Graphene / nanotube hybrid benefits flexible solar cells

Rice University scientists have invented a novel cathode that may make cheap, flexible dye-sensitized solar cells practical.

The Rice lab of materials scientist Jun Lou created the new cathode, one of the two electrodes in batteries, from nanotubes that are seamlessly bonded to graphene and replaces the expensive and brittle platinum-based materials often used in earlier versions.

The discovery was reported online in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

Dye-sensitized have been in development since 1988 and have been the subject of countless high school chemistry class experiments. They employ cheap organic dyes, drawn from the likes of raspberries, which cover conductive titanium dioxide particles. The dyes absorb photons and produce electrons that flow out of the cell for use; a return line completes the circuit to the cathode that combines with an iodine-based electrolyte to refresh the dye.

While they are not nearly as efficient as silicon-based solar cells in collecting sunlight and transforming it into electricity, have advantages for many applications, according to co-lead author Pei Dong, a postdoctoral researcher in Lou’s lab.

“The first is that they’re low-cost, because they can be fabricated in a normal area,” Dong said. “There’s no need for a clean room. They’re semi-transparent, so they can be applied to glass, and they can be used in dim light; they will even work on a cloudy day.

Bundles of aligned carbon nanotubes spring from the surface of a sheet of graphene. The millions of nanotubes shown here are covalently bonded to the graphene, meaning they are essentially a single surface. The material invented at Rice is being used by materials scientists as a cathode for dye-sensitized solar cells. (Credit: N3L Research Group/Rice University)

“Or indoors,” Lou said. “One company commercializing dye-sensitized cells is embedding them in computer keyboards and mice so you never have to install batteries. Normal room light is sufficient to keep them alive.”

The breakthrough extends a stream of nanotechnology research at Rice that began with chemist Robert Hauge’s 2009 invention of a “flying carpet” technique to grow very long bundles of aligned carbon nanotubes. In his process, the nanotubes remained attached to the surface substrate but pushed the catalyst up as they grew.

The graphene/nanotube hybrid came along two years ago. Dubbed “James’ bond” in honor of its inventor, Rice chemist James Tour, the hybrid features a seamless transition from graphene to nanotube. The graphene base is grown via chemical vapor deposition and a catalyst is arranged in a pattern on top. When heated again, carbon atoms in an aerosol feedstock attach themselves to the graphene at the catalyst, which lifts off and allows the new nanotubes to grow. When the nanotubes stop growing, the remaining catalyst (the “carpet”) acts as a cap and keeps the nanotubes from tangling.

The hybrid material solves two issues that have held back commercial application of dye-sensitized solar cells, Lou said. First, the graphene and nanotubes are grown directly onto the nickel substrate that serves as an electrode, eliminating adhesion issues that plagued the transfer of platinum catalysts to common electrodes like transparent conducting oxide.

Second, the hybrid also has less contact resistance with the electrolyte, allowing electrons to flow more freely. The new cathode’s charge-transfer resistance, which determines how well electrons cross from the electrode to the electrolyte, was found to be 20 times smaller than for platinum-based cathodes, Lou said.

The Rice University lab of materials scientist Jun Lou created flexible dye-sensitized solar cells using a graphene/nanotube hybrid as the cathode, replacing more expensive platinum and brittle indium tin oxide. (Credit: N3L Research Group/Rice University)

The key appears to be the hybrid’s huge surface area, estimated at more than 2,000 square meters per gram. With no interruption in the atomic bonds between nanotubes and graphene, the material’s entire area, inside and out, becomes one large surface. This gives the electrolyte plenty of opportunity to make contact and provides a highly conductive path for electrons.

Lou’s lab built and tested solar cells with nanotube forests of varying lengths. The shortest, which measured between 20-25 microns, were grown in 4 minutes. Other nanotube samples were grown for an hour and measured about 100-150 microns. When combined with an iodide salt-based electrolyte and an anode of flexible indium tin oxide, titanium dioxide and light-capturing organic dye particles, the largest cells were only 350 microns thick—the equivalent of about two sheets of paper—and could be flexed easily and repeatedly.

