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In fly DNA, the footprint of a fly virus

August 2, 2012 5:10 am | News | Comments

In a curious evolutionary twist, biologists from the University of Buffalo report, several species of a commonly studied fruit fly appear to have incorporated genetic material from a virus into their genomes. This discovery of virus-like genes in the DNA of a commonly studied fruit fly could enable research on whether animals hijack viral genes as an anti-viral defense.

Liquid-filled fiber optics boosts chemiluminescence research

August 1, 2012 4:34 am | News | Comments

Processing biological samples on a small substrate the size of a computer chip is becoming a common task for biotechnology applications. Given the small working area, however, probing samples on the substrate with light can be difficult. Researchers in Singapore have now developed an optical fiber system that is able to deliver light to microfluidic chips with high efficiency.

“Diving board” sensors engineered to detect DNA

July 30, 2012 4:04 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Drexel University are in the process of refining a sensor technology that they developed to measure samples at the cellular level. Constructed from a tiny vibrating piezoelectric cantilever, the sensor may become an accurate method for quickly detecting traces of DNA in liquid samples.


Wyss Institute aims to mimic whole human body with organ-on-chip

July 27, 2012 7:35 am | News | Comments

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University this week reported that it will receive up to $37 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop an automated instrument that integrates 10 human organs-on-chips to study complex human physiology outside the body. The aim is to simulate the entire body’s physiology.

The Olympics and bare feet: The debate continues

July 27, 2012 7:22 am | News | Comments

Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila made history when he earned a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. His speed and agility won him the gold, but it was barefoot running that made him a legend. Since then, experts have been split on whether running barefoot is beneficial. Recent research sheds light on why opinions have been so inconclusive.

No-Wait Medical Diagnostic Tool

July 27, 2012 6:52 am | Articles | Comments

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a lab-on-a-disk platform, SpinDx, that they believe will be faster, less expensive, and more versatile than current medical diagnostic tools.

Insights into protein folding may lead to better flu vaccine

July 26, 2012 3:36 am | by Krishna Ramanujan, Cornell University | News | Comments

A new method for looking at how proteins fold inside mammal cells is allowing researchers to take snapshots of the cell's protein-making machinery—called ribosomes—in various stages of protein production. The scientists can then piece together the snapshots to reconstruct how proteins fold during their synthesis. The findings could one day lead to better flu vaccines, the researchers say.

Scientists discover genetic changes caused by sun damage

July 19, 2012 9:07 am | News | Comments

Tumorous cancer cells are full of ultraviolet-induced genetic damage caused by sunlight exposure, but which mutations drive this cancer? By creating a method to spot the changes, scientists from several U.S. institutions have identified six genes responsible for mutations in melanoma, three of which of which are the result of damage inflicted by  light.


Diagnostic technique uses immune cell DNA

July 9, 2012 8:56 am | by David Orenstein, Brown University | News | Comments

By looking at signature chemical differences in the DNA of various immune cells called leukocytes, scientists have developed a way to determine their relative abundance in blood samples. The relative abundance turns out to correlate with specific cancers and other diseases, making the technique potentially valuable not only for research, but also for diagnostics and treatment monitoring.

What happens when we sunburn

July 9, 2012 6:53 am | News | Comments

According to a report from research on the effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the biological mechanism of sunburn—the reddish, painful, protective immune response from UV radiation—is a consequence of RNA damage to skin cells. The findings open the way to perhaps eventually blocking the inflammatory process, the scientists said, and have implications for a range of medical conditions and treatments.

Launch of organs-on-a-chip

July 6, 2012 8:45 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and their spin-off company Mimetas are set to soon launch their ’organs-on-a-chip’ product for drug development. These devices are composed of hundreds of micro-organs mimicked on a chip, with minuscule channels that serve as blood vessels.

Conscious perception is a matter of global neural networks

June 12, 2012 6:37 am | News | Comments

Identification of the parts of the brain are responsible for the things that reach our awareness is one of the main puzzles in neurobiology today. New findings from researchers in Europe using electrophysiological methods now support the view that the content of consciousness is not localized in a unique cortical area.

Living “microprocessor” is tuned in to its “data”

June 12, 2012 6:33 am | News | Comments

MicroRNAs start off as long strands of precursor genetic material, which get chopped by machinery called the “microprocessor” complex. When the pieces bind to messenger RNA, protein production is inhibited and protein regulation begins. But how does the microprocessor avoid cleaving the wrong type of RNA? Mathematical models may provide the answer.


A SMART(er) way to track influenza

June 11, 2012 4:36 am | News | Comments

Brown University researchers have created a reliable and fast flu-detection test that can be carried in a first-aid kit. The novel prototype device isolates influenza RNA using a combination of magnetics and microfluidics, then amplifies and detects probes bound to the RNA. The technology could lead to real-time tracking of influenza.

New imaging technique explains why concussions affect people differently

June 8, 2012 6:03 am | News | Comments

Using a recently developed MRI technique called diffusion tensor imaging, along with a new analytical software tool designed specifically for examining microstructures, researchers at Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center have found that concussion victims have unique spatial patterns of brain abnormalities that change over time.

Scientists hit major milestone in whole-brain circuit mapping project

June 1, 2012 8:12 am | News | Comments

Neuroscientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory this week publicly releasing the first installment out of 500 TB of data so far collected in their groundbreaking project to construct the first whole-brain wiring diagram of a vertebrate brain, that of the mouse.

Biochip-based device for cell analysis

May 30, 2012 6:21 am | News | Comments

Inexpensive, portable devices that can rapidly screen cells for leukemia or HIV may soon be possible thanks to a chip that can produce 3D focusing of a stream of cells, according to Pennsylvania State University researchers.

New TB test promises to be cheap, fast

May 22, 2012 9:42 am | News | Comments

Biomedical engineers at University of California, Davis have developed a microfluidic chip to test for latent tuberculosis. They hope the test will be cheaper, faster, and more reliable than current testing for the disease.

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.

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