by Asher Jones

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Viruses, spread through mosquito bites, cause human illnesses such as dengue fever, Zika and yellow fever. A new control technique harnesses a naturally occurring bacterium called Wolbachia that blocks replication of viruses and breaks the cycle of mosquito-borne disease, according to an international team of researchers.

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TUCSON, Ariz. – When testing for such as lung cancer disease, doctors know that tissue biopsies are necessary and potentially life-saving, though the procedures used to gather tissue can lead to dangerous complications, from bleeding to lung collapse. To lower the need for invasive procedures, researchers at the University of Arizona developed a new blood test that can detect most major cancers and have launched a startup, DesertDx, to bring the invention to doctors and their patients.

Dr. Bernard Futscher, professor at the UA College of Pharmacy, and Dr. Lukas Vrba, assistant research scientist at the University of Arizona Cancer Center, have combined the latest discoveries in epigenetics with new methods in informatics to create a new breed of “liquid biopsy” – a blood test for screening, detecting and monitoring cancer.

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by Erin Cassidy Hendrick

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Rechargeable lithium metal batteries with increased energy density, performance, and safety may be possible with a newly-developed, solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI), according to Penn State researchers.

As the demand for higher-energy-density lithium metal batteries increases — for electric vehicles, smartphones, and drones — stability of the SEI has been a critical issue halting their advancement because a salt layer on the surface of the battery's lithium electrode insulates it and conducts lithium ions.

"This layer is very important and is naturally formed by the reaction between the lithium and the electrolyte in the battery," said Donghai Wang, professor of mechanical and chemical engineering. "But it doesn't behave very well, which causes a lot of problems."

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BOULDER, Colo.—Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a potential new tactic for rapidly determining whether an antibiotic combats a given infection, thus hastening effective medical treatment and limiting the development of drug-resistant bacteria. Their method can quickly sense mechanical fluctuations of bacterial cells and any changes induced by an antibiotic.

Described in Scientific Reports, NIST’s prototype sensor provides results in less than an hour, much faster than conventional antimicrobial tests, which typically require days to grow colonies of bacterial cells. Delayed results from conventional tests allow dangerous infections to progress before effective treatments can be found and provides a time window for bacteria to develop drug resistance.

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The hunt for Earth-like planets, and perhaps extraterrestrial life, just got more precise, thanks to record-setting starlight measurements made possible by a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) “astrocomb.”

NIST’s custom-made frequency comb—which precisely measures frequencies, or colors, of light—ensures the precision of starlight analysis by an instrument called a spectrograph at the Hobby-Eberly Telescope in Texas. The project is a collaboration involving NIST, the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) and Pennsylvania State University, the primary partner in the telescope and spectrograph.

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new endoscopy tool, created in the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering, could one day provide a more effective, minimally invasive treatment for pancreatic tumors.

On average, only about 20 percent of pancreatic cancer patients are eligible for a surgical removal of the tumor, the currently most-effective treatment option. The location of the pancreas in the abdomen and the difficulty to detect the disease make it one of the most difficult to treat.

In an attempt to change that prognosis, Brad Hanks, a doctoral student studying mechanical engineering, created a new type of electrode to be used in endoscopic radiofrequency ablation (RFA) procedures. His work will be presented at the upcoming 2019 Design of Medical Devices Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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