SciTech Briefs

Heart cells can be regenerated in low-oxygen environments

A healthy heart is normally supplied with oxygen-rich blood. However, the heart muscle cells of adult mammals, or cardiomyocytes, typically do not divide because exposure to oxygen damages these cells. Using this information, researchers at the University of Texas South-western Medical Center found that after placing adult mice in a controlled, low-oxygen environment for two weeks, their heart muscle began to regenerate.

The cardiologists lowered the oxygen level from the normal 21 percent to 7 percent, which is similar to the oxygen level at the top of Mount Everest. They found that over time, the number of cardiomyocytes increased, and heart function improved. Scientists could potentially generalize the findings to other organs as well. The entire study can be found in Nature.

Source: Science Daily

High-speed 2D and 3D printing improved

New technology developed at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Engineering has improved printing speeds by a thousand-fold — 3D printing that used to take an hour takes seconds, and printing 20,000 pages in 2D takes a minute. The researchers used “a space-charge-controlled KTN beam deflector,” which is a crystal that, at an extremely high temperature, can increase scanning speed from microseconds to nanoseconds.

The lead researcher and professor of electrical engineering, Shizhuo Yin, stated that this new technology would immensely benefit the medical field by making real-time high-speed imaging possible. The complete findings were published in the September issue of Scientific Reports.

Source: Science Daily

Patient treatments personalized with biological datasets

Scientists are developing tools to link the information a genome provides with large biological datasets to pin-point gene activity and output at specific times and places. While useful in many aspects, a genome by itself only provides a simplistic map of our genes that tells us what could happen.

However, in combination with the proteome, or the set of an organism’s proteins, the metabolome, or the set of an organism’s metabolites, and many other omes, scientists can predict how individuals will respond to certain treatments under certain environments. This will help the medical industry personalize treatments for individual patients, and can help the agricultural industry to engineer crops to survive harsher conditions.

Source: Science News

Turning plants into explosive detectors now possible

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology turned a spinach plant into an explosive detector by placing tiny carbon tubes in its leaves. As the plant takes up water through its roots, the chemicals found in landmines, or nitro-aromatics, are absorbed as well.
The scientists then shine a laser onto the leaves to stimulate the nanotubes to emit fluorescent light detectable by an infrared camera, or even a smartphone camera without the infrared filter.

Currently, the reach of the signal is limited to one meter, but the researchers are working to increase the distance. Its applications include monitoring terrorist activities in public spaces.

The results are published in the journal Nature Materials

Source: BBC News

New model of the Earth-moon system explains degrees

Scientists have been attempting to rationalize the oddly far orbit of Earth’s moon and its unusually large orbital tilt, but so far, the models have not completely explained the current state of the Earth-moon system. Past research has suggested a model in which the moon smoothly transitioned away from Earth’s equatorial plane to the “ecliptic” plane after the explosion that created the moon, but does not explain the five-degree tilt of the moon from the ecliptic plane.

A recent paper suggests that the explosive impact that created the moon also tilted Earth to a 60-to 80-degree angle. As time passed, the Earth stabilized to its 23.5-degree angle we observe today, and the moon, as it abruptly shifted away from Earth, oscillated about the ecliptic plane, explaining the five-degree tilt.

Source: Science Daily

New warnings released about e-cigarettes

Public health authorities in the United States have long stood by the claim that vaping, or smoking electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), is dangerous. This, in addition to the fact that e-cigarettes are not as effective in satiating the addiction to nicotine, has led to a decline in sales of e-cigarettes.

The warning is meant to prevent young people from starting the habit of vaping, but as a result also discourages people from using e-cigarettes to quit smoking. A British medical organization claimed that e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than cigarettes, but many Americans are under the impression that e-cigarettes are equally, or even more, harmful as cigarettes.

Source: The New York Times