Medical

Microfluidic Devices for Studying Biomolecular Interactions

These devices can be fabricated rapidly and inexpensively. Microfluidic devices for monitoring biomolecular interactions have been invented. These devices are basically highly miniaturized liquid-chromatography columns. They are intended to be prototypes of miniature analytical devices of the “laboratory on a chip” type that could be fabricated rapidly and inexpensively and that, because of their small sizes, would yield analytical results from very small amounts of expensive analytes (typically, proteins). Other advantages to be gained by this scaling down of liquid-chromatography columns may include increases in resolution and speed, decreases in the consumption of reagents, and the possibility of performing multiple simultaneous and highly integrated analyses by use of multiple devices of this type, each possibly containing multiple parallel analytical microchannels.

Posted in: Medical, Briefs

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Neuro-Prosthetic Implants With Adjustable Electrode Arrays

Depths of penetration of electrodes would be adjusted to maximize received signals. Brushlike arrays of electrodes packaged with application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) are undergoing development for use as electronic implants — especially as neuro-prosthetic devices that might be implanted in brains to detect weak electrical signals generated by neurons. These implants partly resemble the ones reported in “Integrated Electrode Arrays for Neuro-Prosthetic Implants” (NPO-21198), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 27, No. 2 (February 2003), page 48. The basic idea underlying both the present and previously reported implants is that the electrodes would pick up signals from neurons and the ASICs would amplify and otherwise preprocess the signals for monitoring by external equipment.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Medical, Briefs

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Biomimetic/Optical Sensors for Detecting Bacterial Species

Bacteria in liquid samples could be detected in real time. Biomimetic/optical sensors have been proposed as means of real-time detection of bacteria in liquid samples through real-time detection of compounds secreted by the bacteria. Bacterial species of interest would be identified through detection of signaling compounds unique to those species. The best-characterized examples of quorum- signaling compounds are acylhomoserine lactones and peptides. Each compound, secreted by each bacterium of an affected species, serves as a signal to other bacteria of the same species to engage in a collective behavior when the population density of that species reaches a threshold level analogous to a quorum.

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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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