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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.

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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.

Gold nanoparticles unlock genetic profiles

May 30, 2014 8:47 am | News | Comments

A fast and cost-effective genetic test to determine the correct dosage of blood thinning drugs for the treatment of stroke, heart problems and deep vein thrombosis has been developed by researchers in Singapore. The new test, which uses gold nanoparticles mixed with DNA samples in solution, can quickly recognize three of the most common genetic variations associated with warfarin response.

New “wireless” nanotechnology to help study neurons

May 23, 2014 9:28 am | by Jim Fessenden, Univ. of Massachusetts | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Massachusetts will lead an international team of scientists in the development and implementation of a new optogenetic platform that can remotely activate neurons inside a free-moving organism. Using a new class of nanoparticles they propose to selectively turn on non-image forming photoreceptors inside mice and Drosophila, unencumbered by the fiber optic wires currently used in optogenetic technologies.

Researchers discover immune system’s rules of engagement

May 22, 2014 2:06 pm | News | Comments

A new study reveals how T cells, the immune system’s foot soldiers, respond to an enormous number of potential health threats. X-ray studies at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, combined with Stanford Univ. biological studies and computational analysis, revealed remarkable similarities in the structure of binding sites which allow a given T cell to recognize many different invaders that provoke an immune response.

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Study finds crowding has big effects on biomolecules

May 22, 2014 1:58 pm | News | Comments

Crowding has notoriously negative effects at large size scales, blamed for everything from human disease and depression to community resource shortages. But relatively little is known about the influence of crowding at the cellular level. A new JILA study shows that a crowded environment has dramatic effects on individual biomolecules.

Engineer invents safe way to transfer energy to medical chips in the body

May 22, 2014 11:43 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Videos | Comments

A Stanford Univ. electrical engineer has invented a way to wirelessly transfer power deep inside the body, and then use this power to run tiny electronic medical gadgets such as pacemakers, nerve stimulators or new sensors and devices yet to be developed. The discoveriesculminate years of efforts to eliminate the bulky batteries and clumsy recharging systems that prevent medical devices from being more widely used.

Scrapbook-inspired diagnostics could curb hepatitis C pandemic

May 22, 2014 10:49 am | News | Comments

To the relief of patients diagnosed with hepatitis C, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two new treatments late last year, and a few more are on the way. Now scientists are solving another side of the disease’s problem: identifying the millions more who have the virus but don’t know it—and unwittingly pass it on. A report in Analytical Chemistry describes a novel, scrapbook-inspired test that does just that.

Capillary device significantly improves manufacture of quality liposomes

May 22, 2014 9:29 am | News | Comments

Widespread application of manufactured liposomes as artificial drug carriers has been hindered by factors such as inconsistency in size, structural instability, and high production costs. Researchers have designed a new liposome production system from bundled capillary tubes. It costs less than a $1 to make, requires no special fabrication technology, and consistently yields large quantities of uniform and sturdy vesicles.

Ultra-sensitive nanochip detects cancer early

May 19, 2014 1:02 pm | News | Comments

A new  “lab-on-a-chip” platform developed at the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Spain is capable of detecting detect very low concentrations of protein cancer markers, enabling diagnoses of the disease in its earliest stages. The device, just a few square centimeters in size, uses recent advances in plasmonics, nano-fabrication, microfluids and surface chemistry.

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Researchers identify extent of new tick-borne infection

May 8, 2014 11:32 am | by Michael Greenwood, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

The frequency of a new tick-borne infection that shares many similarities with Lyme disease, and a description of the antibody test used to test individuals for evidence of the infection, have been reported for the first time by researchers at the Yale Schools of Public Health and Medicine.

A lab in your pocket

May 8, 2014 8:33 am | by Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

When you get sick, your physician may take a sample of your blood, send it to the laboratory and wait for results. In the near future, however, doctors may be able to run those tests almost instantly on a piece of plastic about the size of credit card. These labs-on-a-chip would not only be quick—results are available in minutes—but also inexpensive and portable.

Toward a faster, more accurate way to diagnose stroke

May 7, 2014 1:40 pm | News | Comments

When someone suffers from a stroke, a silent countdown begins. A fast diagnosis and treatment can mean the difference between life and death. So scientists are working on a new blood test that one day could rapidly confirm whether someone is having a stroke and what kind.

Luminescent nanocrystal tags, high-speed scanner enable rapid detection of pathogens

May 7, 2014 7:42 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A research team using tunable luminescent nanocrystals as tags to advance medical and security imaging have successfully applied them to high-speed scanning technology and detected multiple viruses within minutes. The research builds on the team's earlier success in developing a way to control the length of time light from a luminescent nanocrystal lingers.

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.

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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