Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Slide-Staining System for Microgravity or Gravity

Much of the cell-staining process would be automated. The centrifuge-operated slide stainer (COSS) is a conceptual self-contained system that could be attractive for use in a variety of histological and cytological procedures in both microgravity and normal Earth gravity. The COSS was conceived specifically for use in staining blood smears on glass slides in order to enable differential white-cell counts (DWCCs) on astronauts during spaceflight. (The differential white-cell count is a standard technique for distinguishing between a healthy condition and any of a number of viral or bacterial infections.) In addition to overcoming microgravitational obstacles to the staining process, the COSS would do most of the routine and tedious processing steps that heretofore, have been performed manually in conventional terrestrial preparation of blood samples. On Earth, the COSS could be useful at remote medical research field stations, military field hospitals, and biomedical research facilities.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs, TSP

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In Situ Activation of Microencapsulated Drugs

Activation could be effected by thermal, electromagnetic, ultrasonic, and/or other forms of energy. In a new method of delivering drugs to target sites in a human body, (1) the drugs would be stored in inactive forms in timed-release microcapsules that would be injected, then (2) the drugs would be activated by exposing the target sites to suitable forms of penetrating energy that could include electromagnetic radiation (radio waves, light, or x rays), ultrasound, or heat, then (3) the drugs would diffuse out of the microcapsules. The method would be well suited for drugs that have short shelf lives in their active forms and/or could be activated at target sites upon exposure to nonharmful activation energy.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Device for Testing Susceptibility of Bacteria to Antibiotics

Tests can be performed safely, easily, and quickly.A compact, lightweight, device makes it possible to assess the effects of antibiotics on bacteria. The device safely contains the antibiotic/bacteria mixtures, and its operation involves minimal ancillary equipment and minimal expense of time and effort by technicians. Originally designed for use aboard spacecraft, the device could also be mass-produced for use on Earth in isolated, remote environments and in situations in which automated instrumentation is inaccessible.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs, TSP

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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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