Recently in the Biomedical Category


"A team of scientists at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed the world's smallest medical implant to monitor critical chemicals in the blood. The 14mm device measures up to five indicators, including proteins like troponin, that show if and when a heart attack has occurred. Using Bluetooth, the device can then transmit the data to a smartphone for tracking. The device can also track levels of glucose, lactate, and ATP, providing valuable data for physiologic monitoring during activity, or in possible disease conditions like diabetes. As far as tricorders go, this device may be the one you have been waiting for, provided you are on board for the implant." more at ExtremeTech

Imagine the potential of such technology to monitor the health of astronauts. No more wires.

"Do you know of a small company developing a medical product that could be adapted to solve a health or human performance challenge in space? Have you developed a biomedical product for the space program that could also improve health on Earth? The National Space Biomedical Research Institute's Industry Forum is soliciting applications for the Space Medicine and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program (SMARTCAP) award that provides support in moving a selected product toward commercialization. The 2013 SMARTCAP award will be for a maximum of $250,000 for a one-year period. The deadline for submitting Stage-1 applications for this competitive two-stage proposal process is Nov. 5, 2012." More

Minature MRI For Astronauts

"Astronaut health is a huge concern, as studies have shown muscle and bone mass are at risk on longer missions; that's just what we know about, too. The problem is how to fit out a space station or future moon base with medical equipment compact and safe enough to do the job. Now, thanks to researchers in Canada, there is a compact magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) machine that could one day head to space to help astronauts." More at DVICE

"Microflow is a miniaturized version of a flow cytometer (a common research or clinical laboratory instrument used for a range of bioanalysis and clinical diagnoses). Microflow can spot cells and biological molecules rapidly by using optical fibre-optic technology to detect them in a sample of liquid as they pass single-file in front of a laser--all within 10 minutes. Different detectors positioned at the point where the stream meets the laser can analyse the physical and chemical properties of molecules or cells in the sample. Unlike most current flow cytometers (which are used only in labs because they can weigh hundreds of pounds and take up as much space as three laser printers and an espresso machine), Microflow weighs less than 10 kg and takes up about the same space as a toaster. Microflow's small size and light-weight make it ideally suited for use in space, since it costs much more to launch heavier objects into space, and bulky objects are more difficult to stow aboard sleek spacecraft and the ISS." More

"Move over "Bones" McCoy. Future voyages of the starship Enterprise just might include astro surgery as this dynamic discipline jumps from the pages of fiction to reality. A team of biomedical engineering researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Louisville are developing surgical tools that could be used for future expeditionary spaceflights to the moon, an asteroid or Mars. "In deep space, surgical procedures will be severely complicated by absence of gravity, where it becomes difficult to prevent cabin contamination from blood and body fluids," said James Antaki, a professor of biomedical engineering at CMU." More

NASA Ames RFI: Compact Technology to Detect Health-related Biomarkers or Analytes in Space

"NASA Ames Research Center is exploring the state-of-the-art in technologies to detect health-related biomarkers/analytes in space. For this Request for Information (RFI), NASA is seeking detailed information regarding compact technologies currently available that can analyze health-related biomarkers/analytes in breath, saliva, dermal emanations, blood, and urine using a single compact device. The specific biomarkers/analytes to be detected are currently under evaluation by NASA, but include a broad range of molecules and cells associated with health status, impact of the space environment on individual astronauts, and prediction of future health events. Analyses and analytes of interest include cell profiles, proteins and peptides, and small organic molecules."

A New Scanner Bed for Sickbay

Augmented Reality Promises Astronauts Instant Medical Knowhow

"A new augmented reality unit developed by ESA can provide just-in-time medical expertise to astronauts. All they need to do is put on a head-mounted display for 3D guidance in diagnosing problems or even performing surgery. The Computer Assisted Medical Diagnosis and Surgery System, CAMDASS, is a wearable augmented reality prototype. Augmented reality merges actual and virtual reality by precisely combining computer-generated graphics with the wearer's view. CAMDASS is focused for now on ultrasound examinations but in principle could guide other procedures."

Another NASA Tricorder

This Is NASA's Cancer-Sniffing Cellphone Sensor, Gizmodo

"What if you could use your phone to test the air for toxins? What if you could monitor your health simply by blowing on it? Sounds amazing, right? Nanosensor technology developed by NASA Ames is going to make that a reality."

Using T-Rays To Make Tricorders

T-rays technology could help develop Star Trek-style hand-held medical scanners

"Scientists have developed a new way to create electromagnetic Terahertz (THz) waves or T-rays - the technology behind full-body security scanners. The researchers behind the study, published recently in the journal Nature Photonics, say their new stronger and more efficient continuous wave T-rays could be used to make better medical scanning gadgets and may one day lead to innovations similar to the 'tricorder' scanner used in Star Trek."

Building a Medical Tricorder

Scanadu Raises $2M For Medical Tricorder

"The company just raised $2 million in funding from a group of investors that includes Sebastien De Halleux, co-founder of social network game maker Playfish. The money's an impressive accomplishment considering Scanadu isn't even a year old. Founded in January 2011, the company is staffed with a team of visionaries like Walter De Brouwer. The Belgian futurist co-founded Starlab in 1996 with MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte. He first got the idea for the Tricorder while at Starlab but the technology wasn't mature enough at the time. In 2006 his son was in a serious accident and hospitalized for three months. De Brouwer again got to thinking about leveraging technology to empower people by allowing them to auto-diagnose and make informed decisions concerning health."

