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Vanderbilt University

Medical

Spinning up artificial capillaries with a cotton candy machine

From growing a full thymus gland inside a mouse, to creating a slice of artificial liver tissue, to using ink jet printing technology to create a human ear, researchers are steadily moving us toward the day when ordering up a new organ could be as commonplace as ordering an MRI is today. One of the hurdles in creating lab-grown organs, though, is that the cells in such a structure need a way to receive nutrients. Researchers at Vanderbilt University (VU) may have just leaped that hurdle using a most unexpected tool – a cotton candy machine.Read More

Space

New gamma-ray spectroscope would reveal what lies within for asteroid miners

Asteroid mining is a potential trillion-dollar industry, but before any prospectors start fitting their mules of spacesuits, surveying is going to be more important than extraction. To help find out if its worth going to a particular asteroid, scientists from Vanderbilt and Fisk Universities, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, and the Planetary Science Institute are developing a new gamma-ray spectroscope that's capable of scanning asteroids, moons, and other airless bodies for gold, platinum, rare earths, and other valuable minerals.Read More

Medical

Needle-sized mechanical wrist gives surgery a new angle

Some of the most difficult types of surgery just got easier and more versatile. A team of engineers and doctors at Vanderbilt University has developed a tiny mechanical wrist that can be used for millimeter-sized incisions and sutures that allow new kinds of operations and less-invasive ways of conducting existing procedures. The wrist is flexible enough that its end can be steered to allow needles to reach inside the nose, throat, ears, urethra, and brain.Read More

Medical

Surgical robot takes a cheeky approach to brain surgery

Conventional open surgery on the brain involves drilling openings in the skull through which to access the gray matter. But what if the part of the brain needing to be accessed is located at the bottom of the brain as is the case with treating severe epileptic seizures? Generally it means more drilling. Now engineers at Vanderbilt University have developed a surgical robot that uses an alternative point of entry – the cheek.Read More

Medical

Study suggests probiotic to prevent obesity possible

Researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee have raised hopes for the possibility of developing of a probiotic to treat obesity and other chronic diseases. The team inhibited weight gain, insulin resistance and various other negative health effects of a high-fat diet in mice by modifying bacteria to produce a therapeutic compound in the gut.Read More

Science

Meet the newest element deemed critical for animal life: bromine

Joining the ranks of carbon, selenium, sulfur and 24 others as an essential element for animal life is element 35 – bromine – long considered inessential to life and moreso, shunned as a toxic disease-causing agent. However, researchers have identified the role bromine holds in animal development, even demonstrating death in fruit flies without access to this element named for its identifying stench. Read More

Electronics

Structural supercapacitors could make batteries and power cords obsolete

Imagine using a mobile phone powered entirely by its casing, or an electric car that runs off power stored in its chassis. Researchers at Vanderbilt University have created a structural supercapacitor that could, they believe, bring this closer to reality, making batteries and power cords obsolete. The structural supercapacitor could make it possible to store energy directly in structural materials, allowing them to deliver power long-term while surviving the real-life mechanical stresses they're bound to experience.Read More

Science

Electric "thinking cap" helps people learn from their mistakes

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has become a widely used technique for reaching into a person's brain and altering the way in which it functions. Vanderbilt psychology Professor Geoffrey Woodman and graduate student Robert Reinhart have just published the results of a new study in the Journal of Neuroscience in which they found that tDCS stimulation of the mediofrontal cortex for a period of minutes can change one's ability to recognize and learn from error for a period of several hours. Read More

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