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UCLA Campus Report: Size Isn't Everything When It Comes to Biosensors, More

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A look at some of the non-sports stories making headlines around campus

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South Campus
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An occasional report from around campus that recognizes that UCLA is a school with a world-class reputation for research and innovation and whose people make real impact on the real world:

This week’s news focuses on the size of biosensors, positive signs in the war on breast cancer and the impact of climate change on frog’s altered cells.

UCLA Headlines

In latest generation of tiny biosensors, size isn't everything

UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science researchers have determined that the diminutive size of nanowire-based biosensors — which healthcare workers use to detect proteins that mark the onset of heart failure, cancer and other health risks — is not what makes them more sensitive than other diagnostic devices. Rather, what matters most is the interplay between the charged ions in the biological sample being tested and the charged proteins captured on the sensors' surface.

The finding counters years of conventional wisdom that a biosensor can be made more sensitive simply by reducing the diameter of the nanowires that make up the device. This assumption has driven hundreds of costly research-and-development efforts in the field of nanomedicine — in which tiny materials and devices are used to detect, diagnose and treat disease.

Promising drug doubles positive effect in hormone-receptor–positive breast cancer

Breast cancer researchers from the Revlon/UCLA Women's Cancer Research Program at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center announced final clinical trial results this week that showed the amount of time patients were on treatment without their cancer worsening (called "progression-free survival") was effectively doubled in women with advanced breast cancer who took the experimental drug palbociclib.

The results of the phase 2 clinical trial were announced at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in San Diego.

Palbociclib (PD 0332991) is an investigational drug discovered and being developed by Pfizer Inc. The preclinical work testing palbociclib in a panel of human breast cancer cells growing in culture dishes showed very encouraging activity, specifically against estrogen-receptor–positive (ER+) cancer cells.

Climate change a likely culprit in coqui frog's altered calls, say UCLA biologists

Changes in the Puerto Rican climate over the past three decades have caused small but significant changes to the coqui frog, the territory's national animal. UCLA biologists have found that not only have male coquis become smaller, but their mating call has also become shorter and higher pitched.

Authored by Peter Narins, UCLA distinguished professor of integrative biology and physiology and of ecology and evolutionary biology, and Sebastiaan Meenderink, a UCLA physics researcher, the study examined 170 male coqui frogs (Eleutherodactylus coqui) in 1983 and then 116 males in 2006. The study included frogs found at 28 altitudes in Puerto Rico, ranging from about 10 yards above sea level to more than 1,100 yards above sea level.

The study, the first to show the effect of temperature change on a species of frogs in the tropics over a period of more two decades, was published online April 9 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and will appear later in the print edition.

UCLA in the News

Business School Deans Visit The White House | Wall Street Journal

"Leaders from 14 top U.S. business schools met with economic advisors at the White House yesterday to discuss their institutions' roles in improving workplace conditions for working families, particularly women … 'It's a major, national performance issue,' said Judy Olian, dean of University of California, Los Angeles's Anderson School of Management."

Trying to Understand What Health Insurers Will Cover | Los Angeles Times

"'It's clear that there are some types of claims that are routinely denied,' said Shana Alex Lavarreda, director of health insurance studies at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. 'They might not even look at the policy until the doctor follows up.'"

Gay Marriage Would Boost Oregon Economy | Northwest Cable News

"A new UCLA study says same sex marriages would bring more than $47 million into Oregon in just the first three years. That assumes half of the state's gay and lesbian couples get married, and it assumes they spend about $6,400 on each wedding — which is about a quarter of the amount straight couples spend."

A Peek at The Redesigned SAT | Los Angeles Times

"'Many of the changes are long overdue,' said Carol Jago, associate director of the California Reading and Literature Project at UCLA, who singled out the changes in writing as an example. 'What they are asking students to do is rhetorical analysis of a reading, and this is a really important skill for a student.'"