ESA's Blood Testing Tricorder Sensor

Spinning Blood Device Set to Safeguard Astronaut Health

"ESA has begun developing a new blood-testing device for astronauts on the International Space Station. A wide range of ailments from diabetes to heart disease should be diagnosable in moments from a single drop of astronaut blood. A pinprick of blood is added to a mini-disc embedded with a wide variety of miniaturised test procedures. The disc is then inserted into the 'point-of-care' device and set spinning to spread the blood sample across the surface."

How to Build a Borg Drone: First Step

Proton-based transistor could let machines communicate with living things, University of Washington

"Human devices, from light bulbs to iPods, send information using electrons. Human bodies and all other living things, on the other hand, send signals and perform work using ions or protons. Materials scientists at the University of Washington have built a novel transistor that uses protons, creating a key piece for devices that can communicate directly with living things. The study is published online this week in the interdisciplinary journal Nature Communications."

Think about this: imagine having this human/machine technology as a sensor system for crew health - this could be a quantum leap beyond the stick-on electrodes that have been used for half a century. It would certainly make it easier for Tricorders and sickbay to check up on the crew. It could also allow a more seamless interface between humans and remotely operated robotic arms, rovers, and other mechanical systems. Add in Wifi and ...

Think about this: imagine having this gene chip technology aboard on long duration spaceflight as a diagnostic tool for crew health, for characterizing environmental microbial contamination, and to assay crop health within life support systems. Add a WiFi, WiMAX, or Bluetooth link and Tricorders could get quick updates.

White House Boosts Translational Medicine, Drug Chip Project, Science Insider

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins's controversial plan to launch a new center for translational biomedical research got a boost today in a White House announcement on science initiatives. NIH also rolled out an early project for the planned center, promising up to $140 million over 5 years to develop a chip for predicting drug toxicity

Researchers from Louisiana Tech University will be floating high above the Gulf of Mexico this month to conduct zero-gravity testing of an experimental DNA analysis instrument developed at Tech that could benefit future NASA astronauts. Dr. Niel Crews, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Collin Tranter, a graduate student with the Institute for Micromanufacturing (IfM) say the instrument could be used to monitor the health of astronauts exposed to cosmic radiation beyond Earth's protective atmosphere. More

The X PRIZE Foundation, the leading nonprofit organization solving the world's Grand Challenges of our time by creating and managing large-scale, global incentivized competitions, today announced a collaboration with Qualcomm Incorporated to design the Tricorder X PRIZE, a $10 million prize to develop a mobile solution that can diagnose patients better than or equal to a panel of board certified physicians. The X PRIZE Foundation and Qualcomm seeks to achieve this by combining advancements in expert systems and medical point of care data such as wireless sensors, advancements in medical imaging and microfluidics.

Image: Astronaut Scott Parazynski in May 2009 using a Jaz spectroradiometer from Ocean Optics at Everest Base Camp to measure solar irradiance [See "Using a Tricorder on Mount Everest"]

"A five-time astronaut, [Scott] Parazynski said he's especially eager to tackle projects in the fields of minimally invasive surgery and nanomedicine, with its potential to use targeted drugs to destroy tumors and plaques in arteries. Some inspiration, he admits, comes from Star Trek. "I'm hoping to leverage my background to create the next generation of minimally invasive surgery and diagnostic tools," Parazynski said. "As a physician growing up and watching Star Trek, we all wanted a medical tricorder. So one of the things I'd love to do is think big and push the envelope on what is possible." For those who don't grok Spock, a "tricorder "is a fictional device that can scan a person and immediately diagnose a disease or injury." More at Ultimate Clear Lake

"Add diagnosing soft-tissue injuries to online banking, e-mail, video games and thousands of other applications available for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The Food and Drug Administration ushered in the era of mobile diagnostic radiology Friday, approving software for viewing images and making medical diagnoses from MRIs and CT, PET and SPECT scans on several of Apple Inc.'s popular hand-held devices. The FDA reviewed image quality and checked studies with radiologists under variable lighting conditions and determined that the Apple devices running Mobile MIM software offered clear enough images for diagnostic interpretation." More at the Los Angleles Times

Image: MIM Software

NASA Human Health And Performance Center

NASA has established a global forum for organizations interested in advancing human health and performance innovations in space and on Earth. NASA's Human Health and Performance Center (NHHPC) will give members an opportunity to collaborate, network and share information.

NHHPC members include NASA centers and partners, industry, academic institutions, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Members will work together to advance human health and performance innovations for spaceflight, commercial aviation and any challenging environment on Earth.

Image: ECG signals wirelessly transmitted to an Android mobile phone via a low-power interface. Click on the picture to download the high-res version.

Imec and Holst Centre, together with TASS software professionals have developed a mobile heart monitoring system that allows to view your electrocardiogram on an Android mobile phone. The innovation is a low-power interface that transmits signals from a wireless ECG (electrocardiogram or heart monitoring)-sensor system to an android mobile phone. With this interface, imec, Holst Centre and TASS are the first to demonstrate a complete Body Area Network (BAN) connected to a mobile phone enabling reliable long-term ambulatory monitoring of various health parameters such as cardiac performance (ECG), brain activity (EEG), muscle activity (EMG), etc. The system will be demonstrated at the Wireless Health Conference in San Diego (US, October 5-7).

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