Time filter

Source Type

News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: www.cemag.us

It’s not enough to design new drugs. For drugs to be effective, they have to be delivered safely and intact to affected areas of the body. And drug delivery, much like drug design, is an immensely complex task. Cutting-edge research and development like that conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory can help solve some of the challenges associated with drug delivery. In fact, ORNL researchers and collaborators at Wayne State University recently used a unique combination of experimentation and simulation to shed light on the design principles for improved delivery of RNA drugs, which are promising candidates in the treatment of a number of medical conditions including cancers and genetic disorders. Specifically, the research team discovered that the motions of a tRNA (or transfer RNA) model system can be enhanced when coupled with nanodiamonds, or diamond nanoparticles approximately 5 to 10 nanometers in size. Nanodiamonds are good delivery candidates due to their spherical shape, biocompatibility and low toxicity. And because their surfaces can be easily tailored to facilitate the attachment of various medicinal molecules, nanodiamonds have tremendous potential for the delivery of a vast range of therapies. The discovery involved ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source, which provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development, and ORNL’s Titan supercomputer, the nation’s most powerful for open science -- a one-two punch for illuminating the physical properties of potential drugs that inform new design principles for safer, improved delivery platforms. By comparing the SNS neutron scattering data with the data from the team’s molecular dynamics simulations on Titan, the researchers have confirmed that nanodiamonds enhance the dynamics of tRNA when in the presence of water. This cross-disciplinary research was profiled in Journal of Physical Chemistry B. The project began when ORNL’s P. Ganesh and Xiang-Qiang Chu of Wayne State University wondered how the water-phobic surfaces of nanoparticles alter the dynamics of biomolecules coated with water, and if it might be something that they could eventually control. They then formed a team including Gurpreet Dhindsa, Hugh O’Neill, Debsindhu Bhowmik, and Eugene Mamontov of ORNL and Liang Hong of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China to observe the motions of hydrogen atoms from the model system, tRNA, in water using SNS’s BASIS neutron backscattering spectrometer, SNS beam line 2. Hydration is essential for biomolecules to function, and neutrons are excellent at distinguishing between the motions of hydration water molecules and the biomolecule they are surrounding. Therefore, by measuring the atoms’ neutron scattering signals, the team was able to discern the movement of tRNA in water, providing valuable insight into how the large molecule relaxes in different environmental conditions. After comparing the results of the individual atoms, it was clear that the nanodiamonds were having a profound effect on their companion RNA molecules. The results were somewhat baffling because similar experiments had demonstrated that companion solid materials (such as nanodiamonds) tended to dampen biomolecule dynamics. Surprisingly however, nanodiamonds did the opposite for tRNA. “Scientists are always interested in the bio-nano interactions,” says Chu. “While the interfacial layer of the bio-nano systems has very distinctive properties, it is very hard to study this mysterious zone without neutron scattering, which only sees hydrogen.” To realize the potential of nanodiamonds in the delivery of biomolecules using tRNA as a model, the team turned to Titan to shed a much-needed light on the underlying physics. “Molecular dynamics simulation can really tell those stories that current experimental advancement might not be able to,” says Bhowmik of ORNL’s Computational Science and Engineering Division, who set up and conducted the simulations alongside Monojoy Goswami of the laboratory’s Computer Science and Mathematics Division and Hong of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. “By combining these two techniques, you can enter a whole new world.” These simulations revealed that the “weak dynamic heterogeneity” of RNA molecules in the presence of nanodiamonds was responsible for the enhanced effect. In other words, the reactions among the nanodiamonds, water and the RNA molecule forms a water layer on the nanodiamond surface, which then blocks it and prevents strong RNA contact to the nanodiamond. Since RNA is hydrophilic, or “likes water,” the molecules on the nanodiamond surface swell with excess hydration and weaken the heterogeneous dynamics of the molecules. “You can fine-tune these dynamics with chemical functionalization on the nanodiamond surface, further enhancing its effectiveness,” says Goswami. The findings will likely guide future studies not only on the potential of nanodiamonds in drug delivery but also on fighting bacteria and treating viral diseases. Using simulation to confirm and gain insight into experiments is nothing new. But mimicking large-scale systems precisely is often a challenge, and the lack of quantitative consistency between the two disciplines makes data comparison difficult and answers more elusive to researchers. This lack of precision, and by extension lack of consistency, is largely driven by the uncertainty surrounding force-field parameters or the interaction criteria between different particles. The exact parameters are scarce for many macromolecules, often forcing researchers to use parameters that closely, but not exactly, match the experiment. Miscalculating the precision of these parameters can have major consequences for the interpretation of the experimental results. To ensure the calculations were correct, Goswami worked with Jose Borreguero and Vickie Lynch, both of ORNL’s Neutron Data Analysis and Visualization Division and Center for Accelerated Materials Modeling, to develop a workflow optimization technique known as Pegasus. This method compares molecular dynamics simulations with neutron scattering data and refines the simulation parameters to validate the results with the proper experimental precision. “Using the Pegasus workflow to run simulations sampling, the force-field parameter space saved time and eliminated input errors,” says Lynch. These parameters also helped researchers better characterize the nanodiamond-water interactions and tRNA dynamics in the presence of nanodiamonds. The researchers then developed an automated system capable of optimizing parameters across a wide spectrum of simulation systems and neutron experiments, an effort that will be of great worth to similar experiments going forward. This new workflow is also compatible with the laboratory’s Compute and Data Environment for Science (CADES), which assists experimentalists with the analysis of vast quantities of data. “Users of the CADES infrastructure can carry the optimization of the simulations within the Bellerophon Environment for the Analysis of Materials, in active development at ORNL,” says Borreguero. The Bellerophon Environment for the Analysis of Materials (BEAM) is an end-to-end workflow software system, developed at ORNL, enabling user-friendly, remote access to robust data storage and compute capabilities offered at CADES and the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, home of Titan, for scalable data analysis and modeling. It’s these in-house resources that make ORNL a world leader in experimentation, modeling, and the nexus in between and that make discoveries like this possible.


