NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 B3.05-8793
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Biomedical R&D of Noninvasive, Unobtrusive Medical Devices for Future Flight Crews
PROPOSAL TITLE: Ultrasonic Derivative Measurements of Bone Strain During Exercise

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Luna Innovations Incorporated
2851 Commerce Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060-6657

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
John E Lynch
130 Research Drive Suite 300
Hampton, VA 23666-1339

Luna Innovations, Inc., in collaboration with the SUNY Stony Brook, proposes to extend ultrasonic pulsed phase locked loop (PPLL) derivative measurements to the noninvasive assessment of bone strain during exercise. The PPLL is a high-resolution ultrasonic spectrometer that measures changes in natural velocity with parts in ten million accuracy. With this resolution, the PPLL can be used to measure a material's nonlinear elastic constants, which are related to changes in the speed of sound as it is loaded. Nonlinear elastic constants are more closely linked to bone strength than traditional absolute measurements of the speed of sound, thus providing an important new capability for bone health assessment.

This technology has been demonstrated on a number of engineered materials, including fasteners, heat-treated aluminum, heat-treated steel, composite materials, railroad rails, and adhesive bonds. In Phase ILuna's PPLL technology will be tested on bone ex vivo at Stony Brook's Biomedical Engineering Department to develop a strong physics-based model of how natural velocity changes as a bone sample is loaded. This research will lay the groundwork for Phase II, in which Luna's PPLL technology will be combined with Stony Brook's scanning confocal acoustic diagnostic (SCAD) technology for in vivo studies.

Spaceflight is known to cause a range of physiological changes to the musculoskeletal system, including decreased durability of bony tissue. To counter these changes, NASA must develop exercise regimens and assess the effectiveness of these regimens. Luna's PPLL monitoring system, when combined with Stony Brook's SCAD technology, will provide a real-time, noninvasive measurement of bone strength during exercise, allowing NASA to develop more effective exercise countermeasures against the loss of bone strength.

Bone strength monitoring is a widespread concern, particularly for the diagnosis of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans, or 55 percent of the people 50 years of age and older. In the U.S. today, 10 million individuals are estimated to already have the disease and almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis. The technology can also be used to assess fracture healing and the affect of exercise regimens on athletes.