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Agilent, Spain institute partner on systems biology

October 30, 2012 1:40 pm | News | Comments

Agilent Technologies, Inc.and Spain’s Centre for Omic Sciences this week announced that they will collaborate on mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolomics, and automation applied to research in integrated systems biology.

Measuring molecules with the naked eye

October 26, 2012 1:36 pm | News | Comments

When someone develops liver cancer, the disease introduces a very subtle difference to their bloodstream, increasing the concentration of a particular molecule by just 10 parts per billion. That small shift is normally difficult to detect without sophisticated equipment, but new lab-on-a-chip technology designed at Brigham Young University can reveal the presence of ultra-low concentrations of a target molecule.

Water makes a “triple play” at membrane interfaces

October 19, 2012 9:26 am | News | Comments

Drugs that target cell function must pass through a tough gauntlet of membrane defenses. Working from the knowledge that thin water layers at the membrane surfaces play a big part in ion and small molecule transport, scientists using rapid-fire lasers in Japan have revealed that water molecules adopt three distinct local structures around model lipid monolayers. The finding could help drive drug development.

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Synchrotrons play role in Nobel prize research

October 12, 2012 12:04 pm | by Glenn Roberts Jr., SLAC | News | Comments

The winners of the 2012 Chemistry Nobel Prize won for their work in revealing the structure and functioning of a key protein complex on the surface of human cells that has been a target for drug development. Their main tool for this research was X-ray crystallography, which is performed with X-ray synchrotrons. But as the researchers would discover, not all synchrotrons are created equal.   

Nanoscale drug discovery approach relies on in silico, in vivo, in vitro

October 10, 2012 10:58 am | News | Comments

Using in silico computational tools to complement the results of in vivo and in vitro experiments, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have revealed an atomic-level understanding of the mechanism by which nanoparticles inhibit the growth and metastasis of pancreatic tumors. The findings are promising for the development of particle-based therapies.

New software is like a Rosetta Stone for spectrometry data

October 9, 2012 3:46 pm | News | Comments

After leading mass spectrometer manufacturers agreed to license technology that has enabled researchers to develop software allows scientists to easily use and share research data collected across proprietary instrument platforms. Called the ProteoWizard Toolkit, this cross-platform set of libraries and applications is expected to bolster large-scale biological research and help improve the understanding of complex diseases like cancer.

Particle Characterization System

October 3, 2012 8:02 am | Product Releases | Comments

Following the completion of a highly successful early access program, Malvern Instruments has now launched the Morphologi G3-ID particle characterization system. This fully automated system measures particle size, shape and chemical identity in a single platform.

Near-field scanning microwave microscope: Big at the nanoscale

October 1, 2012 5:52 am | News | Comments

The ability to determine the composition and physics of nanoscale materials and devices at NIST is about to improve dramatically with the arrival of a new near-field scanning microwave microscope (NSMM) design. Researchers there, using existing commercial and homemade NSMMs, have pioneered many applications, notably including determination of semiconductor dopant distribution in 2D and 3D. Now they hope to look at mechanical and magnetic resonance on the nanoscale.

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New nanoparticle system finds mercury in water, fish

September 13, 2012 4:33 am | by Erin White | News | Comments

The system currently being used to test for mercury and its very toxic derivative, methyl mercury, is time-intensive, costly, and can only detect quantities at already toxic levels. Researchers at Northwestern University and in Switzerland have invented a device consisting of a strip of glass with a nanoparticle film attached that can detect heavy metals in quantities more than a million times smaller than is currently possible.

Thirty-five years later, Voyager 1 is heading for the stars

September 5, 2012 8:01 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Voyager 1's launch to Jupiter and Saturn. Since leaving the ringed gas giant behind many years ago, Voyager 1 has rocketed toward an invisible boundary that no human spacecraft has ever ventured beyond. Scientists now say, based on instrument readings, that it is about to leave our solar system and venture into interstellar space.

Mass spectrometry makes the clinical grade

September 4, 2012 10:08 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have reported this week that combining two well-established analytic techniques?and adding a twist?identifies proteins from blood with as much accuracy and sensitivity as the antibody-based tests used clinically. The new mass spectrometry technique, called PRISM, should be able to speed up development of diagnostic tests and treatments based on proteins specific to certain diseases.

Curiosity rover returns voice, telephoto views from Mars

August 28, 2012 8:00 am | News | Comments

In addition to releasing spectacular new telephoto images of the Martian surface, NASA also used the rover to relay a voice message from NASA’s administrator, Charles Bolden, from Earth to Mars and back. The new images were taken by the 100-mm telephoto lens and the 34-mm wide angle lens of the Mast Camera instrument, which photographed the lower slopes of Mount Sharp.

