Health, Medicine, and Biotechnology

Health, Medicine, and Biotechnology
Health, Medicine, and Biotechnology
The development and manufacture of a technique or product to provide for the maintenance of a healthy level of physical, mental, and psychological fitness, the use of organic substances that are only existing in or derived from plants, animals or other living tissue, organisms or microorganisms to biologically engineer a compound or substance to improve lives, and the use of inorganic substances to perform chemical processing or to produce other materials that improve lives, industrial processes, and the environment.
Space Station graphic
In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU): Methylotrophic Microorganisms Expressing Soluble Methane Monooxygenase Proteins
Microorganisms are unique from the standpoint that they can be employed as self-replicating bio-factories to produce both native and engineered mission relevant bio-products. Methane (CH4) usage in In-Space Manufacturing (ISM) platforms has been discussed previously for human exploration and has been proposed to be used in physicochemical systems as a propulsion fuel, supply gas, and in fuel cells. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is abundant on Mars and manned spacecraft. On the International Space Station (ISS), NASA reacts excess CO2 with Hydrogen (H2) to generate CH4 and Water (H2O) using the Sabatier System (Figure 1). The resulting water is recovered in the ISS, but the methane is vented to space. Recapturing this methane and using it for microbial manufacturing could provide a unique approach in development of in-space bio-manufacturing. Thus, there is a capability need for systems that convert methane into valuable materials. Methane (CH4) is a potential carbon substrate for methanotrophic microorganisms which are able to metabolize CH4 into biomass. The innovative technology from NASA Ames Research Center ports Soluble Methane Monooxygenase (sMMO) to Pichia, that is, it moves the methane metabolism into a robust microbial factory (Pichia pastoris) (Figure 2). The yeast Pichia pastoris is a refined microbial factory that is used widely by industry because it efficiently secretes products. Pichia could produce a variety of useful products in space. Pichia does not consume methane but robustly consumes methanol, which is one enzymatic step removed from methane. This novel innovation engineers Pichia to consume methane thereby creating a powerful methane-consuming microbial factory and utilizing methane in a robust and flexible synthetic biology platform.
Surface Attached BioReactor (SABR) for Microbial Cell Cultivation
The Surface-Adhering BioReactor (SABR) is a novel microbial cell cultivation platform that mimics the way vascular plants use transpiration to deliver nutrients to their cells. In this biomimetic platform, microbial cells are cultivated as immobilized cells on a porous substrate where transpiration is used to passively deliver water and nutrients as well as harvest and concentrate secreted biomolecules by the microbial cells. The SABR transports nutrients to microorganisms without using a pump. Instead, evaporation and the cohesive property of water are exploited to pull the nutrient medium through the device, with a high degree of control, on an as needed basis. It eliminates the hydrodynamic shear stress on the cells and decreases the working volume of water needed for cultivation by a factor of 25 compared to planktonic bioreactors. Furthermore, the transpiration mechanism allows for the concentration of secreted products in areas of relatively fast evaporation, thus providing a passive means of secreted product harvesting. By matching the time scales of nutrient medium delivery and product harvesting with the time scales of growth and product formation, minimal energy is wasted in bioreactor operation. Transpiration enables a passive cooling system for the cells where either externally imposed or internally generated heat due to cellular activity is mitigated, thus preventing overheating that can lead to decreased productivity or even cell death. This technology enables significant reductions in energy input for cultivating microorganisms.
Robonaut 2: Medical Opportunities
Robonaut 2: Medical Opportunities
R2's unique systems allow the robot to be used in many telemedicine applications and in many medical scenarios. For example, R2 can assist a surgeon and the surgical team before, during, and after a procedure with multiple tasks. The robot has the vision, dexterity, and the ability to perform tasks tirelessly 24 hours a day, seven days a week. R2 can work safely around humans, so it can be integrated into a dynamic hospital environment. The R2 technology capabilities in telemedicine are being explored through partnerships with medical institutions. After a quick medical procedure training, a R2 teleoperator was able to guide the robot and perform an ultrasound scan on a medical mannequin. Humans at the controls were able to guide the robot to perform the task correctly and efficiently by using R2's dexterity to apply the appropriate level of force and were able to track their progress using the robot's vision system. The technology was also used to experiment using a syringe and an intubation procedure with a mannequin to demonstrate R2's telemedicine capabilities. R2 is well suited to be used by physicians to conduct medical procedures on humans in remote locations.
Self-Contained Device Isolates Biological Samples
Self-Contained Device Isolates Biological Samples
JSC's technology provides hazard-free, microgravity-compatible hardware for DNA/RNA isolation. It also allows PCR analysis to be used outside the lab in environments where pipetting is difficult and/or where hazardous chemicals must be confined to an enclosed container, such as military settings and remote clinical operations. This self-contained device for isolating DNA/RNA, proteins, and cells is a component system that includes syringes and pistons, membranes of different capacities, reagents, four-way valves, and small pumps. The pre-filled reagents are the same as those used in conventional PCR laboratory isolation analysis. The DNA and RNA isolation kits are novel and process small sample amounts using a self-enclosed and pipette-free technique. Multiple kits can be stacked to allow several samples to be processed simultaneously. The system can be used in conjunction with existing analysis modules, such as commercially available DNA instruments. The process can be fully automated and programmed and can potentially be applied to other biological processes. The JSC innovation will permit the extension of laboratory isolation protocols to many applications. This NASA Technology is available for your company to license and develop into a commercial product. NASA does not manufacture products for commercial sale.
