'Superglue' mends wounds without
A "superglue for skin" has been developed that sticks together wounds without
involving needles and stitches. The Indermil adhesive, developed by the
Biomedical division of Loctite UK, reduces scar formation, making it
particularly suitable for facial surgery. It also seals the wound, which may
reduce infection. The transparent glue, applied through a fine pen-like
applicator, features a delivery system that allows surgeons to select the rate
at which minute droplets of the adhesive are released using a foot switch. Due
to the transparency of the adhesive, wound management can become a much simpler
procedure, and may not require changing the dressing, according to Loctite
officials. FAX John Tennant at +44 (0) 1707 821152.
Lab-on-a-chip analyzes DNA in a droplet
Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have engineered a microchip for analyzing DNA, the blueprint for life. Mike Ramsey and a colleague in the Chemical and Analytical Sciences Div. developed the MicroBioLab, which uses liquid samples "10,000 times smaller than those used in conventional analytical instruments." The chip is said to require less labor because it is computer controlled. And it's faster, performing a DNA analysis using enzymes in only five minutes instead of an hour, as required by most conventional techniques. The process could be used to screen for people carrying genes that predispose them to getting breast cancer or having future children with cystic fibrosis. As thin as a microscope slide, the glass microchip was etched to form interconnected chambers and channels just beneath the surface. Charged molecules in the tiny liquid sample are mixed in a chamber and "pumped" through the hairlike channels by an electrical field applied by electrodes near the chip. In the process, called electrokinetic transport, the charged molecules react with a fluorescent dye to give off a light when a laser beam shines on them. A computer sorts through the signal from the separated molecules to provide a sample analysis. FAX (423) 574-0595.
technique promises early breast-cancer detection
A marriage between Hubble Space Telescope astronomers and
cancer researchers has produced an image-processing technique that promises
early breast-cancer detection. Employing techniques used to correct the blurry
images sent by Hubble prior to the 1993 servicing mission, this method detects
microcalcifications, an early sign of breast cancer. A group of astronomical and
medical researchers from the Space Telescope Institute (STScI) in Baltimore,
Johns Hopkins University, and the Lombardi Cancer Research Center is testing the
procedure. In the tests, STScI researchers used a three-part imaging process to
identify calcifications in four separate test cases, two of which were blind.
The key step involved variance normalization, a technique the astronomers had
advanced much farther than the medical researchers. The conventional method for
detecting lesions is through "eyeball" inspections, which carry the risk of
human error. The Hubble technique should lead to a more unbiased detection of
smaller lesions, according to the researchers. E-mail MarkJaster@ccmail.gsfc.rasta.gov .
molecules may enhance medical images
In medicine, a good picture is often worth more than a thousand words. For that reason, physicians have invested heavily in high-tech systems to image the body's interior by means of X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET). To enhance MRI's ability to track biological activities as they happen, Thomas J. Meade, a chemist at the California Institute of Technology, has under development what he refers to as "smart contrast agents." From the agents, Meade hopes to make injectable compounds that can light up specific biological actions during MRI. The prototype contrast agents use gadolinium atoms encased in molecular shells tailored to trigger a specific enzyme. Inside the body, the enzyme takes a bite out of the shell. This enzymatic chomp exposes the gadolinium atom within, enabling the MRI to pinpoint enzymatic activity. FAX (818) 449-5163.
'Active' wheelchair seat prevents pressure ulcers
A battery-powered pneumatic seat helps eliminate ulcers
from occurring in persons confined to wheelchairs. A cooperative effort
involving Sandia National Laboratories, the University of New Mexico, and two
companies, the cushion rests on the regular seat of a wheelchair. It features
four pairs of air bladders that are cyclically inflated and deflated by the
battery-powered pistons. This prevents sustained pressure on any one area, which
can retard blood flow and oxygen exchange and cause tissue to become weakened.
In the right environment of moisture and temperature, bacteria can start to
attack vulnerable tissue and lead to pressure ulcers. Early work on an "active"
concept was done by a group of researchers at UCLA and the Sepulveda Veterans
Medical Center in Los Angeles. Together with a small company called Numotech,
they developed an active pneumatic seat to use in a clinical setting to heal
pressure ulcers nonsurgically. While effective, the device was too large and
clumsy to use in a home environment. The researchers contacted the New Mexico
Technology Deployment Pilot Project for help in reducing the size, power, and
weight of the unit. E-Mail Julie Clausen at firstname.lastname@example.org .
