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Improving the accuracy of cancer diagnoses

December 26, 2012 8:41 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Tiny calcium deposits can be a telltale sign of breast cancer. However, in the majority of cases these microcalcifications signal a benign condition. A new diagnostic procedure developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Case Western Reserve University could help doctors more accurately distinguish between cancerous and noncancerous cases.

Glowing fish shed light on metabolism

December 3, 2012 11:48 am | News | Comments

Emerging from a panel of 2,400 medications and drug-like compounds tested in a tiny zebrafish, a compound has been pinpointed by researchers who say it regulates whole-body metabolism and appears to protect obese mice from signs of metabolic disorders. The discovery may help drug discovery efforts to help help the rising population of Americans adults at risk for diabetes and other metabolic disorders.

Scanning innovation may improve personalized medicine

November 28, 2012 12:07 pm | News | Comments

New combinations of medical imaging technologies hold promise for improved early disease screening, cancer staging, therapeutic assessment, and other aspects of personalized medicine, according to a new Virginia Tech report. The integration of multiple major tomographic scanners into a single framework involves the fusion of many imaging modalities known as "omni-tomography”.


White smell: Scientists find odor has color

November 26, 2012 4:49 pm | News | Comments

You can see the color white; you can hear white noise. Now, researchers have shown that you can also smell a white odor. To be perceived as white, a stimulus (like light or sound) must meet two conditions: The mix that produces them must span the range of our perception; and each component must be present at the exact same intensity. Neuroscientists have reproduced these conditions for scent.

Tooth “tattoo” sensor may help dentists assess patients' oral health

November 9, 2012 8:58 am | by David Levin, Tufts University | News | Comments

A sensor invented by Tufts University bioengineers, when attached temporarily to a tooth, could one day help dentists fine-tune treatments for patients with chronic periodontitis, for example, or even provide a window on a patient’s overall health. The thin foil-like sensor is built from gold, silk, and graphite, has a built-in antenna to receive power and signals, and is applied directly to a tooth.

Portable device enables quick RNA detection

November 8, 2012 10:29 am | News | Comments

A new power-free microfluidic chip developed by researchers at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute enables detection of microRNA from extremely small sample volume in only 20 minutes. By drastically reducing the time and quantity of sample required for detection, the chip lays the groundwork for early-stage point-of-care diagnosis of diseases.

Children’s hospital, Silicon Valley to market medical research software

October 31, 2012 10:18 pm | News | Comments

The latest significant biomedical informatics technology is not coming from the biotech industry or a university. In fact, it’s coming from a children’s hospital. Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and Transformatix Technologies, Inc., in Davis, California, have partnered to create BioLinQ, a new biomedical informatics company designed to supply advanced software solutions for disease diagnosis and medical research.

Prototype ultra sensitive disease sensor developed

October 29, 2012 11:00 am | News | Comments

Scientists in the U.K. have built a sensor that would enable doctors to detect the early stages of diseases and viruses with the naked eye. The sensor works by analyzing serum, derived from blood. If the result is positive, a reaction that generates irregular clumps of nanoparticles gives off a distinctive blue hue in a solution inside the container. If the results are negative the nanoparticles separate into ball-like shapes, creating a reddish hue.


Measuring molecules with the naked eye

October 26, 2012 1:36 pm | News | Comments

When someone develops liver cancer, the disease introduces a very subtle difference to their bloodstream, increasing the concentration of a particular molecule by just 10 parts per billion. That small shift is normally difficult to detect without sophisticated equipment, but new lab-on-a-chip technology designed at Brigham Young University can reveal the presence of ultra-low concentrations of a target molecule.

Study questions feasibility of entire genome sequencing in minutes

October 17, 2012 12:04 pm | News | Comments

The claim that nanopore technology is on the verge of making DNA analysis so fast and cheap that a person's entire genome could be sequenced at low cost in just minutes has produced intense interest. But a review by Northeastern University physicist Meni Wanunu questions whether the remaining technical hurdles can be overcome to create a workable, easily produced commercial device.

An affordable way to generate medical isotopes

October 15, 2012 11:49 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have developed a safe and affordable way to ensure a reliable U.S. supply of certain medical isotopes. Although the invention is at a conceptual stage, it has the potential to provide critical medical diagnostic material for small regional hospitals.

Bacterial life, filmed in multicolor

October 11, 2012 9:11 am | News | Comments

An international team of scientists has discovered a new method for coloring the cell wall of bacterial cells to determine how they grow. Multicolored probes target cell wall synthesis, labeling them with nontoxic dyes. The technique provides a new, much-needed tool for the development of new antibiotics.

Researchers create a universal map of vision in the human brain

October 4, 2012 9:52 am | News | Comments

Nearly 100 years after a British neurologist first mapped the blind spots caused by missile wounds to the brains of soldiers, University of Pennsylvania scientists have perfected his map using modern-day technology. Their results create a map of vision in the brain based upon an individual's brain structure, even for people who cannot see. Their result could, among other things, guide efforts to restore vision using a neural prosthesis that stimulates the surface of the brain.


