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Archive for the ‘cool tools’ Category

Extracting and Purifying Human DNA in Under Three Minutes

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 05-07-2013

University of Washington engineers and NanoFacture, a Bellevue, Wash., company, have created a device that can extract human DNA from fluid samples in a simpler, more efficient and environmentally friendly way than conventional methods.

Conventional methods use a centrifuge to spin and separate DNA molecules or strain them from a fluid sample with a micro-filter, but these processes take 20 to 30 minutes to complete and can require excessive toxic chemicals.

UW engineers designed microscopic probes that dip into a fluid sample – saliva, sputum or blood – and apply an electric field within the liquid. That draws particles to concentrate around the surface of the tiny probe. Larger particles hit the tip and swerve away, but DNA-sized molecules stick to the probe and are trapped on the surface. It takes two or three minutes to separate and purify DNA using this technology.

Read the full story on the UW website.

Accelerating the discovery of the hammers and tongs of life

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 02-25-2013

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found a way to significanlty increase the processing speed at which mass spectrometers identify proteins. Professor Joshua Coon and colleagues from the department of chemistry and biomolecular chemistry, used isotope tags to enable the mass spec to differentiate between as many as 20 different samples at once. The new technology is expected to make mass spec cheaper, faster and more accessible to the scientific masses clamoring to be part of a technique that is on the forefront of biology.

As one astute observer put it:

Proteins are essential building blocks of biology, used in muscle, brain, blood and hormones. If the genes are the blueprints, the proteins patterned on them are the hammers and tongs of life.

With Coon’s new technology, the discovery of the hammers and tongs have life has just been kicked up a notch.

For more information, read Analytical trick may accelerate cancer diagnosis.

The Science Game Center – Video Games that Teach Science

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 02-20-2013

The Science Game Center (SGC) launched on April 19, 2012 and serves as a clearing house for all types of games for science education – card games, board games, video games and more. Games that also generate science data are also featured. For example, Eyewire is a brand new game from MIT that intends to map the human brain my crowd sourcing. Eyewire is from Sebastian Seung’s lab at MIT.

Serving as a central resource for educators to find games to use to teach students and as a resource to assist game developers in reaching their audience, the SGC is a valuable resource in a growing field. Key to the value the SGC offers is the opportunity for educators, scientists, and players to post their reviews of the games. Not only will these reviews inform teachers about how the games have been used by others, reviews will provide constructive feedback to the game developers about the accuracy of the scientific representations and about how much players enjoy the games. To make the SGC as useful as possible, we need reviews of games by the scientific community. Help us out; review some games. Take a break from reviewing technical papers, give one of the games a try, then try it again with your kids and submit your thoughts. Your reactions as a scientist may help guide teachers seeking games, and your review will be tempered by the comments of 5th graders.

For additional comments or questions, please contact David Orloff, Project Director or Melanie Stegman, Ph.D., Director of Learning Technologies Program at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). The FAS has also developed its own game Immune Attack and is currently developing the sequel, Immune Defense.This project is supported in part by a competitive grant from the Entertainment Software Association Foundation (ESAF). FAS has supported research in effective learning technologies since 2001. See www.fas.org/programs/ltp for more information about Learning Technologies at FAS.

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LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Science-Game-Center-4708136/about
Twitter: @scigame and @melanieanns

Thanks to David Orloff for submitting this guest post.

Is Deformation the New Transformation?

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 01-23-2013

Researchers from MIT have now found a safe and efficient way to get large molecules through the cell membrane, by squeezing the cells through a narrow constriction that opens up tiny, temporary holes in the membrane. Any large molecules floating outside the cell — such as RNA, proteins or nanoparticles — can slide through the membrane during this disruption.

Click here to read the full story…

3D Biology Game: An Idea Worth Funding

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 12-06-2012

This past summer a group of artists and indie game developers in the Seattle area attempted to develop a super-cool video game that allowed player to explore the inside of a cell as if they were actually inside the 3D structure. Unfortunately, the team was unsuccessful in meeting its funding goal, however, they left a strong impresson on me and I believe that they have a product which can seriously help revitalize the biology classroom.

Checkut the video from Kinect Biology and give us your feedback. Do you think that there idea is worth funding?