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“Smart” nanoparticles to improve drug delivery, DNA self-assembly

August 12, 2013 3:39 pm | by Rob Enslin, Syracuse Univ. | News | Comments

A team of chemists at Syracuse Univ. has used a temperature-sensitive polymer to regulate DNA interactions in both a DNA-mediated assembly system and a DNA-encoded drug-delivery system. Their findings may improve how nanomaterials self-assemble into functional devices and how anticancer drugs, including doxorubicin, are delivered into the body.

Feds, family reach deal on use of DNA information

August 9, 2013 8:13 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Some 60 years ago, a doctor in Baltimore removed cancer cells from a poor black patient named Henrietta Lacks without her knowledge or consent. Those cells eventually helped lead to a multitude of medical treatments and lay the groundwork for the multibillion-dollar biotech industry. Now, for the first time, the Lacks family has been given a say over at least some research involving her cells.

Bioresorbable scaffold wins 2013 R&D 100 Award

August 8, 2013 2:42 pm | News | Comments

Abbott’s Absorb bioresorbable vascular scaffold was named one of R&D Magazine’s 2013 top 100 technologies as part of its 51st annual R&D 100 Awards. The Absorb bioresorbable vascular scaffold, similar to a small mesh tube, is designed to open a blocked heart vessel and restore blood flow to the heart.

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DNA robots find and tag blood cells

August 8, 2013 8:00 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Columbia Univ. Medical Center, working with their collaborators at the Hospital for Special Surgery, have created a fleet of molecular “robots” that can home in on specific human cells and mark them for drug therapy or destruction. The nanorobots—a collection of DNA molecules, some attached to antibodies—were designed to seek a specific set of human blood cells and attach a fluorescent tag to the cell surfaces.

Gold nanoprobes hold the key to treating killer diseases

August 7, 2013 12:14 pm | News | Comments

Stem cell therapy is in its infancy, but has the potential to change the way we treat cancer and other diseases by replacing damaged or diseased cells with healthy ones. Identifying the right cells to use is the challenge, and scientists in the U.K. have found a way to use gold nanoprobes with surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy to differentiate the nearly identical cells.

Laser method allows DNA to be inserted gently into living cells

August 7, 2013 12:08 pm | News | Comments

A team of scientists in South Korea have recently developed the most precise method ever used to accomplish a typically messy, clumsy process: inserting DNA into living cells. It combines two high-tech laboratory techniques and allows the researchers to precisely poke holes on the surface of a single cell with a high-powered femtosecond laser and then gently tug a piece of DNA through it using optical tweezers.

China investing billions in bid to catch up with Western pharma

August 6, 2013 10:41 am | by Lux Research | News | Comments

China’s biomedical sector is rapidly transforming itself from a manufacturing base to an innovation hub, investing billions of dollars and setting up innovation centers in a bid to catch up with the west by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan, according to Lux Research.

Univ. Of Maryland, Baltimore's licensing deals fuel local life sciences community

August 6, 2013 8:30 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Univ. of Maryland Ventures announced agreements between Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore and five different life sciences companies across the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region. The companies include Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, Plasmonix, IGI Technologies, A&G Pharmaceuticals and BioAssay Works.

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Scientist measure and control the temperature inside living cells

August 5, 2013 6:26 pm | News | Comments

Using imperfections in diamonds as nanoscale thermometers, and gold nanoparticles implanted in cells as laser-induced heating mechanisms, a team of researchers working on DARPA’s Quantum-Assisted Sensing and Readout program recently demonstrated sub-degree temperature measurement and control at the nanometer scale inside living cells.

Researchers dismantle bacteria's war machinery

August 5, 2013 12:13 pm | News | Comments

Certain bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, have the ability to deploy tiny darts. This biological weapon kills the host cell by piercing the membrane. Researchers have unlocked, piece by piece, this intriguing little machine and found an assembly of proteins that, in unfolding at the right time, takes the form of a spur.

Scientists serve lab-made burger from cow cells

August 5, 2013 10:56 am | by Maria Cheng, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Two volunteer taste-testers in London got the unusual opportunity of sampling a stem-cell burger. Though it was reportedly short on taste, the burger represents five years of research. Made from meat grown in a laboratory from the stem cells of cattle, the the burger is part of an effort to help solve both the food crisis and climate change.

When writing antibiotic prescriptions, doctors favor strongest drugs

August 1, 2013 1:55 pm | News | Comments

A study at the Univ. of Utah finds that more than 60% of antibiotic prescriptions are for types that kill multiple kinds of bacteria. Unfortunately, in more than 25% of cases such prescriptions are useless because the infection stems from a virus, which cannot be treated with antibiotics. This overuse of antibiotics has a number of downsides.

