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Unravelling the effects of acid in the brain

May 21, 2012 7:58 am | News | Comments

University of Iowa neuroscientist John Wemmie is interested in the effect of acid in the brain. His studies using new magnetic resonance imaging techniques suggest that increased acidity or low pH, in the brain is linked to panic disorders, anxiety, and depression. But his work also suggests that changes in acidity are important for normal brain activity too.

Ultrasensitive biosensor promising for medical diagnostics

May 15, 2012 8:16 am | News | Comments

Researchers have created an ultrasensitive biosensor that could open up new opportunities for early detection of cancer and "personalized medicine" tailored to the specific biochemistry of individual patients. The device, which could be several hundred times more sensitive than other biosensors, combines the attributes of two distinctly different types of sensors.

Neurotransmission is controlled by a single protein

May 15, 2012 4:46 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College have discovered that the single protein, alpha 2 delta, exerts a spigot-like function that controls the volume of neurotransmitters and other chemicals that flow between the synapses of brain neurons. The surprising finding tells us not only how brain cells communicate, but also how a certain pain drug works.


Portable diagnostics designed to be shaken, not stirred

May 9, 2012 8:11 am | News | Comments

As medical researchers and engineers try to shrink diagnostics to fit in a person's pocket, one question is how to easily move and mix small samples of liquid. University of Washington researchers have built and patented a surface that, when shaken, moves drops along certain paths to conduct medical or environmental tests.

Researchers discover oldest known blood

May 8, 2012 11:42 am | News | Comments

His DNA had been decoded; samples from his stomach and intestines have allowed us to reconstruct his very last meal. The circumstances of his violent death appear to have been explained. However, what had, until now, eluded scientists was identifying any traces of blood in Ötzi, the 5,000 year old glacier mummy.

Lasers, sound merge to screen for breast cancer without X-rays

May 7, 2012 1:47 pm | News | Comments

As valuable as X-ray mammography is, it has certain drawbacks, such as exposure to ionizing radiation and the potential for false results. In the first phase of clinical testing is a new imaging device built around the principle of photoacoustics, or light-induced sound, that can detect and visualize breast tumors with a high degree of targetting accuracy.

Breathalyzer reveals signs of disease

May 7, 2012 4:29 am | by Miles O'Brien and Jon Baime, Science Nation | News | Comments

One exhale and a new device from researchers at Stony Brook University in New York could screen for anything from diabetes to lung cancer. Based on a sensor chip built from electrospun nanowires that can detect minute amounts of chemical compounds, the device has yet to reach clinical trials. But its inventors anticipate the device to someday cost only $20.

Key mechanism in DNA repair discovered

May 3, 2012 11:41 am | News | Comments

When the DNA double helix breaks, the broken end goes searching for the similar sequence and uses that as a template for repair. Using a new dual-molecule technique, a research group in the Netherlands has found out how the DNA molecule is able to perform this search and recognition process in such an efficient way.


Government to speed tracking of E. coli in meat

May 3, 2012 9:02 am | by Sam Hananel, Associated Press | News | Comments

A new Agriculture Department program will begin tracing the source of potentially contaminated ground beef as soon as there is an initial positive test. Current procedures require USDA officials to wait until additional testing confirms E. coli before starting their investigation. Under the new process, the source could be traced 24 to 48 hours sooner.

Researchers use online crowd-sourcing to diagnose malaria

May 3, 2012 6:28 am | News | Comments

Online crowd-sourcing—in which a task is presented to the public, who respond, for free, with various solutions and suggestions—has been used to evaluate potential consumer products, develop software algorithms, and solve vexing research and development challenges. But diagnosing infectious diseases?

Test strip rapidly finds bacterial contamination in swimming water

May 1, 2012 11:33 am | News | Comments

Researchers at McMaster University have developed a rapid testing method using a simple paper strip that can detect E. coli in recreational water within minutes. The new tool can close the gap between outbreak and detection, improving public safety.

New form of spectroscopy tracks differentiating cells in real time

May 1, 2012 6:40 am | by Paul Preuss | News | Comments

With the development of synchrotron infrared spectroscopy, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have observed, in real time the process of protein phosphorylation—a chemical interaction that controls everything from cell proliferation to differentiation to metabolism—in living cells stimulated by nerve growth factor.

Specific enzyme could slow aging in astronauts, elderly

April 30, 2012 9:08 am | News | Comments

New research suggests that the 5-lipoxygenase enzyme plays an important role in the microgravity-induced cell death that affects astronauts’ immune systems. Forced inhibition of this enzyme’s activity could help astronauts and also lead to therapeutics for the elderly.


