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Harvard

Medical

Fake muscles put new twist on artificial hearts

When you think of a beating heart, you probably just picture it flexing in and out, sort of like a rubber ball being squeezed by an invisible hand. In fact, though, its motion is more similar to that of a dish rag being wrung out, with the top of the organ twisting in a clockwise direction while the bottom contracts counterclockwise. It's known as the left ventricular twist, and scientists have now replicated it using artificial muscles. The research could lead to better-functioning cardiac implants, among other things. Read More

Science

New bioprinting technique creates thicker, healthier tissue

The notion of 3D printed biological tissue holds all kinds of possibilities for drug testing and the reparation of damaged cells, though replicating the complexities of human tissue in a lab presents some very big challenges. A new bioprinting method developed by researchers from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University has enabled the creation of tissue constructs with small blood vessels and multiple cell types, marking important progress toward the printing of living tissue. Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Cochlear implants may be losing their awkward external hardware

Thanks to the development of cochlear implants, many people who would otherwise be quite deaf are able to regain a limited sense of hearing. Unfortunately, the implants also incorporate external components that can get in the user's way, and that look ... well, that look like the user has something hooked up to their ear. Now, however, researchers at MIT, Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary have developed a chip that could lead to cochlear implants that are entirely implanted. Read More

Science

New stem cell production technique comes as a shock

An international research effort has found that mature animal cells can be shocked into an embryonic state simply by soaking them in acid or putting them under physical stress. The fortuitous breakthrough could prove to be massive for many fields of medical research if the method can be replicated using human cells, something researchers are confident will be possible.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Soft pneumatic exoskeleton could be perfect for use in rehab

We've recently been hearing a lot about how exoskeletons can be used in rehabilitation, guiding patients' disabled limbs through a normal range of motion in order to develop muscle memory. The problem is, most exoskeletons are rigid, limiting their degrees of freedom to less than those of the body part they're moving. A team of scientists are looking at changing that, with a partial "soft exoskeleton" that replicates the body's own muscles, tendons and ligaments. Read More

Science

Organic flow battery could transform renewable energy storage

Researchers at Harvard have developed an inexpensive, high capacity, organic battery that uses carbon-based materials as electrolytes rather than metals. The researchers say the technology stands to be a game-changer in renewable energy storage by solving the intermittent generation problems faced by renewable sources, such as wind and solar. The battery offers large volume electricity storage not possible with solid-state batteries and at a fraction of the cost of existing flow battery technology.Read More

Science

Cause of aging reversed in mice: Human trials may start next year

With the wide-ranging benefits of reducing disease and enabling a longer, healthier life, reversing the causes of aging is a major focus of much medical research. A joint project between the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia and Harvard Medical School that restored communication within animal cells has the potential to do just that, and maybe more. With the researchers hoping to begin human clinical trials in 2014, some major medical breakthroughs could be just around the corner.Read More

Science

New photonic molecules are not unlike lightsabers

Scientists from Harvard and MIT have jointly demonstrated that, in specific conditions, photons can be made to interact with each other and form molecules. Such groupings of photons, dubbed “Photonic molecules”, constitute an entirely new form of matter, which until recently was purely theoretical. Combining the properties of light and those of solids, in terms of physics this new form of matter is not unlike a certain material that millions of Star Wars fans are already well familiar with. Lightsaber material. Read More

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