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February 27, 2006, 8:30 PM CT

Medical Device Combines Wireless and MEMS Technology

Medical Device Combines Wireless and MEMS Technology Deborah McGee of CardioMEMS examines an EndoSure sensor in the company's clean room facility in the ATDC Biosciences Center located at Georgia Tech's Environmental Science and Technology Building. The sensor is implanted to measure pressure in an aneurism being treated by a stent graft. Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek
Winning a thumbs-up from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, CardioMEMS Inc. has launched its EndoSure- sensor, which makes testing safer and more convenient for aneurysm patients.

Based on intellectual property from the Georgia Institute of Technology, EndoSure is the first implantable pressure sensor that combines wireless and microelectromechanical system (MEMS) technology to receive FDA clearance.

"This is a significant milestone that validates our product is safe and relevant," says David Stern, CardioMEMS' chief executive, noting that the FDA based its 510(k) clearance on results from an international clinical study involving more than 100 hospital patients in the United States as well as Brazil, Argentina and Canada.

Better results, less hassle.

Officially known as the EndoSure Wireless AAA Pressure Measurement System, CardioMEMs' innovative device measures blood pressure in people who have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Ruptures from this weakening of the lower aorta rank as the 13th leading cause of death in the United States. Although doctors can treat the bulging artery with a stent graft, stents can fail, so aneurysm patients require lifetime monitoring.

Yet traditional testing methods, such as CT scans, are expensive and time-consuming. What's more, CT scans are limited in scope because they only reveal the size of an aneurysm. In contrast, the EndoSure monitors pressure inside the aneurysm sac - the most important measurement for doctors to know.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source

February 24, 2006, 10:04 PM CT

'Virus Chip' Detects New Virus In Prostate Tumors

'Virus Chip' Detects New Virus In Prostate Tumors
UCSF and Cleveland Clinic scientists have discovered a new virus in human prostate tumors. The type of virus, closely related to viruses typically found in mice, has never been detected in humans. The virus's link to human disease is still unclear, and more study is needed to determine the relationship between the virus and cancer, if any, the scientists say.

The discovery was made with the same DNA-hunting "virus chip" used to confirm the identity of the SARS virus three years ago.

While the genetics of prostate cancer are complex, one of the first genes implicated in the disease was RNASEL, a gene that serves as an important defense against viruses. Given the anti-viral role of this gene, some scientists have speculated that a virus could be involved in some types of prostate cancers in men with mutated RNASEL genes.

In the new study, the researchers discovered the novel virus far more often in human prostate tumors with two copies of the RNASEL gene mutation than in those with at least one normal copy.

"This is a virus that has never been seen in humans before," said Eric Klein, MD, a collaborator in the research and head of urologic oncology at the Glickman Urologic Institute of Cleveland Clinic. "This is consistent with previous epidemiologic and genetic research that has suggested that prostate cancer may result from chronic inflammation, perhaps as a response to infection."........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

February 24, 2006, 9:47 PM CT

X-ray Specs No Longer Required

X-ray Specs No Longer Required
A new optical effect has been created in a London laboratory that means solid objects such as walls could one day be rendered transparent, researchers report today in the journal Nature Materials.

Scientists from Imperial College London and the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland, have pioneered the technique which could be used to see through rubble at earthquake sites, or look at parts of the body obscured by bone.

The effect is based on the development of a new material that exploits the way atoms in matter move, to make them interact with a laser beam in an entirely new way.

The work is based on a breakthrough which contradicts Einstein's theory that in order for a laser to work, the light-amplifying material it contains, commonly a crystal or glass, must be brought to a state known as 'population inversion'. This refers to the condition of the atoms within the material, which must be excited with enough energy to make them emit rather than absorb light.

Quantum physicists, however, have long predicted that by interfering with the wave-patterns of atoms, light could be amplified without population inversion. This has previously been demonstrated in the atoms of gases but has not before been shown in solids.

In order to make this breakthrough, the team created specially patterned crystals only a few billionths of a metre in length that behaved like 'artificial atoms'. When light was shone into the crystals, it became entangled with the crystals at a molecular level rather than being absorbed, causing the material to become transparent.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source

February 23, 2006, 11:26 PM CT

Revealing The Secrets Of The Brain

Revealing The Secrets Of The Brain Activity patterns in the brain elicited by electrical microstimulation are observed around the electrode and in other functionally connected visual areas. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure activation. Image credit: Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
Researchers from the MPI for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen have developed a new procedure which accurately maps the activity in primate brains by means of the BOLD-Signal (Blood Oxygen Level Dependent Signal). The combination of electrical microstimulation and FMRT promises substantially more precise insights into the functional organisation or the brain and its circuitry.

