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The Lead

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...

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...

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...

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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assays, like rabbit endotoxin testing or mouse antibody production testing to detect viral contaminants have largely been replaced by in vitro enzyme or PCR-based assays.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.

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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.

Tattoo-like sensor can detect glucose levels without finger prick

January 15, 2015 7:48 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Scientists have developed the first ultra-thin, flexible device that sticks to skin like a rub-on tattoo and can detect a person’s glucose levels. The sensor, reported in a proof-of-concept study in Analytical Chemistry, has the potential to eliminate finger-pricking for many people with diabetes.

Scientists develop novel platform for treatment of breast, pancreatic cancer

January 14, 2015 4:18 pm | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have identified a novel synthetic compound that sharply inhibits the activity of a protein that plays an important role in in the progression of breast and pancreatic cancers. In the new study the scientists showed that the compound, known as SR1848, reduces the activity and expression of the cancer-related protein called “liver receptor homolog-1” or LRH-1.

Scientists use “NanoVelcro” and temperature control to extract tumor cells from blood

January 14, 2015 9:06 am | by Shaun Mason, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A group led by scientists has developed a new method for effectively extracting and analyzing cancer cells circulating in patients’ blood. Circulating tumor cells are cancer cells that break away from tumors and travel in the blood, looking for places in the body to grow new tumors called metastases. Capturing these rare cells would allow doctors to detect and analyze the cancer so they could tailor treatment for individual patients.

Grant Supports Use of Data Science to Optimize HIV Care

December 30, 2014 9:30 am | by Brown University | News | Comments

HIV can be treated, but not every infection responds the same way. Treatment requires monitoring and testing, a practice that can become expensive for health care systems in the developing world.                                    

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UNC Project-China Uses Crowdsourcing to Promote HIV Testing

December 30, 2014 9:25 am | by UNC Health Care | News | Comments

The project, “Testing Saves Lives,” asked community organizations that provide HIV testing services across China to submit videos on the importance of getting tested. The videos were judged based on whether they generated interest about HIV testing, proposed ways to reach untested individuals and engaged the community.

New Non-invasive method can detect Alzheimer's disease early

December 26, 2014 4:20 pm | by Megan Fellman, McCormick Northwestern Engineering | News | Comments

No methods currently exist for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, which affects one out of nine people over the age of 65. Now, an interdisciplinary team of Northwestern University scientists and engineers has developed a noninvasive MRI approach that can detect the disease in a living animal. And it can do so at the earliest stages of the disease, well before typical Alzheimer’s symptoms appear.

Fast, low-cost DNA sequencing technology one step closer to reality

November 26, 2014 8:19 am | by Joe Caspermeyer, Biodesign Institute | News | Comments

A team of scientists from Arizona State Univ.’s Biodesign Institute and IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center have developed a prototype DNA reader that could make whole genome profiling an everyday practice in medicine. Such technology could help usher in the age of personalized medicine, where information from an individual’s complete DNA and protein profiles could be used to design treatments specific to their individual makeup.

Paper electronics could make health care more accessible

November 20, 2014 9:02 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Flexible electronic sensors based on paper have the potential to cut the price of a wide range of medical tools, from helpful robots to diagnostic tests. Scientists have now developed a fast, low-cost way of making these sensors by directly printing conductive ink on paper.

Test developed for rapid diagnosis of bloodstream infection

November 14, 2014 8:20 am | by Univ. of California, Irvine | News | Comments

A new bloodstream infection test created by Univ. of California, Irvine researchers can speed up diagnosis times with unprecedented accuracy, allowing physicians to treat patients with potentially deadly ailments more promptly and effectively. The technology, called Integrated Comprehensive Droplet Digital Detection, or IC 3D, can detect bacteria in milliliters of blood with single-cell sensitivity in 90 mins; no cell culture is needed.

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Purdue innovation might make MR imaging more effective, less toxic

November 7, 2014 10:17 am | by Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers led by David Thompson, president of Aten Biotherapeutics and a professor in Purdue's Department of Chemistry, are developing controlled-release imaging agents that allow for a longer, safer imaging session.         

