Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Identifying and Inactivating Bacterial Spores

Problems associated with, and new strategies for, inactivating resistant organisms like Bacillus canaveralius (found at Kennedy Space Center during a survey of three NASA cleanrooms) have been defined. Identifying the particular component of the spore that allows its heightened resistance can guide the development of sterilization procedures that are targeted to the specific molecules responsible for resistance, while avoiding using unduly harsh methods that jeopardize equipment.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Patient Monitoring

Crashworthy Seats Would Afford Superior Protection

Adjustments enable optimization of support for different body sizes and shapes.

Seats to prevent or limit crash injuries to astronauts aboard the crew vehicle of the Orion spacecraft are undergoing development. The design of these seats incorporates and goes beyond crash-protection concepts embodied in prior spacecraft and racing-car seats to afford superior protection against impacts. Although the seats are designed to support astronauts in a recumbent, quasi-fetal posture that would likely not be suitable for non-spacecraft applications, parts of the design could be adapted to military and some civilian aircraft seats and to racing-car seats to increase levels of protection.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, TSP, Briefs, TSP, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Bio-Medical, Medical, Seats and seating, Seats and seating, Crashworthiness, Occupant protection, Spacecraft

Droplet-Based Production of Liposomes

A process for making monodisperse liposomes having lipid bilayer membranes involves fewer, simpler process steps than do related prior methods. First, a microfluidic, cross-junction droplet generator is used to produce vesicles comprising aqueous-solution droplets contained in single-layer lipid membranes. The vesicles are collected in a lipid-solvent mix that is at most partially soluble in water and is less dense than is water. A layer of water is dispensed on top of the solvent. By virtue of the difference in densities, the water sinks to the bottom and the solvent floats to the top. The vesicles, which have almost the same density as that of water, become exchanged into the water instead of floating to the top. As there are excess lipids in the solvent solution, in order for the vesicles to remain in the water, the addition of a second lipid layer to each vesicle is energetically favored.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Bio-Medical, Medical

Using Fluorescent Viruses for Detecting Bacteria in Water

A method of detecting water-borne pathogenic bacteria is based partly on established molecular-recognition and fluorescent-labeling concepts, according to which bacteria of a species of interest are labeled with fluorescent reporter molecules and the bacteria can then be detected by fluorescence spectroscopy. The novelty of the present method lies in the use of bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria) to deliver the fluorescent reporter molecules to the bacteria of the species of interest. Bacteriophages that selectively infect that species are selected, and fluorescently labeled virus probes (FLVPs) are prepared by staining these bacteriophages with a fluorescent dye. The FLVPs are immobilized on an optical substrate, which could be a window or a waveguide.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical

Anaerobic Digestion in a Flooded Densified Leachbed

A document discusses the adaptation of a patented biomass-digesting process, denoted sequential batch anaerobic composting (SEBAC), to recycling of wastes aboard a spacecraft. In SEBAC, high-solids-content biomass wastes are converted into methane, carbon dioxide, and compost.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical

Continuous-Flow System Produces Medical-Grade Water

Pressurized flowing water is heated by absorption of microwave power.

A continuous-flow system utilizes microwave heating to sterilize water and to thermally inactivate endotoxins produced in the sterilization process. The system is designed for use in converting potable water to medical-grade water. Systems like this one could be used for efficient, small-scale production of medical-grade water in laboratories, clinics, and hospitals. This system could be adapted to use in selective sterilization of connections in ultra-pure-water-producing equipment and other equipment into which intrusion by microorganisms cannot be tolerated. Lightweight, portable systems based on the design of this system could be rapidly deployed to remote locations (e.g., military field hospitals) or in response to emergencies in which the normal infrastructure for providing medical-grade water is disrupted. Larger systems based on the design of this system could be useful for industrial production of medical-grade water.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Bio-Medical, Medical, Water quality, Medical equipment and supplies, Heat treatment, Radiation

Discrimination of Spore-Forming Bacilli Using spoIVA

Sporulation-specific primers are mixed into a PCR cocktail.

A method of discriminating between spore-forming and non-spore-forming bacteria is based on a combination of simultaneous sporulation-specific and non-sporulation-specific quantitative polymerase chain reactions (Q-PCRs). The method was invented partly in response to the observation that for the purposes of preventing or reducing biological contamination affecting many human endeavors, ultimately, only the spore-forming portions of bacterial populations are the ones that are problematic (or, at least, more problematic than are the non-spore-forming portions).

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

Sensitive, Rapid Detection of Bacterial Spores

This capability is beneficial for medicine, public health, and biowarfare defense.

A method of sensitive detection of bacterial spores within delays of no more than a few hours has been developed to provide an alternative to a prior three-day NASA standard culture-based assay. A capability for relatively rapid detection of bacterial spores would be beneficial for many endeavors, a few examples being agriculture, medicine, public health, defense against biowarfare, water supply, sanitation, hygiene, and the food-packaging and medical-equipment industries.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Bacteria, Medical, health, and wellness, Reaction and response times, Test equipment and instrumentation

Adenosine Monophosphate-Based Detection of Bacterial Spores

AMP is released by means of heat shock, then detected via bioluminescence.

A method of rapid detection of bacterial spores is based on the discovery that a heat shock consisting of exposure to a temperature of 100 °C for 10 minutes causes the complete release of adenosine monophosphate (AMP) from the spores. This method could be an alternative to the method described in the immediately preceding article. Unlike that method and related prior methods, the present method does not involve germination and cultivation; this feature is an important advantage because in cases in which the spores are those of pathogens, delays involved in germination and cultivation could increase risks of infection. Also, in comparison with other prior methods that do not involve germination, the present method affords greater sensitivity.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Bacteria, Biological sciences, Test procedures

Detecting Phycocyanin-Pigmented Microbes in Reflected Light

Concentrations are estimated from ratios between spectral radiances.

A recently invented method of measuring concentrations of phycocynanin- pigmented algae and bacteria in water is based on measurement of the spectrum of reflected sunlight. When present in sufficiently high concentrations, phycocynanin- pigmented microorganisms can be hazardous to the health of humans who use, and of animals that depend on, an affected body of water. The present method is intended to satisfy a need for a rapid, convenient means of detecting hazardous concentrations of phycocynanin-pigmented microorganisms. Rapid detection will speed up the issuance of public health warnings and performance of corrective actions.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Bio-Medical, Medical, Environmental testing, Water quality, Test procedures

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