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New technique tracks proteins in single HIV particle

May 5, 2014 9:10 am | News | Comments

An interdisciplinary team of scientists in Belgium has developed a new technique to examine how proteins interact with each other at the level of a single HIV viral particle. The technique allows scientists to study the life-threatening virus in detail and makes screening potential anti-HIV drugs quicker and more efficient. The technique can also be used to study other diseases.

Delving deep into the brain

May 2, 2014 8:03 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Launched in 2013, the national BRAIN Initiative aims to revolutionize our understanding of cognition by mapping the activity of every neuron in the human brain, revealing how brain circuits interact to create memories, learn new skills and interpret the world around us. Before that can happen, neuroscientists need new tools that will let them probe the brain more deeply and in greater detail.

Fluorescent-based tool reveals how medical nanoparticles biodegrade in real time

April 29, 2014 8:05 am | News | Comments

Medical nanoparticles need to be eventually eliminated from the body after they complete their task. Researchers have developed a new method to analyze and characterize this process of nanoparticle “disassembly”, as a necessary step in translating nanoparticles into clinical use. The technique involves the use of Förster resonance energy transfer, or FRET, as a sort of molecular ruler to measure distance at small scales.

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Resolving the structure of a single biological molecule

April 28, 2014 12:48 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in the U.K. have applied “soft-touch” atomic force microscopy to large, irregularly arranged and individual DNA molecules. In this form of microscopy, a miniature probe is used to feel the surface of the molecules one by one, rather than seeing them. In this way they have determined the structure of DNA from measurements on a single molecule, and found that the structure is more irregular than previously thought.

New ultrasound device may add in detecting risk for heart attack, stroke

April 24, 2014 8:16 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have developed an ultrasound device that could help identify arterial plaque that is at high risk of breaking off and causing heart attack or stroke. At issue is the plaque that builds up in arteries as we age. Some types of plaque are deemed “vulnerable,” meaning that they are more likely to detach from the artery wall and cause heart attack or stroke.

Tracking oxygen in the body

April 22, 2014 7:34 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells thrive when deprived of oxygen. Tumors in low-oxygen environments tend to be more resistant to therapy and spread more aggressively to other parts of the body. Measuring tumors’ oxygen levels could help doctors make decisions about treatments, but there’s currently no way to make such measurements. However, a new sensor developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology could change that.

MRI, on a molecular scale

April 21, 2014 8:51 am | by Peter Reuell, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

A team of scientists, led by physicist Amir Yacoby of Harvard Univ., has developed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system that can produce nanoscale images, and may one day allow researchers to peer into the atomic structure of individual molecules. Though not yet precise enough to capture atomic-scale images of a single molecule, the system already has been used to capture images of single electron spins.

Characterizing Liposomes for Drug Delivery

April 15, 2014 9:38 am | by Pauline Carnell, Senior Application Scientist and Mike Kaszuba, Technical Support Manager, Malvern Instruments, Malvern, U.K | Articles | Comments

When considering potential drug delivery vehicles, liposomes are an important option and have already been approved for use with a number of therapeutic formulations. Liposomes are comprised of phospholipids and may be single- or multi-layered, can be produced in different sizes and have a hydrophilic interior and hydrophobic shell. They are biodegradable, non-toxic and capable of encapsulating both hydrophilic and hydrophobic materials.

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Technique uses astronomy, opthalmology to sharpen microscope images

April 14, 2014 11:33 am | News | Comments

Biological samples bend light in unpredictable ways, returning difficult-to-interpret information to the microscope. Using a form of adaptive optics, Janelia Farm Research Campus scientists have developed a microscopy technique that can rapidly correct for distortions and sharpen high-resolution images over large volumes of tissue.

How the brain pays attention

April 11, 2014 7:43 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Picking out a face in the crowd is a complicated task: Your brain has to retrieve the memory of the face you’re seeking, then hold it in place while scanning the crowd, paying special attention to finding a match. A new study reveals how the brain achieves this type of focused attention on faces or other objects.

New technology unwraps mummies' ancient mysteries

April 10, 2014 8:58 am | by Jill Lawless, Associated Press | News | Comments

Our fascination with mummies never gets old. Now the British Museum is using the latest technology to unwrap their ancient mysteries. Scientists at the museum have used CT scans and sophisticated imaging software to go beneath the bandages, revealing skin, bones, preserved internal organs, and in one case a brain-scooping rod left inside a skull by embalmers. The findings go on display next month in an exhibition.

Researchers develop new tool to check cells’ “batteries”

April 8, 2014 9:23 am | by Josh Barney, Univ. of Virginia Health System | News | Comments

Under the microscope, they glow like streetlights, forming tidy rows that follow the striations of muscle tissue. They are mitochondria—the powerhouses of cells—and researchers at the Univ. of Virginia School of Medicine have created a method to illuminate and understand them in living creatures like never before.

