Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Purifying Nucleic Acids From Samples of Extremely Low Biomass

A new method is able to circumvent the bias to which one commercial DNA extraction method falls prey with regard to the lysing of certain types of microbial cells, resulting in a truncated spectrum of microbial diversity. By prefacing the protocol with glass-bead-beating agitation (mechanically lysing a much more encompassing array of cell types and spores), the resulting microbial diversity detection is greatly enhanced.

Posted in: Briefs

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Adjustable-Viewing-Angle Endoscopic Tool for Skull Base and Brain Surgery

Surgeons could operate more precisely. The term “Multi-Angle and Rear Viewing Endoscopic tooL” (MARVEL) denotes an auxiliary endoscope, now undergoing development, that a surgeon would use in conjunction with a conventional endoscope to obtain additional perspective. The role of the MARVEL in endoscopic brain surgery would be similar to the role of a mouth mirror in dentistry. Such a tool is potentially useful for in-situ planetary geology applications for the close-up imaging of unexposed rock surfaces in cracks or those not in the direct line of sight.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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UV-Resistant Non-Spore-Forming Bacteria From Spacecraft-Assembly Facilities

Four species of non-spore-forming bacteria collected from clean-room surfaces in spacecraft-assembly facilities could survive doses of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that would suffice to kill most known cultivable bacterial species. In a previous study, high UV resistance was found in spores of the SAFR-032 strain of Bacillus pumilus, as reported in “Ultraviolet-Resistant Bacterial Spores,” NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 31, No. 9 (September 2007), page 94. These studies are parts of a continuing effort to understand the survival of hardy species of bacteria under harsh conditions, and develop means of sterilizing spacecraft to prevent biocontamination of Mars that could in turn interfere with future life detection missions.

Posted in: Briefs

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Using Electronic Noses To Detect Tumors During Neurosurgery

Sensors would help surgeons determine whether tumors have been removed completely. It has been proposed to develop special-purpose electronic noses and algorithms for processing the digitized outputs of the electronic noses for determining whether tissue exposed during neurosurgery is cancerous. At present, visual inspection by a surgeon is the only available intraoperative technique for detecting cancerous tissue. Implementation of the proposal would help to satisfy a desire, expressed by some neurosurgeons, for an intraoperative technique for determining whether all of a brain tumor has been removed. The electronic-nose technique could complement multimodal imaging techniques, which have also been proposed as means of detecting cancerous tissue. There are also other potential applications of the electronic-nose technique in general diagnosis of abnormal tissue.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Producing Newborn Synchronous Mammalian Cells

This invention could be used to study aging and cancer. A method and bioreactor for the continuous production of synchronous (same age) population of mammalian cells have been invented. The invention involves the attachment and growth of cells on an adhesive-coated porous membrane immersed in a perfused liquid culture medium in a microgravity analog bioreactor. When cells attach to the surface divide, newborn cells are released into the flowing culture medium. The released cells, consisting of a uniform population of synchronous cells are then collected from the effluent culture medium. This invention could be of interest to researchers investigating the effects of the geneotoxic effects of the space environment (microgravity, radiation, chemicals, gases) and to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies involved in research on aging and cancer, and in new drug development and testing.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Biochips Containing Arrays of Carbon-Nanotube Electrodes

Small quantities of biomarkers could be detected rapidly, with simplified preparation. Biochips containing arrays of nanoelectrodes based on multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) are being developed as means of ultrasensitive electrochemical detection of specific deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) biomarkers for purposes of medical diagnosis and bioenvironmental monitoring. In mass production, these biochips could be relatively inexpensive (hence, disposable). These biochips would be integrated with computer-controlled microfluidic and microelectronic devices in automated hand-held and bench-top instruments that could be used to perform rapid in vitro genetic analyses with simplified preparation of samples.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Apparatus for Sampling Surface Contamination

Liquid suspensions of samples can be dispensed systematically into analytical instruments. An apparatus denoted a swab device has been developed as a convenient means of acquiring samples of contaminants from surfaces and suspending the samples in liquids. (Thereafter, the liquids can be dispensed, in controlled volumes, into scientific instruments for analysis of the contaminants.) The swab device is designed so as not to introduce additional contamination and to facilitate, simplify, and systematize the dispensing of controlled volumes of liquid into analytical instruments.

Posted in: Briefs

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