Pancreatic cancer blood test breakthrough

The test, which they describe as “a major advance”, hunts for tiny spheres of fat that are shed by the cancers.

Early results published in the journal Nature showed the test was 100% accurate.

Experts said the findings were striking and ingenious, but required refinement before they could become a cancer test.

The number of people who survive 10 years after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is less than 1% in England and Wales compared with 78% for breast cancer.

The tumour results in very few symptoms in its early stages and by the time people become unwell, the cancer has often spread around the body and become virtually untreatable.


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What’s Old Is New Again

Revolutionary new methods for extracting, purifying, and sequencing ever-more-ancient DNA have opened an unprecedented window into the history of life on Earth.


Two researchers sit hunched in front of a fume hood dressed head-to-toe in stark white Tyvek suits, though the yellow-tinted window I’m viewing them through lends the entire scene a sulfurous hue. One of the scientists, a research associate named Hongjie Li, pipettes tiny volumes of solutions containing decades-old DNA into centrifuge tubes, while the other, PhD student Lu Yao, types information into a laptop. Airlock doors and a sensitive ventilation system minimize the incursion of outside air and the myriad bits of contaminating DNA it carries. Yao, reaching a point when she can take a break, looks up from her work and waves, a smile spreading beneath her face mask and crinkling the corners of her eyes.

This is the ancient-DNA lab at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, tucked in a corner of the basement at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. Yao has spent hours in this space. Working under the guidance of molecular anthropologist Ripan Malhi, she hopes to answer questions about phylogeny, biogeography, and island dwarfism among long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in Southeast Asia by sequencing decades- and even century-old mitochondrial DNA collected from the dried skulls of monkeys in museum collections. And thanks to recent methodological, computational, and conceptual advances in the study of ancient DNA, Yao, Li—who studies ancient DNA from native Californians—and other researchers are succeeding, compiling sequences at an unprecedented rate.


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Drinking A Lot Of Beer Increases Exposure To Mycotoxins, University Of Valencia Study

Drinking A Lot Of Beer Increases Exposure To Mycotoxins

Researchers from the University of Valencia (Spain) have analysed the mycotoxins produced by certain microscopic fungi in the beer and dried fruits, such as figs and raisins, confirming that these products meet food regulations. Only for heavy beer drinkers – who drink more than a litre a day -, the contribution of this commodity to the daily intake is not negligible, approaching or even exceeding the safety levels.

Mycotoxins are toxic metabolites produced by fungi that contaminate fruits, cereals and derivative products. Scientists from the University of Valencia (UV) have analysed those of the Fusarium genus in 154 brands of beer on the market in Europe.


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‘Organs-on-chips’ wins design award

Silicon chips that mimic the function of living human organs have won the Design of the Year award from the Design Museum in London.

It is the first time an entry from the field of medicine has won the award.

The museum said the project seems to “symbolise the essence of life and also happens to be beautiful to look at”.

Scientists at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute placed human cells from different tissues on to the chips to study how the different organs worked.

Their lung-on-a-chip, for example, contracts and relaxes, as the lungs would, as air is passed over the cells.

The Wyss Institute says the devices could provide an alternative to animal testing for drug development.


Full story at BBC News

Neanderthal-Human Hybrid Unearthed

DNA from the 40,000-year-old bones of a modern human found in Europe contains Neanderthal genes.


Between 35,000 and 45,000 years ago, modern humans spread throughout Europe. Around the same time, Neanderthals disappeared from the landscape—but not before interbreeding with Homo sapiens. Recent research has revealed that all non-Africans living today retain a genetic trace—1-3 percent of the genome—of Neanderthal ancestry. And 40,000 years ago, human genomes may have contained twice as much Neanderthal DNA, according to a study published today (June 22) inNature.

