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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are developing a medical instrument that will be able to quickly detect a suite of biothreat agents, including anthrax, ricin, botulinum, shiga, and SEB toxin. The device, once developed, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and commercialized, would most likely be used in emergency rooms in the event of a bioterrorism incident.
Current methods of detecting microRNA (miRNA) can be time consuming and costly: The custom equipment used in such tests costs more than $100,000, and the limited throughput of these systems further hinders progress. Two Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni are helping to rectify these issues through their fast-growing, Cambridge-headquartered startup, Firefly BioWorks Inc., which provides technology that allows for rapid miRNA detection in a large number of samples using standard laboratory equipment.
Almost all foodstuffs contain the genetic material of those animal and plant species that were used in their preparation. Scientists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz have developed a novel screening procedure that provides for highly sensitive, quantifiable analysis of animal, plant, and microbial substances present in foodstuffs. For this, the researchers have adapted the latest techniques of DNA sequencing.