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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An international research team led by Mount Sinai Heart at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, is testing its novel sugar-based tracer contrast agent to be used with positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to help in the hunt for dangerous inflammation and high-risk vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque inside vessel walls that causes acute heart attacks and strokes.
The ability to determine protein stoichiometry and monitor the ratio of protein types allows scientists to see the difference between a properly functioning cell and a diseased cell. Photoactivation fluorescences studies have resulted in undercounting of proteins, however, leading a science group to recently establish new methodology for determining protein stoichiometry.
Researchers at Oregon State Univ. have discovered novel compounds produced by certain types of chemical reactions, such as those found in grilling meat, that are hundreds of times more mutagenic than their parent compounds which are known carcinogens. These compounds were not previously known to exist, and raise additional concerns about the health impacts of heavily polluted urban air or dietary exposure.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) are a highly diverse group of membrane proteins that mediate cellular communication and are thought to be prominent drug targets. A group of researchers from Arizona State Univ. are part of a larger team reports that they have been successful in imaging at room temperature the structure of GPCR with the use of an x-ray free-electron laser.
An international research team has produced a high-quality genome sequence of a Neanderthal woman from a toe bone found in 2010 by Russian archaeologists. The genome will allow detailed insights into the relationships and population history of the Neanderthals and other extinct hominin groups.
New collaborative work from computational biologists in Massachusetts and California combines computational and experimental approaches to identify biologically meaningful RNA folds. The work could open the door to a better understanding of RNA machinery, which includes the ribosome, microRNAs and riboswitches, and long noncoding RNAs whose diverse functions are only beginning to be understood.
In a sort of biological "spooky action at a distance," water in a cell slows down in the tightest confines between proteins and develops the ability to affect other proteins much farther away, Univ. of Michigan researchers have discovered. The finding could provide insights into how and why proteins clump together in diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Until recently, the microscopic study of complex membrane proteins has been restricted due to limitations of “force microscopes” that are available to researchers and the one-dimensional results these microscopes reveal. Now, researchers at the Univ. of Missouri have built a 3-D microscope that will yield unparalleled information on membrane proteins and how they interact in cells. The innovation could speed up drug development.
How information is processed and encoded in the brain is a central question in neuroscience. But the brain's underlying synaptic mechanisms have so far remained unclear. In a recent study, researchers have discovered the synaptic mechanisms underlying oscillations in the hippocampus. Furthermore, the researchers suggest a role for these oscillations in the coding of information by the principal neurons in that area of the brain.
By using optical techniques, researchers in Switzerland are now able to measure the concentration of the oxidizing substances produced by a damaged cell. This new biosensing technique for toxic agents also offers a new way to know more about the mechanisms of oxidative stress.
Bruker Corp. has announced that it has been granted U.S. FDA clearance under Section 510(k) to market its MALDI Biotyper CA System in the United States for the identification of Gram negative bacterial colonies cultured from human specimens. The clearance marks progress in Bruker’s efforts to develop MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry into the most advanced platform for clinical microbiology identification.
Tiny electrical wires protrude from some bacteria and contribute to rock and dirt formation. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers studying the protein that makes up one such wire have determined the protein's structure and have shown that the protein's shape and form suggest possible ways for the bacteria to shuttle electrons along the nanowire.
Commercially available as instrumentation designed for macro-size sampling, Raman spectroscopy drew interest for providing information similar but complementary to infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy for chemical identification. In addition to chemical fingerprinting, the technique could provide molecular backbone information, materials morphology, sensitivity to symmetric bonds and the ability to analyze inorganic samples and components.
Researchers at the Univ. of Chicago are developing computer-aided diagnosis and quantitative image analysis methods for mammograms, ultrasounds and magnetic resonance images to identify specific tumor characteristics, including size, shape and sharpness
The increasingly powerful microscopes used in biomedical imaging provide biologists with 3-D images of hundreds of cells, and cells in these images are often layered on each other. Under these conditions, it is impossible for traditional computational methods to determine the cells' properties. Researchers have developed a virtual tool that can analyze dozens of images in just an hour. This works out to hundreds of cells.
Innovations in optical spectroscopy have helped the technology reach a point where performance previously seen only in laboratory settings can be obtained in the field with compact and easy-to-use systems. These improvements, made to detectors, software and overall design, have greatly affected instrument characteristics such as speed, miniaturization, price and reliability.
When it comes to detectors for dangerous chemicals, toxins or nefarious germs, smaller and faster is better. But size and speed must still allow for accuracy, especially when measurements by different instruments must give the same result. The recent publication of a new NIST standard provides confidence that results from handheld chemical detectors can be compared, apples-to-apples.
A team of scientists in Europe have developed a new method of rapidly identifying different molecular species under a microscope. Their technique of coherent Raman spectro-imaging with two laser frequency combs takes a big step toward the holy grail of real-time label-free biomolecular imaging.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new microfluidic device that could speed the monitoring of bacterial infections associated with cystic fibrosis and other diseases. The new microfluidic chip is etched with tiny channels, each resembling an elongated hourglass with a pinched midsection. Researchers injected bacteria through one end of each channel, and observed how cells travel from one end to the other.