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New biometric data standard adds DNA and footmarks

December 7, 2011 8:11 am | News | Comments

Once limited to fingerprints, faces, and irises, forensic scientists can now have shared access to a greatly expanded set of biometric recently approved and standardized by NIST. It is the first international standard for the exchange of DNA data.

Frogs' amazing leaps due to springy tendons

November 16, 2011 6:49 am | News | Comments

The frogs jumping in Calaveras County, Calif., might be special, but even ordinary frogs can leap several times farther than their physiology would seem to allow. Using high-speed X-ray video technology, a Brown University research has determined that the frog’s tendons are what gives it the ability to soar.

Perfect micro rings can’t escape from ‘absorbing state’

November 15, 2011 11:20 am | News | Comments

Scientists refer to a state that a system that cannot escape from as an absorbing state. In a surprise finding, researchers in Germany have succeeded in building a simple biological model system of an absorbing state consisting of only three components: fibers, motor proteins and cross-linking molecules.


Even the cleanest wastewater contributes to “super bacteria”

November 15, 2011 4:09 am | News | Comments

A new University of Minnesota study has revealed that the release of treated municipal wastewater—even wastewater treated by the highest-quality treatment technology—can have a significant effect on the quantities of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, often referred to as "super bacteria", in surface waters.

Bats can quickly change their ear shapes, aiding biosonar abilities

November 14, 2011 8:32 am | News | Comments

Within just one tenth of a second, certain species of bat are able to change their outer ear shapes, transforming the animals’ ultrasonic hearing pattern. Using a combination of high-speed stereo vision and high-resolution tomography, researchers have reconstructed the 3-D geometries of these dramatic physical changes.

Leica, German institutes jointly pursue super-resolution

November 11, 2011 9:12 am | News | Comments

Leica Microsystems has signed an agreement with the Max Planck Society and the German Cancer Research Center for the development of the next generation of super-resolution STED (stimulated emission depletion) microscopy. The new STED nanoscopy will provide improved spatial resolution over confocal microscopy in living cells.

Plasma bags to greatly benefit live cell treatments

November 11, 2011 5:30 am | News | Comments

Using plasmas, researchers have found that sealed plastic bags can be modified at atmospheric pressure so that human cells can adhere to and reproduce on their walls. Cell culture bags of this kind may eventually replace the Petri dishes used today.

Bedside test finds awareness in vegetative brains

November 10, 2011 4:52 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

In recent years, scientists have learned that some patients believed to be in a vegetative state actually have some awareness. A new study suggests a portable brain monitor can detect signs of this, perhaps making it possible someday for doctors to easily double-check the diagnosis at the bedside.


Cave painters were realists, DNA study finds

November 8, 2011 3:46 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Prehistoric paintings of horses found in caves through France have depicted black, brown, or spotted horses, leading to speculation about whether the artists were dreaming up patterns or painting what they saw. DNA analysis of fossilized horse bones and teeth suggest they were more like da Vinci than Dali.

New device uses light to screen for melanoma

November 7, 2011 9:08 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a first-of-its-kind device, called MelaFind, that makes detailed digital images of skin growths and uses a computer to analyze them for signs of cancer, offering a sort of second opinion to doctors.

Analysis reveals malaria as ancient, adaptive and persistent foe

November 3, 2011 11:18 am | News | Comments

One of the most comprehensive analyses yet done of the ancient history of insect-borne disease concludes for the first time that malaria is not only native to the New World, but it has been  present long before humans existed and has evolved through birds and monkeys.

Nanocomposite brain probe causes less scarring

November 3, 2011 6:54 am | News | Comments

Inspired by the skin of the sea cucumber, which is normally soft and flexible but becomes rigid in self defense, biomedical engineers at Case Western Reserve University have built a nanostructured polymer mesh that is firm enough to reach the cortex, but begins unlinking in water, causing less brain damage.

Genographic Project confirms humans migrated from Africa through Arabia

November 2, 2011 10:40 am | by Paul Livingstone | News | Comments

For the last six years, researchers at IBM and National Geographic have been conducting one of the most ambitious genomic studies in history. With the help of an algorithm that uses recombinatorial information contained in the unstudied 99% of the human genome, they may have redrawn the map of human migration history.


