Category Archives for "Good Latest Research"

Technion Invents Spinach-powered Electricity Cell

 

‘My dream is to get up in morning, cut the grass, put it into the machine, come back in evening and have enough power to run the home,”

Oil is clearly the devil and hydrogen is evidently the fuel of the future. Now Israeli researchers have developed a “really green” power cell that produces electricity and hydrogen, using nothing but spinach, water and sunlight.We used spinach, but you can use any leaf,” says Prof. Noam Adir of the interdisciplinary Technion team that designed the breakthrough bio-photo-electro-chemical cell.

Why then use a popular salad ingredient rather than hydrangea or pine needles or some other non-crop plant? Convenience, Adir explains. Historically, botanists researched photosynthesis using spinach because while all plants generate sugar from water and sunlight, spinach does so especially well. You can drop by the supermarket and pick some up. Also, spinach keeps well after purchase, meaning that its active components remain active.

The spinach cell may not save Las Vegas’ lights from going out but it could be perfect for remote villages here on earth with modest power needs – or colonies in Mars, Prof. Noam Adir tells Haaretz. This clean, green power machine  emits no contaminants, only spinach membrane slurry, which the brave could eat, the squeamish could use to fertilize gardens in Martian craters or wherever they please, and the indifferent could pour down the sink .

Since spinach is not patentable, for now the cell remains academic. “We are at the stage of investigating its feasibility, whether it would be of applicative interest to anybody,” says the professor. “Patents are only good if you can protect them,” he adds, noting that anybody can drop by the grocer and buy spinach, and the other cell components are nothing special. Essentially the scientists pursued the work, funded chiefly by the Israeli government but also using grants from the American and German federal authorities, because it matters. Rather than operating in stealth mode, as one does with patentable ideas, they published. “We did it because we thought it important,” Adir sums up: “We’re not hiding it. We’re telling the world.”
So they are: the latest findings are reported in “Hybrid bio-photo-electro-chemical cells for solar water splitting,” published this month in the prestigious journal Nature. The study was conducted by doctoral students Roy I. Pinhassi, Dan Kallmann and Gadiel Saper, under the guidance of Adir of the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry, Prof. Gadi Schuster of the Faculty of Biology and Prof. Avner Rothschild of the Faculty of Material Science and Engineering.

“We proved that energy can be made really green using material at negligible cost, with no contaminating synthetics, no expensive or rare or toxic elements,” Adir says.
In order to harness photosynthesis by the spinach membranes to make electricity, the researchers added a non-toxic iron-based compound to the solution in the cell. This iron juice transfers electrons from the membranes to the electrical circuit, known in English as creating a current. The electrical current can be utilized to form hydrogen gas by adding electric power from a small photovoltaic cell that absorbs the excess light. This enables solar energy to be converted into chemical energy that is stored as hydrogen gas formed inside the BPEC cell. This energy can be converted when necessary into heat and electricity by burning the hydrogen, in the same way hydrocarbon fuels are used.

Unlike oil-based fuels, which emit greenhouse gases when burned, the product of hydrogen combustion is clean water. The Technion cell is a closed cycle: it begins with water and ends with water and can be used to produce and store hydrogen gas.Powering the house with the lawn Centralized mass energy production is more efficient, but it creates two key problems. Vast distribution involves vast energy waste in distribution and two, not everybody lives near the grid.This is where the cell could come in: remote places that don’t need a lot of power. “Not like our society which is very energy-intensive. Sometimes all one needs is enough for light and to charge the cellphone. My dream is to get up in morning, cut the grass, put it into the machine, come back in evening and have enough power to run the home,” says Adir.

 

One issue that may need resolving is shelf life. The membranes in the spinach slush die in 20 minutes, Adir says. “We remove the old membranes, put in new and the machine keeps working. We’re talking about nearly nothing.”Another team working on nearly nothing that could save the planet is at Tel Aviv University, where Assistant Prof. Iftach Yacoby is leading research on engineering microscopic algae to cleanly produce hydrogen.But back to our spinach cell. How much of this nearly nothing will it take to power a house? “A hundred micrograms of spinach membrane shake gives me half a milliamp per centimeter squared of electricity,” he says, and elaborates: “The Israel Electric Corporation might not be impressed but on Mars, where you have to grow food and need oxygen and need hydrogen, this does it all and you can eat the membrane mush too. Or use it to fertilize the Martian soil.”

