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NEW YORK, May 11, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Drone USA, Inc. (OTC Markets:DRUS) (“Drone USA” or the “Company”), a developer and manufacturer of low altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (“UAVs”) and related technologies, today announced that it appointed Dr. Rodrigo Kuntz Rangel to the Drone USA Board of Directors on April 3, 2017. Photos accompanying this announcement are available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/de58f6b4-5d8e-4e17-9660-8ef917b473d4 http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/f82f152a-4e2a-4ef3-bf41-46eb5b6af9f0 Michael Bannon, Drone USA’s Chief Executive Officer, commented: “We are extremely happy that Rodrigo has decided to join our Board.  Rodrigo is a brilliant engineer who has developed some of the most sophisticated drones in the world.  Many of the drones developed by Rodrigo can be adapted for commercial, police or military use. In April we demonstrated our Shadow, a military-police grade quadcopter, to several police departments in Connecticut. We plan to demonstrate our Cyclops, a fixed wing drone equipped with three cameras to monitor public safety, to police departments situated along the Connecticut coastline. Our Cyclops is equipped with thermal and high definition zoom cameras to help scan for bathers who ventured too far away from shore.  In Cape Cod, we intend to offer our Cyclops to police departments to help monitor great white shark activity along their coastlines.” Dr. Rodrigo Kuntz Rangel, 39, became a member of the Board on April 3, 2017, and has been our CTO since June 2016.  Dr. Rangel has served as Scientific Director of IBRV, the BRVANT Institute of Technology, a non-profit Institute since August 2013.  Since February 2009 Dr. Rangel has served as CEO of BRVANT Technologic Solutions, a Brazilian company that specializes in development of UAV, UGV and USV systems.  From 2002 to 2009 he was Product Development Engineer at Embraer SA, working with the development of avionics, electronic and software systems for military and civil aircraft. Dr. Rangel has specialized in aircraft manufacture engineering through his research activities with the Embraer Engineering Specialization Program. Dr. Rangel also studied computer, robotics, lasers and virtual reality systems applied to flight simulators at the Institute for Advanced Studies (IEAv) as a São Paulo State Foundation for Research Support (FAPESP) scholar.  Dr. Rangel received a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering, M.S. and PhD degrees in Computer and Electronics Engineering from the Technological Institute of Aeronautics in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. Headquartered at One World Trade Center in New York, NY, Drone USA is a primary developer and manufacturer of low altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and related technologies. Target markets include select defense segments (military), public safety (police, fire, emergency response), and high growth commercial applications such as agriculture, photogrammetry, mining, utilities, and entertainment. The Company seeks to strengthen its systems portfolio by acquiring UAV firms with superior technologies that are proven in high-growth markets, as well as complementary technologies such as sensors and software. For additional information about Drone USA, please visit www.droneusainc.com. Certain statements in this press release may be considered “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements may include projections of matters that affect revenue, operating expenses or net earnings; projections of growth; and assumptions relating to the foregoing. Such forward-looking statements are generally qualified by terms such as: “plans, “anticipates,” “expects,” “believes” or similar words of like kind. Forward-looking statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, some of which cannot be predicted or qualified. Future events and actual results could differ materially from those set forth in, contemplated by, or underlying the forward-looking information. These factors are discussed in greater detail in the Company’s Form 10 filed with the SEC and filings with the OTC Markets Group.


