xrayss.jpgScientists at The University of Manchester have developed a camera that can be used to take powerful three dimensional colour X-ray images, in near real-time, without the need for a synchrotron X-ray source.

Its ability to identify the composition of the scanned object could radically improve security screening at airports, medical imaging, aircraft maintenance, industrial inspection and geophysical exploration.   

radiation.jpgRadiation, like alcohol, is a double-edged sword. It has indisputable medical advantages: Radiation can reveal hidden problems, from broken bones and lung lesions to heart defects and tumors. And it can be used to treat and sometimes cure certain cancers.

But it also has a potentially serious medical downside: the ability to damage DNA and, 10 to 20 years later, to cause cancer. CT scans alone, which deliver 100 to 500 times the radiation associated with an ordinary X-ray and now provide three-fourths of Americans’ radiation exposure, are believed to account for 1.5 percent of all cancers that occur in the United States.

Recognition of this hazard and alarm over recent increases in radiological imaging have prompted numerous experts, including some radiologists, to call for more careful consideration before ordering tests that involve radiation.

 

by Jennifer Marcus

Study of vesicular stomatitis virus leads to model of viral assembly process

Vesicular stomatitis virus, or VSV, has long been a model system for studying and understanding the life cycle of negative-strand RNA viruses, which include viruses that cause influenza, measles and rabies.

by Anne Trafton

MIT scientists are making computers smart enough to see the connections between the brain's neurons

C. elegans, a tiny worm about a millimeter long, doesn’t have much of a brain, but it has a nervous system — one that comprises 302 nerve cells, or neurons, to be exact. In the 1970s, a team of researchers at Cambridge University decided to create a complete “wiring diagram” of how each of those neurons are connected to one another. Such wiring diagrams have recently been christened “connectomes,” drawing on their similarity to the genome, the total DNA sequence of an organism. The C. elegans connectome, reported in 1986, took more than a dozen years of tedious labor to find.

Antonio Hardan, MDby Erin Digitale

Autism researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine are recruiting twins for an investigation of the role of genetics in shaping the autistic brain.

“We’re doing a twin study to try to sort the impact of genetics on brain abnormalities in autism from the impact of the environment,” said lead scientist Antonio Hardan, MD, who is a child psychiatrist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford. Hardan’s team will use magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of 120 pairs of twins, some with autism and some without, to look for gene-brain associations.

Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) process sound and language a fraction of a second slower than children without ASDs, and measuring magnetic signals that mark this delay may become a standardized way to diagnose autism.

“More work needs to be done before this can become a standard tool, but this pattern of delayed brain response may be refined into the first imaging biomarker for autism,” said study leader Timothy P.L. Roberts, Ph.D., vice chair of Radiology Research at Children’s Hospital.

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