Nav: Home

Wearable 'microbrewery' saves human body from radiation damage

August 09, 2018

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The same way that yeast yields beer and bread can help hospital lab workers better track their daily radiation exposure, enabling a faster assessment of tissue damage that could lead to cancer.

But rather than building portable cellars or ovens, Purdue University researchers have engineered yeast "microbreweries" within disposable badges made of freezer paper, aluminum and tape. Simply adding a drop of water activates the yeast to show radiation exposure as read by an electronic device.

On a commercial level, the readout device could one day be a tablet or phone. The badge could also be adapted in the future for nuclear power plant workers and victims of nuclear disasters.

"You would use the badge when you're in the lab and recycle it after you've checked your exposure by plugging it into a device," said Manuel Ochoa, a postdoctoral researcher in Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Watch a YouTube video at https://youtu.be/U6jCUr_kYcY.

Radiology workers are regularly exposed to low doses of radiation when they obtain patient imagery, such as X-rays. While protective gear largely keeps workers within a safe range of radiation exposure, absorbing a little bit is still inevitable.

Radiation doses creeping above regulated guidelines pose risk for developing conditions such as cancer, cataracts, skin irritation or thyroid disease.

"Currently, radiology workers are required to wear badges, called dosimeters, on various parts of their bodies for monitoring their radiation exposure," said Babak Ziaie, Purdue professor of electrical and computer engineering. "They wear the badges for a month or two, and then they send them to the company that made them. But it takes weeks for the company to read the data and send a report back to the hospital. Ours give an instant reading at much lower cost."

The success of the badge lies in the quick and measurable response of yeast to radiation: The higher the radiation dose, the higher the percentage of yeast cells that die. Wetting the badge activates the cells that are still alive to eat glucose and release carbon dioxide - the same fermentation process responsible for brewing beer and making bread rise.

When carbon dioxide bubbles at the surface, ions also form. The concentration of these ions increases the electrical conductivity of yeast, which can be measured by hooking up the badge to a readout system.

"We use the change in electrical properties of the yeast to tell us how much radiation damage it incurred. A slow decrease in electrical conductivity over time indicates more damage," said Rahim Rahimi, Purdue postdoctoral researcher in electrical and computer engineering.

Numbers from the readout system translate to rads - the units used by entities like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to specify limits on how much radiation human tissue can safely absorb. Skin of the whole body, for example, shouldn't be exposed to more than 7.5 rad over a three month period.

The researchers could detect a radiation dose as little as 1 millirad in the yeast badges, which is comparable to current commercial badges.

Yeast also is known to be genetically similar to human tissue. Data from the badges can, therefore, inform future work on how radiation damage happens to human DNA and proteins.

"For yeast, it seems that radiation primarily affects the cell walls of the membrane and mitochondria," Ochoa said. "Since biologists are already familiar with yeast, then we're more likely to understand what's causing the biological effects of radiation in organic matter."
-end-
Published findings appear in the journal Advanced Biosystems. A patent is pending for this technology via the Purdue Research Foundation. The research was partly funded by NextFlex under AFRL Cooperative Agreement No. FA8650-15-2-5401.

ABSTRACT

Yeast metabolic response as an indicator of radiation damage in biological tissue

Chang Keun Yoon, Manuel Ochoa, Albert Kim, Rahim Rahimi, Jiawei Zhou and Babak Ziaie

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA

doi: 10.1002/adbi.201800126

Wearable radiation sensors for workers of radiation-intensive industries provide a measure of radiation exposure but not of its effects on biological tissue. A biohybrid radiation sensing platform based on a new transduction mechanism for detecting biological radiation damage using the metabolic activity of a microorganism population is presented here. The sensor is a wearable, disposable, film-type device fabricated on a paper substrate with yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) cells that are patterned between two conductive electrodes and used as a smart material. The device is sensitive to radiation when dry and can be read by activating it with water. Yeast (S. cerevisiae) cells, that are exposed to ionizing radiation and subsequently allowed to ferment a glucose solution, exhibit an electrical conductivity that is lower than that of nonexposed yeast. The radiation damage to this microoroganism is directly proportional to the measured impedance of the fermenting medium. An 18 × 18 mm2and 0.57 mm thick sensors with ground yeast (3.09 mg cm?2areal density filtered with a 50 μm mesh) shows a sensitivity of 4.5% Ω/Ω0 decade-rad upon exposure to Cs-137. The minimum detectable dose (resolution) is measured to be 1 mrad. Moreover, the source of the electrical response is investigated; fluorescence microscopy results suggest that it is primarily due to damaged membranes in the cell wall and mitochondria.

