Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Guidelines for Meal Replacement Bars in a Space Food System

Emergency relief organizations, food banks, the military, and food service markets all have use for the bars due to their nutritional offering and long shelf life.

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

To decrease the mass of the space food system and still maintain the nutritional intake of a mission crew, meal replacement bars and beverages are desired to supplement the menu and serve as meal alternatives. Nutritional requirements for such replacement products for breakfast and lunch have been established based on the current nutritional delivery of the International Space Station standard menu.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical, Human factors, Medical, health, and wellness
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Retinal Light Processing Using Carbon Nanotubes

This chip can be used as an electrical or optical sensor for the retina.

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

NASA has patented a new technology called the Vision Chip, an implantable device that has the potential to restore or supplement visual function in a diseased or damaged retina. This technology could benefit millions of people in the US and globally who suffer from degenerative diseases of the eye’s retina such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinitis pigmentosa (RP), and, in some cases, diabetic retinopathy. The Vision Chip is targeted to treat AMD and other degenerative diseases of the retina by replacing a compromised retinal photoreceptor system with an array of equivalent external photoreceptors and carbon nanotube (CNT) “towers” (bundles of CNTs) that provide a pathway to transmit signals from the external photoreceptors to an active layer of retina.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical, Optics, Medical, health, and wellness, Nanomaterials
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Provision of Carbon Nanotube Buckypaper Cages for Immune Shielding of Cells, Tissues, and Medical Devices

This method may prevent the rejection of transplanted cells and tissue.

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

NASA has patented a new technology that may prevent the rejection of transplanted cells and tissues. The human immune system identifies and rejects non-host cells and tissues with high efficiency. The new invention involves the fabrication and use of carbon nanotube buckypaper (CNTBP) “cages” for immune shielding. This approach promotes and supports a variety of useful biological processes that are difficult or impossible when cells or tissue are maintained in culture outside the body. It allows for the transplantation of cells or tissues from unrelated donors or from unrelated species (xenografts) into host subjects with dramatically reduced potential for rejection and/or the use of immunosuppressive therapies, which can be highly toxic. Current strategies for islet cell transplantation, for example, have shown marginal success due to limited graft survival, even with immunosuppressive therapy.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical, Medical, health, and wellness, Nanomaterials
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Rapid Polymer Sequencer

Maximum resolution will be improved at least 100-fold compared to biological ion-channel measurements.

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

Solid-state, nanopore-based analysis of nucleic acid polymers is the only technique that can determine information content in single molecules of genetic material at the speed of 1 subunit per microsecond. Because individual molecules are counted, the output is intrinsically quantitative. The nanopore approach is more generalized than any other method, and in principle may be used to analyze any polymer molecule, including proteins. The approach to the development of a solid-state nanopore device is novel in the use of nanofabrication, nanoelectric components, and high-speed signal acquisition.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical, Sensors and actuators, Fabrication, Polymers
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High-Density, Homogenous Bacterial Spore Distributions on Test Surfaces

This method uses polycarbonate membrane to transfer spores onto a mirror surface.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Thus far, spore transfer had been successful from the polycarbonate membrane onto stainless steel, aluminum, and to some extent, glass. In order to image the endospores under an ESEM (environmental scanning electron microscope), the spores were transferred onto a 4-mm-diameter, mirror-polished, stainless steel ESEM tab. For the spectroscopic and irradiation procedures in the Planetary Ice Group, it has also been necessary to transfer a highly concentrated, homogenous layer of spores onto a 1/2- or 1-in. (≈1.3- or 2.5-cm) aluminum mirror. Various other methods have been developed and tested for statistical spore deposition and transfer, but transfer was previously prone to uneven coverage due to poor contact, as well as visible microdroplets from over-saturation of the backing filter contact or non-homogeneity on a larger scale. A complete, reproducible method follows to avoid these issues and ensure quantitative predictions and uniformity.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical, Imaging and visualization, Biological sciences, Medical, health, and wellness
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Team Game and Simulation Control

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

This technology is an offshoot of LaRC-developed technologies using physiological measures for assessing pilot stress, sustained attention, engagement, and awareness in a laboratory flight simulation environment. The technology allows modulation of player inputs to a video game or simulation from a user interface device based on the player’s psychophysiological state. It exploits current wireless motion-sensing technologies to utilize physiological signals for input modulation. These signals include, but are not limited to, heart rate, muscle tension, and brain wave activity. The invention is a technology for training teams to maintain functional states that are conducive to effective performance of manual tasks such as flight control, by physiologically modulating operator input devices to simulations. The invention also permits individuals who are physically challenged to participate in electronic game play by collaborating with a player who is able to manipulate controls that the challenged player cannot, and enables individuals with different skill sets and interests (physiological self-control vs. physical performance skills) to join together in rewarding game play. Besides gaming, this technology has application in athletic training and mind-body medicine.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Medical, Computer simulation, Human factors
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CRP Aptamers to Bone-Specific Alkaline Phosphatase (BAP)

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

In order to detect and quantify bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BAP) in a human biological sample, a binding agent (molecule) that specifically recognizes BAP in a sample is typically required. This binding agent can then be used in numerous assays/instruments to enable the detection and quantification of BAP.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Medical, Biological sciences, Medical, health, and wellness
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Low Er-Doped Yttrium Gallium Garnet (YGG) as Active Media for Solid-State Lasers at 1651 nm

This technology could serve applications in the bio-medical areas such as nerve stimulation and dentistry.

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

The typical approach for producing laser output at the 1651-nm wavelength is via nonlinear frequency conversion. Lasers based on nonlinear conversion are complex, and it is very difficult to provide stability over time and over a wide range of operating temperatures. The efficiency of such optical sources is also low. A much more promising approach is the use of active media that allows for the development of solid-state lasers (SSL) with spectral emission at 1651 nm. An important requirement for this active medium is the ability to support in-band pumping with a low quantum defect since this approach leads to significant improvement in efficiency of SSLs and excellent beam characteristics due to low thermal stress of the active media.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Medical, Lasers & Laser Systems, Instrumentation, Test & Measurement, Medical, health, and wellness
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Signal Processing Software for Remote Vital Sign Monitoring

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

This software provides the processing for a non-contact system that remotely estimates the heart rate and respiration rate of individuals as they carry on daily activities, and also enables detection of heart and respiration rate through walls.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Data Acquisition, Electronics & Computers, Patient Monitoring, Data Acquisition, Software, Computer software and hardware, Medical, health, and wellness
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Versatile Platform for Nanotechnology Based on Circular Permutations of Chaperonin Protein

Circular permutation is used to join peptide sequences within a protein template.

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

The controlled organization of inorganic materials into multi-dimensional addressable arrays is the foundation for logic and memory devices, as well as other nonlinear optical and sensing devices. Many of these devices are currently fabricated using lithographic patterning processes that have progressively developed toward greater integration densities and smaller sizes. At submicron scales, however, conventional lithographic processes are approaching their practical and theoretical limits. At scales below 100 nm, ion and electron beam lithography becomes prohibitively expensive and time consuming, and more importantly, at these scales, quantum effects fundamentally change the properties of devices.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical, Fabrication, Nanomaterials
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