Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Identification of Bacteria and Determination of Biological Indicators

Identifying mechanisms of micro-organisms can prevent forward contamination in space missions and can help in developing new antibiotics and amino acids.

The ultimate goal of planetary protection research is to develop superior strategies for inactivating resistance-bearing micro-organisms like Rummelibacillus stabekisii. By first identifying the particular physiologic pathway and/or structural component of the cell/spore that affords it such elevated tolerance, eradication regimes can then be designed to target these resistance-conferring moieties without jeopardizing the structural integrity of spacecraft hardware. Furthermore, hospitals and government agencies frequently use biological indicators to ensure the efficacy of a wide range of sterilization processes. The spores of Rummelibacillus stabekisii, which are far more resistant to many of such perturbations, could likely serve as a more significant biological indicator for potential survival than those being used currently.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Patient Monitoring, Bacteria, Spacecraft

Further Development of Scaffolds for Regeneration of Nerves

Scale-up toward clinically significant dimensions has been partially completed.

Progress has been made in continuing research on scaffolds for the guided growth of nerves to replace damaged ones. The scaffolds contain pores that are approximately cylindrical and parallel, with nearly uniform widths ranging from tens to hundreds of microns. At the earlier stage of development, experimental scaffolds had been made from agarose hydrogel. Such a scaffold was made in a multistep process in which poly(methyl methacrylate) [PMMA] fibers were used as templates for the pores. The process included placement of a bundle of the PMMA fibers in a tube, filling the interstices in the tube with a hot agarose solution, cooling to turn the solution into a gel, and then immersion in acetone to dissolve the PMMA fibers. The scaffolds were typically limited to about 25 pores per scaffold, square cross sections of no more than about 1.5 by 1.5 mm, and lengths of no more than about 2 mm.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Bio-Medical, Medical

Chemically Assisted Photocatalytic Oxidation System

The chemically assisted photocatalytic oxidation system (CAPOS) has been proposed for destroying micro-organisms and organic chemicals that may be suspended in the air or present on surfaces of an air-handling system that ventilates an indoor environment. The CAPOS would comprise an upstream and a downstream stage that would implement a tandem combination of two partly redundant treatments. In the upstream stage, the air stream and, optionally, surfaces of the air-handling system would be treated with ozone, which would be generated from oxygen in the air by means of an electrical discharge or ultraviolet light. In the second stage, the air laden with ozone and oxidation products from the first stage would be made to flow in contact with a silica-titania photocatalyst exposed to ultraviolet light in the presence of water vapor. Hydroxyl radicals generated by the photocatalytic action would react with both carbon-containing chemicals and microorganisms to eventually produce water and carbon dioxide, and ozone from the first stage would be photocatalytically degraded to O2. The net products of the two-stage treatment would be H2O, CO2, and O2.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Patient Monitoring

Use of Atomic Oxygen for Increased Water Contact Angles of Various Polymers for Biomedical Applications

Improved polymer hydrophilicity is beneficial for cell culturing and implant growth.

The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of atomic oxygen (AO) exposure on the hydrophilicity of nine different polymers for biomedical applications. Atomic oxygen treatment can alter the chemistry and morphology of polymer surfaces, which may increase the adhesion and spreading of cells on Petri dishes and enhance implant growth. Therefore, nine different polymers were exposed to atomic oxygen and water-contact angle, or hydrophilicity, was measured after exposure. To determine whether hydrophilicity remains static after initial atomic oxygen exposure, or changes with higher fluence exposures, the contact angles between the polymer and water droplet placed on the polymer’s surface were measured versus AO fluence. The polymers were exposed to atomic oxygen in a 100-W, 13.56-MHz radio frequency (RF) plasma asher, and the treatment was found to significantly alter the hydrophilicity of non-fluorinated polymers.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, TSP, Briefs, TSP, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Bio-Medical, Medical, Medical equipment and supplies, Materials properties, Oxygen, Polymers

Open-Access, Low-Magnetic-Field MRI System for Lung Research

An open-access magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system is being developed for use in research on orientational/ gravitational effects on lung physiology and function. The open-access geometry enables study of human subjects in diverse orientations. This system operates at a magnetic flux density, considerably smaller than the flux densities of typical other MRI systems, that can be generated by resistive electromagnet coils (instead of the more-expensive superconducting coils of the other systems).

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Bio-Medical, Diagnostics, Medical

Microfluidic Mixing Technology for a Universal Health Sensor

A highly efficient means of microfluidic mixing has been created for use with the rHEALTH sensor — an elliptical mixer and passive curvilinear mixing patterns. The rHEALTH sensor provides rapid, handheld, complete blood count, cell differential counts, electrolyte measurements, and other lab tests based on a reusable, flow-based microfluidic platform.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Sensors

Microwell Arrays for Studying Many Individual Cells

“Laboratory-on-a-chip” devices that enable the simultaneous culturing and interrogation of many individual living cells have been invented. Each such device includes a silicon nitride-coated silicon chip containing an array of micromachined wells sized so that each well can contain one cell in contact or proximity with a patch clamp or other suitable single-cell-interrogating device. At the bottom of each well is a hole, typically ≈ 0.5 μm wide, that connects the well with one of many channels in a microfluidic network formed in a layer of poly(dimethylsiloxane) on the underside of the chip. The microfluidic network makes it possible to address wells (and, thus, cells) individually to supply them with selected biochemicals. The microfluidic channels also provide electrical contact to the bottoms of the wells.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Patient Monitoring

Convergence Nanoparticles for Multi-Modal Biomedical Imaging

This technique enables detection, sensing, navigation, and actuation in a single nanosystem.

A project is underway to develop a novel, versatile, multi-functional convergence nanoparticle system that utilizes inorganic nanoparticles for advanced biomedical applications. Inorganic nanoparticles exhibit improved optical, magnetic, and electronic properties compared to classical bulk materials, making them useful as key components for futuristic nano-device applications.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, TSP, Briefs, TSP, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Bio-Medical, Diagnostics, Medical, Imaging and visualization, Medical equipment and supplies, Materials properties, Nanotechnology

Trans-Skull Ultrasound Scanner for Diagnosis of Rhino-Sinusitis

This system eliminates the need for CT or x-ray imaging.

Rhino-sinusitis, or sinus infection, is an inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, which can be caused by different conditions (bacterial, fungal, viral, allergic, or autoimmune). Bacterial rhino-sinusitis is currently assessed by puncture or imaging techniques (x-ray or CT) in order to detect the presence of an air-fluid level within the paranasal sinuses. The absence of this level is significant enough to rule out bacterial infection. The system presented in this innovation provides a reliable, non-invasive, and low-cost procedure to evaluate the presence of fluid inside the paranasal sinuses by means of an ultrasound scan.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Bio-Medical, Diagnostics, Medical, Imaging and visualization, Bacteria, Diagnosis, Diseases, Medical equipment and supplies, Acoustics

Microfluidic Extraction of Biomarkers Using Water as Solvent

Terahertz modulation of permittivity of water would enable solvation of molecules of interest.

A proposed device, denoted a miniature microfluidic biomarker extractor (μ-EX), would extract trace amounts of chemicals of interest from samples, such as soils and rocks. Traditionally, such extractions are performed on a large scale with hazardous organic solvents; each solvent capable of dissolving only those molecules lying within narrow ranges of specific chemical and physical characteristics that notably include volatility, electric charge, and polarity. In contrast, in the μ-EX, extractions could be performed by use of small amounts (typically between 0.1 and 100 μL) of water as a universal solvent.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Bio-Medical, Medical, Patient Monitoring, Soils, Water, Chemicals, Test equipment and instrumentation

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