Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

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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Primers for Amplifying CMV DNA in Body Fluids and Tissue

A novel set of primers enables high-volume, rapid, inexpensive viral diagnostic testing. A novel set of primers has been developed for use in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of cytomegalovirus (CMV). The purpose of this development is to enable faster, more sensitive detection of CMV virus infecting body fluids and tissues.

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Improved Urine Preservative

This solution combines antibacterial and antioxidant properties. An improved solution for preserving samples of urine has been formulated. This solution preserves a much broader spectrum of analytes in urine than do other urine-preservative solutions here-tofore in use by NASA, and is safe for use by humans. When this solution is used, (1) refrigeration of urine samples is not necessary for preserving them and (2) the solution does not alter the pH values of the samples — two important considerations for collecting and storing urine samples in outer space. By eliminating the need to ship frozen samples, this preservative will enable the collection of urine samples — not only in outer space but also in terrestrial remote settings where it was previously not feasible.

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Noninvasive Test Detects Cardiovascular Disease

Spinal taps would no longer be necessary. A technique for noninvasive determination of the pressure in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) has been proposed. This technique would involve two main steps: First, an optical coherence tomographic scanner would be aimed into an eye and used to image the optical disk (see figure). Next, the resulting tomographic imagery would be digitized and processed to determine the thickness of the neural fiber layer, which thickness is known to increase with the CSF pressure.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Edge Phantom Measures Sharpness of X-Ray Detectors

The corrected digital image can be used to enable computer-assisted diagnosis.Digital radiography makes use of Xray detectors that yield a radiographic image of the object or patient between the X-ray source and the detector. Tools have been developed to assess the image quality characteristics of radiation images. One tool is an edge phantom, placed between source and detector, to assess the sharpness of the radiation image obtained. The edge-like, spatial step-response of the system resulting from a sudden change in irradiation level, invoked by the phantom, can be used to calculate the modulation transfer function (MTF) in a particular direction. In this way, the sharpness of the detector can be assessed.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs, Briefs, Diagnostics

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