In fact, ORNL researchers and collaborators at Wayne State University recently used a unique combination of experimentation and simulation to shed light on the design principles for improved delivery of RNA drugs, which are promising candidates in the treatment of a number of medical conditions including cancers and genetic disorders. Specifically, the research team discovered that the motions of a tRNA (or transfer RNA) model system can be enhanced when coupled with nanodiamonds, or diamond nanoparticles approximately 5 to 10 nanometers in size. Nanodiamonds are good delivery candidates due to their spherical shape, biocompatibility and low toxicity. And because their surfaces can be easily tailored to facilitate the attachment of various medicinal molecules, nanodiamonds have tremendous potential for the delivery of a vast range of therapies. The discovery involved ORNL's Spallation Neutron Source, which provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development, and ORNL's Titan supercomputer, the nation's most powerful for open science—a one-two punch for illuminating the physical properties of potential drugs that inform new design principles for safer, improved delivery platforms. By comparing the SNS neutron scattering data with the data from the team's molecular dynamics simulations on Titan, the researchers have confirmed that nanodiamonds enhance the dynamics of tRNA when in the presence of water. This cross-disciplinary research was profiled in Journal of Physical Chemistry B. The best of both worlds The project began when ORNL's P. Ganesh and Xiang-Qiang Chu of Wayne State University wondered how the water-phobic surfaces of nanoparticles alter the dynamics of biomolecules coated with water, and if it might be something that they could eventually control. They then formed a team including Gurpreet Dhindsa, Hugh O'Neill, Debsindhu Bhowmik and Eugene Mamontov of ORNL and Liang Hong of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China to observe the motions of hydrogen atoms from the model system, tRNA, in water using SNS's BASIS neutron backscattering spectrometer, SNS beam line 2. Hydration is essential for biomolecules to function, and neutrons are excellent at distinguishing between the motions of hydration water molecules and the biomolecule they are surrounding. Therefore, by measuring the atoms' neutron scattering signals, the team was able to discern the movement of tRNA in water, providing valuable insight into how the large molecule relaxes in different environmental conditions. After comparing the results of the individual atoms, it was clear that the nanodiamonds were having a profound effect on their companion RNA molecules. The results were somewhat baffling because similar experiments had demonstrated that companion solid materials (such as nanodiamonds) tended to dampen biomolecule dynamics. Surprisingly however, nanodiamonds did the opposite for tRNA. "Scientists are always interested in the bio-nano interactions," said Chu. "While the interfacial layer of the bio-nano systems has very distinctive properties, it is very hard to study this mysterious zone without neutron scattering, which only sees hydrogen." To realize the potential of nanodiamonds in the delivery of biomolecules using tRNA as a model, the team turned to Titan to shed a much-needed light on the underlying physics. "Molecular dynamics simulation can really tell those stories that current experimental advancement might not be able to," said Bhowmik of ORNL's Computational Science and Engineering Division, who set up and conducted the simulations alongside Monojoy Goswami of the laboratory's Computer Science and Mathematics Division and Hong of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. "By combining these two techniques, you can enter a whole new world." These simulations revealed that the "weak dynamic heterogeneity" of RNA molecules in the presence of nanodiamonds was responsible for the enhanced effect. In other words, the reactions among the nanodiamonds, water and the RNA molecule forms a water layer on the nanodiamond surface, which then blocks it and prevents strong RNA contact to the nanodiamond. Since RNA is hydrophilic, or "likes water," the molecules on the nanodiamond surface swell with excess hydration and weaken the heterogeneous dynamics of the molecules. "You can fine-tune these dynamics with chemical functionalization on the nanodiamond surface, further enhancing its effectiveness," said Goswami. The findings will likely guide future studies not only on the potential of nanodiamonds in drug delivery but also on fighting bacteria and treating viral diseases. Using simulation to confirm and gain insight into experiments is nothing new. But mimicking large-scale systems precisely is often a challenge, and the lack of quantitative consistency between the two disciplines makes data comparison difficult and answers more elusive to researchers. This lack of precision, and by extension lack of consistency, is largely driven by the uncertainty surrounding force-field parameters or the interaction criteria between different particles. The exact parameters are scarce for many macromolecules, often forcing researchers to use parameters that closely, but not exactly, match the experiment. Miscalculating the precision of these parameters can have major consequences for the interpretation of the experimental results. To ensure the calculations were correct, Goswami worked with Jose Borreguero and Vickie Lynch, both of ORNL's Neutron Data Analysis and Visualization Division and Center for Accelerated Materials Modeling, to develop a workflow optimization technique known as Pegasus. This method compares molecular dynamics simulations with neutron scattering data and refines the simulation parameters to validate the results with the proper experimental precision. "Using the Pegasus workflow to run simulations sampling, the force-field parameter space saved time and eliminated input errors," said Lynch. These parameters also helped researchers better characterize the nanodiamond-water interactions and tRNA dynamics in the presence of nanodiamonds. The researchers then developed an automated system capable of optimizing parameters across a wide spectrum of simulation systems and neutron experiments, an effort that will be of great worth to similar experiments going forward. This new workflow is also compatible with the laboratory's Compute and Data Environment for Science (CADES), which assists experimentalists with the analysis of vast quantities of data. "Users of the CADES infrastructure can carry the optimization of the simulations within the Bellerophon Environment for the Analysis of Materials, in active development at ORNL," said Borreguero. The Bellerophon Environment for the Analysis of Materials (BEAM) is an end-to-end workflow software system, developed at ORNL, enabling user-friendly, remote access to robust data storage and compute capabilities offered at CADES and the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, home of Titan, for scalable data analysis and modeling. It's these in-house resources that make ORNL a world leader in experimentation, modeling and the nexus in between and that make discoveries like this possible. Explore further: High-performance simulation, neutrons uncover three classes of protein motion More information: Gurpreet K. Dhindsa et al. Enhanced Dynamics of Hydrated tRNA on Nanodiamond Surfaces: A Combined Neutron Scattering and MD Simulation Study, The Journal of Physical Chemistry B (2016). DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.6b07511


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Having received CE Mark approval in July and Health Canada approval in August of last year, FlowAid Medical Technologies Corp. of New York City, announced today it has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration FDA clearance for its FA100 SCCD (Sequential Continuous Contraction Device) for the following indications: increase of local blood circulation, immediate post-surgical stimulation of calf muscles to prevent venous thrombosis, prevention or retardation of disuse atrophy and edema reduction. The FA100 SCCD is the first device of its kind cleared by the FDA for the indication of edema reduction. The FA100 SCCD is a small, lightweight, portable, and handheld 4-channel electrical muscle stimulator that is easy to use and provides comfortable, low-frequency stimulation in a proprietary sequential pattern. The FA100 SCCD operates without any external pressure to the leg, allows complete mobility and does not interfere with daily activities. The primary mechanism of the FA100 is to activate the calf muscle pump, the body’s natural built-in system pump, using a sequential pattern of electrical stimulation that causes a peristaltic wave of muscle contractions running distal to proximal along the lower leg. The muscle contractions periodically compress the deep veins of the lower leg, forcing the partial emptying of the deep veins and resulting in increased arterial flow. Clinical trials and evaluations of the FA100 SCCD have been ongoing, and professional interest is evident on every continent. Dr Guido Giacalone, Director of the Lymfoedeem Centrum in Belgium, will be doing a large study on the effects of the device on Lymphedema and Prof. Raj Mani, Consultant in Clinical Sciences at Southampton University Hospital NHS Trust and Visiting Professor at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, will be supervising a worldwide study on effects of the device on Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy. Past publications and case study results using the FA100 SCCD can be viewed on our website. FlowAid CEO Jacob Brezel: “We are very excited to be able to make the FA100 SCCD available to patients in the United States who will benefit from low-frequency, comfortable stimulation of the calf muscles to increase blood flow. We plan to submit additional FDA applications to expand our claims for other disease-specific indications, including the treatment of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy and Lymphedema.” FlowAid Medical Technologies Corp. is an emerging growth company focused on treating blood circulatory disorders of the extremities by continuously upgrading current medical solutions with new innovative cutting edge technologies. Our mission is to improve the quality of patient care and the productivity of health care delivery through the development of certain non-invasive medical devices and procedures for increasing blood flow and circulatory enhancement based upon many years of R&D, the involvement of many multidisciplinary professionals and patient feedback.


