Material can change color instantly
RIVERSIDE, Calif., June 18 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they have created a fabricated material that changes color instantly in response to an external magnetic field.
The researchers -- led by the University of California-Riverside Assistant Professor Yadong Yin -- said the fabricated microscopic polymer beads change color instantly and reversibly when external magnetic fields acting upon the microspheres change orientation.
The beads or "magnetochromatic microspheres" have excellent structural stability, the researchers said, and are highly compatible with various types of dispersion media such as water, alcohol, hexane and even polymer solutions.
"Unlike many conventional approaches, the instantaneous color change occurs with no change in the structure or intrinsic properties of the microspheres themselves," said Yin. "What changes instead are the magnetic fields acting externally on the orientation of these microspheres, these photonic crystals.
"Our work," added Yin, "provides a new mechanism for inducing color change in materials. Now, for the first time, stable photonic materials with tunable colors can be fabricated on a large scale."
The study that included researchers from South Korea's Seoul National University is reported in the online edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
New photodynamic cancer therapy studied
SANTA CRUZ, Calif., June 18 (UPI) -- Chemists at the University of California-Santa Cruz say they've developed novel compounds that show promise for photodynamic cancer therapy.
The compounds, called dye-sensitized ruthenium nitrosyls, are absorbed by cancer cells and respond to specific wavelengths of light by releasing nitric oxide, which triggers the cancer cells' death, the researchers said.
"For cancer treatment, you want localized delivery of a very high concentration of nitric oxide," said Professor Pradip Mascharak. "We've designed these molecules to do just that."
Mascharak said one advantage of nitric oxide for cancer treatment is that it induces an orderly type of cell death known as apoptosis, which does produce the inflammation, pain and swelling normally associated with damage to cells and tissues in the body. Mascharak and graduate student Michael Rose recently reported their research in the journal Inorganic Chemistry. In another paper published last year in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, they reported the compounds were effective against breast cancer cells in laboratory experiments.
"We know it works in cancer cells, so now we're very confident about taking it to the next level," Mascharak said. "The idea for cancer therapy would be to embed the compounds in a matrix that you can place in the treatment site, then shine light on it to produce a high concentration of nitric oxide."
New species of mushroom discovered
SAN FRANCISCO, June 18 (UPI) -- A new species of mushroom found on the African island of Sao Tome has been named after California Academy of Sciences curator of herpetology Robert Drewes.
The two-inch-long mushroom grows on wood and is shaped like a phallus, San Francisco State University Professor Dennis Desjardin and Brian Perry, the scientists who discovered the mushroom, said.
Phallus drewesii belongs to a group of mushrooms known as stinkhorns, which produce a foul, rotting meat odor. There are 28 other species of Phallus fungi worldwide, but scientists said the new species is notable for its small size, white net-like stem, and brown spore-covered head. It is also the only Phallus species to curve downward instead of upward.
"The mushroom emerges from an egg and elongates over four hours," Desjardin said. "Its odor attracts flies who consume the spores and disperse them throughout the forest."
Desjardin and Perry said they named the new species after Drewes as an acknowledgment of his "inspiration and fortitude to initiate, coordinate and lead multiorganism biotic surveys on Sao Tome and Principe."
"It's a wonderful honor and great fun to have this phallus-shaped fungus named after me," Drewes said. "I have been immortalized in the scientific record."
The new mushroom will be described in the July/August issue of the journal Mycologia.
New early MD diagnosis method proposed
BIRMINGHAM, England, June 18 (UPI) -- British medical scientists say they used an animal study to demonstrate a method of making an early diagnosis of muscular dystrophy, before symptoms develop.
University of Birmingham researchers said they used mice to study the key proteins involved in two types of muscular dystrophy -- Duchenne muscular dystrophy and a milder form, Limb Girdle MD.
The researchers said they identified disrupted stem cell function and delays of skeletal muscle formation in embryos of muscular dystrophy-like mice. The severity of the embryonic abnormalities closely corresponded to the severity of symptoms seen in both types of MD.
The scientists said their study shows there are prenatal signs for muscular dystrophy, and suggests both types might be detected before birth or shortly after.
The study by Deborah Merrick, Lukas Stadler, Dean Larner and Janet Smith appears in the July/August issue of the journal Disease Models & Mechanisms.