Engineers Building Robotic Bats, Vet School Researchers Study Dogs for Cancer Answers

July 7, 2009
By magintern

090707093625-largeNC State News Services has posted two interesting research stories on the university’s home page. The first, which went up today, describes robotic bats that engineers are developing to use “for everything from indoor surveillance to exploring collapsed buildings.”

They’re modeling micro-aerial vehicles (MAVs) after bats, which offer increased maneuverability and performance. “We are trying to mimic nature as closely as possible┬ábecause it is very efficient,” Stefan Seelecke, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor, told News Services. They have already assembled the skeleton (which weighs less than 6 grams) and are completing the joints, muscular system and wing membrane.

Over in the College of Veterinary Medicine, efforts to compare human and canine tumors to narrow the search for genes involved in human brain cancer have paid off. Researchers have found that a gene believed to be involved in meningiomas — tumors that grow between the brain and the skull — is not as key to tumor formation as previously thought. Genomics professor Matthew Breen talks about studying cancer in dogs and humans:

“By looking at tumors seen in both humans and dogs we have a simple way to narrow the search: we compare the affected areas of a human chromosome with related areas on dog chromosomes. This works because dogs and humans are genetically similar and both get the same kinds of cancers. While we share much of our genetic material, the DNA of a dog is organized differently to our own and this makes it possible to isolate smaller ‘shared’ regions of genetic data rather than looking at an entire chromosome.”

(Photograph by Gheorghe Bunget, NC State)

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