Pinpointing unused space in wireless spectrum

In addition to fee-based, licensed radio frequency bands for smartphones, sensors and other radio devices, consumers can also access a limited number of unlicensed bands – such as WiFi and Bluetooth – at no cost. Unlicensed bands, however, tend to be congested resulting in signal interference, data transmission bottlenecks, and lost calls.  To increase capacity, what’s needed is the ability to rapidly and precisely pinpoint bands of unused radio spectrum and eliminate signal interference.

With that in mind, a four-year, $1.2 million engineering research collaboration between UC San Diego and UCLA has been launched to make more efficient use of the unlicensed spectrum. A hardware-based approach is envisioned that combines algorithms, signal processing, and integrated circuits to optimize the unused “white spaces” located between 200-700 megahertz on the frequency spectrum. Detecting “vacancies” and informing users in real-time about where to transmit and where to receive a signal could greatly expand capacity and signal clarity.

—More information at

Safe delivery of tricky anti-cancer compound

Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a way to effectively deliver staurosporine (STS), a powerful anticancer compound that has vexed researchers for more than 30 years due to its instability in the blood and toxic nature in both healthy and cancerous cells.

STS was originally isolated from the bacterium Streptomyces staurosporeus, in 1977. The compound prompts a wide variety of cancer cell types to self-destruct through apoptosis (programmed cell death). The problem is in its free form, STS is quickly metabolized and harmful to healthy cells. The solution is to encapsulate STS in liposomes; microscopic bubbles made from the same molecules as cell membranes.  Doing so masks the cancer-killing compound from the immune system allowing it to reach tumors and deliver its therapeutic payload.

—The study results appear in the International Journal of Nanomedicine. News release at

New eye treatment effective in lab tests

Many types of blindness can be tied directly to the abnormal growth of blood vessels under or on top of the retina located in the back of the eye. A new technique, developed by researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), has been shown effective in preclinical studies at halting this abnormal blood vessel growth without inducing off-target side effects.

The technique controls the actions of microRNAs, tiny pieces of RNA once considered to be “junk,” but are now known to fine-tune gene activation and expression. Treating mice with short RNA strands that precisely target and inhibit microRNAs was found to stop the abnormal proliferation of vessels that exacerbates vision loss in two of the leading causes of blindness (“wet” macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy).

TSRI researchers hope to advance this approach with clinical trials, and a potential pharmaceutical partner has indicated interest once the therapy is optimized for human use.

—The findings are the cover story in the November Journal of Clinical Investigation. News release at

Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.

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Posted by Staff on Nov 1, 2013. Filed under Columns, Editorial Columns, Research Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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