SOURCE…www.haaretz.com/israel-news/science/1.743679?v=08FB9A1487F457E2D91BA33C787710A9

 

Bionic leaf turns sunlight into liquid fuel | Harvard Gazette

 

The days of drilling into the ground in the search for fuel may be numbered, because if Daniel Nocera has his way, it’ll just be a matter of looking for sunny skies.Nocera, the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University, and Pamela Silver, the Elliott T. and Onie H. Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, have co-created a system that uses solar energy to split water molecules and hydrogen-eating bacteria to produce liquid fuels.

The paper, whose lead authors include postdoctoral fellow Chong Liu and graduate student Brendan Colón, is described in a June 3 paper published in Science.“This is a true artificial photosynthesis system,” Nocera said. “Before, people were using artificial photosynthesis for water-splitting, but this is a true A-to-Z system, and we’ve gone well over the efficiency of photosynthesis in nature.”

While the study shows the system can be used to generate usable fuels, its potential doesn’t end there, said Silver, who is also a founding core member of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University.The beauty of biology is it’s the world’s greatest chemist — biology can do chemistry we can’t do easily,” she said. “In principle, we have a platform that can make any downstream carbon-based molecule. So this has the potential to be incredibly versatile.”

Dubbed “bionic leaf 2.0,” the new system builds on previous work by Nocera, Silver, and others, which — though it was capable of using solar energy to make isopropanol — faced a number of challenges. Chief among those, Nocera said, was the fact that the catalyst used to produce hydrogen — a nickel-molybdenum-zinc alloy — also created reactive oxygen species, molecules that attacked and destroyed the bacteria’s DNA. To avoid that, researchers were forced to run the system at abnormally high voltages, resulting in reduced efficiency.

“For this paper, we designed a new cobalt-phosphorous alloy catalyst, which we showed does not make reactive oxygen species,” Nocera said. “That allowed us to lower the voltage, and that led to a dramatic increase in efficiency.”The system can now convert solar energy to biomass with 10 percent efficiency, Nocera said, far above the 1 percent seen in the fastest-growing plants.

In addition to increasing the efficiency, Nocera and colleagues were able to expand the portfolio of the system to include isobutanol and isopentanol. Researchers also used the system to create PHB, a bio-plastic precursor, a process first demonstrated by Professor Anthony Sinskey of MIT.

The new catalyst also came with another advantage — its chemical design allows it to “self-heal,” meaning it wouldn’t leach material into solution.“This is the genius of Dan,” Silver said. “These catalysts are totally biologically compatible.”Though there may yet be room for additional increases in efficiency, Nocera said the system is already effective enough to consider possible commercial applications, but within a different model for technology translation.

“It’s an important discovery — it says we can do better than photosynthesis,” Nocera said. “But I also want to bring this technology to the developing world as well.”Working in conjunction with the First 100 Watts program at Harvard, which helped fund the research, Nocera hopes to continue developing the technology and its applications in nations like India with the help of their scientists.In many ways, Nocera said, the new system marks the fulfillment of the promise of his “artificial leaf,” which used solar power to split water and make hydrogen fuel.

“If you think about it, photosynthesis is amazing,” he said. “It takes sunlight, water, and air — and then look at a tree. That’s exactly what we did, but we do it significantly better, because we turn all that energy into a fuel.”

SOURCE…news.harvard.edu/

Bionic leaf turns sunlight into liquid fuel | Harvard Gazette

 

The days of drilling into the ground in the search for fuel may be numbered, because if Daniel Nocera has his way, it’ll just be a matter of looking for sunny skies.Nocera, the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University, and Pamela Silver, the Elliott T. and Onie H. Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, have co-created a system that uses solar energy to split water molecules and hydrogen-eating bacteria to produce liquid fuels.

The paper, whose lead authors include postdoctoral fellow Chong Liu and graduate student Brendan Colón, is described in a June 3 paper published in Science.“This is a true artificial photosynthesis system,” Nocera said. “Before, people were using artificial photosynthesis for water-splitting, but this is a true A-to-Z system, and we’ve gone well over the efficiency of photosynthesis in nature.”

While the study shows the system can be used to generate usable fuels, its potential doesn’t end there, said Silver, who is also a founding core member of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University.The beauty of biology is it’s the world’s greatest chemist — biology can do chemistry we can’t do easily,” she said. “In principle, we have a platform that can make any downstream carbon-based molecule. So this has the potential to be incredibly versatile.”

