03 September 2012 by Andy Coghlan
For the first time, people with broken spines have recovered feeling in previously paralysed areas after receiving injections of neural stem cells.
(Image: Medical Images/Getty Images)
Three people with paralysis received injections of 20 million neural stem cells directly into the injured region of their spinal cord. The cells, acquired from donated fetal brain tissue, were injected between four and eight months after the injuries happened. The patients also received a temporary course of immunosuppressive drugs to limit rejection of the cells.
None of the three felt any sensation below their nipples before the treatment. Six months after therapy, two of them had sensations of touch and heat between their chest and belly button. The third patient has not seen any change.
“The fact we’ve seen responses to light touch, heat and electrical impulses so far down in two of the patients is very unexpected,” says Stephen Huhn of StemCells, the company in Newark, California, developing and testing the treatment. “They’re really close to normal in those areas now in their sensitivity,” he adds.
“We are very intrigued to see that patients have gained considerable sensory function,” says Armin Curt of Balgrist University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, where the patients were treated, and principal investigator in the trial.
The data are preliminary, but “these sensory changes suggest that the cells may be positively impacting recovery”, says Curt, who presented the results today in London at the annual meeting of the International Spinal Cord Society.
This is one of the stem-cell news articles that I’ve been waiting for years to read. Cannot wait to see where this goes!
New antenna speeds up Wi-Fi by 200x.
Researchers in Singapore have developed a tiny antenna able to produce wireless speeds of 20-Gbits per second, which is 200 times faster than current Wi-Fi speeds.
The tiny device measures 1.6 x 1.2mm, which also makes it the smallest silicone based antenna to date. The antenna differs from previous antennas by being filled with a polymer instead of air, and the team says the technique is suitable for mass production.
Wireless power could revolutionize highway transportationA Stanford University research team has designed a high-efficiency charging system that uses magnetic fields to wirelessly transmit large electric currents between metal coils placed several feet apart. The long-term goal of the research is to develop an all-electric highway that wirelessly charges cars and trucks as they cruise down the road.
UCLA creates transparent solar cell
UCLA researchers are working on a new see-through solar cell that’s showing potential. Using a new type of polymer solar cell, the team has been able to build a device that converts infrared light into electrical current. Current prototypes boast 4 percent energy conversion efficiency at 66 percent transparency — not crystal clear, but certainly clean enough to peer through. According to a study in ACS Nano, the technology could be used in “building-integrated photovoltaics or integrated photovoltaic chargers for portable electronics.” Translation? It could one day be used to build solar windows or better sun collecting smartphones. Don’t get too excited though, the technology still has a ways to go before any of these dreams come to fruition.
New York City has big plans to make a name for itself in the sustainable energy sector: It wants to become a solar energy hub and export the solar market analysis tools it is developing throughout the world.The project is a collaborative effort between IBM and City University of New York’s CUNY Ventures, a university Economic Development organization. The primary goal is to support solar adoption by coming up with the capability to analyze and evaluate key solar market indicators that can lead to more cost-competitive solar systems development.
The joint effort is an element of ‘Solar Market Analytics, Roadmapping and Tracking NY’ (SMART NY), an innovative project partially supported by DOE’s Rooftop Solar Challenge. The Solar Challenge is part of a DOE initiative to make solar cost-competitive with other energy sources by the end of the decade.
Artificial cells evolve proteins to structure semiconductors
University of California, Santa Barbara scientists have applied genetic engineering to create proteins that can be used to create electronics.
They’ve used the tools of molecular biology and principles of evolution to find proteins that can make new structures of silicon dioxide, commonly found in computer chips, and titanium dioxide, often used in solar cells.
The new silica-forming protein, named silicatein X1, could even make folded sheets of silica-protein fibers.
The work demonstrated that directed evolution of a mineral-producing protein could create materials with never-before seen structures.