Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pyramids and Lasers


$9.3 million award to boost nanotech vaccine research

Michigan Nanotechnology Institute and NanoBio Corporation to work in tandem to test nanoemulsion-based vaccines against common diseases

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - University of Michigan efforts to develop new nanoemulsion-based vaccines for a variety of diseases will move forward much more quickly thanks to a large federal award.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded U-M a contract for $9,340,522 over five years. Of that total, $5,224,548 will fund research at the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences at U-M (MNIMBS), and $4,115,974 will fund work at Ann Arbor-based NanoBio Corporation, the institute’s research partner for the project.

"This contract allows us to develop the process to apply our nanoemulsion technology to almost any form of antigen. We believe this will facilitate a number of new vaccines as well as improve existing vaccines," says James R. Baker Jr., M.D., the grant’s principal investigator, director of the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute, and Ruth Dow Doan Professor of Internal Medicine at U-M. He is also founder and CEO of NanoBio Corporation, in which he holds a financial interest.

A nanoemulsion vaccine consists of a nanoemulsion and an inactivated pathogen or protein derived from the pathogen. The nanoemulsion acts as an adjuvant, an ingredient in most vaccines that enhances the immune response to the weakened or partial pathogen.

Nanoemulsions, a technology developed and patented by U-M and licensed to NanoBio Corporation, have proved to be effective adjuvants.

In a number of previous preclinical studies at U-M, nanoemulsion-based vaccines, which are given in the nose, proved non-toxic and produced strong immunity against influenza, anthrax, smallpox, HIV and hepatitis B. NanoBio Corp. is currently conducting a Phase I clinical trial of a nanoemulsion-based intranasal vaccine for influenza.

The new research aims to discover how specific nanoemulsion formulations act upon certain receptors on cells that play key roles in innate immunity, a crucial first line of defense against invading pathogens. As part of its subcontract, NanoBio Corporation will develop large numbers of nanoemulsion formulations to be tested for their immunity-producing capacity in different disease models.

Later stages of the U-M research will include preclinical testing of adjuvant candidates in laboratory studies with human cells, followed by animal studies using the best candidates.

Other U-M scientists who will be involved in the new research include co-investigators Douglas Smith, Ph.D., and Anna U. Bielinska, Ph.D., both research assistant professors in the department of internal medicine and the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute.

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Pyramids and Lasers Chess Game

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If you can imagine playing chess in a pyramid with lasers against a pharoh, then you're halfway to getting quite how brilliant the game of Khet is. Of course if you can imagine all that you're possibly halfway to la la land. This awesome board game is an absolute breakthrough both in technology - being the first board game to incorporate laser technology - and in sheer strategy and head bending fun-ness.

The object of the game is to maneuver your pieces (most of which have a mirrored side to them) around the board so that when you 'fire' the laser from your corner, it bounces around the pieces on the board and ultimately 'strikes' and lights up your opponents 'Pharoh' piece. There are four types of pieces; the Sacred Pharaoh, Obelisk, Pyramid and Djed column. Players go head to head and move the Egyptian themed pieces with their two, one or no mirrored (for blocking your opponents laser) surfaces. Silver starts the game and always goes first. Players then take turns to move any of their pieces including the Pharaohs around the board.

Strategy, lasers and ancient Egyptian stuff, it doesn't get better than this, and oh boy, just imagine playing this game in the dark.


  • An Egyptian themed game with pyramids and lasers.
  • Eqyptian themed playing pieces; the Sacred Pharaoh, Obelisk, Pyramid and Djed column.
  • The pieces have either 2, 1 or no mirrored sides.
  • The combination of mirrored surfaces and lasers equate to 'firing' in the game. Use the non mirrored pieces to block.
  • Contains two Class I lasers (do not intently stare into the laser beams).
  • Suitable for two players.
  • Suitable for ages 9 years+.
  • Requires 4 x AAA Batteries (not included).
  • Size: 37cm x 46cm.
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