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New “wireless” nanotechnology to help study neurons

May 23, 2014 9:28 am | by Jim Fessenden, Univ. of Massachusetts | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Massachusetts will lead an international team of scientists in the development and implementation of a new optogenetic platform that can remotely activate neurons inside a free-moving organism. Using a new class of nanoparticles they propose to selectively turn on non-image forming photoreceptors inside mice and Drosophila, unencumbered by the fiber optic wires currently used in optogenetic technologies.

Researchers discover immune system’s rules of engagement

May 22, 2014 2:06 pm | News | Comments

A new study reveals how T cells, the immune system’s foot soldiers, respond to an enormous number of potential health threats. X-ray studies at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, combined with Stanford Univ. biological studies and computational analysis, revealed remarkable similarities in the structure of binding sites which allow a given T cell to recognize many different invaders that provoke an immune response.

Scrapbook-inspired diagnostics could curb hepatitis C pandemic

May 22, 2014 10:49 am | News | Comments

To the relief of patients diagnosed with hepatitis C, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two new treatments late last year, and a few more are on the way. Now scientists are solving another side of the disease’s problem: identifying the millions more who have the virus but don’t know it—and unwittingly pass it on. A report in Analytical Chemistry describes a novel, scrapbook-inspired test that does just that.

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Capillary device significantly improves manufacture of quality liposomes

May 22, 2014 9:29 am | News | Comments

Widespread application of manufactured liposomes as artificial drug carriers has been hindered by factors such as inconsistency in size, structural instability, and high production costs. Researchers have designed a new liposome production system from bundled capillary tubes. It costs less than a $1 to make, requires no special fabrication technology, and consistently yields large quantities of uniform and sturdy vesicles.

Researchers combine weak chemical forces to strengthen new maging technology

May 21, 2014 2:08 pm | News | Comments

When doctors perform an MRI, they administer a contrast agent: a chemical that, when injected into the bloodstream or ingested by the patient just before the MRI, improves the clarity of structures or organs in the resulting image. Researchers in Illinois have turned contrast agent technology “inside out” to develop a scalable new way of building multipurpose agents using nanoparticles.

Ultra-sensitive nanochip detects cancer early

May 19, 2014 1:02 pm | News | Comments

A new  “lab-on-a-chip” platform developed at the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Spain is capable of detecting detect very low concentrations of protein cancer markers, enabling diagnoses of the disease in its earliest stages. The device, just a few square centimeters in size, uses recent advances in plasmonics, nano-fabrication, microfluids and surface chemistry.

Herpes-loaded stem cells used to kill brain tumors

May 16, 2014 2:09 pm | News | Comments

Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists have a potential solution for how to more effectively kill tumor cells using cancer-killing viruses. The investigators report that trapping virus-loaded stem cells in a gel and applying them to tumors significantly improved survival in mice with glioblastoma multiforme, the most common brain tumor in human adults and also the most difficult to treat.

Going beyond the surface

May 16, 2014 8:00 am | by Cory Nealon, Univ. of Buffalo | News | Comments

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an effective treatment for easily accessible tumors such as oral and skin cancer. But the procedure, which uses lasers to activate special drugs called photosensitizing agents, isn’t adept at fighting cancer deep inside the body. That could change because of a new technology that could bring PDT into areas of the body which were previously inaccessible.

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System prints precise drug dosages tailored for patients

May 15, 2014 11:36 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have created a prototype system that uses a mathematical model to predict—and a portable inkjet technology to produce—precise medication dosages tailored for specific patients, an advance in personalized medicine that could improve drug effectiveness and reduce adverse reactions.

Microchip-like technology allows single-cell analysis

May 14, 2014 1:52 pm | News | Comments

A U.S. and Korean research team has developed a chip-like device that could be scaled up to sort and store hundreds of thousands of individual living cells in a matter of minutes. The system is similar to a random access memory chip, but it moves cells rather than electrons.

New technology simplifies production of biotech medicines

May 14, 2014 9:24 am | News | Comments

The final step in the production of a biotech medicine is finishing with the correct sugar structure. This step is essential for the efficacy of the medicine, but it also makes the production process very complex and expensive. Researchers in Belgium have developed a technology that shortens the sugar structures whilst retaining the therapeutic efficiency. This technology could make production of biotech medicines simpler and cheaper.

Implanted devices may reshape medicine

May 14, 2014 8:19 am | Videos | Comments

Researchers from The Univ. of Texas at Dallas and the Univ. of Tokyo have created electronic devices that become soft when implanted inside the body and can deploy to grip 3-D objects, such as large tissues, nerves and blood vessels. These biologically adaptive, flexible transistors might one day help doctors learn more about what is happening inside the body, and stimulate the body for treatments.

