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Microfluidic platform gives a clear look at a crucial step in cancer metastasis

September 20, 2013 1:31 pm | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Cancer cells metastasize in several stages—first by invading surrounding tissue, then by infiltrating and spreading via the circulatory system. Some circulating cells work their way out of the vascular network, eventually forming a secondary tumor. Now researchers have developed a microfluidic device that mimics the flow of cancer cells through a system of blood vessels. High-resolution time-lapse imaging captures the moment of metastasis.

Microfluidics technique recovers DNA for identification

September 18, 2013 2:13 pm | News | Comments

A team of researchers at NIST and Applied Research Associates, Inc. has demonstrated an improved microfluidic technique for recovering DNA from real-world, complex mixtures such as dirt. According to the researchers their technique delivers DNA from these crude samples with much less effort and in less time than conventional techniques and yields DNA concentrations optimal for human identification procedures.

Association between virus, bladder cancers detected

September 11, 2013 7:59 am | News | Comments

A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory-developed biological detection technology has been employed as part of an international collaboration that has detected a virus in bladder cancers. The research is believed to be the first study to demonstrate an association between Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), also known as human herpesvirus 8, and bladder cancers.

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Small chip to advance the art of drug testing

August 27, 2013 2:43 pm | by Kurt Pfitzer, Lehigh Univ. | News | Comments

Standard drug-testing methods have shortcomings. Animal testing is expensive and unreliable, and the static environment of cells and cultures don’t mimic the behavior of the entire organism. An interdisciplinary research team at Lehigh Univ. is using microscopy and optical tweezers to develop a new finger-sized chip that can study the activities of cells at the nanoscale, possibly offering an alternative to traditional drug testing.

Microneedle patch could replace standard tuberculosis skin test

August 27, 2013 7:40 am | News | Comments

Each year, millions of people in the U.S. get a tuberculosis skin test to see if they have the infection. But the standard diagnostic test is difficult to give, because a hypodermic needle must be inserted at a precise angle and depth in the arm to successfully check for tuberculosis. Now, a team has created a microneedle patch that can penetrate the skin and precisely deliver a tuberculosis test.

Researchers invent portable device for common kidney tests

August 23, 2013 9:11 am | News | Comments

A lightweight and field-portable device invented at Univ. of California, Los Angeles that conducts kidney tests and transmits data through a smartphone attachment may significantly reduce the need for frequent office visits by people with diabetes and others with chronic kidney ailments.

Detecting early-stage malarial infection

August 20, 2013 7:33 am | by Elizabeth Dougherty, Microsystems Technology Laboratories | News | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found a way to detect early-stage malarial infection of blood cells by measuring changes in the infected cells’ electrical properties. The team has built an experimental microfluidic device that takes a drop of blood and streams it across an electrode that measures a signal differentiating infected cells from uninfected cells. 

Nanosensors could aid drug manufacturing

August 19, 2013 7:49 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemical engineers have discovered that arrays of billions of nanoscale sensors have unique properties that could help pharmaceutical companies produce drugs more safely and efficiently. Using these sensors, the researchers were able to characterize variations in the binding strength of antibody drugs, which hold promise for treating cancer and other diseases.

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New tool peeks into brain to measure consciousness

August 15, 2013 2:23 pm | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

When people have a brain injury so severe that they can't squeeze a loved one's hand or otherwise respond, there are few good ways to tell if they have any lingering awareness or are in a vegetative state. Now researchers have created a technique using a magnetic coil and an electroencephalogram to allow them to peek inside the brain and measure varying levels of consciousness.

Wyss Institute’s “Organ-on-a-Chip” to test radiation exposure therapies

August 14, 2013 6:02 pm | News | Comments

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. has received a $5.6 million grant award from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to use its Organs-on-Chips technology to test human physiological responses to radiation. The project will investigate if the microfluidic devices lined by living human cells can be used instead of animals to evaluate the efficacy and safety of medical treatments for radiation sickness.

Innovation could improve personalized cancer-care outcomes

August 14, 2013 5:21 pm | News | Comments

A recent invention at Purdue Univ. could improve therapy selection for personalized cancer care. Researchers have created a technique called BioDynamic Imaging that measures the activity inside cancer biopsies, or samples of cells. It allows technicians to assess the efficacy of drug combinations, called regimens, on personal cancers.

Biochip holds promise for quickly triaging people after radiation exposure

August 14, 2013 2:28 pm | News | Comments

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists have helped to develop a tiny chip that has big potential for quickly determining whether someone has been exposed to dangerous levels of ionizing radiation. The first-of-its-kind chip has an array of nanosensors that measure the concentrations of proteins that change after radiation exposure.

How much caffeine is in your drink? Watch the traffic light

August 7, 2013 1:18 pm | News | Comments

A team of researchers in Singapore and South Korea have developed a fluorescent caffeine detector and a detection kit that lights up like a traffic light when caffeine is present in various drinks and solutions. Based on a technology called “lab-on-a-disc”, the detection system identifies caffeine concentrations using laser light.

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Battelle team wins DARPA contract to build medical device to treat sepsis

August 6, 2013 9:48 am | News | Comments

At Battelle, supporting America’s military personnel is woven into the fabric of its business. In that pursuit, a team consisting of Battelle, NxStage Medical Inc. and Aethlon Medical has won a contract from DARPA to develop an innovative, new medical device that may save the lives of soldiers—and civilians as well—by treating sepsis.

Univ. Of Maryland, Baltimore's licensing deals fuel local life sciences community

August 6, 2013 8:30 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Univ. of Maryland Ventures announced agreements between Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore and five different life sciences companies across the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region. The companies include Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, Plasmonix, IGI Technologies, A&G Pharmaceuticals and BioAssay Works.

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.

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.

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.

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