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U.S. approves first-ever DNA alternative to Pap smear

April 24, 2014 5:22 pm | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal health regulators have cleared a genetic test from Roche as the first ever U.S.-approved alternative to the Pap smear, the decades-old mainstay of cervical cancer screening. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Swiss-based Roche's cobas HPV test to detect the human Papillomavirus, or HPV, in women 25 and up. HPV causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer.

Gold nanoparticles help target, quantify breast cancer gene segments in a living cell

April 23, 2014 8:59 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A team at Purdue Univ. has used gold nanoparticles to target and bind to fragments of genetic material known as BRCA1 messenger RNA splice variants, which can indicate the presence and stage of breast cancer. The number of these synthetic DNA “tails” in a cell can be determined in a living cell by examining the specific signal that light produces when it interacts with the gold nanoparticles.

Tracking oxygen in the body

April 22, 2014 7:34 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells thrive when deprived of oxygen. Tumors in low-oxygen environments tend to be more resistant to therapy and spread more aggressively to other parts of the body. Measuring tumors’ oxygen levels could help doctors make decisions about treatments, but there’s currently no way to make such measurements. However, a new sensor developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology could change that.

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Pocket-sized anthrax detector aids global agriculture

April 18, 2014 8:36 am | by Stephanie Holinka, Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

A credit-card-sized anthrax detection cartridge developed at Sandia National Laboratories and recently licensed to a small business makes testing safer, easier, faster and cheaper. Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax, is commonly found in soils all over the world and can cause serious, and often fatal, illness in both humans and animals.

A new “hope” for preservation of tissue samples for analysis

April 8, 2014 12:12 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered that the so-called HOPE method allows tissue samples to be treated such that they do not only meet the requirements of clinical histology, but can still be characterized later on by modern methods of proteomics, a technique that analyzes all proteins at once. This differs from the traditional formalin-based approach that cross-links protein molecules.

Hybrid technology could make Star Trek-style tricorder a reality

April 8, 2014 11:29 am | News | Comments

In the fictional Star-Trek universe, the tricorder was used to remotely scan patients for a diagnosis. A new device under development in the U.K. could perform that function through the use of chemical sensors on printed circuit boards. This would replace the current conventional diagnostic method, which is lengthy and is limited to single point measurements.

Desktop human “body” could reduce need for animal drug tests

March 26, 2014 1:13 pm | News | Comments

Call it “homo minutus”. A team at Los Alamos National Laboratory is developing four human organ constructs (liver, heart, lung and kidney) that will work together to serve as a drug and toxicity analysis system that can mimic the actual response of human organs. Called ATHENA, for Advanced Tissue-engineered Human Ectypal Network Analyzer, the system will fit neatly on a desk.

Microfluidic device has artificial arteries, measures blood clotting

March 24, 2014 3:53 pm | by Brett Israel, Georgia Tech | News | Comments

A new microfluidic method for evaluating drugs commonly used for preventing heart attacks has found that while aspirin can prevent dangerous blood clots in some at-risk patients, it may not be effective in all patients with narrowed arteries. The study, a first in the examination of heart attack prevention drugs, used a device that simulated blood flowing through narrowed coronary arteries to assess effects of anti-clotting drugs.

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Bacterial reporters that get the scoop

March 18, 2014 7:55 am | by Kristen Kusek, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

It's a jungle in there. In the tightly woven ecosystem of the human gut, trillions of bacteria compete with each other on a daily basis while they sense and react to signals from the immune system, ingested food and other bacteria. Problems arise when bad gut bugs overtake friendly ones, or when the immune system is thrown off balance.

Diagnosing diseases with smartphones

March 11, 2014 9:59 am | by Toby Weber, Univ. of Houston | News | Comments

Smartphones are capable of giving us directions when we’re lost, sending photos and videos to our friends in mere seconds and, perhaps very soon, diagnose our diseases in real time. Researchers in Texas are developing a disease diagnostic system made of a glass slide and a porous film of gold that offers results that could be read using only a smartphone and a $20 lens attachment.

Trends in Genomics Technology

March 10, 2014 8:54 am | by Barrett Bready and John Thompson, Nabsys | Articles | Comments

Ever since the study of individual genes and RNAs was first known to be important, there has been a drive to get as detailed and complete genomic information as possible. Early technologies like the hybridization-based Southern and Northern blotting methods were tremendous advances, but allowed only a handful of genomic targets to be studied at a time.

A new way to profile immune cells in blood

March 7, 2014 8:42 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

When a person becomes sick or is exposed to an unwelcome substance, the body mobilizes specific proportions of different immune cells in the blood. Methods of discovering and detecting those profiles are therefore useful both clinically and in research. In a new Genome Biology paper, a team of scientists describes a new and uniquely advantageous way to detect them.

A complete medical check-up on a chip

March 4, 2014 3:56 pm | News | Comments

About the size of a stapler, this new handheld device developed in Switzerland is able to test a large number of proteins in our body all at once. This optical “lab on a chip” is compact and inexpensive, and it could offer the possibility of quickly analyzing up to 170,000 different molecules in a blood sample.