All in the rotation

May 12, 2014 3:10 pm | News | Comments

In new work, a research team has shed light on a type of molecular motor used to package the DNA of a number of viruses, including such human pathogens as herpes and the adenoviruses. The scientists found that this viral packaging motor exerts torque to rotate DNA and adapts to changing conditions in order to coordinate its mechano-chemical activity.

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Enzyme study raises possibility of more productive plants

May 12, 2014 2:42 pm | News | Comments

Plant scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have found that certain enzymes responsible for desaturating fatty acids, the building blocks of oils, can link up to efficiently pass intermediate products from one enzyme to another. The research lead to the development of plants that can accumulate high levels of more healthful polyunsaturated fatty acids, or fatty acids that could be used as raw materials in place of petroleum.

Scientists create first living organism that transmits unnatural DNA “letters”

May 8, 2014 12:41 pm | News | Comments

Scripps Research Institute scientists have engineered a bacterium whose genetic material includes an added pair of DNA “letters,” or bases, not found in nature. The cells of this unique bacterium can replicate the unnatural DNA bases more or less normally, for as long as the molecular building blocks are supplied.

A lab in your pocket

May 8, 2014 8:33 am | by Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

When you get sick, your physician may take a sample of your blood, send it to the laboratory and wait for results. In the near future, however, doctors may be able to run those tests almost instantly on a piece of plastic about the size of credit card. These labs-on-a-chip would not only be quick—results are available in minutes—but also inexpensive and portable.

Toward a faster, more accurate way to diagnose stroke

May 7, 2014 1:40 pm | News | Comments

When someone suffers from a stroke, a silent countdown begins. A fast diagnosis and treatment can mean the difference between life and death. So scientists are working on a new blood test that one day could rapidly confirm whether someone is having a stroke and what kind.

New ultrasound system guides minimally-invasive procedures

May 7, 2014 9:34 am | News | Comments

Researchers have recently developed a unique technology to help physicians perform ultrasound-guided procedures involving needle placement. The new imaging technology, created by Clear Guide Medical, allows physicians to plan needle entry and a precise line to the target before the needle ever enters the patient’s organ or tissue. The result is more efficient, less damaging, and less stressful needle-placement procedures for patients.

Luminescent nanocrystal tags, high-speed scanner enable rapid detection of pathogens

May 7, 2014 7:42 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A research team using tunable luminescent nanocrystals as tags to advance medical and security imaging have successfully applied them to high-speed scanning technology and detected multiple viruses within minutes. The research builds on the team's earlier success in developing a way to control the length of time light from a luminescent nanocrystal lingers.

Cyborg sensor could unlock anesthesia’s secrets

May 6, 2014 11:19 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

Researchers in Pennsylvania have created an artificial chemical sensor based on one of the human body’s most important receptors, one that is critical in the action of painkillers and anesthetics. In these devices, the receptors’ activation produces an electrical response rather than a biochemical one, allowing that response to be read out by a computer.

New technique tracks proteins in single HIV particle

May 5, 2014 9:10 am | News | Comments

An interdisciplinary team of scientists in Belgium has developed a new technique to examine how proteins interact with each other at the level of a single HIV viral particle. The technique allows scientists to study the life-threatening virus in detail and makes screening potential anti-HIV drugs quicker and more efficient. The technique can also be used to study other diseases.

Researchers find the accelerator for molecular machines

May 1, 2014 12:04 pm | News | Comments

The principle behind molecular machines is that one must apply some kind of stimulus in order to make it move. A team of researchers from Denmark and the U.S. have been investigating this type of nanoscale structure to determine how to make various parts move. What they have found is unusual: pieces actually go faster when the distance between the starting and stopping point is longer than if it is shorter.

Engineers grow functional human cartilage in lab

April 30, 2014 2:50 pm | by Holly Evarts, Columbia Engineering | News | Comments

Researchers in New York have been able to, for the first time, generate fully functional human cartilage from mesenchymal stem cells by mimicking, in vitro, the developmental process of mesenchymal condensation. While there has been great success in engineering pieces of cartilage using young animal cells, no one has, until now, been able to reproduce these results using adult human stem cells from bone marrow or fat.

Optical traps on chip manipulate many molecules at once

April 30, 2014 2:43 pm | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

A popular technique for studying single molecules is optical trapping. This is a traditionally delicate process, requiring special equipment, a soundproof room and patience as data collected one molecule at a time. Physicists have now shrunk the technology of an optical trap onto a single chip. Instead of just one molecule at a time, the new device can potentially trap hundreds of molecules at once, reducing month-long experiments to days.

Unique floating lab showcases “aliens of the sea”

April 30, 2014 7:38 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Leonid Moroz, neurobiologist at the Univ. of Florida, is on a quest to decode the genomic blueprints of fragile marine life in real time, on board the ship where they were caught. His ocean-going laboratory contains a genome sequencing machine secured to a tabletop. Genetic data is beamed via satellite to a supercomputer at the Univ. of Florida, which analyzes the results in a few hours and sends it back to the boat.

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