The neurons in your brain are exquisitely designed to transmit signals—as many as 1 trillion bits per second, according to some estimates. The cells use chemical neurotransmitters to pass the signal from one to the next. To treat neurological disorders, scientists have only been able to hack this signal with electric stimulation or imprecise chemical changes from medications. Now a team of Swedish researchers has developed a synthetic neuron that is able to communicate chemically with organic neurons, which could change the neural pathways and better treat neurological disorders, according to a study published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.
Today, we're talking bees. Yep. Those bees. Sure, some people might have had a bad encounter or two with the wrong end of a bee's stinger, and might be on guard around the little insects. For the most part though, bees get a bad rap. In addition to creating delicious honey, they also help pollinate crops. Without their help we wouldn't have food.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is on the rise. Since it was first discovered in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, it has infected over 1,000 people, killing more than 30 in the most recent outbreak in South Korea. Since the disease is so new, researchers still have a lot of questions about how it works and there are no specific vaccines or treatments for it, in part because the animal models that researchers often use to answer some of the preliminary questions don't work for this particular disease. Now researchers have found a workaround, according to a study published today in PNAS, which will hopefully help them find better treatments for MERS more quickly.
On June 17, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee released a bill that outlines the funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for 2016. But the bill has an unusual caveat: if it passes as it currently stands, it would bar the agency from spending any money to assess research or clinical applications for products that manipulate the human genome. It would also require the agency to set up a committee to review a forthcoming report that considers the ethics of editing human embryos.
We've seen robots designed to move inside bodies before. Carefully shaped magnetic objects, these miniature robots are moved by external magnetic forces, like those found in MRI machines. Last month, researchers from Boston Children's Hospital and the University of Houston demonstrated a system of small magnetic "millirobots" designed not only to swim through a person's bloodstream and spinal fluid, but assemble into an electromagnetic gun once inside.
Metal wires are so old school. Nowadays, most of our information (whether on the Internet, TV, or phone) is communicated over fiber optic cables, long strands of material that can transmit information as light over distances. And with a new discovery, fiber optic cables could become cheaper, more efficient, and could literally cover more ground.
Since it made its courtroom debut in the mid-1980s, DNA evidence has been integral to thousands of cases (including, famously, the OJ Simpson murder trial). Juries and lawyers alike generally consider DNA evidence to be extremely reliable—a 2005 Gallup poll found that 58 percent of people considered it to be “very reliable.” But in reality, DNA evidence is much less reliable and objective than most people think. A story published yesterday by Frontline maps out just how DNA evidence works and how it can lead juries astray.