News Article | November 2, 2016
Site: www.sciencenews.org

Scientists have lost their latest round of hide-and-seek with dark matter, but they’re not out of the game. Despite overwhelming evidence that an exotic form of matter lurks unseen in the cosmos, decades of searches have failed to definitively detect a single particle of dark matter. While some scientists continue down the road of increasingly larger detectors designed to catch the particles, others are beginning to consider a broader landscape of possibilities for what dark matter might be. “We’ve been looking where our best guess told us to look for all these years, and we’re starting to wonder if we maybe guessed wrong,” says theoretical astrophysicist Dan Hooper of Fermilab in Batavia, Ill. “People are just opening their minds to a wider range of options.” Dark matter permeates the cosmos: The material keeps galaxies from flying apart and has left its imprints in the oldest light in the universe, the cosmic microwave background, which dates back to just 380,000 years after the Big Bang. Indirect evidence from dark matter’s gravitational influences shows that it makes up the bulk of the mass in the universe. But scientists can’t pin down what dark matter is without detecting it directly. In new results published in August and September, three teams of scientists have come up empty-handed, finding no hints of dark matter. The trio of experiments searched for one particular variety of dark matter — hypothetical particles known as WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles, with a range of possible masses that starts at several times that of a proton. WIMPs, despite their name, are dark matter bigwigs — they have long been the favorite explanation for the universe’s missing mass. WIMPs are thought to interact with normal matter only via the weak nuclear force and gravity. Part of WIMPs’ appeal comes from a prominent but unverified theory, supersymmetry, which independently predicts such particles. Supersymmetry posits that each known elementary particle has a heavier partner; the lightest partner particle could be a dark matter WIMP. But evidence for supersymmetry hasn’t materialized in particle collisions at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, so supersymmetry’s favored status is eroding (SN: 10/1/16, p. 12). Supersymmetry arguments for WIMPs are thus becoming shakier — especially since WIMPs aren’t showing up in detectors. Scientists typically search for WIMPs by looking for interactions with normal matter inside a detector. Several current experiments use tanks of liquefied xenon, an element found in trace amounts in Earth’s atmosphere, in hopes of detecting the tiny amounts of light and electric charge that would be released when a WIMP strikes a xenon nucleus and causes it to recoil. The three xenon experiments are the Large Underground Xenon, or LUX, experiment, located in the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, S.D.; the PandaX-II experiment, located in China’s JinPing underground laboratory in Sichuan; and the XENON100 experiment, located in the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy. Teams of scientists at the three locations each reported no signs of dark matter particles. The experiments are most sensitive to particles with masses around 40 or 50 times that of a proton. Scientists can’t completely rule out WIMPs of these masses, but the interactions would have to be exceedingly rare. In initial searches, proponents of WIMPs expected that the particles would be easy to find. “It was thought to be like, ‘OK, we’ll run the detector for five minutes, discover dark matter, and we’re all done,’” says physicist Matthew Szydagis of the University at Albany in New York, a member of LUX. That has turned into decades of hard work. As WIMPs keep failing to turn up, some scientists are beginning to become less enamored with the particles and are considering other possibilities more closely. One alternative dark matter contender now attracting more attention is the axion. This particle was originally proposed decades ago as part of the solution to a particle physics quandary known as the strong CP problem — the question of why the strong nuclear force, which holds particles together inside the nucleus, treats matter and antimatter  equally. If dark matter consists of axions, the particle could therefore solve two problems at once. Axions are small fry as dark matter goes — they can be as tiny as a millionth of a billionth the mass of a WIMP. The particles interact so feebly that they are extremely difficult to detect. If axions are dark matter, “you’re sitting in an enormous, dense sea of axions and you don’t even notice them,” says physicist Leslie Rosenberg of the University of Washington in Seattle, the leader of the Axion Dark Matter eXperiment. After a recent upgrade to the experiment, ADMX scientists are searching for dark matter axions using a magnetic field and special equipment to coax the particles to convert into photons, which can then be detected. Although WIMPs and axions remain the front-runners, scientists are beginning to move beyond these two possibilities. In between the featherweight axions and hulking WIMPs lies a broad range of masses that hasn’t been well explored. Scientists’ favorite theories don’t predict dark matter particles with such intermediate masses, says theoretical physicist Kathryn Zurek of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, but that doesn’t mean that dark matter couldn’t be found there. Zurek advocates a diverse search over a broad range of masses, instead of focusing on one particular theory. “Dark matter direct detection is not one-size-fits-all,” she says. In two papers published in Physical Review Letters on January 7 and September 14,  Zurek and colleagues proposed using superconductors — materials that allow electricity to flow without resistance — and superfluids, which allow fluids to flow without friction, to detect light dark matter particles. “We are trying to broaden as much as possible the tools to search for dark matter,” says Zurek. Likewise, scientists with the upcoming Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search SNOLAB experiment, to be located in an underground lab in Sudbury, Canada, will use detectors made of germanium and silicon to search for dark matter with smaller masses than the xenon experiments can. Scientists have not given up on xenon WIMP experiments. Soon some of those experiments will be scaling up — going from hundreds of kilograms of liquid xenon to tons — to improve their chances of catching a dark matter particle on the fly. The next version of XENON100, the XENON1T experiment (pronounced “XENON one ton”) is nearly ready to begin taking data. LUX’s next generation experiment, known as LUX-ZEPLIN or LZ, is scheduled to begin in 2020. PandaX-II scientists are also planning a sequel. Physicists are still optimistic that these detectors will finally find the elusive particles. “Maybe we will have some opportunity to see something nobody has seen,” says Xiangdong Ji of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the leader of PandaX-II. “That’s what’s so exciting.” In the sea of nondetections of dark matter, there is one glaring exception. For years, scientists with the DAMA/LIBRA experiment at Gran Sasso have claimed to see signs of dark matter, using crystals of sodium iodide. But other experiments have found no signs of DAMA’s dark matter. Many scientists believe that DAMA has been debunked. “I don't know what generates the weird signal that DAMA sees,” says Hooper. “That being said, I don't think it's likely that it’s dark matter.” But other experiments have not used the same technology as DAMA, says theoretical astrophysicist Katherine Freese of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “There is no alternative explanation that anybody can think of, so that is why it is actually still very interesting.” Three upcoming experiments should soon close the door on the mystery, by searching for dark matter using sodium iodide, as DAMA does: the ANAIS experiment in the Canfranc Underground Laboratory in Spain, the COSINE-100 experiment at YangYang Underground Laboratory in South Korea, and the SABRE experiment, planned for the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory in Australia. Scientists’ efforts could still end up being for naught; dark matter may not be directly detectable at all. “It’s possible that gravity is the only lens with which we can view dark matter,” says Szydagis. Dark matter could interact only via gravity, not via the weak force or any other force. Or it could live in its own “hidden sector” of particles that interact among themselves, but mostly shun normal matter. Even if no particles are detected anytime soon, most scientists remain convinced that an unseen form of matter exists. No alternative theory can explain all of scientists’ cosmological observations. “The human being is not going to give up for a long, long time to try to search for dark matter, because it’s such a big problem for us,” says Ji.