NEW YORK, May 11, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Drone USA, Inc. (OTC Markets:DRUS) (“Drone USA” or the “Company”), a developer and manufacturer of low altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (“UAVs”) and related technologies, today announced that it appointed Dr. Rodrigo Kuntz Rangel to the Drone USA Board of Directors on April 3, 2017. Photos accompanying this announcement are available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/de58f6b4-5d8e-4e17-9660-8ef917b473d4 http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/f82f152a-4e2a-4ef3-bf41-46eb5b6af9f0 Michael Bannon, Drone USA’s Chief Executive Officer, commented: “We are extremely happy that Rodrigo has decided to join our Board.  Rodrigo is a brilliant engineer who has developed some of the most sophisticated drones in the world.  Many of the drones developed by Rodrigo can be adapted for commercial, police or military use. In April we demonstrated our Shadow, a military-police grade quadcopter, to several police departments in Connecticut. We plan to demonstrate our Cyclops, a fixed wing drone equipped with three cameras to monitor public safety, to police departments situated along the Connecticut coastline. Our Cyclops is equipped with thermal and high definition zoom cameras to help scan for bathers who ventured too far away from shore.  In Cape Cod, we intend to offer our Cyclops to police departments to help monitor great white shark activity along their coastlines.” Dr. Rodrigo Kuntz Rangel, 39, became a member of the Board on April 3, 2017, and has been our CTO since June 2016.  Dr. Rangel has served as Scientific Director of IBRV, the BRVANT Institute of Technology, a non-profit Institute since August 2013.  Since February 2009 Dr. Rangel has served as CEO of BRVANT Technologic Solutions, a Brazilian company that specializes in development of UAV, UGV and USV systems.  From 2002 to 2009 he was Product Development Engineer at Embraer SA, working with the development of avionics, electronic and software systems for military and civil aircraft. Dr. Rangel has specialized in aircraft manufacture engineering through his research activities with the Embraer Engineering Specialization Program. Dr. Rangel also studied computer, robotics, lasers and virtual reality systems applied to flight simulators at the Institute for Advanced Studies (IEAv) as a São Paulo State Foundation for Research Support (FAPESP) scholar.  Dr. Rangel received a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering, M.S. and PhD degrees in Computer and Electronics Engineering from the Technological Institute of Aeronautics in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. Headquartered at One World Trade Center in New York, NY, Drone USA is a primary developer and manufacturer of low altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and related technologies. Target markets include select defense segments (military), public safety (police, fire, emergency response), and high growth commercial applications such as agriculture, photogrammetry, mining, utilities, and entertainment. The Company seeks to strengthen its systems portfolio by acquiring UAV firms with superior technologies that are proven in high-growth markets, as well as complementary technologies such as sensors and software. For additional information about Drone USA, please visit www.droneusainc.com. Certain statements in this press release may be considered “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements may include projections of matters that affect revenue, operating expenses or net earnings; projections of growth; and assumptions relating to the foregoing. Such forward-looking statements are generally qualified by terms such as: “plans, “anticipates,” “expects,” “believes” or similar words of like kind. Forward-looking statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, some of which cannot be predicted or qualified. Future events and actual results could differ materially from those set forth in, contemplated by, or underlying the forward-looking information. These factors are discussed in greater detail in the Company’s Form 10 filed with the SEC and filings with the OTC Markets Group.


NEW YORK, May 11, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Drone USA, Inc. (OTC Markets:DRUS) (“Drone USA” or the “Company”), a developer and manufacturer of low altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (“UAVs”) and related technologies, today announced that it appointed Dr. Rodrigo Kuntz Rangel to the Drone USA Board of Directors on April 3, 2017. Photos accompanying this announcement are available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/de58f6b4-5d8e-4e17-9660-8ef917b473d4 http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/f82f152a-4e2a-4ef3-bf41-46eb5b6af9f0 Michael Bannon, Drone USA’s Chief Executive Officer, commented: “We are extremely happy that Rodrigo has decided to join our Board.  Rodrigo is a brilliant engineer who has developed some of the most sophisticated drones in the world.  Many of the drones developed by Rodrigo can be adapted for commercial, police or military use. In April we demonstrated our Shadow, a military-police grade quadcopter, to several police departments in Connecticut. We plan to demonstrate our Cyclops, a fixed wing drone equipped with three cameras to monitor public safety, to police departments situated along the Connecticut coastline. Our Cyclops is equipped with thermal and high definition zoom cameras to help scan for bathers who ventured too far away from shore.  In Cape Cod, we intend to offer our Cyclops to police departments to help monitor great white shark activity along their coastlines.” Dr. Rodrigo Kuntz Rangel, 39, became a member of the Board on April 3, 2017, and has been our CTO since June 2016.  Dr. Rangel has served as Scientific Director of IBRV, the BRVANT Institute of Technology, a non-profit Institute since August 2013.  Since February 2009 Dr. Rangel has served as CEO of BRVANT Technologic Solutions, a Brazilian company that specializes in development of UAV, UGV and USV systems.  