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New microchip sorts white blood cells from whole blood

August 6, 2013 7:35 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Early in 2012, a team of scientists reported the development of a postage stamp-sized microchip capable of sorting cells through a technique, known as cell rolling, that mimics a natural mechanism in the body. The device successfully separated leukemia cells from cell cultures, but could not extract cells directly from blood. Now the group has developed a new microchip that can quickly separate white blood cells from samples of whole blood.

Scientist measure and control the temperature inside living cells

August 5, 2013 6:26 pm | News | Comments

Using imperfections in diamonds as nanoscale thermometers, and gold nanoparticles implanted in cells as laser-induced heating mechanisms, a team of researchers working on DARPA’s Quantum-Assisted Sensing and Readout program recently demonstrated sub-degree temperature measurement and control at the nanometer scale inside living cells.

Catching cancer early by chasing it

August 1, 2013 4:18 pm | News | Comments

Reaching a clinic in time to receive an early diagnosis for cancer—when the disease is most treatable—is a global problem. And now a team of Chinese researchers proposes a global solution: have a user-friendly diagnostic device travel to the patient, anywhere in the world.

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Smartphone cradle, app detect toxins, bacteria

August 1, 2013 12:33 pm | News | Comments

Afraid there may be peanuts or other allergens hiding in that cookie? Thanks to a cradle and app that turn your smartphone into a handheld biosensor, you may soon be able to run on-the-spot tests for food safety, environmental toxins, medical diagnostics and more.

New biosensor warns when athletes are about to “hit the wall”

July 25, 2013 8:33 am | News | Comments

A new biosensor, applied to the human skin like a temporary tattoo, can alert marathoners, competitive bikers and other “extreme” athletes that they’re about to “bonk,” or “hit the wall.” The study describes the first human tests of the sensor, which also could help soldiers and others who engage in intense exercise.

Researchers put squeeze on cells to deliver

July 22, 2013 11:44 am | News | Comments

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a rapid and highly efficient system for transferring large molecules, nanoparticles, and other agents into living cells, providing new avenues for disease research and treatment. The high throughput method treats up to 100,000 cells per second and uses controlled mechanical force that is non-toxic to cells.

Information in brain cells’ electrical activity combines three elements

July 18, 2013 8:58 am | News | Comments

The electrical activity of neurons contains a mixture of stored memories, environmental circumstances, and current state of mind, scientists have found in a study of laboratory rats. The research, which monitored neuronal electrical activity in the hippocampus, relied on the concept of “cross-episode retrieval”, in which brain activity is stimulated in a given circumstance that was also activated in a previous, distinctive experience.

"Intelligent knife" tells surgeon which tissue is cancerous

July 17, 2013 3:39 pm | News | Comments

Scientists have developed an "intelligent knife" that can tell surgeons immediately whether the tissue they are cutting is cancerous or not. In the first study to test the invention in the operating theatre, the "iKnife" diagnosed tissue samples from 91 patients with 100% accuracy, instantly providing information that normally takes up to half an hour to reveal using laboratory tests.

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High-tech gadgets monitor seniors' safety at home

July 15, 2013 9:51 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Research is growing with high-tech gadgets that promise new safety nets for seniors determined to live on their own for as long as possible. Motion sensors on the wall and a monitor under the mattress one day might automatically alert loved ones to early signs of trouble well before an elderly loved one gets sick or suffers a fall.

DNA-sequencing chip survives space radiation

July 9, 2013 7:37 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

More than 3.5 billion years ago, meteors ricocheted around the solar system, passing material between Mars and Earth. This may have left bits of Earth on Mars, and vice versa, creating a shared genetic ancestry. Now, a team of researchers is building a DNA sequencer that he hopes will one day be sent to Mars, where it can analyze soil and ice samples for traces of DNA and other genetic material.

Tiny tweezers allow precision control of enzymes

July 3, 2013 10:01 am | by Richard Harth, Biodesign Institute | News | Comments

In new research, Biodesign Institute team members describe a pair of tweezers made using principles of DNA base-pairing. They are astonishingly small: When the jaws of these tools are in the open position, the distance between the two arms is about 16 nanometers—over 30,000 times smaller than a single grain of sand.

Physicists tease out twisted torques of DNA

June 28, 2013 12:56 pm | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

DNA sometimes twists itself into supercoils, an phenomenon caused by enzymes that travel along DNA’s helical groove and exert force and torque as they move. For the first time, these tiny torques have been measured using an instrument called an angular optical trap. Researchers at Cornell University have reported direct measurements of the torque generated by a motor protein as it traverses supercoiled DNA.

Researchers put chemistry lab on paper to detect low-quality medicine

June 28, 2013 9:38 am | News | Comments

Marya Lieberman, assoc. prof. of chemistry and biochemistry at the Univ. of Notre Dame, and her collaborators have recently published results that show the effectiveness of an inexpensive paper test card that could fundamentally change the balance of power between pharmaceutical buyers and sellers in the developing world.

