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Larina I.M.,Russian Academy of Sciences | Pastushkova L.K.,Russian Academy of Sciences | Tiys E.S.,RAS Institute of Cytology and Genetics | Kireev K.S.,Russian Academy of Sciences | And 10 more authors.
Journal of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology | Year: 2015

Urinary proteins serve as indicators of various conditions in human normal physiology and disease pathology. Using mass spectrometry proteome analysis, the permanent constituent of the urine was examined in the Mars-500 experiment (520 days isolation of healthy volunteers in a terrestrial complex with an autonomous life support system). Seven permanent proteins with predominant distribution in the liver and blood plasma as well as extracellular localization were identified. Analysis of the overrepresentation of the molecular functions and biological processes based on Gene Ontology revealed that the functional association among these proteins was low. The results showed that the identified proteins may be independent markers of the various conditions and processes in healthy humans and that they can be used as standards in determination of the concentration of other proteins in the urine. © 2015 Imperial College Press. Source

Chou Y.-M.,National Taiwan University | Chou Y.-M.,Cergy-Pontoise University | Song S.-R.,National Taiwan University | Song S.-R.,International Laboratory | And 11 more authors.
Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems | Year: 2012

During an earthquake, physical and chemical transformations lead to alteration and formation of minerals in the gouge layer. Altered and neoformed minerals can be used as tracers of some earthquake processes. In this study, we investigate pyrite and magnetic minerals within the host Chinshui siltstone and the 16-cm-thick gouge. This gouge hosts the principal slip zone of Chi-Chi earthquake (M w 7.6, 1999). In the Chinshui siltstone, pyrite framboids of various sizes and euhedral pyrite are observed. The magnetic mineral assemblage comprises stoichiometric magnetite, greigite, and fine-grained pyrrhotite. The pyrite content is generally reduced in the gouge compared to the wall rock. The magnetic mineral assemblage in the gouge consists of goethite, pyrrhotite, and partially oxidized magnetite. The pyrrhotite, goethite and some magnetite are neoformed. Pyrrhotite likely formed from high temperature decomposition of pyrite (>500C) generated during co-seismic slip of repeated earthquakes. Goethite is inferred to have formed from hot aqueous co-seismic fluid (>350C) in association with the 1999 Chi-Chi event. Elevated fluid temperatures can also explain the partial alteration of magnetite and the retrograde alteration of some pyrrhotite to pyrite. We suggest that characterization of neoformed magnetic minerals can provide important information for studying earthquake slip zones in sediment-derived fault gouge. Source

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Site: http://www.treehugger.com/feeds/category/science/