Over the last two centuries electrical microstimulation has been often used to demonstrate causal links between neural activity and specific behaviors or cognitive functions. It has also been used successfully for the therapy of several neurological disorders, most notably, Parkinson's disease. However, to understand the mechanisms by which electrical microstimulation can cause alternations in behaviors and cognitive functions it is imperative to characterize the cortical activity patterns that are elicited by stimulation locally around the electrode and in other functionally connected areas.

To this end, in a new study reported in the December, 2005, issue of Neuron, Andreas S. Tolias and Fahad Sultan, under the guidance of Prof. Nikos K. Logothetis from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, have for the first time developed a technique to record brain activity using the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal while applying electrical microstimulation to the primate brain. They found that the spread of activity around the electrode in macaque area V1 is larger than expected from calculations based on passive spread of current and therefore may reflect functional spread by way of horizontal connections. Consistent with this functional transsynaptic spread they also obtained activation in expected projection sites in extrastriate visual areas demonstrating the utility of their technique in uncovering in vivo functional connectivity maps.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

February 21, 2006, 9:00 PM CT

Revealing Vitamin B12 Secrets

Revealing Vitamin B12 Secrets Under ultraviolet light in a Petri dish containing laundry whitener, symbiotic bacteria with a mutant bluB gene (lower right) fluoresce brightly, while the same bacteria with no mutation only glow slightly (top right), and bacteria with another mutation (in the exoY gene) are completely dark. ( Image: Michiko Taga courtesy of HHMI)
For decades, researchers have wondered how living organisms manufacture the essential vitamin B12. Now, using laundry whitener and dirt-dwelling bacteria-the everyday ingredients of an undergraduate science experiment-scientists may have found the major clue they need to solve the mystery.

Scientists led by Graham Walker, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) professor and American Cancer Society research professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have discovered the first known mutant bacteria with a specific defect in a gene involved in the least-understood part of B12 synthesis. They report their findings in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published February 20, 2006. HHMI professors are leading research researchers who received $1 million grants from the Institute to find ways to bring the excitement of the research lab into undergraduate science classrooms.

In the ancient world, B12 was probably catalyzing reactions before cells even existed. Now, all animals need B12 to help make the building blocks of DNA, and children need enough of the vitamin to help their brain develop normally. Most people consume enough B12 through animal products or fortified foods in their diet. On the other hand, animals that do not eat other animal products acquire the nutrient from bacteria in their guts or from bacteria-infected dirt on their plant food. An estimated one-quarter of people older than 60 in this country have trouble absorbing B12. B12 deficiency can lead to nerve damage, anemia, and forgetfulness.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source

February 20, 2006, 6:30 PM CT

Proteins That Help Make Healthy Eggs

Proteins That Help Make Healthy Eggs A healthy egg, far left, is surrounded by normal, nurturing granulosa cells. Near left, an ovarian follicle lacking the TAF4b protein results in a misshapen egg and withered granulosa cells whose bonds are broken. Image: Richard Freiman, Brown University
Human eggs rely on handmaidens. Called granulosa cells, they surround eggs and deliver nutrients and hormones. Without granulosa cells, eggs cannot mature and be successfully fertilized.

How do these handmaidens grow? Biologists at Brown University and the University of California-Berkeley have discovered that two proteins - TAF4b and c-Jun - team up to turn on about two dozen genes inside the nuclei of granulosa cells. This subset of genes, in turn, writes the genetic code for proteins that cause granulosa cells to multiply and nurture developing eggs.

The finding, published in an advanced online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides an important piece of the reproduction puzzle, and it points to possible drug targets for treating infertility and ovary cancer.

"Thousands of women in this country undergo fertility therapys each year and some have no idea why they can't get pregnant," said Richard Freiman, an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry at Brown. "This research gives us important new information about fertility. It's a basic science finding, but it may provide answers for some of these women and, possibly, lead to better in-vitro fertilization therapies".........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source

February 20, 2006, 6:24 PM CT

Landmark Study Of Bipolar Disorder In Children

Landmark Study Of Bipolar Disorder In Children
Children and teen-agers with bipolar disorder suffer from the illness differently than adults do. Their symptoms last longer and swing more swiftly from hyperactivity and recklessness to lethargy and depression.

This is the first major finding published from the Course and Outcome of Bipolar Illness in Youth, or COBY, research program. Under COBY, psychiatry experts from Brown Medical School, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of California-Los Angeles have studied more than 400 pediatric patients, some for as long as five years, to determine the course of bipolar disorder as well as gauge its behavioral and social effects. COBY is the largest and most comprehensive pediatric study of bipolar disorder to date.

In their first COBY publication, in the Archives of General Psychiatry, scientists report on 263 subjects aged 7 to 17 with bipolar spectrum disorder. Subjects were studied over a roughly two-year period and asked about mood, behavior, and medical therapy. The aim: Determine how bipolar disorder, in all its forms, progresses in children and teens.

Martin Keller, M.D., a pioneer in designing and conducting long-term studies of major psychiatric disorders, is principal investigator for the Brown Medical School research team.

