Discovered nearly 20 years ago, carbon nanotubes have been described as the wonder material of the 21st Century. Light as plastic and stronger that steel, they are being developed for use in new drugs, energy-efficient batteries and futuristic electronics. A major study published today suggests some forms of carbon nanotubes, the poster children for the “nanotechnology revolution”, could be as harmful as asbestos if inhaled in sufficient quantities.
The study used established methods to see if specific types of nanotubes have the potential to cause mesothelioma — a cancer of the lung lining that can take 30-40 years to appear following exposure. The results show that long, thin multi-walled carbon nanotubes that look like asbestos fibers, behave like asbestos fibers.
Since their discovery, questions have been raised about whether some of these nanoscale materials may cause harm and undermine a nascent market for all types of carbon nanotubes, including multi- and single-walled carbon nanotubes. Leading forecasting firms say sales of all nanotubes could reach $2 billion annually within the next four to seven years, according to an article in the U.S. publication Chemical & Engineering News.
Researchers at the Peninsula Medical School in the South West of England, University College London, the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan and Cancer Research UK, have for the first time identified a protein that is key to the regeneration of damage in the peripheral nervous system and which could with further research lead to understanding diseases of our peripheral nervous systems and provide clues to methods of repairing damage in the central nervous system, according to a paper published this week in the Journal of Cell Biology.
The team looked at a protein called c-Jun, a transcription factor that regulates the expression of other genes. They found that the c-Jun protein plays a vital role in the regulating the plasticity of Schwann cells which is vital for the way in which the peripheral nervous system regenerates and repairs itself after injury.
Each day we risk exposure to around 70,000 chemicals. In food packaging or even the air we breathe, contact with potentially-toxic substances could be affecting our health, including fertility.
The Reproductive Effects of Environmental Chemicals in Females Consortium (REEF) is one of the first studies tackling the effect of environmental chemicals on female mammals. REEF will receive a total of £2.4m in funding from the EU.
Dr Richard Lea and Dr Kevin Sinclair at The University of Nottingham will receive a £500,000 grant for their work researching how these chemicals impact on mammalian fertility. Dr Lea and Dr Sinclair will study the impact of low levels of environmental chemicals on sheep foetuses in the womb. The specific chemicals to be studied are found in human sewage sludge which is frequently spread on fields where sheep graze prior to entering the human food chain.
Titanium is the lightweight metal of choice for many applications and a non-melt consolidation process being developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory may make it cheap enough to bulletproof your Prius. Or a military vehicle, if you want to be predictable.
The new processing technique could reduce the amount of energy required and the cost to make titanium parts from powders by up to 50 percent, making it feasible to use titanium alloys for brake rotors, artificial joint replacements and armor for vehicles.
The lightweight titanium alloy also improves the operation of the door and increases mobility of the vehicle, making it even more useful to the military.
Researchers at the University of Illinois report this week that a plant compound found in abundance in celery and green peppers can disrupt a key component of the inflammatory response in the brain. The findings have implications for research on aging and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.
Inflammation can be a blessing or a blight. It is a critical part of the body’s immune response that in normal circumstances reduces injury and promotes healing. When it goes awry, however, the inflammatory response can lead to serious physical and mental problems.
Inflammation plays a key role in many neurodegenerative diseases and also is implicated in the cognitive and behavioral impairments seen in aging.
Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist whose research is so broad that it covers science from the beginning of the universe to the end of the universe, will join Arizona State University in August to assume a leadership role in an emerging research and educational initiative on “origins.”
“Lawrence Krauss has been at the forefront of trying to unify particle physics and cosmology; of trying to use the universe itself as a laboratory to understand fundamental interactions, fundamental science and fundamental physics,” says ASU President Michael Crow. “His ability to address fundamental questions of life, of origins – Where did we come from? Why are we here? – and to seek an understanding of the long-term sustainability of life on Earth, will facilitate this new research and educational initiative at Arizona State University.”