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Radhika Gupta verified badge
Electronics Engineer | Editor at The Surg
February 4, 2018 · 408 Reads

Top stories in science this week

Scientists have identified the physical source of anxiety in the brain

The firing of the anxiety cells sends messages to other parts of the brain that turn on anxious behaviors — in mice, those include avoiding the dangerous area or fleeing to a safe zone. Though many other cells in the brain have been identified as playing a role in anxiety, the cells found in this study are the first known to represent the state of anxiety, regardless of the type of environment that provokes the emotion.

Reference: Neuron

 

Injecting two immune-stimulating agents directly into tumors in mice eliminated all traces of cancer

The approach works for many different types of cancers, including those that arise spontaneously, the study found. The researchers believe the local application of very small amounts of the agents could serve as a rapid and relatively inexpensive cancer therapy that is unlikely to cause the adverse side effects often seen with bodywide immune stimulation.

Reference: Science Translational Medicine

Scientists think they have found a way to stop allergic reactions even before they happen

Researchers have been working to find more effective allergy treatments, and now they’ve discovered how a particular antibody can stop an allergic reaction from happening altogether.When the body is exposed to an allergen, the immune system goes into overdrive producing ridiculous amounts of a specific type of antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). It’s a large, Y-shaped molecule that attaches itself to the immune cells tasked with releasing invader-attacking chemicals. Scientists have now discovered a mechanism through which a particular anti-IgE antibody can make this miracle happen.

Reference: Nature Communications

 

Scientists have invented a ‘4-D printing’ method for a smart gel that could lead to the development of organs and tissues

The 4D printing approach here involves printing a 3D object with a hydrogel (water-containing gel) that changes shape over time when temperatures change. The smart gel could provide structural rigidity in organs such as the lungs, and can contain small molecules like water or drugs to be transported in the body and released. It could also create a new area of soft robotics, and enable new applications in flexible sensors and actuators, biomedical devices and platforms or scaffolds for cells to grow.

Reference: Scientific Reports

Scientists have developed a way to wirelessly deliver light into deep regions of body to activate light-sensitive drugs

A team of scientists has developed a way to wirelessly deliver light into deep regions of the body to activate light-sensitive drugs for photodynamic therapy (PDT). This technology could potentially enable PDT to be used to treat a wider range of cancers, such as brain and liver cancer.

Reference: National Academy of Sciences

Researchers have discovered the mechanism of motor neuron formation during embryonic development

Researchers have discovered the inner workings of a gene network that regulates the development of spinal motor neurons in the growing chicken and mouse embryo. The research also answers a long-standing question about why motor neurons, the nerve cells of the spinal cord that control muscle movement, form much faster than other types of neurons.

Reference: PLOS Biology

 

Researchers have discovered a new mechanism for the regulation of protein synthesis

Mitochondria, best known for their role as cellular power plants, perform numerous vital tasks in the cell. During cell respiration, reactive oxygen species can be formed in mitochondria. If these are present in excess, their high reactivity leads to irreparable damage to important cellular components. This so-called oxidative stress is assumed to play a causal role in many diseases and in ageing processes. In low concentrations, however, reactive oxygen species can also act as important second messengers in the cell. Here, specific, so-called redox-active thiols in distinct proteins are modified. This type of oxidative modification is reversible and, like a nano-switch, can regulate the function of a protein.

Reference: Nature Communications

Astrophysicists have discovered for the first time a population of planets beyond the Milky Way galaxy

Using microlensing — an astronomical phenomenon and the only known method capable of discovering planets at truly great distances from the Earth among other detection techniques — researchers were able to detect objects in extragalactic galaxies that range from the mass of the Moon to the mass of Jupiter.

Reference: The Astrophysical Journal

Engineers develop a high-performance, flexible lithium battery for wearable electronics

Engineering researchers have developed a prototype of a high-performance flexible lithium-ion battery that demonstrates — concurrently — both good flexibility and high energy density. The battery is shaped like the human spine and allows remarkable flexibility, high energy density, and stable voltage no matter how it is flexed or twisted. The device could help advance applications for wearable electronics.

Reference:  Advanced Materials

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