Glowing “flowers” enable ultra-trace analysis at the sub-zeptomole level

August 28, 2012 4:55 am | News | Comments

Highly sensitive and highly selective tests for early disease detection, environmental toxin detection, orthe detection of explosives at airports helps avoid false-positive results. Indian scientists have recently introduced a specific detection method for the explosive TNT that is selective for analytes it can be used to detect even a single molecule.

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Fluorescent molecules for imaging have an on-and-off switch

August 16, 2012 7:04 am | News | Comments

University of Miami scientists have developed a way to switch fluorescent molecules on and off within aqueous environments by strategically trapping the molecules inside water-soluble particles and controlling them with ultraviolet light. The new system can be used to develop better fluorescent probes for biomedical research.

Fluorescence “tags and tracks” DNA looping

August 13, 2012 9:02 am | News | Comments

Researchers the University of Texas, Dallas have found a way to monitor DNA looping, a natural biological mechanism involved in rearranging genetic material in some types of cells. Until now, scientists primarily had “snapshots” of the initial and final stages of DNA loop formation, but the new “tag and track” method uses fluorescence to watch the process step by step.

Thermo Fisher Scientific, Princeton University form technology alliance partnership

August 13, 2012 8:48 am | News | Comments

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. has entered into a technology alliance partnership agreement with scientists at Princeton University, establishing a formal collaboration to accelerate research in triple quadrupole and high-resolution accurate mass liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry for life science applications.

Long-predicted fluctuations in cell membranes observed for first time

August 10, 2012 7:30 am | News | Comments

The question of just how a cell membrane—which is otherwise an impermeable barrier—allows certain proteins to penetrate it remains largely a mystery. But an answer may be closer after measurements taken at the NIST and France's Institut Laue-Langevin, where scientists have observed changes in the thickness of a model cell membrane for the first time.

New technique yields information critical to biofuels research

August 10, 2012 5:42 am | News | Comments

Pioneering mass spectrometry methods developed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory are helping plant biologists get their first glimpses of never-before-seen plant tissue structures. The new method opens up new realms of study, ones that might have long-ranging implications for biofuels research and crop genetics.

Scientists define new limits of microbial life in undersea volcanoes

August 7, 2012 6:21 am | News | Comments

This week researchers have reported the first detailed data on methane-exhaling microbes that live deep in the cracks of hot undersea volcanoes. As evidence builds that a large amount of biomass exists in Earth’s subsurface, the scientists’ major goal was to test results of predictive computer models and to establish the first environmental hydrogen threshold for these extreme microbes.

Virtual nanoscopy: Like 'Google Earth' for cell biologists

August 7, 2012 4:23 am | News | Comments

Electron microscopy reveals cellular structures in high detail, but only tiny portions of a cell can be seen at a time. A team of scientists has tackled this problem by developing new tools for stitching together thousands of electron microscopy images into single, high-resolution images of biological tissues—a "Google Earth" for cell biologists. A newly enhanced viewer is available for public use.

How the cell swallows

August 3, 2012 8:25 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Germany have recently combined the power of two kinds of microscope to produce a 3D movie of how cells “swallow” nutrients and other molecules by bending its membrane inwards and engulfing them.

Researchers invent new tool to study single biological molecules

August 3, 2012 8:09 am | News | Comments

Existing technologies allow researchers to measure single molecules on the x and y axes of a 2D plane. By blending optical and atomic force microscope technologies, Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have now found a way to complete 3D nanoscale measurements of single biological molecules with unprecedented accuracy and precision.

Fish-eye view could offer insights for human vision

August 3, 2012 5:23 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner | News | Comments

Zeran Li, as an undergraduate student in biological sciences at Purdue University, led a research team that uncovered an enzyme's role in the regulation of eye size in the fish. If the enzyme's role is similar in human eyes, it could be relevant to human vision problems, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness.

In fly DNA, the footprint of a fly virus

August 2, 2012 5:10 am | News | Comments

In a curious evolutionary twist, biologists from the University of Buffalo report, several species of a commonly studied fruit fly appear to have incorporated genetic material from a virus into their genomes. This discovery of virus-like genes in the DNA of a commonly studied fruit fly could enable research on whether animals hijack viral genes as an anti-viral defense.

Study: Brain imaging can predict how intelligent you are

August 1, 2012 11:57 am | News | Comments

When it comes to intelligence, what factors distinguish the brains of exceptionally smart humans from those of average humans? Size and prefrontal cortex activity contribute, but new research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that another 10% of individual differences in intelligence can be explained by the strength of neural pathways connecting the left prefrontal cortex to the rest of the brain.

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