Optical biopsies on horizon using noninvasive biomedical imaging

A new imaging technique that could lead to optical biopsies without removal of tissue is being reported by biophysical scientists at Cornell and Harvard universities. The advance in biomedical imaging enables noninvasive microscopy scans through the surface of intact organs or body systems. Demonstrations of the new technique are producing images of diseased tissue at the cellular level with unprecedented detail.

Diamond layer makes steel rock hard

Dutch chemist Ivan Buijnsters from the University of Nijmegen has successfully produced a diamond layer on a steel substrate. This opens up the possibility of wear-resistant tools. The secret to this technique is an adhesive layer between the steel and the diamond layer. Buijnsters made diamond layers by allowing methane gas diluted in hydrogen gas to dissociate on a hot wire just above the substrate. The carbon atoms present in the methane dropped onto the substrate and formed a thin layer of diamond there. However, this technique did not work on a steel substrate. Graphite mostly formed on this.

Scientists Image Soft Tissues With New X-Ray Technique

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, in collaboration with researchers at Rush Medical College, have demonstrated the effectiveness of a novel x-ray imaging technology to visualize soft tissues of the human foot that are not visible with conventional x-rays. The technique, called Diffraction Enhanced Imaging (DEI), provides all of the information imparted by conventional x-rays as well as detailed information on soft tissues previously accessible only with additional scanning methods such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This study appears in the May 2003 issue of the Journal of Anatomy.

New imaging method accurately detects stroke

Diffusion-weighted MR imaging is an accurate way to detect whether a patient has had a stroke–even 24 hours after the patient’s initial symptoms began, a new study shows. The study, the largest of its kind, found that diffusion-weighted MR imaging was about 90 percent accurate in diagnosing stroke, says Mark Mullins, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Mullins was the lead author of the study. Diffusion-weighted MR imaging was 91% accurate if the test was done 0-6 hours after the patient first began having symptoms; accuracy was 89% at 6-12 hours, then 90% at 12-24 hours, says Dr. Mullins.

Brains of Alzheimer’s patients similar to immature brains in children

A new MR imaging technique used to study white matter in the brain has found something intriguing–the brains of Alzheimer’s patients show some of the same signs as the immature brains of children. Diffusion tensor MR imaging examinations were performed on 60 normal persons, ranging in age from infancy to late adulthood, says Jeffrey Lassig, MD, of the University of Michigan, and lead author of the study. The part of the brain that connects the two halves of the brain was studied. When the brain is immature the water molecules in the white matter of the brain move (diffuse) more freely. As the brain ages, the water molecules seem more constrained, he says.

New technique ID's parts of brain most crucial to 'normal' functioning

A team of researchers has developed a novel new brain imaging technique that produces maps that “light up” the relationship between the severity of a behavioral deficit and the voxels (similar to pixels in computer images) in the brain that contribute the most to that deficit. Discovery of the new technique, known as Voxel-based Lesion-Symptom Mapping (VLSM) will give researchers an invaluable new tool for pinpointing the specific areas of the brain that are most crucial for normal functioning during critical brain activities, starting with the measures of language comprehension and production that were used for the first demonstration in Nature Neuroscience, but moving on to many different language and non-language functions.

Protein engineering produces 'molecular switch'

Using a lab technique called domain insertion, researchers have joined two proteins in a way that creates a molecular “switch.” The result, the researchers say, is a microscopic protein partnership in which one member controls the activity of the other. Similarly coupled proteins may someday be used to produce specialized molecules that deliver lethal drugs only to cancerous cells. They also might be used to set off a warning signal when biological warfare agents are present.

New water treatment process could help cities cut sludge disposal costs

An innovative technique has been proposed for treating and purifying wastewater, which could spare budget-strapped municipalities some of the expense of handling the sludge that remains after treatment. Researchers say it could reduce the amount of leftover sludge by up to five tons a day for a plant that serves 100,000 people. The new technique, called the activated magnetic sludge process, is the first to introduce magnetic separation, according to environmental engineer Yasuzo Sakai, Ph.D., of Utsunomiya University in Japan, who presented the research.

Method provides new tool for diagnosing heart disease

A quick and painless technique recently developed by Wisconsin researchers could help clinicians identify signs of coronary heart disease (CHD), a condition that claims the lives of 2,000 Americans every day. The technique, called cardiac elastography creates real-time, two-dimensional images of muscle strain as the heart moves blood through its chambers to the rest of the body.