News and events

Diagnostic revolution targets tuberculosis, other deadly diseases

November 1, 2017

Skeletal remains dating to the Neolithic era in Egypt bear tell-tale traces of tuberculosis (TB)—a disease that is estimated to have killed a billion people in the last two centuries alone. The bacteria responsible for TB can lurk in a person’s lung tissue for decades before producing active, infectious TB disease and it is estimated that a third of the global population may have such dormant infections, with 5 percent to 10 percent progressing to active disease. Detecting TB is...

ASU team turns smartphone into a powerful microscope in the fight against infectious diseases

October 26, 2017

With smartphones millions of times more powerful than the NASA Apollo computers that sent us to the moon in the 1960s, scientists have been eager to adapt them back here on Earth to better the planet. That’s exactly what ASU Biodesign Institute researcher Tony Hu and postdoctoral researcher Dali Sun have recently demonstrated in the fight against infectious diseases. They’ve developed a simple mobile technology for clinics, hospitals and health organizations that are on the front...

Cancer through the lens of evolution

October 23, 2017

“What does not kill me, makes me stronger.” The oft-repeated maxim, (from Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols), offers a model of human fortitude. It could also serve as the motto of a cancer cell, emphasizing—with brutal precision—how treatment-resistant cancers outwit our best medical interventions.  Cancer owes its ability to colonize and devastate the body to the same Darwinian forces that have shaped all life on earth: chance mutation and natural selection....

Biodesign researchers featured in breast cancer foundation's national campaign

October 18, 2017

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation funds more than 275 researchers across 15 countries and six continents. Biodesign Institute executive director Joshua LaBaer, M.D., Ph.D., was asked to play a prominent role in BCRF’s international awareness campaign. As a BCRF grant recipient, LaBaer was selected for his work in identifying genes that are especially important on particularly aggressive types of breast cancer – and for his personal advocacy for breast cancer research: LaBaer's own...

All eyes on Alzheimer’s

September 21, 2017

Alzheimer’s, a mysterious disease of cognitive decline, was first recognized a century ago. The unremitting illness continues to frustrate the best efforts toward treatment or prevention. A tidal wave of new cases in the coming decades threatens to overwhelm the nation’s healthcare system and bring tragedy to millions more patients and their families. September 21st has been declared World Alzheimer’s Day by Alzheimer’s Disease International. The occasion offers an opportunity to...

Hear about the latest in breast cancer research

September 11, 2017

Biodesign Institute researcher and Mayo Clinic oncologist Dr. Karen Anderson was recently featured on "BCRF Conversations," the official podcast of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Anderson has had a long interest in breast cancer vaccine development, with a long-range goal to deliver vaccines to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence after surgery. Her research focuses on how the immune system can be harnessed to detect and alter cancer development.  In the podcast, she...

Living computers: RNA circuits transform cells into nanodevices

July 26, 2017

The interdisciplinary nexus of biology and engineering, known as synthetic biology, is growing at a rapid pace, opening new vistas that could scarcely be imagined a short time ago. In new research, Alex Green, a professor at ASU's Biodesign Institute, demonstrates how living cells can be induced to carry out computations in the manner of tiny robots or computers. The results of the new study have significant implications for intelligent drug design and smart drug delivery, green energy...

Partnering with U.S. Army to improve Ebola detection

July 19, 2017

To catch a serial killer, homicide detectives must quickly and accurately find clues. Trace evidence left at a crime scene will eventually reveal the killer’s presence and identity, but the detectives first have to know what to look for. Like a criminal hiding in plain sight, contagious pathogens spread by capitalizing on the delay between initial infection and telltale symptoms in their hosts. That reality was painfully clear during the 2014 Ebola outbreak where clinics struggled to...

Solving a sweet problem for renewable biofuels and chemicals

June 30, 2017

Whether or not society shakes its addiction to oil and gasoline will depend on a number of profound environmental, geopolitical and societal factors. But with current oil prices hovering around $50 dollars a barrel, it won’t likely be anytime soon. Despite several major national research initiatives, no one has been able to come up with the breakthrough renewable biofuel technology that would lead to a cheaper alternative to gasoline.  That research challenge led ASU scientists,...

New book explores cancer’s pervasive mysteries

June 12, 2017

Evolution is a propulsive force, working incessantly to reshape life on earth, from the lowliest single-celled organisms to the planet’s vast forests, insect and bird populations, oceanic life and diverse mammalian species. Like all living things, cancer cells are also subject to the stringent dictates of evolution. Indeed, cancer has proven to be among the most adept players in Nature’s ceaseless game. Evolution is the reason humans and other life forms are vulnerable to cancer and why...