These scientists say that respecting and understanding plants and trees is essential for our future. We humans have a wide range of feelings about members of the kingdom Plantae, from total disregard to thinking they are clever friends. Given that this is TreeHugger, we lean toward, at the very least, wanting to give them a big embrace. But what does science have to say about our botanical cohabitants? This is what the BBC World Service Inquiry program wondered when they asked four scientists what they thought about plants. Here’s the takeaway: 1. Plants could be cognitive and intelligent Professor Stefano Mancuso runs the International Laboratory for Plant Neurobiology at the University of Florence. In an experiment with two climbing plants, they found that both competed for a single support when it was placed between them. The plant that didn’t make it to the pole first immediately “sensed” the other plant had succeeded and started to find an alternative. “This was astonishing and it demonstrates the plants were aware of their physical environment and the behavior of the other plant. In animals we call this consciousness. We are convinced that plants are cognitive and intelligent.” 2. They're all brain; and we're dependent on them Mancuso continues, "Plants distribute all along the body the functions that in animals are concentrated in single organs. Whereas in animals almost the only cells producing electrical signals are in the brain, the plant is a kind of distributed brain in which almost every cell is able to produce them." Underestimating plants can be very dangerous, he says, "because our life depends on plants and our actions are destroying their environments." 3. They could be sentient beings Professor of forest ecology in the department of forest and conservation sciences at the University of British Columbia, Suzanne Simard talks about the ways in which trees are linked together underground. She has studied this "wood wide web" and says that trees communicate with each other and then behave in certain ways. "We grew Douglas fir in a neighborhood of strangers and its own kin and found that they can recognise their own kin and we also grew Douglas fir and ponderosa pine together. We injured the Douglas fir by pulling its needles off [aww], and by attacking it with western spruce bud worm [ouch], and it then sent a lot of carbon in its network into the neighboring ponderosa pine. My interpretation was the Douglas fir knew it was dying and wanted to pass its legacy of carbon on to its neighbor, because that would be beneficial for the associated fungi and the community.” Simard says that we should shift our thinking and change our attitude which would be beneficial for our forests. "We haven't treated them with respect that they are sentient beings.” 4. They can help us better understand nature to advance our future Dr. Barbara Mazzolai is the coordinator at the Centre for Micro-BioRobotics at the Italian Institute of Technology. She uses plants as a biomimetic starting point to design robots. So smart. She says they can use a plant-inspired robot for environmental monitoring, space applications or rescue under debris, "because it can adapt to the environment like a natural system. The robot doesn't have a predefined structure, but can create on the basis of need." "Medical robotics could also be a key application," she adds. "We could develop new endoscopes that are soft and able to grow inside living human tissues without damage. Plants are underestimated. They move under the soil and it's difficult to understand the behavior of these systems. But they have features that can really help us understand nature." 5. Their ability to adapt is crucial for us to learn from Professor Daniel Chamovitz, the Dean of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University pulls back from declaring that plants are smart. "Anyone who claims they're studying plant 'intelligence' is either trying to be very controversial or is on the borderline of pseudoscience,” he says. But he admits they are exquisitely aware of their environment and how to adapt to that … and understanding them is important for our survival. "There's information being exchanged between roots and leaves and flowers and pollinators and the environment all the time. The plant is making 'decisions' – should I change 10 degrees to the left, five degrees to the right? Is it time to flower now? Is enough water available?” Chamovitz says that in our modern environment – with its global warming, changes in precipitation, and shifting populations – we need to learn from plants about how they respond to their environment and then adapt. "We've completely underestimated plants. We look at them as inanimate objects, completely unaware of the amazing, complex biology that allows that plant to survive." If we don’t learn from them, he says, “we might find ourselves in a big problem 50 to 100 years from now.”

News Article
Site: http://www.materialstoday.com/news/

A group of researchers from Russia, Australia and the Netherlands has developed a technology that can reduce magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning times by more than 50%, allowing hospitals to drastically increase the number of scans without changing their equipment. This extraordinary leap in efficiency is achieved by placing a layer of metamaterials onto the bed of the scanner, thereby improving the signal-to-noise ratio. The details of this research appear in a paper in Advanced Materials. This patent-pending technology is currently being co-developed by MediWise, a UK company that specializes in commercializing metamaterials for medical applications. MRI scanning is a commonly-used analytical technique in medicine, biology and neurology for monitoring subtle physiological changes in internal organs. For instance, a timely MRI procedure can detect tissues affected by cancer at the earliest stage of the disease. However, effective MRI diagnostics depends almost entirely on the quality of the resulting MRI images. Now, the group of Russian, Australian and Dutch researchers has demonstrated that the quality of MRI images can be substantially increased with the aid of metamaterials – artificial periodic structures that can interact with electromagnetic radiation in an extraordinary fashion. "This is the first real demonstration of the practical potential of metamaterials for MRI imaging enhancement and scanning time reduction, " says Yuri Kivshar, head of the Nonlinear Physics Centre at the Australian National University in Canberra, and co-author of the paper. "Our research may evolve into new healthcare applications and commercial products." By placing a specially-designed metamaterial comprising an array of metallic wires under the object being studied in an MRI scanner, the researchers showed that it is possible to increase the signal-to-noise ratio in the scanned area. This means that, compared to an ordinary MRI scanner, either a higher resolution image can be obtained over the same scanning time or an image with the same resolution can be obtained in a shorter time. In addition, the metamaterial is able to suppress the electric field that can cause tissue heating – a phenomenon that may compromise the safety of the whole MRI procedure. This problem has recently become even more pressing with the arrival of high-field and ultra-high-field MRI scanners for medical applications. These high-field MRI scanners can produce higher-resolution images but at the expense of greater tissue heating. By using the metamaterial, however, the scientific group managed to avoid tissue heating entirely, while still preserving high resolution. Furthermore, this approach does not require making any changes to the hardware of the MRI scanner; instead, it utilizes an inexpensive functional add-on device that can be used with any existing MRI scanner. "Our metamaterial can be embedded directly into the patient table of any commercially available MRI scanner. However, in the future we see even more potential in the concept of special smart clothing for MRI scanning," says Alexey Slobozhanyuk, first author of the paper and a researcher at the International Laboratory of Applied Radiophysics at ITMO University in St Petersburg, Russia. "Stripes of our metamaterial can be sewn in the clothes. The examination of patients, wearing such clothes, would lead to higher resolution MRI images, while the special design will enable a homogeneous enhancement of the signal-to-noise ratio, which does not pose any risk to the patients' health. As a result, with metamaterials you will be able to improve the characteristics of low-field MRI to the extent that their functionality is comparable to high-field MRI." The duration of an MRI exam can also prove problematic for patients. In ordinary MRI devices, the scanning may last from 15 to 60 minutes, and during this time the patient must remain completely still. The possibility of achieving detailed images in a shorter time will make the procedure more convenient for the patient and could also reduce queue times in hospitals. "Our idea of using metamaterials in order to receive images with higher detailization will allow doctors to localize and study oncological diseases, " says Kivshar. "Based on the images obtained with an MRI scanner, the surgeon determines the structure of the inflammation, which afterwards will serve as a blueprint for his scalpel during the operation." "Metamaterials have been proven to add value through their ability to process electromagnetic and sound waves in ways that no natural material can do," comments George Palikaras, founder and CEO of MediWise. "This leads to emerging business opportunities creating genuinely disruptive products. The scientific field of metamaterials is rapidly evolving and impacting traditional industries such as aerospace, telecoms, cleantech and now healthcare. The technology has the potential to extend the life of MRI imaging machines but, more importantly, it will make the scan quicker, more accurate and safer to patients. We are honored to work alongside world-leading academic partners, and to help advance this important innovation from the laboratory to the marketplace." This story is adapted from material from ITMO University, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.

