Tech Watch

Implantable Device Offers Vision, Drug Delivery
Bennett Daviss | Sep 26, 2004 | 1 min read
Courtesy of Stanford University Medical CenterUsing live cells arrayed on a chip, a Stanford University team has prototyped an implantable silicon wafer designed not only to improve sight in macular degeneration patients, but also to dispense drugs and collect fluid samples inside the body.1 The implant, now in development, will be nearly 2.5 cm in diameter, 10 microns thick, and honeycombed with hundreds of microchannels, which will dispense neurotransmitters either from onboard stores or a tin
Creating a Regulatory Network Blueprint
Aileen Constans | Aug 29, 2004 | 2 min read
© 2004 Elsevier ScienceUsing electrical circuitry blueprints for inspiration, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, have developed and tested a mathematical model describing the regulatory network behind flagellar biosynthesis in Escherichia coli.1"Electrical engineers, when they want to repair a device, have a blueprint. And they immediately see which components might be malfunctioning," says lead author Uri Alon. Biologists, however, lack such a tool. "One of
Nikon Unveils New Eclipse
Bennett Daviss | Aug 1, 2004 | 1 min read
Courtesy of Nikon InstrumentsNikon Instruments of Melville, NY, is looking to blot out irreproducible results. Sporting new optics and enhanced usability features, the company's Eclipse 90i helps microscopists make the most of their data. "Photographs are fine, but you need digital data to satisfy your peers, and you need to be able to resolve that data to a degree that others come to the same conclusion you do," says Stan Schwartz, vice president of products and marketing.Nikon redesigned its l
Leica Releases Commercial 4Pi 'Scope
Aileen Constans | Jun 20, 2004 | 1 min read
Courtesy of Leica MicrosystemsConfocal and multiphoton microscopes are standard fare in academic imaging facilities, but ultrahigh-resolution systems generally have a smaller user base – namely, their inventors. Soon facilities around the world can have a piece of the pie – 4Pi, that is.Leica Microsystems recently introduced a new microscope featuring the 4Pi technology developed by Stefan Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, G
Biomolecular Computing Gets a "Killer App"
Aileen Constans | Jun 6, 2004 | 1 min read
© Nature Publishing GroupDespite buzzworthy applications such as cryptography and nanoelectronics, bio-molecular computing – the use of macromolecules such as DNA and enzymes to perform computations – will likely never match electronic computing in its speed and scalability. But a group of researchers, led by Ehud Shapiro of the Weizmann Institute in Israel, has found a promising "killer app" for biomolecular computing: molecular-scale diagnostics.1Using software programmed in g
Shining a Light on the Brain
Helen Dell | May 23, 2004 | 1 min read
©2004 Elsevier ScienceScientists can now watch the mouse brain in action thanks to a new technique that lights up specific populations of neurons as they fire.1 Because the fluorescent marker responsible is genetically encoded, it now will be possible to follow an animal throughout its life to see how activity changes during development and learning, says neurobiologist and coauthor Matt Wachowiak of Boston University.Wachowiak and colleagues targeted a pH-sensitive fluorescent marker calle
RNAi Makes Strides in Mammalian Functional Genomics
Aileen Constans | May 9, 2004 | 1 min read
©2004 Nature Publishing GroupGenomic RNA interference (RNAi) libraries have proven valuable resources for scientists who study Drosophila and Caenorhabditis elegans. Mammalian libraries, though, have lagged behind. No longer: Teams at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories (CSHL)1 in New York and the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NCI)2 in Amsterdam have separately created human libraries that target between 8,000 and 9,000 genes.While both sites used state-of-the-art technology, knowledge about RN
Scientists Unveil Mouse Chromosome Substitution Panel
Aileen Constans | Apr 25, 2004 | 1 min read
Tracking down the genes behind non-Mendelian traits can be complicated given the sheer numbers of genes involved. Now Eric Lander of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Mass., Joseph Nadeau of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, and colleagues have created a resource that could make the job easier.1The researchers bred a series of 22 C57BL/6J mouse strains, each containing a single chromosome or mitochondrial DNA from an A/J donor. This chromosomal substitut
Mining for Microbial Community Insights
Aileen Constans | Apr 11, 2004 | 2 min read
Courtesy of Jillian BanfieldA group of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, struck gold in the drainage of an abandoned California mine. Using whole-genome shotgun sequencing, Jillian Banfield and colleagues reconstructed the genomes of microbes found in a pink biofilm that thrives in this extremely acidic environment.1 While other scientists have studied organisms using a similar metagenomics, or environmental genomics, approach (most recently J. Craig Venter and colleagues2),
Exelixis Releases Fruit Fly Stocks
Sam Jaffe | Mar 28, 2004 | 1 min read
South San Francisco-based Exelixis has released nearly 18,000 strains of Drosophila melanogaster to the academic community. The collection is part of a larger assembly of 29,000 strains created by transposon insertion, and it represents, according to an editorial accompanying the release, "what may be the largest public release of scientific material in history."123"We had many long discussions within the company about how best to further develop the technology, and in the end we decided to rele
Building a Better Buffer
Aileen Constans | Mar 14, 2004 | 1 min read
Every molecular biologist knows about Tris, but few have questioned its suitability as an electrophoretic buffer component. An intrepid pair of researchers at Johns Hopkins' Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center have studied Tris and found it to be lacking.1No paper has ever claimed that Tris was the best buffer, says Scott Kern, professor of oncology and pathology. "It's just something that somebody once used, then somebody else used it, and pretty soon you had a herd mentality." Tris buffe
NCI Team Probes Chromosomal Architecture
The Scientist Staff | Feb 1, 2004 | 3 min read
NCI Team Probes Chromosomal ArchitectureFigure 1TECH WATCH Though most cells in an organism contain the identical genome sequence, the same cannot be said for the genome's three-dimensional organization. Using high-resolution microscopy and a technique called chromosome painting, Tom Misteli, a cell biologist at the National Cancer Institute, and colleagues examined six chromosomes in eight mouse tissue types and found that chromosomes cluster differently in each tissue. While this could indicat