Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Rapid Engineering of Three-Dimensional, Multicellular Tissues With Polymeric Scaffolds

Engineered tissues could be grown in weeks or days instead of months.

A process has been developed for the rapid tissue engineering of multicellular- tissue-equivalent assemblies by the controlled enzymatic degradation of polymeric beads in a low-fluid- shear bioreactor. In this process, the porous polymeric beads serve as temporary scaffolds to support the assemblies of cells in a tissuelike 3D configuration during the critical initial growth phases of attachment of anchorage-dependent cells, aggregation of the cells, and formation of a 3D extracellular matrix. Once the cells are assembled into a 3D array and enmeshed in a structural supportive 3D extracellular matrix (ECM), the polymeric scaffolds can be degraded in the low-fluid-shear environment of the NASA-designed bioreactor. The natural 3D tissuelike assembly, devoid of any artificial support structure, is maintained in the low-shear bioreactor environment by the newly formed natural cellular/ECM. The elimination of the artificial scaffold allows normal tissue structure and function.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Biological sciences, Medical equipment and supplies, Materials properties, Polymers

Ultraviolet-Resistant Bacterial Spores

A document summarizes a study in which it was found that spores of the SAFR-032 strain of Bacillus pumilus can survive doses of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, γ radiation, and hydrogen peroxide in proportions much greater than those of other bacteria. The study was part of a continuing effort to understand the survivability of bacteria under harsh conditions and develop means of sterilizing spacecraft to prevent biocontamination of Mars that could interfere with the search for life there.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Bacteria, Technical review, Durability, Spacecraft

Effects of Bone Morphogenic Proteins on Engineered Cartilage

A report describes experiments on the effects of bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs) on engineered cartilage grown in vitro. In the experiments, bovine calf articular chondrocytes were seeded onto biodegradable polyglycolic acid scaffolds and cultured in, variously, a control medium or a medium supplemented with BMP-2, BMP-12, or BMP-13 in various concentrations. Under all conditions investigated, cell-polymer constructs cultivated for 4 weeks macroscopically and histologically resembled native cartilage. At a concentration of 100 ng/mL, BMP-2, BMP-12, or BMP-13 caused (1) total masses of the constructs to exceed those of the controls by 121, 80, or 62 percent, respectively; (2) weight percentages of glycosaminoglycans in the constructs to increase by 27, 18, or 15, respectively; and (3) total collagen contents of the constructs to decrease to 63, 89, or 83 percent of the control values, respectively. BMP-2, but not BMP-12 or BMP-13, promoted chondrocyte hypertrophy.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Anatomy, Biological sciences, Forming, Biomaterials

High-Speed Noninvasive Eye-Tracking System

This system operates at a frame rate of several kilohertz.

The figure schematically depicts a system of electronic hardware and software that noninvasively tracks the direction of a person’s gaze in real time. Like prior commercial noninvasive eye-tracking systems, this system is based on (1) illumination of an eye by a low-power infrared light-emitting diode (LED); (2) acquisition of video images of the pupil, iris, and cornea in the reflected infrared light; (3) digitization of the images; and (4) processing the digital image data to determine the direction of gaze from the centroids of the pupil and cornea in the images. Relative to the prior commercial systems, the present system operates at much higher speed and thereby offers enhanced capability for applications that involve human-computer interactions, including typing and computer command and control by handicapped individuals, and eye-based diagnosis of physiological disorders that affect gaze responses.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Computer software and hardware, Imaging and visualization, Body regions, Diagnosis, Human machine interface (HMI)

Detergent-Specific Membrane Protein Crystallization Screens

A suite of reagents has been developed for three-dimensional crystallization of integral membranes present in solution as protein-detergent complexes (PDCs). The compositions of these reagents have been determined in part by proximity to the phase boundaries (lower consolute boundaries) of the detergents present in the PDCs. The acquisition of some of the requisite phase-boundary data and the preliminary design of several of the detergent- specific screens was supported by a NASA contract. At the time of expiration of the contract, a partial set of preliminary screens had been developed. This work has since been extended under non-NASA sponsorship, leading to near completion of a set of 20 to 30 different and unique detergent-specific 96-condition screens.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Research and development, Materials properties

Infrared Imaging System for Studying Brain Function

This would be an alternative to large, expensive, immobile fMRI systems.

A proposed special-purpose infrared imaging system would be a compact, portable, less-expensive alternative to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) systems heretofore used to study brain function. Whereas a typical fMRI system fills a large room, and must be magnetically isolated, this system would fit into a bicycle helmet.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Bio-Medical, Medical, Downsizing, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Body regions, Nervous system

Simplified Identification of mRNA or DNA in Whole Cells

This test can be performed using compact, low-power equipment.

A recently invented method of detecting a selected messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) or deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence offers two important advantages over prior such methods: it is simpler and can be implemented by means of compact equipment. The simplification and miniaturization achieved by this invention are such that this method is suitable for use outside laboratories, in field settings in which space and power supplies may be limited.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Medical, health, and wellness, Research and development

Printed Multi-Turn Loop Antennas for RF Biotelemetry

Compact antennas afford hemispherical coverage at any linear polarization.

Printed multi-turn loop antennas have been designed for contactless powering of, and reception of radio signals transmitted by, surgically implantable biotelemetric sensor units operating at frequencies in the vicinity of 300 MHz. In the original intended application of these antennas, the sensor units would be microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-based devices now being developed for monitoring physiological parameters of humans during space flights. However, these antennas and the sensor units could just as well be used for physiological monitoring on Earth.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Bio-Medical, Medical, Antennas, Microelectromechanical devices, Telemetry, Human factors

Wearable Environmental and Physiological Sensing Unit

Safety of operations in hazardous environments could be enhanced.

The wearable environmental and physiological sensing unit (WEPS) is a prototype of systems to be worn by emergency workers (e.g., firefighters and members of hazardous-material response teams) to increase their level of safety. The WEPS includes sensors that measure a few key physiological and environmental parameters, a microcontroller unit that processes the digitized outputs of the sensors, and a radio transmitter that sends the processed sensor signals to a computer in a mobile command center for monitoring by a supervisor. The monitored parameters serve as real-time indications of the wearer’s physical condition and level of activity, and of the degree and type of danger posed by the wearer’s environment. The supervisor could use these indications to determine, for example, whether the wearer should withdraw in the face of an increasing hazard or whether the wearer should be rescued.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Sensors and actuators, Gases, Hazards and emergency management, Hazards and emergency operations, Protective equipment, Rescue and emergency vehicles and equipment

Antibodies Against Three Forms of Urokinase

These antibodies can be used to measure small quantities of three molecular forms of urokinase.

Antibodies that bind to preselected regions of the urokinase molecule have been developed. These antibodies can be used to measure small quantities of each of three molecular forms of urokinase that could be contained in microsamples or conditioned media harvested from cultures of mammalian cells. Previously available antibodies and assay techniques do not yield both clear distinctions among, and measurements of, all three forms.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Biological sciences, Diseases, Test procedures

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