Dubbed “bionic leaf 2.0,” the new system builds on previous work by Nocera, Silver, and others, which — though it was capable of using solar energy to make isopropanol — faced a number of challenges. Chief among those, Nocera said, was the fact that the catalyst used to produce hydrogen — a nickel-molybdenum-zinc alloy — also created reactive oxygen species, molecules that attacked and destroyed the bacteria’s DNA. To avoid that, researchers were forced to run the system at abnormally high voltages, resulting in reduced efficiency.

“For this paper, we designed a new cobalt-phosphorous alloy catalyst, which we showed does not make reactive oxygen species,” Nocera said. “That allowed us to lower the voltage, and that led to a dramatic increase in efficiency.”The system can now convert solar energy to biomass with 10 percent efficiency, Nocera said, far above the 1 percent seen in the fastest-growing plants.

In addition to increasing the efficiency, Nocera and colleagues were able to expand the portfolio of the system to include isobutanol and isopentanol. Researchers also used the system to create PHB, a bio-plastic precursor, a process first demonstrated by Professor Anthony Sinskey of MIT.

The new catalyst also came with another advantage — its chemical design allows it to “self-heal,” meaning it wouldn’t leach material into solution.“This is the genius of Dan,” Silver said. “These catalysts are totally biologically compatible.”Though there may yet be room for additional increases in efficiency, Nocera said the system is already effective enough to consider possible commercial applications, but within a different model for technology translation.

“It’s an important discovery — it says we can do better than photosynthesis,” Nocera said. “But I also want to bring this technology to the developing world as well.”Working in conjunction with the First 100 Watts program at Harvard, which helped fund the research, Nocera hopes to continue developing the technology and its applications in nations like India with the help of their scientists.In many ways, Nocera said, the new system marks the fulfillment of the promise of his “artificial leaf,” which used solar power to split water and make hydrogen fuel.

“If you think about it, photosynthesis is amazing,” he said. “It takes sunlight, water, and air — and then look at a tree. That’s exactly what we did, but we do it significantly better, because we turn all that energy into a fuel.”

SOURCE…news.harvard.edu/

You Can Make Your Skin Look Younger With No Nipping, Stitching Or Downtime

SHOULD YOU LASER THE YEARS AWAY?

The second part of our series has everything you need to know about cutting-edge, anti-ageing therapies for your skin. Gone are the days when the surgeon’s knife was the only option. So whether you’re looking to reduce wrinkles, zap sun damage or simply tone skin, now you can look younger with no nipping, stitching or downtime. Here, our writers test the latest treatments on offer… 

LASERS

Perhaps the biggest advancement in skin treatment lies in the field of laser technology. Once harsh and invasive, modern lasers are now able to treat skin complaints ranging from wrinkles and fine lines through to thread veins and hyperpigmentation, or reduced skin colour, with minimal pain inflicted or recovery period required.

 

SOURCE …www.dailymail.co.uk

Light-Based Therapy May Treat Thrombocytopenia

A low-intensity type of laser treatment may offer a non-invasive, drug-free treatment for thrombocytopenia — a potentially life-threatening shortage of the blood cells called platelets that are essential to blood clotting. In their paper appearing in Science Translational Medicine, a research team from the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reports that low-level laser therapy increased the generation of platelets from precursor cells called megakaryocytes (MKs) and had the same effect in several mouse models of the condition. They also identified the probable mechanism underlying this effect.

“Our study reveals for the first time that low-level laser therapy enhances platelet production in animals with thrombocytopenia, but not in normal controls,” says Mei X. Wu, PhD, of the Wellman Center at MGH, the senior author of the study. “This result suggests that a safe, drug-free method that does not depend on donated blood products can be developed for treating or preventing thrombocytopenia.”

Among the conditions that can lead to thrombocytopenia are certain types of leukemia, an autoimmune disorder that attacks platelets, and side-effects of certain drugs, including some used for chemotherapy. The most established treatment is platelet transfusion, which since it risks complications including infection, allergic reaction and immunosuppression is limited to the most severe cases. Dosage levels of the FDA-approved drugs that increase platelet levels must be precisely controlled to avoid excessive platelet production that raises the risk of dangerous blood clots.

 

 

SOURCE…www.sciencedaily.com

Light Therapy May Aid Traumatic Brain Injury

 

Two patients with long-term deficits from traumatic brain injury (TBI) have shown substantial improvement in cognitive function with transcranial light therapy, investigators reported.A TBI patient on medical disability returned to work as a technology consultant after four months of nightly, at-home treatment with near-infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs) placed on the forehead and scalp,Seven years after a closed-head TBI, another patient experienced improved sustained attention capability from 20 minutes to three hours with ongoing LED treatment.