Brain Waves
Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) Cognitive Brain Monitor
Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is an emerging hemodynamic neuroimaging brain-computer interface (BCI) technology that indirectly measures neuronal activity in the brain's cortex via neuro-vascular coupling. fNIRS works by quantifying hemoglobin-concentration changes in the brain based on optical intensity measurements, measuring the same hemodynamic changes as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). With enough probes in enough locations, fNIRS can detect these hemodynamic activations across the subject's entire head, thus allowing the determination of cognitive state through the use of pattern classification. fNIRS systems offer low-power, low-cost, highly mobile alternatives for real-time monitoring in safety-critical situations. Glenn's specific contribution to this field is the algorithms capable of removing motion artifacts (environment- or equipment-induced errors) from the device's head-worn optical sensors. In other words, Glenn's adaptive filter can determine the presence of a potential motion artifact based on a phase shift in the data measured; identify the artifact by examining the correlation between the phase shift and changes in hemoglobin concentration; and finally remove the artifact using Kalman filtering whenever changes in hemoglobin level and changes in the phase shift are not correlated. Glenn's breakthrough allows the advantages of fNIRS to be used for non-invasive real-time brain monitoring applications in motion-filled environments that could potentially save lives.
Detecting high stress in a job interview
Detecting High Stress in Interviews and Text
This system estimates whether a subject of interrogation is likely to be experiencing high stress, emotional volatility, and/or internal conflict in the subjects responses to an interviewers questions. The system applies one or more of four procedures, a first statistical analysis, a second statistical analysis, a third analysis and a heat map analysis, to identify one or more documents containing the subjects responses. Several statistical analyses are applied here, individually or in combination, based on selected emotional dimensions that are represented by related groups of words and phrases (anger, sadness, depression, etc.) Statistical indices are developed and applied for each emotional dimension to identify particular responses within one or more documents that should be revisited, optionally to identify topics that should be explored in an additional interview where the subject may have been practicing deception. Words in the documents are characterized in terms of dimensions representing different classes of emotions and states of mind, in which the subjects responses that manifest high stress, emotional volatility and/or internal conflict are identified. A heat map visually displays the dimensions manifested by the subjects responses in different colors, textures,geometric shapes or other visually distinguishable indicia.
Directional Microwave Applicator/Antenna
front image
Nanosensor Array for Medical Diagnoses
Many diseases are accompanied by characteristic odors. Their recognition can provide diagnostic clues, guide the laboratory evaluation, and affect the choice of immediate therapy. The study of the chemical composition of human breath using gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS) has shown a correlation between the volatile compounds and the occurrence of certain illnesses. The presence of those specific compounds can provide an indication of physiological malfunction and support the diagnosis of diseases. This condition requires an analytical tool with very high sensitivity for its measurement. A number of volatile compounds, so called biomarkers, are found in breath samples, normally at low parts per billion (ppb) levels. For example, the acetone in the exhaled breath from human with other biomarkers can indicate Type I diabetes. Usually, the concentration of the volatile compounds in human breath is very low and the background relative humidity is high, almost 100%. NASAs invention utilizes an array of chemical sensors combined with humidity, temperature, and pressure for real-time breath measurement to correlate the chemical information in the breath with the state and functioning of different human organs. This tool provides a non-invasive method for fast and accurate diagnosis at the medical point of care or at home. The sensor chip includes multisensors for a comprehensive measurement of chemical composition, temperature, humidity, and pressure/flow rate. The sensor data collected from this chip can be wired or wirelessly transmitted to a computer terminal at the doctors desk or hospital monitoring center. The sensor chip can be connected directly or via Universal serial bus (USB) to a cell phone for data transmission over a long distance and receive an instruction from a doctors office for an immediate therapy.
Artist Rendering of Plant Growth Technologies Being Used
Farming in Space
A concept for a Microgreen Mower is in development to harvest plants in a microgravity environment. Microgreens are small, young plants which can be eaten when harvested. Harvesting microgreens generally means cutting the plant stem and collecting the top portion of the plant, which usually contains a few small tender leaves. The concept is based on a toy - a bead sweeper which uses its gear mechanisms from wheel contact motion and hand force to collect beads in a bin. The Microgreen Mower would function similarly, mowing the microgreens and depositing them into a collection bin. The Passive Porous Tube Nutrient Delivery System is a plant growth technique that delivers a nutrient solution to the roots of plants via capillary action. The system was designed for use in microgravity. Current nutrient delivery techniques proposed for space involve the use of a medium for the roots to penetrate, such as arcilite. This new system utilizes a ceramic porous tube and water/nutrients bags connected in a loop. No electricity or moving parts are required. Instead, the nutrients are pumped in through a combination of capillary force and evapo-transpiration from the plant. The porous tube supplies the plants with the water and nutrients needed to germinate and grow. This system provides an autonomous plant growth apparatus that is simple to assemble, plant and harvest, minimizing the amount of intervention needed in micro-gravity.
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