Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Predicting Heart Age Using Electrocardiography

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

Knowledge of a patient’s cardiac age, or “heart age,” could prove useful to both patients and physicians for encouraging lifestyle changes that are potentially beneficial for cardiovascular health. This may be particularly true for patients who exhibit symptoms, but who test negative for cardiac pathology.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Medical, Data Acquisition, Medical, health, and wellness, Data acquisition, Data acquisition (obsolete)

Prediction of Visual Acuity from Wavefront Aberrations

This automated vision test is accurate, simple, and fast.

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

Visual acuity (clearness of vision) usually is measured by an eye doctor using an eye chart. It measures the smallest letters that can be reliably identified by the patient at a specified distance. The traditional test requires the patient to look and report which letters they see.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Medical, Medical, health, and wellness

Mobility Augmentation System Using Switchable Spring Mechanisms

This system could be used by disabled persons and individuals in rehabilitation who require prosthetics.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

The disclosed device provides key elements to enabling compact exercise machines that overcome many of the disadvantages of the current spacesuit, as well as medical prosthetics and exoskeletons. The mechanism is based on switchable, curved, leaf, and torsion spring mechanisms that support the user joints and at the contact with the ground to enable high-speed, low-loss locomotion. The springs are primed with an actuator to counteract losses and recycle the user’s elastic energy in the locomotion. The mechanism is designed to be switchable and to allow for removing the springs from the structure for fine control. Adjustable hard-stops are embedded into each joint to prevent overextension and optimize the performance at each gait. The spring mechanisms are made from carbon fiber composites to reduce the weight of the system. The components of this mechanism can be structurally connected to each other via a mechanical clutch to form a symmetric lower-extremity system with a passive spring mechanism to reduce the requirement of the joints to dampen the impact forces and recycle some of the energy of walking and running.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Medical, Springs, Human factors, Human machine interface (HMI)

HeartBeatID – Heart Electrical Actions as Biometric Indicia

One or more biometric indicia, such as fingerprints, voice prints, retinal scans, and facial features, are often used to identify or authenticate the identity of a user seeking access to a given resource. Cardiac muscle is myogenic and is capable of generating an action potential and depolarizing and repolarizing signals from within the muscle. An intrinsic conduction system (ICS), a group of specialized cardiac cells, passes an electrical signal throughout the heart as a PQRST (Preview, Question, Read, Study, Test) signature.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical, Security systems

Cryogenic Grinding for Mechanical Abrasion for Hardy Endospores

The method is far superior to conventional mechanical abrasion strategies.

A comparative analysis was carried out between an emerging cryogenic grinding method and a conventional wet-chemistry/bead-beating endospore disruption approach. After extensive trial and error, it was determined that a regimen of three cryogenic grinding cycles of 2 minutes each was optimum for downstream DNA recovery. Spores embedded in ice exhibited a mere 1-log reduction in recovery following cryo-milling for up to 30 minutes. The observed total spore-borne DNA recovery was quite impressive, as well established, streamlined techniques for extracting DNA from endospores typically recover, at best, ≈10% of the molecules present. To facilitate the nucleic-acid-based testing required to detect and quantify DNA and endospores recovered, this innovation implements cryogenic grinding procedures followed by qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) methods to verify this novel capture technique.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical, Research and development

Making Mesh Buckypaper Capsules for Transplantation of Cells and Implantation of Medical Devices

Applications include gene therapy, cell transplantation for treatment of diabetes and other disorders, and improved biocompatibility of implantable medical devices.

The innovation consists of a method for fabricating containers (“biocapsules”) made of biocompatible mesh for holding living cells and tissues, to facilitate transplantation into the body, for a wide range of high-impact medical applications. The biocompatible mesh (buckypaper) is made of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), and the containers are fabricated by depositing the nanotubes onto pre-formed molds, in order to achieve the desired shape and size of the biocapsule. Various forms are possible, including hollow tubes, closed cylinders, and more complex shapes, determined by the configuration of the mold. The biocompatibility of the capsule makes it possible to implant a variety of cells into a host, even cells that would otherwise be considered “foreign,” such as cells from unmatched donors, specially engineered cells, and even nonhuman cells. Because the capsule pores are too small for the cells to pass, the cells stay inside the capsule, where they are protected from the host immune system. The pores of the biocapsule permit gas exchange (oxygen, carbon dioxide), as well as free diffusion of metabolites, which keeps the cells healthy. Tissue or tissue fragments, and micro- or nano-scale medical devices can also be placed inside the biocapsule to facilitate their implantation into the body.

Posted in: Briefs, Medical, Medical, health, and wellness, Fabrication

$19 Million Funding Awarded for Additive Manufacturing Projects

Fifteen projects have received funding for applied R&D projects in additive manufacturing.

America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, announced the 15 awardees of its second call for additive manufacturing (AM) applied research and development projects. Driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, America Makes will provide $9 million in funding toward these projects with $10.3 million in matching cost share from the awarded project teams for total funding worth $19.3 million. The projects are expected to commence in early Spring.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Medical, Research and development, Manufacturing processes

Making Injection Molding More Energy Efficient

Thin-film heating can improve the quality of plastic parts.

In the future, thin-film heating will allow plastic parts to be produced with greatly improved surface quality. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM, Freiburg, Germany, say they have found a way to make the whole process more energy efficient.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Medical, Forming, Plastics, Parts

Updated Facts on 2015 HCFC-225 Usage Ban

Beginning January 1, 2015, HCFC-225, a common precision solvent for high-end cleaning, will be banned for usage. How will this affect end-users?

In 1974, Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina discovered that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were depleting the ozone layer, and in 1995, they received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work. In response, the United Nations Environment Programme called an international conference to discuss the issue. Shortly thereafter, the US banned all non-essential uses of CFCs as propellants in aerosols. The Montreal Protocol required all developed countries to begin the phase-out of CFCs in 1993 and reduce CFCs to 50% of the baseline by 1998. A timeline for the phase out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) was created in 1997. To meet the 90% total reduction requirement for all HCFCs by 2015, HCFC-225 is now being phased out.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Medical, Environmental protection, Environmental regulations and standards

Using Molded Foam Makes Assembly a Snap

Today, medical devices are made using a variety of plastic materials and manufacturing processes. Advances in plastic processing make it possible to obtain virtually any shape, form, or function. In addition, the vast assortment of plastics available allows designers to design for the optimal balance of functionality, performance, and cost. Expanded polypropylene (EPP) is a plastic material that is starting to gain traction in the medical device market as product designers become more familiar with the multiple benefits it can provide.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Medical, Medical, health, and wellness, Foams, Plastics

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