Food Science: 3D-printed Snacks that Sprout Plants and Mushrooms

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Asian Salad with Tofu


1/2 cucumber, cut in half lengthways
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup carrot julienne
1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup white vinegar
80 g five-spice pressed tofu, finely sliced
1/2 cup fresh black cloud ear fungus
1/3 cup green shallot julienne
1/4 cup coriander leaves
1/4 cup sweet Thai basil leaves
1/4 cup mint leaves
4 Vietnamese mint leaves
1/2 cup finely sliced Chinese white cabbage
2 tsp roasted sesame seeds
pinch Sichuan pepper and salt


1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tbsp black vinegar
1/4 tsp chili oil


  1. Slice cucumber halves on a mandoline, flat side down, into 2 mm-thick ribbons – or slice finely with a sharp knife. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with half the sea salt. Combine well using your hands, then set aside for 1 hour. Repeat this process in a separate bowl with carrot and remaining salt.
  2. Combine sugar and vinegar in a small pot. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then simmer, without stirring, for about 10 minutes or until reduced and slightly syrupy. Set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, squeeze excess liquid from salted carrot and cucumber. Place vegetables in the cooled syrup to lightly ‘pickle’them.
  4. In a large bowl, combine pickled vegetables with all remaining ingredients except sesame seeds and Sichuan pepper and salt. Mix thoroughly using your hands.
  5. To make the dressing, stir ingredients together in small bowl. Drizzle dressing over the salad. Serve salad on a platter, garnished with sesame seeds and Sichuan pepper and salt.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Kylie Kwong

In Pictures: Character Bento


Predicting Prostate Cancer

Nanotechnology shows promise for more accurate prostate cancer screening and prognosis


  • First study to use specialized optical technique to predict cancer prognosis
  • Researchers use nanocytology to look for cell abnormalities in prostate biopsies
  • Detects cell features as small as 20 nanometers, differences that otherwise would be missed
  • Goal is to find specific biomarkers of aggressive cancers
  • Previous studies show promise in assessing risk of other types of cancer in humans

A Northwestern University-led study in the emerging field of nanocytology could one day help men make better decisions about whether or not to undergo aggressive prostate cancer treatments.

Technology developed by Northwestern University researchers may help solve that quandary by allowing physicians to identify which nascent cancers are likely to escalate into potentially life-threatening malignancies and which ones will remain “indolent,” or non-aggressive.

The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test was once the recommended screening tool for detecting prostate cancer, but there is now disagreement over the use of this test because it can’t predict which men with elevated PSA levels will actually develop an aggressive form of the disease.

“If we can predict a prognosis with our technology, then men will know if their cancer is dangerous and if they should seek treatment,” said Vadim Backman, senior author of the study. “Right now there is no perfect tool to predict a prognosis for prostate cancer. Our research is preliminary, but it is promising and proves that the concept works.”

Backman is a professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

The study, which includes researchers from Northwestern, NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) and Boston Medical Center, was published online in PLOS ONE.

Backman has been studying cell abnormalities at the nanoscale in many different types of cancers, using an optical technique he pioneered called partial wave spectroscopic (PWS) microscopy. PWS can detect cell features as small as 20 nanometers, uncovering differences in cells that otherwise appear normal using standard microscopy techniques.

His previous studies have shown promise that PWS can assess the risk of lung, colon and pancreatic cancers in humans. This sort of prescreening can lead to earlier, life-saving interventions. This is the first study to use PWS to predict a cancer prognosis, the likely course of the disease.

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in American men, but doctors also say it is often overdiagnosed and overtreated. By age 80, more than 50 percent of men will develop prostate cancer but not all will have the aggressive, deadly form of the disease.

However, because their prognosis is unknown, many opt for aggressive treatments that have side effects that cause urinary, bowel and erectile dysfunctions and more.

“The goal is to find specific biomarkers of aggressive cancers,” said Charles Brendler, MD, Co-Director of the John and Carol Walter Center for Urological Health & Program for Personalized Cancer Care at NorthShore and author of the study. “These biomarkers will allow us to individualize our treatment recommendations and improve patient outcomes.”

To be able to give a patient a prognosis, not just identification of risk of tumors, would be a major advancement, said Dr. Hemant K. Roy professor of medicine and Chief of gastroenterology at Boston Medical Center and an author of the study.

“This approach may allow tailoring of clinical decisions regarding management of patients with prostate cancer, thus maximizing the benefit and minimizing the harms of therapy,” Roy said.

In this study, researchers analyzed prostate tissue biopsies from two cohorts of prostate cancer patients. The first cohort included eight men with non-progressing cancer and 10 with progressing cancer. The PWS operator was blinded to the clinical status of the patients.

The second cohort was comprised of 10 progressors and 10 non-progressors in which the PWS investigators were blinded to the entire group.

There was a profound increase in nano-architectural disorder in the progressors as compared to the non-progressors. This assessment may represent a powerful biomarker to predict cancer progression for men with early-stage prostate cancer.

“This study has high quality data because it was done in a blinded fashion,” Backman said. “Given that even in the unblinded dataset the investigator responsible for data acquisition was unaware of the clinical status, there is no possibility of bias.”

Source: Northwestern University

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