Monthly Archives: November 2012

Microfluidic systems play important role in facilitating early stages of drug discovery





Advances in microfluidics and imaging, combined with some high-profile studies, are increasing interest in whole-organism screening.

Microfluidics for all sorts of manipulations and organisms. Hang Lu of Georgia Institute of Technology has developed systems that combine microfluidics with imaging, focusing on D. melanogaster embryos and C. elegans, making microfluidics system that moved a worm into place, immobilize it for imaging and even sort the worms by phenotype. Automated imaging allowed quantitative rather than qualitative assessments of parameters such as worm movement—something manual techniques are often too variable to do. The human eye is very good at pattern detection but less well when the organisms cannot be examined side by side. For subtle differences, such as slight differences in size or brightness, computers can give much more quantitative data, Lu says.

But both the microfluidics and imaging aspects for whole-organism phenotyping are still very much developing technologies, Lu says, and evaluate robustness needs attention – when processing a thousand samples. And it is not appropriate to calculate throughput by multiplying the number of samples by how long a platform takes to run one sample. Parameters such as how long the machine can run at a stretch, and how often a sample run fails must also be considered.

Monya Baker, Screening: the age of fishes, Nature Methods, Vol 8 No 1 Jan 2011

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Magnetic TEM built April 1938 at Toronto University

The Physics Department of the University of Toronto is home to one significant magnetic TEM, which was displayed in the department in July 2010, hence the above photo taken by my mobile.

The building of the first transmission magnetic electron microscope was carried out by two graduate students, James Hillier and Albert Prebus in April of 1938, under the direction of the Department Chairman, Professor E.F. Burton. At first the electron microscope was a subject for instrument development and for physicists but its invention quickly became a turning point for science itself. Read the history here…:

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Comparing current glucose meters

 NANOPLEX™ biomarker detection

These silica-coated, surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS)-active metal nanoparticles allow robust, ultrasensitive, highly-multiplexed biomarker quantitation in any biological matrix, including whole blood.

Click here to view NANOPLEX biomarker formation animation

More than three million Canadians are living with diabetesand many of them require insulin to manage their condition. For those who use insulin, managing diabetes can often involve challenging calculations to determine an appropriate mealtime insulin dose. In a diabetes survey conducted in October 2011 by Leger Marketing, 200 Canadian healthcare professionals — including general practitioners, diabetes nurse educators and endocrinologists — stated that, in their respective clinics, four in ten mealtime insulin-using patients had difficulty calculating a mealtime insulin dose. Virtually all health care professionals (HCPs) surveyed (97%) believe that a patient’s inability to manage insulin therapy limits the intensity and complexity of the therapy that an HCP can prescribe or recommend.

Reference: Diabetes Faces, Canadian Diabetes Association: Available at


MedTronic Infusion Sets:

Comparing current Insulin Pumps: Animas, Accu-chek, Medtronic, Insulte, Sooil USA, Tandem diabetes,

Diabetes Depot

DANA Diabecare received FDA approval in 2001 –

Glucose Meter integrated into the Remote Control – sends info automatically to the Insulin Pump through wireless communication system.

Johnson&Johnson (LifeScan): OneTouch Ultramini:

One Touch Ping: use gold strips ,

The OneTouch® Ultra is a small, easy to use and very fast meter, producing results in five seconds. The OneTouch Ultra uses FastDraw™ Design test strips, a new capillary action, end-fill test strip that takes only 1 microliter of blood, is touchable, and is approved for alternative sites (e.g., the arm instead of the finger tip). Combining small blood volume, small size (3.12″ x 2.25″ x .85″, 1.5 ounces with battery) and the short, 5-second test time, the OneTouch Ultra is recommended, though the newer OneTouch Ultra2 and UltraMini are better choices (especially the new UltraMini, now that it has a data port).



The InDuo is the world’s first combined blood glucose meter and insulin dosing device.

The glucose meter (800) 663-5521, Voice Canada (408) 946-6070 Fax


Roche – Accu-Chek Advantage: Roche;

Accu-check Aviva Nano: (insert strip), Accu-Chek Mobile system = 50 tests, Strip free, virtual monitoring,


Bayer:Acsencia Elite XL, in Canada, Bayer,

Contour next EZ:

When purchasing Ascensia Elite XL Monitor it is required that you provide them with a signed prescription by your doctor.


Auto Control iTest, Zero-Click,

Powered by WaveSense Technology = Recently performed multi-site clinical studies tested the accuracy of the iTest of strips to generate over 2200 data points. The iTest was shown to be extremely accurate. Data collected by finger-stick method on individuals with type 1 and type 2 Diabetes (compared to laboratory standard† ). Results are for > 4.2 mmol/L.  

