New bomb-detecting chip is a million times more sensitive .

Current bomb-detection methods are by no means perfect. They often require bulky machinery and a complicated process of sample preparation that has to be performed by a trained professional.


They use a technique called ‘mobility spectrometry’, which identifies molecules in explosives depending on how fast they’re moving through an electric field, but this technique has so far only been able to detect a handful of explosive types, and only if they are at relatively high concentrations.

Plus, according to Sarah Zhang at Gizmodo, these machines can detect traces of dangerous chemicals at concentrations of parts per billion, which sounds pretty good, but a billion isn’t enough when we’re dealing with explosives. We need parts per QUADRILLION, which is a million times better.

Enter the new bomb-detecting nanochip, developed by researchers from Tel-Aviv University in Israel. Not only is this nanodevice entirely portable, it can identify several different types of explosives in real time, and from several metres away, even if those explosives have been deliberately masked by stronger chemicals.

Still in the prototype stage, the chip was built using clusters of nano-sized transistors that are extremely sensitive to certain types of chemicals. When these chemicals come into contact with the transistors, they cause changes in the electrical conductance, which tips off the device.

Zhang explains:

This small chip is inspired by how our own olfactory systems work. We have a finite number of smell receptors in our noses but can distinguish between a seemingly infinite number of smells based on how different receptors differentially bind the molecule. Likewise, the chip has eight different nano-sized chemical receptors. Depending on how molecules bind each of these eight receptors, the chip can tell whether they’re innocent or indicative of a bomb.”

The device has been tested using several common types of explosives, including TNT, RCX and HMX, which is used by the military and in commercial blasting operations, plus peroxide-based explosives like TATP and HMTD, which are often used in home-made bombs. These two in particular have really tested current detection methods. The chemicals were detected in “highly contaminated” conditions designed to mask their presence, such as in the presence of heavy cigarette smoke.

According to, the TATP particles could be detected at a distance of five metres from the source, and TNT at four metres away. Only five seconds of air sample collection was required to detect the dangerous chemicals.

And while all of this sounds pretty promising, there’s one – rather large – problem. With such incredible sensitivity, there’s a real risk that this device will pick up trace amounts of chemicals on the clothes of innocent people, potentially causing even more hold-ups in airport security lines. Which is the last thing anyone needs. This is something the researchers will need to figure out before we see this nanochip move over into the commerical space.

Bill Gates funded ‘cow perfume’ project to combat malaria.

Imagine knocking out one of the world’s deadliest diseases with a perfume that smells like human beings, and is sprayed on cows.

A new cow perfume holds hope for reducing malarial infections.

That’s what scientists in the US are hoping to do to malaria, a disease that infects more 207-million people each year and kills more than 620-thousand of them.

Agenor Mafra-Neto is the CEO of ISCA Technologies, a California based company that specialises in pest control. He’s also the inventor of the cow perfume.

Mr Mafra-Neto says humans have a very distinct smell that is unlike any other animal. And malaria carrying mosquitoes are attracted to our smell.

By developing a human smell and spraying it on cows, he hopes the smell will confuse the mosquitoes and send them to bite cows instead.

But he says the cows will not contract malaria.

‘Cows are given a de-worming formulation in such high doses that the formulation also kills the mosquitoes that bite the cows,’ Mr Mafra-Neto said.

The scientist has received $100,000 from billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates to further develop the perfume.

It’s hoped the perfume will benefit some of the world’s poorest regions that have high rates of malarial infection.

It will be tested in California and Kenya later this year.

Scientists grow tiny beating human hearts .

Miniature human hearts that beat of their own accord are being grown by scientists at Abertay University.

They have been developed specifically to find a cure for heart hypertrophy – a form of heart disease that can lead to sudden death.

Made from stem cells, the tiny hearts are just 1mm in diameter and contract at around 30 beats per minute.

Although healthy to begin with, the scientists are using chemicals to simulate the physiological conditions that will make them become hypertrophic – enlarged, due to abnormal growth of the cells that make up the heart (cardiomyocytes).