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Earlier Detection of Cancer

February 28, 2014 1:55 pm | by Muneesh Tewari, Univ. of Michigan, and George Karlin-Neumann, Director of Scientific Affairs, Bio-Rad's Digital Biology Center | Articles | Comments

Finding treatments for advanced stage cancer isn’t easy. Therefore, early detection methods are paramount in the fight against the disease. Motivated by the opportunity to intervene as early as possible in the course of cancer, Dr. Muneesh Tewari, a Univ. of Michigan researcher, has been studying the diagnostic potential of blood-based biomarkers.

Tracking genes on the path to genetic treatment

February 28, 2014 8:36 am | by John Sullivan, Office of Engineering Communications, Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

Before doctors like Matthias Kretzler can begin using the results of molecular research to treat patients, they need science to find an effective way to match genes with the specific cells involved in disease. As Kretzler explains, finding that link would eventually let physicians create far more effective diagnostic tools and treatments.

DNA blood tests show prenatal screening promise

February 26, 2014 5:20 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A DNA test of a pregnant woman's blood is more accurate than current methods of screening for Down syndrome and other common disorders, new research finds. If other studies bear this out, it could transform prenatal care by giving a more reliable, non-invasive way to detect these problems very early in pregnancy.

Sun powers complex cancer test for remote regions

February 21, 2014 8:19 am | by Blaine Friedlander, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

From the sun, a solution: Cornell Univ. and Weill Cornell Medical College researchers have remodeled an energy-intensive medical test, designed to detect a deadly skin cancer related to HIV infections, to create a quick diagnostic assay perfect for remote regions of the world. By harnessing the sun’s power and employing a smartphone application, medical technicians may now handily administer reliable assays for Kaposi’s sarcoma.

Test could predict which teen boys get depression

February 18, 2014 8:09 am | by Maria Cheng - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A saliva test for teenage boys with mild symptoms of depression could help identify those who will later develop major depression, a new study says. Researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in teenage boys and found that ones with high levels coupled with mild depression symptoms were up to 14 times more likely to suffer clinical depression later in life than those with low or normal cortisol levels.

Laser tool speeds up detection of Salmonella in food products

February 14, 2014 7:38 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | Videos | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers have developed a laser sensor that can identify Salmonella bacteria grown from food samples about three times faster than conventional detection methods. Known as BARDOT, the machine scans bacteria colonies and generates a distinct black and white "fingerprint" by which they can be identified. BARDOT takes less than 24 hrs to pinpoint Salmonella.

U.S., 26 countries launch effort to fight disease outbreaks

February 13, 2014 12:09 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The U.S. and 26 other countries began a new effort Thursday to prevent and fight outbreaks of dangerous infectious diseases before they spread around the globe. U.S. health officials called the Global Health Security Agenda a priority because too many countries lack the health infrastructure necessary to spot a new infection rapidly and sound the alarm before it has time to gain a foothold and even spread into other countries.

Genome editing goes hi-fi

February 10, 2014 7:42 am | News | Comments

A one-letter change in the human genetic code can sometimes mean the difference between health and a serious disease. But replicating these tiny changes in human stem cells has proven challenging. Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have found a way to efficiently edit the human genome one letter at a time, not only boosting researchers' ability to model human disease, but also paving the way for new therapies.

Doctor diagnoses man with help from TV's "House"

February 7, 2014 11:08 am | by Maria Cheng - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

If you're unlucky enough to be stricken with a rare medical condition, you'd better hope your doctor watches the right television show. That was the lesson for one German man with severe heart failure and a puzzling mix of symptoms including fever, blindness, deafness and enlarged lymph nodes, which baffled doctors for months.

Credit card-sized device could analyze biopsy

February 7, 2014 7:44 am | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Pancreatic cancer is a particularly devastating disease. At least 94% of patients will die within five years, and in 2013 it was ranked as one of the top 10 deadliest cancers. Routine screenings for breast, colon and lung cancers have improved treatment and outcomes for patients with these diseases. But because little is known about how pancreatic cancer behaves, patients often receive a diagnosis when it’s already too late.

Automated Strategy for Immuno-MS Sample Preparation

February 6, 2014 2:56 pm | by Brian Feild, Biotech Product Manager, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, Columbia, Md. | Articles | Comments

Progress often requires change. For protein-based diagnostics, multiplexed assays and detection of protein isoforms will drive the adoption of a new strategy for diagnostic testing, called immuno-MS. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) have become the standard for antibody-based diagnostic tests in clinical settings. ELISAs provide specific detection of biomarkers through use of antibodies which target specific epitopes on antigens.

Charting New Territory in Laboratory Automation

February 6, 2014 2:41 pm | by Dave Hickey and Connie Mardis, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, Tarrytown, N.Y. | Articles | Comments

Medical laboratory test results provide physicians with vital information needed for accurate diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of patients. An estimated 60 to 70% of all decisions regarding a patient’s diagnosis and treatment, hospital admission and discharge are based on laboratory test results.

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