The graphene/nanotube hybrid known as “James’ bond” for Rice University chemist James Tour is key to an efficient and flexible cathode for dye-sensitized solar cells. The nanotubes are grown with seamless bonds to the graphene base. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University)

Tests found that solar cells made from the longest nanotubes produced the best results and topped out at nearly 18 milliamps of current per square centimeter, compared with nearly 14 milliamps for platinum-based control cells. The new dye-sensitized solar cells were as much as 20 percent better at converting sunlight into power, with an efficiency of up to 8.2 percent, compared with 6.8 for the platinum-based cells.

Based on recent work on flexible, -based anode materials by the Lou and Tour labs and synthesized high-performance dyes by other researchers, Lou expects dye-sensitized cells to find many uses. “We’re demonstrating all these carbon nanostructures can be used in real applications,” he said.

Triclosan, a common antimicrobial in personal hygiene products, causes liver fibrosis and cancer in mice.

Triclosan is an antimicrobial commonly found in soaps, shampoos, toothpastes and many other household items. Despite its widespread use, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report potentially serious consequences of long-term exposure to the chemical. The study, published Nov. 17 by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that triclosan causes liver fibrosis and cancer in laboratory mice through molecular mechanisms that are also relevant in humans.

“Triclosan’s increasing detection in environmental samples and its increasingly broad use in consumer products may overcome its moderate benefit and present a very real risk of for people, as it does in mice, particularly when combined with other compounds with similar action,” said Robert H. Tukey, PhD, professor in the departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Pharmacology. Tukey led the study, together with Bruce D. Hammock, PhD, professor at University of California, Davis. Both Tukey and Hammock are directors of National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Superfund Programs at their respective campuses.

Tukey, Hammock and their teams, including Mei-Fei Yueh, PhD, found that triclosan disrupted liver integrity and compromised in mouse models. Mice exposed to triclosan for six months (roughly equivalent to 18 human years) were more susceptible to chemical-induced liver tumors. Their tumors were also larger and more frequent than in mice not exposed to triclosan.

The study suggests triclosan may do its damage by interfering with the constitutive androstane receptor, a protein responsible for detoxifying (clearing away) foreign chemicals in the body. To compensate for this stress, proliferate and turn fibrotic over time. Repeated triclosan exposure and continued eventually promote tumor formation.

Triclosan is perhaps the most ubiquitous consumer antibacterial. Studies have found traces in 97 percent of breast milk samples from lactating women and in the urine of nearly 75 percent of people tested. Triclosan is also common in the environment: It is one of the seven most frequently detected compounds in streams across the United States.

“We could reduce most human and environmental exposures by eliminating uses of triclosan that are high volume, but of low benefit, such as inclusion in liquid hand soaps,” Hammock said. “Yet we could also for now retain uses shown to have health value—as in toothpaste, where the amount used is small.”

Triclosan is already under scrutiny by the FDA, thanks to its widespread use and recent reports that it can disrupt hormones and impair muscle contraction.

Energy drinks could lead to dangerous side effects in kids.

Kids, six years old and younger, have turned up in hospital with abnormal heart rhythm, seizures and dangerously high blood pressure. The culprit? Energy drinks they may have consumed accidentally, a new U.S. report is warning.

U.S. poison control centres have received more than 5,100 calls about energy drinks and 40 per cent of the time, it’s kids encountering heart problems and neurological symptoms after consuming energy drinks unintentionally.

Energy drinks
“Energy drinks have no place in pediatric diets. And anyone with underlying cardiac, neurologic or other significant medical conditions should check with their health care provider to make sure it’s safe to consume energy drinks,” Dr. Steven Lipshultz, of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, said.

He’s the lead author of findings presented Monday at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions event.


Researchers scoured the poison control records between October 2010 and September 2013. They found that in 42 per cent of the cases, kids were even consuming energy drinks mixed with alcohol.

Fifty per cent of the kids faced heart rhythm issues and even seizures.

Energy drinks contain pharmaceutical-grade caffeine and additional caffeine from natural sources that may explain why the kids’ hearts race and their blood pressure levels climb.

If the energy drinks had multiple sources of caffeine, the risk of side effects increased too.

Some energy drinks contain up to 400 milligrams of caffeine in a can or bottle – a cup of coffee contains about 150 mgs in comparison.


