Creating Biomedical Technologies to Improve Health

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Science Highlights • July 15, 2004
DNA sequencing promises to improve the way in which diseases such as cancer are diagnosed, monitored, and treated. The technology relies on detecting fluorescent signals created when pieces of DNA bind together on a microchip. An emerging technology—electrophoresis on microchips—has aided DNA sequencing by miniaturizing processing technologies. Miniaturization has reduced the time needed to analyze samples and decreased the sample size required for testing.
 
Science Highlights • June 16, 2004
In the future, a patient in need of a new bone or bone section may be able to have one made using a mold, a gel solution, and a few drops of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). These versatile precursor cells, found in bone marrow and fat tissue, can transform into different cell types, including bone, cartilage, and skeletal muscle.
May 20, 2004
Molecular probes offer researchers a new tool to gather information about the fundamental actions and reactions that occur in cells and molecules. By using fluorescent probes that are compatible with biological material, researchers can obtain color images of cellular and molecular activity. One form of molecular probe that has generated recent interest is semiconductor nanocrystals. These microscopic particles exhibit unique optical properties that offer major advantages over conventional fluorescent dyes for imaging biological samples.
 
Science Highlights • April 27, 2004
Shorter epilepsy surgery times may result from a new imaging system that integrates information about brain anatomy, biochemistry, electrical activity, and blood flow and may allow surgeons to more precisely pinpoint, and then remove, damaged brain tissue that causes seizures.
Science Highlights • March 23, 2004
A miniature implantable pump may broaden the range of behaviors that scientist can study using brain imaging techniques. The pump infuses detectable tracer molecules into the bloodstream of laboratory rats engaged in specific behaviors. Activated brain regions are revealed by the distribution of tracer molecules during or just after a behavior.
Science Highlights • March 10, 2004
A tiny scale that is sensitive enough to weigh a single virus particle may become the basis for biodefense detection systems that can instantly recognize dangerous viruses.  Scientists recently fabricated a microscopic, silicon-based device that looks like a tiny diving board and vibrates naturally at a particular frequency. Researchers measure the frequency by bouncing laser light off the tip of the device, known as a cantilever.
Science Highlights • February 11, 2004
Nanometer-sized crystals called quantum dots that emit light at specific wavelengths when illuminated may one day assist doctors’ efforts to assess and treat cancer patients. The dots may help illuminate sentinel lymph nodes and eliminate the need for multiple biopsies in breast cancer patients.

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