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: www.cemag.us

It’s not enough to design new drugs. For drugs to be effective, they have to be delivered safely and intact to affected areas of the body. And drug delivery, much like drug design, is an immensely complex task. Cutting-edge research and development like that conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory can help solve some of the challenges associated with drug delivery. In fact, ORNL researchers and collaborators at Wayne State University recently used a unique combination of experimentation and simulation to shed light on the design principles for improved delivery of RNA drugs, which are promising candidates in the treatment of a number of medical conditions including cancers and genetic disorders. Specifically, the research team discovered that the motions of a tRNA (or transfer RNA) model system can be enhanced when coupled with nanodiamonds, or diamond nanoparticles approximately 5 to 10 nanometers in size. Nanodiamonds are good delivery candidates due to their spherical shape, biocompatibility and low toxicity. And because their surfaces can be easily tailored to facilitate the attachment of various medicinal molecules, nanodiamonds have tremendous potential for the delivery of a vast range of therapies. The discovery involved ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source, which provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development, and ORNL’s Titan supercomputer, the nation’s most powerful for open science -- a one-two punch for illuminating the physical properties of potential drugs that inform new design principles for safer, improved delivery platforms. By comparing the SNS neutron scattering data with the data from the team’s molecular dynamics simulations on Titan, the researchers have confirmed that nanodiamonds enhance the dynamics of tRNA when in the presence of water. This cross-disciplinary research was profiled in Journal of Physical Chemistry B. The project began when ORNL’s P. Ganesh and Xiang-Qiang Chu of Wayne State University wondered how the water-phobic surfaces of nanoparticles alter the dynamics of biomolecules coated with water, and if it might be something that they could eventually control. They then formed a team including Gurpreet Dhindsa, Hugh O’Neill, Debsindhu Bhowmik, and Eugene Mamontov of ORNL and Liang Hong of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China to observe the motions of hydrogen atoms from the model system, tRNA, in water using SNS’s BASIS neutron backscattering spectrometer, SNS beam line 2. Hydration is essential for biomolecules to function, and neutrons are excellent at distinguishing between the motions of hydration water molecules and the biomolecule they are surrounding. Therefore, by measuring the atoms’ neutron scattering signals, the team was able to discern the movement of tRNA in water, providing valuable insight into how the large molecule relaxes in different environmental conditions. After comparing the results of the individual atoms, it was clear that the nanodiamonds were having a profound effect on their companion RNA molecules. The results were somewhat baffling because similar experiments had demonstrated that companion solid materials (such as nanodiamonds) tended to dampen biomolecule dynamics. Surprisingly however, nanodiamonds did the opposite for tRNA. “Scientists are always interested in the bio-nano interactions,” says Chu. “While the interfacial layer of the bio-nano systems has very distinctive properties, it is very hard to study this mysterious zone without neutron scattering, which only sees hydrogen.” To realize the potential of nanodiamonds in the delivery of biomolecules using tRNA as a model, the team turned to Titan to shed a much-needed light on the underlying physics. “Molecular dynamics simulation can really tell those stories that current experimental advancement might not be able to,” says Bhowmik of ORNL’s Computational Science and Engineering Division, who set up and conducted the simulations alongside Monojoy Goswami of the laboratory’s Computer Science and Mathematics Division and Hong of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. “By combining these two techniques, you can enter a whole new world.” These simulations revealed that the “weak dynamic heterogeneity” of RNA molecules in the presence of nanodiamonds was responsible for the enhanced effect. In other words, the reactions among the nanodiamonds, water and the RNA molecule forms a water layer on the nanodiamond surface, which then blocks it and prevents strong RNA contact to the nanodiamond. Since RNA is hydrophilic, or “likes water,” the molecules on the nanodiamond surface swell with excess hydration and weaken the heterogeneous dynamics of the molecules. “You can fine-tune these dynamics with chemical functionalization on the nanodiamond surface, further enhancing its effectiveness,” says Goswami. The findings will likely guide future studies not only on the potential of nanodiamonds in drug delivery but also on fighting bacteria and treating viral diseases. Using simulation to confirm and gain insight into experiments is nothing new. But mimicking large-scale systems precisely is often a challenge, and the lack of quantitative consistency between the two disciplines makes data comparison difficult and answers more elusive to researchers. This lack of precision, and by extension lack of consistency, is largely driven by the uncertainty surrounding force-field parameters or the interaction criteria between different particles. The exact parameters are scarce for many macromolecules, often forcing researchers to use parameters that closely, but not exactly, match the experiment. Miscalculating the precision of these parameters can have major consequences for the interpretation of the experimental results. To ensure the calculations were correct, Goswami worked with Jose Borreguero and Vickie Lynch, both of ORNL’s Neutron Data Analysis and Visualization Division and Center for Accelerated Materials Modeling, to develop a workflow optimization technique known as Pegasus. This method compares molecular dynamics simulations with neutron scattering data and refines the simulation parameters to validate the results with the proper experimental precision. “Using the Pegasus workflow to run simulations sampling, the force-field parameter space saved time and eliminated input errors,” says Lynch. These parameters also helped researchers better characterize the nanodiamond-water interactions and tRNA dynamics in the presence of nanodiamonds. The researchers then developed an automated system capable of optimizing parameters across a wide spectrum of simulation systems and neutron experiments, an effort that will be of great worth to similar experiments going forward. This new workflow is also compatible with the laboratory’s Compute and Data Environment for Science (CADES), which assists experimentalists with the analysis of vast quantities of data. “Users of the CADES infrastructure can carry the optimization of the simulations within the Bellerophon Environment for the Analysis of Materials, in active development at ORNL,” says Borreguero. The Bellerophon Environment for the Analysis of Materials (BEAM) is an end-to-end workflow software system, developed at ORNL, enabling user-friendly, remote access to robust data storage and compute capabilities offered at CADES and the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, home of Titan, for scalable data analysis and modeling. It’s these in-house resources that make ORNL a world leader in experimentation, modeling, and the nexus in between and that make discoveries like this possible.