Fighting disease with a cell phone

April 27, 2012 12:38 pm | News | Comments

A newly developed cell phone-based platform lets health workers accurately read diagnostic tests in the field and chart the spread of diseases worldwide.

Magnetoelectric sensors designed for medical measurement

April 26, 2012 6:33 am | News | Comments

Until the development of a new nanomaterial-based sensor in Germany, the brain’s magnetic field was measurable only under technical laboratory conditions. This prevented the technology’s use in medical applications. The new sensors, however, operate at normal conditions. Neither cooling nor external magnetic bias fields are required.

New X-ray bionanoprobe enables study of cryogenically preserved samples

April 25, 2012 4:23 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Northwestern University's Department of Radiation Oncology and Argonne National Laboratory recently deployed a new non-destructive X-ray microscopy solution from Xradia to image cryogenically preserved cells and advance studies of intra-cellular biology.

Scientists head to Mount Everest for research

April 22, 2012 1:58 pm | by Binaj Gurubacharya, Associated Press | News | Comments

Mount Everest has attracted climbers and adventurers for nearly 100 years. Now, a team of U.S. scientists have set up a laboratory at the base of the world’s highest mountain to study the effects of high altitude on humans. A team from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota says it plans to monitor nine climbers attempting to scale Everest to learn more about the physiology of humans at high altitudes in order to help patients with heart conditions and other ailments.

Babalung gets babies breathing again

April 17, 2012 7:52 am | News | Comments

Nearly half of the 12 million babies born prematurely in developing countries experience episodes of apnea, a sudden stoppage of breathing. Working from that knowledge, five bioengineering students from Rice University created the Babalung Apnea Monitor, which can restart a baby's breathing and raises a flag if it can't.

Ultrasensitive biosensor holds potential for instant diagnostics

April 17, 2012 5:20 am | News | Comments

A new quantum mechanical-based biosensor designed by a team at University of California, Santa Barbara offers potential for detecting biomolecules at ultra-low concentrations. The research team’s technology beats the fundamental limits of a conventional field-effect transistor (FET) designing a Tunnel-FET sensor that is faster and four orders of magnitude more sensitive.

Medical device power—without the cord

April 11, 2012 11:18 am | News | Comments

Technological advances have produced implantable, electronic solutions for dosing and therapeutic functions in humans. However, these medical devices use probes, actuators, and electronic controls that need power. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies have recently succeeded in wirelessly transmitting power from a portable transmitter module to a receiver, offering the possibility of wirelessly-powered medical devices.

Green light: New method directly IDs antigens

April 10, 2012 2:14 pm | News | Comments

Using genetic engineering techniques, researchers in Germany have generated cells that emit green fluorescent light when stimulated by the binding of a cognate antigen. Previously antigens, which induce destructive immune responses, could not be identified directly without some prior knowledge of their structure.

Gene mapping for everyone? Study says not so fast

April 2, 2012 3:46 pm | by Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press | News | Comments

Today, scientists map entire genomes mostly for research, but as genome mapping gets faster and cheaper, scientists and consumers have wondered about possible broader use: Would finding all the glitches hidden in your DNA predict which diseases you'll face decades later? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, say experts.

Moving microfluidics from the lab bench to the factory floor

March 29, 2012 4:56 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Microfluidic devices have the potential to be fast, cheap, and portable diagnostic tools. But for the most part, the technology hasn't yet made it to the marketplace. While scientists have made successful prototypes in the laboratory, microfluidic devices—particularly for clinical use—have yet to be manufactured on a wider scale. However, Massachusetts Institute of Technology's David Hardt is working to move microfluidics from the laboratory to the factory.

Researchers show that memories reside in specific brain cells

March 22, 2012 1:28 pm | by Cathryn Delude, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory | News | Comments

Our memories leave traces that we may conjure up in remembrance, accompanied by time, place, and sensations. These memory “engrams” are more than just conceptual. Recent optogenetics studies have shown that memories really do reside in very specific brain cells, and simply activating a tiny number of neurons can conjure an entire memory.

Why the world in our head stays still when we move our eyes

March 22, 2012 1:12 pm | News | Comments

With the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging scientists in Germany have identified two areas of the brain that compare the movements of the eye with the visual movements cast onto the retina so as to correctly perceive objects in motion. Without this ability the brain would not be able to distinguish what is in motion: the world or us.

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