Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Apparatus Measures Attachment or Detachment of Biofilm

Efficacy of a biocide can be assessed quantitatively.Figure 1 schematically illustrates a laboratory apparatus that provides quantitative information on the density and on the rate of increase (or decrease) of density at which bacteria attach themselves to solid surfaces in a potable-water-supply system. These biofilms are potentially pathogenic and/or phytotoxic and can adversely affect processing of the water under some circumstances. The apparatus was devised to assess the abilities of biocide chemicals in water to suppress the biofilms in potable-water subsystems within closed life-support systems of spacecraft, but may also be adaptable to similar investigations of biofilms in terrestrial water supplies.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs

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Improved Unidirectional Cell-Stretching Device

Cells can be stretched controllably, without removing them from a culture medium. An improved stretching device has been developed for use in research on the effects of unidirectional loading on human and animal cells. The device is capable of applying or removing a load (a controlled amount of stretch) on command to mimic the loading or unloading experienced by skeletal muscles and other tissues of interest.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs, TSP

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Determining Glucose Levels From NIR Raman Spectra of Eyes

Spectra are processed by principal-component analysis, then artificial neural networks to obtain Bayesian probabilities. A developmental noninvasive method of determining the concentration of glucose in blood is based on (1) the acquisition of a near-infrared (NIR) Raman spectrum from the aqueous humor of an eye, (2) analyzing the spectrum by a combination of techniques described below, and (3) recognition that the glucose level in the aqueous humor of the eye is about 80 percent of that in the blood 30 minutes before the spectrum was acquired. More specifically, what the analysis yields is a probabilistic indication that the glucose concentration represented by the Raman spectrum lies in one of three ranges of physiological interest; hypoglycemic (5.8 mM). The method involves less NIR laser power and shorter data-collection times than have been used in previous efforts to use Raman scattering to measure glucose concentrations in blood.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Use of Mechanical Event Simulation Software for Bio-Mechanical Eye Research

This report examines the simulation of eye move- ment and resulting stresses with mech- anical event simulation software to research retinal detachments, a condition that affects 25,000 people annually. The set-up of the bio- mechanical finite element model of the eye, as well as avenues for further research, are discussed in detail. This research may help to explain why near-sighted eyes are more at risk for retinal detachment, provide better postoperative recovery instructions for patients undergoing retinal surgery, and even lead to the discovery of techniques for the prevention of retinal detachments.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs

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Improved Technique for Detecting Endospores via Luminescence

The sensitivity of detection is increased by a factor of about 103. A technique for detecting bacterial endospores via luminescence affords a sensitivity much greater than that of a prior luminescence-based technique from which it is derived. The advantage of luminescence-based detection is that the entire preparation-and-detection process takes only minutes, whereas a conventional process of culturing cells, staining cells, and examining cells under a microscope can take hours or days. The present technique could be especially useful for environmental monitoring of pathogenic bacterial endospores.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Urine-Sample-Collection Device for Use on the Space Shuttle

Lightweight design, small size, and ease of use encourage routine collection of samples.The in-flight urine collection absorber (IUCA) is a Johnson Space Center (JSC) breakthrough. It features a lightweight, compact design and is easy to use for collection of urine samples by male and female space shuttle crewmembers. The IUCA is superior to currently available hardware for flight urine-sampling protocols that do not require measurement of sample volumes. In addition, its lightweight design makes it desirable for space flight, where weight is a prime concern. Its utility has been confirmed in tests employing stable isotopes (oxygen-18 and deuterium) conducted at JSC. These tests showed that the IUCA, which can be placed in either male or female urine-collection funnels of the shuttle-waste-collection system, outperforms the standard urine collection device (UCD). Although there is no apparent commercial use at this time, the IUCA will benefit the space program by increasing capabilities for research in life sciences research capabilities.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Improved Sensor Pills for Physiological Monitoring

These pills would measure temperature and sense the presence of blood, bacteria, and chemicals. Improved miniature biotelemetric units resembling large pills have been proposed for use in physiological monitoring of the gastrointestinal tract. The broad principles of design, operation, and inexpensive mass production of these sensor pills would be the same as those of the sensor patches described in the preceding article. Of course, the details of design and operation would differ because the patches and pills would be used in different locations and would sense different phenomena.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs, TSP

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