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University of Illinois-Chicago, CeMines, Applied Biosystems, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oxford Instruments

University of Illinois-Chicago Opens New MRI-Powered Research Center

The University of Illinois at Chicago on Tuesday opened its center for magnetic resonance research and began operations

The center houses a 9.4-tesla magnet powered MRI scanner manufactured by General Electric Healthcare, an custom offering that is many times stronger than the industry-standard 1.4-tesla magnet powering most MRIs.

MRIs are not generally accepted as part of the molecular biology toolkit, but may become more well accepted as new approaches for research into molecular activities precede a move to a systems biology approach for life sciences investigation.

The center is applying the instrument to neurological research in the areas of stroke, Alzheimer’s, autism, and mental illness based on the ability to detect signals from molecular elements like sodium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, which are important in metabolic processes.

“Brain scanning is pushed to the limit with the current technology — we need the sensitivity of the 9.4-tesla magnet to go beyond anatomic imaging to metabolic imaging,” Keith Thulborn, director of the UIC Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, said in a statement.

GE developed magnet with. Thulborn “to provide the research community an in-depth look into how metabolism drives brain function and to provide answers to some of the brain’s greatest mysteries,” said Dennis Cooke, vice president of GE Healthcare’s Global MR Business.


CeMines Relocates Units in Preparation For Expansion of its Operations

CeMines earlier this month announced a relocation of its corporate headquarters and of BioSystems, one of its two business groups, to larger facilities in its Golden, Colo., hometown.

CeMines develops diagnostic and therapeutic research kits and reagents.

The company said it plans to expand its executive team by hiring a chief medical officer, and expanding its clinical trial support staff. Three months ago, the company expanded its diagnostics and therapeutics research division and relocated from Los Angeles, Calif., to La Jolla, Calif. The unit will provide research and development services for the BioSystems unit, as well kit preparation and protocol support for clinical trials.


ABI Releases New LIMS Product

Applied Biosystems introduced LS*LIMS Software this week, a workflow management and process automation product that can integrates data from many different sources for genomics and proteomics laboratories.

The product initially integrates an expanding library of Applied Biosystems products as well as some third-party instrument interfaces, the company said in a statement. The integration of disparate molecular biology technology platforms is seen as key aspect of ABI’s integrated biology strategy. (see BCW 9/9/24)


MIT Scientist Get $5.5 Million Grant for Marine Microbe Research

Penny Chisholm, a professor in engineering and biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Ed DeLong, a professor of engineering, this week each received a five-year $5.5 million grant to investigate marine microbiology.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation announced the grant as part of a new marine biology initiative.

Chisholm, who focuses on the Prochlorococcus, a photosynthetic cell and one of the most abundant microbes in the sea, will apply genomic analyses in her funded research while DeLong, who joined the MIT faculty in July after seven years at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, said that he plans to apply a wide-ranging set of investigation techniques such as genomics, sensor technology, and computation biology to his funded research.

The two professors will benefit from MIT’s Computational and Systems Biology initiative, an interdisciplinary initiative to link researchers with resources for systems-level investigations using multiple molecular biology tools.


Oxford Instruments Acquires Molecular Biotools

Oxford Instruments of Oxon, UK, announced this week the acquisition of Resonance Instruments, for an undisclosed sum.

The merged businesses will operate as Oxford Instruments Molecular Biotools and will fold-in the company’s low resolution and specialized NMR and MRI instruments to develop products for the biomolecular analysis and imaging markets, the company said in a statement. The company also announced an exclusive license agreement with GE Healthcare for use of its dynamic nuclear polarization technology for in-vitro use.

The Scan

US Supports Patent Waivers

NPR reports that the Biden Administration has announced its support for waiving intellectual property protections for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Vaccines Versus Variants

Two studies find the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be effective against viral variants, and Moderna reports on booster shots to combat variants.

CRISPR for What Ails You

The Wall Street Journal writes that CRISPR-based therapies could someday be used to treat common conditions like heart attacks.

Nature Papers Review Integration of Single-Cell Assay Data, Present Approach to Detect Rare Variants

In Nature this week: review of ways to integrate data from single-cell assays, and more.