UCLA and NASA Partner on Institute for Cell Mimetic Space Exploration

UCLA and NASA have partnered to combine the latest advances in biology and engineering at the Institute for Cell Mimetic Space Exploration (CMISE), which officially opens on Monday, Feb. 10. CMISE will meld the molecular world with aerospace technology to create minuscule monitoring systems, or a “lab on a chip,” that could make research safer and more efficient on earth and in space.

Tiny Cell-Based Chemical Detectors Have Protection Potential

A highly sensitive, inexpensive “lab-on-a-chip” that provides warning within seconds of even trace amounts of toxic chemicals in water was designed and demonstrated recently by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) scientists and collaborators. The prototype sensor system monitors the natural response of bacterial cells bound within the microscopic channels of a plastic microfluidics device — a miniaturized chemical and biochemical analysis system. In the presence of certain chemicals, the cells eject large amounts of potassium, which is detected with an optical sensor that changes color. The prototype was demonstrated as part of an early warning system for industrial pollutants that interfere with sewage treatment, but it also has potential homeland security applications.