Genetic material recovered from 40,000-year-old human bones unearthed in Romania harbors about 6-9 percent Neanderthal DNA, the study reports. Some of this DNA was contained in three relatively large chromosome segments, suggesting the individual had a Neanderthal ancestor only four to six generations back. “I think the conclusions are quite clear, and it’s really quite remarkable that they were lucky to find a hybrid that was so recent to be able to date it to a few generations back,” said Rasmus Nielsen, a University of California Berkeley population geneticist who was not involved with the work.


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Gene mutation in Ebola outbreak provides epidemiological insight

Sequencing genetic material from the blood of 179 Ebola patient blood samples has provided insights into the epidemiological and evolutionary course of the current Ebola epidemic. The analysis confirms the path that different viral lineages took through the human populations of West Africa. These findings are important because they can be used in conjunction with epidemiological data to retrospectively test the effectiveness of Ebola control measures.

For this study, viral genomes were sequenced from blood samples of Ebola infected patients. Each sample was linked to the following data: patient location, sample collection date, disease onset, and disease outcome. The median collection date was four days after the onset of symptoms. The viral gene sequence was derived from RNA sequencing of patient samples (Ebola is an RNA virus).


More at Ars Technica

Eating Chocolate Cuts Heart Attack And Stroke Risk

Eating Chocolate Cuts Heart Attack And Stroke Risk But Scientists Don’t Know How, British Medical Journal Reveals


Eating up to 100 g of chocolate every day is linked to lowered heart disease and stroke risk, finds research published online in the journal Heart.

There doesn’t seem to be any evidence for cutting out chocolate to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, conclude the researchers.

They base their findings on almost 21,000 adults taking part in the EPIC-Norfolk study, which is tracking the impact of diet on the long term health of 25,000 men and women in Norfolk, England, using food frequency and lifestyle questionnaires.

The researchers also carried out a systematic review of the available international published evidence on the links between chocolate and cardiovascular disease, involving almost 158,000 people–including the EPIC study participants.


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Cambridge Biomedical Names Brad Yount as President and Chief Operating Officer

Cambridge Biomedical announced that Board Member Brad Yount has been appointed President and Chief Operating Officer reporting to Barbara Osband, Chief Executive Officer.

Brad Yount President & COO

“Cambridge Biomedical’s strength in bioanalytical assays and diagnostic testing is well known in the industry”

Boston, MA (PRWEB) June 15, 2015

Cambridge Biomedical announced that Board Member Brad Yount has been appointed President and Chief Operating Officer reporting to Barbara Osband, Chief Executive Officer.

“Brad is a seasoned leader with extensive experience in developing companies and driving them to the next level. Brad has provided his knowledge and expertise to Cambridge Biomedical as a board member since January, 2010. I have tremendous confidence that his inside knowledge of our operations combined with his management experience will further grow our company,” said Barbara Osband, Chief Executive Officer.

Yount assumed responsibility in May for all operational areas in Cambridge Biomedical and is focused on improving operational efficiencies within the company as it positions itself for continuing double-digit growth.

“Cambridge Biomedical’s strength in bioanalytical assays and diagnostic testing is well known in the industry,” Yount, President and COO, commented, “and I am greatly energized to help lead this company with its team of highly experienced staff through its next phase of growth tied to operational excellence.”

Prior to this appointment, Yount was responsible for the operations of several different companies in market research, architecture design and products, and speciality materials. Mr. Yount received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech and a MBA from Northeastern University.

About Cambridge Biomedical

Cambridge Biomedical, based in Boston, Massachusetts, supports sponsors by developing customized assays for small and large molecules, biomarkers, and other critical analytes, along with validation and sample testing in our CLIA certified and CAP accredited, GLP/GCLP compliant facilities.

The Company has extensive expertise in technology transfer, assay development, optimization and validation. It also offers specific services in analytical support for PK/PD studies, biomarker development, clinical assay development, assay validation, specimen analysis, and testing services in support of clinical trial and drug or device development.

Our personalized project methodology, along with a focus on delivering quality results and regulatory submission ready documentation and rapid turnaround times, ensures we meet our client’s product development timelines.