This isn’t the first study to warn about the hazards of energy drinks. Earlier this summer, French researchers said that even in adults, overconsumption can lead to angina, cardiac arrhythmia and even “sudden death.”

In that case, the researchers said that a typical 0.25 litre can is the equivalent of two espressos.

“Caffeine is one of the most potent agonists of the ryanodine receptors and leads to a massive release of calcium within cardiac cells. This can cause arrhythmias, but also has effects on the heart’s abilities to contract and to use oxygen,” the researchers warned.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against caffeine consumption for children and teens because of potentially harmful effects from the mild stimulant, including increases in heart rate and blood pressure, and worsening anxiety in those with anxiety disorders.


This weekend, the World Health Organization (WHO) called energy drinks a “danger to public health,” especially among young people.

WHO health officials are concerned with the beverage because it can be consumed quickly, unlike hot coffee, and can lead to caffeine intoxication.

Aside from heart palpitations, the WHO review pointed to nausea, vomiting, convulsions and even death, which has been reported in the U.S., Sweden and Australia.


It’s calling for measures, such as establishing a limit on how much caffeine is allowed in a single serving, enforcing tighter labelling and creating restrictions for marketing the energy drink industry to youth.

How To Get Better Sleep With A Snorer

About a quarter of people who are married or live with someone say that they’ve lost sleep because of their bed partner, according to a 2005 National Sleep Foundation survey.

And one of the biggest culprits — unsurprisingly — is snoring.

“Today” show viewers sent in video snapshots of what keeps them up at night. And while the results, seen in the clip above, are easy to laugh off, snoring can actually be serious.

Snoring “can be a sign of something more serious, called sleep apnea,” said Eric Cohen, M.D., an obstruction of the airways that can cause a snorer to stop breathing, sometimes hundreds of times a night.

“Your body has to work harder, your heart has to work harder,” Cohen said about sleep apnea, which can lead to health concerns like increased risk of depression, diabetes and heart attack.

Luckily, there are some simple lifestyle measures that can help quell snoring. Watch the clip above to find out what works and what doesn’t.

New advances in neuroscience

The human brain has long fascinated scientists and Hollywood alike, and yet there is still much to be learned about its functions and its defects. Katie Silver examines how scientists from around the world are competing, and collaborating, to advance our understanding of neuroscience.

The notion that we may only be using a fraction of our brains is one of the most captivating concepts to hit science and the film industry since it was first suggested in the late 19th century.

When we think the brain is so complex, it’s because we look at these amazing things that come out of the brain and we try and understand them.


Films like Limitless, featuring actor Bradley Cooper, and new release Lucy, starring Morgan Freeman and Scarlett Johansson, explore the notion of an underutilised brain.

In Lucy, Freeman plays a neurologist who mentors Johansson after a drug unlocks her brain’s untapped functions.

‘Ten per cent may not seem like much, but it’s a lot if we look at all we’ve done with it. We possess a gigantic network of information to which we have almost no access,’ Freeman’s character says.

The idea was first posited by philosopher and psychologist William James after he managed to raise child prodigy William Sidis, who had an IQ of more than 250.

His idea really started to gather momentum in 1936 after American writer Lowell Thomas, taking full advantage of poetic licence, put a figure on it—that humans only use 10 per cent of their brain.

Unfortunately, while it’s likely we have some unutilised brain power, it seems the 10 per cent figure was plucked from thin air and is a gross overestimation.


Still, science knows very little about our brains—a situation researchers the world over are looking to remedy.

In 2013, Professor Bob Williamson from the University of Melbourne organised a think-tank on the brain. It produced a report called Inspiring Smarter Brain Research in Australia, and it recommended substantial government investment in a research unit called AusBrain.

‘The American [research] program focuses very much on technology,’ Williamson says. ‘Our program is oriented much more to outcomes … the way in which studies on the brain relate to mental illness, relate to MS, relate to Parkinson’s disease.’

‘However, at the end of the day everyone is going to be focusing on the two really big questions: How can we use this information to get good results for people who are suffering? Can we understand what’s going on in the brain when we love someone, when we listen to a piece of music, when we read a play or a book or a piece of poetry? It’s understanding what makes us human that is such a fascinating question.’