BD Latitude, BD logic; BD Medical, a segment ofBD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) (NYSE:BDX),

BD Medical Notifies Blood Glucose Monitor Users in the US and Canada About a Potential Malfunction with its Meters (2006)

BD , c/o 101 Mary Street W. Suite 300 , Whitby, Ontario, L1N 2R4
Product Notification Group , 1-866-556-8123

Warning by Health Canada on units of measure – In Canada, the monitors identified above are programmed to display test results in “mmol/L” and cannot be changed by the user. On very rare occasions these monitors may switch the blood glucose test result display from “mmol/L” to “mg/dL”.This might happen during an event such as installing a battery or dropping the monitor.

Abbott; Freestyle Freedom

on May 9, 2012 Abbott announced its new FreeStyle Insulinx Blood Glucose Monitor system available in diabetes centres and select pharmacies across Canada:


Abbott;Precision Xtra;

a blood glucose meter that tests for ketone too; (insert strip),

HDI Side Kick

HDI TrueTrack

Study found that certain foods increase 703% incident of diabetes, and that DIABETES can be cured by changing eating habits by 86%.




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Developing Clinical Microarrays

There are two routes to developing and commercializing a clinical diagnostic assay: submitting a test for FDA approval, or conducting an internal validation to create a laboratory-developed test which is commonly known as a home-brew test.

Through the first route, there are two options: either the premarket approval (PMA) process, or 510(k) premarket notification that is based on a comparison to a predicate device. While these options allow a test to be sold to licensed reference laboratories in the United States, the process can be slow, expensive, and time-consuming. This route is required for high-volume products which are intended for manufacture and sale to third-party laboratories.

The second route is routinely undertaken by clinical laboratories and involves in-house internal assay validation. IVD tests developed and validated internally are indeed considered medical devices, and are created utilizing general-purpose reagents and analyte specific reagents (ASRs). In 1996, FDA introduced regulations that outline how ASRs and general-purpose reagents should be used to develop home-brew assays.

Code of Federal Regulations, 21 CFR 864.4020.

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Microfluidics seems too good to be true, Why not widely used?

The manipulation of fluids in channels with dimensions of tens of micrometres — microfluidics — has emerged as a distinct new field. Microfluidics has the potential to influence subject areas from chemical synthesis and biological analysis to optics and information technology. But the field is still at an early stage of development. Even as the basic science and technological demonstrations develop, other problems must be addressed: choosing and focusing on initial applications, and developing strategies to complete the cycle of development, including commercialization. The solutions to these problems will require imagination and ingenuity.

What is microfluidics? It is the science and technology of systems that process or manipulate small (10-9 to 10-18 litres) amounts of fluids, using channels with dimensions of tens to hundreds of micrometres. The first applications of microfluidic technologies have been in analysis, for which they offer a number of useful capabilities: the ability to use very small quantities of samples and reagents, and to carry out separations and detections with high resolution and sensitivity; low cost; short times for analysis; and small footprints for the analytical devices1. Microfluidics exploits both its most obvious characteristic — small size — and less obvious characteristics of fluids in microchannels, such as laminar flow. It offers fundamentally new capabilities in the control of concentrations of molecules in space and time.

As a technology, microfluidics seems almost too good to be true: it offers so many advantages and so few disadvantages (at least in its major applications in analysis). But it has not yet become widely used. Why not? Why is every biochemistry laboratory not littered with ‘labs on chips’? Why does every patient not monitor his or her condition using microfluidic home-test systems? The answers are not yet clear. I am convinced that microfluidic technology will become a major theme in the analysis, and perhaps synthesis, of molecules: the advantages it offers are too compelling to let pass. Having said that, the answers to questions concerning the time and circumstances required for microfluidics to develop into a major new technology are important not just for this field, but also for other new technologies struggling to make it into the big time.

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Aberration-corrected STEM discovers new catalyst for methanol

Neil Young and Peter Nellist employed the atomic-resolution imaging capability of the departments aberration-corrected STEM to probe the structure of the catalyst. The new catalyst was found to be best for the production of methanol. It was found to comprise of extremely small ‘Pd-Fe’ clusters and metal adatoms on defective iron oxide. The atomic scale of the active catalyst is key to its functionality. The researchers report their findings in the 11 September 2012 issue of Nature Communications, and are of potential importance for clean energy production applications in energy-starved and developing countries.

Read More….

Read the article in Nature

A collaboration between scientists from the Department of Chemistry, Department of Materials and Diamond Light Source has yielded a new chemical catalyst for the production of methanol. They showed that ethylene glycol, a versatile chemical derived from biomass can be directly converted to methanol in hydrogen, with high selectivity over a Pd/Fe2O3 co-precipitated catalyst. This avoids the intermediate syn-gas stage employed by current generation catalysts.

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Atom Probe reveals composition and structure

A review addresses new developments in the emerging area of “atom probe crystallography”, a materials characterization tool with the unique capacity to reveal both composition and crystallographic structure at the atomic scale. This information is crucial for the manipulation of microstructure for the design of both structural and functional materials with optimized mechanical, electric, optoelectronic, magnetic, or superconducting properties that will find application in, for example, nanoelectronics or energy generation. The ability to extract crystallographic information from 3D atomistic reconstruction has exciting potential synergies with modern modeling techniques, blending experimental and computational methods to extend our insight.

Read the full article here..

