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At the University of Minnesota, researchers have developed a soft robotic system that can ‘grow’ like a plant. The mechanism allows it to travel through difficult-to-access areas, such as the tortuous gastrointestinal tract or vasculature. The system works by extruding a liquid through an opening in the device, and at the same time a photopolymerization process results in the rapid solidification of the liquid into a solid structure. The device illuminates the extruded liquid monomers, triggering the photopolymerization. This process mimics the way plants incrementally add material to their growing...Read More
Scientists at Duke University have developed a ‘nanorattle’ system that allows for the detection of mRNA biomarkers of cancer. The tiny structures consist of gold nanospheres with a surrounding silver nanocage, forming the so-called rattle. The nanorattles are also loaded with light scattering dyes called Raman reporters. When illuminated with a laser, the rattles emit significant amounts of light. The researchers developed the technology so that they could detect mRNA biomarkers of cancer, which will bind to the nanorattles if present in a patient sample. The researchers can then use...Read More

September 28th, 2022 by Conn Hastings
Researchers at the University of California San Diego have developed a microrobot system to treat bacterial pneumonia. The microrobots consist of living algal cells that can swim very effectively in biological fluids, allowing them to navigate throughout the lungs and deliver drugs to difficult-to-reach areas. The algal cells are studded with antibiotic-loaded polymer spheres that are coated with cell membranes from neutrophils, which help them to neutralize inflammatory molecules that are released by bacteria in the lungs, providing a localized anti-inflammatory effect. In tests in mice with bacterial pneumonia, the...Read More
Scientists at the University of New South Wales in Australia have developed a method to produce human blood stem cell precursors from human pluripotent stem cells. The method may have use in treating cancer patients who require high doses of such blood stem cells to help replenish endogenous populations that have been destroyed by chemotherapy. The researchers exploited the tendency of cells to respond to mechanical stimuli and cultured the pluripotent stem cells in a microfluidic device that mimicked the pulsatile flow of the embryonic heartbeat. Given that human blood...Read More

September 22nd, 2022 by Conn Hastings
Scientists at Shanghai Tongji University in China have created a face mask that can alert the wearer to the presence of respiratory viruses in the surrounding environment, including the viruses behind COVID-19 and influenza. The mask includes aptamers, which are short sequences of DNA or RNA that can bind to protein targets. When viral particles bind to the aptamers, ion-gated transistors boost the signal so that the mask can sensitively detect small amounts of virus. The mask sends a message to the wearer’s smartphone within 10 minutes of detecting the...Read More

September 21st, 2022 by Conn Hastings
At the University of Washington a research team has developed a smartphone system that can measure blood oxygen levels. The technology uses the camera and flash of the phone to take the measurement, and the system is so easy to use that it may be well suited for at-home use. A person presses their finger over the camera, which gets illuminated by the flash, and the camera measures how much light from the flash the finger absorbs, which a deep-learning algorithm can then correlate with blood oxygen levels. The system...Read More

September 19th, 2022 by Conn Hastings
At the University of Minnesota a team of researchers has developed a 3D printed light sensing wearable that can help people with light-sensitive diseases, such as lupus, to understand more about the types of light that can exacerbate their symptoms. Many people with lupus are sensitive to light, such as sunlight or even regular indoor light, but they may not know what specific light conditions are likely to cause flare-ups. This new device aims to provide such people with more information, so that they can learn more about their flare-ups...Read More

September 19th, 2022 by Conn Hastings
Researchers at the City University of Hong Kong have developed a magnetic soft millirobot that can grab and release objects, and move around by rolling. The device can be controlled using magnetic fields, and consists of a biodegradable gelatin and iron oxide microparticles. The technology has significant potential as a minimally invasive drug delivery system, perhaps in the gastrointestinal tract, and may even lead to soft robots that can carry out surgical procedures within the body. One of the nicest features of the device is its rapid biodegradation over the...Read More
Researchers at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China have developed a microfluidic-style chip that models the alveoli present in our airways. The tiny air sacs in our lungs are crucial for gas exchange, but they can be difficult to study and model. A better understanding of airflow patterns in these structures could be very useful in informing the design of inhalable medications, understanding respiratory threats in the form of inhaled particulate pollutants, and also in understanding respiratory diseases. This new device models a branching point of the airways using...Read More

September 12th, 2022 by Conn Hastings
Researchers at the University of the Basque Country have developed a technique that allows them to 3D print pharmaceutical tablets using different types of starch. By modifying the types of starch used and the shape of the tablets, the team can fine-tune drug release to be either rapid or slow. This includes full release of the encapsulated drug in as little as ten minutes to as long as six hours, providing significant scope to address a wide variety of therapeutic situations. The technique could allow for more personalized medicine for...Read More

September 12th, 2022 by Conn Hastings
Researchers at Penn State have developed a granular hydrogel that contains both hydrogel microparticles and self-assembling nanoparticles, and which could be highly suited for bioprinting purposes. The concept involves the nanoparticles becoming adsorbed onto the hydrogel microparticles and reversibly adhering the microparticles together, providing a printed gel structure that is porous enough to permit cell viability, but which maintains a desired shape and mechanical properties. Unlike conventional hydrogels, which consist of long polymer strands that are interlinked and surrounded by water, and which require a substantial trade-off between their porosity...Read More

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Medicine

Cardiology

Smartphone Camera Measures Blood Oxygen

At the University of Washington a research team has developed a smartphone system that can measure blood oxygen levels. The technology uses the camera and flash of... September 21st, 2022

Surgery

Soft Robot Biodegrades Inside Body

Researchers at the City University of Hong Kong have developed a magnetic soft millirobot that can grab and release objects, and move around by rolling. The device... September 19th, 2022

Granular Hydrogels for Improved Bioinks

Researchers at Penn State have developed a granular hydrogel that contains both hydrogel microparticles and self-assembling nanoparticles, and which could be highly... September 12th, 2022

Emergency Medicine

Smartphone Camera Measures Blood Oxygen

At the University of Washington a research team has developed a smartphone system that can measure blood oxygen levels. The technology uses the camera and flash of... September 21st, 2022

Radiology

Ultrasound Sticker for 48 Hours of Imaging

Engineers at MIT have created an ultrasound patch that can provide long-term ultrasound imaging of internal organs and structures. The device contains a rigid... August 11th, 2022

Anesthesiology

Smartphone Camera Measures Blood Oxygen

At the University of Washington a research team has developed a smartphone system that can measure blood oxygen levels. The technology uses the camera and flash of... September 21st, 2022