Health, Medicine, and Biotechnology
NASA's portfolio of health, medical, and biotechnology is a testament to the Agency's innovation. From developing advanced materials for use in space suits to creating innovative medical devices and treatments, NASA has a long history of advancing the field of health and medicine. In this portfolio, you will find a diverse range of patents that have been developed by NASA scientists and engineers that can enable new healthcare technologies.
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.
Biochemical Sensors Using Carbon Nanotube Arrays
Vertically aligned carbon nanofibers (CNFs) are fabricated by wafer-scale plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) on prefabricated microelectrode pads and encapsulated in SiO2 or polymer dielectrics with only the very end exposed at the surface to form an inlaid nanodisk electrode array. As the size of an electrode is reduced, one can obtain: (1) higher sensitivity, i.e., the signal-to-noise ratio, which is inversely proportional to the radius (r) of the electrode, (2) lower detection limit, (3) higher temporal resolution (proportional to 1/r), and (4) miniaturization. Therefore, nanoelectrodes have great properties for electroanalysis. Carbon nanofibers can be fabricated at wafer scale, as high-aspect-ratio metallic wires, down to a few nanometers in diameter on metal microcontact pads to form well-defined nanoelectrode arrays. In addition, CNFs have a wide potential window, well-defined surface functional groups, and good biocompatibility,which are all highly demanded properties for biosensors. CNF arrays have been successfully fabricated on micropatterns. The electrical and electrochemical properties of the embedded CNF nanoelectrode arrays have been thoroughly characterized to show well-defined nanoelectrode behavior. In some schemes, selective covalent functionalization of probe oligonucleotides, antibodies or aptamers have been achieved through the formation of amide bonds at the exposed end of CNFs. Direct electrochemical detection of a target molecules oxidation signal, which is the signal from an electrochemical label, or change in charge transfer resistance, has been demonstrated for DNA, rRNA, proteins, catecholamines, and ions.
Miniature Bioreactor System for Cell Culture
The miniature bioreactor system was developed to provide the capabilities for NASA to perform cell studies in space and then provide results back to investigators on Earth with minimal tools and cost. The miniature bioreactor system has the potential to also be used on Earth as a laboratory bench-top cell culturing system without the need for expensive equipment and reagents. The system can be operated under computer control to reduce the operator handling and to reduce result variations. The system includes a bioreactor, a fluid-handling subsystem, a chamber wherein the bioreactor is maintained in a controlled atmosphere and temperature, and control subsystems. The system can be used to culture both anchorage dependent and suspension cells (prokaryotic or eukaryotic cell types). Cells can be cultured for extended periods of time in this system, and samples of cells can be extracted and analyzed at specified intervals. The miniature bioreactor system for cell culturing has applications in pharmaceutical drug screening and cell culture studies.
Solid And Liquid Waste Drying Bag
This invention addresses the problem of human solid waste disposal in microgravity, and consists of a soft-sided container or bag that (1) collects wet material using airflow, (2) compacts material under vacuum, and (3) dries material under applied vacuum. End products are clean water and dried, compacted, and bagged material. The bag includes a liquid-impermeable and vapor-impermeable outer layer and a liquid-impermeable but vapor-permeable inner layer membrane, defining an inner bag, through which some vapor can pass. The port is located in the outer layer, and activation of the vacuum source causes some of the original vapors and vaporized liquids to pass through the membrane liner. Liquid components of the moist waste solids within the bag may also be vaporized and transported across the membrane. Waste solids, such as excrement, remain in an inner layer defined by the membrane, and are partly dried by withdrawal of vaporized liquid and vaporized liquid components in the moist solids. These waste solids are thereby trapped and sealable in the bag, while the original vapors and the vaporized portion of the liquids pass through the membrane and are received by an outer bag defined by the membrane and the outer layer of the bag. After use, the bag is sealed and stored for ultimate disposal.
