Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Reducing Field Distortion in Magnetic Resonance Imaging

An unconventional magnetic-field configuration would be used in SQUID MRI.

A concept for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system that would utilize a relatively weak magnetic field provides for several design features that differ significantly from the corresponding features of conventional MRI systems. Notable among these features are a magnetic- field configuration that reduces (relative to the conventional configuration) distortion and blurring of the image, the use of a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) magnetometer as the detector, and an imaging procedure suited for the unconventional field configuration and sensor.

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

EPR Imaging at a Few Megahertz Using SQUID Detectors

This frequency range is better for imaging of humans and large animals.

An apparatus being developed for electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) imaging operates in the resonance- frequency range of about 1 to 2 MHz — well below the microwave frequencies used in conventional EPR. Until now, in order to obtain sufficient signal-to-noise radios (SNRs) in conventional EPR, it has been necessary to place both detectors and objects to be imaged inside resonant microwave cavities.

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

A Constant-Force Resistive Exercise Unit

A constant-force resistive exercise unit (CFREU) has been invented for use in both normal gravitational and microgravitational environments. In comparison with a typical conventional exercise machine, this CFREU weighs less and is less bulky: Whereas weight plates and associated bulky supporting structures are used to generate resistive forces in typical conventional exercise machines, they are not used in this CFREU. Instead, resistive forces are generated in this CFREU by relatively compact, lightweight mechanisms based on constant-torque springs wound on drums. Each such mechanism is contained in a module, denoted a resistive pack, that includes a shaft for making a torque connection to a cable drum. During a stroke of resistive exercise, the cable is withdrawn from the cable drum against the torque exerted by the resistance pack.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy

Fluorogenic Cell-Based Biosensors for Monitoring Microbes

Fluorogenic cell-based sensor systems for detecting microbes (especially pathogenic ones) and some toxins and allergens are undergoing development. These systems harness the natural signaltransduction and amplification cascades that occur in mast cells upon activation with antigens. These systems include (1) fluidic biochips for automated containment of samples, reagents, and wastes and (2) sensitive, compact fluorometers for monitoring the fluorescent responses of mast cells engineered to contain fluorescent dyes. It should be possible to observe responses within minutes of adding immune complexes. The systems have been shown to work when utilizing either immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies or traditionally generated rat antibodies — a promising result in that it indicates that the systems could be developed to detect many target microbes. Chimeric IgE antibodies and rat immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies could be genetically engineered for recognizing biological and chemical warfare agents and airborne and food-borne allergens. Genetic engineering efforts thus far have yielded (1) CD14 chimeric antibodies that recognize both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and bind to the surfaces of mast cells, eliciting a degranulation response and (2) rat IgG2a antibodies that act similarly in response to low levels of canine parvovirus.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Sensors

An Alternative Approach to Combination Vaccines

Vaccines administered intradermally protect against multiple diseases.

As the number of investigational and approved vaccines continues to increase, the frequency of vaccinations will soon reach a practical limit. The development of combination vaccines is a common practice that addresses the concern of repeated visits to the clinic by reducing the total number of injections required compared with administration schedules for the monovalent vaccines. Yet, physical, chemical, and biological interactions among the components of combination vaccines must be considered to avoid detrimental effects on safety or efficacy. For example, when the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine was combined with diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis vaccine, a decrease in antibody titer for the Hib vaccine was observed. Thus, there is a need to develop new approaches for delivery of multiple vaccines.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, TSP, Briefs, TSP, Bio-Medical, Drug Delivery, Medical, Diseases, Human factors, Pharmaceuticals

GUI To Facilitate Research on Biological Damage From Radiation

A graphical-user-interface (GUI) computer program has been developed to facilitate research on the damage caused by highly energetic particles and photons impinging on living organisms. The program brings together, into one computational workspace, computer codes that have been developed over the years, plus codes that will be developed during the foreseeable future, to address diverse aspects of radiation damage. These include codes that implement radiation-track models, codes for biophysical models of breakage of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) by radiation, pattern-recognition programs for extracting quantitative information from biological assays, and image-processing programs that aid visualization of DNA breaks.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, TSP, Briefs, TSP, Bio-Medical, Medical, Software, Computer software and hardware, Biological sciences, Radiation

On-Demand Urine Analyzer

A lab-on-a-chip was developed that is capable of extracting biochemical indicators from urine samples and generating their surface-enhanced Raman spectra (SERS) so that the indicators can be quantified and identified. The development was motivated by the need to monitor and assess the effects of extended weightlessness, which include space motion sickness and loss of bone and muscle mass. The results may lead to developments of effective exercise programs and drug regimes that would maintain astronaut health.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, TSP, Briefs, TSP, Imaging, Bio-Medical, Medical, Patient Monitoring, Diagnosis, Fluids and secretions, Human factors, Medical equipment and supplies, Test equipment and instrumentation, Spacecraft

Advanced Liquid-Cooling Garment Using Highly Thermally Conductive Sheets

This garment provides metabolic heat rejection applicable to surgical cooling vests, combat fatigues, and firefighter and hazmat suits.

This design of the liquid-cooling garment for NASA spacesuits allows the suit to remove metabolic heat from the human body more effectively, thereby increasing comfort and performance while reducing system mass. The garment is also more flexible, with fewer restrictions on body motion, and more effectively transfers thermal energy from the crewmember’s body to the external cooling unit. This improves the garment’s performance in terms of the maximum environment temperature in which it can keep a crewmember comfortable.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, TSP, Briefs, TSP, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Bio-Medical, Medical, Human factors, Thermal management, Spacesuits

Engineering Devices to Treat Epilepsy

Intelligent implantable epilepsy devices will likely be tuned to individual patients, and may need to predict events rather than merely detect them.

Many technologies have been proposed for treating epileptic seizures, with the ultimate goal being implantation of stimulators or drug infusion devices in the brain to abort seizures before clinical onset. Device designs range from “blind” stimulators to “intelligent” devices, which are triggered by detecting or predicting seizure onset. Intelligent implantable epilepsy devices will likely process multiple channels of data, be tuned to individual patients, and may need to predict events rather than merely detect them.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, TSP, Briefs, TSP, Bio-Medical, Drug Delivery, Implants & Prosthetics, Medical, Diseases, Nervous system, Prostheses and implants, Reaction and response times

More-Realistic Digital Modeling of a Human Body

A MATLAB computer program has been written to enable improved (relative to an older program) modeling of a human body for purposes of designing space suits and other hardware with which an astronaut must interact. The older program implements a kinematic model based on traditional anthropometric measurements that do provide important volume and surface information. The present program generates a three-dimensional (3D) whole-body model from 3D body-scan data. The program utilizes thin-plate spline theory to reposition the model without need for additional scans.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Software, CAD, CAM, and CAE, Computer software and hardware, Anatomy, Anthropometrics, Kinematics, Spacesuits

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