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The Lead

A new way to diagnose malaria

September 2, 2014 7:38 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Over the past several decades, malaria diagnosis has changed very little. After taking a blood sample from a patient, a technician smears the blood across a glass slide, stains it with a special dye and looks under a microscope for the Plasmodium parasite, which causes the disease. This approach gives an accurate count of how many parasites are in the blood, but is not ideal because there is potential for human error.

New DARPA program aimed at developing customized therapies

August 28, 2014 9:11 am | News | Comments

DARPA’s new Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx)...

Eye implant could lead to better glaucoma treatments

August 26, 2014 8:21 am | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford News Service | News | Comments

For the 2.2 million Americans battling glaucoma, the main course of action for staving off...

A glucose meter of a different color provides continuous monitoring

August 26, 2014 7:53 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | Videos | Comments

Univ. of Illinois engineers are bringing a touch of color to glucose monitoring. The researchers...

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Sorting cells with sound waves

August 26, 2014 7:36 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Researchers have devised a new way to separate cells by exposing them to sound waves as they flow through a tiny channel. Their device, about the size of a dime, could be used to detect the extremely rare tumor cells that circulate in cancer patients’ blood, helping doctors predict whether a tumor is going to spread.

Future phones to use blood, speech to monitor HIV, stress, nutrition

August 25, 2014 9:30 am | by Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

David Erickson, a professor at Cornell Univ., will receive a $3 million National Science Foundation grant over five years to adapt smartphones for health monitoring. The program, dubbed PHeNoM for Public Health, Nanotechnology, and Mobility, aims to deploy three systems that can have an immediate impact on personal healthcare.

Pregnancy Hormone Sniffs Out Anthrax

August 22, 2014 3:04 pm | Award Winners

To mitigate anthrax attack risks, Sandia National Laboratories developed a credit-card sized device based on the lateral flow assay for detection of B. anthracis in ultra-low resource environments: BaDx (Bacillus anthracis diagnostics). BaDx is a low-cost, disposable device that requires no power, instrumentation or equipment to operate, and no refrigeration to maintain efficacy.

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Medical Tests for the Developing World

August 21, 2014 3:52 pm | Award Winners

Novilytic’s Noviplex Plasma Collection Card is a self-contained, blood-plasma sampling device used to volumetrically collect a plasma aliquot independent of whole blood application volumes. The Noviplex requires no power and circumvents requirements for venipuncture-phlebotomy training, needles, special vials and equipment, refrigeration and centrifugation normally associated with traditional plasma methods.

9/11 dust cloud may have caused widespread pregnancy issues

August 15, 2014 9:00 am | News | Comments

Previous research into the health impacts of in utero exposure to the 9/11 dust cloud on birth outcomes has shown little evidence of consistent effects. But according to a new paper pregnant women living near the World Trade Center during 9/11 experienced higher-than-normal negative birth outcomes. These mothers were more likely to give birth prematurely and deliver babies with low birth weights.

Tattoo biobatteries produce power from sweat

August 13, 2014 12:45 pm | Videos | Comments

In the future, working up a sweat by exercising may not only be good for your health, but it could also power your small electronic devices. Researchers report that they have designed a sensor in the form of a temporary tattoo that can both monitor a person’s progress during exercise and produce power from their perspiration.

FDA approves first DNA-based test for colon cancer

August 11, 2014 5:22 pm | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first screening test for colon cancer that uses patient DNA to help spot potentially deadly tumors and growths. The Cologuard test from Exact Sciences detects irregular mutations in a patient's stool sample that can be an early warning sign of cancer. Patients who test positive for the mutations should undergo a colonoscopy to confirm the results.

New handheld device uses lasers, sound for melanoma imaging

August 7, 2014 9:39 am | News | Comments

Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer type in the United States. A new handheld device may help diagnosis and treatment efforts for the disease. It uses lasers and sound waves and is the first that can be used directly on a patient to accurately measure how deep a melanoma tumor extends into the skin.

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Technology translation engine launches “organs-on-chips” company

July 28, 2014 10:07 am | News | Comments

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. announced that its human “Organs-on-Chips” technology will be commercialized by a newly formed private company to accelerate development of pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic and personalized medicine products.

Reconstructing an animal’s development cell by cell

July 21, 2014 9:36 am | News | Comments

Janelia Research Campus experts have built a new computational method that can essentially automate much of the time-consuming process of reconstructing an animal's developmental building plan cell by cell. Using image data obtaining using a sophisticated form of light sheet microscopy, the tool can track the movement of cells in an animal’s body in 3-D.

All HIV not created equal: Scientists can identify which viruses cause infection

July 21, 2014 8:07 am | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

HIV-infected people carry many different HIV viruses and all have distinct personalities—some much more vengeful and infectious than others. Yet, despite the breadth of infectivity, roughly 76% of HIV infections arise from a single virus. Now, scientists believe they can identify the culprit with very specific measurements of the quantities of a key protein in the HIV virus.

HIV diagnosis rate fell by third in U.S. over decade

July 19, 2014 11:17 am | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The rate of HIV infections diagnosed in the U.S. each year fell by one-third over the past decade, a government study finds. Experts celebrated it as hopeful news that the AIDS epidemic may be slowing in the U.S. The reasons for the drop aren't clear. It might mean fewer new infections are occurring. Or that most infected people already have been diagnosed so more testing won't necessarily find many more cases.

