Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Hydrogels

A sample of the hydrogel turns from blue to green to red, as it takes up glucose

Thanks to a new color-changing hydrogel, there may soon be a more reliable way of continuously monitoring the blood glucose levels of both diabetics and hospital patients. If incorporated into a device such as an implanted pump, it could automatically trigger the release of insulin into the bloodstream as needed.  Read More

A vial of the clear hydrogel turns to a white semi-solid as it's heated to body temperatur...

In the field of regenerative medicine, one of the current areas of interest involves the use of scaffolding-like materials that a patient's own cells can be "seeded" onto. As the cells grow and populate the material, they gradually replace it, until all that remains is a solid piece of tissue or bone. Now, scientists at Houston's Rice University have taken that concept a step further, using a polymer that is liquid at room temperature, but that solidifies into a scaffold when injected into patients' bodies.  Read More

Holographic spots and a hologram illuminated from the center (Photo: Ali Yetisen)

A team of interdisciplinary researchers have created "smart" holograms that can monitor health conditions or diagnose diseases, by changing color in the presence of disease indicators in a person's breath or bodily fluids. When developed into a portable medical test, these responsive holograms could make testing for medical conditions and monitoring one's health very easy, the scientists claim.  Read More

Lead scientist Xinqiao Jia works with the gel

People suffering from joint problems such as osteoarthritis tend to take a lot of anti-inflammatory drugs, even though such medications affect their whole body, all of the time. Scientists at the University of Delaware, however, are developing what could be a more effective alternative. It's a hydrogel that can be injected into the joint, and it releases medication only in response to mechanical force – in other words, whenever the joint is used.  Read More

Copper ions injected into the hydrogel allow the degree of gel curvature to be dynamically...

Soft robotics is a quickly emerging field that takes a lot of inspiration from marine creatures like squids and starfish. A light-controlled hydrogel was recently developed that could be used for control of these new robotic devices, but now researchers at North Carolina State University are taking the development of soft robotic devices to a new level with electrically-charged hydrogels.  Read More

A collagen 'wall' (blue, at left) built up around an implanted material vs. more evenly-di...

No matter what sort of wondrous implantable medical devices are created, they’re not going to do anyone much good if the recipient's body simply rejects them. With that in mind, scientists at the University of Washington have developed a synthetic biomaterial that they claim is “exceptional” at keeping implanted materials from being attacked by the immune system.  Read More

Only a few bacteria are left over, after the hydrogel was used to destroy a solid bacteria...

Whether it’s in hospitals, restaurant kitchens or our homes, harmful bacteria such as E.coli are a constant concern. Making matters worse is the fact that such bacteria are increasingly developing a resistance to antibiotics. This has led to a number of research projects, which have utilized things such as blue light, cold plasma and ozone to kill germs. One of the latest non-antibiotic bacteria-slayers is a hydrogel developed by IBM Research and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore.  Read More

DNA hydrogel letters collapse, flow, and reform into their original shape

Every now and again, Cornell University Professor Dan Luo gets a surprise. His research team has discovered a new variety of hydrogel – like Jello, except made with DNA instead of gelatin. When full of water, it is a soft, elastic solid. But when the water is removed, the hydrogel collapses, losing its shape. The resulting material pours like a liquid, and conforms to the shape of its container. The most interesting part, however, is that the liquid hydrogel remembers its shape. Add water and you get back the original Jello-like shape. Terminator T-1000, anyone?  Read More

Printing blood vessels: the future? (Photo: Biomedical Nanotechnology Laboratory, Chen Res...

3D printing technologies have come a long way since their earliest incarnations as rapid product prototype makers. It's now shaping up as the next disruptive technology and in medical science, 3D printing has huge potential. The latest advance comes from University of California, San Diego Nanoengineering Professor Shaochen Chen, whose group has demonstrated the ability to print three-dimensional blood vessels in seconds. If the technique proves scalable, it could revolutionize regenerative medicine.  Read More

The hydrogel in its relaxed state (left), and stretched by a factor of 21

Scientists at Harvard University have created a hydrogel that’s tough, biocompatible, self-healing, and can be repeatedly stretched to 21 times its regular length without breaking – all of which are qualities that could make it an ideal replacement for damaged cartilage in humans. Being a hydrogel, it’s composed mostly of water, although it also contains calcium ions, and a mix of two common polymers. While each of those polymers are fairly weak on their own, the results are truly impressive when they’re combined.  Read More

Looking for something? Search our 29,486 articles