Smartphone cradle, app detect toxins, bacteria

August 1, 2013 12:33 pm | News | Comments

Afraid there may be peanuts or other allergens hiding in that cookie? Thanks to a cradle and app that turn your smartphone into a handheld biosensor, you may soon be able to run on-the-spot tests for food safety, environmental toxins, medical diagnostics and more.

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Insect-inspired super rubber moves toward practical uses in medicine

July 31, 2013 10:52 am | News | Comments

A recent publication evaluates the latest advances toward using a protein called resilin in nanosprings, biorubbers, biosensors and other applications. This remarkable protein is rubber-like and enables dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects to flap their wings, jump and chirp. Resilin could have major potential uses in medicine.

Chemists develop innovative nanosensors for multiple proteins

July 31, 2013 10:46 am | News | Comments

Researchers have shown that test strips bearing gold nanoparticles as sensor elements can detect numerous proteins simultaneously. This new cost-effective method for parallel protein analysis, developed at Johannes Gutenberg Univ. in Mainz, Germany, is, in principle, capable of identifying hundreds of even thousands of different proteins. It could even be used to detect the presence of viruses and their type.

Molecular robots help researchers build more targeted therapeutics

July 29, 2013 1:55 pm | News | Comments

Many drugs such as agents for cancer or autoimmune diseases have nasty side effects because while they kill disease-causing cells, they also affect healthy cells. Now a new study has demonstrated a technique for developing more targeted drugs, by using molecular “robots” to hone in on more specific populations of cells.

Mice “incepted” with false memories

July 29, 2013 9:12 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have used optogenetics techniques to implant false memories into mice, potentially illuminating the mechanisms underlying the human phenomenon of “recalling” experiences that never occurred.

Technology could enable all crops to take nitrogen from the air

July 26, 2013 9:20 am | News | Comments

All plants need nitrogen to convert into ammonia, but only a small number of plants can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. The rest are helped by synthetic fertilizers, which have been blamed for nitrogen pollution. A scientist in the U.K., Edward Cocking, has found a specific strain of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in sugar cane which he discovered could intracellularly colonize all major crop plants. The technology is being commercialized.

Microbial “Who done it?" for biofuels

July 26, 2013 9:08 am | News | Comments

The use of enzymes from thermophiles—microbes that thrive at extremely high temperatures and alkaline conditions—holds promise for extracting fermentable sugars from lignocellulosic biomass. Finding the most effective of these microbial enzymes has been a challenge, but Joint BioEnergy Institute scientists have recently made progress in this area by adapting a combination of metagenomic and metaproteomic technologies.

Pocket-sized sensor gives instant fat burning updates

July 25, 2013 10:54 am | News | Comments

Fitness fanatics may soon be able to gauge if their hard work is paying off without the need for weighing scales thanks to a new device that can instantly tell if your body is burning fat. The portable, pocket-sized sensor, produced by a group of researchers in Japan, works by measuring increased levels of acetone on the breath—a good indicator of when the body has begun to break down fat.

New biosensor warns when athletes are about to “hit the wall”

July 25, 2013 8:33 am | News | Comments

A new biosensor, applied to the human skin like a temporary tattoo, can alert marathoners, competitive bikers and other “extreme” athletes that they’re about to “bonk,” or “hit the wall.” The study describes the first human tests of the sensor, which also could help soldiers and others who engage in intense exercise.

Phenomenex Phree phospholipid removal plates win 2013 R&D 100 Award

July 24, 2013 1:45 pm | News | Comments

Phenomenex Inc. announced that its Phree phospholipid removal plates have been recognized as one of the top innovations of 2012 by R&D Magazine. This is the ninth Phenomenex product to receive this award in the last 10 years. Phree phospholipid removal plates provide fast cleanup of plasma samples in pharmaceutical and clinical research laboratories.

Fluxion Biosciences receives 2013 R&D 100 Award for circulating tumor cell system

July 24, 2013 1:23 pm | News | Comments

Fluxion Biosciences announced that it has won a 2013 R&D 100 Award for its IsoFlux system. The R&D 100 Award places the state-of-the-art IsoFlux system in the prestigious company of previous winners such as liquid crystal displays and the anticancer drug Taxol.

NIH commits $24 million annually for Big Data Centers of Excellence

July 24, 2013 12:28 pm | News | Comments

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will fund up to $24 million per year for four years to establish six to eight investigator-initiated Big Data to Knowledge Centers of Excellence. The centers will improve the ability of the research community to use increasingly large and complex data sets through the development and distribution of innovative approaches, methods, software and tools for data sharing.

New white paper compares targeted resequencing strategies

July 23, 2013 9:10 am | White Papers

Oxford Gene Technology (OGT), a provider of genetics research and biomarker solutions to advance molecular medicine, has produced a new white paper that is designed to help researchers looking to develop next-generation sequencing strategies. It covers resequencing, methods suitability, data analysis and time and cost considerations.

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