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Microfluidic

— Medical

Forget the new iPad - the sub-10-cent oPAD could save lives

By - March 9, 2012 2 Pictures
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
— Science

Microfluidic silicon probe could improve disease diagnostics

By - January 17, 2012 4 Pictures
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
— Medical

Scanadu developing a real-life medical tricorder

By - December 30, 2011 2 Pictures
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
— Health and Wellbeing

Lab-on-a-chip counts and sorts sperm

By - October 31, 2011 2 Pictures
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
— Science

'Robotic biologist' crunches raw data and formulates equations

By - October 17, 2011 1 Picture
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
— Health and Wellbeing

Tiny particles measure microRNA to detect cancer

By - September 2, 2011 3 Pictures
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
— Wearable Electronics

In-shoe device harvests energy created by walking

By - August 25, 2011 6 Pictures
Although you may not be using a Get Smart-style shoe phone anytime soon, it is possible that your mobile phone may end up receiving its power from your shoes. University of Wisconsin-Madison engineering researchers Tom Krupenkin and J. Ashley Taylor have developed an in-shoe system that harvests the energy generated by walking. Currently, this energy is lost as heat. With their technology, however, they claim that up to 20 watts of electricity could be generated, and stored in an incorporated rechargeable battery. Read More
— Science

'Watermark Ink' chip can instantly identify liquids

By - August 4, 2011 2 Pictures
If you want to know exactly what a substance is, your best bet is to use something like a gas chromatographer. The problem is, such machines tend to be large, lab-based and expensive – not the greatest for use in the field, or by people who aren’t connected with a research institute. Researchers from Harvard University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, however, have created inexpensive, portable 3D-nanostructured chips, that can instantly identify any liquid via its surface tension. Read More
— Science

Magnetic nanobead technology could result in better biosensors

By - April 29, 2011 1 Picture
Handheld biosensors and diagnostic devices could be taking a huge step forward, thanks to recent advances made in the use of ferromagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles – also known as magnetic nanobeads. According to scientists from Oregon State University (OSU), the use of such particles in chemical detection systems could make those systems much smaller, faster, cheaper to produce, and more accurate than they are presently. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Detector for acute pancreatitis made with simple, inexpensive materials

By - April 28, 2011 1 Picture
In this age of laser-etched microfluidic lab-on-a-chip devices that analyze samples of bodily fluids on the spot, it's kind of ... fun, perhaps, to hear about a similar device that could conceivably be assembled by a grade school student, using their allowance money. The matchbox-sized sensor, developed by scientists from The University of Texas at Austin, is designed to detect acute pancreatitis using blood samples. Important as its purpose may be, though, the materials used to build the device include things like household aluminum foil, milk, a 12-cent LED bulb, and JELL-O. Read More
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