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Using Fluorescent Viruses for Detecting Bacteria in Water

A method of detecting water-borne pathogenic bacteria is based partly on established molecular-recognition and fluorescent-labeling concepts, according to which bacteria of a species of interest are labeled with fluorescent reporter molecules and the bacteria can then be detected by fluorescence spectroscopy. The novelty of the present method lies in the use of bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria) to deliver the fluorescent reporter molecules to the bacteria of the species of interest. Bacteriophages that selectively infect that species are selected, and fluorescently labeled virus probes (FLVPs) are prepared by staining these bacteriophages with a fluorescent dye. The FLVPs are immobilized on an optical substrate, which could be a window or a waveguide.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical

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2008 Create the Future Design Contest Grand Winner

This year’s seventh annual NASA Tech Briefs “Create the Future Design Contest,” presented by Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp., recognized innovation in product design in six categories: Consumer Products, Machinery & Equipment, Medical, Safety & Security, Sustainable Technologies, and Transportation. On the following pages, you’ll meet the Grand Winner, as well as the winners and honorable mentions in all six categories. Congratulations to this year’s winners, and thanks to all of the engineers who submitted their creative design ideas. To view the contest entries online, visit www.createthefuturecontest.com.

Posted in: Articles, Medical

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Anaerobic Digestion in a Flooded Densified Leachbed

A document discusses the adaptation of a patented biomass-digesting process, denoted sequential batch anaerobic composting (SEBAC), to recycling of wastes aboard a spacecraft. In SEBAC, high-solids-content biomass wastes are converted into methane, carbon dioxide, and compost.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical

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Medical Category Winner

Pediatric Vision Screener – Mark V Kristina Irsch Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD Amblyopia, commonly known as “lazy eye,” is the leading cause of vision loss in childhood, caused by misalignment of the eyes (strabismus) or defocus. If treated early in life, especially during infancy, there is an excellent response to therapy. A reliable and effective screening technique that can easily be administered by lay personnel is needed. The Pediatric Vision Screener (PVS) can simultaneously detect proper alignment as well as proper focus of infants’ eyes. The latter is determined by measuring the size of the double- pass blur image produced from a point source of light. Eye alignment is assessed by means of binocular retinal birefringence scanning (RBS), in which polarized near-infrared light is directed in an annular scan on the retina, whose nerve fibers are birefringent, and the polarization-related changes in light retro-reflected from the ocular fundus are analyzed. Due to the radial arrangement of those fibers, a characteristic frequency appears when the scan is exactly centered on the fovea, indicating central fixation. Thus, by analyzing the generated frequencies in the obtained RBS signal binocularly, the precision of eye alignment can be measured. To bypass the deleterious effects of corneal birefringence in RBS, the screener incorporates a spinning half-wave plate (HWP) in combination with a fixed double-pass retarder. Both wave plates modulate the RBS signal such that a theoretical improvement of about 3.86 times in RBS signal strength is achieved for a representative data set of human eyes, using computer modeling. Combined with a technique for focus detection in a single handheld device, this computer-modeloptimized PVS design promises to provide effective and appropriate screening instrumentation to automatically identify infants at risk for amblyopia. For more information, contact the inventor at kirsch1@jhmi.edu. Honorable Mentions A Camera for Nuclear Radiation Inside a Magnetic Resonance System Dick Meier Gamma Medica – Ideas Oslo, Norway A new camera for spectroscopic imaging of nuclear radiation (gamma radiation) operates in very strong magnetic fields of more than 10 Tesla. The camera can be used inside a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system for the simultaneous acquisition of nuclear radiation and magnetic resonance images. The camera consists of identical radiation imaging modules and a multi-pinhole collimator. The system can be inserted into MRI systems and allows one to accurately co-register nuclear and radio images in space and time. The camera is based on the semiconductor material cadmium zinc telluride (CZT), which is almost insensitive to magnetic fields. Tomographic images can be acquired without moving the camera or the patient. Pedicle Screw Compressor Distractor Charles Griswold Trinity Orthopedics San Diego, CA This surgical instrument compresses or distracts the distance between two pedicle screws in order to get proper placement along the connecting rod, and thereby achieve ideal vertebra spacing. A small male collet at the end of the instrument snaps into a mating female feature on a connecting rod. A Nitinol wire is actuated through the internal diameter of the collet, preventing it from disengaging. This firmly affixes the instrument to the rod axially, while preventing rotation through use of keying features. With one end of the connecting rod held in place at the far-side pedicle screw, the near-side pedicle screw is adjusted forward or backward along the rod using a hook on the end of the instrument. The hook has a rounded end to push (compress) on a pedicle screw delivery tube. Alternatively, the hook can pull (distract) on the same tube.

Posted in: Articles, Medical

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Life-Saving CPR Device Wins Create The Future Design Contest

LifeBelt® CPR, a new device that makes it easy for anyone to perform high-quality CPR compressions in the event of cardiac arrest, has won the $20,000 grand prize in the 2008 Create the Future Design Contest sponsored by Tech Briefs Media Group and Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. Lifebelt was among a record 1,091 entries in the seventh annual contest.

Posted in: Articles, Medical

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Continuous-Flow System Produces Medical-Grade Water

Pressurized flowing water is heated by absorption of microwave power. A continuous-flow system utilizes microwave heating to sterilize water and to thermally inactivate endotoxins produced in the sterilization process. The system is designed for use in converting potable water to medical-grade water. Systems like this one could be used for efficient, small-scale production of medical-grade water in laboratories, clinics, and hospitals. This system could be adapted to use in selective sterilization of connections in ultra-pure-water-producing equipment and other equipment into which intrusion by microorganisms cannot be tolerated. Lightweight, portable systems based on the design of this system could be rapidly deployed to remote locations (e.g., military field hospitals) or in response to emergencies in which the normal infrastructure for providing medical-grade water is disrupted. Larger systems based on the design of this system could be useful for industrial production of medical-grade water.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Bio-Medical, Medical, Water quality, Medical equipment and supplies, Heat treatment, Radiation

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Discrimination of Spore-Forming Bacilli Using spoIVA

Sporulation-specific primers are mixed into a PCR cocktail. A method of discriminating between spore-forming and non-spore-forming bacteria is based on a combination of simultaneous sporulation-specific and non-sporulation-specific quantitative polymerase chain reactions (Q-PCRs). The method was invented partly in response to the observation that for the purposes of preventing or reducing biological contamination affecting many human endeavors, ultimately, only the spore-forming portions of bacterial populations are the ones that are problematic (or, at least, more problematic than are the non-spore-forming portions).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Bio-Medical, Medical

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