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Google's health startup forges venture with AbbVie

September 3, 2014 4:09 pm | News | Comments

An ambitious health startup from Google is teaming up with biotechnology drugmaker AbbVie in a $500 million joint venture that will try to develop new ways to treat cancer and other diseases such as Alzheimer's. The alliance announced Wednesday calls for Google Inc. and AbbVie Inc. to each invest $250 million in the project. An additional $1 billion may be poured into the project.

Handheld scanner could aid complete removal of brain tumors

September 3, 2014 1:09 pm | News | Comments

Cancerous brain tumors are notorious for growing back despite surgical attempts to remove them, and for leading to a dire prognosis for patients. But scientists are developing a new way to try to root out malignant cells during surgery so fewer or none get left behind to form new tumors. The technology relies on a Raman scanner that can read injected nanoprobes.

A new synthetic amino acid for an emerging class of drugs

September 3, 2014 1:01 pm | News | Comments

Scientists in Switzerland have developed a new amino acid that can be used to modify the 3-D structure of therapeutic peptides. Insertion of the amino acid into bioactive peptides enhanced their binding affinity up to 40-fold. Peptides with the new amino acid could potentially become a new class of therapeutics.

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A “clear” choice for clearing 3-D cell cultures

September 3, 2014 11:40 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Because Brown Univ. biomedical engineering graduate student Molly Boutin needed to study how neural tissues grow from stem cells, she wanted to grow not just a cell culture, but a sphere-shaped one. Cells grow and interact more naturally in 3-D cultures than when they’re confined to thin slides or dishes.

Scientists make diseased cells synthesize their own drug

September 3, 2014 8:34 am | News | Comments

In a new study that could ultimately lead to many new medicines, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have adapted a chemical approach to turn diseased cells into unique manufacturing sites for molecules that can treat a form of muscular dystrophy.

Sabotage as therapy

September 3, 2014 8:00 am | by Vicky Agnew, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Cancer Center researchers may have discovered a new way of harnessing lupus antibodies to sabotage cancer cells made vulnerable by deficient DNA repair. The study found that cancer cells with deficient DNA repair mechanisms (or the inability to repair their own genetic damage) were significantly more vulnerable to attack by lupus antibodies.

Scientists discover how to “switch off” autoimmune diseases

September 3, 2014 7:50 am | by Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

Scientists have made an important breakthrough in the fight against debilitating autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis by revealing how to stop cells attacking healthy body tissue. Rather than the body’s immune system destroying its own tissue by mistake, researchers at the Univ. of Bristol have discovered how cells convert from being aggressive to actually protecting against disease.

Nano-sized synthetic scaffolding technique

September 3, 2014 7:33 am | by Jim Barlow, Director of Science and Research Communications, Univ. of Oregon | News | Comments

Scientists have tapped oil and water to create scaffolds of self-assembling, synthetic proteins called peptoid nanosheets that mimic complex biological mechanisms and processes. The accomplishmentis expected to fuel an alternative design of the 2-D peptoid nanosheets that can be used in a broad range of applications. Among them could be improved chemical sensors and separators, and safer, more effective drug delivery vehicles.

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Double mastectomy doesn't boost survival for most

September 2, 2014 4:26 pm | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Removing both breasts to treat cancer affecting only one side doesn't boost survival chances for most women, compared with surgery that removes just the tumor, a large study suggests. The results raise concerns about riskier, potentially unnecessary operations that increasing numbers of women are choosing.

Ebola genomes sequenced

September 2, 2014 10:28 am | by Lisa Girard, Broad Institute Communication | News | Comments

Responding rapidly to the deadly outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa, a team of researchers from the Broad Institute and Harvard Univ., working with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation and researchers elsewhere, has sequenced and analyzed many Ebola virus genomes. Their findings could have important implications for rapid field diagnostic tests.

Research hints at why stress is more devastating for some

September 2, 2014 9:52 am | by Rockefeller Univ. | News | Comments

Some people take stress in stride; others are done in by it. New research at Rockefeller Univ. has identified the molecular mechanisms of this so-called stress gap in mice with very similar genetic backgrounds—a finding that could lead researchers to better understand the development of psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Engineers develop new sensor to detect tiny individual nanoparticles

September 2, 2014 8:51 am | by Tony Fitzpatrick, Washington Univ. in St. Louis | News | Comments

A team of researchers in the U.S. and China have developed a new sensor that can detect and count nanoparticles, at sizes as small as 10 nm, one at a time. The researchers say the sensor, which is a Raman microlaser sensor in a silicon dioxide chip that does not need rare-earth ions to achieve high resolution, could potentially detect much smaller particles, viruses and small molecules.

