Researchers use laser, nanotechnology to rapidly detect viruses

Waiting a day or more to get lab results back from the doctor’s office soon could become a thing of a past. Using nanotechnology, a team of University of Georgia researchers has developed a diagnostic test that can detect viruses as diverse as influenza, HIV and RSV in 60 seconds or less.

In addition to saving time, the technique – which is detailed in the November issue of the journal Nano Letters – could save lives by rapidly detecting a naturally occurring disease outbreak or bioterrorism attack.
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Researchers discover botulism toxin’s insidious route into nerve cells

Botulinum neurotoxin A can be either the greatest wrinkle remover or one of the world’s most potent biological weapons. To perform either job, however, the toxin must first find a way to enter cells.

But understanding how the toxin — one of seven neurotoxins produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum — enters nerve cells has proved elusive for scientists. Despite a decade-long search for the receptor by labs around the world, researchers had come up empty handed.

Now, a research team led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researcher Edwin R. Chapman reports that it has identified the cellular receptor for botulinum neurotoxin A. The group’s work was published in the March 16, 2006, edition of ScienceXpress, which provides electronic publication of selected Science papers in advance of print. The finding offers important new insights that suggest how the toxin shuts down nerve cells with deadly efficiency.
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Researchers discover a protein which is deadly for anthrax

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin discovered why lung, but not skin, anthrax infections are lethal. As reported in the newest issue of PloS Pathogen (November 2005) Neutrophils, a form of white blood cells, play a key role in anthrax infections. They can kill Bacillus anthracis by producing a protein called alpha-defensin. This discovery might now pave the way towards the development of new therapies for the fatal lung form of anthrax.
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