From 2002 to 2009 he was Product Development Engineer at Embraer SA, working with the development of avionics, electronic and software systems for military and civil aircraft. Dr. Rangel has specialized in aircraft manufacture engineering through his research activities with the Embraer Engineering Specialization Program. Dr. Rangel also studied computer, robotics, lasers and virtual reality systems applied to flight simulators at the Institute for Advanced Studies (IEAv) as a São Paulo State Foundation for Research Support (FAPESP) scholar.  Dr. Rangel received a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering, M.S. and PhD degrees in Computer and Electronics Engineering from the Technological Institute of Aeronautics in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. Headquartered at One World Trade Center in New York, NY, Drone USA is a primary developer and manufacturer of low altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and related technologies. Target markets include select defense segments (military), public safety (police, fire, emergency response), and high growth commercial applications such as agriculture, photogrammetry, mining, utilities, and entertainment. The Company seeks to strengthen its systems portfolio by acquiring UAV firms with superior technologies that are proven in high-growth markets, as well as complementary technologies such as sensors and software. For additional information about Drone USA, please visit www.droneusainc.com. Certain statements in this press release may be considered “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements may include projections of matters that affect revenue, operating expenses or net earnings; projections of growth; and assumptions relating to the foregoing. Such forward-looking statements are generally qualified by terms such as: “plans, “anticipates,” “expects,” “believes” or similar words of like kind. Forward-looking statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, some of which cannot be predicted or qualified. Future events and actual results could differ materially from those set forth in, contemplated by, or underlying the forward-looking information. These factors are discussed in greater detail in the Company’s Form 10 filed with the SEC and filings with the OTC Markets Group.


NEW YORK, May 11, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Drone USA, Inc. (OTC Markets:DRUS) (“Drone USA” or the “Company”), a developer and manufacturer of low altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (“UAVs”) and related technologies, today announced that it appointed Dr. Rodrigo Kuntz Rangel to the Drone USA Board of Directors on April 3, 2017. Photos accompanying this announcement are available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/de58f6b4-5d8e-4e17-9660-8ef917b473d4 http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/f82f152a-4e2a-4ef3-bf41-46eb5b6af9f0 Michael Bannon, Drone USA’s Chief Executive Officer, commented: “We are extremely happy that Rodrigo has decided to join our Board.  Rodrigo is a brilliant engineer who has developed some of the most sophisticated drones in the world.  Many of the drones developed by Rodrigo can be adapted for commercial, police or military use. In April we demonstrated our Shadow, a military-police grade quadcopter, to several police departments in Connecticut. We plan to demonstrate our Cyclops, a fixed wing drone equipped with three cameras to monitor public safety, to police departments situated along the Connecticut coastline. Our Cyclops is equipped with thermal and high definition zoom cameras to help scan for bathers who ventured too far away from shore.  In Cape Cod, we intend to offer our Cyclops to police departments to help monitor great white shark activity along their coastlines.” Dr. Rodrigo Kuntz Rangel, 39, became a member of the Board on April 3, 2017, and has been our CTO since June 2016.  Dr. Rangel has served as Scientific Director of IBRV, the BRVANT Institute of Technology, a non-profit Institute since August 2013.  Since February 2009 Dr. Rangel has served as CEO of BRVANT Technologic Solutions, a Brazilian company that specializes in development of UAV, UGV and USV systems.  From 2002 to 2009 he was Product Development Engineer at Embraer SA, working with the development of avionics, electronic and software systems for military and civil aircraft. Dr. Rangel has specialized in aircraft manufacture engineering through his research activities with the Embraer Engineering Specialization Program. Dr. Rangel also studied computer, robotics, lasers and virtual reality systems applied to flight simulators at the Institute for Advanced Studies (IEAv) as a São Paulo State Foundation for Research Support (FAPESP) scholar.  Dr. Rangel received a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering, M.S. and PhD degrees in Computer and Electronics Engineering from the Technological Institute of Aeronautics in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. Headquartered at One World Trade Center in New York, NY, Drone USA is a primary developer and manufacturer of low altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and related technologies. Target markets include select defense segments (military), public safety (police, fire, emergency response), and high growth commercial applications such as agriculture, photogrammetry, mining, utilities, and entertainment. The Company seeks to strengthen its systems portfolio by acquiring UAV firms with superior technologies that are proven in high-growth markets, as well as complementary technologies such as sensors and software. For additional information about Drone USA, please visit www.droneusainc.com. Certain statements in this press release may be considered “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements may include projections of matters that affect revenue, operating expenses or net earnings; projections of growth; and assumptions relating to the foregoing. Such forward-looking statements are generally qualified by terms such as: “plans, “anticipates,” “expects,” “believes” or similar words of like kind. Forward-looking statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, some of which cannot be predicted or qualified. Future events and actual results could differ materially from those set forth in, contemplated by, or underlying the forward-looking information. These factors are discussed in greater detail in the Company’s Form 10 filed with the SEC and filings with the OTC Markets Group.