Once diseased, the hearts are then treated with newly developed medications to see if they can prevent the damage from occurring.

Professor Nikolai Zhelev, who is leading this research, explains:

“Although human hearts have been grown in labs before, this is the first time it has ever been possible to induce disease in them.

“Heart hypertrophy can be hereditary, can be caused by diseases such as diabetes, or can be caused by doing too much strenuous exercise.

“The disease causes the heart muscle to thicken and stiffen, and makes it harder for the heart to pump blood around the body.

“In some people, a life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm will develop, and this is the most common cause of sudden death in young people.

“Although there are treatments, these only help to control the symptoms, and there is no known cure at the moment.”

However, the miniature hearts being grown in Professor Zhelev’s lab could help change that.

Using biosensors, Professor Zhelev has been able to label specific molecules within the miniature hearts to see where they are going – which pathway they follow.

By establishing which molecules cause the hearts to become hypertrophic, he has been able to target drugs at these molecules and prevent them from going down the path they would usually take, and prevent them from becoming hypertrophic.

He continues:

“We’ve tested a number of different compounds on these hearts – some of them entirely new ones that haven’t been tested in humans yet, which is why we’re testing them on these hearts we’ve grown in the lab.

“One of these compounds, however, is a drug that we have developed which has just completed phase-two clinical trials in cancer patients and has had very positive results.

“Although heart cells are the only ones in the body that will never get cancer, we noticed that the pathways the molecules in hypertrophic hearts follow are similar to those followed by molecules in cancerous cells, so we thought testing this new drug on these hearts might have the same positive effect. And this has certainly proved to be the case.

“Some of the compounds we’ve tested have had undesirable effects – such as increasing the number of beats the hearts do per minute and making them stop beating – but others, such as the new cancer drug that is in development, have managed to protect the hearts and prevent them from becoming hypertrophic.

“We are still testing new drugs using this system to find new compounds with better efficiency and fewer side-effects.

“Once we know exactly which compounds work and which don’t we’ll begin developing new drugs which will then undergo further tests, before eventually being trialled in humans.

“Although there is still a long way to go before the drugs become available commercially, we are extremely hopeful that we will one day be able to stop heart hypertrophy from developing in those at risk of the disease.”

To move the experiments further along, Professor Zhelev has begun working with Professor Jim Bown – a systems biologist who uses computer models and games technology to visualise cell behaviour.

He has started taking the data from Professor Zhelev’s experiments to create computer models that will predict how the cells are likely to grow.

This means that, rather than merely looking at a set of mathematical equations, Professor Zhelev will be able to see how the cells he is growing are likely to develop over time and how they will be affected by a particular drug.

Working with partners at St Andrews and Edinburgh universities, Professor Bown has already shown that this technology can inform experiments in cancer.

This research with heart hypertrophy is an exciting new development and the model could, eventually, be used to help find cures and preventative treatments for other types of diseases as well.

Professor Bown explains:

“By creating interactive models and interactive animations which visualise cell growth, we are able to simulate what would happen if different doses and combinations of drugs are applied to cancerous cells, and to predict how they will affect cell growth.

“Because the signalling pathways in cancer cells and hypertrophic heart cells are so similar, we’ve been able to adapt this technology and apply it to cardiomyocytes.

“The way this will work is by taking information about how the cells grow from Nikolai initially, building models based on that data and making suggestions to him about which experiments to try out next. So we’re carrying out a mix of experimental and theoretical biology here, using complex new technology to help us better understand the systems we’re working with.

“Ultimately, the aim is to reduce the number of wet-lab experiments that Nikolai needs to do in order to find the drugs that are most likely to prevent heart hypertrophy from developing.”

Tendon Transfer for Radial Nerve Palsy .

Median to Radial Nerve Tendon Transfers: PT to ECRB, FCR to EDC, PL to EPL
Extended Version


Tendon transfers are an available option for reconstructing wrist and finger/thumb extension following radial nerve injury when nerve transfers are contra-indicated. The donor median-innervated tendons are used to reconstruct the recipient radial-innervated tendons.


