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INNOVATIONS

-- Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are helping doctors at St. Vincent Hospital & Medical Center in Portland, Ore., save lives with their military laser expertise. They're beaming light through catheters to zap blood clots in arteries (illustration). Hemoglobin in the clots absorbs the light and dissolves, thanks to a photochemical process that doesn't damage surrounding tissue.

-- Teams of genetic engineers are racing to clone spider silk, one of the strongest and most elastic materials. Until recently, attempts had produced only fragmentary molecules. But scientists at Lebensmittel Consulting of Fostoria, Ohio, and Plant Cell Technologies of Chatham, Mass., claim to have cloned complete proteins. Their work, which is backed by the U.S. Army, could yield a new generation of lightweight body armor.EDITED BY NEIL GROSS


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