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News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Shearing the animals on the floor or on a special tilt table also resulted in changed clinical parameters such as heart rate. These values remained at normal levels only when the animals were sheared in a standing position. But shearing animals in the standing position is only possible if the alpacas do not resist being restrained with a risk of injury to themselves or to their handlers. These animals should be restrained on a mattress on the ground or on a tilt table. The study was published in Veterinary Record with organisational and financial support from the Alpaca Association e.V. of Germany and the Austrian Buiatric Association. Alpacas are members of the camel family and, like llamas, guanacos and vicuñas, belong to the New World camelids. Domesticated they are of great importance in South America, especially in Peru, where they have been kept and bred for their wool for thousands of years. In Europe, on the other hand, alpaca breeding is relatively uncommon. But the number of animals and breeders has been growing for years. Just like sheep, alpacas must be shorn regularly to harvest their wool. The procedure is an unusual one for the animals and thus a source of stress. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna has now investigated for the first time which shearing position produces the least amount of stress for the animals and therefore represents the least stressful method from the point of view of the animal's wellbeing. Unlike sheep, which are usually turned onto their backs, alpaca breeders use several different methods of restraint. The animals are either held by assistants in a standing position, restrained on a mattress on the ground or placed on special shearing tables. Previously, there had been no studies as to which method produced the least stress among the animals. "The stress of the animals can be determined based on clinical parameters, by observing the animals' behaviour or through the laboratory analysis of saliva and faeces," explains senior author Susanne Waiblinger of the Institute of Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare. Saliva and faeces contain cortisol, which is an important stress marker. Saliva cortisol is considered to reflect a short-term stress response, whereas faecal cortisol shows longer-lasting stress responses. Besides measuring stress-induced hormonal levels, the researchers also looked at clinical parameters, such as heart rate, respiratory rate and body temperature, as well as the animals' behaviour. Clinical parameters nearly unchanged when shearing in standing position To describe the impact of shearing on the alpacas, the team divided its study into two parts. Part one studied the level of stress caused by each of the restraining methods, as the shearing itself represents a separate stress factor. In part two, the animals were divided into groups and shorn using one of the methods. Animals that were restrained without shearing exhibited no significant changes in terms of the clinical parameters. Both the respiratory rate and heart rate remained at normal levels. "The body temperature was unchanged during this part of the study. But if the animals were restrained and also shorn, the clinical values changed significantly in the animals that were restrained on the floor or on the table. For all restraining methods, however, body temperature remained unchanged. This makes alpacas different from sheep or from the alpaca's relative, the vicuña," says first author Thomas Wittek of the University Clinic for Ruminants. Stress hormone shows that alpacas are only stressed by the restraint The analysis of the cortisol concentrations in saliva and faeces, on the other hand, showed that the animals were also stressed in the first part of the study despite the almost unchanged clinical parameters. Saliva cortisol levels were clearly higher after just 20 minutes and increased even further within 40 minutes. The cortisol concentrations then remained unchanged, although the higher levels could be demonstrated in faeces even 33 hours later. During restraint and shearing, the cortisol values also increased regardless of the shearing position. When animals were restrained on the ground, however, this led to a more significant increase of hormone levels over time compared to the other two methods. Faecal cortisol levels remained at the same high levels in all three groups. Animal behaviour just as important for choice of restraining method "At first glance, it appears difficult to compare or associate the two experiments," says Wittek. "But we can assume that just the sound of the shearing machine and the duration of the restraint cause stress for the animals. This means that you can practically add the values." Merely positioning the animals is a source of stress, which then increases further through the act of shearing. The standing position was tolerated the best by the alpacas in terms of the clinical parameters. Restraining the animals in the standing position, however, only makes sense and is only possible if the alpacas remain calm. If they resist from the beginning, the risk of injury to themselves or to one of the handlers is too great, says first author Wittek. These animals should therefore be restrained on a table. The handlers usually know the behaviour of their animals and can decide in advance which method to use. The University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) is one of the leading veterinary, academic and research facilities in Europe. Its main focus is on the research fields of animal health, food safety, animal husbandry and animal welfare as well as biomedical fundamentals. The Vetmeduni Vienna has 1,300 employees and is currently training 2,300 students. The campus in Floridsdorf, Vienna has five university hospitals and numerous research institutions at its disposal. Two research institutes at Wilhelminenberg, Vienna and a Teaching and Research in Lower Austria also belong to the Vetmeduni Vienna. http://www. Wittek, T., Salaberger, T., Palme, R., Becker, S., Hajek, F., Lambacher, B., Waiblinger, S. (2017) Clinical parameters and adrenocortical activity to assess stress responses of alpacas using different methods of restraint either alone or with shearing Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. vet. Thomas Wittek Head of the Clinical Unit of Ruminant Medicine University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) T +43 1 25077- 5200 thomas.wittek@vetmeduni.ac.at Ao.Univ.Prof., Dr.med.vet. Susanne Waiblinger Institute of Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) T: +43 1 25077 4906 susanne.waiblinger@vetmeduni.ac.at