Chemists settle debate about conversion of light

April 3, 2014 1:54 pm | News | Comments

Chemists have settled the debate about a fundamental question that is relevant to the conversion of one color into another and demonstrated how to influence the efficiency of this process by changing the refractive index around the material.  

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Last drinks: Brain’s mechanism knows when to stop

March 26, 2014 1:05 pm | News | Comments

A new brain imaging study in Australia found a “stop mechanism” that determined brain signals telling the individual to stop drinking water when no longer thirsty. The study, which used magnetic resonance imaging, also gauged the brain effects of drinking more water than required.

New method automatically tracks biological particles in live cell microscopy images

March 25, 2014 12:58 pm | News | Comments

In order to track the movements of biological particles in a cell, scientists at Heidelberg Univ. and the German Cancer Research Center have developed a powerful analysis method for live cell microscopy images. This so-called probabilistic particle tracking method is automatic, computer-based and can be used for time-resolved 2-D and 3-D microscopy image data.

Researchers reconstruct facial images locked in a viewer’s mind

March 25, 2014 9:04 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Using only data from an fMRI scan, researchers led by a Yale Univ. undergraduate have accurately reconstructed images of human faces as viewed by other people. The increased level of sophistication of fMRI scans has already enabled scientists to use data from brain scans taken as individuals view scenes and predict whether a subject was, for instance, viewing a beach or city scene, an animal or a building.

MRI reveals genetic activity

March 25, 2014 7:57 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Doctors commonly use MRI to diagnose tumors, damage from stroke and many other medical conditions. Neuroscientists also rely on it as a research tool for identifying parts of the brain that carry out different cognitive functions. Now, a team of biological engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology is trying to adapt MRI to a much smaller scale.

Cells get ready for their close-up

March 21, 2014 7:45 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In 2007, Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists developed a type of microscopy that allowed them to detail the interior of a living cell in 3-D, without adding any fluorescent markers or other labels. This technique also revealed key properties, such as the cells’ density. Now the researchers have adapted that method so they can image cells as they flow through a tiny microfluidic channel.

Giant macrophages discovered in blood of cancer patients

March 20, 2014 11:44 am | News | Comments

When cancers become advanced, tumor cells from the primary tumor can enter the bloodstream and cause metastasis at another organ with deadly effect. While researching the biological implications of CTC spread, Creatv MicroTech researchers found a group of previously unreported cells associated with primary cancer spread. These macrophage-like cells could serve as biomarkers.

Tension triggers muscle building

March 18, 2014 7:56 am | News | Comments

Skeletal muscles are built from small contractile units, the sarcomeres. Many of these sarcomeres are connected in a well-ordered series to form myofibrils that span from one muscle end to the other. Scientists recently identified a key mechanism how this basic muscle architecture is built during development.

Nasty nanoinjectors pose a new target for antibiotic research

March 14, 2014 12:03 pm | News | Comments

If you’ve ever suffered the misery of food poisoning from a bacterium like Salmonella, then your cells have been on the receiving end of “nanoinjectors”, microscopic spikes made from proteins through which pathogens secrete effector proteins into human host cells, causing infection. Researchers are using advanced nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry to unlock the structure of these injector, which are built from 20 different proteins.

Nanoscale freezing leads to better imaging

February 26, 2014 4:40 pm | by Justin H.S. Breaux | News | Comments

For scientists to determine if a cell is functioning properly, they often must destroy it with ionizing radiation, which is used in x-ray fluorescence microscopy to provide detail that conventional microscopes can’t match. To address this, Argonne National Laboratory researchers created the R&D 100 Award-winning Bionanoprobe, which freezes cells to “see” at greater detail without damaging the sample.

Safer Drug Delivery to the Brain

February 25, 2014 1:23 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Delivering drugs into the brain to treat neurological diseases and disorders has been a challenge. The current best and easiest way to get drugs anywhere in the body is to take them orally or to administer them intravenously. But the challenges for these routes of drug delivery for targets in the brain are multiple.

Researchers use light to quickly, easily measure blood clotting

February 24, 2014 10:38 am | News | Comments

Defective blood coagulation is one of the leading causes of preventable death in patients who have suffered trauma or undergone surgery. To provide caregivers with timely information about the clotting properties of a patient’s blood, researchers have developed an optical device that requires only a few drops of blood and a few minutes to measure the key coagulation parameters that can guide medical decisions.

Study reveals workings of working memory

February 20, 2014 8:31 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Keep this in mind: Scientists say they’ve learned how your brain plucks information out of working memory when you decide to act. Brown Univ. cognitive scientists have identified specific brain regions that work together to allow us to choose from among the options we store in working memory.

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