Surprising new role for calcium in sensing pain

September 2, 2014 7:53 am | by Karl Bates, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

When you accidentally touch a hot oven, you rapidly pull your hand away. Although scientists know the basic neural circuits involved in sensing and responding to such painful stimuli, they are still sorting out the molecular players. Duke Univ. researchers have made a surprising discovery about the role of a key molecule involved in pain in worms, and have built a structural model of the molecule.

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A new way to diagnose malaria

September 2, 2014 7:38 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Over the past several decades, malaria diagnosis has changed very little. After taking a blood sample from a patient, a technician smears the blood across a glass slide, stains it with a special dye and looks under a microscope for the Plasmodium parasite, which causes the disease. This approach gives an accurate count of how many parasites are in the blood, but is not ideal because there is potential for human error.

Experimental Ebola drug heals all monkeys in study

August 29, 2014 1:28 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

An experimental Ebola drug healed all 18 monkeys infected with the deadly virus in a study, boosting hopes that the treatment might help fight the outbreak raging through West Africa. Scientists gave the drug, called ZMapp, three to five days after infecting the monkeys in the laboratory. Most were showing symptoms by then, and all completely recovered.

We travel with our own germs

August 29, 2014 5:24 am | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Sorry, clean freaks. No matter how well you scrub your home, it's covered in bacteria from your own body. And if you pack up and move, new research shows, you'll rapidly transfer your unique microbial fingerprint to the doorknobs, countertops and floors in your new house, too.

Sensory-tested drug delivery vehicle could limit spread of HIV, AIDS

August 28, 2014 12:33 pm | by Jeff Mulhollem, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

A unique method for delivering compounds that could positively impact the global battle against HIV and AIDS may be possible, thanks to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. A semi-soft vaginal suppository made from the seaweed-derived food ingredient carrageenan and loaded with the antiviral drug Tenofovir provides a woman-initiated, drug delivery vehicle that can protect against the spread of STIs.

From nose to knee: Engineered cartilage regenerates joints

August 28, 2014 11:59 am | News | Comments

Cartilage lesions in joints often appear in older people as a result of degenerative processes, and appear in younger people after injuries and accidents. Such defects are difficult to repair and often require complicated surgery and long rehabilitation times. Researchers in Switzerland have reported that cells taken from the nasal septum are able to adapt to the environment of the knee joint and can thus repair articular cartilage defects.

Synthesis produces new antibiotic

August 28, 2014 10:10 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

A fortuitous collaboration at Rice Univ. has led to the total synthesis of a recently discovered natural antibiotic. The laboratory recreation of a fungus-derived antibiotic, viridicatumtoxin B, may someday help bolster the fight against bacteria that evolve resistance to treatments in hospitals and clinics around the world.

U.S. to begin safety testing Ebola vaccine next week

August 28, 2014 9:25 am | by Seth Borenstein - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal researchers next week will start testing humans with an experimental vaccine to prevent the deadly Ebola virus. The National Institutes of Health announced Thursday that it is launching the safety trial on a vaccine developed by the agency's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline.

New DARPA program aimed at developing customized therapies

August 28, 2014 9:11 am | News | Comments

DARPA’s new Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program was among the initiatives the White House highlighted this week as President Barack Obama addressed the need for new and more effective strategies for improving the health of service members, veterans and others. ElectRx goes beyond medication, aiming to explore neuromodulation of organ functions to help the human body heal itself.

Encyclopedia of how genomes function gets much bigger

August 28, 2014 9:07 am | News | Comments

A big step in understanding the human genome has been unveiled in the form of three analyses that provide the most detailed comparison yet of how the genomes of the fruit fly, roundworm, and human function. The research compares how the information encoded in the three species’ genomes is “read out,” and how their DNA and proteins are organized into chromosomes. The results add billions of entries to the archive of functional genomic data.

Water “thermostat” could help engineer drought-resistant crops

August 28, 2014 8:58 am | News | Comments

Duke Univ. researchers have identified a gene that could help scientists engineer drought-resistant crops. The gene, called OSCA1, encodes a protein in the cell membrane of plants that senses changes in water availability and adjusts the plant’s water conservation machinery accordingly. The effect is similar to a thermostat.

Neuroscientists reverse memories’ emotional associations

August 28, 2014 8:27 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Most memories have some kind of emotion associated with them. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientists reveals the brain circuit that controls how memories become linked with positive or negative emotions. Furthermore, the researchers found that they could reverse the emotional association of specific memories by manipulating brain cells with optogenetics.

Smartphone app can detect newborn jaundice in minutes

August 27, 2014 11:40 am | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Newborn jaundice: It’s one of the last things a parent wants to deal with, but it’s unfortunately a common condition in babies less than a week old. Skin that turns yellow can be a sure sign that a newborn is jaundiced and isn’t adequately eliminating the chemical bilirubin. But that discoloration is sometimes hard to see. Researchers have developed a smartphone application that checks for jaundice in newborns.

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