Our editor’s pick of this week’s in September Top 10 STEM News

Gene therapy for sickle cell disease passes key preclinical test

A precision-engineered gene therapy virus, inserted into blood stem cells that are then transplanted, markedly reduced sickle-induced red-cell damage in mice with sickle cell disease, researchers from Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center report today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The work sets the stage for bringing a decades-old discovery about sickle cell disease to the bedside. A clinical gene therapy trial, using a virus rendered harmless in the laboratory, is expected to launch in the coming year.

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Using light to potentially treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

After years of studying the effects of near-infrared light on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries, a team of bioengineers has published research that could result in an effective, long-term treatment for brain disorders.

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Researchers debunk ‘five-second rule’: Eating food off the floor isn’t safe

Turns out bacteria may transfer to sweets that have fallen on the floor no matter how fast you pick it up. Rutgers researchers have disproven the widely accepted notion that it’s OK to scoop up food and eat it within a ‘safe’ five-second window.

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Breakthrough in moving small objects using sound

By playing carefully constructed melodies, scientists can simultaneously and independently move multiple objects on a plate toward desired targets. This has enabled the scientists to do things like compose words consisting of separate letters with loose metal pieces on the plate by playing a melody.

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Lightweight, wearable tech efficiently converts body heat to electricity

Researchers have developed a new design for harvesting body heat and converting it into electricity for use in wearable electronics. The experimental prototypes are lightweight, conform to the shape of the body, and can generate far more electricity than previous lightweight heat harvesting technologies.

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Mars rover views spectacular layered rock formations

The layered geologic past of Mars is revealed in stunning detail in new color images returned by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, which is currently exploring the “Murray Buttes” region of lower Mount Sharp. The new images arguably rival photos taken in U.S. National Parks.

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Brain-sensing technology allows monkeys to type at 12 words per minute

It does not take an infinite number of monkeys to type a passage of Shakespeare. Instead, it takes a single monkey equipped with brain-sensing technology — and a cheat sheet. Technology for reading signals directly from the brain could provide a way for people with movement disabilities to communicate.

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Major global study reveals new hypertension and blood pressure genes

Thirty-one new gene regions linked with blood pressure have been identified in one of the largest genetic studies of blood pressure to date, involving over 347,000 people.

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Link between gait and aggression discovered

The way people walk can give clues to how aggressive they are, a new exploratory study has found. The work found that the exaggerated movement of both the upper and lower body indicated aggression

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New fabric uses sun and wind to power devices

Fabrics that can generate electricity from physical movement have been in the works for a few years. Now researchers have taken the next step, developing a fabric that can simultaneously harvest energy from both sunshine and motion.

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