Under the Microscope
Apr. 24, 2013

Thermo Fisher to buy Life Technologies for $13.6 billion in bid to beef up its share of next-generation genetic testing market
Dark Daily
Recently, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., of Waltham, Mass., announced a deal that will shake up the market for next-generation gene sequencing and genetic testing. It will acquire Life Technologies Corporation of Carlsbad, Calif. It is another example of consolidation involving two companies that sell products to the clinical laboratory and anatomic pathology sectors of the lab medicine marketplace. It is also a multibillion-dollar transaction.More

Scientist shows how small molecules generate better stem cells
One of the difficulties of making patient-specific pluripotent stem cells for potential therapeutic use is that the process is so time consuming. The genetic approach to reprogramming, pioneered by Shinya Yamanaka who won the 2012 Nobel Prize in medicine for his work, allows human cells to be transformed back into an embryonic-like, pluripotent state. The promise is that a patient's own cells could be grown and used to fight disease and regenerate tissue after an injury.More

Video reveals cancer cells' Achilles' heel
The University of Manchester
Scientists from the Manchester Collaborative Center for Inflammation Research have discovered why a particular cancer drug is so effective at killing cells. Their findings could be used to aid the design of future cancer treatments. Professor Daniel Davis and his team used high-quality video imaging to investigate why the drug rituximab is so effective at killing cancerous B cells. It is widely used in the treatment of B cell malignancies, such as lymphoma and leukaemia — as well as in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. More

Innovative cancer treatment has no side effects
Oncology Nurse Advisor
A new form of radiation therapy successfully put cancer into remission in mice. This innovative treatment produced none of the harmful side effects of conventional chemotherapy and radiation cancer treatments. Clinical trials in humans could begin soon after funding is secured. "Since the 1930s, scientists have sought success with a cancer treatment known as boron neutron capture therapy," said Dr. M. Frederick Hawthorne of the University of Missouri. He explained that BNCT works by taking advantage of a cancer cell's biology utilizing nanochemistry.More

Ordinary skin cells morphed into functional brain cells: New technique holds promise for multiple sclerosis
Case Western Reserve University via PhysOrg
Researchers at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine have discovered a technique that directly converts skin cells to the type of brain cells destroyed in patients with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other so-called myelin disorders. This discovery appears in the journal Nature Biotechnology. This breakthrough now enables "on-demand" production of myelinating cells, which provide a vital sheath of insulation that protects neurons and enables the delivery of brain impulses to the rest of the body. More

Study reveals natural process that blocks viruses
University of Southern California via Medical Xpress
The human body has the ability to ward off viruses by activating a naturally occurring protein at the cellular level, setting off a chain reaction that disrupts the levels of cholesterol required in cell membranes to enable viruses to enter cells. The findings, discovered by researchers in molecular microbiology and immunology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, hold promise for the development of therapies to fight a variety of viral infections. More

Small molecule destroys potentially dangerous cells
UCLA via Bioscience Technology
Pluripotent stem cells can turn, or differentiate, into any cell type in the body, such as nerve, muscle or bone, but inevitably some of these stem cells fail to differentiate and end up mixed in with their newly differentiated daughter cells. Because these remaining pluripotent stem cells can subsequently develop into unintended cell types — bone cells among blood, for instance — or form tumors known as teratomas, identifying and separating them from their differentiated progeny is of utmost importance in keeping stem cell–based therapeutics safe. More

Nanosponge mops up MRSA toxin in bloodstream
Medical News Today
VideoBriefScientists in the U.S. have developed tiny sponges made from nanoparticles disguised as red blood cells that can soak up a broad range of dangerous toxins in the blood, such as from bacteria like MRSA and E. coli, and even snake and bee venom. They suggest their technology, which so far has been shown to work in mice, offers a new way to remove toxins caused by a wide range of pathogens.More

Radioactive bacteria targets metastatic pancreatic cancer
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have developed a therapy for pancreatic cancer that uses Listeria bacteria to selectively infect tumor cells and deliver radioisotopes into them. The experimental treatment dramatically decreased the number of metastases (cancers that have spread to other parts of the body) in a mouse model of highly aggressive pancreatic cancer without harming healthy tissue. More

Bioengineers build open source language for programming cells
Drew Endy wants to build a programming language for the body. Endy is the co-director of the International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology — BIOFAB, for short — where he's part of a team that's developing a language that will use genetic data to actually program biological cells. That may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but the project is already underway, and the team intends to open source the language, so that other scientists can use it and modify it and perfect it.More

Chemical method that makes tissue transparent could lead to a brain wiring diagram
Chemical & Engineering News
After more than a century of study, neuroscientists have yet to unlock the secrets of how people learn and form thoughts. Some researchers think having a "connectome," or brain wiring diagram showing how the billions of neurons there interface, will help solve the mystery. But to assemble this diagram, researchers have had to image the brain one ultrathin slice at a time. A chemical method that makes brain tissue transparent could revolutionize this process by enabling researchers to see inside the brain without carving it up. More