Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Remote Sensing of Parasitic Nematodes in Plants

A method and apparatus for remote sensing of parasitic nematodes in plants, now undergoing development, is based on measurement of visible and infrared spectral reflectances of fields where the plants are growing. Initial development efforts have been concentrated on detecting reniform nematodes (Rotylenchulus reniformis) in cotton plants, because of the economic importance of cotton crops.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Remote sensing, Sensors and actuators, Remote sensing, Sensors and actuators, Test procedures, Agricultural vehicles and equipment

Two Devices for Removing Sludge From Bioreactor Wastewater

These devices can operate continuously and are self-cleaning.

Two devices — a magnetic separator and a special filter denoted a self-regenerating separator (SRS) — have been developed for separating sludge from the stream of wastewater from a bioreactor. These devices were originally intended for use in microgravity, but have also been demonstrated to function in normal Earth gravity.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Waste materials

Portable Unit for Metabolic Analysis

Respiratory signals can be temporally resolved within respiratory cycles.

The Portable Unit for Metabolic Analysis (PUMA) is an instrument that measures several quantities indicative of human metabolic function. Specifically, this instrument makes time-resolved measurements of temperature, pressure, flow, and the partial pressures of oxygen and carbon dioxide in breath during both inhalation and exhalation.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Medical equipment and supplies

Advanced Resistive Exercise Device

A number of different exercises can be performed on one machine.

The advanced resistive exercise device (ARED), now at the prototype stage of development, is a versatile machine that can be used to perform different customized exercises for which, heretofore, it has been necessary to use different machines. Conceived as a means of helping astronauts and others to maintain muscle and bone strength and endurance in low-gravity environments, the ARED could also prove advantageous in terrestrial settings (e.g., health clubs and military training facilities) in which many users are exercising simultaneously and there is heavy demand for use of exercise machines.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Human factors, Kinematics, Product development

Rapid Engineering of Three-Dimensional, Multicellular Tissues With Polymeric Scaffolds

Engineered tissues could be grown in weeks or days instead of months.

A process has been developed for the rapid tissue engineering of multicellular- tissue-equivalent assemblies by the controlled enzymatic degradation of polymeric beads in a low-fluid- shear bioreactor. In this process, the porous polymeric beads serve as temporary scaffolds to support the assemblies of cells in a tissuelike 3D configuration during the critical initial growth phases of attachment of anchorage-dependent cells, aggregation of the cells, and formation of a 3D extracellular matrix. Once the cells are assembled into a 3D array and enmeshed in a structural supportive 3D extracellular matrix (ECM), the polymeric scaffolds can be degraded in the low-fluid-shear environment of the NASA-designed bioreactor. The natural 3D tissuelike assembly, devoid of any artificial support structure, is maintained in the low-shear bioreactor environment by the newly formed natural cellular/ECM. The elimination of the artificial scaffold allows normal tissue structure and function.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Biological sciences, Medical equipment and supplies, Materials properties, Polymers

Ultraviolet-Resistant Bacterial Spores

A document summarizes a study in which it was found that spores of the SAFR-032 strain of Bacillus pumilus can survive doses of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, γ radiation, and hydrogen peroxide in proportions much greater than those of other bacteria. The study was part of a continuing effort to understand the survivability of bacteria under harsh conditions and develop means of sterilizing spacecraft to prevent biocontamination of Mars that could interfere with the search for life there.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Bacteria, Technical reference, Technical review, Durability, Durability, Spacecraft

Effects of Bone Morphogenic Proteins on Engineered Cartilage

A report describes experiments on the effects of bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs) on engineered cartilage grown in vitro. In the experiments, bovine calf articular chondrocytes were seeded onto biodegradable polyglycolic acid scaffolds and cultured in, variously, a control medium or a medium supplemented with BMP-2, BMP-12, or BMP-13 in various concentrations. Under all conditions investigated, cell-polymer constructs cultivated for 4 weeks macroscopically and histologically resembled native cartilage. At a concentration of 100 ng/mL, BMP-2, BMP-12, or BMP-13 caused (1) total masses of the constructs to exceed those of the controls by 121, 80, or 62 percent, respectively; (2) weight percentages of glycosaminoglycans in the constructs to increase by 27, 18, or 15, respectively; and (3) total collagen contents of the constructs to decrease to 63, 89, or 83 percent of the control values, respectively. BMP-2, but not BMP-12 or BMP-13, promoted chondrocyte hypertrophy.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Anatomy, Biological sciences, Forming, Biomaterials

High-Speed Noninvasive Eye-Tracking System

This system operates at a frame rate of several kilohertz.

The figure schematically depicts a system of electronic hardware and software that noninvasively tracks the direction of a person’s gaze in real time. Like prior commercial noninvasive eye-tracking systems, this system is based on (1) illumination of an eye by a low-power infrared light-emitting diode (LED); (2) acquisition of video images of the pupil, iris, and cornea in the reflected infrared light; (3) digitization of the images; and (4) processing the digital image data to determine the direction of gaze from the centroids of the pupil and cornea in the images. Relative to the prior commercial systems, the present system operates at much higher speed and thereby offers enhanced capability for applications that involve human-computer interactions, including typing and computer command and control by handicapped individuals, and eye-based diagnosis of physiological disorders that affect gaze responses.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Body regions, Diagnosis, Human machine interface (HMI)

Detergent-Specific Membrane Protein Crystallization Screens

A suite of reagents has been developed for three-dimensional crystallization of integral membranes present in solution as protein-detergent complexes (PDCs). The compositions of these reagents have been determined in part by proximity to the phase boundaries (lower consolute boundaries) of the detergents present in the PDCs. The acquisition of some of the requisite phase-boundary data and the preliminary design of several of the detergent- specific screens was supported by a NASA contract. At the time of expiration of the contract, a partial set of preliminary screens had been developed. This work has since been extended under non-NASA sponsorship, leading to near completion of a set of 20 to 30 different and unique detergent-specific 96-condition screens.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Research and development, Materials properties

Infrared Imaging System for Studying Brain Function

This would be an alternative to large, expensive, immobile fMRI systems.

A proposed special-purpose infrared imaging system would be a compact, portable, less-expensive alternative to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) systems heretofore used to study brain function. Whereas a typical fMRI system fills a large room, and must be magnetically isolated, this system would fit into a bicycle helmet.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Bio-Medical, Medical, Downsizing, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Body regions, Nervous system

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