Physicists develop a method for detecting counterfeit whiskey

November 2, 2011 4:46 am | News | Comments

Scientists have shed new light on counterfeit whiskey, thanks to the power of lasers. Using a ray of light the size of a human hair, the team of researchers at the University of St Andrews have developed a new method for testing whether a whiskey is genuine or not.

Scientists chart gene expression in the brain across lifespan

October 28, 2011 12:41 pm | News | Comments

A new study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and other institutes traced genetic changes in the brain during a lifetime, has found surprising reversals after fetal development and connected to Alzheimer’s disease findings. Previous investigations have combined transcriptional and genetic analyses in human cell lines, but few have applied these techniques to human neural tissue.

Pythons' big hearts hold clues for human health

October 28, 2011 11:06 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

When a python swallows an animal whole, something extraordinary happens. Its heart swells in size, by as much as 40% in just a few days. Researchers have finally cracked the mystery of why and how the snakes do this, and how it might help our knowledge of human heart health.

Longevity's secrets sought in DNA of 100-year-olds

October 27, 2011 7:09 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The Archon Genomics X Prize competition is offering $10 million in prize money to researchers who decipher the complete DNA code from 100 people older than 100. The goal? To find out what genetics advantage people who live beyond 100 years have that others do not.

First-of-a-kind tension wood study broadens biofuel R & D

October 25, 2011 12:44 pm | News | Comments

Tension wood, which forms naturally in hardwood trees in response to bending stress, possesses unique features, such as double the cellulose density of regular wood, that make it attractive as a bioenergy feedstock. For the first time, a comprehensive study of this wood and it’s suitability for sugar release has been conducted.

Plants feel the force

October 21, 2011 10:23 am | News | Comments

In the 1980s, work with bacterial cells showed that they have mechanosensitive channels, tiny pores in the cells membrane that open when the cell bloats with water, letting charged atoms and other molecules to rush out of the cell. A scientist at Washington University in St. Louis believes plants have similar mechanisms, and is using this theory to learn how plants sense touch, gravity and other physical forces.

Cells crawl all over our bodies, but how?

October 18, 2011 12:15 pm | by Libby Fairhurst | News | Comments

For 35 years Tom Roberts at Florida State University has studied the means by which amorphous single cells propel themselves throughout the body without the use of muscles, bones or brains. Human cells are especially difficult to study, but he and his team have found a new and bizarre way to emulate this movement.

Team defines first-ever sequence of biologically important carbohydrate

October 18, 2011 12:06 pm | by Sam Fahmy | News | Comments

Until now, scientists have been unable to determine the structure of glycosaminoglycan (GAG) proteoglycan, or have even agreed whether these complex molecules have well-defined structures. The recent breakthrough should help research into certain types of cancers and may enable certain drug development pathways.

Complete automation for cell cultivation

October 10, 2011 4:44 am | News | Comments

Until now, the basis of day-to-day research work in cell-based laboratories involved the tending of cell cultures by hand. Scientists in Dresden have now created system that completely automates the process of cultivating cells, offering the potential for faster research.

NIH acquires LLNL's bioAMS instrument

October 6, 2011 6:25 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently received $3 million from the National Institutes of Health to acquire a new biomedical accelerator mass spectrometry (bioAMS) instrument. The instrument will provide faster analysis for medical and other biological research.

Tiny insect takes top honors in Nikon’s photo challenge

October 4, 2011 6:03 am | News | Comments

When a small bug landed on Dr. Igor Siwanowicz's hand and began "fiercely digging its mandibles" into his skin, he didn't swat it away. Instead, he captured and began taking photomicrographs. To his surprise, the image took first place in the 2011 Nikon Small World competition.

Caltech engineers build smart petri dish

October 3, 2011 12:26 pm | News | Comments

Imaging sensor chips that form the heart of built-in cameras helped engineers at the California Institute of Technology create a "smart" petri dish. The ePetri is a compact, lens-free microscopy imaging platform that does away with the need for bulky microscopes and significantly reduces labor for the researcher.

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