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The Lead

Bacteria swim with bodies and flagella

July 22, 2014 8:43 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

When it comes to swimming, the bodies of some bacteria are more than just dead weight, according to new research from Brown Univ. Many bacteria swim using flagella, corkscrew-like appendages that push or pull bacterial cells like tiny propellers. It's long been assumed that the flagella do all the work during swimming, while the rest of the cell body is just along for the ride.

Reconstructing an animal’s development cell by cell

July 21, 2014 9:36 am | News | Comments

Janelia Research Campus experts have built a new...

Self-assembling nanoparticle could improve MRI cancer scanning

July 16, 2014 8:44 am | News | Comments

Scientists have designed a new self-assembling...

Removing parts of shape-shifting protein explains how blood clots

July 15, 2014 1:54 pm | News | Comments

Prothrombin is an inactive precursor for thrombin...

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Flower development in 3-D: Timing is the key

July 14, 2014 11:48 am | News | Comments

Developmental processes in all living organisms are controlled by genes. At the same time there is a continuous metabolism taking place. Recent research in Austria has analyzed this interaction in flowering plants. For the first time, changes in metabolism were linked to 3-D morphometric data using micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) for the first time.

Unprecedented detail of intact neuronal receptor offers blueprint for drug developers

July 9, 2014 8:23 am | by Tona Kunz, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists succeeded in obtaining an unprecedented view of a type of brain cell receptor that is implicated in a range of neurological illnesses. The team of biologists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory used the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory to get an atomic-level picture of the intact NMDA (N-methyl, D-aspartate) receptor should serve as template and guide for the design of therapeutic compounds.

MIT finger device reads to the blind in real time

July 8, 2014 10:30 am | by Rodrique Ngowi, Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing an audio reading device to be worn on the index finger of people whose vision is impaired, giving them affordable and immediate access to printed words. The so-called FingerReader, a prototype produced by a 3-D printer, fits like a ring on the user's finger, and is equipped with a small camera that scans text.

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“Nanojuice” could improve how doctors examine the gut

July 7, 2014 8:05 am | by Cory Nealon, Univ. at Buffalo | News | Comments

Located deep in the human gut, the small intestine is not easy to examine: X-rays, MRIs and ultrasound images each suffer limitations. Univ. at Buffalo researchers are developing a new imaging technique involving nanoparticles suspended in liquid to form “nanojuice” that patients would drink. Upon reaching the small intestine, doctors would strike the nanoparticles with laser light, providing a non-invasive, real-time view of the organ.

Non-invasive advanced image analysis could lead to better patient care

July 2, 2014 3:40 pm | News | Comments

Obtaining evidence of genetic changes to make a cancer diagnosis usually requires a biopsy, which can be problematic for sensitive regions of the body such as the lungs. Based on recent review of patients with lung cancer, researchers have found that scanning the tumor cells with quantitative computed tomography based texture analysis (QTA) determines (with 90% accuracy) whether the patient's tumor had a cancer-causing gene mutation.

Fluorescent molecular rotors could help find anti-cancer drugs

July 2, 2014 12:13 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have already used molecular rotors as viscosity sensor probes in live cells, but a recent study in Singapore is the first to report on the use of fluorescent molecular rotors to study critical protein interactions.

Cellular team players

July 1, 2014 9:41 am | News | Comments

Many enzymes work only with a co-trainer, of sorts. Scientists in Germany have shown what this kind of cooperation looks like in detail using a novel methodology applied to the heat shock protein Hsp90, which controls the proper folding of other proteins. Together with a second molecule, the co-chaperone P23, it splits the energy source ATP to yield the energy it needs to do its work.

New light-sensitive protein enables simpler, more powerful optogenetics

June 30, 2014 9:14 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT | News | Comments

Optogenetics relies on light-sensitive proteins that can suppress or stimulate electrical signals within cells. This technique requires a light source to be implanted in the brain, where it can reach the cells to be controlled. Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have now developed the first light-sensitive molecule that enables neurons to be silenced noninvasively, using a light source outside the skull.

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3-D mammogram scans may find more breast cancer

June 24, 2014 5:22 pm | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

3-D mammograms may be better at finding cancer than regular scans, a large study suggests, although whether that means saving more lives isn't known. The study involved almost half a million breast scans, with more than one-third of them using relatively new 3-D imaging along with conventional scans. The rest used regular mammograms alone.

Delivering drugs on cue

June 24, 2014 7:43 am | News | Comments

Current drug delivery systems used to administer chemotherapy to cancer patients typically release a constant dose of the drug over time, but a new study challenges this "slow and steady" approach and offers a novel way to locally deliver the drugs "on demand," as reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists use x-rays to look at how DNA protects itself from UV light

June 23, 2014 2:51 pm | News | Comments

The molecular building blocks that make up DNA absorb ultraviolet light so strongly that sunlight should deactivate them, yet it does not. Now, scientists at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have made detailed observations of a “relaxation response” that protects these molecules, and the genetic information they encode, from UV damage.

Nanoscale composites improve MRI

June 16, 2014 7:31 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Submicroscopic particles that contain even smaller particles of iron oxide could make magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) a far more powerful tool to detect and fight disease. Scientists at Rice Uni. led an international team of researchers in creating composite particles that can be injected into patients and guided by magnetic fields.

