Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Computer-Controlled Solid-State Lighting Assembly to Emulate Diurnal Cycle and Improve Circadian Rhythm Control

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida The Lighting System to Improve Circadian Rhythm Control was designed and built to help regulate the sleep cycles of astronauts working on the International Space Station (ISS) and during long-duration spaceflight. In space, the lack of a true diurnal cycle of sunlight, encompassing the same range of color temperatures and intensities of sunlight experienced on Earth, is one of the potential causes of sleep disorders among the crew aboard ISS. The production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles, can be inhibited by light, especially cool white light (with its large blue light component). To help regulate sleep cycles and improve the quality of sleep for the crew, control of the melatonin production cycle through the use of light is key. On Earth, this technology can be used to help treat many sleep disorders, including jet lag, shift work sleep disorder, delayed sleep phase syndrome, advance sleep phase syndrome, and non-24-hour sleep/wake disorder (frequently affects those who are totally blind since the circadian clock is set by the light-dark cycle over a 24-hour period).

Posted in: Briefs, Medical

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Capillary Driven Microorganism Cultivation Platform for Human Life Support

SABR is a novel microbial cell cultivation platform that mimics the way vascular plants use transpiration to deliver nutrients to their cells. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California The high water-to-biomass ratio characteristic of conventional algae cultivation systems requires large energy inputs for pumping and mixing the culture during cultivation, as well as for dewatering and harvesting the resultant biomass. In light of this challenge, the Surface- Adhering BioReactor (SABR) cultivates micro-organisms as densely packed biofilms rather than in suspension, leading to an approximately 100-fold reduction in the water-to-biomass ratio of the system. Moreover, the mechanism of nutrient delivery to the cells is completely passive, eliminating the need for a pump. This mechanism is also independent of gravitational and inertial forces, making it an ideal candidate for human life support in space. The SABR is ideally suited for cultivating shear-sensitive cells, which can be product-secreting candidates due to their potential lack of cell walls. It reduces the number of steps in the cascade of cultivation, harvesting, dewatering, and extraction, favorably impacting the energetic and economic sustainability.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical

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Device and Method for Healing Wounds

The electroactive bandage is a slim, self-contained alternative to electrical stimulation devices.This technology is a device that uses electrical activity to facilitate the wound healing process while protecting the wound. The bandage is made of an electroactive material (see figure) that is stimulated by the heat of the body and the pressure of cell growth, thus no external power source is required.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical

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Portable Acoustic Holography Systems for Therapeutic Ultrasound Sources

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a rapidly developing medical technology that relies on focusing acoustic waves to treat remote tissue sites inside the body without damaging intervening tissues. HIFU can be used to treat benign and malignant tumors, dissolve blood clots, enhance drug delivery to specific sites, and ablate brain tissue causing essential tremors. While standard practices for characterizing diagnostic ultrasound are well established, the lack of analogous metrology techniques for therapeutic ultrasound remains an impediment to broader clinical acceptance of HIFU.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical

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Probiotic Therapy for Astronauts, and During Radiation Therapy

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California A new method to screen the gastrointestinal (GI) tract for radiation sensitivity and radiation-induced gene damage has a number of applications. This technology could be used to assess radiation susceptibility in individuals, such as astronauts, nuclear reactor workers, those undergoing radiation therapy for cancer, and others who may be or have been exposed. The method could also be used to develop and test various probiotic regimens to repopulate the GI tract microbiome to deliver more radiation resistance, or more rapid healing following radiation exposure.

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Methods of Manufacturing Bioactive Gels from Extracellular Matrix Material

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Biologic scaffolds composed of extracellular matrix material (ECM) have been used for the repair of a variety of tissues including the lower urinary tract, esophagus, myocardium, and musculotendinous tissues, often leading to tissue-specific constructive remodeling with minimal or no scar tissue formation. Although use of ECM as scaffolds for preclinical and clinical tissue engineering and regenerative medicine approaches to tissue reconstruction is very promising, challenges remain in the process to manufacture bioactive gels from ECM that retain their bioactivity.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical

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Multi-Parameter Biodosimetric HemoDose Tools

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas There are continuous concerns about the possibility of nuclear and radiological terrorism or accidents that may result in mass casualties in densely populated areas. To guide medical personnel in their clinical decisions for effective medical management and treatment of exposed individuals, biomarkers are usually applied to examine radiation-induced biological changes to assess the severity of radiation injury. Among these, peripheral blood cell counts are traditionally regarded as the most practical and rapid diagnostic indicators.

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