Vaccine-Delivery Patch With Dissolving Microneedles Eliminates ‘Sharps,’ Boosts Protection

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An array of 36 dissolving microneedles is shown here on a fingertip for size comparison.

A new vaccine-delivery patch based on hundreds of microscopic needles that dissolve into the skin could allow persons without medical training to painlessly administer vaccines — while providing improved immunization against diseases such as influenza.

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Bird Bones May Be Hollow, but They Are Also Heavy

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Bird bones have evolved special features to make them stiffer and stronger than mammal bones, including high bone density, fusion of some bones and altered shape.

For centuries biologists have known that bird bones are hollow, and even elementary school children know that bird skeletons are lightweight to offset the high energy cost of flying. Nevertheless, many people are surprised to learn that bird skeletons do not actually weigh any less than the skeletons of similarly sized mammals. In other words, the skeleton of a two-ounce songbird weighs just as much as the skeleton of a two-ounce rodent.

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Insect Cells Provide the Key to Alternative Swine Flu Vaccination

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Researchers have discovered how influenza vaccines can be produced faster than through the traditional method of egg-based production, revealing a new strategy for the fight against influenza pandemics.

Scientists in Vienna have developed a new technique for producing vaccines for H1N1 — so-called swine flu — based on insect cells. The research, published in the Biotechnology Journal, reveals how influenza vaccines can be produced faster than through the traditional method of egg-based production, revealing a new strategy for the fight against influenza pandemics.

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Evidence Of Memory Seen In Songbird Brain

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University of Illinois cell and developmental biology professor David Clayton

When a zebra finch hears a new song from a member of its own species, the experience changes gene expression in its brain in unexpected ways, researchers report. The sequential switching on and off of thousands of genes after a bird hears a new tune offers a new picture of memory in the songbird brain. Continue reading… “Evidence Of Memory Seen In Songbird Brain”

Bird Migration: Toxic Molecule May Help Birds ‘See’ North And South

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Changes in the electromagnetic field, such as those experienced by a bird changing direction in flight, appear to alter a biochemical compass in the eye, allowing the bird to see how its direction corresponds to north or south.

Researchers at the University of Illinois report that a toxic molecule known to damage cells and cause disease may also play a pivotal role in bird migration. The molecule, superoxide, is proposed as a key player in the mysterious process that allows birds to “see” Earth’s magnetic field.

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What Limits The Size Of Birds?

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pictured is the Bald Eagle soaring

Why aren’t birds larger? Fifteen-kilogram swans hold the current upper size record for flying birds, although the extinct Argentavis of the Miocene Epoch in Argentina is estimated to have weighed 70 kilograms, the size of an average human. In a forthcoming article in PLoS Biology, Sievert Rohwer, and his colleagues at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, provide evidence that maximum body size in birds is constrained by the amount of time it takes to replace the flight feathers during molt.

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