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Numerical simulations of tipping points provide a better understanding of the characteristics of the point of no return and what happens to a system after a occurrence A tipping point is a critical threshold at which a dynamical system undergoes an irreversible transformation, typically owing to a small change in inputs or parameters. This concept is very broad and can refer to the extinction of an animal or a plant species, the depletion of a water source, or the financial collapse of an institution, among many other natural and social phenomena. Numerical simulations of tipping points by Everton Santos Medeiros, a researcher at the University of São Paulo's Physics Institute (IF-USP) in Brazil, provide a better understanding of the characteristics of this point of no return and what happens to a system after its occurrence. The study is published in Scientific Reports in February 2017. "Oceanic, atmospheric, ecological, economic and other systems can undergo transitions of this kind," Medeiros told Agência FAPESP. "The system's parameters change gradually until a limit is reached at which one small change causes an abrupt and irreversible transition. The concept of a tipping point is well known in the literature. Our study set out to investigate what happens shortly after this critical transition." Medeiros designed a generic cyclical dynamical system to model this type of transition. He chose a cyclical system because most natural phenomena are cyclical in response to periodic forcings, such as differences in insolation (sunlight) associated with the seasons of the year. "Hence our preference for a generic cyclical dynamical system that could be described by a simple differential equation," Medeiros explained. "Our numerical simulations varied the parameters of the equation until they reached a tipping point defined by elimination of the behavior they described." Professor Iberê Luiz Caldas, co-author of the article, made an important distinction: "Our study focuses not on complex dynamical systems, but on simple dynamical systems that can display complex behavior, i.e., dynamical systems described by non-linear differential equations that have complex solutions." These systems were well studied by the great French physicist, mathematician and philosopher Henri Poincaré (1854-1912). Hysteresis is a key feature of the transitions that are classified as tipping points: once the critical threshold is reached and the dynamical regime is abruptly destroyed, the regime cannot be restored by simply reversing the trend that caused the collapse. The extinction of an animal species, the drying up of a water reservoir and the thawing of a glacier all follow this type of hysteretic pattern in which irreversible damage is done when the tipping point is reached. "But what our study showed, and this is its main contribution, is that for certain cyclical phenomena, the dynamics of the system last for a certain time after the tipping point, and this persistence may mask the transition itself," Medeiros said. "Take an endangered species, for example. It may have passed the point of no return and become irreversibly doomed. Nevertheless, individual members of the species continue to exist and reproduce in the wild. This transient effect conceals the fact that in the long run, the species is already extinct. In our study, through numerical simulation, we succeeded in observing this transient effect following the singularity that configures a tipping point." Thus, the fundamentals of a phenomenon change irreversibly at the tipping point, but owing to a kind of "residual effect" the process appears to retain its original characteristics for a time, masking the transformation that has occurred. "Because of the transient effect, hysteretic change is mistaken for gradual change that can easily be corrected. The transition may appear smooth but may actually be critical. In this case, eliminating the cause isn't sufficient to reverse the system's collapse," Medeiros said. "It's hard to know in real-life situations whether a tipping point has been reached or not," Caldas said. "For example, can the Atlantic Rainforest between São Paulo and Santos be rehabilitated, or is it irremediably lost? There's still a lot of vegetation in the area, so people get the impression that it can be restored by initiatives capable of remedying the damage done. But is that the case? Isn't the remaining vegetation just a transient effect, so that the collapse of the forest in that region can't be reversed? One lesson to be drawn from our study is that a great deal of care has to be taken when symptoms of deterioration appear. Not every deterioration can be reversed someday."