Henry Markram leads the Blue Brain Project and the Human Brain Project in Switzerland—two ambitious endeavours that aim to revolutionise our understanding of the organ.

With funding from the European Union, Markram is attempting to build a working model of a brain in order to simulate and understand what happens when it is affected by various diseases.

‘It’s beautiful, the brain. It’s an incredibly complicated structure, all these neurons and fibres; it’s a very different looking machine,’ he says.

‘What becomes very complex is the emergent properties. When we think the brain is so complex, it’s because we look at these amazing things that come out of the brain and we try and understand them.’

Meanwhile in California, Ralph Greenspan is trying to build on and enhance magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, in order to map how brain cells interact.

‘Our goal is to be able to achieve a higher resolution where we can see—if not every cell—at least small groups of cells and know how information is flowing through the brain, and also to be able to do that in real-time, at the millisecond scale that brains operate at.’

‘Think about how long it takes you to recognise the face of someone you know when they walk in the room,’ Greenspan says. ‘It’s instantaneous. That’s something we want to be able to capture.’

Research into the human brain is a competitive, high-powered and exciting field of science, and one in which Australia is set to become a key player.

Professor Bob Williamson says that within the field, there is a healthy mix of competition and collaboration.

‘At the same time, at the meetings that happen, everyone is very keen to have the resources to collaborate and to be able to put things together and engage with the best groups in Europe and with the best groups in America—and now with the best groups in China and India, as these countries are developing their science as well.’

To coincide with the G20 summit, Brisbane will soon host the first World Brain Mapping Therapeutic Summit. The gathering will bring together top scientists from around the world, to work together to advance our understanding of neuroscience.

Can the Long-Extinct Woolly Mammoth Be Cloned?

A woolly mammoth carcass recently unearthed in Siberia could be the best hope yet for scientists aiming to clone the massive, long-extinct beast.
The mammoth specimen, which was discovered in 2013 in a remote part of Siberia, oozed a deep red liquid when it was first discovered. Scientists have now analyzed the mammoth to understand how it lived and died — and whether it will yield enough undamaged DNA to make cloning the extinct creature a reality.
Details from the mammoth autopsy will air in the Smithsonian Channel special called “How to Clone a Woolly Mammoth,” on Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. (Warning: This story contains some spoilers about the Smithsonian Channel special.)

Stunning find
In May 2013, scientists from the Siberian Northeastern Federal University crossed the icy expanse of Siberia to reach Maly Lyakhovsky Island in the far north, where rumor had it a mammoth was lurking in the permafrost. At the time, two giant tusks were poking out of the ground, but when the researchers dug further, they found an almost complete mammoth, with three legs, most of the body, part of the head and the trunk still intact.
During excavations, the carcass oozed a dark red liquid that may have been fresh mammoth blood. In fact, the mammoth meat was reportedly fresh enough that one of the scientists took a bite of it.
“This is definitely one of the best samples people have ever found,” Insung Hwang, a cloning scientist at the SOOAM Biotech Research Center, said in the show.
In the past, mammoths have yielded only a few dried specks of blood, and none of them left enough intact DNA for a cloning experiment.
Life and death
The researchers then took the carcass to Yakutsk in Russia, where a group of experts had just three days to thoroughly examine the specimen before it was refrozen to prevent rotting. The team used carbon dating to determine that the female mammoth, nicknamed Buttercup, lived about 40,000 years ago. Tests conducted on the mammoth’s teeth revealed it was likely in its mid-50s.
Based on growth rates from the tusks, the team deduced that the mammoth had also successfully weaned eight calves and lost one baby. Feces and bacteria in the intestines revealed the ancient matriarch ate grassland plants such as buttercups and dandelions.
Tooth marks on her bones helped the scientists glean information about Buttercup’s grisly end. The mammoth had become trapped in a peat bog and was eaten alive from the back by predators such as wolves.
While scientists probed the elbow of the mammoth, the large beast oozed more blood. Chemical analyses revealed that the blood cells were broken, but still contained hemoglobin, or oxygen-ferrying molecules. Unlike humans and other mammals, mammoths evolved a cold-resistant form of hemoglobin that could survive at the near-freezing temperatures present during the Ice Age.
“The fact that blood has been found is promising for us, because it just tells us how good of a condition the mammoth was kept in for 43,000 years,” Hwang said.
Cloning a mammoth?
But whether or not Buttercup can be resurrected is another matter.
DNA is fragile and must be stored at low temperatures and in uniform humidity to stay intact. Past mammoth carcasses have looked exceptionally well-preserved, with some even yielding a preserved mammoth brain. Others have oozed what looked like blood, but ultimately did not have enough DNA to recreate the mammoth genome and clone it.
So far, the team hasn’t found a complete copy of the mammoth’s genome. But Buttercup’s tissue has revealed some very long fragments that could potentially be pieced together to recreate the genome. Still, researchers are continuing to hunt for a complete copy.
Yet, even if a complete sample of undamaged DNA can’t be found, there may be other ways to clone a mammoth, said Harvard University researcher George Church. He is hoping to combine DNA from Buttercup with modern-day elephants, essentially grafting the DNA for hair, tusks and other distinctive mammoth features into the genome of the animal’s modern-day relatives.

