composition made by reducing the size of the hydride particles to less than 10 microns in diameter, oxidizing them, then blending the particles with a porous component and ballast metal. The mixture can be compressed into pellets and calcined. The fabrication technique is available for licensing. FAX Caroline Teelon at (803) 725-5103.
Ablation devices treat enlarged prostate
VidaMed, Inc. has started human trials in the U.S. of its TransUrethral Needle Ablation (TUNA(TM)) system for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), more commonly known as enlarged prostate. If approved commercially, TUNA could provide a less invasive alternative to surgery. It could also reduce the complications associated with the standard surgical treatment, transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). The system includes a catheter with two needle electrodes, insulating shields, and built-in temperature sensors. Other components include: a radio frequency generator and a fiber-optic system for positioning and viewing. A surgeon advances the catheter up the urethra opposite the prostate, and positions the needle into the gland. Energy is applied to selectively eliminate tissue, while the shield protects the urethra. Fax Kathleen Daly at (415) 328-8784.
Superfast DNA sequencing on the horizon
Developments in the O.J. Simpson case illustrate the importance of obtaining fast, reliable DNA tests. But deciphering the 100,000 or so genes that make up human DNA can be taxing. Hyseq, Inc. thinks it has a better way to perform the tests. It entails sequencing about 3 billion information blocks, called "base pairs," whose unique linear order determines the function of each gene. Hyseq will couple its patented sequencing-by-hybridization (SBH) technology with a "superchip'' technology invented at Argonne National Laboratory. This allows the SBH to be done on a 1-inch-square plate that can identify the chemical sequence of genes 1,000 times faster than gel sequencing. It should also prove far less expensive. Don't look for the system to be on the market for four years. FAX Lewis S. Gruber at 408-524-8141.
Chip texts genes for disease-causing flaws
Hyseq is not the only company hoping to solve the DNA dilemma. Scientists at Affymetrix and partner Molecular Dynamics have found a way to cram one million tiny fragments of genetic DNA onto a disposable microchip less than a half-inch square. This, too, promises to speed up the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and AIDS. The lab-on-a-chip marries techniques used to make semiconductors with ones used to engineer genes. Squirting a component of a patient's blood on the chip reveals specific knowledge about the individual's health or genetic makeup. Affymetrix intends to start with four diagnostic chips--ones for cystic fibrosis, a common cancer gene, drug resistance in AIDS patients, and human identification. The DNA chips are already in production. FAX (408) 481-0422.
DNA fingerprinting to track zebra mussels
Taking DNA testing to yet another level, fingerprint experts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will try to catch pesky zebra mussels before the freshwater mollusks clog industrial pipelines. By synthesizing a protein found in the mussels, then trying to dectect it through fluorescent microscopy, microbiologist Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer and her researchers will create tagged DNA probes to test for any pre-adult