Researchers create new method to draw molecules from live cells

July 18, 2014 12:30 pm | by Jeannie Kever, Univ. of Houston | News | Comments

Most current methods of identifying intracellular information result in the death of the individual cells, making it impossible to continue to gain information and assess change over time. Using magnetized carbon nanotubes, scientists in Texas have devised a new method for extracting molecules from live cells without disrupting cell development.

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Bubble wrap serves as sheet of tiny test tubes in resource-limited regions

July 16, 2014 11:46 am | News | Comments

Popping the blisters on the bubble wrap might be the most enjoyable thing about moving. But now, researchers led by 2007 R&D Magazine Scientist of the Year George Whitesides propose a more productive way to reuse the popular packing material: as a sheet of small, test tube-like containers for medical and environmental samples. Analyses can take place right in the bubbles.

Researchers invent nanotech microchip to diagnose type-1 diabetes

July 14, 2014 9:22 am | News | Comments

A cheap, portable, microchip-based test for diagnosing type-1 diabetes could speed up diagnosis and enable studies of how the disease develops. Handheld microchips distinguish between the two main forms of diabetes mellitus, which are both characterized by high blood-sugar levels but have different causes. Until now, making the distinction has required a slow, expensive test available only in sophisticated healthcare settings.

Research may help prevent eye injury among soldiers

July 1, 2014 11:50 am | by K.C. Gonzalez, UTSA | News | Comments

In a basement laboratory at Fort Sam Houston military base in Texas, a research team has spent the last two years simulating improvised explosive device blasts on postmortem pig eyes using a high-powered shock tube. Their most striking discovery is that these blasts can damage the optic nerve, and these injuries can occur even at low pressures, causing visual defects that until now have been associated traumatic brain injuries.

New particle-sorting method breaks speed records

June 24, 2014 8:52 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Researchers compare the processing of biological fluid samples with searching for a needle in a haystack—only in this case, the haystack could be diagnostic samples, and the needle might be tumor cells present in just ppm concentrations. Now, a new way of processing these samples could make such detections possible in real time.

Breathalyzer test may detect deadliest cancer

June 18, 2014 4:04 pm | News | Comments

Lung cancer causes more deaths in the U.S. than the next three most common cancers combined, and the main reason is poor detection methods. A new device developed by a team of Israeli, American and British cancer researchers may turn the tide by both accurately detecting lung cancer and identifying its stage of progression. The breathalyzer test is embedded with a "NaNose" nanotech chip to literally "sniff out" cancer tumors.

Technology detects bacterial pathogens in soldiers’ combat wounds

June 17, 2014 8:40 am | by Stephen P Wampler, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

A biological detection technology developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists can detect bacterial pathogens in the wounds of U.S. soldiers that have previously been missed by other technologies. This advance may, in time, allow an improvement in how soldiers' wounds are treated.

New study aims to rapidly test lung cancer drugs

June 16, 2014 2:16 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A bold new way to test cancer drugs started Monday. Like a medical version of speed dating, doctors will sort through multiple experimental drugs and match patients to the one most likely to succeed based on each person's unique tumor gene profile. Five drug companies, the government, private foundations and advocacy groups are taking part.

Trapping the light fantastic

June 16, 2014 10:07 am | News | Comments

A large team of scientists have developed a “nanobarrel” molecular container that traps and concentrates light onto single molecule. These nanobarrels, which act as tiny test tubes, have been combined with gold nanoparticles so that researchers can detect what is in each one. The invention could be used as a low-cost and reliable diagnostic test.

Music under the microscope

June 11, 2014 9:01 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Germany have converted the frequencies of droplets flowing through thin channels into musical notes. This is more than just a gimmick: The fact that droplets can be controlled so precisely that they become musical instruments means they are also of interest with regard to medical diagnostics applications.

New molecule enables quick drug monitoring

June 9, 2014 10:07 am | Videos | Comments

Scientists in Switzerland have invented a molecule that can easily and quickly show how much drug is in a patient’s system. All that is needed to perform accurate measurements is a conventional digital camera. The result of innovative protein engineering and organic chemistry, the molecule has been shown to work on a range of common drugs for cancer, epilepsy and immunosuppression.

Engineers develop mobile DNA test for HIV

June 6, 2014 7:31 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. bioengineers are developing a simple, highly accurate test to detect signs of HIV and its progress in patients in resource-poor settings. The current gold standard to diagnose HIV in infants and to monitor viral load depends on laboratory equipment and technical expertise generally available only in clinics. The new research features a nucleic acid-based test that can be performed at the site of care.

Prototype electrolyte sensor provides immediate read-outs

June 3, 2014 8:03 am | by Neal Singer, Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Patients trying to navigate today’s complex medical system with its costly laboratory analyses might prefer a pain-free home diagnostic device, worn on the wrist, that can analyze, continuously record and immediately remedy low electrolyte levels. Runners, athletes in other strenuous sports and soldiers on long missions also might prefer immediate knowledge of their electrolytic states as an aid to improved performance.

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