In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, researchers at the Center for Cell-Based Therapy show that the therapeutic effect is relatively short-lived in patients with more autoreactive lymphocytes before treatment An innovative method for treating type 1 diabetes based on the transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells taken from the patient's own bone marrow began undergoing testing in Brazil 13 years ago. The results were highly variable. While some of the volunteers were able to stop self-injecting insulin for more than a decade, others had to resume use of the medication only a few months after receiving the experimental treatment. A possible explanation for this discrepancy in the clinical outcome for the 25 patients included in the study was presented in an article published recently in the journal Frontiers in Immunology. According to the authors, the duration of the therapeutic effect was shorter in the patients whose immune systems had attacked the pancreatic cells more aggressively in the pre-transplantation period. From the beginning, this research has been conducted at the Center for Cell-Based Therapy (CTC), which is one of the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (RIDCs) funded by FAPESP and is based at the University of São Paulo's Ribeirão Preto Medical School (FMRP-USP) in Brazil. Initially led by immunologist Julio Voltarelli, who died in March 2012, it is proceeding under the coordination of researchers Maria Carolina de Oliveira Rodrigues and Belinda Pinto Simões. "Because type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, the aim of the treatment is to 'switch off' the immune system temporarily using chemotherapy drugs and 'restart' it by means of the transplantation of autologous hematopoietic stem cells, which can differentiate into every kind of blood cell," Rodrigues explained. By the time the symptoms of type 1 diabetes appear, she added, around 80% of the patient's pancreatic islets have already been damaged. If the autoimmune aggression is interrupted at this point, and the remaining cells are protected, the patient can produce an amount of insulin that is small but nevertheless very important. "Studies with animals and diabetic humans suggest the percentage of insulin-producing cells declines sharply, reaching almost zero between six and eight weeks after diagnosis. Our center has therefore set a six-week limit for patients to start the transplantation process," Rodrigues said. Twenty-five volunteers aged between 12 and 35 were initially included in the study. The therapeutic effect has lasted an average of 42 months (3.5 years) but ranges overall from six months to 12 years, the longest follow-up period so far. Three patients remain completely insulin-free. One has been insulin-free for ten years, another for 11, and the third for 12. "In this more recent study, we compared the profiles of the volunteers who remained insulin-free for less than and more than 42 months, which was our cutoff point," Rodrigues said. The variables considered included age, time between diagnosis and transplantation, pre-treatment insulin dose, and post-transplant recovery of defense cells. "We observed no significant differences between the groups for any of these factors," Rodrigues said. "The only exception was the degree of pancreatic inflammation before the transplant, which did vary significantly." This discovery was made possible by collaboration with Dutch researcher Bart Roep, Professor of Diabetology & Immunopathology and Head of the Autoimmune Diseases Section at the Leiden University Medical Center. Roep's analysis of blood samples taken from all 25 patients before treatment and once per year after the transplant enabled him to quantify their autoreactive T-lymphocytes, white cells that recognize and specifically attack proteins secreted by pancreatic islets. "This method enabled us to evaluate the extent to which the immune system was attacking the pancreas," Rodrigues said. "We observed a clear association between a larger number of autoreactive lymphocytes before transplantation and a worse response to treatment." In the group of patients who responded well, Rodrigues went on, stem cell therapy rebalanced the immune system thanks to an increase in the proportion of regulatory T-cells (Tregs), a type of white cell with immunosuppressive action that helps combat autoimmunity. "In patients with more autoreactive lymphocytes before transplantation, this balance didn't occur," she said. "Despite the increase in the number of Tregs due to the treatment, they were still outnumbered by autoreactive lymphocytes. What we don't yet know is whether these were new cells that differentiated from transplanted stem cells or were a remnant of the autoreactive lymphocytes that weren't destroyed by chemotherapy and resumed multiplication." Data from the scientific literature show that the latter hypothesis is more plausible, so the group at CTC has begun a second study in which patients are being subjected to more aggressive chemotherapy with the aim of ensuring that no vestiges of autoreactive T-lymphocytes remain.


