A noninvasive, needle-free system that uses light to measure tissue oxygen and pH will soon be an alternative to the painful use of needles to draw blood and cumbersome equipment to determine metabolic rate. The futuristic system, dubbed the Venus prototype, is being developed by Dr. Babs Soller and her colleagues. It has the capability to measure blood and tissue chemistry, metabolic rate (oxygen consumption) and other parameters.
The sensor and portable monitor are funded by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) for use in space. Soller said the technology’s multiple, real-time applications will be beneficial to astronauts in their day-to-day activities and to critically ill patients on Earth.
“Tissue and blood chemistry measurements can be used in medical care to assess patients with traumatic injuries and those at risk for cardiovascular collapse,” said Soller, who leads NSBRI’s Smart Medical Systems and Technology team. “The measurement of metabolic rate will let astronauts know how quickly they are using up the oxygen in their life-support backpacks. If spacewalking astronauts run low on oxygen, the situation can become fatal.”
Placed directly on the skin, the four-inch by two-inch sensor uses near infrared light (that is just beyond the visible spectrum) to take the measurements. Blood in tiny blood vessels absorbs some of the light, but the rest is reflected back to the sensor. The monitor analyzes the reflected light to determine metabolic rate, along with tissue oxygen and pH. One unique advantage of Dr. Soller’s near infrared device is that its measurements are not impacted by skin color or body fat.
A noninvasive system also means a reduced risk of infection due to the lack of needle pricks. Most of the system’s development has occurred at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where Soller is a professor of anesthesiology. She has worked closely with researchers at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston to develop applications of the Venus system for space.
Former NASA astronaut and NSBRI User Panel Chairman Dr. Leroy Chiao said Soller’s sensor system and other technologies being developed for spaceflight are a wise investment.
“The neat thing about the work being done is that it is a two-for-one deal,” Chiao said. “Not only is this research going to help future astronaut crews and operations, it has very real benefits to people on the ground, especially to people in more rural areas.”
On Earth, there are several areas of health care that could benefit from Venus. However, it is patients treated by emergency personnel on ambulances and on the battlefield that could benefit the most from the technology.
“Eventually, we expect first-responders would have these devices, which would provide feedback on the severity of a person’s injury,” Soller said. “Data can be communicated directly to the hospital. Early access to this type of information may increase a victim’s chances of survival.”
The system’s Earth applications are not limited to urgent care. It will allow doctors to more efficiently monitor pediatric and intensive care patients. Athletes and physical therapy patients also stand to gain from the technology’s ability to measure metabolic rate and to assist in determining the level of activity or exercise that is most beneficial to the individual.
“Athletes would benefit from using these parameters in developing training programs that will help them improve their endurance and performance,” she said. “And we suspect the same thing will be true for patients in physical rehabilitation.”
Currently, Soller and her collaborators are working on several aspects to prepare the sensor for integration into spacesuits by reducing its size, increasing its accuracy in measuring metabolic rate, and developing the capability to run on batteries. These activities will also speed its application in helping to care for patients on Earth.
Soller’s technology is one of a group of innovative medical systems being developed by NSBRI to provide health care to NASA astronauts in space and to improve health care on Earth.
Learn more about other NSBRI technologies at: http://www.nsbri.org/EarthBenefits/FuturisticTechnologies.html
NSBRI, funded by NASA, is a consortium of institutions studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight. The Institute’s science, technology and education projects take place at more than 60 institutions across the United States.
Brad Thomas | NSBRI
Further reports about: > Earth's magnetic field > Medical Wellness > NASA > NSBRI > Oxygen > Star Trek-like medical technologies > Star Trek-like technology > blood chemistry measurements > blood vessel > body fat > metabolic rate > noninvasive monitor > noninvasive, needle-free system > oxygen consumption > skin color or
UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses
02.12.2016 | University of Texas at San Antonio
Earlier Alzheimer's diagnosis may be possible with new imaging compound
02.11.2016 | Washington University School of Medicine
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy