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Imaging breast cancer with light

October 24, 2013 2:51 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in The Netherlands have recently unveiled their “photoacoustic mammoscope,” a new device that could someday be used for routine breast cancer screenings. Instead of x-rays, which are used in traditional mammography, the photoacoustic breast mammoscope uses a combination of infrared light and ultrasound to create a 3-D map of the breast.

Power of the crowd advances comparative genomics

October 24, 2013 12:24 pm | News | Comments

Over the past three years, 300,000 gamers have helped scientists with genomic research by playing Phylo, an online puzzle game. Now, the McGill Univ. researchers who developed the game are making this crowd of players available to scientists around the globe. The idea is to put human talent to work to improve on what is already being done by computers in the field of comparative genomics.

London uses van with x-ray machine to find TB

October 23, 2013 7:41 pm | by Maria Cheng, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Famed for its historic sites, its double-decker buses and its West End shows, London now has a more dubious distinction: Britain's public health agency says it has become the tuberculosis capital of Western Europe. In response, health officials are taking to the streets in an effort to stop the spread of the infectious lung disease.

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Paper-based device could bring medical testing to remote locales

October 23, 2013 9:48 am | News | Comments

In remote regions of the world where electricity is hard to come by and scientific instruments are even scarcer, conducting medical tests at a doctor’s office or medical laboratory is rarely an option. Scientists are now reporting progress toward an inexpensive point-of-care, paper-based device to fill that void with no electronics required.

How climate change affects microbial life below the seafloor

October 22, 2013 4:21 pm | News | Comments

For more a decade scientists have investigated microbial life under the seafloor off the coast of Peru. Traces of past microbial life in sediments reveal how these ecosystems have responded to climate change over hundreds of thousands of years. Little is known about how the “deep biosphere” developed over millennia and how microbial life influences the cycling of carbon in the oceans.

Optical technology helps surgeons see cancer tissue

October 22, 2013 8:21 am | News | Comments

OnTarget Laboratories LLC has teamed with partners in academia to test a novel optical imaging technology developed at Purdue Univ. that could help surgeons see cancer tissue during surgery. The technology is based on the over-expression of specific receptors on solid cancerous tumors and enables illumination of the tumor tissue during surgery.

Biological clock found that can measure age of most human tissues

October 21, 2013 8:10 am | News | Comments

Everyone grows older, but scientists don't really understand why. Now a Univ. of California, Los Angeles study has uncovered a biological clock embedded in our genomes that may shed light on why our bodies age and how we can slow the process.

Research grant seeks to reduce crops' fertilizer dependence

October 18, 2013 9:56 am | News | Comments

A research team including a Penn State chemical engineer was recently awarded a $3.9 million National Science Foundation grant to understand how blue-green algae convert nitrogen into oxygen. The objective is to learn how to "transplant" the nitrogen fixing capability of one species to another.

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Radical recoding tests limits of genetic reprogramming

October 17, 2013 2:33 pm | News | Comments

In two parallel projects, researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have created new genomes inside the bacterium E. coli in ways that could open new possibilities for increasing flexibility, productivity and safety in biotechnology. In the first project, researchers created a novel genome, the first-ever entirely genomically recoded organism. They then greatly expanded genetic changes in the second project.

Separating the good from the bad in bacteria

October 17, 2013 7:39 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

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.

Glowing neurons reveal networked link between brain, whiskers

October 16, 2013 11:04 am | News | Comments

Human fingertips have several types of sensory neurons that are responsible for relaying touch signals to the central nervous system. Scientists have long believed these neurons followed a linear path to the brain with a "labeled-lines" structure. But new research on mouse whiskers reveals a surprise: At the fine scale, the sensory system's wiring diagram doesn't have a set pattern.

Wyss Institute, AstraZeneca announce collaboration on organs-on-chips for drug safety testing

October 16, 2013 9:13 am | News | Comments

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. and AstraZeneca have announced a collaboration that will leverage the Institute's organs-on-chips technologies to better predict safety of drugs in humans. Human organs-on-chips are composed of a clear, flexible polymer about the size of a computer memory stick, and contain hollow microfluidic channels lined by living human cells.

U.S. research team wins $1 million prize in Israel

October 15, 2013 2:32 pm | News | Comments

An Israeli nonprofit group has awarded a $1 million prize to a U.S.-based research team that is developing technology that allows paralyzed people to move things with their thoughts. BrainGate is developing a brain implant that can read brain signals and allow the paralyzed to move robotic limbs or computer cursors.

