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Innovate and Win!

The 2007 Create the Future Design Contest, presented by SolidWorks Corp. and NASA Tech Briefs, is now open for entries in these categories: Machinery, Equipment, and Component Technology; Consumer Products; Medical; Safety and Security; Transportation; and Sustainable Technologies. The sixth annual Create the Future design contest recognizes outstanding innovations in product design, awarding a Grand Prize of $20,000, and six First Prizes (one from each category) of Hewlett-Packard engineering workstations. Entrants may elect to have their entry posted on the contest Web site, and the 10 most-visited entries will each be awarded $250. All qualified entrants will receive a Create the Future Design Contest T-shirt. The contest is co-sponsored by COMSOL Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. So, exercise your imagination and submit your innovative design ideas today. All entries must be received by October 15, 2007. Click here for guidelines, tips on winning, and the official entry form.

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FROM VIDEO TO PHOTO

Ever wonder whether a still shot from a home video could serve as a picture perfect photograph worthy of being framed and proudly displayed on the mantle? Wonder no more.

Posted in: NTB, Spinoff

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Engineered Blood Vessels

Blood vessels that have been tissue-engineered from bone marrow adult stem cells may serve as a patient's source of new blood vessels following a coronary bypass or other procedures that require vessel replacement. A team of researchers from the University at Buffalo Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering have demonstrated the potential for eventually growing tissue-engineered vessels out of stem cells harvested from patients, providing an alternative to grafts now done in patients undergoing coronary bypass operations. Vein grafts cause pain and discomfort at the donor sight, have a high failure rate of 10 years, and there is limited availability of vessels. The UB team developed a method for isolating functional smooth muscle cells from bone marrow by using a fluorescent marker protein and a tissue-specific promoter for alpha-actin, a protein found in muscles that is responsible for their ability to contract and relax. The tissue-engineered vessels (TEVs) performed similarly to native tissue in their morphology, their expression of several smooth muscle cell proteins, the ability to proliferate, and the ability to contract in response to vasoconstrictors, one of the most important properties of blood vessels. The TEVs also produced both collagen and elastin, which give connective tissue their strength and elasticity, and are critical to the functioning of artificial blood vessels. Find out more here.

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Tech Needs of the Week

A small-scale enterprise is in need of mechanized processes and technologies designed for biological pre-processing (pre-conditioning) of basic wastes prior to composting with worms. The methods and equipment should be efficient, environmentally acceptable, ensure high performance, and be previously tested in practice. Click here to respond to this Tech Need. A technology is needed to remove all soil particles out of depressions and folds on biological surfaces, such as from under fingernails. The removal must be quick and safe for a human and easily applicable by a common user. Click here to respond to this Tech Need. The Technology Needs of the Week are anonymous requests for technology, distributed through the yet2.com marketplace, that you and your organization may be able to fulfill. Responding to a Tech Need is the first step to gaining an introduction with a prospective "buyer" for your technology solution.

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IMPROVING THE FLOW

In early 1995, NASA's Glenn Research Center (then Lewis Research Center) formed an industry-government team with several jet engine companies to develop the National Combustion Code (NCC), which would help aerospace engineers solve complex aerodynamics and combustion problems in gas turbine, rocket, and hypersonic engines. The original development team consisted of Allison Engine Company (now Rolls-Royce Allison), CFD Research Corporation, GE Aircraft Engines, Pratt and Whitney, and NASA. After the baseline beta version was established in July 1998, the team focused its efforts on consolidation, streamlining, and integration, as well as enhancement, evaluation, validation, and application. These activities, mainly conducted at NASA Glenn, led to the completion of NCC version 1.0 in October 2000.

Posted in: NTB, Spinoff

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New Cancer Treatment

Biomedical engineers at Virginia Tech and the University of California Berkeley have developed a new minimally invasive method of treating cancer, and they anticipate clinical trials on individuals with prostate cancer will begin soon. The process is called irreversible electroporation (IRE). Electroporation is a phenomenon that increases the permeability of a cell from none, to a reversible opening, to an irreversible opening. With the latter, the cell will die. This irreversible concept was applied to the targeting of cancer cells. IRE removes tumors by irreversibly opening tumor cells through a series of short, intense electric pulses from small electrodes placed in or around the body, which creates permanent openings in the pores in the cells of the undesirable tissue. The openings eventually lead to the death of the cells without the use of chemotherapy drugs. Oncologists already use methods to destroy tumors using heat or freezing, but those techniques can damage healthy tissue or leave malignant cells. With IRE, researchers are able to adjust the electrical current and reliably kill the targeted cells. IRE is easy to apply, is not affected by local blood flow, and can be monitored and controlled using electrical impedance tomography. Click here for the full story.

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WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS IN SPACE

In 1992, NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense jointly commissioned the research and development of a technology solution to address the challenges and requirements of communicating with their spacecraft. The project yielded an international consortium composed of representatives from the space science community, industry, and academia. This group of experts developed a broad suite of protocols specifically designed for space-based communications, known today as Space Communications Protocol Standards (SCPS). Having been internationally standardized by the Consultative Committee on Space Data Systems and the International Standards Organization, SCPS is distributed as open source technology by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The protocols are used for every national space mission that takes place today.

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