In this edition of the clean energy and transport news roundup, we’ve got stories about Colorado solar fees, sheep as solar workers, solar microgrids, a new integrated energy storage system, driverless car insurance policies, a 2500 mile EV roadtrip, automatic braking systems, Musk’s pessimism about slowing climate change, Chinese EV startups, and more. [CleanTechnica isn’t the only Important Media site to cover clean energy & transport news, and if you’re looking for more stories on electric mobility, bicycles, solar and wind energy, and other related issues, we’ve got them at sites such as Solar Love, CleanTechies, Planetsave, Bikocity, Gas2, and EV Obsession. We also host a large cleantech group on LinkedIn, called CleanTechies Around The World.] In Colorado, XCel Energy proposed a new charge on all solar customers, an idea that was furiously resisted by a dozen or more solar power advocacy groups. Now, all parties have agreed to a negotiated settlement of the dispute that may serve as a model for other states. The agreement involves refocusing the pricing of electricity for retail customers on a time of day model. Not every solar energy installation goes on top of a roof. Utility scale systems, community solar, and some residential systems often are mounted on the ground rather than up in the air. What many of the owners of such systems tend to forget is that steps need to be taken to control the vegetation that will inevitably start to grow up underneath and around the panels as soon as the project is completed. The plan was to install 200 solar panels, seven Tesla Powerwalls, several SolarEdge inverters, along with installing lights and plugs for dozens of buildings. In order to complete the project on time, they hired and trained local electricians and construction crews. After three weeks in Virunga, all three solar micro grids were successfully installed. Now the park rangers have reliable lighting, communication systems, computers, radios, and GPS units. That means they no longer need to risk their lives to bring in diesel fuel and can more effectively protect the park and its denizens from thieves and poachers. SimpliPhi Power technology utilizes patented, licensed lithium ferrous phosphate cells with state-of-the-art proprietary management boards, circuitry, cell architecture and methods of assembly to create safe, intelligen,t and energy dense storage and management systems. SimpliPhi batteries feature the highest efficiency rate in the industry (98 percent), 10,000 cycle life and 100 percent depth of discharge. The compact, lightweight form factor does not require ventilation or cooling, is rated for outdoor installation, and can operate at a wide temperature range of -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Alyssa Craft and Jesse Stafford completed a cheap off-grid cabin-add-on to the trailer they are living in while setting up their homestead in the Western US. The cabin was built to allow them to heat the air around the trailer and prevent the plumbing, and themselves, from freezing during the snowy winter months. Sri Lanka looks to 70% renewables by 2030: The ‘Battle for Solar energy’ program aims to encourage the small consumers to install solar panels at their roof-tops and consumers will be paid for any excess energy exported to the grid. With this new program, government expects that at least 20% of the consumers produce electricity on their own. India wind energy policy has developers apprehensive about country’s first wind energy auction: Project developers are apprehensive about India’s latest wind energy policy which calls for large-scale auction of projects. The uncertainty amongst wind energy project developers in India originates from the fact that there is lack of clarity on the extension of crucial incentives like the accelerated depreciation and generation-based incentive. These two support mechanisms have been the sole driver of wind energy expansion in India. Indonesia could see 19% returns on solar Feed-in Tariffs: Indonesia may soon become a budding solar power market as feed-in tariffs recently announced by the government are expected to yield very attractive returns for developers. The Minister for Energy in the southern state of Karnataka recently told media outlets that construction on a proposed 5 GW solar power park will begin soon. The Pavagada solar power park is among the more than two dozen solar power parks with cumulative capacity of almost 20 GW approved by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy. According to media reports, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has installed solar power panels on the cargo complex of the Chennai airport. The solar power system is believed to have installed capacity of 5 MW and will generate enough electricity to meet 80% of the cargo terminal’s power demand. Engie subsidiaries will develop 400 MW of solar in Chile: Engie Energia Chile and Solairedirect, subsidiaries of French utility Engie, have announced plans to jointly develop 400 MW of solar power in Chile. South Africa could have 5.6 GW of wind capacity by 2020: The research and consulting firm GlobalData report states that more than 3 GW wind energy is expected to be installed by 2020 which will bring country’s cumulative wind capacity to 5.6 GW. The company apparently intends for the launch of the new insurance policy to move forward “the discussion around who or what is liable in the event of a collision.” The policy was designed “for people who may have driverless or autonomous features in their existing car, or who may be thinking of buying a new car with driverless or autopilot features such as Tesla’s forthcoming Model 3.” The trip — which has been dubbed Route 57 — involved 2,500 miles of travel through England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland; through various scenic towns, national parks, cities, etc. The trip was blogged about in great detail by the driver, Jess Shanahan. Orange EV taking orders for its new T-Series all-electric terminal truck: The new T-Series electric terminal trucks build on the company’s initial T-Series trucks (capable of up to 24 hours of operation per charge), which have now been deployed at various sites in the manufacturing, shipping, retail distribution, warehouse, railroad inter-modal, and waste management industries. And buyers could qualify for up to $120,000 in incentives: Orange EV has announced that organizations and businesses operating fleets in California will now be able to receive up to $120,000 in incentives towards the purchase of new T-Series all-electric Class 8 terminal trucks with extended-duty battery packs. Tom Moloughney is an avid electric car advocate. Two years ago, he purchased a BMW i3 with the 0.65 liter onboard two cylinder range extender gasoline engine. 27 months later, he has 56,000 miles on the odometer. He says 96% of those miles have been done on electric power alone. He has purchased about 50 gallons of gasoline for the car, which works out to be more than 1,000 miles per gallon. Mercedes will market its EVs under the EQ brand: No self respecting premium auto company would dive into the deep end of the electric car pool without dreaming up some snazzy new title to define its EV brand. BMW started it with its “i” division. Audi followed along with its E-Tron models. Now Mercedes has all but confirmed that it will market its electric cars under the EQ brand. 90% of Chinese EV startups could be wiped out: Soon, entrepreneurs will need a license from the government to become an automobile manufacturer. (Existing companies like SAIC and BYD will not need to apply for licenses.) According to reports, no more than 10 licenses will be issued — a very small number for such a large country. “There are too many entrants in the sector, and some of them are just speculators,” said Yin Chengliang, a professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Institute of Automotive Engineering. “The government has to raise the threshold. It’s bad to see irrational investments in projects with low technology levels.” The summer doldrums are almost over and the world of automobiles is about to get re-energized as the new auto show season kicks off in Paris in September. Citroen has gotten the buzz started early by showing off its latest creation, the CXperience large sedan concept. Sadly, it looks at though the Citroen design team has been heavily influenced by the new Toyota Prius. That is not meant as a compliment. Speaking with MSNBC host Chris Hayes recently. Elon Musk said he is pessimistic about slowing or reversing the effects of carbon pollution on global climate change. Doing so will require an effective means of pricing carbon emissions agreed to and implemented by all nations, he told Hayes. In his remarks, Musk made reference to what economists call The Tragedy of the Commons. There are two kinds of automatic braking systems — one designed to avoid forward collisions and one that only tries to minimize the damage from one. Which is which? How do you know which system your car is fitted with? And what are you, the driver, supposed to do — or not do — if the car ahead stops short suddenly or a pedestrian steps into your path?   Drive an electric car? Complete one of our short surveys for our next electric car report.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  


News Article | December 1, 2016
Site: en.prnasia.com

BEIJING, Dec. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Bitauto Holdings Limited ("Bitauto" or the "Company") (NYSE: BITA), a leading provider of internet content and marketing services for China's fast-growing automotive industry, today announced the appointment of Mr. Lei Zhu as its chief technology officer, effective on December 1, 2016. Before joining Bitauto, Mr. Zhu served for two years as Vice President of Didi Chuxing where he was also General Manager of its Commercial Business Division, responsible for commercialization strategy and product development related to automobiles, advertising, big data analytics as well as strategic alliances. Before joining Didi Chuxing, Mr. Zhu worked at Baidu from 2007 to 2012, in charge of various business functions including vertical search technology, cloud computing, and big data analytics. Mr. Zhu holds an MBA from Tsinghua University and a bachelor's degree in Science from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Mr. William Li, chief executive officer and chairman of Bitauto, said, "We are delighted that Lei is joining Bitauto as we scale up our media and transaction services platforms. With his extensive industry experience covering big data analytics, automobiles and advertising, we are confident that Lei will be an enormously positive addition to our management team." Mr. Andy Zhang, president of Bitauto, said, "Building on our significantly enhanced big data analytics from our collaboration with our strategic investors Tencent, Baidu and JD.com, Lei will further enable Bitauto to utilize these resources more effectively and help drive the application of big data in our media and transaction services businesses for better user experience, as well as stronger monetization capabilities." Bitauto Holdings Limited (NYSE: BITA) is a leading provider of internet content and marketing services for China's fast-growing automotive industry. Bitauto manages its businesses in three segments: its advertising and subscription business, transaction services business and digital marketing solutions business. Bitauto's advertising and subscription business offers advertising and digital marketing solutions to automakers and automobile customers in China. Bitauto provides a variety of advertising services mainly to automakers through its bitauto.com and taoche.com websites, which provide consumers with up-to-date new and used automobile pricing and promotional information, specifications, reviews and consumer feedback. Bitauto also offers subscription services via its EP platform which provides web-based and mobile-based integrated digital marketing solutions to automobile customers in China. The platform enables dealer subscribers to create their own online showrooms, list pricing and promotional information, provide dealer contact information, place advertisements and manage customer relationships to help them reach a broad set of purchase-minded customers and effectively market their automobiles to consumers online. In 2014, Bitauto began providing automobile customers with transaction services on its EP platform, including automobile transaction, CRM and online automotive financial platform services, which are intended to optimize the automobile purchase experience and facilitate completion of transactions. Bitauto's digital marketing solutions business provides automakers with one-stop digital marketing solutions, including website creation and maintenance, online public relations, online marketing campaigns and advertising. For more information, please visit ir.bitauto.com. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/bitauto-announces-appointment-of-lei-zhu-as-chief-technology-officer-300371166.html