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Small bits of genetic material fight cancer's spread

October 15, 2013 2:08 pm | by Tara Thean, Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at Princeton Univ. have found that microRNAs, which are small bits of genetic material capable of repressing the expression of certain genes, may serve as both therapeutic targets and predictors of metastasis, or a cancer’s spread from its initial site to other parts of the body.

Device speeds concentration step in food-pathogen detection

October 14, 2013 1:39 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a system that concentrates foodborne salmonella and other pathogens faster than conventional methods by using hollow thread-like fibers that filter out the cells. The machine, called a continuous cell concentration device, could make it possible to routinely analyze food or water samples to screen for pathogens within a single work shift at food processing plants.

Scientists create technique for high-speed, low-cost epigenomic mapping

October 7, 2013 10:29 am | News | Comments

A new technique developed by researchers at the Stanford Univ. School of Medicine could pave the way to an era of personalized epigenomics. The technique could quickly yield huge amounts of useful information about which genes are active in particular cells. The technology involved is cheap, fast and easy to use, and all that would be needed from the patient is a blood sample or needle biopsy.

Five achievements that haven't won a Nobel Prize

October 7, 2013 2:33 am | by Malin Rising, Associated Press | News | Comments

The announcements of this year's Nobel Prize winners will start Monday with the medicine award and continue with physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics. The secretive award committees never give away any hints in advance of who could win, but here's a look at five big scientific breakthroughs that haven't yet received a Nobel prize.

Stem cells help repair traumatic brain injury by building a “biobridge”

October 4, 2013 11:30 am | News | Comments

Univ. of South Florida researchers have suggested a new view of how stem cells may help repair the brain following trauma. In a series of preclinical experiments, they report that transplanted cells appear to build a “biobridge” that links an uninjured brain site where new neural stem cells are born with the damaged region of the brain.

Scientists discover new role for cell dark matter in genome integrity

October 4, 2013 11:26 am | News | Comments

Non-coding RNAs constitute the “dark matter of the genome”, as they are abundant but their function is largely unknown. Researchers in Canada have discovered how these RNA direct telomerase, a molecule essential for cancer development, toward structures on our genome called telomeres in order to maintain its integrity and in turn, the integrity of the genome.

Researchers identify the neural circuits that modulate REM sleep

October 3, 2013 11:58 am | News | Comments

Previous studies had established an association between the activity of certain types of neurons and the phase of sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM). Scientists have now found the source of this causal relationship and have used optogenetics techniques to induce and modulate REM sleep in mice.

Mass producing pocket laboratories

October 2, 2013 9:24 am | News | Comments

There is certainly no shortage of lab-on-a-chip devices, but in most cases manufacturers have not yet found a cost-effective way to mass produce them. Scientists are now developing a platform for series production of these pocket laboratories. The first major step is moving away from the usual injection molding or wet chemical processing techniques in favor of roll-to-roll processing.

Scientists rig hospital-grade lightweight blood flow imager on the cheap

September 27, 2013 10:16 am | News | Comments

Tracking blood flow in the laboratory is an important tool for studying ailments and is usually measured in the clinic using professional imaging equipment and techniques like laser speckle contrast imaging. Now, developers have built a new biological imaging system 50 times less expensive than standard equipment, and suitable for imaging applications outside of the laboratory.

Scientists develop human-on-a-chip to research chemical warfare agent exposure

September 26, 2013 9:39 am | News | Comments

At the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, experts have been conducting research of “organs” on microchips. Unlike the few other laboratories conducting these types of studies, the Army is specifically looking at potential scenarios that will affect warfighters, especially chemical agent exposure.

New study finds “microbial clock” may help determine time of death

September 25, 2013 9:04 am | News | Comments

An intriguing study led by the Univ. of Colorado Boulder may provide a powerful new tool in the quiver of forensic scientists attempting to determine the time of death in cases involving human corpses: a microbial clock. The clock is essentially the lock-step succession of bacterial changes that occur postmortem as bodies move through the decay process.

Microfluidic platform gives a clear look at a crucial step in cancer metastasis

September 20, 2013 1:31 pm | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Cancer cells metastasize in several stages—first by invading surrounding tissue, then by infiltrating and spreading via the circulatory system. Some circulating cells work their way out of the vascular network, eventually forming a secondary tumor. Now researchers have developed a microfluidic device that mimics the flow of cancer cells through a system of blood vessels. High-resolution time-lapse imaging captures the moment of metastasis.

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