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The Lead

Pinpointing the Onset of Metastasis

June 24, 2015 1:43 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

Within the oncology community, a debate is raging about two controversial topics. The first is overdiagnosis. According to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, some leading cancer experts say that zealous screening is finding ever-smaller abnormalities that are being labeled cancer or precancer with little or no justification.

New tech could find tiny RNA cancer beacons in blood

June 23, 2015 11:40 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Cancerous tumors cast off tiny telltale genetic molecules known as microRNAs and Univ. of...

How anthrax spores grow in cultured human tissues

June 23, 2015 8:37 am | by Greg Koller, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Cultured human lung cells infected with a benign version of anthrax spores have yielded insights...

Liquid Gold

June 18, 2015 12:30 pm | by George Karlin-Neumann, the Digital Biology Center at Bio-Rad Laboratories | Articles | Comments

Blood is the great aggregator of the body’s physiology. Many tumors slough off fragments of DNA...

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Heartbeat on a chip could improve pharmaceutical tests

June 17, 2015 7:57 am | by Gabe Cherry, Univ. of Michigan | Videos | Comments

A gravity-powered chip that can mimic a human heartbeat outside the body could advance pharmaceutical testing and open new possibilities in cell culture because it can mimic fundamental physical rhythms, according to the Univ. of Michigan researchers who developed it.

Study reveals flaws in gene testing; results often conflict

May 27, 2015 12:21 pm | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The first report from a big public-private project to improve genetic testing reveals it's not as rock solid as many people believe, with flaws that result in some people wrongly advised to worry about a disease risk and others wrongly told they can relax. Researchers say the study shows the need for consumers to be careful about choosing where to have a gene test done and acting on the results.

Chip makes testing for antibiotic-resistant bacteria faster, easier

May 27, 2015 8:06 am | by RJ Taylor, Univ. of Toronto | News | Comments

We live in fear of superbugs: infectious bacteria that don't respond to treatment by antibiotics, and can turn a routine hospital stay into a nightmare. A 2015 Health Canada report estimates that superbugs have already cost Canadians $1 billion, and are a "serious and growing issue." Each year two million people in the U.S. contract antibiotic-resistant infections, and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result.

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Freshly squeezed vaccines

May 22, 2015 7:23 am | by Kevin Leonardi, Koch Institute | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have shown that they can use a microfluidic cell-squeezing device to introduce specific antigens inside the immune system’s B cells, providing a new approach to developing and implementing antigen-presenting cell vaccines.

Device captures rare circulating tumor cell clusters

May 21, 2015 7:41 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Videos | Comments

The latest version of a microfluidic device for capturing rare circulating tumor cells is the first designed specifically to capture clusters of two or more cells, rather than single cells. The new device, called the Cluster-Chip, was developed by the same Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team that created previous microchip-based devices.

New blood tests, liquid biopsies, may transform cancer care

May 11, 2015 4:04 am | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

A new type of blood test is starting to transform cancer treatment, sparing some patients the surgical and needle biopsies long needed to guide their care. The tests, called liquid biopsies, capture cancer cells or DNA that tumors shed into the blood, instead of taking tissue from the tumor itself. A lot is still unknown about the value of these tests, but many doctors think they are a big advance.

Thermometer-like device could help diagnose heart attacks

May 6, 2015 10:33 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Diagnosing a heart attack can require multiple tests using expensive equipment. But not everyone has access to such techniques, especially in remote or low-income areas. Now scientists have developed a simple, thermometer-like device that could help doctors diagnose heart attacks with minimal materials and cost. The report on their approach appears in Analytical Chemistry.

Study: Many Medicare cataract patients given needless tests

April 15, 2015 6:05 pm | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Millions of older people are getting tests they don't need to prove they are healthy enough to have cataracts removed, a new study finds. The excess testing before this quick, ultra-safe eye procedure is costing them and Medicare a bundle, and many patients don't know they can question it, doctors say.

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Office inkjet printer could produce simple tool to identify infectious diseases

April 7, 2015 12:03 pm | by Michelle Donovan, McMaster Univ. | News | Comments

Consumers are one step closer to benefiting from packaging that could give simple text warnings when food is contaminated with deadly pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella, and patients could soon receive real-time diagnoses of infections such as C. difficile right in their doctors' offices, saving critical time and trips to the lab.

Sound separates cancer cells from blood samples

April 7, 2015 8:26 am | by A’ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Separating circulating cancer cells from blood cells for diagnostic, prognostic and treatment purposes may become much easier using an acoustic separation method and an inexpensive, disposable chip, according to a team of engineers from Penn State Univ.

Precocious GEM

March 30, 2015 7:46 am | by Michael Baum, NIST | News | Comments

Scientists working at NIST and the NIH have devised and demonstrated a new, shape-shifting probe, about one-hundredth as wide as a human hair, which is capable of sensitive, high-resolution remote biological sensing that is not possible with current technology. If eventually put into widespread use, the design could have a major impact on research in medicine, chemistry, biology and engineering.

