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The Lead

Potent, puzzling and (now less) toxic: Team discovers how antifungal drug works

April 15, 2014 5:18 pm | by Diana Yates, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

Scientists have solved a decades-old medical mystery, and in the process have found a potentially less toxic way to fight invasive fungal infections, which kill about 1.5 million people a year. The researchers say they now understand the mechanism of action of amphotericin, an antifungal drug that has been in use for more than 50 years even though it is nearly as toxic to human cells as it is to the microbes it attacks.

A Spectral Overview

April 15, 2014 9:56 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Spectroscopy is an analytical technique used to identify and determine the physical...

Life Sciences Chrome

April 15, 2014 9:04 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Driven by rapid growth in forensics, biotechnology, disease diagnostics and environmental...

The Benefits of Single-particle ICP MS for the Characterization of Engineered Nanomaterials

April 15, 2014 8:41 am | by Rob Thomas | Articles | Comments

The unique properties of engineered nanoparticles have created intense interest in their...

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New finding on the dual role of carbon dioxide in photosynthesis

April 14, 2014 10:03 am | News | Comments

It is well known that inorganic carbon in the form of carbon dioxide, CO2, is reduced in a light driven process known as photosynthesis to organic compounds in the chloroplasts. Less well known is that inorganic carbon also affects the rate of the photosynthetic electron transport. Researchers in Sweden have recently found that its ionic form bicarbonate, has a regulating function in the splitting of water in photosynthesis.

Robotic arm probes chemistry of 3-D objects by mass spectrometry

March 27, 2014 11:49 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

When life on Earth was first getting started, simple molecules bonded together into the precursors of modern genetic material. A catalyst would’ve been needed, but enzymes had not yet evolved. One theory is that the catalytic minerals on a meteorite’s surface could have jump-started life’s first chemical reactions. But scientists need a way to directly analyze these rough, irregularly shaped surfaces.

Real-life CSI: What can investigators really tell from gunshot residue?

March 26, 2014 1:02 pm | News | Comments

The popular TV series “CSI” is fiction, but everyday, real-life investigators and forensic scientists collect and analyze evidence to determine what happened at crime scenes. In a recent study, scientists say they have developed a more rapid and accurate method based on infrared spectroscopy that could allow crime scene investigators to tell what kind of ammunition was shot from a gun based on the residue it left behind.

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New method automatically tracks biological particles in live cell microscopy images

March 25, 2014 12:58 pm | News | Comments

In order to track the movements of biological particles in a cell, scientists at Heidelberg Univ. and the German Cancer Research Center have developed a powerful analysis method for live cell microscopy images. This so-called probabilistic particle tracking method is automatic, computer-based and can be used for time-resolved 2-D and 3-D microscopy image data.

Nanotube coating helps shrink mass spectrometers

March 25, 2014 11:52 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Nanotechnology is advancing tools likened to Star Trek's "tricorder" that perform on-the-spot chemical analysis for a range of applications including medical testing, explosives detection and food safety. Researchers found that when paper used to collect a sample was coated with carbon nanotubes, the voltage required was 1,000 times reduced, the signal was sharpened and the equipment was able to capture far more delicate molecules.

Microfluidic device has artificial arteries, measures blood clotting

March 24, 2014 3:53 pm | by Brett Israel, Georgia Tech | News | Comments

A new microfluidic method for evaluating drugs commonly used for preventing heart attacks has found that while aspirin can prevent dangerous blood clots in some at-risk patients, it may not be effective in all patients with narrowed arteries. The study, a first in the examination of heart attack prevention drugs, used a device that simulated blood flowing through narrowed coronary arteries to assess effects of anti-clotting drugs.

Assembling a colossus

March 20, 2014 9:19 am | News | Comments

Geneticists at the Univ. of California, Davis have decoded the genome sequence for the loblolly pine. The accomplishment is a milestone for genetics because this pine’s genome is massive. Bloated with repetitive sequences, it is seven times larger than the human genome and easily big enough to overwhelm standard genome assembly methods.

New app delivers pocket diagnosis

March 19, 2014 1:40 pm | News | Comments

A new app developed by researchers the U.K. accurately measures color-based, or colorimetric, tests for use in home, clinical or remote settings, and enables the transmission of medical data from patients directly to health professionals. Called Colorimetrix, the app helps transform any smartphone into a portable medical diagnostic device.

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Big data tackles tiny molecular machines

March 14, 2014 12:11 pm | News | Comments

Biophysicists at Rice Univ. have used a miniscule machine, a protease called an FtsH-AAA hexameric peptidase, as a model to test calculations that combine genetic and structural data. Their goal is to solve one of the most compelling mysteries in biology: how proteins perform the regulatory mechanisms in cells upon which life depends.

Nasty nanoinjectors pose a new target for antibiotic research

March 14, 2014 12:03 pm | News | Comments

If you’ve ever suffered the misery of food poisoning from a bacterium like Salmonella, then your cells have been on the receiving end of “nanoinjectors”, microscopic spikes made from proteins through which pathogens secrete effector proteins into human host cells, causing infection. Researchers are using advanced nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry to unlock the structure of these injector, which are built from 20 different proteins.

Heat-based technique offers new way to count microscopic particles

March 13, 2014 9:09 am | News | Comments

Particle counters are used in a wide variety of industries. Researchers in North Carolina have developed a new thermal technique that counts and measures the size of particles, but is less expensive than light-based techniques. It can also be used on a wider array of materials than electricity-based techniques.

New technique allows frequent water quality monitoring for pollutants

March 5, 2014 10:19 am | News | Comments

Incomplete or infrequent water quality data can give an inaccurate picture of what’s happening in water resources. Using UV-Vis spectrometers that can rapidly collect data, researchers have developed a new technique o allow researchers and natural resource managers to collect significantly more information on water quality to better inform policy decisions.

