Biomedical Laboratory Science

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

MicroRNA: A Tiny Molecule Yields Big Insights Into Disease States

Regular readers of this column will know that there are two main categories of nucleic acids—DNA and RNA. They’ll also know that while for living organisms DNA acts as the genetic data repository, RNA has a messenger role (mRNAs, transcribed from DNA to direct protein synthesis). Most will also recall that there are other classes of RNA molecules, particularly tRNAs (used to tag and identify amino acids for protein synthesis) and rRNAs (structural components of the ribosome, the cellular “machinery” for protein synthesis). In addition to these, there’s increasing interest in the molecular diagnostics community in a less widely known but no less common RNA form, the microRNA or miRNA.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Scientists Fingerprint the Brain

The brain’s structural connections are unique to an individual, a new imaging technique reveals.

Every brain is unique, and scientists now have the means to pin down precisely how unique. Disease, environment, and genetic factors all influence the pattern of connections between neurons, called the local connectome. A new imaging technique quantifies differences between the local connectomes of individual brains, allowing researchers to identify a brain by its connectome “fingerprint.”

The technique uses diffusion MRI to track the movement of water molecules along pathways in the brain’s white matter, creating a fine-scale image of structural connections. The team took repeat MRI scans of a few individuals, and found that they could tell whether two local connectome fingerprints came from the same individual with 100 percent accuracy over the 17,398 identification tests they ran. The team’s findings were reported this week (November 15) PLOS Computational Biology.

Source: TheScientist

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