Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Portable Acoustic Holography Systems for Therapeutic Ultrasound Sources

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a rapidly developing medical technology that relies on focusing acoustic waves to treat remote tissue sites inside the body without damaging intervening tissues. HIFU can be used to treat benign and malignant tumors, dissolve blood clots, enhance drug delivery to specific sites, and ablate brain tissue causing essential tremors. While standard practices for characterizing diagnostic ultrasound are well established, the lack of analogous metrology techniques for therapeutic ultrasound remains an impediment to broader clinical acceptance of HIFU.

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Probiotic Therapy for Astronauts, and During Radiation Therapy

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California A new method to screen the gastrointestinal (GI) tract for radiation sensitivity and radiation-induced gene damage has a number of applications. This technology could be used to assess radiation susceptibility in individuals, such as astronauts, nuclear reactor workers, those undergoing radiation therapy for cancer, and others who may be or have been exposed. The method could also be used to develop and test various probiotic regimens to repopulate the GI tract microbiome to deliver more radiation resistance, or more rapid healing following radiation exposure.

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Methods of Manufacturing Bioactive Gels from Extracellular Matrix Material

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Biologic scaffolds composed of extracellular matrix material (ECM) have been used for the repair of a variety of tissues including the lower urinary tract, esophagus, myocardium, and musculotendinous tissues, often leading to tissue-specific constructive remodeling with minimal or no scar tissue formation. Although use of ECM as scaffolds for preclinical and clinical tissue engineering and regenerative medicine approaches to tissue reconstruction is very promising, challenges remain in the process to manufacture bioactive gels from ECM that retain their bioactivity.

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Multi-Parameter Biodosimetric HemoDose Tools

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas There are continuous concerns about the possibility of nuclear and radiological terrorism or accidents that may result in mass casualties in densely populated areas. To guide medical personnel in their clinical decisions for effective medical management and treatment of exposed individuals, biomarkers are usually applied to examine radiation-induced biological changes to assess the severity of radiation injury. Among these, peripheral blood cell counts are traditionally regarded as the most practical and rapid diagnostic indicators.

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Soft-Tissue Emulsification Using a Mechanism of Ultrasonic Atomization Inside Gas or Vapor Cavities

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas The current method of emulsifying tissue employs focused ultrasound with microsecond pulses and cavitation. This invention emulsifies soft tissue using a mechanism of ultrasonic atomization inside gas or vapor cavities. The method of non-invasively treating tissue includes pulsing ultrasound energy from the ultrasound source toward the target site in the tissue. The ultrasound source is configured to emit high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) waves. The target site comprises a pressure-release interface of a gas or vapor cavity located within the tissue. The method continues by generating shock waves in the tissue to induce a lesion at the target site. It additionally includes characterizing the lesion based on a degree of at least one of a mechanical or thermal ablation of the tissue. This work was done by Oleg Sapozhnikov, Michael Bailey, Tatiana Khokholova, Vera Khokholova, and Julianna Simon of the University of Washington for Johnson Space Center. NASA is seeking partners to further develop this technology through joint cooperative research and development. For more information about this technology and to explore opportunities, please contact jsc-techtran@mail.nasa.gov. MSC-25191-1

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Relativistic Ion Tracks (RITRACKS)

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Once astronauts venture beyond Earth’s protective atmosphere, they are exposed to the high-energy charged particles of galactic cosmic rays (GCR) and solar particle events (SPE), and secondary protons and neutrons. GCR are composed of ions, the great majority of which are protons (≈87%) and helium nuclei (≈12%). The heavy ions of atomic number greater than 2 comprise only a small fraction of the charged particles in the GCR, but they contribute significantly to the radiation dose and dose equivalent over time. Because of their ionization patterns in biomolecules, cells and tissues are distinct from terrestrial radiation, the resulting biological effects are poorly understood, and the health risks of these radiations are subject to large uncertainties.

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Medical Oxygen Concentrator for Microgravity Operation

Only ambient air and DC energy are required to operate the system. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Supplemental oxygen delivery systems are vital to provide a critical life support respiratory function. Whether they are used for patients suffering from lung diseases or other illnesses, or astronauts donning an oxygen mask during a toxic spill or fire on a spacecraft, lightweight and portable oxygen delivery systems are in high demand. A lightweight portable oxygen concentrator was developed that can produce 1 to 6 lpm of pulse oxygen in a noiseless system that can be worn on the user’s hip or in a shoulder sling.

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