Both patients regressed with discontinuation of the light therapy, Margaret A. Naeser, PhD, of Boston University and the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, and colleagues reported online in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery.”Results from the two chronic TBI cases described here, along with those from previous [light therapy] studies with acute stroke patients and chronic, major depression cases, suggest that further, controlled research with this methodology is warranted,” Naeser and her co-authors wrote in conclusion.

“Transcranial red/near-infrared LED may be an inexpensive, noninvasive treatment, suitable for home treatments, to improve cognitive function in TBI patients, as well as to reduce symptom severity in post-traumatic stress disorder,” they added.

In patients with closed-head, mild TBI, CT or MRI scans usually show no evidence of focal lesions, but more often, diffuse axonal injury in the anterior corona radiata and frontotemporal regions.PET scans of the brain have shown reduced regional glucose metabolism in bilateral frontal and temporal lobes in chronic TBI, the authors wrote. Other studies have shown abnormal frontal-lobe activation.

Frontal-lobe regions susceptible to TBI-related damage include the prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate gyrus. The former is involved in maintaining working memory, especially sustained attention. The anterior cingulate gyrus has been implicated in divided attention, working memory, and memory retrieval among other functions.

Low-level laser therapy has been shown to have beneficial cellular and physiologic effects in controlled trials, the authors continued.Absorption of laser light has been associated with increased cellular respiration, intracellular calcium flux, increased ATP synthesis, increased nerve-cell proliferation and migration, and NF-κB activation.

Transcranial infrared light has been shown to reduce brain damage in preclinical models of stroke, improve memory in middle-aged mice, and improve outcomes in clinical stroke . Low-level light treatment has stimulated neuronal repair in an animal model of spinal-cord injury.

 

 

Low-level laser therapy also increases expression of various growth factors that could induce neurogenesis in TBI. Studies involving patients with chronic major depression showed significant improvement in depression and anxiety for two weeks after a single light treatment.Given the experimental and clinical evidence supporting therapeutic benefits of light therapy in TBI, Naeser and colleagues have evaluated transcranial near-infrared/LED light as a means of improving cognitive function in patients with chronic TBI.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOURCE…www.medpagetoday.com

Thou Shall Let Food Be Thy Medicine

 The magical elixir to a healthy life  taste great too according to this written by BRIAN SYUKI.  Hormonal imbalances and inflammation are common conditions in the U.S. They are often the culprit behind symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, high blood pressure, headaches and bloating. Unfortunately they can also increase the risk of more serious diseases, such as cancer and diabetes.The good news? Eating certain foods will help balance your hormones and reduce inflammation. To help lower your risk for disease,  in addition to weight loss goes beyond “calories in, calories out.” Balancing hormones and reducing inflammation will help you reach your weight goal faster, so eat these superfoods  frequently. READ MORE

 

 

Editing Humans

The CRISPR Gene-Editing Tool is Finally Being Used on Humans

A team of scientists in China has become the first to treat a human patient with the groundbreaking CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique. While the results of the trial are uncertain, it’s a historic milestone that should serve as a serious wakeup call to the rest of the world. A research team led by oncologist Lu You at Sichuan University delivered modified immune cells into a patient suffering from an aggressive form of lung cancer. The scientists used CRISPR-Cas9 to make the cells more resilient in the presence of cancer, marking the first time that the powerful gene-editing tool was used to treat a human.

The study was limited to one patient in order to test the safety of CRISPR. Given the encouraging results, another 10 patients will be treated as part of an ongoing clinical trial being conducted at the West China Hospital in Chengdu. the use of CRISPR is significant in that it’s the most efficient, powerful, and easy-to-use system currently available. The news that CRISPR has finally been used on a human patient is bound to attract the attention of scientists elsewhere, and accelerate the race to get gene-edited cells into clinics. As University of Pennsylvania immunotherapy professor Carl June told Nature News, “I think this is going to trigger ‘Sputnik 2.0’, a biomedical duel on progress between China and the United States, which is important since competition usually improves the end product.”

Genetically modified cells have been transplanted into humans before, but to treat the patient with metastatic lung cancer, Lu’s team removed immune cells from his blood, and then “knocked-out” a gene using CRISPR-cas9. The unwanted gene codes for a protein that interrupts a cell’s immune response—a genetic quirk that cancer exploits to spread itself even further. The modified cells were then cultured to create a large batch, and injected back into the patient. It’s hoped that the edited cells will attack and defeat the cancer, and Lu says the initial treatment went well.

