HUMAN EXPLORATION AND OPERATIONS | SPACE TECHNOLOGY
This project examines non-equilibrium atmospheric pressure plasma (NEAPP) produced by a DC corona discharge system for use in decontamination and medical treatment procedures. NEAPP is a unique candidate for such applications due to two of its characteristics: it remains near room temperature (it is in non-equilibrium; only its electrons are “hot”) and it may be produced at atmospheric pressure; in other words, NEAPP, unlike other plasmas, may be used on thermolabile materials and produced without a vacuum chamber . A DC corona discharge system will be used to investigate NEAPP emissions and optimize its production by the manipulation of the surrounding magnetic field; emitted species will be identified by spectroscopy, and a high-speed camera will be used to monitor any transient behavior of the NEAPP. The discharge itself will be optimized for the production of apoptosis- or necrosis-inducing species by the variation of discharge conditions, including voltage, current, gas flow rate, and gas mixture.
The effects of NEAPP on cellular targets involve its emission of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS), molecules that may be biologically beneficial or detrimental depending on their concentrations and presence in relation to one another. In a healthy cell, RONS are produced and utilized in moderate amounts through signaling cascades and other forms of enzymatic activity; these are considered primary RONS (e.g., superoxide radical, nitric oxide) and are nigh-ideal for the reversible reactions they perform under normal conditions . However, if more than one reactive species is within proximity of another, the species will react to produce toxic secondary RONS (e.g., hydroxyl radical, peroxynitrite), potentially causing enough oxidative stress that the cell will undergo apoptosis or necrosis . Since cancerous cells are less likely to manage RONS with the same efficiency as noncancerous cells, selective though inconsistent treatment of cancerous cells has been performed by NEAPP-emitted RONS . The mechanics of cell-RONS interaction remains an active subject of research, as does the identification of NEAPP production variables that will produce the most RONS appropriate for selective treatment.
Name: Matthew Isada, Undergraduate Student
Institution: University of Alaska Anchorage
Major: Natural Sciences
Mentor: Nathaniel Hicks, firstname.lastname@example.org
Funding Period: 2020 to 2021