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These goggles scan your brain to detect neurological and vision function loss

It combines a smartphone in a virtual reality headset with a brain sensor and plays podcasts.

But the NeuroVEP’s purpose is not to entertain — its purpose is to diagnose vision and related neurological problems by converting brain signals into a map representing which parts of a user’s visual field may have decreased function.

“After heavy data processing of brain electrical signals, we can deduce what the vision looks like for a person,” Srinivas Sridhar, inventor of the NeuroVEP, says. “From that, we can deduce where the problem is.”

Sridhar, a university distinguished professor of physics, bioengineering and chemical engineering at Northeastern University, associate research scientist Craig Versek, professor of psychology Peter Bex and data scientist Ali Banijamali received a patent for the device this summer, and the team has formed a spin-out company called NeuroFieldz to market the technology.

Read more from Northeastern Global News.

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University.

September 20, 2023

Northeastern receives $17.5 million from CDC to launch infectious disease prediction center

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is giving Northeastern University $17.5 million over the next five years to head an innovation center designed to help detect and prepare the United States for the next outbreak of infectious disease, especially in rural areas.

Called “EPISTORM: The Center for Advanced Epidemic Analytics and Predictive Modeling Technology,” it will be headed by Alessandro Vespignani, director of Northeastern’s Network Science Institute and Sternberg Family Distinguished University Professor.

With COVID-19, “everybody was caught off guard,” Vespignani says. “We don’t want to be in a situation like that in the future.”

“We want to be in a place where there is a National Weather Service for epidemics and epidemic threats,” he says.

Read more from Northeastern Global News.

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University.

September 19, 2023

Researcher uses gene regulation to improve drug delivery and treatment of rare genetic diseases

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is one of the most severe forms of muscular dystrophy. It’s also one of the most rare, as the genetic disease affects one in 3,500 to 5,000 newborn boys. For Ke Zhang, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Northeastern University, that’s still one too many.

As part of his Spark Fund awarded research, Zhang is working on a novel form of drug delivery approach for improved gene regulation that could change the status quo. Helmed by pacDNA LLC, Zhang’s Center for Research Innovation-supported spinout, Zhang’s approach to gene regulation is built on oligonucleotides. These small but mighty strands of DNA-like molecules, along with a carrier called bottlebrush polymer, could be the trick to targeting deadly genetic diseases like DMD and cancer.

Traditionally, drugs consist of small molecules that impact specific proteins in the body, preventing a protein from working or activating a protein to make it work better. Gene regulation techniques go directly to the source, affecting the mRNA encoding the protein so that the problematic proteins are never created in the first place. The method Zhang is using, called exon skipping, goes one step further, causing cells to skip over faulty sections of the genetic code, called exons, leading to the production of functional proteins.

“For the exon skipping approach, we try to correct the mistake in the mRNA so the correct proteins can be produced,” Zhang says. “That’s where our oligonucleotide therapy operates.”

Read more from Northeastern Global News.

Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University.

September 18, 2023

Why ‘UFOs’ should be tracked in the water as well as the skies

A much anticipated NASA report on UFOs calls for better tracking and scientific understanding of unexplained phenomena that captivate the public and have raised concerns about military security.

The panel of scientists and government officials convened by NASA kept most of the focus on ways to understand what individuals, including military pilots, say they are observing in the skies.

But UFO reports also are rife with accounts of mysterious objects submerging themselves in the sea, as seen in a video acquired by CNN and other news stations in 2021.

It’s no wonder, says Brian Helmuth, Northeastern professor of marine and environmental science.

Read more from Northeastern Global News.

Photo by Department of Defense via AP

September 15, 2023

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