Researchers have successfully piloted a remote-controlled helicopter using thought. After about 12 hours of training, volunteers were able to maneuver a small quadrotor through more than 90 percent of challenges in a sophisticated obstacle course.
University of Minnesota biomedical engineers created a noninvasive computer-brain interface that interprets thoughts about movement into flight instructions the drone acts upon. The interface is comprised of a standard sensor-studded electroencephalogram (EEG) cap, which is used to detect electrical impulses in the brain, connected to a computer that interprets the signal and beams directions wirelessly to the robot.
“The experiment we conducted developed a system to decode human intention and use that signal to fly a robot in three-dimensional space,” biomedical engineering professor Bin He tells Txchnologist. “The real innovation here is picking up a signal of intention from a person’s brain and turning that into a control signal.”
Using a supercomputer to crunch massive amounts of data, researchers say they have decoded the structure that contains and protects HIV’s genetic material. Their results potentially open a new route of attack against the structure, called the capsid, which is essential to the virus’s survival.
“The capsid is critically important for HIV replication, so knowing its structure in detail could lead us to new drugs that can treat or prevent the infection,” said senior author Peijun Zhang, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “This approach has the potential to be a powerful alternative to our current HIV therapies, which work by targeting certain enzymes, but drug resistance is an enormous challenge due to the virus’ high mutation rate.”
Their task was no easy one. HIV’s gene-containing protein shell is comprised of nonuniform combinations of five- and six-subunit protein structures that link together to form an asymmetric shape. To get an accurate model of the capsid, they would need to piece together each of the 3 million to 4 million atoms that comprise it.
A new optical diagnostic tool being developed at Columbia University may help healthcare providers monitor one of the most serious complications of diabetes. The noninvasive technique —called dynamic diffuse optical tomography (DDOT) imaging—fires near-infrared light at parts of the body. That which is reflected back at the machine lets it map the concentration of hemoglobin in tissue over time.
This helps providers diagnose and monitor peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a narrowing of the arteries caused by plaque accumulation that restricts blood flow to extremities and increases a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke.