Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi

Milano, Italy

Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi

Milano, Italy
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News Article | May 12, 2017

The first smart exoskeleton that recognises the loss of balance and prevents falling has been developed by researchers in Europe. Scientists at Scuola Sant’Anna in Italy and EPFL (Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) in Switzerland have built a prototype of a smart, lightweight and easily reconfigurable exoskeleton that counteracts the loss of balance and promotes balance recovery. According to EPFL, the breakthrough represents a first in wearable machines, which are normally used to assist or enhance regular movement, instead of preventing falls. The results are published in Scientific Reports. The exoskeleton, which is wearable from the waist down, could also be used as an aid for the physically impaired, amputees and those suffering from neurological disorders. “Our smart exoskeleton is lightweight and extremely easy to personalise,” said Silvestro Micera, a professor at EPFL and Scuola Sant’Anna who holds the Bertarelli Foundation Chair in Translational Neuroengineering. For this first prototype, the exoskeleton requires only a few minutes to adapt to a given patient, which involves adjusting the size for a particular user and learning the user’s gait. The device has been tested at the Hospital Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi in Florence where it was worn by 69-year-old Fulvio Bertelli. The personalised exoskeleton first detected the particularities of Bertelli’s gait. Once this pattern is established, the system’s algorithm is able to detect deviations from his normal gait, such as the onset of a fall. When this happens, the motors located on the hip push both of the thighs down, reestablishing Bertelli’s stability at the hip. An important aspect of their system is to ensure that the exoskeleton is non-intrusive. It should not unnecessarily disturb the user, particularly when the user is not falling. The next steps involve making the exoskeleton more discrete and portable for real world use. “Our study revealed that a wearable robotic platform can effectively interact with humans during reactive motor responses, such as accidental slipping,” said Dr Vito Monaco, an expert in locomotion biomechanics. “These results open new perspectives for researchers who are expected to develop robotic platforms for enhancing human capabilities all day long,”

Santoro M.,Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi | Nociti V.,Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi | Nociti V.,Institute of Neurology | Lucchini M.,Institute of Neurology | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Molecular Neuroscience | Year: 2016

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic progressive inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that leads to severe neurological disability. There is an interest in potential biomarkers that could provide information predicting disease activity and progression. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been reported to be involved in the pathogenesis of various human disorders, such as oncologic, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases. No studies have so far explored a potential link between lncRNAs and MS pathology. We screened 84 lncRNAs, involved in autoimmunity and human inflammatory response, in the serum of relapsing-remitting MS (RR-MS) patients (n = 12), age-matched controls (n = 12), and in patients with idiopathic inflammatory myopathy (IIM) (n = 12). We used the following criteria for lncRNAs analysis: fold change >2 and p < 0.05. According to these criteria, by real-time PCR, we identified three lncRNAs up-regulated in RR-MS patients respectively to controls: nuclear paraspeckle assembly transcript 1 (NEAT1), taurine up-regulated 1 (TUG1), and 7SK small nuclear (RN7SK RNA). Literature data showed that NEAT1, TUG1, and RN7SK RNA play an important role in neurodegenerative processes. Our results indicate that these lncRNAs may be involved in MS pathogenesis. Additional experimental data are needed to clarify the molecular mechanisms through which lncRNAs up-regulation may have a role in MS. © 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Iosa M.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Mazza C.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Pecoraro F.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Aprile I.,Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi | And 3 more authors.
Gait and Posture | Year: 2010

Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) is a muscular disease usually spreading from upper to lower body and characterised by asymmetric muscle weakness. Walking ability is compromised in these patients, with a consequent high risk of falls. A quantitative analysis of the upper body oscillations may unveil useful information about the capacity of these patients to stabilise the head, maintain balance, and compensate for lower limb muscle weakness during walking. This study involved 13 patients with FSHD and 13 healthy volunteers. The trajectories of three points located on the cranio-caudal axis, at head, shoulder, and pelvis levels, during level walking, were analysed. The range of motion of these three points and the attenuation of the relevant accelerations going from pelvis to head level were used to describe the upper body movements during walking. The patients had wider and less symmetrical oscillations than the healthy controls both in antero-posterior and medio-lateral directions. Furthermore, the capacity of the patients to attenuate the accelerations going from pelvis to head level was reduced. These features may be related not only to upper body muscle weakness, but also to a strategy functional to the compensation of proximal leg muscle weakness. In conclusion, this study highlighted that the control of upper body oscillations and of head stability is reduced in patients with FSHD, suggesting that the assessment of the upper body movements should be included in the treatment decision process. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Veraldi S.,University of Milan | Bottini S.,Unita Operativa di Dermatologia | Rizzitelli G.,Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi | Persico M.C.,University of Milan
Journal of Dermatological Treatment | Year: 2012

We evaluated retrospectively the efficacy and tolerability of oral albendazole (400 mg/day for 1 week) in 78 patients with hookworm-related cutaneous larva migrans characterized by multiple and/or extensive lesions. The diagnosis was based on history and the clinical picture. Neither topical or systemic drugs nor physical treatments were used. All patients were followed-up for at least 3 months after the therapy. All patients were cured at the end of the therapy. The disappearance of pruritus was reported after 23 days and skin lesions after 57 days of therapy. One patient reported nausea and abdominal pain; another patient reported worsening of pruritus: in both cases it was not necessary to stop the therapy. No recurrences were observed during follow-up. One week of therapy with 400 mg/day oral albendazole is very effective (cure rate: 100%) in patients with cutaneous larva migrans characterized by multiple and/or extensive lesions. This therapeutical regimen is not accompanied by the appearance of new and/or more severe side effects. © 2012 Informa Healthcare USA on behalf of Informa UK Ltd.

Santoro M.,Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi | Piacentini R.,University Cattolica | Masciullo M.,University Cattolica | Bianchi M.L.E.,University Cattolica | And 5 more authors.
Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology | Year: 2014

Aims: The pathogenesis of myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) and type 2 (DM2) has been related to the aberrant splicing of several genes, including those encoding for ryanodine receptor 1 (RYR1), sarcoplasmatic/endoplasmatic Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) and α1S subunit of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels (Cav1.1). The aim of this study is to determine whether alterations of these genes are associated with changes in the regulation of intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis and signalling. Methods: We analysed the expression of RYR1, SERCA and Cav1.1 and the intracellular Ca2+ handling in cultured myotubes isolated from DM1, DM2 and control muscle biopsies by semiquantitative RT-PCR and confocal Ca2+ imaging respectively. Results: (i) The alternative splicing of RYR1, SERCA and Cav1.1 was more severely affected in DM1 than in DM2 myotubes; (ii) DM1 myotubes exhibited higher resting intracellular Ca2+ levels than DM2; (iii) the amplitude of intracellular Ca2+ transients induced by sustained membrane depolarization was higher in DM1 myotubes than in controls, whereas DM2 showed opposite behaviour; and (iv) in both DM myotubes, Ca2+ release from sarcoplasmic reticulum through RYR1 was lower than in controls. Conclusion: The aberrant splicing of RYR1, SERCA1 and Cav1.1 may alter intracellular Ca2+ signalling in DM1 and DM2 myotubes. The differing dysregulation of intracellular Ca2+ handling in DM1 and DM2 may explain their distinct sarcolemmal hyperexcitabilities. © 2013 British Neuropathological Society.

PubMed | Ospedale Sacro Cuore Don Calabria, University of Padua, Volterra, University of Milan Bicocca and 5 more.
Type: | Journal: Neurological sciences : official journal of the Italian Neurological Society and of the Italian Society of Clinical Neurophysiology | Year: 2017

Verbal reasoning is a complex, multicomponent function, which involves activation of functional processes and neural circuits distributed in both brain hemispheres. Thus, this ability is often impaired after brain injury. The aim of the present study is to describe the construction of a new verbal reasoning test (VRT) for patients with brain injury and to provide normative values in a sample of healthy Italian participants. Three hundred and eighty healthy Italian subjects (193 women and 187 men) of different ages (range 16-75years) and educational level (primary school to postgraduate degree) underwent the VRT. VRT is composed of seven subtests, investigating seven different domains. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed a significant effect of age and education on the participants performance in terms of both VRT total score and all seven subtest scores. No gender effect was found. A correction grid for raw scores was built from the linear equation derived from the scores. Inferential cut-off scores were estimated using a non-parametric technique, and equivalent scores were computed. We also provided a grid for the correction of results by z scores.

Santoro M.,Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi | Masciullo M.,IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana | Bonvissuto D.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Bianchi M.L.E.,Catholic University | And 3 more authors.
Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry | Year: 2013

INSR, one of those genes aberrantly expressed in myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) and type 2 (DM2) due to a toxic RNA effect, encodes for the insulin receptor (IR). Its expression is regulated by alternative splicing generating two isoforms: IR-A, which predominates in embryonic tissue, and IR-B, which is highly expressed in adult, insulin-responsive tissues (skeletal muscle, liver, and adipose tissue). The aberrant INSR expression detected in DM1 and DM2 muscles tissues, characterized by a relative increase of IR-A versus IR-B, was pathogenically related to the insulin resistance occurring in DM patients. To assess if differences in the aberrant splicing of INSR could underlie the distinct fiber type involvement observed in DM1 and DM2 muscle tissues, we have used laser capture microdissection (LCM) and RT-PCR, comparing the alternative splicing of INSR in type I and type II muscle fibers isolated from muscle biopsies of DM1, DM2 patients and controls. In the controls, the relative amounts of IR-A and IR-B showed no obvious differences between type I and type II fibers, as in the whole muscle tissue. In DM1 and DM2 patients, both fiber types showed a similar, relative increase of IR-A versus IR-B, as also evident in the whole muscle tissue. Our data suggest that the distinct fiber type involvement in DM1 and DM2 muscle tissues would not be related to qualitative differences in the expression of INSR. LCM can represent a powerful tool to give a better understanding of the pathogenesis of myotonic dystrophies, as well as other myopathies. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Di Rienzo M.,Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi
Conference proceedings : ... Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Conference | Year: 2011

Seismocardiogram (SCG) is the recording of the minute body accelerations induced by the heart activity, and reflects mechanical aspects of heart contraction and blood ejection. So far, most of the available systems for the SCG assessment are designed to be used in a laboratory or in controlled behavioral and environmental conditions. In this paper we propose a modified version of a textile-based wearable device for the unobtrusive recording of ECG, respiration and accelerometric data (the MagIC system), to assess the 3d sternal SCG in daily life. SCG is characterized by an extremely low magnitude of the accelerations (in the order of g × 10(-3)), and is masked by major body accelerations induced by locomotion. Thus in daily life recordings, SCG can be measured whenever the subject is still. We observed that about 30 seconds of motionless behavior are sufficient for a stable estimate of the average SCG waveform, independently from the subject's posture. Since it is likely that during spontaneous behavior the subject may stay still for at least 30 seconds several times in a day, it is expected that the SCG could be repeatedly estimated and tracked over time through a prolonged data recording. These observations represent the first testing of the system in the assessment of SCG out of a laboratory environment, and open the possibility to perform SCG studies in a wide range of everyday conditions without interfering with the subject's activity tasks.

Di Rienzo M.,Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi | Vaini E.,Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi | Castiglioni P.,Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi | Meriggi P.,Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi | Rizzo F.,Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi
Proceedings of the Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, EMBS | Year: 2013

Seismocardiogram (SCG) is the measure of the minute vibrations produced by the beating heart. We previously demonstrated that SCG, ECG and respiration could be recorded over the 24h during spontaneous behavior by a smart garment, the MagIC-SCG system. In the present case study we explored the feasibility of a beat-to-beat estimation of two indices of heart contractility, the Left Ventricular Ejection Time (LVET) and the electromechanical systole (QS2) from SCG and ECG recordings obtained by the MagIC-SCG device in one subject. We considered data collected during outdoor spontaneous behavior (while sitting in the metro and in the office) and in a laboratory setting (in supine and sitting posture, and during recovery after 100W and 140W cycling). LVET was estimated from SCG as the time interval between the opening and closure of the aortic valve, QS2 as the time interval between the Q wave of the ECG and the closure of the aortic valve. In every condition, LVET and QS2 could be estimated on a beat-to-beat basis from the SCG collected by the smart garment. LVET and QS2 are characterized by important beat-to-beat fluctuations, with standard deviations in the same order of magnitude of RR Interval. In all settings, spectral profiles are different for LVET, QS2 and RR Interval. This suggests that the biological mechanisms impinging on the heart exert a differentiated influence on the variability of each of these three indices. © 2013 IEEE.

Di Rienzo M.,Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi
Conference proceedings : ... Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Conference | Year: 2012

Sternal seismocardiogram (SCG) is the assessment of microvibrations produced by the beating heart as detected by an accelerometer positioned on the sternum. This signal reflects mechanical events of the heart contraction, including the opening and closure of mitral and aortic valves and maximal blood flow acceleration. Traditionally, SCG has been detected in a laboratory setting with the subject lying at rest in supine position. Aims of this study were 1) to investigate the feasibility of a SCG monitoring over the 24 hours in ambulant subjects, and 2) to calculate number and time distribution of the SCG estimates obtainable over the 24 hours. In 5 healthy subjects ECG, respiration, body accelerations and sternal SCG were recorded for 24 hours in a workday by a smart garment recently developed in our laboratory, the MagIC-SCG system. Each recording was split into a series of contiguous 5-s data segments and SCG was estimated in each segment where the magnitude of the acceleration vector was < 4 milli-g (this condition indicates that the subject was not moving).All the 24-h recordings were found of good quality and could be entirely analyzed. A large number of SCG estimates could be obtained over the 24 hours. In particular, more than 100 estimates per hour were available during the day; at night this rate was three times higher.Thus our study indicates that not only the 24h SCG monitoring in daily life is feasible but also that possible changes over time in SCG and its derived parameters may be tracked with an extreme temporal detail.

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