'Revolutionary' design creates intense X-ray instrument
A collaborative effort by NASA, industry, and university researchers has resulted in an instrument that can generate the "world's most intense source of commercial X-rays." Involved in the development were NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center; X-Ray Optical Systems, Inc., Albany, NY; and the Center for X-Ray Optics of the State University of New York at Albany. Capable of generating beams that are more than 100 times the intensity of other conventional X-ray sources, the new instrument could lead to improvements in biotechnology research, and have a wide variety of uses for medical, scientific, and industrial applications. At the heart of the instrument is a new type of optics called "capillary optics." The X-rays are controlled by reflecting them through tens of thousands of tiny curved channels or capillaries, similar to the way that light is directed through fiber optics. FAX Steve Roy at (205) 544-5852.
system could help detect, delay cataracts
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have
developed a system that may allow eye doctors to see more clearly who will
develop cataracts--and take steps to delay the process. Studies of
photoluminescence induced in the lens of the eye by visible light have helped
psychologist Gillary Kandel and physicist John Schroeder reach their new
understanding of cataracts. The researchers found evidence that cataract
formation is similar to denitrification, a phenomenon in which glass becomes
opaque as molecules break down. Based on this understanding, they developed a
quick, harmless way to measure cataract precursors in the lens during the
cataracts' latent period. Earlier, Schroeder had identified substances that can
help repair submicroscopic defects similar to those that lead to cataracts. This
led him and Kandel to prove in lab tests on donated eyes that one of the
substances, lithium, can delay the formation of cataracts. If treatment with
this or a similar drug were to delay cataract formation for 10 years, the
researchers feel it could reduce the number of cataract operations in the U.S.
by up to half a million a year. E-Mail email@example.com .
Supercomputer launches attack on Medicare fraud
Los Alamos National Laboratory will turn its
supercomputers against a new national enemy: perpetrators of Medicare fraud.
Under a two-year, $6 million contract with the Health Care Financing
Administration (HCFA), the lab will use its modern computer techniques to
analyze Medicare transactions and recommend improvements. At present, the
business of paying Medicare claims is handled by as many as 70 different private
contractors. These contractors operate independently to receive claims from
health-care providers, process the claims, decide whether the claims are
appropriate, pay the claims, and then ask the HCFA for reimbursement. All this
information could help spot fraudulent claims, but the agency's multiple
computer systems make it difficult to pull together these databases. To make
this tracking easier, Los Alamos scientists will use their own supercomputers to
combine the agency's and the private vendors' diverse systems into one. E-mail
Jim Danneskiold at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Laser scanning microscope images behavior of single cells
Medical researchers who want to study the microscopic
distributions of key proteins, DNA, messenger signals, metabolic states, and
molecular mobility have a new tool at their disposal. A microscope technology
developed at Cornell University uses pulsed lasers and fluorescent markers to
detect and image cellular activity. The technique can recognize tens of
individual molecules in focal volumes as small as 1/10th of a millionth of a
millionth of a sugar cube. It works like this. A scanned laser in the 700- to
900- nanometer range fires very short pulses focused by the microscope so that
two or three photons arrive at the same time at a molecule. This action excites
the fluorescence of the molecule relevant to biological activity. The sample
emits the fluorescence photons, producing a 3-D image. The photons are collected
and the resulting digital image can be viewed and analyzed on a computer
monitor. E-mail at email@example.com .
Hand-held electrode screens for breast cancer
A simple breast screening technique that could detect tumors in women of all ages is undergoing trials in hospitals in Israel, France, Italy, and the U.S. TransScan Research and Development, an Israel-based company, believes the technology could improve the early detection of cancer when used in conjunction with mammography. The technique, called TransSpectral Impedance Scanning, uses a sensor to measure low-level electrical current generated by an electrode held in the patient's hand. This endeavor allows the electrical impedance of the underlying breast tissue to be calculated and displayed on a monitor. Changes in the cell membrane structure and water content associated with cancerous tissue can be detected, since they alter the electrical flow. FAX +972 6546044.