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: en.prnasia.com

Full-year revenue from transaction services increased 133.6% year-over-year to RMB1.55 billion in 2016BEIJING, Mar. 1, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Bitauto Holdings Limited ("Bitauto" or the "Company") (NYSE: BITA), a leading provider of internet content and marketing services for China's fast-growing automotive industry, today announced its unaudited financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended December 31, 2016[1]. Mr. William Li, chief executive officer and chairman of Bitauto said, "We are pleased to end 2016 with solid progress both in building out our platform for serving the entire auto purchase value chain in China and in driving synergies between our transaction services and media businesses. As a result, total revenue in 2016 grew 35.7% year-over-year with a 133.6% annual increase in transaction services for new and used cars. Combining Bitauto's clear leadership in transaction services with our robust media business, we aim to become the preferred platform for auto consumption in China." "To achieve this goal, in 2017 we will focus on further enhancing our traffic, leads-to-transaction conversion rate, and monetization capabilities in both our media and transaction businesses. With regard to traffic, we will make efforts in branding and content to enhance user experience and stickiness, with a strong focus on the mobile end. To increase our conversion rate, we will roll out big data-driven marketing tools that are based on dynamic user behavior to help our customers target auto buyers more effectively, which will improve both user experience and our ability to earn media revenue. Lastly, in our transaction business, we will increase monetization by driving more multi-purpose transactions covering financing, insurance and trade-ins." Mr. Andy Zhang, president of Bitauto, said, "As we execute our strategies for enhancing traffic, conversion and monetization, we will gain two significant competitive advantages. First is a platform effect that applies to both our media and transactions services businesses. On the media front, user stickiness will increase across our mobile, PC and partnering properties. In transaction services, our rapidly growing user base and value-added services will allow us to generate more revenue from third-party products, leading to more platform-derived revenue. The second competitive advantage will come from the application of big data , as we leverage China's most comprehensive, focused, and dynamic auto consumer information across our media and financial services businesses." Ms. Cynthia He, chief financial officer of Bitauto, said, "Bitauto delivered solid results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2016. Looking ahead, we expect to see sustained strong revenue contribution from our transaction services business, as we benefit from our investments made in recent years in creating a financial services platform for new and used cars. With major investments in these areas behind us, in 2017 we will allocate more resources towards enhancing our user traffic and big data capabilities to drive further growth in both our advertising and subscription business and our transaction services business." Bitauto reported revenue of RMB1.75 billion (US$251.9 million) for the fourth quarter of 2016, representing a 31.9% increase from the corresponding period in 2015. The increase in revenue was primarily attributable to the growth of the Company's transaction services business and digital marketing solutions business. Cost of revenue for the fourth quarter of 2016 was RMB640.3 million (US$92.2 million), representing a year-over-year increase of 51.5% from the corresponding period in 2015. Cost of revenue as a percentage of revenue in the fourth quarter of 2016 was 36.6%, compared to 31.9% in the corresponding period in 2015. The increase was primarily due to increased cost related to transaction services. Gross profit for the fourth quarter of 2016 was RMB1.11 billion (US$159.7 million), representing a 22.8% increase from the corresponding period in 2015. Selling and administrative expenses were RMB1.00 billion (US$144.7 million) for the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to RMB1.17 billion (US$168.8 million) in the corresponding period in 2015. Product development expenses were RMB149.5 million (US$21.5 million) for the fourth quarter of 2016, representing a 68.4% increase from the corresponding period in 2015. The increase was primarily due to an increase in product development headcount and related expenses. Share-based payment expenses, which were allocated to related operating expense line items, were RMB19.9 million (US$2.9 million) in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to RMB27.6 million (US$4.0 million) in the corresponding period in 2015. Operating loss in the fourth quarter of 2016 was RMB20.6 million (US$3.0 million), compared to an operating loss of RMB346.7 million (US$49.9 million) in the corresponding period in 2015. Non-GAAP operating profit in the fourth quarter of 2016 was RMB160.9 million (US$23.2 million), representing a 27.5% increase from the corresponding period in 2015. Income tax expense in the fourth quarter of 2016 was RMB59.1 million (US$8.5 million), compared to an income tax expense of RMB7.3 million (US$1.1 million) in the corresponding period in 2015. The increase was mainly due to the impact of increased operating profit as well as certain one-off non-deductible expenses for some of the Company's subsidiaries. Net loss in the fourth quarter of 2016 was RMB105.1 million (US$15.1 million), compared to a net loss of RMB312.8 million (US$45.1 million) in the corresponding period in 2015. Basic and diluted net loss per ADS, each representing one ordinary share, in the fourth quarter of 2016 amounted to RMB2.70 (US$0.39) and RMB2.70 (US$0.39), respectively, taking in consideration the accretion of mezzanine equity amounting to RMB80.2 million (US$11.5 million). Non-GAAP net profit in the fourth quarter of 2016 was RMB98.5 million (US$14.2 million), compared to a net profit of RMB111.2 million (US$16.0 million) in the corresponding period in 2015. Non-GAAP basic and diluted net profit per ADS in the fourth quarter of 2016 amounted to RMB0.19 (US$0.03) and RMB0.19 (US$0.03), respectively, taking in consideration the accretion of mezzanine equity amounting to RMB80.2 million (US$11.5 million). Cash from operating activities, cash used in investing activities, and cash from financing activities in the fourth quarter of 2016 were RMB407.8 million (US$58.7 million), RMB6.54 billion (US$942.5 million), and RMB6.32 billion (US$910.5 million), respectively. Given the expansion of the Company's financial services platform business, in the fourth quarter of 2016 cash flows resulting from finance receivables were reclassified from cash flows from operating activities to cash flows from investing activities, in line with comparable companies Revenue in 2016 was RMB5.77 billion (US$831.5 million), representing a 35.7% increase from 2015. The increase in revenue was primarily attributable to the growth of the Company's transaction services business and digital marketing solutions business. Cost of revenue in 2016 was RMB2.08 billion (US$299.3 million), representing a year-over-year increase of 43.2% from 2015. Cost of revenue as a percentage of revenue in 2016 was 36.0%, compared to 34.1% in 2015. The increase was primarily due to increased cost related to transaction services. Gross profit in 2016 was RMB3.69 billion (US$532.2 million), representing a 31.8% increase from 2015. Selling and administrative expenses were RMB3.40 billion (US$489.4 million) in 2016, representing an increase of 12.7% from 2015. This increase was primarily attributable to the increase in headcount and related expenses. Product development expenses were RMB457.4 million (US$65.9 million) in 2016, representing a 46.5% increase from 2015. The increase was primarily due to an increase in product development headcount and related expenses. Share-based payment expenses, which were allocated to related operating expense line items, were RMB77.0 million (US$11.1 million) in 2016, compared to RMB120.0 million (US$17.3 million) in 2015. Operating loss in 2016 was RMB89.2 million (US$12.9 million), compared to an operating loss of RMB462.1 million (US$66.6 million) in 2015. Non-GAAP operating profit in 2016 was RMB611.9 million (US$88.1 million), representing a 43.1% increase from 2015. Income tax expense in 2016 was RMB147.6 million (US$21.3 million), compared to an income tax expense of RMB64.5 million (US$9.3 million) in 2015. The increase was mainly due to the impact of increased operating profit as well as certain one-off non-deductible expenses for some of the Company's subsidiaries. Net loss in 2016 was RMB291.4 million (US$42.0 million), compared to a net loss of RMB385.3 million (US$55.5 million) in 2015. Basic and diluted net loss per ADS, each representing one ordinary share, in 2016 amounted to RMB7.70 (US$1.11) and RMB7.70 (US$1.11), respectively, taking in consideration the accretion of mezzanine equity amounting to RMB205.3 million (US$29.6 million). Non-GAAP net profit in 2016 was RMB439.2 million (US$63.3 million), a 19.6% increase from 2015. Non-GAAP basic and diluted net profit per ADS in 2016 amounted to RMB3.35 (US$0.48) and RMB3.28 (US$0.47), respectively, taking in consideration the accretion of mezzanine equity amounting to RMB205.3 million (US$29.6 million). As of December 31, 2016, the Company had cash and cash equivalents, time deposit and restricted cash of RMB7.65 billion (US$1.10 billion). Cash from operating activities, cash used in investing activities, and cash from financing activities in 2016 were RMB527.4 million (US$76.0 million), RMB16.97 billion (US$2.44 billion) , and RMB15.42 billion (US$2.22 billion), respectively. Trade receivables was RMB2.07 billion (US$297.9 million) as of December 31, 2016, compared to RMB1.90 billion (US$273.6 million) as of December 31, 2015. This increase was in line with revenue growth. As of December 31, 2016, the Company's transaction services business had cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash of RMB3.72 billion (US$535.9 million), finance receivables of RMB13.98 billion (US$2.01 billion) and interest-bearing borrowings of RMB11.32 billion (US$1.63 billion). The number of employees totaled 7,620 as of December 31, 2016, including employees of the entities in which Bitauto acquired and holds controlling interests. This represented a 44.3% increase from December 31, 2015, which was primarily due to additional headcount from a recently acquired subsidiary named Kankanche which specializes in used car sales and financial services. As of December 31, 2016, the Company had a total of 70,726,025 ordinary shares, with 34,475,744 ADSs issued and