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Next-generation genome sequencers compared

April 23, 2012


UK-based researchers tested the three leading desktop sequencers. The results: if you want the most throughout per hour, the Ion Torrent PGM does that. If you need the highest throughput per run, the MiSeq is there. Accuracy-wise, the MiSeq is best; for generating the longest reads, the 454 is best.

Ref.: Nicholas J Loman et al., Performance comparison of benchtop high-throughput sequencing platforms, Nature Biotechnology, 2012 [DOI:… read more

Protein-Based Nanoactuators

August 13, 2004

Protein-based nanoactuators can now be controlled rapidly and reversibly by thermoelectric signals, emulating how muscle tissue contracts or relaxes.

The protein motors could power linear motion of nanowires for uses such as bioanalysis chips and gene delivery.

Carbon Nanotubes Detect Lung Cancer Markers in the Breath

November 21, 2008

Using an array of nanotube devices, each coated with a different organic material, researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology have developed diagnostic system that may be able to diagnose lung cancer simply by sampling a patient’s breath.

Exercise May Boost ‘Good’ Cholesterol Levels

May 30, 2007

Regular exercise seems to help boost levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol, say Japanese researchers.

Biggest bets in the universe unveiled

August 30, 2004

British-based bookmaker Ladbrokes is taking bets on whether the five biggest physics experiments in the world will come good before 2010: life on Titan, gravitational waves, the Higgs boson, cosmic ray origins, and nuclear fusion.

Magic mushrooms reduce anxiety over cancer

September 7, 2010

(Dohduhdah/Wikipedia Commons)

The active ingredient of magic mushrooms, psilocybin, has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve mood in people with cancer. researchers from Harbor-UCLA Medical Center have found.

Volunteers reported feeling less depressed and anxious two weeks after receiving psilocybin. Six months later, the level of depression was significantly lower in all volunteers than it had been before the treatments began.

Smart drug implant has batteries included

December 1, 2008

A “biobattery” magnesium medical implant doubles as a battery as it corrodes, and could power targeted drug release.

Building Better Biofuels

June 6, 2007

LS9, of San Carlos, CA, is using the relatively new field of synthetic biology to engineer bacteria that can make hydrocarbons for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

Hydrocarbon fuels are better suited than ethanol to existing delivery infrastructure and engines, and their manufacture would require less energy.

DNA fingerprinting ‘no longer foolproof’

September 9, 2004

The genetic profiles held by police for criminal investigations are not sophisticated enough to prevent false identifications, according to Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, the father of DNA fingerprinting.

The increasing number of records being held on the British police database — currently about 2.5 million — meant that having only 10 markers per person was no longer foolproof.

He suggested 15 or 16 markers to reduce the chances… read more

Your amazing brain: Top 10 articles from 2008

December 8, 2008

Techniques for training your brain, a unified theory of the brain, and the outer limits of the human brain are among the ten top articles in 2008 recommended by New Scientist. is now making the last 12 months’ of articles free.

The phenomena behind nanotechnology’s many promises

June 15, 2007

In a progress report on nanoscience concepts and applications, Dr. Gary Hodes from the Weizman Institute of Science has described some of the fundamental size-dependent properties that make materials change behavior at the nanoscale.

Chemical changes in hippocampus are early diagnostic clues for Alzheimer disease

May 10, 2012


Dr. Pravat K. Mandal and colleagues have developed a non-invasive brain imaging technique that measures specific brain chemical changes in the hippocampus, providing a signature of the early stages of Alzheimer disease.

Key findings in pre-Alzheimer and Alzheimer disease patients in the left hippocampus:

  • Increase in pH to the alkaline range.
  • Changes in four brain chemicals.

This diagnostic technique requires no blood work or radiation, and can… read more

They’re Robots? Those Beasts!

September 20, 2004

Lobsters, snakes, cockroaches, fish and other animals are inspiring the designers of biomimetic robots.

Designs based on animal motion could allow robots to move in environments currently inaccessible to today’s generation of wheeled or tank-treaded robots.

Sizing Up Consciousness by Its Bits

September 22, 2010

Dr. Giulio Tononi, distinguished chair in consciousness science at the University of Wisconsin, and colleagues are adapting information theory to build a “consciousness meter” that doctors can use to measure consciousness.

Tononi and his colleagues have been expanding traditional information theory to develop an “Integrated Information Theory.” Consciousness, he says, is nothing more than integrated information, measurable in bits.

It is possible, the researchers have shown, to calculate… read more

First Self-Healing Coatings

December 12, 2008

New protective coatings developed at the University of Illinois heal over their own scratches with no external intervention, protecting the underlying metal from corrosion.

The self-healing elements, in a paint additive, are enclosed in microcapsules that rip open when the coating is scratched.

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