Purdue University

Related Radiation Articles:

Cloudy with a chance of radiation: NASA studies simulated radiation
NASA's Human Research Program (HRP) is simulating space radiation on Earth following upgrades to the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL) at the US Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Visualizing nuclear radiation
Extraordinary decontamination efforts are underway in areas affected by the 2011 nuclear accidents in Japan.
Measuring radiation damage on the fly
Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have found a new way to measure radiation damage in materials, quickly, cheaply and continuously, using transient grating spectroscopy.
Radiation that knocks electrons out and down, one after another
Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University are investigating novel ways by which electrons are knocked out of matter.
Novel advancements in radiation tolerance of HEMTs
When it comes to putting technology in space, size and mass are prime considerations.
Radiation-guided nanoparticles zero in on metastatic cancer
Zap a tumor with radiation to trigger expression of a molecule, then attack that molecule with a drug-loaded nanoparticle.
Graphene is both transparent and opaque to radiation
A microchip that filters out unwanted radiation with the help of graphene has been developed by scientists from the EPFL and tested by researchers of the University of Geneva (UNIGE).
Radiation causes blindness in wild animals in Chernobyl
This year marks 30 years since the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
No proof that radiation from X rays and CT scans causes cancer
The widespread belief that radiation from X rays, CT scans and other medical imaging can cause cancer is based on an unproven, decades-old theoretical model, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Some radiation okay for expectant mother and fetus
During pregnancy, approximately 5 to 8 percent of women sustain traumatic injuries, including fractures and muscle tears.

Related Radiation Reading:

Radiation: What It Is, What You Need to Know
by Robert Peter Gale (Author), Eric Lax (Author)

Radiation Detection and Measurement
by Glenn F. Knoll (Author)

Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation
by Timothy J. Jorgensen (Author)

Essentials of Clinical Radiation Oncology
by Matthew C. Ward MD (Editor), Rahul D. Tendulkar MD (Editor), Gregory Videtic MD CM FRCPC (Editor)

Radiation Nation: Fallout of Modern Technology - Your Complete Guide to EMF Protection & Safety: The Proven Health Risks of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF) & What to Do Protect Yourself & Family
by Daniel T. DeBaun (Author), Ryan DeBaun (Author), Dave Asprey (Foreword)

Radiation Oncology: A Question-Based Review
by Borislav Hristov (Author), Steven H Lin MD PhD (Author), John P. Christodouleas MD MPH (Author)

Perez & Brady's Principles and Practice of Radiation Oncology
by Dr. Edward C. Halperin MD (Author), Dr. David E. Wazer MD (Author), Dr. Carlos A. Perez MD (Author), Dr. Luther W. Brady MD (Author)

Radiation Protection in Medical Radiography
by Mary Alice Statkiewicz Sherer AS RT(R) FASRT (Author), Paula J. Visconti PhD DABR (Author), E. Russell Ritenour PhD DABR FAAPM FACR (Author), Kelli Haynes MSRS RT(R) (Author)

EMF Protection: 12 SIMPLE WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR Radiation Exposure: (Cell phone, WiFi, Mobile, Laptop, TV, Meters, Cell Towers) – BONUS INSIDE

A Slow Death: 83 Days of Radiation Sickness
by NHK TV Crew (Compiler)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Where Joy Hides
When we focus so much on achievement and success, it's easy to lose sight of joy. This hour, TED speakers search for joy in unexpected places, and explain why it's crucial to a fulfilling life. Speakers include inventor Simone Giertz, designer Ingrid Fetell Lee, journalist David Baron, and musician Meklit Hadero.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#500 500th Episode
This week we turn 500! To celebrate, we're taking the opportunity to go off format, talk about the journey through 500 episodes, and answer questions from our lovely listeners. Join hosts Bethany Brookshire and Rachelle Saunders as we talk through the show's history, how we've grown and changed, and what we love about the Science for the People. Here's to 500 more episodes!