Lab Report

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The Lab Report is a weekly compendium of media reports on science and technology achievements at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Though the Laboratory reviews items for overall accuracy, the reporting organizations are responsible for the content in the links below.

Oct. 27, 2014


LLNL physicist Ted Ognibene (left) and biomedical scientist Mike Malfatti inspect the new biological AMS instrument. Photo by George Kitrinos/LLNL

A personal touch

Buoyed by several dramatic advances, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists think they can tackle biological science in a way that couldn't be done before.

Over the past two years, Lab researchers have expedited accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) sample preparation and analysis time from days to minutes and moved a complex scientific process requiring accelerator physicists into routine laboratory usage.

Ken Turtletaub, the leader of the Lab's Biosciences and Biotechnology Division, says the bio AMS allows researchers to undertake quantitative assessments of complex biological pathways.

"We are hopeful that we'll be able to quantify the individual steps in a metabolic pathway and be able to measure indicators of disease processes and factors important to why people differ in responses to therapeutics, to diet and other factors."

To read more, go to BioPortfolio.



LLNL researchers Monte LaBute (left) and Felice Lightstone (right) were part of a Lab team that detailed the use of supercomputers to link proteins to drug side effects.

Computing the side effects

New medications created by pharmaceutical companies have helped millions of Americans alleviate pain and suffering from their medical conditions. However, the drug creation process often misses many side effects that kill at least 100,000 patients a year.

Lawrence Livermore researchers have discovered a high-tech method of using supercomputers to identify proteins that cause medications to have certain adverse drug reactions (ADR) or side effects. They are using high-performance computers (HPC) to process proteins and drug compounds in an algorithm that produces reliable data outside of a laboratory setting for drug discovery.

"We need to do something to identify these side effects earlier in the drug development cycle to save lives and reduce costs," said Monte LaBute, a researcher from LLNL's Computational Engineering Division.

To read more, go to Medical Xpress.


Modified graphene aerogels have high surface area and excellent conductivity, and are promising for high-power electrical energy storage applications.

Energy Storage of the Future

Take some of the lightest material in the world and use it to store energy for a cell phone or laptop.

That's what Lawrence Livermore researchers intend to do by using graphene aerogel for enhanced electrical energy storage that eventually could be used to smooth out power fluctuations in the energy grid.

The team found that graphene aerogel-based supercapacitor electrodes could be particularly useful in the electric vehicle sector because they feature high surface area, good electrical conductivity, chemical inertness and long-term cycling stability.

To read more, go to R&D Magazine.


Lab scientists Nicholas Be (left) and Jonathan Allen examine the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array.

An array of hope for soldiers

A biological detection technology developed by Lawrence Livermore scientists can detect bacterial pathogens in the wounds of U.S. soldiers that have previously been missed by other technologies. This advance may, in time, allow an improvement in how soldiers' wounds are treated.

In a three-year study by the Lab and four other institutions, researchers used the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA) to detect at least one bacterial pathogen in about one-third of wound samples in which no bacteria were detected using the standard culture method.

"The culture-based methods currently being used to measure infection often do not detect bacteria that are difficult to grow in the lab," said Nicholas Be, biomedical scientist and postdoc. "Better detection methods for microbes that impact the healing process could help surgeons make more informed predictions and decisions for improving patient care."

To read more, go to Innovation.



Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists (front row left to right) Matt Coleman and Feliza Bourguet and (back row left to right) Brian Souza and Patrik D'haeseleer received a patent for developing antibiotics to fight superbugs.

An eye for an eye


Lawrence Livemore researchers have found a way to destroy antibiotic-resistant organisms, also known as superbugs.

LLNL researchers were issued a patent in September for producing antimicrobial compounds that degrade and destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria by using the pathogen's own genes against it. They said the compounds also are effective against antibiotic-resistant E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter and many others. Those infections are more common in the United States than the Ebola virus and have been of increasing concern to hospitals and, in the case of anthrax, to the Department of Homeland Security.

Citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, the Lab said bacterial superbugs infect almost two million people and kill almost 23,000 annually.

To read more, go to FCW.