Diagnostic exhalations

November 6, 2014 9:40 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT | News | Comments

Paramedics respond to a 911 call to find an elderly patient who’s having difficulty breathing. Anxious and disoriented, the patient has trouble remembering all the medications he’s taking, and with his shortness of breath, speaking is difficult. Is he suffering from acute emphysema or heart failure? Initiating the wrong treatment regimen will increase the patient’s risk of severe complications.

ECG on the run: Continuous surveillance of marathon athletes is feasible

October 29, 2014 9:40 am | News | Comments

The condition of an athlete's heart has for the first time been accurately monitored throughout the duration of a marathon race. The real-time monitoring was achieved by continuous electrocardiogram (ECG) surveillance and data transfer over a public mobile phone network. The new development allows instantaneous diagnosis of potentially fatal rhythm disorders.

Blood test may help to diagnose pancreatic cancer

October 29, 2014 9:16 am | News | Comments

Cancer researchers have found that a simple blood test might help diagnose pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly forms of the disease. In new research at Indiana Univ., scientists have found that several microRNAs, which are small RNA molecules, circulate at high levels in the blood of pancreatic cancer patients.

New home test shakes up colon cancer screening

October 26, 2014 12:27 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Starting Monday, millions of people who have avoided colon cancer screening can get a new home test that's noninvasive and doesn't require the icky preparation most other methods do. The test is the first to look for cancer-related DNA in stool. But deciding whether to get it is a more complex choice than ads for "the breakthrough test ... that's as easy as going to the bathroom" make it seem.

Synthetic biology on ordinary paper, results off the page

October 24, 2014 7:53 am | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | News | Comments

New achievements in synthetic biology, which will allow complex cellular recognition reactions to proceed outside of living cells, will dare scientists to dream big: There could one day be inexpensive, shippable and accurate test kits that use saliva or a drop of blood to identify specific disease or infection.

Ultra-thin carbon electrodes are powerful tool for studying brain disorders

October 21, 2014 11:34 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Pennsylvania and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have used graphene to fabricate a new type of microelectrode that solves a major problem for investigators looking to understand the intricate circuitry of the brain. The see-through, one-atom-thick electrodes can obtain both high-resolution optical images and electrophysiological data for the first time.

Lab-on-a-chip for early diagnosis of cancer

October 8, 2014 8:09 am | by Brendan M. Lynch, KU News Service | News | Comments

Scientists have been laboring to detect cancer and a host of other diseases in people using promising new biomarkers called “exosomes.” Indeed, Popular Science magazine named exosome-based cancer diagnostics one of the 20 breakthroughs that will shape the world this year. Exosomes could lead to less invasive, earlier detection of cancer, and sharply boost patients’ odds of survival.

Three win medicine Nobel for discovering brain's GPS

October 7, 2014 9:28 am | by Karl Ritter and Jill Lawless, Associated Press | News | Comments

A U.S.-British scientist and a Norwegian husband-and-wife research team won the Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering the brain's navigation system—the inner GPS that helps us find our way in the world—a revelation that could lead to advances in diagnosing Alzheimer's. The research by John O'Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser represents a "paradigm shift" in neuroscience that could help researchers understand Alzheimer's disease.

Validation: Recognizing A Problem With Real-Time PCR Kits

October 7, 2014 7:49 am | by Keith Cockrum, Bio-Rad Laboratories | Bio-Rad Laboratories | Articles | Comments

Life Science researchers have become ever-more dependent on the industry for “kits” that are intended to execute research processes in the laboratory flawlessly. In recognition of this expectation, kit manufacturers now market nearly every product as “guaranteed” or “validated.” This practice has led the research community to feel secure that the products will perform as advertised.

High-speed drug screen

September 30, 2014 7:37 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have devised a way to rapidly test hundreds of different drug-delivery vehicles in living animals, making it easier to discover promising new ways to deliver a class of drugs called biologics, which includes antibodies, peptides, RNA and DNA, to human patients.

Cell sorting method separates 10 billion cells in 30 minutes

September 26, 2014 9:42 am | News | Comments

Almost all of today’s previously existing cell-sorting methods rely on what is called a single-cell analysis platform. A researcher in Hawaii took a different approach, inventing a bulk method that sorts different cell populations by tuning their solubility. Instead of targeting individual features, the  measurement principle sorts cells by differentiating their characteristic surface free energies.

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