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Gizmorama - May 29, 2017

Good Morning,


Researchers have created a new way to diagnose cancer through imaging before tumors are detected. That's quite remarkable!

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,
Erin


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* Scientists develop flexible DNA-barcoding test to detect cancer *

Researchers have developed a new way to diagnose cancer with greater accuracy before tumors are detected using imaging by instead testing for tumor cell DNA in the blood.

Patients with very early stages of cancer have DNA from tumor cells circulating in their blood long before an actual tumor develops, researchers say, which may allow for earlier treatment of the disease.

The team from the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden and Boston University have improved upon a technique that searches for DNA from tumor cells in blood to diagnose cancer by increasing the sensitivity of detecting tumor DNA in blood a thousand times. They did so by eliminating the background noise from the measurements using DNA-barcoding.

"One of the benefits of the technique is that it makes use of available instrumentation, which means it can be applied in most labs," Anders Ståhlberg, a docent in molecular medicine at Sahlgrenska Academy, said in a press release. "We are not the first in the world to show that barcoding concept works, but in our case we have developed a fast and flexible method that is simple, flexible and cost-effective to use."

Tumor cell molecules can be discovered in a regular blood sample before a tumor is visible via imaging such as tomography, X-ray, ultrasound or MRI.

The ultra-sensitive mutation analysis Ståhlberg helped develop can identify individual tumor cell molecules within 10,000 healthy molecules.

"The method has major potential and should soon be ready for patients," said Goran Landberg, director of the Wallenberg Center for Molecular and Translational Medicine at the University of Gothenburg. "However, first the application need to be tested on patient material in clinical studies, there really is no way around that."

The technique also has the potential to identify patients at risk for relapse and can aid in the calibration of chemotherapy treatments to avoid under or overdosage.

The study was published in Nature Protocols.



*- Scientists run largest-ever simulation of Milky Way-like galaxy -*

Researchers in Germany have run some of the largest-ever galaxy simulations using models they hope will reveal new details about the Milky Way's formation and evolution.

Scientists used several super-computers to run the high-resolution simulations over the course of a few months. The simulations were powered by the most comprehensive physics models yet coded, and incorporated the full scope of cosmic phenomena, including gravity, star formation, gas hydrodynamics and supernova explosions.

The models also incorporated, for the first time, interstellar magnetic fields, and allowed black holes to grow as they pulled in mass over the course of the simulation.

Astronomers have a solid grasp on the structure of spiral galaxies like the Milky Way. A central bulge of aging stars surround a massive black hole. Arms populated by newer stars spread outward from the center. All told, the Milky Way hosts between 100 and 400 billion stars, not to mention billions of tons of gas and dust.

Researchers are less clear on how spiral galaxies are born and evolve -- how they come to assume their recognizable spiral shape. High-resolution models can help.

"The outcome of the Auriga Project is that astronomers will now be able to use our work to access a wealth of information, such as the properties of the satellite galaxies and the very old stars found in the halo that surrounds the galaxy," Robert Grand, researcher at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, said in a news release.

The new models revealed a regular influx of new material from smaller satellite galaxies.

"For a spiral galaxy to grow in size, it needs a substantial supply of fresh star-forming gas around its edges -- smaller gas-rich galaxies that spiral gently into ours can provide exactly that," Grand said.

When coupled with observations from telescopes and space observatories, the findings -- detailed in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society -- could yield new insights into the nature of galactic collisions and growth.

***

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