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Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration is the key for innovation in drug delivery

Contrary to current therapy used for autoimmune diseases, an antigen/particle-based approach to induction of tolerance does not shut down the whole immune system, and is selective and targeted, said Christine Kelley, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering director of the division of Discovery Science and Technology at the National Institutes of Health, which supported the research.

In recent study,  researchers attached myelin antigens to biodegradable nanoparticles and injected them intravenously into the mice. The particles entered the spleen, which filters the blood and helps the body dispose of aging and dying blood cells. There, the particles were engulfed by macrophages, a type of immune cell, which then displayed the antigens on their cell surface. The immune system viewed the nanoparticles as ordinary dying blood cells and nothing to be concerned about. This created immune tolerance to the antigen by directly inhibiting the activity of myelin responsive T cells and by increasing the numbers of regulatory T cells which further calmed the autoimmune response.

“This collaborative effort between expertise in immunology and bioengineering is a terrific example of the tremendous advances that can be made with scientifically convergent approaches to biomedical problems:


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Using DNA to isolate tumour cells

A new device used by the researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and inspired by the tentacles of a jellyfish, coating a microfluidic channel with long strands of DNA that grab specific proteins found on the surfaces of leukemia cells as they flow by. Using this strategy, the researchers achieved flow rates 10 times higher than existing devices — fast enough to make the systems practical for clinical use.

Using this technology, described in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doctors could monitor cancer patients to determine whether their treatment is working.

“If you had a rapid test that could tell you whether there are more or less of these cells over time, that would help to monitor the progression of therapy and progression of the disease,” says Jeff Karp, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.


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Fundamentals of Microscopy

The Advanced Optical Microscopy Facility (AOMF) is a multi-site facility with instruments both at Princess Margaret and Toronto General Hospitals . We provide researchers with the latest in optical microscope technology for the observation of fixed cells, live cells, and tissues. Our modern instruments range from basic transmitted and fluorescence light microscopes to advanced confocal and two-photon microscopes, whole-slide scanners, and in-vivo imaging instruments

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NanoFATE Project




NanoFATE Project major feature in International Innovation

NanoFATE is a major EU-funded collaborative project that investigates the fate and effects of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) in the environment. Halfway through its four-year programme, the project is the subject of a major feature in the July issue of International Innovation magazine.

Oxford University’s Department of Materials in Begbroke Science Park is a major partner in NanoFATE. Dr. Alison Crossley, Senior Research Fellow and Manager at Oxford Materials Characterisation Services, leads the component focused on characterizing high grade industrial engineered nanoparticles / ENPs as well as particles specifically designed for the project.  Crossley explains, “Using advanced microscope technology, chemistry and physical analysis, NanoFATE is building knowledge of what governs where ENPs end up in the environment, in what form and for how long.”
Read More….


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Atom probe crystallography

EBSD pattern

Two review papers in Materials Today

Materials Today September 2012 Vol 15 contains two review articles by researchers at the Department of Materials. In pages 366-376 Angus Wilkinson and T. Ben Britton review “Strains, Planes and EBSD in Materials Science” and in pages 378-386 Baptiste Gault, Michael Moody, Julie Cairney and Simon Ringer review “Atom Probe Crystallography“.

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Transmitting data without cables

Isis Innovation reports a new technology being developed by Chris Stevens at Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science that enables devices such as mobile phones and cables to charge and transmit data without cables and could one day eliminate power and data cables altogether.

‘You could have a truly active, cable-free, batteryless desktop that can power and link your laptop or PC, monitor, keyboard, mouse, phone and camera. For example, by incorporating the technology behind the screen of a computer monitor, digital files, photos and music could be transferred effortlessly to and from a USB stick simply by tapping the flash drive against an on-screen icon,’ Chris explains.

‘This work comes from research into metamaterials, that is, materials that act as magneto-inductive wave guides and magneto-inductive power surfaces. You can find simple inductive technology in the charging unit of an electric toothbrush but in this case we can transfer data as well, and over a distance.

‘The real beauty is that since the technology is in a patterned conductive layer, we can start adding that layer to any surface or indeed into a fabric.’

Read More….

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Oxford in Toronto, Ottawa, McGill Universities

A representative from Oxford University Graduate Recruitment will be visiting Canada at following locations:

Mon 5 November 11:30–13:30 University of Waterloo
Mon 5 November 14:00–16:00 Wilfrid Laurier University
Tues 6 November 11:30–13:30 York University
Tues 6 November 14:30-16:00 University of Toronto
Wed 7 November 11:30–13:30 Queen’s University
Thur 8 November 11:30–13:00 McGill University
Thur 8 November 16:30–18:00 Concordia University (LAC)
Fri  9 November Time TBC Ottawa University

Luke Seamone, Oxford’s Graduate Recruitment Manager, will be giving a brief presentation, followed by a question and answer session about graduate study at Oxford. Luke is both a Canadian national and studied for his MSc in Higher Education at Oxford in 2010-11, so is uniquely well-placed to introduce you to the Oxford graduate experience.



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