Tracking catalytic reactions in microreactors

February 21, 2014 11:08 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A pathway to more effective and efficient synthesis of pharmaceutical drugs and other flow reactor chemical products has been opened by a study in which, for the first time, the catalytic reactivity inside a microreactor was mapped in high resolution from start-to-finish. The results not only provided a better understanding of the chemistry behind the catalytic reactions, they also revealed opportunities for optimization.

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Whole genome analysis, stat

February 19, 2014 11:19 pm | News | Comments

The time and cost of sequencing an entire human genome has plummeted, but analyzing three billion base pairs from a single genome can take many months. However, a Univ. of Chicago-based team working with Beagle, one of the world's fastest supercomputers devoted to life sciences, reports that genome analysis can be radically accelerated. The Argonne National Laboratory computer is able to analyze 240 full genomes in about two days.

Method evaluates response to oxidation in live cells

February 12, 2014 9:56 am | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST have developed a new method for accurately measuring a key process governing a wide variety of cellular functions that may become the basis for a health checkup for living cells. The NIST technique measures changes in a living cell's internal redox (reduction-oxidation) potential, a chemistry concept that expresses the favorability of reactions in which molecules or atoms either gain or lose electrons.

Optogenetic toolkit goes multicolor

February 10, 2014 7:39 am | News | Comments

Optogenetics allows scientists to control neurons’ electrical activity with light by engineering them to express light-sensitive proteins, called opsins. Most opsins respond to light in the blue-green range. Now, a team has discovered an opsin that is sensitive to red light, which allows researchers to independently control the activity of two populations of neurons at once, enabling much more complex studies of brain function.  

Cell Culture Automation: Critical for Cell Therapies and Drug Development

February 6, 2014 3:08 pm | by Kristina Klette, Don Janezic and Bobby Chavli, Hamilton Robotics, Reno, Nev. | Articles | Comments

Stem cell research has been breaking ground in new application areas over the past few years, and it’s poised for even greater growth as more companies and organizations realize the potential. In the next decade, cell-based therapies will become increasingly common for cancer, immunological disorders, cardiac failure and other conditions.

Automated Strategy for Immuno-MS Sample Preparation

February 6, 2014 2:56 pm | by Brian Feild, Biotech Product Manager, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, Columbia, Md. | Articles | Comments

Progress often requires change. For protein-based diagnostics, multiplexed assays and detection of protein isoforms will drive the adoption of a new strategy for diagnostic testing, called immuno-MS. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) have become the standard for antibody-based diagnostic tests in clinical settings. ELISAs provide specific detection of biomarkers through use of antibodies which target specific epitopes on antigens.

Charting New Territory in Laboratory Automation

February 6, 2014 2:41 pm | by Dave Hickey and Connie Mardis, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, Tarrytown, N.Y. | Articles | Comments

Medical laboratory test results provide physicians with vital information needed for accurate diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of patients. An estimated 60 to 70% of all decisions regarding a patient’s diagnosis and treatment, hospital admission and discharge are based on laboratory test results.

Lending an Automated Helping Hand

February 6, 2014 2:29 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Laboratory automation techniques are commonplace, as they improve the accuracy and repeatability of laboratory operations, reduce human error in these operations and reduce cost of these operations. Defined as the use of technology to streamline or substitute manual manipulation of equipment and processes, laboratory automation offers solutions for enhancing workflows in various research laboratory environments.

Automated Pre-formulation Viscosity Screening of Biological Products

February 6, 2014 1:38 pm | by Dr. Lisa Newey-Keane, Biopharmaceutical Portfolio Manager, Malvern Instruments | Articles | Comments

As interest and investment in biopharmaceuticals grows, the pressure to innovate and rapidly deliver new therapies increases. While many avenues may be pursued, the high cost of developing biological molecules increases the need to advance only those therapies with the greatest likelihood of becoming manufacturable, efficacious, safe and profitable products.

A Gravimetric Approach to Sample Preparation at Pfizer

February 6, 2014 1:20 pm | by Dr. Joanne Ratcliff, Laboratory Weighing, Mettler Toledo AG, Switzerland | Articles | Comments

Awareness of the benefits of gravimetric sample preparation has increased significantly over the past couple of years. Recognition of this state-of-the-art technology by industry organizations such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) has supported this trend. A recent revision to USP chapter 1251 “Weighing on an Analytical Balance” included a detailed description of the steps involved in gravimetric dosing for sample preparation.

Improved Flow Cytometry for More Powerful Cell Analysis

February 6, 2014 1:05 pm | by Jessica Reed, Product Manager, EMD Millipore, Billercia, Mass. | Articles | Comments

The benefits of flow cytometry are well known. The popular technique allows researchers to explore data on a cell-by-cell basis, as opposed to other analysis methods which only offer population-based or averaged information. In addition, flow cytometry can give users absolute percentages of what each marker or dye is reporting.

Team develops rapid smartphone-based mercury testing and mapping

February 5, 2014 8:59 am | by Matthew Chin, UCLA | News | Comments

A team of engineers from the Univ. of California, Los Angeles has developed a smartphone attachment and application to test water for the presence of mercury, a toxic heavy metal. The new platform could significantly reduce the time and cost of the testing, and it could be particularly useful in regions with limited technological resources.

New test targets salmonella

January 22, 2014 8:36 am | News | Comments

An array of tiny diving boards can perform the Olympian feat of identifying many strains of salmonella at once. The novel biosensor developed by scientists at Rice Univ. in collaboration with colleagues in Thailand and Ireland may make the detection of pathogens much faster and easier for food-manufacturing plants.

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