Scientists growing body parts in laboratory
Category: SCIENCE

Scientists growing body parts in laboratoryDr Alexander Seifalian at University College London is the scientist leading the effort.

Dr Alexander Seifalian at University College London is the scientist leading the effort. 

British scientists are growing body parts in the laboratory in an effort to make organs using stem cells.

The endeavor is undertaken with a view to growing custom-made organs.

It includes tissue engineers making a synthetic frame or scaffold.

The frame, however, is not filled with a patient's own stem cells and grown in the laboratory before being finally transplanted in their bodies -- a time-consuming and expensive project.

Dr Alexander Seifalian at University College London is the scientist leading the effort. His laboratory at the UCL has drawn expertise from physicists, chemists and industrial engineers to create what he calls a nanocomposite material.

Doctors will take stem cells from the patient’s fat during the operation and inject it onto the synthetic frame of the ear which is then embedded under the skin.

According to Seifalian, "When you take the device, when you implant it, it captures the stem cells. So we didn't want to, you know to seed it (with) stem cells in the lab and then put it into the patient. That cost money, (it's) quite difficult and not every hospital could do that. So we made the instrument, this implant somehow bio-active to capture the stem cell in the blood, you know and become endotheliolized. So this is called in situ tissue engineering."

Seifalian's work was to be showcased on Tuesday as Mayor Boris Johnson was to announce a new initiative to attract investment to Britain's health and science sectors.


Nasa wants to capture an asteroid
Category: SCIENCE
Tags: Asteroid NASA

Nasa wants to capture an asteroid

Mechanical arms or even a big bag may be used to grab an asteroid and bring it to earth

By David Millward, The Telegraph UK – March 26, 2014

Grabbing hold of an asteroid is not easy Photo: NASA

The American space agency wants to work out how it can grab an asteroid or at least a large chunk of one.

Corralling a large piece of space rock is a key part of the agency’s Asteroid Grand Challenge and the Asteroid Redirect Mission.

Despite the damage caused by a meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk last year, Nasa believes the earth is safe from an asteroid collision for at least a century.

But according to Lindley Johnson, the head of Nasa’s near earth observations programme, there is no room for complacency about asteroids.

“There are a lot out there which we need to find, which is what this programme is about.”

The mission has set itself a series of tasks, including redirecting an asteroid into a stable orbit beyond the moon, before sending a manned mission to explore it.

But ahead of that it wants to capture a small asteroid.

According to Jason Raboin, a member of Nasa’s capture team, the agency is looking at several potential techniques to lasso an asteroid.

But grabbing hold of an asteroid is not easy, partly because they rotate.

One option is to collect boulders or small asteroids with mechanical grabs, not unlike those used in amusement arcades.

An alternative is to devise an inflatable bag, which could envelop the asteroid or part of it.

This technique – known as TALISMAN – matches the spinning rate of its target asteroid.

It then uses its mechanical arms to stabilise the rock before shoving it into an inflatable bag.

Some of the samples will be brought back to earth for further analysis.

Even though there are thousands of asteroids, according to Nasa’s latest calculations only nine are considered suitable for boulder retrieval.

Getting an astronaut onto an asteroid by 2025 is seen as a staging post in an ambitious new wave of space exploration, said Charles Bolden, Nasa’s administrator.

President Barack Obama said he wants America to put astronauts on Mars, with spacecraft at least orbiting the planet by the mid 2030s.

According to Nasa, sending astronauts to an asteroid is a way of testing the technology that will be needed to make exploration of Mars viable.

“This is a tiny, tiny piece of getting humans on Mars. We need a proving ground.”

“The ultimate thing is to put boots on the ground on Mars, this is not a touch and go but we want people to live there.”



Media Advisory: Press Conference in Brazil to Announce Discovery in Outer Solar System
Category: SCIENCE
Tags: Outer Solar System

ann14021 — Announcement

Media Advisory: Press Conference in Brazil to Announce Discovery in Outer Solar System

25 March 2014

An international team of astronomers, led by Felipe Braga-Ribas (Observatório Nacional/MCTI, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), has used telescopes at seven locations in South America, including the 1.54-metre Danish and TRAPPIST telescopes at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, to make a surprise discovery in the outer Solar System.

This unexpected result raises several unanswered questions and is expected to provoke much debate. A press conference will be held in Brazil to present the new results and allow opportunities for questions.

Note that all information regarding these findings is under strict embargo until 19:00 CET (15:00 BRT) on Wednesday 26 March 2014.

When: The conference will be held on 26 March 2014 at 14:30 local time (BRT) and will take place in Portuguese with a summary in English.

Who: The conference presenters are:

  • Felipe Braga-Ribas, Observatório Nacional/MCTI, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Bruno Sicardy, LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, Paris, France
  • Prof. Roberto Martins, Observatório Nacional/MCTI, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Prof. Julio Camargo, Observatório Nacional/MCTI, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Where: The event takes place in Observatório Nacional, Auditório do Grupo de Pesquisas em Astronomia (GPA), in the GPA/LINEA Building in Rua General José Cristino, 77, Bairro de São Cristovão, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20921-400, Brazil.

How: To participate in the conference and receive additional material, bona fide members of the media must get accredited by sending an email to Dr. Gustavo Rojas (ESON Brazil) at Members of the media may also request the feed URL from the contacts below. Questions can be sent by email to in Portuguese or English. A limited number of journalists can participate via GoToMeeting online (please request access from




Gustavo Rojas
ESON Brazil, Universidade Federal de São Carlos
São Carlos, Brazil
Tel.: +55 1633519795
Cell.: +55 16991554847

Richard Hook
ESO, Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591


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