This week in Massachusetts – 8/11/2011

Science headlines from around the state.
Compiled by Anne Pycha.

At Children’s Hospital Boston:
Fine-tuning the flu vaccine for broader protection
An antibody that mimics features of the influenza virus’s entry point into human cells could help researchers understand how to fine-tune the flu vaccine to protect against a broad range of virus strains. Such protection could potentially reduce the need to develop, produce, and distribute a new vaccine for each flu season.

At Clark: Clark Labs receives $1.8 million grant to develop land-use software
Clark Labs is the recipient of a two-year, $1.8 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to develop a decision support software application for land management. The new software suite will be built upon Clark Lab’s Land Change Modeler, an application developed for land change analysis, prediction and the examination of impacts on habitat and biodiversity.

At Harvard: What’s behind the predictably loopy gut
Between conception and birth, the human gut grows more than two meters long, looping and coiling within the tiny abdomen. Within a given species, the developing vertebrate gut always loops into the same formation — however, until now, it has not been clear why. Using a combination of experimental observations, biological and biophysical manipulations, theory, and computation, researchers at Harvard have shown that a “simple” balance of forces determines the form of the gut. The finding may shed light on how the gut has been able to evolve to accommodate changes in diet.

At Massachusetts General Hospital: Could an ‘ankle hotline’ relieve strain on health care demands?
MGH investigators suggest that – since strains and sprains, which account for over a third of lower extremity injuries treated at emergency departments, are not life-threatening – telephone triage and scheduled care appointments might be a better use of precious emergency healthcare resources.

At MIT: Portable, super-high-resolution 3-D imaging
A simple new imaging system could help manufacturers inspect their products, forensics experts identify weapons and doctors identify cancers.

Quotes are excerpted from the original websites.


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