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Team "spikes" stem cells to generate myelin

August 28, 2013 2:16 pm | News | Comments

Stem cell technology has long offered the hope of regenerating tissue to repair broken or damaged neural tissue. Findings from a team of Univ. of California, Davis investigators have brought this dream a step closer by developing a method to generate functioning brain cells that produce myelin, the fatty, insulating sheath essential to normal neural conduction.

Researcher controls colleague’s motions in first human brain-to-brain interface

August 27, 2013 2:50 pm | by Doree Armstrong and Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Univ. of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher able to send a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motions of a fellow researcher. Using electrical brain recordings and a form of magnetic stimulation, Rajesh Rao sent a brain signal to Andrea Stocco on the other side of campus, causing Stocco’s finger to move on a keyboard.

Small chip to advance the art of drug testing

August 27, 2013 2:43 pm | by Kurt Pfitzer, Lehigh Univ. | News | Comments

Standard drug-testing methods have shortcomings. Animal testing is expensive and unreliable, and the static environment of cells and cultures don’t mimic the behavior of the entire organism. An interdisciplinary research team at Lehigh Univ. is using microscopy and optical tweezers to develop a new finger-sized chip that can study the activities of cells at the nanoscale, possibly offering an alternative to traditional drug testing.

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Test-tube babies: A simpler, cheaper technique?

August 22, 2013 9:45 am | by Maria Cheng, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Since the first test-tube baby was born more than three decades ago, in vitro fertilization has evolved into a highly sophisticated lab procedure. Now, scientists are going back to basics and testing a simpler method that could cost as little as $265 and use basic laboratory equipment that could fit inside a shoebox.

Scientists find way to predict and control gene expression

August 20, 2013 5:20 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in Switzerland have developed a “guide” that can be used to precisely predict the number of proteins a given gene will produce under varying conditions. Each gene has a segment of DNA at its beginning called a promoter, and the researchers generated more than 200 of them, integrated them into a yeast genome, and conducted comparative analysis that generated a model. This work will help biologists to engineer cells.

A durable, bacteria-killing surface for hospitals

August 20, 2013 12:13 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at Switzerland have developed a new method for making antimicrobial surfaces that can eliminate bacteria under a minute. The breakthrough relies on a new sputtering technique that uses a highly ionized plasma to, for the first time, deposit antibacterial titanium oxide and copper films on 3-D polyester surfaces. This promotes the production of free radicals, which are powerful natural bactericides.

An organized approach to 3-D tissue engineering

August 20, 2013 7:43 am | News | Comments

Tissues designed with pre-formed vascular networks are known to promote rapid vascular integration with the host. Generally, prevascularization has been achieved by seeding or encapsulating endothelial cells, but these methods are slow. Hydrogels have also been tried, but a new technique developed in Singapore uses hydrogels with a new patterning process to quickly incorporate different cell types separately into different fibers.

New tool peeks into brain to measure consciousness

August 15, 2013 2:23 pm | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

When people have a brain injury so severe that they can't squeeze a loved one's hand or otherwise respond, there are few good ways to tell if they have any lingering awareness or are in a vegetative state. Now researchers have created a technique using a magnetic coil and an electroencephalogram to allow them to peek inside the brain and measure varying levels of consciousness.

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British cat DNA database helps convict killer

August 15, 2013 7:41 am | by Raphael Satter, Associated Press | News | Comments

Fingerprints are not the only thing that killers can leave behind—add cat hair to that list. A British university said Wednesday that its DNA database of British felines helped convict a man of manslaughter, illustrating how the genetic material of pets can be used by crime scene investigators.

Wyss Institute’s “Organ-on-a-Chip” to test radiation exposure therapies

August 14, 2013 6:02 pm | News | Comments

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. has received a $5.6 million grant award from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to use its Organs-on-Chips technology to test human physiological responses to radiation. The project will investigate if the microfluidic devices lined by living human cells can be used instead of animals to evaluate the efficacy and safety of medical treatments for radiation sickness.

Innovation could improve personalized cancer-care outcomes

August 14, 2013 5:21 pm | News | Comments

A recent invention at Purdue Univ. could improve therapy selection for personalized cancer care. Researchers have created a technique called BioDynamic Imaging that measures the activity inside cancer biopsies, or samples of cells. It allows technicians to assess the efficacy of drug combinations, called regimens, on personal cancers.

Biochip holds promise for quickly triaging people after radiation exposure

August 14, 2013 2:28 pm | News | Comments

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists have helped to develop a tiny chip that has big potential for quickly determining whether someone has been exposed to dangerous levels of ionizing radiation. The first-of-its-kind chip has an array of nanosensors that measure the concentrations of proteins that change after radiation exposure.

“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.

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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.

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.

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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