Biotech

Sex-Switched Mosquitoes May Help In Fight Against Diseases 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-girls-allowed dept.
cstacy writes: Only the female mosquitoes bite and transmit viral diseases such as Dengue Fever. Scientists have finally discovered the elusive genetic switch called Nix, that determines the sex of these blood sucking insects, and hope to selectively eliminate females to control the spread of diseases. "Nix provides us with exciting opportunities to harness mosquito sex in the fight against infectious diseases because maleness is the ultimate disease-refractory trait," explained Zhijian Jake Tu, an affiliate of the Fralin Life Science Institute and a biochemistry professor from Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Biotech

DNA On Pizza Crust Leads To Quadruple Murder Suspect 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the taking-a-bite-out-of-crime dept.
HughPickens.com writes: In a case straight out of CSI, CNN reports that police are searching for the man suspected in the gruesome slayings of the Savopoulos family and their housekeeper, after his DNA was purportedly found on a pizza crust at the scene of the quadruple murders. They discovered his DNA on the crust of a Domino's pizza — one of two delivered to the Savopoulos home May 14 as the family was held hostage inside — a source familiar with the investigation said. The pizza apparently was paid for with cash left in an envelope on the porch. The next morning, Savvas Savopoulos's personal assistant dropped off a package containing $40,000 in cash at the home, according to the officials and police documents.

The bodies of Savopoulos, along with his wife, Amy, their 10-year-old son Philip and the family's housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa, were discovered the afternoon of May 14 after firefighters responded to reports of a fire. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says the killings are likely not a random crime and police have issued an arrest warrant for the 34-year-old Daron Dylon Wint, who is described as 5'7 and 155 lbs and might also go by the name "Steffon." Wint apparently used to work at American Iron Works, where Savvas Savopoulos was CEO and president. The neighborhood is home to numerous embassies and diplomatic mansions as well as the official residence of Vice President Joe Biden and his wife. "Right now you have just about every law enforcement officer across the country aware of his open warrant and are looking for him," says Lanier. "I think even his family has made pleas for him to turn himself in."
Biotech

After a Year of Secret Field-Testing, Brain-Controlled Bionic Legs Are Here 50

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Today, an Icelandic prosthetic-maker announced that two amputees have been testing brain-controlled bionic legs for over a year. The devices respond to impulses in the subjects' residual limbs, via sensors that were implanted in simple, 15-minute-long procedures. "When the electrical impulse from his brain reaches the base of his leg, a pair of sensors embedded in his muscle tissue connect the neural dots, and wirelessly transmit that signal to the Proprio Foot. Since the command reaches the foot before the wearer's residual muscles actually contract, there's no unnatural lag between intention and action." This is a huge step forward (sorry) for this class of bionics. It may seem like a solved problem based on reports and videos from laboratories, but it's never been exposed to real world use and everyday wear and tear like this.
Biotech

Genetically Engineered Yeast Makes It Possible To Brew Morphine 333

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-it-rise dept.
PvtVoid writes: The New York times reports that newly developed yeast strains will soon make it possible to create morphine from fermentation of sugar. While no one has claimed to make morphine in lab from scratch yet, concerns are already being raised about potential abuse. According to the Times article: "This rapid progress in synthetic biology has set off a debate about how — and whether — to regulate it. Dr. Oye and other experts said this week in a commentary in Nature Chemical Biology that drug-regulatory authorities are ill prepared to control a process that will benefit the heroin trade much more than the prescription painkiller industry. The world should take steps to head that off, they argue, by locking up the bioengineered yeast strains and restricting access to the DNA that would let drug cartels reproduce them.
Crime

Cocaine Use Can Now Be Tested In Fingerprints Using Ambient Mass Spectrometry 143

Posted by samzenpus
from the say-good-night-to-the-bad-guy dept.
hypnosec writes: A novel technique of detecting cocaine abuse through a simple fingerprint has been developed by researchers from the UK and the Netherlands, paving the way for a secure, non-invasive drug detection method. The research, led by University of Surrey and published in the journal Analyst, demonstrates for the first time that cocaine can be detected by the excreted metabolites – benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine – resulting from abuse of the drug. These chemicals are found in fingerprint residue, which the researchers detect using analytical chemistry technique known as ambient mass spectrometry.
Biotech

Biologists Create Self-Healing Concrete 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the building-borg-golems dept.
Mr.Intel writes: A team of microbiologists from the Delft University of Technology claims to have invented "bioconcrete" — concrete that heals cracks and breaks using bacteria. The goal was to find a type of bacteria that could live inside concrete and also produce small amount of limestone that could re-seal cracks. This is a difficult prospect because concrete is quite dry and strongly alkaline. The bacteria needed to be able to stay alive for years in those conditions before being activated by water. The bacteria also need a food source — simply adding sugar to concrete will make it weak. The scientists used calcium lactate instead, adding biodegradable capsules of it to the concrete mix. "When cracks eventually begin to form in the concrete, water enters and open the capsules. The bacteria then germinate, multiply and feed on the lactate, and in doing so they combine the calcium with carbonate ions to form calcite, or limestone, which closes up the cracks."
Patents

Brainwave-Reading Patents Spike On Increase In Commercial Mind-Reading Apps 29

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-out-of-my-brain dept.
smaxp writes: Consumer market researcher Nielsen leads the pack, with patents describing ways to detect brain activity with EEG and translate it into what someone truly thinks about, say, a new product, advertising, or packaging. Microsoft Corp. holds patents that assess mental states, with the goal of determining the most effective way to present information. "Neurotech has gone well beyond medicine, with non-medical corporations, often under the radar, developing neurotechnologies to enhance work and life," said SharpBrains Chief Executive Alvaro Fernandez at the NeuroGaming conference in San Francisco.
Biotech

