ALSO NOTED: DNA probes bind to cancer cells; RNA proteins play role in stem cell production; and much more

More Research News

A team of scientists has created a set of DNA probes that bind to cancer cells, making them easier to spot during the diagnostic phase of treatment. Up to now, cases of leukemia have been diagnosed by looking for genetic changes in cells that characterize the lethal disease. The scientists created DNA probes that were labeled with a fluorescent protein and then determined that one of them bonded with the leukemia cells. The next phase of research will determine of other fluorescent proteins will stick to specific cancer subsets, providing a range of opportunities for early diagnosis. Report

Scientists have found an RNA binding protein that exists in both humans and fresh water planarians that plays a role in maintaining stem cell population. The discovery is important because freshwater planarians have an ability to regenerate lost body parts, making it a significant area of interest in stem cell research. Report

A single gene--the alpha-synuclein (SNCA) gene--is responsible for at least three percent of Parkinson's cases and may be a factor in a far greater number than that. Report

Scientists at Wake Forest University have been studying the role of nitric oxide in enhancing the way the brain processes sensory information. The molecule is released during periods of mental arousal. Researchers say their work on nitric oxide and brain processes could help lend new insight into brain disorders such as epilepsy and schizophrenia. Report

Scientists at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital say that they have discovered that the gene YAP plays a role in promoting various forms of cancer. Report

Looking for ways to grow better neural and other stem cell lines for therapeutic purposes, scientists at UCLA's stem cell institute were able to produce a superior line of neural stem cells from fetal tissue compared to a line developed from a federally approved stem cell line. The line produced from the federally approved stem cell line had a lower level of CPT 1A, a condition that causes hypoglycemia. Release

Scientists at the University of Utah have reversed the evolutionary process to recreate a 530 million year old mouse gene. In order to highlight how the evolutionary process works by splitting genes which subsequently mutate, the scientists created the ancient gene by taking two existing genes and putting them back together again. Report 

Two new studies point to a link between obsessive compulsive disorder and a glutamate transporter gene called SLC1A1. The gene contains a protein that regulates the flow of glutamate through brain cells. Variations in the flow of glutamate may be associated with increased risk of OCD. Report

Using mass spectrometry technology, the FDA has developed a new technique designed to quickly distinguish a hoax from a real bioterror attack. Using heat to vaporize the material, the material is then hit with argon atoms to create ionization, which is submitted to a database of materials for rapid identification. Corn starch can then be separated from anthrax more easily. It takes just a few minutes to run the test and results are available in a few hours at a cost of about $2 a test. Report

Brown University scientists studying pattern formations in biology spent a good part of the last two years studying why proteins called microtubules created wave-like patterns as they multiplied. They concluded that chemical bonding and mechanical instability were responsible for the patterns. These microtubules play a critical role in helping cells divide and giving them their shape. Report

Scientists working on SARS say that the virus uses a protein--nsp1--that works to scuttle the body's immune response. Report

A research team at the University of Central Florida has found a defense peptide in lower primates that prohibits the HIV-1 virus from infecting blood cells. That peptide was eliminated from advanced primates during the evolutionary process. But the peptide may serve as an effective new therapy to combat HIV. Release

Tools and Technology

ES Cell International reports that it has created new embryonic stem lines that can be used in research labs. The lines were derived from human cells, making them usable for new studies into stem cell therapies. Report

GenoMatix has released MatBase, which contains genomic transaction factor binding sites and protein binding domains, related literature, more than 27,000 known TF-gene interactions, experimentally verified complexes with other TFs (promoter modules), and weight matrix descriptions for the DNA binding sites of TFs. Report

Thermo Electron Corporation has launched its next generation hybrid FTICR mass spectrometer, the LTQ FT Ultra. Report

TriMark Publications has released its Clinical Chemistry Analyzers report, which the markets for small lab and highly-automated, large lab platforms, as well as accessory equipment such as reagents, supplies and manufacturers' original equipment manufacturer additional equipment. Release

Axela Biosensors launched its new dotLab System, which provides the drug discovery, biomarker validation and translational research markets with a benchtop platform for protein characterization and biomolecular interaction monitoring. Release

KREATECH Biotechnology has expanded its gene expression product line to incorporate ULS amplification and labeling kits for specific use on CombiMatrix microarrays for all Kreatech's current aRNA labeling kits and RNA ampULSe amplification and labeling kits. Release

Mettler Toledo has introduced a pH Kit specific to the pharmaceutical industry. The S40P pH meter is a complete kit that combines the S40 SevenMulti pH meter, an InLab410 pH electrode and all necessary cables and buffer standards ideal for running samples in the pharmaceutical industry. Release

Deals and Dollars

A new $16 million grant from the National Science Foundation to the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center could help inspire new methods for the mass production of materials like DNA fragments. That kind of mass fabrication approach could fundamentally alter the way researchers do their work. Article

Genizon BioSciences has inked a licensing and collaboration deal with Genentech, granting the South San Francisco biotech giant an exclusive license to Genizon's GeneMap of disease-associated genes generated from a whole genome association study of Crohn's disease patients from the Quebec Founder Population. Release

A $14.6 million grant from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health will fund an international, multidisciplinary effort led by the University of Iowa to leverage two recent genetic discoveries into possible treatments for age-related macular degeneration. Report

The NIH has granted $3 million to Thermedical to test a radiofrequency-based ablation device that kills cancerous tumors by overheating them. Report

And Finally… Drain covers in one Belgian city are disappearing as high metal prices make them a lucrative target for thieves. Report

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A PureTech startup is developing an immune-responsive hydrogel that releases a corticosteroid into arthritic joints based on their level of inflammation.

A trial of a retinal implant built from embryonic stem cells produced encouraging results in patients with dry age-related macular degeneration.