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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.

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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.

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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.

Device can extract human DNA with full genetic data in minutes

May 6, 2013 1:15 pm | News | Comments

Take a swab of saliva from your mouth and within minutes your DNA could be ready for analysis and genome sequencing with the help of a new device. University of Washington engineers and NanoFacture, a Bellevue, Wash., company, have created a device that can extract human DNA from fluid samples in a simpler, more efficient, and environmentally friendly way than conventional methods.

Physical by smartphone becoming real possibility

May 2, 2013 3:35 am | by LAURAN NEERGAARD - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

It's not a "Star Trek" tricorder, but by hooking a variety of gadgets onto a smartphone you could almost get a complete physical—without the paper gown or even a visit to the doctor's office.  Blood pressure? Just plug the arm cuff into the phone for a quick reading. Heart okay? Put your fingers in the right spot, and the squiggly rhythm of an EKG appears on the phone's screen.

Tests on cancer cells shows them as “squishy”, yet tactically strong

April 29, 2013 8:06 am | News | Comments

To get a better understanding of metastasis, more than 95 graduate students, post docs and professors in a variety of laboratories across the U.S. subjected two cell lines to a battery of tests and measurements using more than 20 different techniques. The work has enabled a comprehensive cataloging and comparison of the physical characteristics of non-malignant and metastatic cells.

Study aims to understand how neurons represent the world

April 23, 2013 11:49 am | News | Comments

To understand the development of sensory representations within our brain, we have to comprehend how electrical activation is linked to the sensory experience. For this reason, researchers in Italy have analyzed the behavior and the activation of neural networks in rats while carrying out tactile object recognition tests. The study represents the first time that the activity of multiple neurons has been monitored.

Lost your keys? Your cat? The brain can rapidly mobilize a search party

April 22, 2013 9:46 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered that when we embark on a targeted search, various visual and non-visual regions of the brain mobilize to track down a person, animal, or thing. That means that if we're looking for a youngster lost in a crowd, the brain areas usually dedicated to recognizing other objects shift their focus and join the search party.

Bad decisions arise from faulty information, not faulty brain circuits

April 16, 2013 8:11 am | News | Comments

Making choices involves the evaluation of an accumulation of facts. If a wrong choice is made, Princeton University researchers have recently found, the problem may lie in the facts, or information, rather than the brain's decision-making process. The researchers report that erroneous decisions tend to arise from errors, or "noise," in the information coming into the brain.

Implanted 'bracelet' helps treat chronic heartburn

April 11, 2013 10:31 am | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A tiny magnetic bracelet implanted at the base of the throat is greatly improving life for some people with chronic heartburn who get limited relief from medicines. It's a novel way to treat severe acid reflux, which plagues millions of Americans and can raise their risk for more serious health problems.

Doctors use brain scans to “see” and measure pain

April 11, 2013 3:24 am | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer | News | Comments

In a provocative new study, scientists reported Wednesday that they were able to "see" pain on brain scans and, for the first time, measure its intensity and tell whether a drug was relieving it. Though the research is in its early stages, it opens the door to a host of possibilities. For example, scans might be used someday to tell when pain is hurting a baby, someone with dementia, or a paralyzed person unable to talk.

ORNL's awake imaging device moves diagnostics field forward

April 4, 2013 12:13 pm | News | Comments

A technology being developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory promises to provide clear images of the brains of children, the elderly, and people with Parkinson's and other diseases without the use of uncomfortable or intrusive restraints. Awake imaging provides motion compensation reconstruction, which removes blur caused by motion, allowing physicians to get a transparent picture of the functioning brain without anesthetics that can mask conditions and alter test results.

New system to improve DNA sequencing

April 3, 2013 9:11 am | News | Comments

A sensing system developed at the University of Cambridge is being commercialized in the U.K. for use in rapid, low-cost DNA sequencing, which would make the prediction and diagnosis of disease more efficient, and individualized treatment more affordable.

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