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New technique for identifying gene-enhancers

March 25, 2014 11:28 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

An international team led by researchers has developed a new technique for identifying gene enhancers in the genomes of humans and other mammals. Called SIF-seq, for site-specific integration fluorescence-activated cell sorting followed by sequencing, this new technique complements existing genomic tools, such as ChIP-seq (chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing), and offers some additional benefits.

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.

World’s first light-activated antimicrobial surface also works in the dark

March 24, 2014 3:46 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in the U.K. have developed a new antibacterial material which has potential for cutting hospital acquired infections. The combination of two simple dyes with nanoscopic particles of gold is deadly to bacteria when activated by light, even under modest indoor lighting. And in a first for this type of substance, it also shows impressive antibacterial properties in total darkness.

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Dead Cell Removal Device

March 24, 2014 2:46 pm | Product Releases | Comments

AMSBIO has announced the launch of ClioCell, an ex vivo device for removal of dying and dead cells, improving viability and quality of cell populations and their subsequent productivity. The system comprises super-paramagnetic nanoparticles which have been coupled with proprietary elements that bind to dead and dying cells and cell debris. 

Engineers design “living materials”

March 24, 2014 9:45 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have coaxed bacterial cells to produce biofilms that can incorporate non-living materials, such as gold nanoparticles and quantum dots. These “living materials” combine the advantages of live cells, which respond to their environment and produce complex biological molecules, with the benefits of nonliving materials, which add functions such as conducting electricity or emitting light.

A layered nanostructure held together by DNA

March 20, 2014 12:40 pm | by David Lindley, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new strategy for building nanoscale constructs uses the binding properties of complementary strands of DNA to attach nanoparticles to each other. A series of controlled steps builds up a layered thin-film nanostructure. Small-angle x-ray scattering analysis has revealed the precise form that the structures adopted, and points to ways of exercising still greater control over the final arrangement.

Giant macrophages discovered in blood of cancer patients

March 20, 2014 11:44 am | News | Comments

When cancers become advanced, tumor cells from the primary tumor can enter the bloodstream and cause metastasis at another organ with deadly effect. While researching the biological implications of CTC spread, Creatv MicroTech researchers found a group of previously unreported cells associated with primary cancer spread. These macrophage-like cells could serve as biomarkers.

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.

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Scientists track evolution of a superbug

March 18, 2014 8:59 am | News | Comments

Using genome sequencing, National Institutes of Health scientists and their colleagues have tracked the evolution of the antibiotic-resistant bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae sequence type 258 (ST258), an important agent of hospital-acquired infections. Their results promise to help guide the development of new strategies to diagnose, prevent and treat this emerging public health threat.

Tension triggers muscle building

March 18, 2014 7:56 am | News | Comments

Skeletal muscles are built from small contractile units, the sarcomeres. Many of these sarcomeres are connected in a well-ordered series to form myofibrils that span from one muscle end to the other. Scientists recently identified a key mechanism how this basic muscle architecture is built during development.

Team implants human innate immune cells in mice

March 17, 2014 11:51 am | by Helen Dodson, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Overcoming a major limitation to the study of the origins and progress of human disease, Yale Univ. researchers report that they have transplanted human innate immune cells into mouse models, which resulted in human immune responses. This study has reproduced human immune function at a level not seen previously, and could significantly improve the translation of knowledge gained from mouse studies into humans.

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.

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Researchers write languages to design synthetic living systems

March 14, 2014 10:08 am | by Emily Kale, Virginia Tech | News | Comments

A computer-aided design tool has been used by researchers at Virginia Tech and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create genetic languages to guide the design of biological systems. Known as GenoCAD, the open-source software was developed to help synthetic biologists capture biological rules to engineer organisms that produce useful products or health-care solutions from inexpensive, renewable materials.

FDA approves electric headband to prevent migraine

March 11, 2014 5:19 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it approved a Belgium-made nerve-stimulating headband as the first medical device to prevent migraine headaches. Agency officials said the device provides a new option for patients who can't tolerate migraine medications. The Cefaly device is a battery-powered plastic band worn across the forehead.