News Article | May 23, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The emergence of colonies with individuals more robust and larger than other workers coincided with the appearance of "robber bees" Like ants and termites, several species of stingless bees have specialized guards or soldiers to defend their colonies from attacks by natural enemies. The differentiation of these guardian bees, which are more robust, larger, and in some cases differently colored compared with the more numerous worker bees, evolved in the last 25 million years and coincided with the appearance of parasitic "robber" bees, which represent a major threat to many stingless bee species. These discoveries were made by a group of researchers at the Ribeirão Preto campus of the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil, in collaboration with colleagues from EMBRAPA Eastern Amazon in Belém (Pará State, Brazil) and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany. The study resulted from two projects supported by FAPESP, one led by Eduardo Andrade de Almeida and the other led by Fábio Santos do Nascimento, both professors in the Biology Department of USP's Ribeirão Preto School of Philosophy, Science & Letters (FFCLRP). The findings have been published in the journal Nature Communications. "Guards also behave differently from worker bees. They don't leave the nest to search for food like foragers. They fly near the colony entrance and are the first to engage in a fight if parasitic bees invade," Almeida told. A previous study, published in 2012, had shown that colonies of Tetragonisca angustula (a Brazilian stingless bee species called jataí in Portuguese) are defended by a population of guards approximately 30% larger and differently shaped compared with their nestmates and that their larger body size compared with workers is directly linked to their fighting capabilities. The researchers followed up on this finding by investigating whether task-related worker differentiation is common to stingless bee species, the largest group of eusocial bees with over 500 described species, of which more than 300 are found in Brazil. To this end, they compared the size and other morphological characteristics of nest guards and foragers for 28 species of stingless bees from different areas of Brazil. They chose species that are both relatively common and ecologically varied, with a range of habitats, nesting habits and foraging methods, and with colony sizes varying from a few hundred to tens of thousands of workers. They found that guards were significantly larger than foragers in 10 out of the 28 species analyzed. The species with larger guards displayed 10%-30% more variation in overall worker size. The three species with the largest degree of size differentiation were T. angustula and T. fiebrigi (both jataí), and Frieseomelitta longipes. In several Frieseomelitta species, guards were not only larger but also displayed darker coloring than other bees in the same colony. "We found that the difference between workers and guards is far more common among stingless bee species than was previously thought and that the evolution of guards with a larger body size apparently relates to the risk of attack by parasitic bees," Almeida said. "This changes some interpretations regarding the evolution of the social behavior of stingless bees and the relationships among them in the nest, for example." To find out when worker differentiation began and which factors triggered the process, the researchers analyzed the phylogeny (evolutionary history) of all 28 species of stingless bee included in the study. The results of the phylogenetic analysis suggested that the common ancestor of the species included in the study had similarly sized guards and foragers and that increased guard size independently evolved five times during the last 20-25 million years. This period, which is recent compared with the start of stingless bee diversification approximately 80 million years ago, coincides with differentiation of the kleptoparasitic genus Lestrimelitta from non-parasitic ancestors. "The appearance of species belonging to this genus that display highly specialized behavior in terms of invading colonies of other bees to plunder them may have exerted evolutionary pressure on the species targeted by such attacks, favoring the development of defense mechanisms -- in this case, guards and soldiers," Almeida said. Ten of the 28 studied species are known to be victims of Lestrimelitta "robber bees", whose attacks frequently destroy colonies. The researchers found that the victims of robber bees were four times more likely to have larger guards than non-targeted species. "As these stingless bee species that are targeted by robber bees suffer fewer attacks or are better able to intercept them, they have a chance to increase the survival of their offspring, which is an evolutionary advantage," Almeida said.


