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University of North Carolina

A natural enzyme called catalase may prove hugely significant in treating neurological disorders such as Parkinson's. These extremely potent antioxidants can tackle neuron-killing inflammation with an effectiveness unparalleled by small molecule drugs. But there's a problem, they are big. So big that getting them through the blood-brain barrier for delivery straight to the brain is nearly impossible. But researchers have now discovered that loading them into tiny, naturally occurring bubbles allows them to sneak past the brain's defenses, pointing to the possibility of improved treatments for such conditions.

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Further to a list of side effects ranging from mildly unpleasant to just plain awful, the scattergun nature of chemotherapy often sees healthy tissue damaged along with the cancerous cells. Attacking these cancer cells with better precision would lead to more effective treatments and reduce harmful side effects, and has been a primary objective for researchers. Among this group is a team of scientists that has developed a way of administering cancer-fighting chemicals using an electric field that is claimed to enable a highly-targeted form of treatment. Read More
One complication that can arise from a heart attack is the formation of scar tissue, which can the harden organ's walls and impede its ability to pump blood. This is caused by fibroblast cells which move to replace damaged muscle with the scar tissue. New research conducted at the University of North Carolina's (UNC) School of Medicine suggests these cells could be converted to endothelial cells which actually assist in recovery, potentially minimizing the damage caused during a heart attack. Read More
Last year, lithium-ion battery fires became a hot topic, pardon the inescapable pun, with both a Tesla automobile and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner succumbing to fires. In cross-disciplinary research at the University of North Carolina (UNC), a compound being studied to prevent marine life from sticking to ships may also be the solvent (and the solution) to keep lithium ion batteries from catching alight when they overheat. Read More
There could be hope for diabetics who are tired of giving themselves insulin injections on a daily basis. Researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are developing a system in which a single injection of nanoparticles could deliver insulin internally for days at a time – with a little help from pulses of ultrasound. Read More
Team Austria (Vienna University of Technology) has been announced the overall winner of Solar Decathlon 2013 after the closest competition in the history of the event. Second place went to University of Nevada Las Vegas, with the Czech Technical University achieving third place overall. Read More
Aside from the inconvenience of injecting insulin multiple times a day, type 1 diabetics also face health risks if the dosage level isn’t accurate. A new approach developed by US researchers has the potential to overcome both of these problems. The method relies on a network of nanoscale particles that once injected into the body, can maintain normal blood sugar levels for more than a week by releasing insulin when blood-sugar levels rise. Read More
You may remember – pun intended – that earlier in the week we reported on research that may provide an explanation of how memories are stored in the brain. In related news, a team consisting of researchers from the Scripps Research Institute, the University of Oregon and the University of North Carolina has found a way to partially control a specific memory in mice by turning neurons in their brains on and off. Although the research is in its early stages, the scientists say it could lead to a better understanding of how memories form and maybe even provide ways to change people’s thought patterns. Read More
Using commercially-available ultrasound technology, scientists have successfully reduced sperm count in rats to a level that would cause infertility in men. Researchers managed to reduce motile sperm to 3 million per cauda epididymis (where sperm are stored), which equates to a Sperm Count Index of zero, measured two weeks after treatment. The research could re-open the door to the investigation of ultrasonic techniques as a practical human contraceptive. Read More
DNA testing in recent years has resulted in many wrongly-accused citizens being exonerated of crimes they didn’t commit. For example, investigations conducted by the Innocence Project, an organization started in New York City, led to the exoneration of more than 220 citizens convicted of serious felonies. An analysis of the first 130 exonerated revealed that mistaken eyewitness identification was a contributing factor in 101 (77 percent) of those cases. It is believed that many cases of mistaken identity are caused by police inadvertently influencing eyewitnesses as they look through photo-arrays, searching for the perpetrators. Enter ‘Officer Garcia’ – an impartial virtual detective who guides witnesses through the identification process without the risk of imparting any influence. Read More
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