Sticky paper offers cheap, easy solution for paper-based diagnostics

October 3, 2012 7:00 am | by Hannah Hickey | News | Comments

A University of Washington bioengineer has recently developed a way to make regular paper stick to medically interesting molecules. The work produced a chemical trick to make paper-based diagnostics using plain paper, the kind found at office supply stores around the world.

Acoustic cell-sorting chip may lead to cell phone-sized laboratories

October 3, 2012 4:32 am | News | Comments

According to a team of Penn State University researchers, a technique that uses acoustic waves to sort cells on a chip may create miniature medical analytic devices that could make Star Trek's tricorder seem a bit bulky in comparison. The device uses two beams of acoustic—or sound—waves to act as acoustic tweezers and sort a continuous flow of cells on a dime-sized chip.

New 3D medical scanner to aid doctors on the diagnostic “front lines”

October 2, 2012 8:58 am | News | Comments

In the operating room, surgeons can see inside the human body in real time using advanced imaging techniques, but primary care physicians haven't commonly had access to the same technology. Engineers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have recently created a new imaging tool for them: a handheld scanner that would enable them to image all the sites they commonly examine, such as bacterial colonies in the middle ear in 3D, or the thickness and health of patients' retinas.

Bioengineers design rapid diagnostic tests inspired by nature

September 28, 2012 7:12 am | News | Comments

By mimicking nature's own sensing mechanisms, bioengineers have designed inexpensive medical diagnostic tests that take only a few minutes to perform. The rapid and easy-to-use diagnostic test consists of a nanometer-scale DNA "switch" that can quickly detect antibodies specific to a wide range of diseases.

Microfluidic device measures 768 biomolecular interactions at once

September 25, 2012 7:49 am | News | Comments

As part of his doctoral research at the California Institute of Technology, Sebastian Maerkl designed a device that he named “MITOMI”—a small device containing hundreds of microfluidic channels equipped with pneumatic valves. Now with EPFL’s Bioengineering Institute in Switzerland, Maerkl has developed the new k-MITOMI, which is smaller than a domino but can simultaneously measure hundreds of biomolecular interactions.

Oscillating microscopic beads could be key to biolab on a chip

September 25, 2012 4:45 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

If you throw a ball underwater, you'll find that the smaller it is, the faster it moves: A larger cross-section greatly increases the water's resistance. Now, a team of researchers has figured out a way to use this basic principle, on a microscopic scale, to carry out biomedical tests that could eventually lead to fast, compact, and versatile medical testing devices.

Nanoparticles detect biochemistry of inflammation

September 19, 2012 8:58 am | News | Comments

Reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as hydrogen peroxide, are produced by a chemical balance disturbance, such as inflammation, within a tissue. Because these ROS are indicators of many diseases, a non-invasive detection method would be very useful. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed the first degradable polymer that is extremely sensitive to low but biologically relevant concentrations of hydrogen peroxide.

Chemists develop nose-like sensor array to “smell” cancer diagnoses

September 13, 2012 12:36 pm | News | Comments

In a pre-clinical non-small-cell lung cancer metastasis model in mice, a research team at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst uses a sensor array system of gold nanoparticles and proteins to “smell” different cancer types in much the same way our noses identify and remember different odors.

Scientists discover how an out-of-tune protein leads to heart muscle failure

September 13, 2012 4:25 am | News | Comments

Troponin I, found exclusively in heart muscle, is already used as the gold-standard marker in blood tests to diagnose heart attacks, but the new findings by Johns Hopkins University researchers reveal why and how the same protein is also altered in heart muscle malfunctions that lead to heart failure. Scientists have known of “out-of-tune” proteins for a while, but the precise origin had remained unclear.

Low-cost biosensor to detect contaminated water in developing nations

September 6, 2012 9:09 am | News | Comments

An interdisciplinary team of nine Arizona State University students participating in the 2012 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition have embarked on a campaign to help reduce the 1.5 million global deaths of children each year caused by diarrheal disease. The goal is an inexpensive biosensor that detects contaminated water quickly. But the challenge is which biosensor design to pursue.

Measuring glucose without needle pricks

September 4, 2012 10:02 am | News | Comments

The frequency at which droplets emerge is controlled by an acoustic trigger, which can be tuned so that each droplet containing a protein or virus meets an

Clinical trials get efficiency boost from virtual reality

August 31, 2012 6:45 am | News | Comments

Time-consuming, expensive, and often intrusive, clinical trials are nevertheless a necessity. Researchers at the University of Tennessee Space Institute in Tullahoma have developed an invention that makes clinical trials more efficient. Called "digital Eye Bank," the computer software eye modeling program can take data from eyes of patients' and build it into models from the commercial optics program to be used for researchers' virtual clinical trials.

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