Archive for the ‘Biotechnology & Biomedicine’ Category

Seeing Double: New Study Explains Evolution of Duplicate Genes

April 7, 2013 – From time to time, living cells will accidentally make an extra copy of a gene during the normal replication process. Throughout the history of life, evolution has molded some of these seemingly superfluous genes into a source of genetic novelty, adaptation and diversity. A new study shows one way that some duplicate genes could have long-ago escaped elimination from the genome, leading to the genetic innovation seen in modern life.

Engineered Bacteria Produce Biofuel Alternative for High-Energy Rocket Fuel

March 26, 2014 — Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Joint BioEnergy Institute have engineered a bacterium to synthesize pinene, a hydrocarbon produced by trees that could potentially replace high-energy fuels, such as JP-10, in missiles and other aerospace applications.

Robotic Arm Probes Chemistry of 3-D Objects by Mass Spectrometry

March 26, 2014 – A new robotic system at Georgia Tech’s Center for Chemical Evolution could soon let scientists better simulate and analyze the chemical reactions of early Earth on the surface of real rocks to further test the theory that catalytic minerals on a meteorite’s surface could have jump-started life’s first chemical reactions.

Microfluidic Device With Artificial Arteries Measures Drugs’ Influence on Blood Clotting

March 24, 2014 – A new microfluidic method for evaluating drugs commonly used for preventing heart attacks has found that while aspirin can prevent dangerous blood clots in some at-risk patients, it may not be effective in all patients with narrowed arteries. The study, which involved 14 human subjects, used a device that simulated blood flowing through narrowed coronary arteries to assess effects of anti-clotting drugs.

Fluorescent jungle gyms made of DNA

March 14, 2014 – A new paper in Science describes DNA-based polyhedral shapes that are larger and stronger than scientists have built before. Right now, these are just static shapes. But they provide the scaffolding on which scientists could build robot walkers, or cages with doors that open and close.

Biomolecular Tweezers Facilitate Study of Mechanical Force Effects on Cells and Proteins

March 10, 2014 — A new type of biomolecular tweezers could help researchers study how mechanical forces affect the biochemical activity of cells and proteins. The devices – too small to see without a microscope – use opposing magnetic and electrophoretic forces to precisely stretch the cells and molecules.

Brain Circuits Multitask to Detect, Discriminate the Outside World

March 5, 2014 – A new study found that neural circuits in the brain rapidly multitask between detecting and discriminating sensory input, such as headlights in the distance. That’s different from how electronic circuits work, where one circuit performs a very specific task. The brain, the study found, is wired in way that allows a single pathway to perform multiple tasks.

Self-Administration of Flu Vaccine with a Patch May be Feasible, Study Suggests

February 26, 2014 — The annual ritual of visiting a doctor’s office or health clinic to receive a flu shot may soon be outdated, thanks to the findings of a new study published in the journal Vaccine. The research, which involved nearly 100 people recruited in the metropolitan Atlanta area, found that test subjects could successfully apply a prototype vaccine patch to themselves.

Personalized Medicine Best Way to Treat Cancer, Study Argues

February 24, 2014 – A new study found evidence that assessing the route to cancer on a case-by-case basis might make more sense than basing a patient’s cancer treatment on commonly disrupted genes and pathways.

Georgia Tech Professor Chairs AAAS Panel on Pandemic Emergency Response

February 21, 2014 – To help coordinate a rapid response to pandemics, a professor at Georgia Tech has designed software that combines biological data on the pandemic with demographic data of the at-risk population so that health officials can develop a game plan to limit the pandemic’s spread.