This tutorial describes the following tendon transfers: (1) pronator teres (PT) to extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB), (2) flexor carpi radialis (FCR) to extensor digitorum communis (EDC), and (3) palmaris longus (PL) to extensor pollicis longus (EPL).


In this specific case, the patient had a left humeral fracture and lost complete radial nerve function. He consulted with our institution six months following the injury. While he was within the time limitation of nerve transfers, he elected for tendon transfers for radial nerve palsy.

From the desk of Zedie.

ASCO: New Advances in Ovarian, Prostate, Lung and Melanoma Treatment .

“Science and Society” was the theme of this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 50th annual meeting. The meeting showcased  cancer research from around the world. Some new findings from Dana-Farber researchers included:

  • Joyce Liu, MD

    Joyce Liu, MD, MPH, of the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers reported that, in a phase 2 clinical trial, a combination of olaparib (a drug that blocks DNA repair in cancer cells) and cediranib (which blocks blood vessel growth in tumors) was considerably more effective in women with recurrent ovarian cancer than olaparib alone.. Progression-free survival – the length of time after treatment when the disease doesn’t worsen – was nearly twice as long in patients who received the combined therapy.


  • Christopher Sweeney, MBBS

    Christopher Sweeney, MBBS, of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology, reported that, in a phase 3 trial, men with newly diagnosed, metastatic, hormone-sensitive prostate cancer lived more than a year longer when they received a chemotherapy drug as initial treatment rather than waiting for the disease to become resistant to hormone-blocking agents. The results should change the way physicians have routinely treated such patients since the 1950s, the research team stated.



  • Pasi Janne, MD, PhD

    Pasi A. Jänne, MD, PhD, director of the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology, presented data from a phase 1 trial showing  that a new, more precisely targeted drug shrank tumors in about half of non-small cell lung cancer patients whose tumors no longer responded to conventional targeted drugs.. The agent, known as AZD9291, also produced markedly fewer side effects than did earlier targeted therapies for this type of cancer.


  • Stephen Hodi, MD

    F. Stephen Hodi, MD, director of the Melanoma Treatment Program, reported that the immunotherapy drug nivolumab continues to have long-term effectiveness against metastatic melanoma, achieving a three-year survival rate of 41 percent in patients participating in a phase 1 trial of the drug. Nivolumab works by unleashing an immune system attack on certain cancer cells.

15% of India’s diabetics under 40.

Fifteen percent of India’s 65 million diabetics are under 40, and most of them also have high cholesterol levels that may lead to cardiac problems, according to a study released on Tuesday. The study—conducted by researchers at the diabetes and metabolic clinics chain Lifespan Clinic India with 4,000 patients—shows an alarming rise in the early onset of type-2 diabetes in the country. The study found the proportion of under-40 diabetics “appalling”, adding appropriate treatment regimes and prevention awareness needed to be developed. “Diabetes has become a full-blown epidemic in India,” the study said. The study points to possible issues like shortage of care facilities and difficulties in finding insulin, blood pressure tablets and other medicines which avert complications. Worldwide, the rate of occurrence of type-2 diabetes is similar in both men and women, although slightly higher in men above 60 and women above 65. Currently, 382 million people are living with diabetes in the world and a big chunk of them are from lower and middle-income groups. Lifespan’s sample size analysis in India, however, concludes that 70% Indian male patients get appropriate diabetes treatment while only 30% Indian women get proper treatment. According to International Diabetes Federation, (IDA) India has an estimated 65 million diabetic adults and this is set to rise to 109 million by 2035. The Lifespan study also says about a third of India’s diabetics have one or more co-morbid conditions—multiple diseases or disorders that occur together with the primary condition. The problem of diabetes in India is further compounded with about 50% diabetics suffering from high blood pressure that leads to heart disease.

15% of India’s diabetics under 40: study