Understanding The Dangers of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs .

You see them in every grocery store and home center – those funny-looking curly compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that are rapidly replacing the old round bulbs. And pretty soon, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 kicks in, requiring bulbs to be 25 to 30 percent more efficient by 2012 to 2014, and 70 percent more efficient by 2020, effectively phasing out traditional incandescent bulbs as a way to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The energy efficiency of CFLs may be significant, but unlike traditional light bulbs, there is a hidden danger sealed inside each little bulb that requires special handling and disposal.

Mercury – a potent, developmental neurotoxin that can damage the brain, liver, kidneys and central nervous system. Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to mercury’s toxic effects. Even at low levels, mercury is capable of causing a number of health problems including impair motor functioning, cognitive ability and emotional problems. Higher or prolonged exposure can result in much more serious health problems.

CFLs are marketed as “safe” and don’t pose any health risks as long as the glass remains intact. The danger comes if the bulbs are cracked, broken or not disposed of properly. Although it sounds like a miniscule amount – 4 to 5 milligrams – there is enough mercury in just one fluorescent light bulb to contaminate 6,000 gallons of water.

So what does that mean if a CFL is cracked or breaks in our homes, releasing mercury vapors in an enclosed area?Consumers – especially those with young children –need to know what to do when a CFL breaks and the proper way to dispose of used bulbs. It’s no longer as easy as changing a light bulb.

Mercury Warning:

Compact fluorescent light-bulbs contain very small amounts of mercury and care must be taken in disposing of them or when they break.

The EPA suggests the following:
o People and pets should immediately leave the room.

o Open a window and/or door and Air out the room for 5 to 10 minutes.

o Turn off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system.

o Thoroughly collect broken glass and visible powder using wet cloths. Never use vacuum cleaners or brooms.

o Put all debris and cleanup materials in a sealable container and put outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly. Do not leaving bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.

o If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.

Compact Fluorescent Bulb 272x300 Understanding The Dangers of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

All of this needs to be done to protect people from the tiny amount of mercury in one fluorescent light bulb. Which begs the question, are these lights really safe and are the risks worth it?

Another equally important concern is what happens to the environment – the air, soil and water – when tons of discarded bulbs, along with the mercury, are dumped into local landfills?

The threat posed by billions of broken CFLs lying in landfills has resulted in some communities requiring their citizens to discard used and broken CFLs in designated recycling centers or in a hazardous-waste collection facility.

Given the known deleterious effects caused by mercury, it would seem logical to assume there will be some unintended consequences resulting from the switch to compact fluorescent lights.

Only time will tell how significant those consequences will be.

If you are concerned about the possible health risks associated with CFLs, LED or halogen lights are good alternatives. Both cost a little more but are as efficient as CFLs and can be recycled easily.

For more information about mercury and compact fluorescent light bulbs go to

For information about your communities recycling program go to

Compact Fluorescent Lamps are designed to fit standard light sockets as an energy-saving alternative to traditional incandescent bulbs. CFLs have spiraling or elongated U-shaped tubes known as a single-envelope unit; the double-envelope or encapsulated bulbs have the tubes inside a glass bulb. Consumers should be aware of dangers associated with CFL bulbs before bringing the units into the home, school or workplace.

