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Researchers develop new medical device for health check-up in space

MDBR Staff Writer Published 15 March 2016

Researchers from the NASA’s Ames Research Center, the University of California, Davis and Sandia National Laboratories/California and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have developed a new medical device for health check-up in deep space.

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The team members have filed for a patent for the small and portable medical diagnosis instrument, which will be weighed less than one pound.

The patent includes the development of an in-flight medical diagnostic system in a hand-held format, which can used in human deep-space missions such as a mission to Mars.

The new medical device will use biomarkers in three different sample types, including breath, saliva and blood, to detect information that is indicative of health and exposure to radiation.

Breath and saliva are non-invasive samples, which will rapidly provide health assessment information that can be critical immediately following space walks.

It can handle multiple sample types, in addition to measure virtually any biomarker, including future biomarkers as they emerge.

LLNL radiobiologist Matt Coleman said: "The point of developing tools like this one is for detecting disease from long-term exposure to microgravity and ionizing radiation.

"Since we don't fully understand the long-term impacts of space travel, there has been a push by NASA to better understand these effects."


Image: Radiobiologist Matt Coleman displays a device like the medical diagnosis instrument. Photo: courtesy of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.