outstanding. Each ADS represents one ordinary share of the Company. Non-GAAP basic and diluted per ADS figures for the fourth quarter of 2016 were calculated using a weighted average of 69,169,016 and 70,293,906 ADSs, respectively. Non-GAAP basic and diluted per ADS figures for fiscal year 2016 were calculated using a weighted average of 65,160,205 and 69,190,856 ADSs, respectively. Recent Updates - Changes of Directors and Management Bitauto announced the appointment of Mr. Andy Zhang, Bitauto's president, to the Company's board of directors, effective on March 1, 2017. Mr. Jingning Shao, vice chairman of the board of directors, has resigned from his position effective on March 1, 2017 for personal reasons. The Company recently appointed Mr. Lei Zhu as its chief technology officer. Prior to this, Mr. Zhu served as vice president and general manager of the Commercial Business Division of Didi Chuxing, responsible for commercialization strategy and product development related to automobiles, advertising, big data analytics as well as strategic alliances. Before joining Didi Chuxing, Mr. Zhu worked at Baidu from 2007 to 2012, in charge of various business functions including vertical search technology, cloud computing, and big data analytics. At Bitauto, Mr. Zhu will drive the application of big data in the Company's media and transaction services businesses. Mr. Zhu holds an MBA from Tsinghua University and a bachelor's degree in Science from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. In addition, Mr. Xiaoke Liu was appointed as Bitauto's senior vice president in charge of its media related businesses. Immediately prior to joining Bitauto, Mr. Liu served as general manager of the Auto Business Division of SINA since 2014. Previously, he held various senior positions in the online automobile industry, including at iFeng and Sohu. In his current role, Mr. Liu is responsible for Bitauto's brand, traffic, content and integration between the Company's media and transaction services businesses. Mr. Liu holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Luton in England. Bitauto currently expects to generate revenue in the range of RMB1.48 billion (US$213.2 million) to RMB1.53 billion (US$220.4 million) in the first quarter of 2017. This forecast takes into consideration seasonality factors in Bitauto's business, and excludes any impact of foreign currency fluctuation. It reflects management's current and preliminary view, which is subject to change. Additional Updates on the Results for the First Three Quarters of 2016 In the fourth quarter of 2016, the Company improved the operation system of its financial services platform. Benefitting from the improvement, the relevant revenue is recorded on a daily rather than monthly basis. As a result, the Company has recently determined that additional revenue of RMB11.8 million (US$1.7 million), RMB12.0 million (US$1.7 million) and RMB25.3 million (US$3.6 million) shall be recorded for the first, second and third quarter of 2016, respectively. In addition, after further review of relevant supporting documents obtained in the fourth quarter of 2016, the Company has recently determined that additional marketing expense of RMB23.0 million (US$3.3 million) shall be recorded for the third quarter of 2016. As a result, for the first, second and third quarter of 2016, net loss decreased and Non-GAAP net profit increased by RMB8.4 million (US$1.2 million), RMB8.5 million (US$1.2 million) and RMB0.7 million (US$0.1 million), respectively, compared to the previously disclosed amounts. Bitauto's management will hold an earnings conference call at 7:00 AM on March 1, 2017 U.S. Eastern Time (8:00 PM on March 1, 2017 Beijing/Hong Kong time). Dial-in details for the earnings conference call are as follows: A replay of the conference call may be accessed by phone at the following number until March 8, 2017: Additionally, a live and archived webcast of this conference call will be available at http://ir.bitauto.com. Bitauto Holdings Limited (NYSE: BITA) is a leading provider of internet content and marketing services for China's fast-growing automotive industry. Bitauto manages its businesses in three segments: its advertising and subscription business, transaction services business and digital marketing solutions business. Bitauto's advertising and subscription business offers advertising and digital marketing solutions to automakers and automobile customers in China. Bitauto provides a variety of advertising services mainly to automakers through its bitauto.com and taoche.com websites, which provide consumers with up-to-date new and used automobile pricing and promotional information, specifications, reviews and consumer feedback. Bitauto also offers subscription services via its EP platform which provides web-based and mobile-based integrated digital marketing solutions to automobile customers in China. The platform enables dealer subscribers to create their own online showrooms, list pricing and promotional information, provide dealer contact information, place advertisements and manage customer relationships to help them reach a broad set of purchase-minded customers and effectively market their automobiles to consumers online. In 2014, Bitauto began providing automobile customers with transaction services on its EP platform, including automobile transaction, CRM and online automotive financial platform services, which are intended to optimize the automobile purchase experience and facilitate completion of transactions. Bitauto's digital marketing solutions business provides automakers with one-stop digital marketing solutions, including website creation and maintenance, online public relations, online marketing campaigns and advertising. For more information, please visit ir.bitauto.com. This announcement contains forward-looking statements. These statements are made under the "safe harbor" provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as "will," "expects," "anticipates," "future," "intends," "plans," "believes," "estimates," "confident" and similar statements. Among other things, the business outlook of the Company and the quotations from management in this announcement, as well as Bitauto's strategic and operational plans, contain forward-looking statements. Bitauto may also make written or oral forward-looking statements in its periodic reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, in its annual report to shareholders, in press releases and other written materials and in oral statements made by its officers, directors or employees to third parties. Statements that are not historical facts, including statements about Bitauto's beliefs and expectations, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. A number of factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement, including but not limited to the following: our goals and strategies; our future business development, financial condition and results of operations; the expected growth of the automobile industry and the internet marketing industry in China; our expectations regarding demand for and market acceptance of our services and service delivery model; our expectations regarding enhancing our brand recognition; our expectations regarding keeping and strengthening our relationships with major customers, partner websites and media vendors; relevant government policies and regulations relating to our businesses, automobile purchases and ownership in China; our ability to attract and retain quality employees; our ability to stay abreast of market trends and technological advances; competition in our industry in China and internationally; general economic and business conditions in China; and our ability to effectively protect our intellectual property rights and not infringe on the intellectual property rights of others. Further information regarding these and other risks is included in Bitauto's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its annual report on Form 20-F. Bitauto does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required under applicable law. All information provided in this press release and in the attachments is as of the date of this press release, and Bitauto undertakes no duty to update such information, except as required under applicable law. Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures To supplement Bitauto's consolidated financial results presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP, Bitauto uses Non-GAAP operating profit, Non-GAAP net profit and Non-GAAP basic and diluted net profit per ADS as non-GAAP financial measures. Non-GAAP operating profit is defined as operating profit excluding (i) share-based payments; (ii) amortization of intangible assets resulting from asset and business acquisitions and (iii) assets write-down. Non-GAAP net profit is defined as net profit excluding (i) share-based payments; (ii) amortization of intangible assets resulting from asset and business acquisitions; (iii) assets write-down; (iv) fair value adjustment of contingent considerations; (v) share of amortization of equity investments' intangible assets not on their books; (vi) investment income associated with non-cash investment matters; and (vii) amortization of the BCF discount on the convertible notes. Non-GAAP basic and diluted net profit per ADS is defined as Non-GAAP net profit attributable to ordinary shareholders of the parent company divided by basic and diluted weighted average number of ADS. These non-GAAP financial measures provide Bitauto's management with the ability to assess its operating results by excluding certain items that may not be indicative of the performance of its business such as non-cash and non-recurring items. Bitauto believes these non-GAAP financial measures are useful to investors by understanding supplemental information used by management in its assessment of operating results. The use of non-GAAP financial measures has certain limitations. These non-GAAP measures exclude certain items that have been and will continue to be incurred in the future and are not reflected in the presentation of the non-GAAP financial measures. These non-GAAP financial measures should be considered in addition to results prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP, and should not be considered a substitute for or superior to U.S. GAAP results. In addition, these non-GAAP financial measures may not be comparable to similarly titled measures utilized by other companies since such other companies may not calculate such measures in the same manner as Bitauto does. Reconciliation of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable U.S. GAAP financial measure is set forth at the end of this release. For investor and media inquiries, please contact: To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/bitauto-announces-fourth-quarter-and-fiscal-year-2016-results-300415862.html