The US is a bit behind China in this area, reflecting the contrast between China’s unwavering enthusiasm for biotechnology and America’s trepidation when it comes to such work. In 2015, a different team in China became the first to genetically modify a human embryo using CRISPR. Scientists and bioethicists in the United States took notice, approving a number of baby-step guidelines that should put America on a similar path. The latest breakthrough by Lu and his team will likely motivate similar efforts in the US and elsewhere. And indeed, there are already plans in the US to start clinical trials using CRISPR to treat bladder, prostate, and renal-cell cancers, though none of these trials have been approved, nor do they have adequate funding.

SOURCE..www://gizmodo.com

Red Light Phototherapy Saves Sight

Red Light Phototherapy Saves Sight

Red Light phototherapy has been shown to provide relief to numerous ailments.  LightMD is the leader in this innovative technology.  In an article by Sarah Graham in Science America, you can see just one intense of the amazing results when using phototherapy.

Accidental ingestion of methanol, a common ingredient in antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid, can cause blindness within two days. Researchers believe that formic acid, a product of methanol metabolism, robs a victim of sight by attacking the mitochondria of cells in the retina and optic nerve. Now the results of a rat study published online this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest that shining red light on affected eyes may stave off methanol’s blinding effects.

Janis T. Eells and her colleagues at the Medical College of Wisconsin exposed both control rats and animals that had ingested methanol to a red light-emitting diode (LED) in a process known as photobiomodulation. Just three brief irradiation treatments promoted the recovery of retinal function and prevented damage to photoreceptor cells in the poisoned animals, the team found. The light caused no damage to the eyes of the control rats. The results build on previous work indicating that light in the far-red to near-infrared spectral range can help wounds heal more quickly and stimulate growth in cultured cells.
Because mitochondrial dysfunction is thought to play a role in a variety of eye diseases, including macular degeneration and glaucoma, the scientists posit that photobiomodulation with red light could represent a novel therapy for these conditions. Diseases that attack the human retina are much more complex than the animal model used in the current study, however, so more research will be needed to determine if this approach can help more people see the light.

Learn more about LightMD on our site at http://www.gogoodguru.com/lightmd.

Scientists Are Using the Enzyme That MakesFireflies Glow to Track Brain Cells

Fireflies and other bioluminescence-producing species (e.g. bacteria, jellyfish, worms, sharks) create light through a chemical reaction in their body catalyzed by an enzyme called luciferase. Now, a team of scientists from Vanderbilt University are using a genetically modified form of that same enzyme to make brain cells glow-in-the-dark.

The objective behind getting neurons to emit light is to better observe activity in the brain’s complex neural networks. Existing methods use electrical techniques, which efficiently track individual neurons. But this approach has a restraint: it can only record a limited number of brain cells—the average human brain has about 86 billion neurons—at the same time. Genetically modified luciferase offers a solution to the limitation seen in electrical techniques, as it can simultaneously monitor hundreds of neurons.

The team of scientists, who published their findings in Nature Communications, developed their new technique by merging their knowledge on bioluminescence (based on their previous research of green alga Chlamydomonas, a single cell organism found in water and on damp soil) with a new biological technique called optogenetics—a method that uses light, mostly fluorescence, to control cells in living tissue.

“There is an inherent conflict between fluorescent techniques and optogenetics,” said Carl H. Johnson, a professor of biological sciences who led the research, in a statement. “The light required to produce the fluorescence interferes with the light required to control the cells. Luminescence, on the other hand, works in the dark!”

The scientists took luciferase from a luminescent species of shrimp and genetically modified it to light up when exposed to calcium molecules, which are present in high levels outside of neurons and very low levels inside. But when brain cells receive a signal, the calcium content within the cell temporarily spikes and this shift allows researcher to track neuron activation by monitoring calcium concentrations.

This is only possible if the modified enzyme, the calcium sensor, is inside the cell body of the neurons. The scientists were able to make this feasible by “hijacking” a virus that infects neurons and attaching it to the calcium sensor, allowing it to enter brain cells.

The luminescent enzyme was tested on neurons grown in culture and in brain slices from the hippocampus—the region of the brain responsible for memory and emotion—of mice. In both settings, the sensor was found to be visibly responsive to changing calcium levels.

“We’ve shown that the approach works,” said Johnson. “Now we have to determine how sensitive it is. We have some indications that it is sensitive enough to detect the firing of individual neurons, but we have to run more tests to determine if it actually has this capability.”

SOURCE..motherboard.vice.com