Electron Microscopes Close To Imaging Individual Atoms 55

Posted by timothy
from the it's-down-there-somewhere-let-me-take-another-look dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Science: Today's digital photos are far more vivid than just a few years ago, thanks to a steady stream of advances in optics, detectors, and software. Similar advances have also improved the ability of machines called cryo-electron microscopes (cryo-EMs) to see the Lilliputian world of atoms and molecules. Now, researchers report that they've created the highest ever resolution cryo-EM image, revealing a druglike molecule bound to its protein target at near atomic resolution. The resolution is so sharp that it rivals images produced by x-ray crystallography, long the gold standard for mapping the atomic contours of proteins. This newfound success is likely to dramatically help drugmakers design novel medicines for a wide variety of conditions.
Medicine

A Light-Powered Retina Implant For the Blind 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the resistance-is-futile dept.
the_newsbeagle writes: In certain diseases of the retina, people lose function in the photoreceptor cells that respond to light and trigger a message to the brain. So engineers have designed various retina implants that do the job instead, including the Argus II system, which received the first FDA approval for an implanted visual prosthetic in 2013. But the Argus II only produces vision of about 20/1200. A new implant in the pipeline from Stanford University has already achieved 20/250 vision in rats, and is aiming at 20/120, which would be below the legal threshold for blindness. This implant is photovoltaic, so the same infrared light that beams an image of the world into the implanted chip also powers its electronics.
Medicine

Chinese Scientists Claim To Have Genetically Modified Human Embryos 182

Posted by samzenpus
from the super-babies dept.
Annanag writes: There were rumours — but now it's been confirmed. Chinese scientists have attempted the ethically questionable feat of genetically modifying human embryos. The scientists try to head off ethical concerns by using 'non-viable' embryos, which cannot result in a live birth, obtained from local fertility clinics. The study is a landmark — but also a cautionary tale.
Biotech

Breakthrough In Artificial Photosynthesis Captures CO2 In Acetate 128

Posted by Soulskill
from the use-it-to-3D-print-your-own-clones dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Berkeley Lab and the U.S. Dept. of Energy have created an artificial photosynthetic process that capture carbon dioxide in acetate, "the most common building block today for biosynthesis." The research has been published in the journal Nano Letters (abstract). "Atmospheric carbon dioxide is now at its highest level in at least three million years, primarily as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. Yet fossil fuels, especially coal, will remain a significant source of energy to meet human needs for the foreseeable future. Technologies for sequestering carbon before it escapes into the atmosphere are being pursued but all require the captured carbon to be stored, a requirement that comes with its own environmental challenges. ... By combining biocompatible light-capturing nanowire arrays with select bacterial populations, the new artificial photosynthesis system offers a win/win situation for the environment: solar-powered green chemistry using sequestered carbon dioxide."
Biotech

A 2-Year-Old Has Become the Youngest Person Ever To Be Cryonically Frozen 313

Posted by Soulskill
from the rest-in-peace dept.
merbs writes: After losing a long battle with brain cancer, 2-year-old Matheryn Naovaratpong became the first minor ever to be cryogenically frozen. This article is the story of how a Thai girl was frozen in Bangkok and shipped to Arizona to have her brain preserved in liquid nitrogen, while medical science works on a cure. "Typically we’d move the head from the trunk of the body. We didn't know what their reaction would be from the family, the mortuary, from border officials; this has to go through a number of shipping venues, customs, the TSA and so on. To see a frozen head in a box might have raised a number of red flags. In the U.S. that’s not a big deal, but there, they may not be accustomed."
Medicine

New Chemical Tools Lead To Targeted Cancer Drugs 21

Posted by Soulskill
from the sniper-scope-built-out-of-proteins dept.
New submitter caudex writes: Proteins are encoded in DNA, and while the degeneracy of the genetic code works to minimize errors, a single DNA basepair mutation can change the structure of the encoded protein. When a mutated protein causes uncontrolled cell growth, we call it cancer. Unfortunately, proteins typically contain hundreds of amino acids, and developing a drug that will target the version of a protein containing one amino acid mutation is difficult. For this reason, most anticancer agents indiscriminately attack both mutant and healthy proteins and tissues. Researchers at Caltech have come up with a potentially general method for selectively drugging only the mutant protein at fault for cancerous activity, even in the crowded and complex milieu of living cells. Their proof of concept study published in Nature Chemistry targets the E17K mutation, which can be the causative mutation of many types of cancer.
Biotech

UW Scientists, Biotech Firm May Have Cure For Colorblindness 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the greener-than-green dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about a possible cure for colorblindness. "For the more than 10million Americans with colorblindness, there's never been a treatment, let alone a cure, for the condition that leaves them unable to distinguish certain hues. Now, for the first time, two University of Washington professors have teamed with a California biotech firm to develop what they say may be a solution: a single shot in the eye that reveals the world in full color. Jay and Maureen Neitz, husband-and-wife scientists who have studied the vision disorder for years, have arranged an exclusive license agreement between UW and Avalanche Biotechnologies of Menlo Park. Together, they've found a new way to deliver genes that can replace missing color-producing proteins in certain cells, called cones, in the eyes."
Medicine

Plaque-busting Nanoparticles Could Help Fight Tooth Decay 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the reasons-to-put-nanotech-in-your-face dept.
sciencehabit writes: Nanotechnology might soon save you a trip to the dentist. Researchers have developed tiny sphere-shaped particles that ferry a payload of bacteria-slaying drugs to the surface of the teeth, where they fight plaque and tooth decay on the spot (abstract). The approach could also be adapted to combat other plaquelike substances, known as biofilms, such as those that form on medical devices like orthopedic implants.