in the News
C. Bruce Tarter
Field Detection of
in the News
technique makes cancer diagnosis fast, accurate
A DNA diagnostic technique
developed by Laboratory scientists promises to improve the accuracy
and speed of cancer diagnosis.
The advance is described
in a paper published in the December 2001 issue of Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences. The papers principal author
is Allen Christian, with Melissa Pattee, Christina Attix, Beth Reed,
Karen Sorensen, and James Tucker.
With the new technique, researchers
can detect mutations in individual cells and make numerous copies
of the DNA in the genes that are important for cancers progression
in the cell.
Previously, DNA testing inside
cells lacked the resolution needed to detect a localized mutation
in the DNA. The best resolution for detecting genetic abnormalities
inside a single cell was the identification of a flawed or missing
region the length of about 1,000 DNA base pairs out of the 6.6 billion
base pairs in each human cell. Furthermore, finding these abnormalities
usually took several days.
Now, with the Lab advance,
researchers can locate a single flawed DNA base pair within a cell
in a couple of hours, says Tucker. This technique could
greatly speed efforts to measure the effectiveness of treatments
in killing tumors and would improve the ability of physicians to
individualize cancer treatments, he adds.
For example, when doctors
try a particular cancer therapy, they can now evaluate its effectiveness
much more rapidly, allowing alternative therapies to be considered
earlier if the selected one is not working.
The Livermore technique also
has potential applications in genetic screening of plants for agricultural
uses, in genetic evaluation of birth defects, in basic cell research,
and in determining if a person has been exposed to radiation.
Contact: James Tucker (925) 423-8154 (email@example.com).
laser weapon successfully tested
In mid-December, program
engineers at the Armys High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility
(HELSTF) at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico successfully
test-fired a new 10-kilowatt solid-state heat-capacity laser (SSHCL).
During the 6-second test, the laser burned a hole through quarter-size
samples of steel.
Developed at Lawrence Livermore,
the SSHCL has been fired several times since it was transferred
to the Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) for further
testing and development at HELSTF.
Under the Armys solid-state
laser plan, weapon development begins with a 10-kilowatt laser and
moves toward a 100-kilowatt solid-state laser that could be mounted
on the back of a high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (Humvee).
The SSHCL has the potential
to be the first high-energy laser that is light and compact enough
to be integrated as a direct-fire element of the Armys future
combat system, according to Randy Buff, SMDC solid-state laser program
Contact: Brent Dane (925) 424-5905 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
create virtual star over Hawaii
Livermore scientists, in
collaboration with scientists at the W. M. Keck Observatory, have
created a virtual guide star over Hawaii. This virtual guide star
will be used with the adaptive optics on the Keck II telescope to
greatly improve the resolution of images of astronomical objects.
Installed in 1999, Kecks
adaptive optics system allows astronomers to minimize the blurring
effects of Earths atmosphere, producing images with unprecedented
detail and resolution. The adaptive optics system uses light from
a relatively bright nearby star to measure atmospheric distortions
and correct for them. However, only about 1 percent of the sky has
stars sufficiently bright and close to be of use. The new virtual
guide star allows Keck astronomers to study nearly the entire sky
with the high resolution of adaptive optics.
The virtual guide star, which
achieved first light on December 23, 2001, was created
using a 20-watt dye laser to illuminate a diffuse layer of sodium
atoms present 95 kilometers above Earths surface. When activated
by the laser, the sodium atoms produce a source of light less than
a meter in diameter and thus allows the adaptive optics system to
measure the distortions of the atmosphere. The virtual star has
a magnitude of 9.5, about 25 times fainter than anything the unaided
eye can see but bright enough to operate the adaptive optics system.
Using Keck adaptive optics,
for which Livermore scientists developed the real-time control system,
astronomers are obtaining infrared images with four times better
resolution than images from the Hubble Space Telescope, which orbits
high above Earths atmosphere. Many significant discoveries
have already been attributed to Kecks adaptive optics, and
the Keck virtual guide star will lead to many more.
Additional support was provided
to the KeckLivermore collaboration by the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration and the National Science Foundations
Center for Adaptive Optics.
Contact: Claire Max (925) 422-5442 (email@example.com).
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March 8, 2002