Cardiac muscle is myogenic and is capable of generating an action potential and depolarizing and repolarizing signals from within the muscle itself. An intrinsic conduction system (ICS), a group of specialized cardiac cells, passes an electrical signal throughout the heart. This technology is a method and associated system to identify a person based on the use of statistical parameters, peak amplitudes and/or time interval lengths and/or depolarization-repolarization vector angles and/or depolarization-repolarization vector lengths for PQRST electrical signals associated with heart waves. The statistical parameters, estimated to be at least 192, serve as biometric indicia to authenticate or to decline to authenticate an asserted identity of a candidate person. There are three on-line modes of operation enrollment, verification, and identification as well as two off-line modes statistics and settings. In enrollment the raw electrocardiography (ECG) signal is processed and the results in the form of parameters are serialized and saved. Verification and Identification procedures use the feature parameters for recognition (classification) of subjects based on the same kind of parameters (features) of heartbeats extracted from the ECG signal of a person to be verified or identified.
The NASA developed Micro-Organ Device (MOD) platform technology is a small, lightweight, and reproducible in vitro drug screening model that can inexpensively biomimic different mammalian tissues for a multitude of applications. The technology is automated and imposes minimal demands for resources (power, analytes, and fluids). The MOD technology uses titanium tetra(isopropoxide) to bond a microscale support to a substrate and uses biopattering and 3D tissue bioprinting on a microfluidic microchip to eliminate variations in local seeding density while minimizing selection pressure. With the MOD, pharmaceutical companies can test more candidates and concentrate on those with more promise therefore, reducing R&D overall cost. This innovation overcomes major disadvantages of conventional in vitro and in vivo experimentation for purposes of investigating effects of medicines, toxins, and possibly other foreign substances. For example, the MOD platform technology could host life-like miniature assemblies of human cells and the effects observed in tests performed could potentially be extrapolated more readily to humans than could effects observed in conventional in vitro cell cultures, making it possible to reduce or eliminate experimentation on animals. The automated NASA developed technology with minimal footprint and power requirements, micro-volumes of fluids and waste, high throughput and parallel analyses on the same chip, will advance the research and development for new drugs and materials.
Filtering Molecules with Nanotube Technology
This water filtration innovation is an acoustically driven molecular sieve embedded with small-diameter carbon nanotubes. First, water enters the device and contacts the filter matrix, which can be made of polymer, ceramic, or metallic compounds. Carbon nanotubes within the matrix allow only water molecules to pass through, leaving behind any larger molecules and contaminants. The unique aspect of the technology is its use of acoustics to help drive water through the filter. An oscillator circuit attached to the filter matrix propagates acoustic vibration, further causing water molecules to de-bond and move through the filter. This use of acoustics also eliminates dependence on gravity (and thus filter orientation) to move water through the device. When water exiting the system diminishes to a pre-determined set point, a cleaning cycle is triggered to clear the sediment from the inlet of the filter, reestablishing the standard system flow rate. Unlike other filtration systems, flushing of the filter system is not required. The combination of acoustics and small-diameter carbon nanotubes in this innovation make it an effective and efficient means of producing contaminant-free, clean water.
Current scaffold designs and materials do not provide all of the appropriate cues necessary to mimic in-vivo conditions for tissue engineering and stem cell engineering applications. It has been hypothesized that many biomaterials, such as bone, muscle, brain and heart tissue exhibit piezoelectric and ferroelectric properties. Typical cell seeding environments incorporate biochemical cues and more recently mechanical stimuli, however, electrical cues have just recently been incorporated in standard in-vitro examinations. In order to develop their potential further, novel scaffolds are required to provide adequate cues in the in-vitro environment to direct stem cells to differentiate down controlled pathways or develop novel tissue constructs. This invention is for a scaffold that provides for such cues by mimicking the native biological environment, including biochemical, topographical, mechanical and electrical cues.
Ultrasonic System To Assess Compartment Syndrome
The technology uses ultrasonic waves to categorize pressure build-up in a body compartment. The method includes assessing the body compartment configuration and identifying the effect of pulsatile components on at least one compartment dimension. An apparatus is used for measuring excess pressure in the body compartment having components for imparting ultrasonic waves such as a transducer, placing the transducer to impart the ultrasonic waves, capturing the reflected imparted ultrasonic waves, and converting them to electrical signals, a pulsed phase-locked loop device for assessing a body compartment configuration and producing an output signal, and means for mathematically manipulating the output signal to thereby categorize pressure build-up in the body compartment to the point of interference with blood flow in the compartment from the mathematical manipulations.
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