Laboratory in Japan weighs retraction of stem cell paper

March 11, 2014 10:39 am | by Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press | News | Comments

The Riken Center for Development Biology in Kobe, Japan, has been looking into questions raised over images and wording in a research paper describing a simple way of turning ordinary cells from mice into stem cells. Riken said Tuesday that it may retract the paper because of credibility and ethics issues, even though an investigation is continuing.

Diagnosing diseases with smartphones

March 11, 2014 9:59 am | by Toby Weber, Univ. of Houston | News | Comments

Smartphones are capable of giving us directions when we’re lost, sending photos and videos to our friends in mere seconds and, perhaps very soon, diagnose our diseases in real time. Researchers in Texas are developing a disease diagnostic system made of a glass slide and a porous film of gold that offers results that could be read using only a smartphone and a $20 lens attachment.

Doctors often uncertain in ordering, interpreting lab tests

March 10, 2014 12:43 pm | by Sharon Parmet, Univ. of Illinois Chicago | News | Comments

Over the past 20 years, the number of laboratory tests available to primary care physicians has doubled, to more than 3,500 tests, and physicians are challenged by the quantity of tests available. A recent survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests they often face uncertainty in ordering and interpreting clinical laboratory tests, and would welcome better electronic clinical decision support tools.

Trends in Genomics Technology

March 10, 2014 8:54 am | by Barrett Bready and John Thompson, Nabsys | Articles | Comments

Ever since the study of individual genes and RNAs was first known to be important, there has been a drive to get as detailed and complete genomic information as possible. Early technologies like the hybridization-based Southern and Northern blotting methods were tremendous advances, but allowed only a handful of genomic targets to be studied at a time.

Biomolecular tweezers facilitate study of mechanical force effects on cells

March 10, 2014 8:07 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

A new type of biomolecular tweezers could help researchers study how mechanical forces affect the biochemical activity of cells and proteins. The devices use opposing magnetic and electrophoretic forces to precisely stretch the cells and molecules, holding them in position so that the activity of receptors and other biochemical activity can be studied.

Synthetic biologists shine light on genetic circuit analysis

March 10, 2014 7:56 am | Videos | Comments

In a significant advance for the growing field of synthetic biology, Rice Univ. bioengineers have created a toolkit of genes and hardware that uses colored lights and engineered bacteria to bring both mathematical predictability and cut-and-paste simplicity to the world of genetic circuit design.

Bright pulses of light could make space veggies more nutritious

March 5, 2014 9:48 am | News | Comments

One of the concerns for astronauts during future extended spaceflights will be the onslaught of eye-damaging radiation, and plants that contain carotenoids would help mitigate that harm. According to a new study by researchers at the Univ. of Colorado Boulder, exposing leafy vegetables grown during spaceflight to a few bright pulses of light daily could increase the amount of eye-protecting nutrients produced by the plants.

A complete medical check-up on a chip

March 4, 2014 3:56 pm | News | Comments

About the size of a stapler, this new handheld device developed in Switzerland is able to test a large number of proteins in our body all at once. This optical “lab on a chip” is compact and inexpensive, and it could offer the possibility of quickly analyzing up to 170,000 different molecules in a blood sample.

Shaky hand, stable spoon: Study shows device helps essential tremor patients

March 3, 2014 12:05 pm | News | Comments

For people whose hands shake uncontrollably due to a medical condition, just eating can be a frustrating and embarrassing ordeal, enough to keep them from sharing a meal with others. But a small new study conducted at the Univ. of Michigan Health System suggests that a new handheld electronic device can help such patients overcome the hand shakes caused by essential tremor, the most common movement disorder.

Earlier Detection of Cancer

February 28, 2014 1:55 pm | by Muneesh Tewari, Univ. of Michigan, and George Karlin-Neumann, Director of Scientific Affairs, Bio-Rad's Digital Biology Center | Articles | Comments

Finding treatments for advanced stage cancer isn’t easy. Therefore, early detection methods are paramount in the fight against the disease. Motivated by the opportunity to intervene as early as possible in the course of cancer, Dr. Muneesh Tewari, a Univ. of Michigan researcher, has been studying the diagnostic potential of blood-based biomarkers.

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