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Brajendra Mishra, who serves as Kenneth G. Merriam Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), has been named director of the university’s Metal Processing Institute (MPI), a leading industry-university alliance dedicated to advancing the field of materials science through research conducted across four focused centers. Mishra, who joined WPI in April 2015 as associate director of MPI and director of the MPI’s Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling (CR3), will succeed Diran Apelian, Alcoa-Howmet Professor of Mechanical Engineering at WPI who launched MPI at WPI in 1996. As founding director of MPI, Apelian will continue to direct the activities of the Advanced Casting Research Center (ACRC). “I’m elated to become the director and am looking forward to the challenge,” said Mishra. “Taking over from someone like Professor Apelian is a big challenge and a distinct honor, knowing how active this institute is on campus and its extensive work with industry.” MPI, the largest industry-university alliance in North America, conducts research in the areas of metal casting (in ACRC), heat treating (in the Center for Heat Treating Excellence, or CHTE), resource recovery and recycling (in CR3), and most recently materials processing (in the Center for Materials Processing Data, or CMPD). Each of the four research centers has multiple industry members, which pay an annual membership fee to support noncompetitive research by MPI faculty members and students. Mishra said his initial goals include furthering CMPD, which will be focused on data that supports the aerospace and automotive industries; expanding MPI’s membership base (notably in CR3, an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center); and developing a more robust materials science curriculum for WPI graduate students. In addition, MPI is expanding globally and in 2017 will launch a new center at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China, dedicated to non-destructive evaluation. Ultimately, Mishra said, MPI will continue to focus on serving the metals and materials industrial base. “The primary purpose of MPI is to solve industry problems, to develop new methods or materials for the industry, or even to share fundamental results that companies are seeking,” said Mishra. Mishra, who joined WPI from the Colorado School of Mines, has collaborated with Apelian for the past 15 years. The pair initially worked together through the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS), where both previously served as president at different junctures. As a result of these collaborations, he has high praise for Apelian. “Diran in himself is an institution,” said Mishra. “What he has done for WPI and MPI is incredible. He started MPI with one center and is now up to four centers.” Mishra also said Apelian has taken the time to mentor him. “I consider him as a coach, but not a coach who coaches from the sidelines,” said Mishra. “He’s on the field with me and with his students and other people on campus. And when he does that, he’s engaged not just with his words but with his actions. When you see him talk to people—whether it’s on the phone interviewing someone or talking with people in industry—it’s just an inspiration.” Apelian lauded Mishra’s dedication to MPI, and his vision for its future. “One of the best gifts in life is to be able to execute what you are passionate about, and then witness its continued success when you are no longer at the helm,” said Apelian. “Brajendra Mishra is a distinguished colleague, an eminent scholar and engineer, a dear friend, and a beautiful soul. I cannot think of a better person to take over the duties of MPI and lead it to greater heights.” To learn more about MPI, visit here. Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI is one of the nation’s first engineering and technology universities. Its 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. WPI's talented faculty work with students on interdisciplinary research that seeks solutions to important and socially relevant problems in fields as diverse as the life sciences and bioengineering, energy, information security, materials processing, and robotics. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Projects Program. There are more than 45 WPI project centers throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe.


SHANGHAI, Feb. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Antai College of Economics and Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University  took 34th place in the 2017 Global MBA Ranking by the leading business news organization Financial Times (FT) of the best 100 global programs released on Jan. 30, rising five places from last year and reconfirming its position as one of China's leading business schools. Antai is currently the only Chinese business school that has made it into all four of the FT's key rankings of the best 40 programs worldwide: 34th in the 2017 FT Global MBA Ranking, 7th in the 2016 FT Global Executive MBA Ranking, 9th in the 2016 FT Global Executive Education-Customized Ranking and 33rd in the 2016 FT Global Master in Management Ranking. Antai's MBA program remains committed to helping students in developing and executing their career path, the results of which were reflected in the core graduate career development indicators of the FT ranking. Employment rate at three months, salary increase, careers service, career progress, value for money and weighted salary at Antai ranked 1st, 2nd, 17th, 23rd, 31st and 52nd respectively. The average MBA alumni salary three years after graduation at Antai was USD 123,330, up 11 percent compared to 2016 and 32 percent compared to 2015, demonstrating that MBA alumni of Antai are being increasingly recognized by companies despite the global economic downturn. In addition to profound academic background, Antai's MBA program teachers serve as senior executives or independent directors, or lead collaborative projects with local businesses. Beyond their international outlook, they are also actively involved in understanding business at the local level. The FT ranking confirmed Antai's steady improvement in their academic indicators, with 92 percent of the teachers having doctoral degrees, and PhD graduates number taking second place for this ranking. Antai has been committed to globalization for years, proven by the increasing proportion of international students in its programs. In this ranking, international course experience was 27th globally. Antai's MBA program, a combination of overseas study tours, international exchange and dual-degree courses, is further enriched by the abundant international educational resources. Nearly 80 percent of its students have opportunities to study overseas. As Mainland China's first business school with the three most influential business school accreditations -- AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS -- Antai has demonstrated its leadership in terms of global authoritative rankings, Shanghai Jiao Tong University's business and management studies placed 43rd in the 2016 QS World university rankings by subject, with four of its management-related subjects listed among the world's top 100.

Loading Shanghai Jiao Tong University collaborators
Loading Shanghai Jiao Tong University collaborators