News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A recent study suggests that doxycycline can be prescribed at lower doses for the treatment of Parkinson's disease A study published in February in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that doxycycline, an antibiotic used for over half a century against bacterial infections, can be prescribed at lower doses for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. According to the authors, the substance reduces the toxicity of α-synuclein, a protein that, under certain conditions, forms abnormal accumulations of aggregates in central nervous system cells, which are damaged as a result. The death of dopaminergic neurons (which produce the neurotransmitter dopamine) is the main event relating to the development of such symptoms as tremor, slow voluntary movements and stiffness, among others. There are currently no drugs capable of halting the progress of this degenerative process. Three Brazilian scientists participated in the study, which was supported by FAPESP: Elaine Del-Bel, affiliated with the University of São Paulo's Ribeirão Preto Dental School (FORP-USP), and Leandro R. S. Barbosa and Rosangela Itri, at the same university's Physics Institute (IF-USP) in the city of São Paulo. "We have exciting data from experiments with mice and great expectations that the neuroprotective effect will also be observed in human patients," Del-Bel told. "This treatment could stop Parkinson's from progressing, and we therefore plan to start a clinical trial shortly." The discovery happened fortuitously some five years ago when Marcio Lazzarini, a former student of Del-Bel, was pursuing postdoctoral studies at the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine in Germany. While looking for possible alternative treatments for Parkinson's in experiments with mice, the group used a well-known model for inducing a condition similar to the human disease. The model consists of administering 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA), a neurotoxin that causes the death of dopaminergic neurons. "To our surprise, only two of the 40 mice given 6-OHDA developed symptoms of Parkinsonism, while the rest remained healthy," Del-Bel said. "A lab technician realized the mice had mistakenly been fed chow containing doxycycline, so we decided to investigate the hypothesis that it might have protected the neurons." The group repeated the experiment, adding a second group of animals that were given doxycycline in low doses by peritoneal injection instead of receiving it in their feed. Both cases were successful. Understanding the mechanisms behind the neuroprotective effect of doxycycline has been the focus for the most recent studies, conducted in collaboration with the group led by Rosana Chehin, a researcher at the University of Tucumán in Argentina, as well as Rita Raisman-Vozari and Julia Sepulveda-Diaz, researchers at the Brain & Bone Marrow Institute (ICM) in Paris, France. In these new trials, which involved structural and spectroscopic characterization methods, the focus was the protein α-synuclein, considered one of the leading causes of dopaminergic neuron death. "α-Synuclein is a small unstructured protein that, in the presence of the cellular membrane, aggregates to form fibrils with multiple regularly ordered layers of beta- sheets along the axis. We call these amyloid fibrils. It's been proven that large amyloid fibrils of this protein aren't toxic to cells; what damages cells is the so-called oligomeric stage formed by small amounts of aggregated α-synuclein. These oligomers can damage neuron membranes," Itri said. The researchers synthesized small oligomers of α-synuclein and conducted in vitro trials to find out whether doxycycline interfered in the process of aggregation and fibril formation. With a combination of three different techniques - nuclear magnetic resonance, X-ray scattering and infrared spectroscopy - they were able to observe two distinct situations. In medium without doxycycline, α-synuclein aggregated and began forming amyloid fibrils. In medium containing the antibiotic, α-synuclein formed another type of aggregate with a different shape and size. "In the tests with cultured cells and model membranes, we observed that they caused no damage to the cell membrane," Itri said. The tests in culture were performed in immortalized human neuroblastoma cells. Using transmission electron microscopy, the group observed that the presence of doxycycline in the culture medium reduced α-synuclein aggregation by more than 80%. "As a result, cell viability increased by more than 80%," Del-Bel said. Del-Bel has more deeply investigated the effects of treatment with doxycycline on mice. "We haven't published any data yet, but I can say right away that doxycycline improves the symptoms of the disease in the animal model," Del-Bel added. "Preliminary results suggest that besides its anti-inflammatory action via a reduction in the release of some cytokines, doxycycline also alters the expression of key genes for the development of Parkinson's." According to Del-Bel, evidence in the scientific literature shows that α-synuclein aggregates on and causes damage to not just neurons but also astrocytes and other glial cells. Besides Parkinson's, therefore, the process is associated with the development of other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Lewy body dementia (LBD), the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's. Future studies will investigate whether doxycycline can also have a beneficial effect in these other situations.


