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Gene sequencing that everyone can afford

December 6, 2013 8:15 am | News | Comments

Researchers in China, working on the optimization of a third-generation sequencing technique based on nanopores, have found that long-chain DNA with low salt concentration is more conducive to the nanopore sequencing process. This finding may improve the efficiency of sequencing, and further low the cost of gene sequencing.

Collaboration yields new genetic variant data set for 1000 Genomes Project

December 5, 2013 9:33 am | News | Comments

DNAnexus has announced a collaboration with Stanford Univ. that has resulted in a new 1000 Genomes Project data set of genetic variation. Launched in January 2008, the 1000 Genomes Project was the first international effort to sequence a large number of individual genomes with the goal of developing a comprehensive and freely accessible resource on human genetic variation.

Database tracks toxic side effects of pharmaceuticals

December 5, 2013 9:13 am | News | Comments

Sometimes the cure can be worse than the disease. Pharmaceutical drugs are known for their potential side effects, and an important aspect of personalized medicine is to tailor therapies to individuals to reduce the chances of adverse events. Now researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have updated an extensive toxicology database so that it can be used to track information about therapeutic drugs and their unintentional toxic effects.

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Ultrathin “diagnostic skin” allows continuous patient monitoring

December 5, 2013 9:10 am | News | Comments

An international multidisciplinary team including researchers at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering has developed  a sophisticated ”electronic skin” that adheres non-invasively to human skin, conforms well to contours, and provides a detailed temperature map of any surface of the body.

Researchers develop new technology to study hearing

December 4, 2013 8:20 am | Videos | Comments

Much of what is known about sensory touch and hearing cells is based on indirect observation. Scientists know that these tiny cells are sensitive to changes in force and pressure. But to truly understand how they function, scientists must be able to manipulate them directly. Now, Stanford Univ. scientists are developing a set of tools that are small enough to stimulate an individual nerve or group of nerves.

A leap forward in x-ray technology

December 4, 2013 7:47 am | by David Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

X-rays transformed medicine a century ago by providing a noninvasive way to detect internal structures in the body. Still, they have limitations: X-rays cannot image the body’s soft tissues, except with the use of contrast-enhancing agents that must be swallowed or injected, and their resolution is limited. But a newly developed approach could dramatically change that.

Updated healthcare.gov gets mixed reviews

December 3, 2013 6:38 pm | by KELLI KENNEDY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Counselors helping people use the federal government's online health exchange are giving mixed reviews to the updated site, with some zipping through the application process while others are facing the same old sputters and even crashes. The Obama administration had promised a vastly improved shopping experience on healthcare.gov by the end of November, and this is the first week for users to test the updated site.

FDA tells 23andMe to halt sales of genetic test

November 26, 2013 11:57 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

The Food and Drug Administration has ordered Google-backed genetic test maker 23andMe to halt sales of its personalized DNA test kits. In a warning letter posted online Monday, FDA regulators say that the Silicon Valley company has not shown that its tests are safe or effective despite "more than 14 face-to-face and teleconference meetings" and "hundreds of email exchanges."

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Scientists find powerful tool for genetic engineering

November 22, 2013 10:54 am | News | Comments

Viruses can not only cause illnesses in humans, they also infect bacteria. Bacteria protect themselves with a kind of immune system that detects and “chops up” foreign DNA. Scientists have now shown that the dual-RNA guided enzyme Cas9 which is involved in the process has developed independently in various strains of bacteria. This enhances the potential of exploiting the bacterial immune system for genome engineering.

New technique improves accuracy, ease of cancer diagnosis

November 22, 2013 8:31 am | News | Comments

A team of researchers have demonstrated a technique that, by measuring the physical properties of individual cells in body fluids, can diagnose cancer with a high degree of accuracy. The technique, which uses a deformability cytometer to analyze individual cells, could reduce the need for more cumbersome diagnostic procedures and the associated costs, while improving accuracy over current methods.

Ultrasound, nanoparticle may help diabetics avoid the needle

November 21, 2013 10:12 am | News | Comments

A new nanotechnology-based technique for regulating blood sugar in diabetics may give patients the ability to release insulin painlessly using a small ultrasound device, allowing them to go days between injections—rather than using needles to give themselves multiple insulin injections each day. The technique was developed by researchers at North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Stents may not help treat clogged kidney arteries

November 18, 2013 4:00 pm | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

New research raises serious questions about a very common medical procedure—placing a stent to prop open a narrowed kidney artery. A study found that people treated with these stents plus various heart drugs fared no better than people treated with medicines alone.