Mercury Content

  • Although CFLs are considered extremely energy efficient, each bulb contains about 5mg “elemental mercury,” says U.S. Army-Ft. Wood. General Electric, a manufacturer of CFL bulbs, notes the amount equivalent to the tip of a ballpoint pen. GE further claims the mercury is an “essential, irreplaceable element” that allows the bulb to perform as an efficient light source, posing no danger during regular use. Elemental mercury is a bioaccumulative neurotoxin that effects multiple neurological responses. High exposures may affect the kidneys, lead to respiratory failure and death. In addition, mercury accumulates in the environment, vaporizing into the air and leaching into water supplies.

Radiation Emissions

  • CFL bulbs are subject to scrutiny by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as electronic products that emit ultraviolet radiation. However, as of May 2011, the FDA did not have “specific standards or annual reporting requirements” for manufacturers because the bulbs are considered of little concern, having insignificant levels of radiation. CFLs emit a small amount of UVA, UVB and infrared radiation, according to the FDA. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency tested CFLs from various manufacturers. With the exception of people with photosensitive medical conditions, such as lupus, ARPANSA noted that CFLs are suitable for use at distances beyond 10 inches. However, when using desktop and other close lamps, it’s advisable to utilize double-envelope or encapsulated bulbs.

Electrical Sensitivity

  • Electrical sensitivity, also known as electrical hypersensitivity and electromagnet hypersensitivity, is a recognized disability with chronic and systematic reactions to electromagnet fields given off by wiring, electrical equipment, transformers and florescent lighting — including CFLs. Approximately 8 million Americans experience electrical sensitivities, according to the Research & Training Center on Independent Living. It causes nervous system symptoms such as headache, fatigue, stress and sleep disturbances; skin symptoms including prickling, burning sensations and rashes, and pain and ache to muscles, as well as many other health problems. CFLs contribute to electrical sensitivity by emitting electromagnetic radiation.

Electromagnetic Radiation

  • Electromagnet radiation, also known as electromagnetic frequencies — EMF — is a naturally occurring energy. Technological advances such as CFL bulbs have increased the EMF in modern environments. The electromagnet radiation bundle includes dirty electricity — sometimes called dirty power — electrical pollution and radio waves. Most of the EMF fields experienced every day and emitted from CFL bulbs are non-ionizing radiation and considered safe. However, for people with electrical sensitivity, CFL bulbs have significant accumulative dangers, according to ElectroSensitivity UK News.

DNA sequencing helps identify genetic defects in glaucoma .

Scientists have sequenced the mitochondrial genome in glaucoma patients to help further understanding into the genetic basis for the disease. Glaucoma is a major cause of irreversible blindness, affecting more than 60 million people worldwide, increasing to an estimated 79.6 million people by 2020. It is thought that the condition has genetic origins and many experiments have shown that new sequencing approaches could help understand how the condition develops.

Scientists from the University of Liverpool have sequenced the mitochondrial genome in glaucoma patients to help further understanding into the genetic basis for the disease.

Glaucoma is a major cause of irreversible blindness, affecting more than 60 million people worldwide, increasing to an estimated 79.6 million people by 2020. It is thought that the condition has genetic origins and many experiments have shown that new sequencing approaches could help understand how the condition develops.

Studies on primary open-angle glaucoma — the most common form of glaucoma — have shown that mutations in mitochondria, the energy generating structures in all cells, could give valuable insight into how to prevent the disease.

Using new gene sequencing techniques, called massively parallel sequencing, the Liverpool team have produced data on the mitochondrial genome taken from glaucoma patients from around the world.

The impact that mitochondrial gene change has on disease progression has been difficult to fully determine as cells in the human body can contain mixtures of healthy and mutated mitochondrial genes. Using this new technology, however, the researchers aim to support the delivery of personalised medicines to identify drugs that will target mutated mitochondria.

Professor Colin Willoughby, from the University’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, explains: “Understanding the genetic basis of glaucoma can direct care by helping to determine the patient’s clinical risk of disease progression and visual loss.

“Increasing evidence suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction results in glaucoma and drugs that target mitochondria may emerge as future therapeutic interventions.

