Hospital To Use Microfluid Prototype For Diagnosing Tumors

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Photo: Lucas Laursen

Chemist Emmanuel Delamarche held a thin slice of human thyroid tissue on a glass slide between his fingers. The tissue poses a mystery: does it contain a tumor or not? Delamarche, who works at IBM Research in Zurich, Switzerland, turned the slide around in his hand as he explained that the normal method of diagnosing a tumor involves splashing a chemical reagent, some of which are expensive, onto the uneven surface of the tissue and watching for it to react with disease markers. A pathologist “looks at them under a microscope, and he’s using his expertise, his judgment, and looks at what chemical he used, what type of color he can see and what part and he has to come up with a diagnosis,” Delamarche says, “he has a very, very hard job, OK?”

IBM is already good at precise application of materials to flat surfaces such as computer chips. Human tissue, sliced thin enough, turns out to receptive to the company’s bag of tricks too. Delamarche, turning to one of three machines on lab benches, explained that a few years ago his team began trying to deliver reagents with more precision. University Hospital Zurich will be testing the results over the next few months.

The idea was that instead of a sprawling blot occupying most of a tissue sample, a tiny tube something like an inkjet printer could deliver many droplets onto the tissue. Pathologists might put multiple reagents on a single fingernail-sized tissue sample, saving them the need for more samples and surgery. They might make better-informed diagnoses because the printer-like machine would allow them to control how much reagent to place on the tissue and where it goes. Pathologists could also compare the effects of well-measured doses on suspected cancerous parts. “We are interested in maybe thinking about technology to go from qualitative info to more quantitative information,” Delamarche says.

But that precise delivery of the reagents proved elusive. Some of it spilled outside the target area. In 2011 Delamarche and colleagues announced a vertical microfluidic probe, that unlike previous microfluidic probes was not parallel to the target surface. It consisted of a glass and silicon wafer about one square centimeter with one channel about a micrometer across that shot liquid to the target and another channel that vacuumed up any excess. “The trick, or the invention actually, that we had was to put a second aperture that continuously re-aspirates what we inject,” Delamarche says. Today the team can create spots just 50 micrometers across, though he says the sweet spot for diagnoses may be more like a few hundred micrometers.

The microfluidic machine is part of a trend toward keeping samples put and moving the thing that analyzes them, according to a recent review in Lab on a Chip.

The technology is attractive both to pathologists, such as those at University Hospital Zurich, and to basic researchers, with whom Delamarche and mechanical engineer Govind Kaigala can share a larger, more customizable version in their lab.

Source: IEEE Spectrum

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BlackBerry Met With Facebook Last Week on Potential Bid

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Via: WSJ BlackBerry Ltd. executives flew to California to meet with Facebook Inc. last week to gauge its interest in a potential bid for the struggling smartphone-maker, according to people familiar with the matter.

It remains unclear whether Facebook is interested in placing a bid. Spokesmen for both companies declined to comment.

Last month BlackBerry struck a preliminary deal to go private with Canadian insurer Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. for $4.7 billion, or $9 a share. The due diligence period for that deal ends next week, but BlackBerry and its advisers remain open to interest from other potential bidders. The deadline for other bids is Monday.

BlackBerry does have other players circling. Earlier this month The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese computer giant Lenovo Group Ltd. was interested in a possible bid. And BlackBerry has signed a nondisclosure agreement with distressed asset specialists Cerberus Captial Management LP, people familiar with the matter have said.

BlackBerry’s co-founders, Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin are also weighing a bid, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing earlier this month.

Source: WSJ

Security experts warn against using LinkedIn app for Apple iPhone

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App embeds link to an email sender's profile and could compromise security of the device

The new LinkedIn iPhone app that embeds a link to an email sender’s profile on the professional network presents a number of security risks and should not be used, experts warned.

Criticism of the app, called Intro, started soon after its release last week. The first to slam LinkedIn was security consultancy Bishop Fox, which accused the site of “hijacking email.”

Over the weekend, Jordan Wright, a security engineer at CoNetrix, said he was able to spoof  Intro profile information, using a technique that a criminal could easily replicate for a phishing attack.

On Monday, Neohapsis, which does penetration testing and risk assessment for mobile apps, got into the act, saying Intro users were taking on serious risks for a “marginal convenience feature at best.”

“I can’t think of a situation where a user would agree to a reduced level of transport security of their emails in exchange for the novelty of being able to instantly view their LinkedIn contact’s details in the iPhone email client,” Gene Meltser, technical director at Neohapsis Labs, said.

LinkedIn has defended Intro, saying the criticism is based oninaccuracies and misperceptions“.

Wright’s spoofing experiment started with the interception of the security profile Intro inserts into iOS. He then found the username and password used to log into the LinkedIn service and grabbed the first email to look closely at what LinkedIn injects.

His investigation found that he could remove the Intro data and replace it with his own, thereby commandeering the Intro profile tab to show whatever information he wanted.

While his proof-of-concept would be benign to an email recipient, “it would be just as easy to attach a malicious payload, request sensitive information, etc.,” Wright said.

Fox compared Intro to a “man-in-the-middle” attack, because all messages go through LinkedIn servers and are analyzed and scraped for data “pertaining to whatever they feel like it.”

Also, by pushing a security profile to the iOS device, so LinkedIn can re-route emails, posed the risk of having the profile used to wipe a phone, install apps, delete apps and restrict functionality.

“You are effectively putting your trust in LinkedIn to manage your users’ device security,” Fox said.

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Source: NetworkWorld