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Publication: Health Tips Weekly
Purdue Cancer Center gets $1.5M gift

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, September 27, 2007 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   
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        'Lab-on-a-chip' bird flu test is developed

SINGAPORE,-- Singaporean scientists have developed a miniat-
urized device that can detect the highly pathogenic avian 
flu virus H5N1. Researchers at Singapore's Institute of Bio-
engineering and Nanotechnology, Institute of Molecular and 
Cell Biology and the Genome Institute of Singapore said the 
device could be deployed in affected regions for pre-emptive
surveillance of a nascent avian flu epidemic. IBN research 
scientist Juergen Pipper, the project leader, said, "With 
our device, medical or humanitarian aid workers would be 
able to detect the presence of the H5N1 virus directly from
throat swab samples on-site in less than half an hour." The 
device comprises a unique platform developed by IBN that 
uses magnetic force to manipulate individual droplets cont-
aining silica-coated magnetic particles. "The novelty of 
our method lies in the way that the droplet itself becomes 
a pump, valve, mixer, solid-phase extractor and real-time 
thermocycler," said Pipper. "Complex biochemical tasks can 
thus be processed in a fashion similar to that of a tradit-
ional biological laboratory on a miniature scale." He said 
tests have shown the platform is as sensitive as and around
10 times faster than available tests and potentially 40 to 
100 times cheaper.
  
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       Breath analysis could be blood sugar test

IRVINE, Calif.,--A U.S. study suggests breath analysis might
become an effective method of non-invasively monitoring a 
diabetic's blood sugar level. University of California-Irvine
researchers have found a chemical analysis method developed
for air-pollution testing could be used to warn diabetics of
high blood sugar levels and the need to administer insulin.
The UC-Irvine chemists and pediatricians discovered children
with type-1 diabetes exhale significantly higher concentrat-
ions of methyl nitrates when they are hyperglycemic. "Breath
analysis has been showing promise as a diagnostic tool in a 
number of clinical areas, such as with ulcers and cystic 
fibrosis," said Dr. Pietro Galassetti, a diabetes researcher
at the university. "While no clinical breath test yet exists
for diabetes, this study shows the possibility of non-invas-
ive methods that can help the millions who have this chronic
disease."
  
  
        EPA awards biomonitoring research grants

WASHINGTON, -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 
announced the awarding of $4 million in grants Tuesday to 
five institutions for biomonitoring research. Biomonitoring 
is the measurement of toxins in people by testing specimens 
such as blood and urine. Officials said biomonitoring is 
critical to tracking public health and establishing public 
health and environmental policies. "Protecting public health
is an important part of this research and EPA's mission," 
said George Gray, assistant administrator for the EPA's 
Office of Research and Development. "Biomarkers can help us 
understand the connections between human exposure, dose and 
health effects, and the work EPA is funding will help imp-
rove our understanding of how the agency can use biomarkers 
to protect human health and the environment." The five 
research grants will be used to develop computer models that
can match biomarkers with exposure and/or dose for many 
chemicals including chlorpyrifos, diazinon, parathion, 
carbaryl, perfluorooctanoate and perfluorooctanesulfonate, 
the EPA said. The grants were awarded to the Hamner 
Institutes, Research Triangle Park, N.C., $750,000; Clark 
University, Worcester, Mass., $677,499; Colorado State 
University, Fort Collins, Colo., $748,582; The LifeLine 
Group Inc., Annandale, Va., $749,991; and The University 
at Buffalo, $749,612.
         
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          Purdue Cancer Center gets $1.5M gift

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., -- The Purdue University Cancer Center
-- one of seven National Cancer Institute-designated U.S. 
basic research facilities -- has received a $1.5 million 
gift. The gift from former Indiana state Sen V. Richard 
Miller and his wife, Jane, honors the Miller's late son, 
Robert "Robbie" Wallace Miller, who died from a rare form 
of cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma, when he was 11 years old. Rha-
bdomyosarcoma is a fast-growing, highly malignant tumor 
that attaches to muscle tissue and internal organs. It typ-
ically strikes young children. Robbie Miller died Oct. 10, 
1976, six weeks after receiving a clean bill of health 
fter a routine physical. "We are one of the thousands of 
families affected by cancer," said Miller, who earned his 
bachelor's degree in science from Purdue in 1963 and is a 
former member of the Purdue Cancer Center Advisory Board. 
"We want to support the researchers at the Purdue Cancer 
Center, where they are developing new diagnostic tools and
treatments." The center, established in 1976, focuses on 
identifying new molecular targets and designing agents and
drugs for effectively detecting and treating cancer.

  
  
        Scientists ID Alzheimer's brain marker

DURHAM, N.C.,-- U.S. researchers using functional magnetic 
resonance imaging have found a new marker that might aid in
the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. "The findings 
of this study implicate a potential functional, rather than
structural, brain marker -- separate from atrophy -- that 
may help enhance diagnosis and treatment monitoring of Alz-
heimer's patients," said the study's lead author, Dr. Jeff-
rey Petrella, an associate professor of radiology at Duke 
University Medical Center. Alzheimer's disease is a prog-
ressive brain disorder characterized by memory loss, confus-
ion, personality or behavioral changes and other symptoms.
"As new therapies for Alzheimer's disease enter the pipeline
over the next five years, early diagnosis will become crit-
ical for patient selection," Petrella said. "fMRI may play 
a key role in early diagnosis, when combined with clinical,
genetic and other imaging markers."
 
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         Inner-ear cell culture method created

WOODS HOLE, Maine, -- U.S. researchers have developed a new 
laboratory culturing technique that produces cells critical 
to understanding inner-ear disorders. Marine Biological Lab-
oratory researchers said their discovery might lead to cures
for hearing loss, tinnitus and balance problems. MBL invest-
igators Zhengqing Hu and Professor Jeffrey Corwin, both from
the University of Virginia's School of Medicine, developed a
technique for isolating cells from the inner ears of chicken
embryos and growing them in their laboratory. The scientists
achieved their results by inducing avian cells to different-
iate into hair cells via a process known as mesenchymal-to-
epithelial transition. Hu and Corwin were able to freeze and
thaw the cultured cells, then grow new cells from the thawed
cultures -- a discovery that will make hair cells accessible
to more researchers. "Until now, scientists working to und-
erstand many inner ear disorders had to resort to difficult 
microdissections to gather even small numbers of these 
cells, which limited the types of research that could be 
pursued and slowed the pace of discoveries," said Corwin.
  
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