Researchers find promising new biomarkers for concussion

March 25, 2015 10:50 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

By looking at the molecular aftermath of concussion in an unusual way, a team of researchers at Brown Univ. and the Lifespan health system has developed a candidate panel of blood biomarkers that can accurately signal mild traumatic brain injury within hours using standard, widely available lab arrays. The results appear in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

Malaria test for ancient human remains

March 18, 2015 10:21 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Ancient malaria patients, the anthropologist will see you now. A Yale Univ. scientist has developed a promising new method to identify malaria in the bone marrow of ancient human remains. It is the first time researchers have been able to establish a diagnostic, human skeletal profile for the disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes and continues to infect millions of people a year.

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‘Brain in a Jar’ Reveals Mechanics of Jet Lag

March 10, 2015 7:00 am | by UC Irvine | News | Comments

Long the stuff of science fiction, the disembodied “brain in a jar” is providing science fact for a team of researchers, who, by studying the whole brains of fruit flies, are discovering the inner mechanisms of jet lag.  

Mechanical engineer bridges math, engineering, and biology

March 9, 2015 12:07 pm | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

This professor carries out pioneering work in the creation of biological circuits.                              

Researchers Untangle DNA

March 9, 2015 8:51 am | by Florida International Univ. | News | Comments

While today’s human body contains a variety of these proteins, a marine sciences professor believes they evolved from a single ancestor millions of years ago. This find is pivotal in unraveling the mysteries of DNA organization and regulation, and could someday lead to innovative biomonitoring strategies and therapies targeting a variety of diseases including cancer.

Researchers devise a faster, less expensive way to analyze gene activity

March 3, 2015 10:53 am | by Vicky Agnew, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

A team of Yale Univ. researchers has developed a simple method that could significantly reduce the time and cost of probing gene expression on a large scale. The team created a tool that takes advantage of new high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies to make it easier to simultaneously measure gene activity in large numbers of cells or tissues.

New peanut allergy test goes beyond scratching the surface

February 27, 2015 7:33 am | by Colin Poitras, UConn | News | Comments

Current peanut allergy tests are not very reliable when it comes to diagnosing the severity of an individual’s allergic reaction, which can range from hives to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. With an estimated three million people in the U.S. allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, having a more precise and reliable allergy test could prevent hospitalizations and allow for better monitoring of individuals suffering from peanut allergies.

Quick test for Ebola

February 24, 2015 7:36 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

When diagnosing a case of Ebola, time is of the essence. However, existing diagnostic tests take at least a day or two to yield results, preventing health care workers from quickly determining whether a patient needs immediate treatment and isolation. A new test could change that: The device, a simple paper strip similar to a pregnancy test, can rapidly diagnose Ebola, as well as other viral hemorrhagic fevers.

FDA eases access to DNA screening for inherited diseases

February 19, 2015 9:08 pm | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal health officials are easing access to DNA tests used to screen parents for devastating genetic disorders that can be passed on to their children. The surprise announcement offers a path forward for Google-backed genetic testing firm 23andMe, which previously clashed with regulators over its direct-to-consumer technology.

Tiny robotic hands could improve cancer diagnostics, drug delivery

February 4, 2015 10:08 am | by American Chemical Society | Videos | Comments

Many people imagine robots today as clunky, metal versions of humans, but scientists are forging new territory in the field of “soft robotics”. One of the latest advances is a flexible, microscopic hand-like gripper. The development could help doctors perform remotely guided surgical procedures or perform biopsies. The materials also could someday deliver therapeutic drugs to hard-to-reach places.

Splash down

February 4, 2015 8:40 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Farmers have long noted a correlation between rainstorms and disease outbreaks among plants. Fungal parasites known as “rust” can grow particularly rampant following rain events, eating away at the leaves of wheat and potentially depleting crop harvests. While historical weather records suggest rainfall may scatter rust and other pathogens throughout a plant population, the mechanism by which this occurs has not been explored, until now.

Advances in PCR Improve Health of Animal Research Colonies

January 22, 2015 3:59 pm | by Ken Henderson, Director of R&D, Charles River Laboratories, Wilmington, Mass. | Articles | Comments

Reducing the use of laboratory animals has been a long-term goal in biological research. Many in vivo assays, like rabbit endotoxin testing or mouse antibody production testing to detect viral contaminants have largely been replaced by in vitro enzyme or PCR-based assays.

New way to model sickle cell behavior

January 20, 2015 10:49 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Patients with sickle cell disease often suffer from painful attacks known as vaso-occlusive crises, during which their sickle-shaped blood cells get stuck in tiny capillaries, depriving tissues of needed oxygen. Blood transfusions can sometimes prevent such attacks, but there are currently no good ways to predict when a vaso-occlusive crisis, which can last for several days, is imminent.

Gold nanoparticles show promise for early detection of heart attacks

January 15, 2015 12:29 pm | by New York Univ. | News | Comments

New York Univ. Polytechnic School of Engineering professors have been collaborating with researchers from Peking Univ. on a new test strip that is demonstrating great potential for the early detection of certain heart attacks. The new colloidal gold test strip can test for cardiac troponin I (cTn-I) detection.

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