Graphene nanoribbons "read" DNA

November 18, 2013 1:31 pm | News | Comments

One of the methods used for examining the molecules in a liquid consists in passing the fluid through a nano-sized hole so as to detect their passage. Researchers in Switzerland have found a way to improve this technique by using a material with unique properties: graphene.

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SlipChip counts molecules with chemistry and a cell phone

November 18, 2013 8:31 am | Videos | Comments

In developing nations, rural areas and even one's own home, limited access to expensive equipment and trained medical professionals can impede the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Many qualitative tests that provide a simple "yes" or "no" answer have been optimized for use in these resource-limited settings. But few quantitative tests can be done outside of a laboratory or clinical setting.

Robots let doctors 'beam' into remote hospitals

November 17, 2013 9:54 am | by TERENCE CHEA - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The doctor isn't in, but he can still see you now. Remote presence robots are allowing physicians to "beam" themselves into hospitals to diagnose patients and offer medical advice during emergencies. A growing number of hospitals in California and other states are using telepresence robots to expand access to medical specialists, especially in rural areas where there's a shortage of doctors.

Researcher changes software design to reduce unnecessary lab tests, patient costs

November 14, 2013 12:49 pm | News | Comments

Increasingly, medical professionals are using electronic medical systems that provide lists of laboratory tests from which medical professionals can choose. Now, a Univ. of Missouri researcher and her colleagues have studied how to modify these lists to ensure health professionals order relevant tests and omit unnecessary lab tests, which could result in better care and reduced costs for patients.

New statistical tools being developed for mining cancer data

November 13, 2013 9:50 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Rice Univ., Baylor College of Medicine and the Univ. of Texas at Austin are working together to create new statistical tools that can find clues about cancer that are hidden like needles in enormous haystacks of raw data.

Cause of genetic disorder found in “dark matter” of DNA

November 11, 2013 10:16 am | News | Comments

For the first time, scientists have used new technology which analyzes the whole genome to find the cause of a genetic disease in what was previously referred to as “junk DNA”. This genomic “dark matter” does not contain genes and accounts for 99% of the human genome. Instead, it is responsible for making sure that genes are “switched on” at the right time and in the right part of the body.

Breakthrough in retinal implants expected to restore sight to the blind

November 8, 2013 12:00 pm | News | Comments

Retinal implants have not lived up to their potential, argues a joint University of Arizona-German research team, until now.                                             

Quantity, not just quality, in new brain scan method

November 8, 2013 12:00 pm | News | Comments

Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to quantify brain tissue volume, a critical measurement of the progression of multiple sclerosis and other diseases.                                 

Discovery of HIV 'invisibility cloak' reveals new treatment opportunities

November 8, 2013 7:00 am | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered a molecular invisibility cloak that enables HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to hide inside cells of the body without triggering the body's natural defence systems. The findings could lead to new treatments and help to improve existing therapies for HIV infection.

Surgeons describe new ligament in the human knee

November 8, 2013 7:00 am | News | Comments

Two knee surgeons at University Hospitals Leuven have provided the first full anatomical description of a previously enigmatic ligament in the human knee. The ligament appears to play an important role in patients with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.

A bio patch that can regrow bone

November 7, 2013 12:06 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Iowa have created a bio patch to regenerate missing or damaged bone by putting DNA into a nano-sized particle that delivers bone-producing instructions directly into cells. The bone-regeneration kit relies on a collagen platform seeded with particles containing the genes needed for producing bone. 

‘Tumor-on-a-chip’ technology offers new direction

November 7, 2013 10:59 am | News | Comments

A two-year collaboration between the Chan and the Rocheleau labs at the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering has led to the development of a new microfluidics screening platform that can accurately predict the way nanoparticles will behave in a living body.

Strep scorecard might help tell if doctor needed

November 4, 2013 5:17 pm | by LAURAN NEERGAARD - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Debating whether to seek a strep test for that sore throat? One day there could be a software application for that: Researchers are developing a home scorecard that aims to prevent thousands of unnecessary trips to the doctor for this common complaint. More than 12 million Americans make doctors' visits for a sore throat every year. Usually the culprit is a virus that they just have to wait out with a little care.

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