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Microfluidic

A diagram of the tissue-producing device

Tissue engineering is definitely an exciting field – the ability to create living biological tissue in a lab could allow scientists to do things such as testing new drugs without the need for human subjects, or even to create patient-specific replacement organs or other body parts. While some previous efforts have yielded finished products that were very small, a microfluidic device being developed at the University of Toronto can reportedly produce sections of precisely-engineered tissue that measure within the centimeters.  Read More

The Massachusetts General Hospital handheld diagnostic magnetic resonance (DMR) device can...

Magnetic resonance. We all think of the massive multimillion dollar magnetic resonance imaging machines into whose gaping mouth we are slowly propelled on a motorized table, ready to have our smallest flaws exposed. But the phenomenon of magnetic resonance has other medical uses. A team of physicians and scientists led by Prof. Ralph Weissleder of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has developed a handheld diagnostic magnetic resonance (DMR) device that can diagnose cancer in an hour with greatly improved accuracy compared to the current gold standard. The DMR technique is sensitive enough that only material from a fine needle aspiration biopsy is needed for the test - a far less painful experience compared to the usual surgical or core needle biopsies.  Read More

The experimental microfluidic device, which could find use in the cleansing of infected bl...

In a natural phenomenon known as margination, platelets and leukocytes (white blood cells) within the bloodstream move towards the sides of blood vessels and adhere to them. It occurs at wound sites, during the early stages of inflammation. Recently, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National University of Singapore have put that process to work in a microfluidic device that could be used to cleanse the blood, perhaps acting as a treatment for bacteria-related blood disorders such as sepsis.  Read More

The thumb-sized Domino chip can perform 20 genetic tests from a drop of blood

A genetic testing mini-lab developed by researchers at the University of Alberta to set to begin commercial trials within a year. The Domino system provides a portable, cheap and powerful alternative to conventional laboratories that delivers a range of point-of-care diagnostic possibilities including tests for blood borne diseases such as malaria and those affecting farm animals.  Read More

The simple, inexpensive, folded-paper-based oPAD could detect diseases in body fluid sampl...

In First World countries' medical systems, the standard way of checking a patient's body fluid samples is to send them off to a lab. In developing nations, however, such labs often don't exist, nor does the infrastructure for transporting biological samples. Fortunately, a number of groups have been developing simple, inexpensive testing devices that could be used by clinicians in these countries. One of the latest gadgets is the very simple origami Paper Analytical Device, or oPAD – it's made out of paper, could be purchased for under 10 cents, and is folded together by the user.  Read More

IBM scientists have created a flexible silicon probe, that could allow for more precise st...

IBM scientists in Zurich have created a proof-of-concept device, that could change the way that human tissue samples are analyzed. Presently, samples must be stained with a biomarker solution in order to detect the presence of a disease. The staining process can be quite involved, however, plus it is subject to error – too much of the solution can cause inaccurate results, for instance. Additionally, it can sometimes be difficult to perform enough tests using the small amount of tissue extracted in most biopsies. The IBM technology, though it still involves staining, is said to offer a potential solution to these shortcomings.  Read More

Tech start-up Scanadu is developing a real-life version of a Star Trek-style medical trico...

The future technology depicted in the various Star Trek TV series and films certainly holds a lot of appeal for many of us – who wouldn’t want to teleport to Hawaii, live out their fantasies on a holodeck, or enjoy some instant gourmet chow straight out of a replicator? It looks like the Star Trek item that we’re the closest to seeing become a reality, however, is the medical tricorder. This May, the X-PRIZE Foundation proposed a US$10 million Tricorder X-PRIZE, with the intention of encouraging the production of consumer devices that can assess a person’s state of health. The first potential contestant, which already has a tricorder in the works, is a tech start-up by the name of Scanadu.  Read More

The fertility chip causes sperm to flow through a liquid-filled channel, where they pass u...

While just about everyone is familiar with home pregnancy testing kits, what many of us may not realize is that a (sort of) equivalent product exists for men - home sperm count kits. These kits, however, will simply tell users if their sperm count is above or below a standard value. While a yes or no answer like that might suffice for the pregnancy kits, a little more information would definitely help a man who suspects he might be infertile. Loes Segerink, a PhD student from The Netherlands' University of Twente, hopes to change that with this prototype lab-on-a-chip device. Segerink's chip counts exactly how many sperm are present in a sample of ejaculate, and can even differentiate between the good swimmers and the duds.  Read More

A microformulator, designed to allow ABE to perform experiments without human intervention...

While some people may have been impressed (or intimidated) by the recent development of a system that automatically raises and analyzes cell cultures, it turns out that another facet of the biological research process may also be going to the machines. An interdisciplinary team of researchers recently demonstrated a computer system that is able to take in raw scientific data from a biological system, and output mathematical equations describing how that system operates - it is reportedly one of the most complex scientific modeling problems that a computer has solved entirely from scratch. While the system is known affectionately as "ABE," it is also being referred to as a robotic biologist.  Read More

Image courtesy Firefly Bioworks

Early disease detection can be a matter of life and death, especially if that disease is cancer. In a novel approach to this problem, researchers from MIT have engineeringed a series of ultra-microscopic particles, each designed to bind to a disease-specific type of microRNA - a genetic material which affects gene expression in the nucleus. In cancer cells, the microRNA has somehow malfunctioned, leading to rapid, unregulated cell growth that can ultimately form tumors.  Read More

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