“Further studies on larger glaucoma numbers of patients are required to firmly establish the link between genetic defects in the mitochondrial genome and glaucoma development.

“Our research, however, has demonstrated that massively parallel sequencing is a cost-effective approach to detect a wide spectrum of mitochondrial mutations and will improve our ability to understand glaucoma, identify patients at risk of the disease or visual loss and support the development of new treatments.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Liverpool. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Periasamy Sundaresan, David A. Simpson, Chitra Sambare, Seamus Duffy, Judith Lechner, Aditi Dastane, Edward W. Dervan, Neeru Vallabh, Vidya Chelerkar, Madan Deshpande, Colm O’Brien, Amy Jayne McKnight, Colin E. Willoughby.Whole-mitochondrial genome sequencing in primary open-angle glaucoma using massively parallel sequencing identifies novel and known pathogenic variants. Genetics in Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/gim.2014.121

A Science Icon Died 17 Years Ago. In His Last Interview, He Made A Warning That Gives Me Goosebumps.

Carl Edward Sagan (/ˈseɪɡən/; November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. His contributions were central to the discovery of the high surface temperatures of Venus. However, he is best known for his contributions to the scientific research of extraterrestrial life, including experimental demonstration of the production of amino acids from basic chemicals by radiation. Sagan assembled the first physical messages that were sent into space: the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager Golden Record, universal messages that could potentially be understood by any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find them.


He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books. Sagan is known for many of his popular science books, such as The Dragons of Eden, Broca’s Brain and Pale Blue Dot, and for the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which he narrated and co-wrote. The most widely watched series in the history of American public television, Cosmos has been seen by at least 500 million people across 60 different countries. The bookCosmos was published to accompany the series.

He also wrote the science fiction novel Contact, the basis for a 1997 film of the same name.Sagan always advocated scientific skeptical inquiry and the scientific method, pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). He spent most of his career as a professor of astronomy at Cornell University where he directed the Laboratory for Planetary Studies. Sagan and his works received numerous awards and honors, including the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal, the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his bookThe Dragons of Eden, and, regarding Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, two Emmy Awards, the Peabody Award and the Hugo Award. He married three times and had five childrenradaronline.comchildren. After suffering from myelodysplasia, Sagan died of pneumonia at the age of 62 on December 20, 1996.

watch the video.URL:

​Dutch ban poultry transport over ‘highly pathogenic’ bird flu strain .

The Netherlands has discovered a “highly pathogenic” bird flu virus that can be transmitted to humans. The authorities have banned poultry transport throughout the country.

The strain of avian influenza, or bird flu, was found at a battery poultry farm in the village of Hekendorp, in the central province of Utrecht (population 300,000 people), late on Saturday, according to authorities.

“This highly pathogenic variant of avian influenza is very dangerous for bird life,” the government said in a statement. “The disease can be transmitted from animals to humans.”

No details have been revealed about the exact strain of bird flu the Netherlands is dealing with, but it’s known the variant endangers birds and is lethal for chickens.

The highly contagious H5N8 strain, confirmed on Saturday, was detected in Europe less than two weeks ago. The strain was found at a farm in northeastern Germany on November 4.

The farm’s 150,000 hens are now being slaughtered, Dutch authorities said, adding that they are also applying protective measures for the people, who came into direct contact with the infected poultry.

Reuters/Aly Song

Amsterdam also imposed a 72-hour ban on transporting all poultry products throughout the country, including eggs, dung and used straw.

Sixteen poultry farms within a 10km radius of the infected area will be banned from transporting their products for 30 days. Security measures for visitors have also been introduced in the area.

Previous avian influenza outbreaks in the world have proved highly contagious and developed the ability to jump the species barrier to humans. Its highly pathogenic strain (H5N1) appeared in Asia in 2003. Avian influenza reached Europe in 2005 and the Middle East and Africa in 2006.

In March, inspections discovered bird flu in Gelderland province in the east of the Netherlands, where the population is over 2 million people. About 10,000 virally affected chickens were destroyed.

Earlier in November, Germany detected the first case of highly infectious H5N8 influenza in the country and over 30,000 turkeys were slaughtered.