News Article
Site: http://www.nanotech-now.com/

Home > Press > New ceramic firefighting foam becomes stronger when temperature increases Abstract: A team of chemists from ITMO University, in collaboration with research company SOPOT, has developed a novel type of firefighting foam based on inorganic silica nanoparticles. The new foam beats existing analogues in fire extinguishing capacity, thermal and mechanical stability and biocompatibility. The results of the study were published in ACS Advanced Materials & Interfaces. Fighting large-scale fires usually involves firefighting foams based on synthetic substances, such as prefluorinated surfactants, that, despite their effectiveness, are extremely toxic for living organisms. Complete biodegradation of such foams can last for more than 200 years, with residues quickly penetrating deep into soil and surface water. This leads to the the accumulation of toxic elements in living organisms, such as plants, animals and men. Many countries have declined the use of such fire extinguishing agents or opted for reducing the production of such substances despite the absence of any decent alternatives. A group of scientists from the International Laboratory of Advanced Materials and Technologies (SCAMT) at ITMO University in Saint Petersburg and research company SOPOT devised a foam, which was awarded full biodegradability and whose fire extinguishing capacity is higher than that of any existing analogue currently in use by fire fighters. After the fire is extinguished, the substance actively absorbs water, softens and falls apart into bioinert silica particles. And even when the foam accidentally enters living organisms, it does not not pose any danger to them. "Our foam is based on silica nanoparticles, which create a polymer network when exposed to air," says Alexander Vinogradov, deputy head of the SCAMT laboratory. "Such a network embraces and adheres to the burning object and momentarily cools it down. At the same time, the foam itself hardens. The inorganic origin of this polymer network allows it to resist temperatures above 1000 degrees Celsius, which ensures gigantic stability from the aggressive environment in the midst of a raging fire." "Most existing foams are made of organic materials and quickly deteriorate when temperature approaches 300 degrees Celsius. In our case, the foam creates a hard frame that not only puts out the fire, but also protects the object from re-ignition. With ordinary foams, re-ignition occurs within seconds after flame is applied to the object again." The scientists conducted a series of large-scale experiments of the hardening foam, including the imitation of an actual forest fire. The foam was used to create a flame retardant belt that was supposed stop the spread of the fire. The tests demonstrated that the foam easily localizes the forest fire seat and can stay active during the whole fire season. "The flame retardant belt made of our foam will prevent the spread of any forest fire, regardless of its strength and level of complexity," says Gennady Kuprin, head of SOPOT. "We can localize the fire and be sure that the adjacent territories will be safe. This is crucial to organize evacuation works during forest fires, where 9 of 10 people die in our and other countries." For more information, please click If you have a comment, please us. Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

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