV to 1 TeV region, which should allow physicists to discover it at the 14 TeV Large Hadron Collider at CERN once it starts up in November.

However, theoretical physicists analyzing data taken by the HyperCP experiment at Fermilab in January last year say the US lab might have got there first – that is, if we are prepared to consider an "extension" to the Standard Model. That experiment, which involved firing a proton beam at a fixed target, appeared to show three "events" in which a sigma-plus particle decays into a proton and a muon-antimuon pair. Although just three events would not normally be regarded as significant, German Valencia from Iowa State University in the US and colleagues -- who are not part of the HyperCP experiment -- suggest that the events could be interpreted as evidence for a new particle with mass 214.3 MeV, which they have dubbed the "HyperCP particle".

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Gene sequencing advance bolsters biofuels potential

March 6, 2007

A collaborative research project between the U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) and the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute has advanced the quest for efficient conversion of plant biomass to fuels and chemicals.

"We have sequenced and assembled the complete genome of Pichia stipitis, a native xylose-fermenting yeast," says Thomas Jeffries, research microbiologist at FPL and a professor of bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The results of this research project will be published in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology in April, and the report is currently available online.

The sequencing of P. stipitis marks an important step toward the efficient production of biofuels because the yeast can efficiently ferment xylose, a main component of plant lignocellulose. Xylose fermentation is vital to economically converting plant biomass to fuels and chemicals such as ethanol.

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New nanoscale engineering breakthrough points to hydrogen-powered vehicles

ARGONNE, Ill. (March 2, 2007) — Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have developed an advanced concept in nanoscale catalyst engineering – a combination of experiments and simulations that will bring polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells for hydrogen-powered vehicles closer to massive commercialization.

The results of their findings identify a clear trend in the behavior of extended and nanoscale surfaces of platinum-bimetallic alloy. Additionally, the techniques and concepts derived from the research program are expected to make overarching contributions to other areas of science well beyond the focus on electrocatalysis.

The Argonne researchers, Nenad Markovic and Vojislav Stamenkovic, published related results last month in Science and this month in Nature Materials on the behavior of single crystal and polycrystalline platinum alloy surfaces. The researchers discovered that the nanosegregated platinum-nickel alloy surface has unique catalytic properties, opening up important new directions for the development of active and stable practical cathode catalysts in fuel cells.

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Rensselaer Researchers Create World’s First Ideal Anti-Reflection Coating

New class of nanomaterials could lead to more efficient solar cells, brighter LEDs

Troy, N.Y. — A team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has created the world’s first material that reflects virtually no light. Reporting in the March issue of Nature Photonics, they describe an optical coating made from the material that enables vastly improved control over the basic properties of light. The research could open the door to much brighter LEDs, more efficient solar cells, and a new class of “smart” light sources that adjust to specific environments, among many other potential applications.

Most surfaces reflect some light — from a puddle of water all the way to a mirror. The new material has almost the same refractive index as air, making it an ideal building block for anti-reflection coatings. It sets a world record by decreasing the reflectivity compared to conventional anti-reflection coatings by an order of magnitude.

A fundamental property called the refractive index governs the amount of light a material reflects, as well as other optical properties such as diffraction, refraction, and the speed of light inside the material. “The refractive index is the most fundamental quantity in optics and photonics. It goes all the way back to Isaac Newton, who called it the ‘optical density,’” said E. Fred Schubert, the Wellfleet Senior Constellation Professor of the Future Chips Constellation at Rensselaer and senior author of the paper.

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Treating male infertility with stem cells

Los Angeles, CA -- New research has examined the usefulness of bone marrow stem cells for treating male infertility, with promising results. The related report by Lue et al, “Fate of bone marrow stem cells transplanted into the testis: potential implication for men with testicular failure,” appears in the March issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

When a couple experiences infertility, the man is just as likely as the woman to be the cause. Male infertility may arise from failed proliferation and differentiation of the germ cells (precursors of sperm) or from dysfunction of the supporting cells. New research is looking to stem cells as a means of replacing nonfunctioning cells, whether germ cells or supporting cells.