Sixteen nanometers in 3-D

June 11, 2014 3:27 pm | by Paul Piwnicki, Paul Scherrer Institute | News | Comments

Tomography enables the interior of a vast range of objects to be depicted in 3-D. Until now, relevant details on a scale of a few nanometers were only visible with tomography methods that required very thin samples. With the aid of a special prototype light source in Switzerland, researchers have now achieved a 3-D resolution of 16 nm on a nanoporous glass test sample, a feat that is unmatched for x-ray tomography.  

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Improvements in image-detection applications on the horizon

June 11, 2014 7:56 am | by Mike Janes, Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories, along with collaborators from Rice Univ. and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, are developing new terahertz detectors based on carbon nanotubes that could lead to significant improvements in medical imaging, airport passenger screening, food inspection and other applications.

New molecule enables quick drug monitoring

June 9, 2014 10:07 am | Videos | Comments

Scientists in Switzerland have invented a molecule that can easily and quickly show how much drug is in a patient’s system. All that is needed to perform accurate measurements is a conventional digital camera. The result of innovative protein engineering and organic chemistry, the molecule has been shown to work on a range of common drugs for cancer, epilepsy and immunosuppression.

Short nanotubes target pancreatic cancer

June 6, 2014 10:45 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Short, customized carbon nanotubes have the potential to deliver drugs to pancreatic cancer cells and destroy them from within, according to researchers at Rice Univ. and the Univ. of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Pristine nanotubes produced through a new process developed at Rice can be modified to carry drugs to tumors through gaps in blood-vessel walls that larger particles cannot fit through.

Style Meets Substance

June 4, 2014 2:45 pm | by Paul Livingstone | Articles | Comments

The electron microscopy market is dominated by the scanning electron microscope (SEM), which is widely used in both materials and biological analysis as one of the few ways to reliably image spatial features in the nanoscale realm. As the user base for SEMs expands, even specialized varieties of electron microscopes are undergoing substantial technical transformations.

Lasers and night-vision technology help improve imaging of hidden lymphatic system

June 3, 2014 11:14 am | News | Comments

The human lymphatic system is a poorly understood circulatory system consisting of tiny vessels spread throughout the body. These vessels are filled with lymph, a clear liquid that lacks the natural contrast needed to show up on CT scanners or MRIs. A new technology developed in Texas can non-invasively image the human lymphatic system using a fluorescent dye, commercial laser dioded, and military-grade night vision devices.

Scientists control rapid rewiring of brain circuits using patterned visual stimulation

May 29, 2014 11:33 am | News | Comments

In a new study, researchers show for the first time how the brain rewires and fine-tunes its connections differently depending on the relative timing of sensory stimuli. This marks the first time that direct, real-time evidence from watching brain cells in an intact animal has been used to support a 65-year-old model of how nerve circuits refine their connectivity.

Researchers introduce precision-guided epidurals, better blood monitors

May 27, 2014 3:19 pm | News | Comments

Scientists have recently combined optical coherence tomography (OCT) with other instruments to help doctors provide safer, less painful, and more effective care for women in labor and people with diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Their work, to be showcased at CLEO in San Jose, Calif., in June 2014, will enable precision-guided epidural needles and blood flow measurements without contrast agents.

X-ray dark-field radiography provides detailed imaging of lung diseases

May 27, 2014 12:17 pm | News | Comments

Conventional radiographic procedures generate images based on the absorption of x-rays as they pass through tissue. Newly developed x-ray dark-field radiography uses new technology to monitor wave changes during tissue transmission to create higher resolution images. Researchers in Germany have recently tested this technique for the first time on a living organism and report that the method shows promise in detecting diseases earlier.

New “wireless” nanotechnology to help study neurons

May 23, 2014 9:28 am | by Jim Fessenden, Univ. of Massachusetts | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Massachusetts will lead an international team of scientists in the development and implementation of a new optogenetic platform that can remotely activate neurons inside a free-moving organism. Using a new class of nanoparticles they propose to selectively turn on non-image forming photoreceptors inside mice and Drosophila, unencumbered by the fiber optic wires currently used in optogenetic technologies.

Chip produces, detects specialized gas for biomedical analysis

May 23, 2014 8:27 am | News | Comments

A chip-scale device that both produces and detects a specialized gas used in biomedical analysis and medical imaging has been built and demonstrated at NIST. Described in Nature Communications, the new microfluidic chip produces polarized (or magnetized) xenon gas and then detects even the faintest magnetic signals from the gas.

How the anticancer drug Taxol works

May 23, 2014 8:08 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A pathway to the design of even more effective versions of the powerful anticancer drug Taxol has been opened with the most detailed look ever at the assembly and disassembly of microtubules, tiny fibers of tubulin protein that form the cytoskeletons of living cells and play a crucial role in mitosis.

Study finds crowding has big effects on biomolecules

May 22, 2014 1:58 pm | News | Comments

Crowding has notoriously negative effects at large size scales, blamed for everything from human disease and depression to community resource shortages. But relatively little is known about the influence of crowding at the cellular level. A new JILA study shows that a crowded environment has dramatic effects on individual biomolecules.

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