Sunday, September 17, 2006

Science Sunday: Wrap-up of recent advancements in science from EurekAlert!

Brown engineers build a better battery -- with plastic:

It's thin, light, flexible -- and plastic. Brown University engineers Hyun-Kon Song and Tayhas Palmore have created a prototype polymer-based battery that packs more power than a standard alkaline battery and more storage capacity than a double-layered capacitor. Their work, published in Advanced Materials, will be of interest to the energy, defense and aerospace industries, which are looking at more efficient ways to deliver electricity.

What's next for gene therapy? Plastic:

Gene therapy depends upon foreign DNA, even viruses, to deliver genes, therapeutic proteins or medicine to cells within the body. Many scientists are looking for better chaperones across the cell membrane. Virginia Tech researchers think polymer molecules can be created to do the job.

A plastic pill for periodontal problems:

Rutgers scientists today announced a revolutionary new treatment for killing the bacteria that attack gum tissue during periodontal disease, while also promoting healing and the regeneration of tissue and bone around the teeth. The breakthrough technology, employing a polymer-based drug delivery system that may be implanted in pockets between the teeth and the gum, was developed at Rutgers University.

: "I want to say one word to you. Just one word....Plastics"

Of rice and hen: Fashions from the farm:

In the future, it might be perfectly normal to wear suits and dresses made of chicken feathers or rice straw. Scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln plan to develop these agricultural wastes into conventional-looking fabrics as a way to reduce the use of petroleum-based fabrics. The studies on rice straw and feathers will be presented on Sept. 11 and Sept. 13, respectively, in San Francisco during the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Quantum dots reviewed -- Could these nanoparticles hold the cure to cancer?:

The worlds of medical and biological research are abuzz with the promises offered by nanoparticles known as semiconductor quantum dots.

Anemia affects body... and maybe the mind:

For older adults, anemia's trademark loss of oxygen-toting red blood cells has long been linked to fatigue, muscle weakness and other physical ailments. Now researchers at Johns Hopkins have found a relationship between anemia and impaired thinking, too.

Molecular medicine comes to the rescue:

On Aug. 14, a six-year-old girl who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was one month old, checked into the Clinical Research Center at the University of Chicago Medical Center. On Aug. 18, she checked out, starting to make her own insulin. On Aug. 23, with her doctors' direction, her mother disconnected her insulin pump -- the lifeline and security blanket she had relied on for years.

The sweet science: Viruses switch grip to gain upper hand:

Viruses grab hold of the carbohydrates the protrude from our cells in order to mount an attack. New findings by University of Florida scientists show that by changing the way they attach slightly, viruses can infect cells more efficiently -- a finding that may prove valuable to scientists seeking to use gene therapy to fight cancer or brain diseases. It also helps explain how flu and other viruses are able to stay a step ahead of the body's own versatile immune system.

MIT's molecular sieve advances protein research:

New MIT technology promises to speed up the accurate sorting of proteins, work that may ultimately aid in the detection and treatment of disease.

Clemson research cleans up with edible oil:

Oil and water don't mix, and that could be the key to edible vegetable-based oil being the answer to contaminant clean-up.Clemson University researchers, in conjunction with the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), are testing vegetable oil as a way to prevent contaminants from getting into groundwater aquifers. They say the method has the potential to help clean up chlorinated solvents, which are among the most common groundwater contaminants caused by industry.

Scientists discuss new frontiers in single-molecule research at American Chemical Society:

Not long ago, the idea of conducting an experiment on a single strand of DNA seemed far beyond the realm of science. But thanks to rapid advances in microscopy in the last decade, researchers can now watch a single gene being transcribed from DNA -- one atom at a time -- or observe the activity of a protein molecule as it moves inside a living cell. This emerging revolution in nanomedical research is the focus of two scientific panels at the 2006 American Chemical Society meeting.

Solar energy: Charged for the future:

Once regarded as costly and impractical, solar technology is now poised to play a larger role in the future thanks to new developments that could result in lower costs and improved efficiency. Potential applications include cell phones, computers, automobiles, homes and office buildings. More than 28 papers on this topic will be presented during a three-day symposium Sept. 10-12 in San Francisco at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.



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