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STAT

Prof. Jonathan Weissman and his colleagues have developed a new tool for monitoring changes in human blood cells, which could one day help researchers predict disease risk, reports Megan Molteni for STAT. “The technology paves the way for a day in the not too distant future where it is conceivable that from a simple blood draw, a doctor could get a sense of what’s going on in that patient’s bone marrow,” writes Molteni, “picking up perturbations there that could help predict a diverse range of diseases.”

Salon

Researchers from MIT have developed, “nanoelectronics they hope can one day enter the brain and treat conditions like Alzheimer’s by monitoring some of these brain patterns,” reports Elizabeth Hlavinka for Salon. “Their device, which they call Cell Rover, serves as a sort of antenna that can help external devices monitor cells.”

Interesting Engineering

MIT researchers have developed a new cell imaging technique that offers “the ability to observe up to seven different molecules simultaneously,” writes Amal Jos Chacko for Interesting Engineering. “This could open the door to a deeper understanding of cellular functions, aging, and diseases.”

TechCrunch

Researchers from MIT and Harvard have explored astrocytes, a group of brain cells, from a computational perspective and developed a mathematical model that shows how they can be used to build a biological transformer, reports Kyle Wiggers for TechCrunch. “The brain is far superior to even the best artificial neural networks that we have developed, but we don’t really know exactly how the brain works,” says research staff member Dmitry Krotov. “There is scientific value in thinking about connections between biological hardware and large-scale artificial intelligence networks. This is neuroscience for AI and AI for neuroscience.

New Scientist

Researchers at the McGovern and Broad Institutes have developed a bacterial "nanosyringe" that can inject large proteins into specific cells in the body, which could lead to safer and more effective treatments for a variety of conditions, including cancer, reports Michael Le Page for New Scientist. “The fact that this can load a diversity of different payloads of different sizes makes it unique amongst protein delivery devices,” says graduate student Joseph Kreitz.

Scientific American

Ingrid Wickelgren at Scientific American highlights a new study from researchers at the McGovern and Broad Institutes, in which they used a bacterial ‘nanosyringe’ to inject large proteins into human cells. “The syringe technology also holds promise for treating cancer because it can be engineered to attach to receptors on certain cancer cells,” writes Wickelgren.     

Forbes

Asimov - an MIT spinout co-founded by Prof. Christopher Voigt, Alec Nielsen PhD ’16, Raja Srinivas PhD ’16, and Boston University Prof. Douglas Densmore - is a biotechnology company developing tools to design living systems, reports John Cumbers for Forbes. “Every cell is capable of computing. Perceiving environmental signals, information processing, turning genes on and off,” says Nielsen. “The ability to engineer this gift of evolution is, in my view, going to be the most meaningful and impactful technology that humans have ever developed.”

Economist

MIT scientists have found that silent synapses - a type of memory-forming synapse - are present in the adult brain, reports The Economist. The discovery of these silent synapses, explains Prof. Mark Harnett, “is a lever for us to get into understanding learning in adults and how potentially we can get access to make it not degrade over the course of aging or disease.”

Scientific American

MIT scientists have developed a miniature antenna that could one day be used to help safely transmit data from within living cells “by resonating with acoustic rather than electromagnetic waves,” reports Andrew Chapman for Scientific American. “A functioning antenna could help scientists power, and communicate with, tiny roving sensors within the cell,” writes Chapman, “helping them better understand these building blocks and perhaps leading to new medical treatments.”

New Scientist

Prof. Nikta Fakhri and her colleagues have placed hundreds of starfish embryos into salt-water tanks where they arrange themselves into honeycomb-like patterns at the water’s surface, reports Karmela Padavic-Callaghan for New Scientist. “These structures, which had never been seen before, may form because of the embryos’ swimming style and body shape,” explains Padavic-Callaghan.

Popular Mechanics

Researchers at MIT have developed a wood-like plant material which could eventually serve as a viable wood substitute in various construction projects, reports Tim Newcomb for Popular Mechanics. Researchers adjust “chemicals in the growth process to precisely control the physical and mechanical properties, such as stiffness and density,” explains Newcomb.

Smithsonian Magazine

MIT scientists have discovered a way to watch and record the development of butterfly scales from the inside of a butterfly’s chrysalis, reports Elizabeth Gamillo for Smithsonian Magazine. “The team plans on further exploring the structure of butterfly wings and the reasoning behind the ridged design,” writes Gamillo.

CNET

CNET science writer Monisha Ravisetti spotlights MIT researchers who have successfully recorded the scale formation of butterfly wings during its transformation. “Understanding their schematics could ultimately benefit constructed materials like windows and thermal systems and even bring an ethereal quality to textiles,” writes Ravisetti.

Popular Science

Popular Science reporter Hannah Seo writes that MIT researchers have developed a way to watch and record how the microscopic scales on a butterfly’s wings grow and tile themselves as the butterfly develops inside its chrysalis. The researchers hope to “use butterfly scales as inspiration for the design of new materials,” writes Seo. “Butterfly scales have other fascinating properties such as water repellency and the ability to regulate temperature.”