Developing Human Connectome Project

The Developing Human Connectome Project aims to map the intricate neural wiring of babies from womb to birth in a revolutionary undertaking. Stunning high-resolution images from 40 newborns were just released, providing researchers an initial basis for analysis and feedback. Led by King’s College London, Imperial College London and Oxford University, the project runs for three more years and is expected to produce thousands of images in the coming months. Capturing the early stages of brain development offers tremendous insight into conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy and attention deficit disorders, The Guardian reports.


Image provided by The Developing Human Connectome Project via The Guardian

In Vitro Brain Breakthrough

“This study is one of the first attempts to combine organoids with bioengineering. Our new method takes advantage of and combines the unique strengths of each approach, namely the intrinsic self-organization of organoids and the reproducibility afforded by bioengineering. We make use of small microfilaments to guide the shape of the organoids without driving tissue identity.” Madeline Lancaster of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology describes to Lab Manager. Organoid refers to lab-grown miniature organ or organ-like tissue, encompassing complex properties such as 3D multicellular composition and self-organization. For the full story, click here.


Image provided by Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences via Lab Manager

One-Legged Flamingo Mechanics

Flamingos are a majestic anomaly of bipedicular balance. Turns out, they probably stand on one leg passively without any muscle activity. Professor Young-Hui Chang and Lena H. Ting prove this and more in a series of experiments recently published in Biology Letters. “By contrast, the cadaveric flamingo could not be stably held in a two-legged pose, suggesting a greater necessity for active muscle force to stabilize two-legged versus one-legged postures,” they wrote. Researchers collected ground reaction components and reference video on subjects as they stood on a force plate. This appears to be the first functional investigation of one-legged standing in flamingos with respect to orthopedic anatomy and behavior.

Powered Exoskeletons for Spinal Cord Injury

Impaired walking is a devastating consequence of spinal cord injury (SCI), affecting about 300,000 people in the U.S. alone according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. Individuals of decreased mobility are predicted to live shorter and lesser-quality lives.

One emerging technology offers relief: The “powered exoskeleton” is a broad category of wearable devices designed to increase limb strength and endurance, a concept established frequently in science fiction (think Iron Man).

Continue reading “Powered Exoskeletons for Spinal Cord Injury”