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Spinach and nanodiamond?

June 25, 2013 7:10 am | News | Comments

Comic book hero Popeye swears by it. And so do generations of parents who “spoil” their children with spinach. But too much iron content in the blood can indicate acute inflammatory responses, which makes it an important medical diagnostic agent. Using nanoscale diamonds which feature defects, researchers in Europe have developed a new, sensitive biosensor for determination of iron content.

Palm-size microarray technique grows 1,200 cultures of microbes

June 25, 2013 6:40 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research have developed a microarray platform for culturing fungal biofilms that holds 1,200 individual cultures of fungi or bacteria. The nano-scale platform technology could one day be used for rapid drug discovery for treatment of any number of fungal or bacterial infections, or even as a rapid clinical test to identify antibiotic drugs.

Engineers report breakthrough in designing electronic biosensors

June 24, 2013 11:11 am | News | Comments

Imagine a swarm of tiny devices only a few hundred nanometers in size that can detect trace amounts of toxins in a water supply or the very earliest signs of cancer in the blood. Now imagine that these tiny sensors can reset themselves, allowing for repeated use over time inside a body of water—or a human body. In a recent Yale Univ. breakthrough, this has become a reality.

Device detects disease with a drop of blood

June 24, 2013 9:47 am | News | Comments

A research team at New Jersey Institute of Technology have created a carbon nanotube-based device to noninvasively and quickly detect mobile single cells with the potential to maintain a high degree of spatial resolution. This prototype lab-on-a-chip could someday enable a physician to detect disease or virus from just one drop of liquid, including blood.

Light, nanoprobes detect early signs of infection

June 21, 2013 8:00 am | News | Comments

Duke Univ. biomedical engineers and genome researchers have developed a proof-of-principle approach using light to detect infections before patients show symptoms. The approach was demonstrated in human samples, and researchers are now developing the technique for placement on a chip, which could provide fast, simple and reliable information about a patient. A diagnostic device based on this chip also could be made portable.

FDA approves Abbot Labs hepatitis C genotype test

June 20, 2013 3:13 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first blood test that can identify different strains of the hepatitis C virus to help guide a patient's treatment. Abbot Laboratories Inc.'s RealTime HCV Genotype II test is designed to figure out the strain of the virus in patients who are already known to have hepatitis C rather than diagnosing patients with the virus itself.

A way to detect new viruses

June 17, 2013 2:14 pm | News | Comments

In recently published research, St. Louis Univ. researchers describe a technology that can detect new, previously unknown viruses. The technique offers the potential to screen patients for viruses even when doctors have not identified a particular virus as the likely source of an infection. In the new approach, scientists use blood serum as a biological source to categorize and discover viruses.

Research identifies scent of melanoma

June 13, 2013 6:00 pm | News | Comments

Melanoma is a tumor that is responsible for approximately 75% of skin cancer deaths. According to new research, odors from human skin cells can be used to identify melanoma. The method, which uses gas chromatography and mass spectrometry techniques, takes advantage of the fact that human skin produces numerous airborne chemical molecules known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, many of which are odorous.

Cheetah's acceleration power key to their success

June 13, 2013 10:35 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Researchers have recently determined that cheetahs can run twice as fast as Olympian Usain Bolt on a straightaway. Then they measured the energy a cheetah muscle produces compared to body size and calculated the same for Bolt, the sprinter. They found the cheetah had four times the crucial kick power of the Olympian. That power to rapidly accelerate—not just speed alone—is the key to the cheetah's hunting success.

With brain-computer interface, tasks become as simple as waving a hand

June 11, 2013 6:07 pm | by Michelle Ma, University of Washington | News | Comments

Small electrodes placed on or inside the brain allow patients to interact with computers or control robotic limbs simply by thinking about how to execute those actions. Researchers have recently shown the brain can adapt to this brain-computer interface technology. Their work shows that it behaves much like it does when completing simple motor skills such as kicking a ball, typing, or waving a hand.

New single virus detection technique yields faster diagnosis

May 30, 2013 2:29 pm | News | Comments

To test the severity of a viral infection, clinicians try to gauge how many viruses are packed into a certain volume of blood or other bodily fluid. However, the standard methods used for these tests are only able to estimate the number of viruses in a given volume of fluid. Now two independent teams have developed new optics-based methods for determining the exact viral load of a sample by counting individual virus particles.

FDA approves blood test to diagnose diabetes

May 23, 2013 5:23 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it approved a new blood test from Roche to help doctors diagnose diabetes. The Cobas Integra 800 is a blood test that measures a patient's average blood sugar level over the previous three months. In particular, the test measures an oxygen-carrying blood component known as hemoglobin.

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