Human Health

Vector-Borne Diseases
Researchers at Sandia California have developed a smartphone-controlled, battery-operated diagnostic device that weighs under one pound, costs as little as $100 and can detect Zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses within 30 minutes. The device eliminates the need to process a biological sample, such as blood or urine, before testing. Ultra-accessible and ultra-portable, the prototype could one day become a staple in point-of-care clinics worldwide.

Pharmaceutical Testing
“Human-on-a-chip” technology is an effort currently underway at LLNL. Dubbed iCHIP (in-vitro Chip-based Human Investigational Platform), the project will fit cellular components of major human organ systems on a surface smaller than a credit card. These simulated organs can then be exposed to a variety of chemicals, allowing scientists to assess potential responses in humans — a dramatic improvement over animal testing and other traditional methods for drug testing.

Paging Dr. McCoy
NASA Ames and LLNL have developed the NASA Analyzer, which would provide comprehensive medical diagnostic capabilities in a compact, hand-held device with wireless capacity, with the ability to handle multiple sample types — including breath, saliva, and blood.

Disease Vaccines
A team of LLNL and UC Irvine scientists are pursuing a vaccine against chlamydia, the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. and in California. With funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), LLNL is applying its protein engineering expertise to produce a Major Outer Membrane Protein (MOMP) vaccine — a promising vaccine with a complex, difficult-to-create molecular structure.

Youth Brain Injury
NASA Ames and San Jose State University have developed a “brief eye-movement” test to assess brain health. NASA Ames is working to adapt and refine this technology to assess mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury. This noninvasive technology has the potential to be deployed in schools for real-time use to assess youth athletes in the event of possible injury.

Knowledge Sharing
The Medical Engineering Forum at NASA JPL harnesses unique technologies being developed for space exploration by finding ways to apply them towards solving challenges in health and medicine. In 2017, one study generated by the forum revealed the possibility that bacteria in human breast ducts may influence breast cancer risk — by applying techniques which NASA JPL uses for screening outgoing space probes for microbe contamination.


Research Benefits by Topic Area:

Public SafetyHuman HealthAgriculture, Water, and Natural Resources | Climate Change | Energy Efficiency and Renewables | Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship | Cybersecurity  | STEM Education | Inspiration for All

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Updated: 2018.02.13