Researchers, directed by Dr. Ronald S. Swerdloff of the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, collected bone marrow stem cells from mice expressing the green fluorescent protein (GFP). These green cells, which could be easily tracked in recipient mice, were injected into the testes of infertile mice, in which infertility was induced either chemically or genetically (via mutations in a gene required for sperm production).

The donor GFP-expressing cells took up residence in the testes and survived within the recipient mice for the entire 12-week study period. The donor stem cells displayed the characteristic shape of either germ cells or supporting cells, suggesting that the stem cells had differentiated. These differentiated donor (green) cells were also found near the native recipient cells of the same type, demonstrating that the local cellular environment likely influenced the fate of the donor stem cells.

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Quantum Effects Make the Difference

The atomic constituents of matter are never still, even at absolute zero (-273.15 degrees Celsius). This consequence of quantum mechanics can result in continuous transition between different material states. Physicists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids have studied this phenomenon using ytterbium, rhodium and silicon at very low temperatures under the varying influence of a magnetic field. Until now, it has been assumed that the properties of a transition of this nature can be described completely with the fluctuations of one parameter, in this case, magnetic order. However, the experiments that have now been published reveal, completely unexpectedly, an additional change to the electronic properties of the transition. It confirms again that quantum effects can result in phenomena that are inconceivable in classical physics. On the one hand, the results extend the general understanding of phase transitions and, on the other, are also relevant to complex systems, such as high-temperature superconductors (Science, February 2007).

A better understanding of complex interactions in metals is still one of the key challenges of modern physics. For example, the mechanism that results in the creation of high-temperature superconductivity is still not understood, more than 20 years after its discovery. Global interest has concentrated in recent years on the examination of quantum phase transitions - phase transitions that are dictated by the laws of quantum mechanics and on which new, complex behaviour can be examined under controlled conditions.

Unlike classical physics, quantum physics reveals astonishing and fascinating new phenomena. For example, atomic particles still move about at absolute zero - a consequence of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle. These quantum fluctuations can result in transformations between different material states. If these phase transitions occur at absolute zero they are referred to as quantum-critical points, the study of which has delivered many surprising new findings in recent years.

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USDA Backs Production of Rice With Human Genes

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 2, 2007; A02

The Agriculture Department has given a preliminary green light for the first commercial production of a food crop engineered to contain human genes, reigniting fears that biomedically potent substances in high-tech plants could escape and turn up in other foods.

The plan, confirmed yesterday by the California biotechnology company leading the effort, calls for large-scale cultivation in Kansas of rice that produces human immune system proteins in its seeds.

The proteins are to be extracted for use as an anti-diarrhea medicine and might be added to health foods such as yogurt and granola bars.

"We can really help children with diarrhea get better faster. That is the idea," said Scott E. Deeter, president and chief executive of Sacramento-based Ventria Bioscience, emphasizing that a host of protections should keep the engineered plants and their seeds from escaping into surrounding fields.

But critics are assailing the effort, saying gene-altered plants inevitably migrate out of their home plots. In this case, they said, that could result in pharmacologically active proteins showing up in the food of unsuspecting consumers.

Although the proteins are not inherently dangerous, there would be little control over the doses people might get exposed to, and some might be allergic to the proteins, said Jane Rissler of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science policy advocacy group.

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Third Wave countersues rival Digene

The Business Journal of Milwaukee - 12:02 PM CST Thursday, March 1, 2007

Third Wave Technologies Inc. is countersuing a Maryland competitor accusing the rival of abusing its monopoly power in the human papillomavirus molecular testing products market.

Third Wave, of Madison, again defended its genetic testing product that detects the human papillomavirus (HPV), claiming it does not infringe on a patent from rival Digene Corp. Digene charged Third Wave of patent infringement in a lawsuit filed in January in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin in Madison.

Digene is seeking to prevent Third Wave from selling its products and is asking the court to declare its patent enforceable. It is also seeking damages from Third Wave.

In its counterclaim, Third Wave accuses Digene of abusing its monopoly power to thwart competition in the HPV testing market. The lawsuit was also filed in federal district court in Madison.

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