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Inside the Lab Technology and innovation, Microbiology and immunology, Genetics and epigenetics, Neurology

Breakthroughs in Laboratory Medicine

Brain Biomarker

Age-related ventricular enlargement is linked to a lag in blood drainage from a deep brain region. Left unchecked, ventriculomegaly can lead to issues such as dementia – but the measurement of drainage pathways with diagnostic MRI could provide a new way to predict its onset in aging brains (1).

A Common Mutation

Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) is common after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation when donor white blood cells attack the recipient’s tissues. New research has found that mutations in mTOR – a gene that regulates cell growth and survival – are common in patients with chronic GvHD, offering a potential target for therapy (2).

Search for Severity

White blood cell count, absolute neutrophil count, C-reactive protein (CRP), and procalcitonin are indicators of infection response – but they don’t reliably predict the severity of community-acquired pneumonia in children. Although not associated with the full spectrum of severity, elevated CRP and procalcitonin levels were the findings most closely linked to complicated pneumonia (3).

Autoimmune Biosensor

A new biosensor for diagnosing and monitoring autoimmune disorders can measure the concentration of autoantibodies in blood and quantify their activity. Taking as little as 25 minutes to run, the tool aims to improve existing inconsistencies in the measurement of autoantibody concentration (4).

COVID-19 Consolidation

A team from the University of California, Berkeley has reviewed alternative nucleic acid testing approaches for COVID-19. With an explosion in papers evaluating comparable reagents and potential advances, the researchers hope the review will consolidate and disseminate vital information (5).

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  1. T Aso et al., Brain, [Epub ahead of print] (2020). PMID: 32372102.
  2. D Kim et al., Nat Comms, 11, 2246 (2020). PMID: 32382059.
  3. T Florin et al., Pediatrics, [Epub ahead of print] (2020). PMID: 32404432.
  4. A Orlov et al., Biosens Bioelectron, [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 32364940.
  5. M Esbin et al., RNA, [Epub ahead of print] (2020). PMID: 32358057.

About the Author

Luke Turner

While completing my undergraduate degree in Biology, I soon discovered that my passion and strength was for writing about science rather than working in the lab. My master’s degree in Science Communication allowed me to develop my science writing skills and I was lucky enough to come to Texere Publishing straight from University. Here I am given the opportunity to write about cutting edge research and engage with leading scientists, while also being part of a fantastic team!

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