Specialised Imaging reports on how its Kirana ultra high-speed video camera has become the system of choice for many leading edge research groups in the material science community in Europe, North America and in the Asia/Pacific Region. For more information, click HERE.
For nearly six decades, NASA has been at the cutting edge of space and aeronautics, and has also been involved in some of the earliest research into virtual reality (VR).
Now, the US space agency is working with the Unreal Engine real-time visualisation platform to help it create an incredibly real Mixed Reality replica of the International Space Station (ISS) that provides an ‘out of this world’ environment for its astronauts and engineers.
Already recognised as being one of the best-in-class 3D computer game engines, one that has driven many of the top PC, PlayStation and Xbox titles over the past 20 years, Unreal Engine has increasingly been the tool of choice for those working in automotive, aeronautics and architecture, as well as many other areas where real-time visualisation and ultra high fidelity graphical representations are important.
Many of these applications are designed to allow people to work in environments that are practically impossible to access for training and development, such as the depths of the North Sea, buildings that have not yet been built or new car models that are no more than design files on a computer.
“The International Space Station is a great example of an environment that is simply not available for training in the real world, but which can be created in Virtual Reality,” says Simon Jones, director of Unreal Engine’s Enterprise division.
As NASA software engineer Matthew Noyes, explains: “NASA is always interested in how cutting-edge technology could help our programmes. Creating a truly immersive experience for astronauts is a lot like creating a game. With Unreal Engine, we’ve created a completely immersive, three-dimensional, mixed reality training and development environment that is incredibly lifelike. In basic terms, that means we can put our crew in space while they’re still on earth.”
NASA’s advanced implementation of VR combines Unreal Engine’s ability to create a realistic virtual world, with physical models and room scale tracking to create an immersive International Space Station experience.
In addition to tools and elements of the space station, physical systems include an Active Response Gravity Offload System, which is a smart robotic crane that offloads the user’s body weight to make it feel like he or she is in micro, lunar, or Martian gravity.
The resulting Mixed Reality system provides the tactile sensations of what it feels like to be in orbit, increasing that vital sense of presence.
Applications of the system include training astronauts in maintenance and to use exercise equipment, helping to design new habitats and engineering development.
Matthew Noyes concludes: “The environments created by Unreal Engine have allowed us to meet many of our training goals. The more realistic your training feels, the faster you can respond in critical real-world situations, which ultimately can save your life.”
Wider applications of VR
For Simon Jones, Director of Unreal Engine Enterprise, the NASA application is part of growing use of immersive visualisation, accelerated by the technology becoming much more accessible: “Development engineers can look at the execution of detail areas without having to make separate desktop models.
“Marketing specialists can create visuals before there is a prototype, or customer experiences that pre-sell before production. All of this means that organisations across a range of sectors are now looking at how they can embed VR within their engineering information strategy,” he says. “So what started life as a high-end computer gaming technology has developed to become an application that accelerates innovation, drives new technology and creates incredible new opportunities.”
Gel electrophoresis of proteins and DNA are techniques common to all labs.
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Fragment Analyzer is a hands-free, fully automated system that does it all—assessing quality and quantity of DNA, RNA and even genomic DNA up to 40,000 bp.
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Ground-breaking new evidence that cancer spread is increased by a high fat diet as researchers discover new cancer-spreading protein.
The study, published in the journal Nature, identifies for the first time a protein called CD36 which has an essential role in cancer spreading. Finding a way to stop this protein could be a new way to save thousands of lives.
“We expect this study to have a big impact on the scientific community. Things like this don’t happen every day” explains the lead researcher Professor Benitah.
The study shows that the metastatic process (cancer spread) is enhanced by fat intake. During the research mice given a high fat diet, including palmitic acid (a major component of palm oil which is found in lots of household products) developed the most aggressive cancer spread.
A study partly funded by UK charity Worldwide Cancer Research and headed by Professor Salvador Aznar Benitah, at the Institute for Research in Barcelona (IRB) have identified for the first time a specific protein called CD36 on cancer cells which have the ability to metastasize (spread). CD36, found in the cell membranes of tumour cells, is responsible for taking up fatty acids. This unique CD36 activity and dependence on fatty acids distinguishes metastasis-initiating cells from other tumour cells.
Cancer is most deadly when it has begun to spread as successful treatment is much more difficult. Scientists around the globe are therefore trying to understand how the process occurs and develop new ways to stop it.
Professor Benitah’s team found CD36 was present on metastatic cancer cells from patients with a range of different tumours including oral tumours, melanoma skin cancer, ovarian, bladder, lung and breast cancer. To confirm its essential role in cancer spread, they added CD36 to non-metastatic cancer cells which then caused the cells to become metastatic.
“Although we have not yet tested this in all tumour types, we can state that CD36 is a general marker of metastatic cells, the first I know of that is generally specific to metastasis,” says Professor Benitah, Head of the Stem Cell and Cancer Lab at IRB Barcelona. We expect this study to have a big impact on the scientific community and to further advances in metastasis research, and we hope to be able to validate the potential of CD36 as an anti-metastasis treatment. Things like this don’t happen every day.”
The researchers next looked at the role of fat intake on cancer spread. They provided mice with a high fat diet then injected them with a type of human oral cancer. The high fat diet caused 50% more mice to have larger and more frequent metastases.
They went on to test a specific saturated fatty acid called palmitic acid - a major component of animal and vegetable fats and present at high levels in palm oil which is used in many house hold products from peanut butter and processed food to toothpaste. The researchers treated human oral tumours with palmitic acid for two days then injected them into mice fed a standard diet. The team observed that all the mice with CD36 developed cancer spread compared to only half when not treated with palmitic acid.
“In mice inoculated with human tumour cells, there appears to be a direct link between fat intake and an increase in metastatic potential through CD36. More studies are needed to unravel this intriguing relationship, above all because industrialised countries are registering an alarming increase in the consumption of saturated fats and sugar,” warns Professor Benitah. “Fat is necessary for the function of the body, but uncontrolled intake can have an effect on health, as already shown for some tumours such as colon cancer, and in metastasis, as we demonstrate here.”
Using mice with human oral cancer, the researchers were next able to show that blocking CD36 completely prevented metastasis. In mice with cancer cells that had already metastasised, CD36 blocking antibodies led to the complete removal of metastases in 20% of the mice, whilst in the others it caused a dramatic reduction of 80-90% of metastases and reduced the size. Importantly, this was all achieved with no serious side effects.
The researchers are now developing new antibody-based therapeutics against CD36 that could potentially be suitable to treat a range of cancers in patients in the future.
Dr Lara Bennett, Science Communications Manager at Worldwide Cancer Research said: “We have been supporting Professor Benitah’s work for a number of years and it is fantastic to now see these truly game-changing results. If the team are able to go on to develop this antibody into a treatment for humans it could save thousands of lives every year.”