Analysis of Membrane Lipids of Airborne Micro-Organisms

A method of characterization of airborne micro-organisms in a given location involves (1) large-volume filtration of air onto glass-fiber filters; (2) accelerated extraction of membrane lipids of the collected micro-organisms by use of pressurized hot liquid; and (3) identification and quantitation of the lipids by use of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.This method is suitable for use in both outdoor and indoor environments; for example, it can be used to measure airborne microbial contamination in buildings (“sick-building syndrome”). The classical approach to analysis of airborne micro-organisms is based on the growth of cultureable micro-organisms and does not provide an account of viable but noncultureable micro-organisms, which typically amount to more than 90 percent of the micro-organisms present. In contrast, the present method provides an account of all micro-organisms, including cultureable, noncultureable, aerobic, and anaerobic ones. The analysis of lipids according to this method makes it possible to estimate the number of viable airborne micro-organisms present in the sampled air and to obtain a quantitative profile of the general types of micro-organisms present along with some information about their physiological statuses.

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Noninvasive Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease Using 12-Lead High-Frequency Electrocardiograms

Diagnostically significant signal features can be identified automatically by computational analysis. A noninvasive, sensitive method of diagnosing certain pathological conditions of the human heart involves computational processing of digitized electrocardiographic (ECG) signals acquired from a patient at all 12 conventional ECG electrode positions. In the processing, attention is focused on low-amplitude, high-frequency components of those portions of the ECG signals known in the art as QRS complexes. The unique contribution of this method lies in the utilization of signal features and combinations of signal features from various combinations of electrode positions, not reported previously, that have been found to be helpful in diagnosing coronary artery disease and such related pathological conditions as myocardial ischemia, myocardial infarction, and congestive heart failure.

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Multichannel Brain-Signal-Amplifying and Digitizing System

An apparatus has been developed for use in acquiring multichannel electroencephalographic (EEG) data from a human subject. EEG apparatuses with many channels in use heretofore have been too heavy and bulky to be worn, and have been limited in dynamic range to no more than 18 bits. The present apparatus is small and light enough to be worn by the subject. It is capable of amplifying EEG signals and digitizing them to 22 bits in as many as 150 channels. The apparatus is controlled by software and is plugged into the USB port of a personal computer. This apparatus makes it possible, for the first time, to obtain high-resolution functional EEG images of a thinking brain in a real-life, ambulatory setting outside a research laboratory or hospital.

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Multistage Magnetic Separator of Cells and Proteins

Purifications and separations can be carried to higher degrees than were previously possible. The multistage electromagnetic separator for purifying cells and magnetic particles (MAGSEP) is a laboratory apparatus for separating and/or purifying particles (especially biological cells) on the basis of their magnetic susceptibility and magnetophoretic mobility. Whereas a typical prior apparatus based on similar principles offers only a single stage of separation, the MAGSEP, as its full name indicates, offers multiple stages of separation; this makes it possible to refine a sample population of particles to a higher level of purity or to categorize multiple portions of the sample on the basis of magnetic susceptibility and/or magnetophoretic mobility.

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Radiation Dosimetry via Automated Fluorescence Microscopy

With further development, this instrument could enable biodosimetry on a large scale. A developmental instrument for assessment of radiation-induced damage in human lymphocytes includes an automated fluorescence microscope equipped with a one or more charge coupled device (CCD) video camera(s) and circuitry to digitize the video output. The microscope is also equipped with a three-axis translation stage that includes a rotation stage, and a rotary tray that holds as many as thirty specimen slides. The figure depicts one version of the instrument. Once the slides have been prepared and loaded into the tray, the instrument can operate unattended. A computer controls the operation of the stage, tray, and microscope, and processes the digital fluorescence image data to recognize and count chromosomes that have been broken, presumably by radiation.

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Chamber for Growing and Observing Fungi

A chamber has been designed to enable growth and observation of microcolonies of fungi in isolation from the external environment. Unlike prior fungus growing apparatuses, this chamber makes it possible to examine a fungus culture without disrupting it. Partly resembling a small picture frame, the chamber includes a metal plate having a rectangular through the thickness opening with recesses for a top and a bottom cover glass, an inlet for air, and an inlet for water. The bottom cover glass is put in place and held there by clips, then a block of nutrient medium and a moisture pad are placed in the opening. The block is inoculated, then the top cover glass is put in place and held there by clips. Once growth is evident, the chamber can be sealed with tape. Little (if any) water evaporates past the edges of the cover glasses, and, hence there is little (if any) need to add water. A microscope can be used to observe the culture through either cover glass. Because the culture is sealed in the chamber, it is safe to examine the culture without risking contamination. The chamber can be sterilized and reused.

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Electroporation System for Sterilizing Water

Amounts of chemicals needed for sterilization are reduced. A prototype of an electroporation system for sterilizing wastewater or drinking water has been developed. In electroporation, applied electric fields cause transient and/or permanent changes in the porosities of living cells. Electroporation at lower field strengths can be exploited to increase the efficiency of chemical disinfection (as in chlorination). Electroporation at higher field strengths is capable of inactivating and even killing bacteria and other pathogens, without use of chemicals. Hence, electroporation is at least a partial alternative to chlorination.

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