News Article | October 26, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A new species of dragonfly with a brown spot on each of its four wingtips and a bluish waxy body coating has been described by Brazilian researchers in an article published in the scientific journal Zootaxa. Found in 2011 near a spring on the Itororó Ecological Reserve in Uberlândia, Minas Gerais State, Brazil, it has been named Erythrodiplax ana. The new species was identified during the PhD research of Rhainer Guillermo Ferreira, that was supported by a scholarship from FAPESP during his postdoctoral research. "The discovery is important above all because of the site where the species was found," said Ferreira, first author of the article and assistant professor at the Federal University of São Carlos's Center for Biological & Health Sciences (CCBS-UFSCar). "The nature reserve contains a vereda, a palm swamp wetland that provides part of Uberlândia's water supply. The discovery of a new species in an urban area and with a habitat linked to a spring used to draw off water shows how little we know of Brazil's biodiversity," he told. He added that dragonflies are natural predators of flies and important environmental indicators. "When you find these insects in the wild near a watercourse, it means the water's good," he said. Between 2011 and 2014, the researchers compared the blue dragonfly's morphology with those of 57 other species in the same genus. At the end of the period, they confirmed its status as a new species and began working on a description. A combination of two traits distinguishes E. ana from other species in the genus. Particularly important is that the male's body is covered with bluish wax. The female does not produce wax and is ochraceous (yellowish-orange). "Males of several species in this genus produce wax," Ferreira said. "Some have wax only on their wings, which are bright blue." Another key trait of E. ana is the brown spot on each wingtip, which is rare in this genus. Ferreira is investigating whether the wax serves as a kind of sunscreen to protect the male's body from solar radiation since the insect is exposed to sunlight for many hours every day. Previous studies evaluated the properties of the wax found in other species and concluded that the blue coloring serves to reflect the sun's ultraviolet rays, he noted. The researchers believe E. ana is characteristic of wetlands in the Cerrado (savanna) biome. Besides the Uberlândia reserve, it was also found by the group in Chapada dos Guimarães National Park, Mato Grosso State. In addition to Ferreira, the co-authors of the article are Ferreira's PhD supervisor, Pitágoras C. Bispo, a researcher at São Paulo State University (UNESP) at Assis; Diogo S. Vilela, affiliated with the University of São Paulo (USP) at Ribeirão Preto; and Kleber Del-Claro, affiliated with the Federal University of Uberlândia (UFU).


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Chocolate lovers could soon have a harder time satisfying their sweet tooth. Worldwide demand for this mouth-watering treat is outstripping the production of cocoa beans, its primary ingredient. But in a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists report that compounds found in jackfruit seeds produce many of the same aromas as processed cocoa beans and are a potentially cheap, abundant substitute for use in chocolate manufacturing. Globally, farmers produce about 3.7 million tons of cocoa annually. This yield is not expected to increase significantly in the next decade, but estimates suggest that worldwide demand for these beans will grow to 4.5 million tons by 2020. To meet growing expectations, scientists are investigating alternative sources that can mimic chocolate's distinct aroma and flavor. One of these possibilities is jackfruit, a large tropical fruit found in South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. In some countries, its sweet-smelling seeds are boiled, steamed and roasted before eating, providing a cheap source of fiber, protein and minerals. But in Brazil, the largest cocoa producer in the Americas, jackfruit seeds are considered waste. Looking to put these waste seeds to better use, Fernanda Papa Spada, Jane K. Parker, Solange Guidolin, Canniatti Brazaca and colleagues sought to determine if any of the compounds within them could be used to produce chocolate aromas. The researchers made 27 jackfruit seed flours by acidifying or fermenting the seeds prior to drying. They roasted these flours for various times and temperatures using processes similar to those used to enhance the chocolaty flavor of cocoa beans. Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, the team identified several compounds from the jackfruit flours that are associated with chocolate aromas, including 3-methylbutanal, 2,3-diethyl-5-methylprazine and 2-phenylethyl acetate. They also asked volunteers to smell the jackfruit seed flours and describe the aromas. In contrast to the acidified flours, the fermented ones were described as having more positive attributes, such as caramel, hazelnut or fruity aromas. The researchers conclude that jackfruit seeds are capable of producing chocolate aromas and are a potential replacement for the aroma of cocoa powder or chocolate. The authors acknowledge funding from the National Council of Technological and Scientific and Research Foundation (FAPESP). The abstract that accompanies this study is available here. The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio. To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

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