Medical

Hydrofocusing Bioreactor for Three-Dimensional Cell Culture

Hydrofocusing reduces shear while "herding" cells and air bubbles. The hydrodynamic focusing bioreactor (HFB) is a bioreactor system designed for three-dimensional cell culture and tissue-engineering investigations on orbiting spacecraft and in laboratories on Earth. The HFB offers a unique hydrofocusing capability that enables the creation of a low-shear culture environment simultaneously with the "herding" of suspended cells, tissue assemblies, and air bubbles. Under development for use in the Biotechnology Facility on the International Space Station, the HFB has successfully grown large three-dimensional, tissue-like assemblies from anchorage-dependent cells and grown suspension hybridoma cells to high densities.

Posted in: Medical, Briefs

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Simulating an Arthroscopic Surgical Instrument

CAD and finite element analysis software help verify the design of a temperature control electrode. Sports-related injuries are a common cause of damaged ligaments and tendons in shoulders, knees, wrists, elbows and ankles, and can usually be repaired through arthroscopic surgery. Through an incision no larger than a keyhole, a surgeon inserts an endoscope to see inside the joint on a video monitor during the operation. Arthroscopic surgery significantly reduces the disturbance and traumatization to the joint as compared to conventional surgery, thus minimizing the amount of invasion, discomfort, scarring, and recovery time.

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Quantitating Iron in Serum Ferritin by Use of ICP-MS

Ferritin associated with inflammation can be distinguished from ferritin associated with hemochromatosis. A laboratory method has been devised to enable measurement of the concentration of iron bound in ferritin from small samples of blood (serum). Derived partly from a prior method that depends on large samples of blood, this method involves the use of an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS).

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

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Semiselective Optoelectronic Sensors for Monitoring Microbes

These real-time sensors distinguish among classes (not individual species) of microbes. Sensor systems are under development for use in real-time detection and quantitation of microbes in water without need for sampling. These systems include arrays of optical sensors; miniature, portable electronic data-acquisition circuits; and optoelectronic interfaces between the sensor arrays and data-acquisition circuits. These systems are intended for original use in long-term, in-line monitoring of waterborne micro-organisms in water-reclamation systems aboard future spacecraft. They could also be adapted to similar terrestrial uses with respect to municipal water supplies, stored drinking water, and swimming water; for detecting low-level biological contamination in biotechnological, semiconductor, and pharmaceutical process streams; and in verifying the safety of foods and beverages. In addition, they could be adapted to monitoring of airborne microbes and of surfaces (e.g., to detect and/or quantitate biofilms).

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Externally Triggered Microcapsules Release Drugs In Situ

Drugs can be released, at designated times, within tumors or other targets. In an advanced method of administering drugs to target sites in human bodies, the drugs in liquid form are contained in microcapsules that are injected, and then, by exposing the target sites to externally generated electromagnetic fields, the microcapsules are lysed to release the drugs. Such externally triggered microcapsules are intended primarily for use in combined-modality therapies of cancer. In a given application, the external electromagnetic field can be applied to cause the release of the encapsulated drug(s) at a prescribed time or when the microcapsules are confirmed to be located in a specific tissue.

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

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Combinatorial Drug Design Augmented by Information Theory

It may be possible to suppress drug-resistant viruses. A proposed method of designing antiviral drugs provides for the utilization of combinatorial-chemistry techniques that have been used previously for this purpose, in conjunction with applicable principles of information theory. In its information-theoretic aspect, the method can be characterized as one of maximizing the mutual information between (1) ensembles of drugs and (2) ensembles of viruses that one seeks to combat by use of the drugs (denoted in the art as targets). The method would entail increases in the time and cost of development of drugs, but these disadvantages could be offset by reduction or prevention of the emergence of drug-resistant viral populations.

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

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Petri-Dish Spreaders Sterilized by Electrical Heating

Sterilization is faster, easier, and less expensive than it is for conventional glass spreaders. An improved method of sterilizing petri-dish spreaders and a spreader design to implement the method have been developed. In comparison with the conventional methods of sterilizing petri-dish spreaders, the improved method is expected to prove easier, safer, less time-consuming, and less costly, and to require less laboratory space. This improved method could be used in microbiological investigations in microgravity (e.g., aboard the International Space Station) or in normal Earth gravity (e.g., in government and clinical laboratories and research institutions). Particularly, when used in spaceflight, the improved method will prove safer than the traditional flame sterilization method.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Medical, Briefs

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