"Bipolar disorder severely impairs functioning and has a high rate of related psychiatric and physical health issues, such as anxiety and substance abuse," said Keller, the Mary E. Zucker Professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and psychiatry expert-in-chief of Brown's seven affiliated hospitals. "These data are essential to improving diagnosis and therapy for a vulnerable population. The data can also inform the design of clinical drug trials so the trials have a maximum likelihood of identifying effective therapys".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

February 20, 2006, 6:11 PM CT

New Cystic Fibrosis Test Developed

New Cystic Fibrosis Test Developed
Prospective parents will have access to a less expensive blood test to determine if they carry the gene for deadly cystic fibrosis, thanks in part to technology developed by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill chemist Dr. Holden Thorp.

Thorp's technology is used in a new product being distributed commercially by Osmetech plc, the Pasadena, Calif.-based international health-care diagnostics group.

Osmetech has received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the cystic fibrosis carrier detection tests and its eSensor 4800 DNA Detection instrument platform.

The intellectual property that protects the eSensor includes patents from the laboratory of Thorp, Kenan professor and chairman of the department of chemistry in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences. The rights to the UNC patents, which formed the basis of the Research Triangle Park-based company Xanthon in 1996, were acquired by Motorola Inc. and later by Osmetech.

"It has been a long journey from the first time we drew an electrochemical gene sensor on the back of an envelope 11 years ago," Thorp said. "It's really satisfying to see those ideas begin to improve human health".

More than 10 million Americans are unknowing, symptomless carriers of the defective cystic fibrosis gene, as per the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. If two carriers conceive, there is a 25 percent chance that their child will have the disease and a 50 percent chance the child will become a carrier.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

February 17, 2006, 7:29 AM CT

Defeat Tumor Cells By Inhibiting Healthy Cells

Defeat Tumor Cells By Inhibiting Healthy Cells
Defeating malignant tumors by attacking healthy cells seems like an unusual strategy, but scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown the strategy to be effective against leukemia/lymphoma in mice.

Led by Katherine N. Weilbaecher, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, the research group found that inhibiting normal bone-maintenance cells called osteoclasts not only prevented the mice's cancer from spreading to their bones, it also slowed the growth of tumors in the body's soft tissues.

"Tumor cells can mutate to overcome the therapys we use, but normal body cells won't," says Weilbaecher, an oncologist with the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "And since cancer cells depend on the normal cells in our body for their survival, we can sometimes get at them by targeting more vulnerable host cells. In this case, by going after osteoclasts, we were able to affect tumor cells."

The mice used in the study were developed in the laboratory of Lee Ratner, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine, of molecular microbiology and of pathology and immunology. The Ratner group introduced a gene called Tax into the mice's genome. Having the Tax gene makes the mice very susceptible to T-cell leukemia/lymphoma, a blood cancer that also forms soft-tissue tumors and metastasizes to invade bones.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

February 17, 2006, 7:24 AM CT

Targeting The Telomere Protein

Targeting The Telomere Protein
Inactivating a protein called mammalian Rad9 could make cancer cells easier to kill with ionizing radiation, as per research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The scientists found that Rad9, previously considered a "watchman" that checks for DNA damage, is actually a "repairman" that fixes dangerous breaks in the DNA double helix. They found Rad9 is particularly active in telomeres, the protective ends of chromosomes.

Because of this new role, Rad9 has gained the researchers' interest as a potential target for cancer treatment -- knocking out Rad9 would enhance the power of radiation therapys by making it easier for radiation to inflict fatal damage to a tumor's genetic material. Their study appears in the recent issue of the journal Molecular and Cellular Biology, which is now available online.

"Our study suggests that if we could inactivate Rad9 in tumor cells, we would be able to kill them with a very low dose of radiation and gain a therapeutic advantage," says senior author Tej K. Pandita, Ph.D., associate professor of radiation oncology and on the faculty of the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

The study revealed that Rad9 proteins interact with chromosomes' telomeres, which are special structures at the ends of chromosomes that protect them from fusion or degradation. Specifically, Rad9 proteins were shown to interact with proteins called telomere binding proteins. When the researchers inactivated Rad9 in human cells, they saw damage to chromosomes and end-to-end fusion at telomeres. DNA damage and chromosomal fusion can disrupt the cell cycle and cause cell death. Because radiation therapys increase these incidents, loss of Rad9 in cancer cells could enhance the killing effect of radiation.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

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Did you know?
Scientists at Yale have brought to light a mechanism that regulates the way an internal organelle, the Golgi apparatus, duplicates as cells prepare to divide, according to a report in Science Express.Graham Warren, professor of cell biology, and colleagues at Yale study Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes Sleeping Sickness. Like a number of parasites, it is exceptionally streamlined and has only one of each internal organelle, making it ideal for studying processes of more complex organisms that have a number of copies in each cell. Archives of research news blog

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