Scientists have been investigating the structure of the HIV capsid for years; the protein shell protects the virus' genetic material, helps debilitate the infected person's immune system, and is the target for the development of new antiretroviral drugs. Research teams have turned to a wide range of futuristic-sounding techniques to crack the code, from cryo-electron microscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to cryo-EM tomography and X-ray crystallography.
In an unprecedented case, doctors in Mississippi believe they have "functionally cured" a toddler of an HIV infection.
Recent tests of a 2-year-old born premature with the disease show no detectable levels of the virus, according to the National Institutes of Health. Doctors credit early administration of antiretroviral therapy for curing the child, who shows no signs of the virus after a year off the drugs.
"Despite the fact that research has given us the tools to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, many infants are unfortunately still born infected," Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of National … Read more
British scientists have come up with a super-sensitive prototype sensor that lets doctors detect early stage diseases with the naked eye, an innovation that could prove valuable in countries that lack the resources for expensive diagnostic equipment.
The sensor, created at Imperial College London, relies on nanotechnology to analyze serum derived from blood samples.
A positive reaction to p24, a protein that indicates early HIV infection, or PSA, a protein that at certain levels can indicate prostate cancer, generates irregular clumps of nanoparticles that emit a blue color in a solution kept in a disposable container.
A negative reaction, however, … Read more
After the H1N1 "swine flu" virus jumped from pigs to human in 2009, more than 18,000 people died and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called it the first global pandemic in more than 40 years.
Today, biomedical engineers out of Brown University and Memorial Hospital in Rhode Island hope that their prototype flu detector biochip will help contain the next major flu outbreak by enabling the quickest, most accurate, and most affordable diagnosis possible.
Many of us have relied on rapid diagnostic tests at one time or another, whether it's testing for pregnancy, blood glucose levels, or strep throat.
But while dropping fluid samples on a small strip for near-instantaneous results is affordable and convenient, reading results using the human eye means there is the potential for, well, human error.
So researchers at UCLA have taken the human out of the equation as much as possible and developed a digital "universal" reader for all rapid diagnostic tests, or RDTs, that requires no translation of results.
In the journal Lab on a … Read more
Affordable paper sensors aren't exactly new. Think home pregnancy tests. But researchers out of the University of Texas at Austin are pushing (or is it folding?) the envelope with their origami-inspired 3D paper sensor that, thanks to strategic folding, can identify more substances in more complex tests.
Able to be printed at less than a dime a sensor using an ordinary office printer and less than a minute of folding, the origami Paper Analytical Device (which they've dubbed oPAD) "is about medicine for everybody," said Richard Crooks, a chemistry professor who built the sensor with doctoral student Hong Liu, in a school news release.
Engineers at Cornell are building a handheld pathogen detector that will help health care workers around the world test for pathogens such as tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and HIV and get results in as little as 30 minutes, instead of waiting days.
Dan Luo, professor of biological and environmental engineering, has been using synthetic DNA to amplify tiny samples of pathogen DNA, RNA, or proteins. Because of $25 million in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Grand Challenge to 12 teams developing point-of-care diagnostics, Luo will be combining forces with Edwin Kan, a Cornell professor of electrical and computer engineering, who has built a computer chip that can respond quickly to those amplified samples.
The engineers describe their novel device as something akin to a molecular-level Lego builder.… Read more
New findings that a saliva-based HIV test is only 2 percent less accurate than blood tests could make a case for more widespread self-testing around the world.
Researchers from McGill University in Montreal report in this week's issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases that field research data from five worldwide databases show that in high-risk populations, the saliva test (approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004) is 98.0 percent accurate, compared to a blood test's 99.68 percent accuracy.
Researchers around the world have been studying a group of recently-identified antibodies capable of neutralizing most strains of HIV, with the hopes of developing a vaccine that produces antibodies with these same properties.
Now, biologists out of the California Institute of Technology--led by Nobel Laureate David Baltimore--are one step closer to a vaccine with their new method of delivering these antibodies to lab mice, thereby protecting them from HIV.
For the most part, researchers have focused … Read more
It's not every day that a news item details the intelligence of the masses, lurking in the brains of unassuming passersby, just waiting to be uncovered for the greater good. But when it comes to the massively multiplayer online game Foldit, this is precisely the story, and it keeps getting better.
Launched in 2008 at the University of Washington, the protein folding game first made news for its potential to use the collective brainpower of gamers everywhere to unlock the fundamental mysteries of certain diseases. Then gamers began to prove this potential, solving various protein riddles that further our … Read more