Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Radiation Dosimetry via Automated Fluorescence Microscopy

With further development, this instrument could enable biodosimetry on a large scale.

A developmental instrument for assessment of radiation-induced damage in human lymphocytes includes an automated fluorescence microscope equipped with a one or more charge coupled device (CCD) video camera(s) and circuitry to digitize the video output. The microscope is also equipped with a three-axis translation stage that includes a rotation stage, and a rotary tray that holds as many as thirty specimen slides. The figure depicts one version of the instrument. Once the slides have been prepared and loaded into the tray, the instrument can operate unattended. A computer controls the operation of the stage, tray, and microscope, and processes the digital fluorescence image data to recognize and count chromosomes that have been broken, presumably by radiation.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Charge coupled devices, Microscopy, Optics, Diagnosis, Automation, Radiation

Elastic-Tether Suits for Artificial Gravity and Exercise

Body suits harnessed to systems of elastic tethers have been proposed as means of approximating the effects of normal Earth gravitation on crewmembers of spacecraft in flight to help preserve the crewmembers’ physical fitness. The suits could also be used on Earth to increase effective gravitational loads for purposes of athletic training. The suit according to the proposal would include numerous small tetherattachment fixtures distributed over its outer surface so as to distribute the artificial gravitational force as nearly evenly as possible over the wearer’s body. Elastic tethers would be connected between these fixtures and a single attachment fixture on a main elastic tether that would be anchored to a fixture on or under a floor. This fixture might include multiple pulleys to make the effective length of the main tether great enough that normal motions of the wearer cause no more than acceptably small variations in the total artificial gravitational force. Among the problems in designing the suit would be equalizing the load in the shoulder area and keeping tethers out of the way below the knees to prevent tripping. The solution would likely include running tethers through rings on the sides. Body suits with a weight or water ballast system are also proposed for very slight spinning space-station scenarios, in which cases the proposed body suits will easily be able to provide the equivalency of a 1-G or even greater load.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Simulation and modeling, Personnel, Elastomers, Mountings, Spacesuits

Chamber for Growing and Observing Fungi

A chamber has been designed to enable growth and observation of microcolonies of fungi in isolation from the external environment.

Unlike prior fungus growing apparatuses, this chamber makes it possible to examine a fungus culture without disrupting it. Partly resembling a small picture frame, the chamber includes a metal plate having a rectangular through the thickness opening with recesses for a top and a bottom cover glass, an inlet for air, and an inlet for water. The bottom cover glass is put in place and held there by clips, then a block of nutrient medium and a moisture pad are placed in the opening. The block is inoculated, then the top cover glass is put in place and held there by clips. Once growth is evident, the chamber can be sealed with tape. Little (if any) water evaporates past the edges of the cover glasses, and, hence there is little (if any) need to add water. A microscope can be used to observe the culture through either cover glass. Because the culture is sealed in the chamber, it is safe to examine the culture without risking contamination. The chamber can be sterilized and reused.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Biological sciences, Containers, Glass, Test equipment and instrumentation

Electroporation System for Sterilizing Water

Amounts of chemicals needed for sterilization are reduced.

A prototype of an electroporation system for sterilizing wastewater or drinking water has been developed. In electroporation, applied electric fields cause transient and/or permanent changes in the porosities of living cells. Electroporation at lower field strengths can be exploited to increase the efficiency of chemical disinfection (as in chlorination). Electroporation at higher field strengths is capable of inactivating and even killing bacteria and other pathogens, without use of chemicals. Hence, electroporation is at least a partial alternative to chlorination.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Water reclamation, Electric power, Bacteria, Product development

Multicompartment Liquid- Cooling/Warming Protective Garments

Shortened, multicompartment liquid-cooling/ warming garments (LCWGs) for protecting astronauts, firefighters, and others at risk of exposure to extremes of temperature are undergoing development. Unlike prior liquid circulation thermal-protection suits that provide either cooling or warming but not both, an LCWG as envisioned would provide cooling at some body locations and/or heating at other locations, as needed: For example, sometimes there is a need to cool the body core and to heat the extremities simultaneously. An LCWG garment of the type to be developed is said to be shortened because the liquid-cooling and -heating zones would not cover the whole body and, instead, would cover reduced areas selected for maximum heating and cooling effectiveness. Physiological research is under way to provide a rational basis for selection of the liquid-cooling and -heating areas. In addition to enabling better (relative to prior liquid-circulation garments) balancing of heat among different body regions, the use of selective heating and cooling in zones would contribute to a reduction in the amount of energy needed to operate a thermal-protection suit.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Human factors, Thermal management, Product development, Protective clothing, Rescue and emergency vehicles and equipment, Spacecraft

Miniature Laboratory for Detecting Sparse Biomolecules

Specimens would be concentrated and sorted before detection.

The figure schematically depicts a miniature laboratory system that has been proposed for use in the field to detect sparsely distributed biomolecules. By emphasizing concentration and sorting of specimens prior to detection, the underlying system concept would make it possible to attain high detection sensitivities without the need to develop ever more sensitive biosensors.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Bio-Medical, Medical, Systems engineering, Biomaterials, Fuel sensors, Test equipment and instrumentation

Analysis Tool Automates Drug Discovery Data Acquisition and Management

Pharmaceutical company uses calculation software to automate data capture, analysis, and visualization.

In the race to deliver drugs to market more quickly, biopharmaceutical companies need to classify and interpret data at unprecedented rates with tools that eliminate redundant analysis tasks and promote collaboration among scientists.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Mathematical analysis, Computer software and hardware, Data acquisition and handling, Collaboration and partnering, Pharmaceuticals

Microwave Treatment of Prostate Cancer and Hyperplasia

Additional uses are found for a relatively inexpensive microwave treatment system.

Microwave ablation in the form of microwave energy applied to a heart muscle by a coaxial catheter inserted in a vein in the groin area can be used to heat and kill diseased heart cells. A microwave catheter has been developed to provide deep myocardial ablation to treat ventricular tachycardia by restoring appropriate electrical activity within the heart and eliminating irregular heartbeats. The resulting microwave catheter design, which is now being developed for commercial use in treating ventricular tachycardia, can be modified to treat prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Inasmuch as the occurrence of BPH is increasing — currently 350,000 operations per year are performed in the United States alone to treat this condition — this microwave catheter has significant commercial potential.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Cardiovascular system, Medical equipment and supplies

Satellite-Derived Management Zones

Precision agriculture can be practiced at low cost.

The term “satellite-derived management zones” (SAMZ) denotes agricultural management zones that are subdivisions of large fields and that are derived from images of the fields acquired by instruments aboard Earth orbiting satellites during approximately the past 15 years. “SAMZ” also denotes the methodology and the software that implements the methodology for creating such zones. The SAMZ approach is one of several products of continuing efforts to realize a concept of precision agriculture, which involves optimal variations in seeding, in application of chemicals, and in irrigation, plus decisions to farm or not to farm certain portions of fields, all in an effort to maximize profitability in view of spatial and temporal variations in the growth and health of crops, and in the chemical and physical conditions of soils.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Biological sciences, Satellites

Removing Pathogens Using Nano-Ceramic-Fiber Filters

Filters remove greater than 99.9999 percent of viruses and bacteria from wastewater.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Water reclamation, Bacteria, Ceramics, Nanotechnology

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