News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: phys.org

Alpacas, a species of New World camelids, have very thick wool. This requires them to be shorn regularly, just like sheep. But shearing is a source of stress for the animals. This has now been confirmed for the first time by researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna based on an evaluation of clinical, hormonal and behavioural parameters. The scientists were able to show that even the act of restraining the animals in different positions released higher concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol. Shearing the animals on the floor or on a special tilt table also resulted in changed clinical parameters such as heart rate. These values remained at normal levels only when the animals were sheared in a standing position. But shearing animals in the standing position is only possible if the alpacas do not resist being restrained with a risk of injury to themselves or to their handlers. These animals should be restrained on a mattress on the ground or on a tilt table. The study was published in Veterinary Records with organisational and financial support from the Alpaca Association e.V. of Germany and the Austrian Buiatric Association. Alpacas are members of the camel family and, like llamas, guanacos and vicuñas, belong to the New World camelids. Domesticated they are of great importance in South America, especially in Peru, where they have been kept and bred for their wool for thousands of years. In Europe, on the other hand, alpaca breeding is relatively uncommon. But the number of animals and breeders has been growing for years. Just like sheep, alpacas must be shorn regularly to harvest their wool. The procedure is an unusual one for the animals and thus a source of stress. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna has now investigated for the first time which shearing position produces the least amount of stress for the animals and therefore represents the least stressful method from the point of view of the animal's wellbeing. Unlike sheep, which are usually turned onto their backs, alpaca breeders use several different methods of restraint. The animals are either held by assistants in a standing position, restrained on a mattress on the ground or placed on special shearing tables. Previously, there had been no studies as to which method produced the least stress among the animals. "The stress of the animals can be determined based on clinical parameters, by observing the animals' behaviour or through the laboratory analysis of saliva and faeces," explains senior author Susanne Waiblinger of the Institute of Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare. Saliva and faeces contain cortisol, which is an important stress marker. Saliva cortisol is considered to reflect a short-term stress response, whereas faecal cortisol shows longer-lasting stress responses. Besides measuring stress-induced hormonal levels, the researchers also looked at clinical parameters, such as heart rate, respiratory rate and body temperature, as well as the animals' behaviour. Clinical parameters nearly unchanged when shearing in standing position To describe the impact of shearing on the alpacas, the team divided its study into two parts. Part one studied the level of stress caused by each of the restraining methods, as the shearing itself represents a separate stress factor. In part two, the animals were divided into groups and shorn using one of the methods. Animals that were restrained without shearing exhibited no significant changes in terms of the clinical parameters. Both the respiratory rate and heart rate remained at normal levels. "The body temperature was unchanged during this part of the study. But if the animals were restrained and also shorn, the clinical values changed significantly in the animals that were restrained on the floor or on the table. For all restraining methods, however, body temperature remained unchanged. This makes alpacas different from sheep or from the alpaca's relative, the vicuña," says first author Thomas Wittek of the University Clinic for Ruminants. Stress hormone shows that alpacas are only stressed by the restraint The analysis of the cortisol concentrations in saliva and faeces, on the other hand, showed that the animals were also stressed in the first part of the study despite the almost unchanged clinical parameters. Saliva cortisol levels were clearly higher after just 20 minutes and increased even further within 40 minutes. The cortisol concentrations then remained unchanged, although the higher levels could be demonstrated in faeces even 33 hours later. During restraint and shearing, the cortisol values also increased regardless of the shearing position. When animals were restrained on the ground, however, this led to a more significant increase of hormone levels over time compared to the other two methods. Faecal cortisol levels remained at the same high levels in all three groups. Animal behaviour just as important for choice of restraining method "At first glance, it appears difficult to compare or associate the two experiments," says Wittek. "But we can assume that just the sound of the shearing machine and the duration of the restraint cause stress for the animals. This means that you can practically add the values." Merely positioning the animals is a source of stress, which then increases further through the act of shearing. The standing position was tolerated the best by the alpacas in terms of the clinical parameters. Restraining the animals in the standing position, however, only makes sense and is only possible if the alpacas remain calm. If they resist from the beginning, the risk of injury to themselves or to one of the handlers is too great, says first author Wittek. These animals should therefore be restrained on a table. The handlers usually know the behaviour of their animals and can decide in advance which method to use. More information: T. Wittek et al. Clinical parameters and adrenocortical activity to assess stress responses of alpacas using different methods of restraint either alone or with shearing, Veterinary Record (2017). DOI: 10.1136/vr.104232


Finke K.,Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich | Matthias E.,Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich | Keller I.,Schoen Clinic Bad Aibling | Muller H.J.,Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich | And 2 more authors.
Neuropsychologia | Year: 2012

In visual hemi-neglect, non-spatial deficits such as reduced intrinsic alertness can significantly modulate the degree of left visual field inattention. However, to date, the precise mechanisms mediating this effect are hardly understood. In the present study, we assessed the influence of increased alertness on both general attentional capacity (perceptual processing speed) and spatial attentional selection processes (spatial distribution of attentional weighting). For this purpose, a whole-report paradigm based on Bundesen's 'theory of visual attention' (TVA) was combined with a non-spatial, visual alerting cue. Three different cue-target stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs; of 80, 200, and 650. ms), allowed us to observe the time course of the alerting-cue effects. A group of six patients with visual hemi-neglect was examined and their performance compared with six healthy control subjects matched for age, gender, and education.In neglect patients, the alerting cue evoked a phasic increase of perceptual processing speed. However, this effect was mainly found in the ipsilateral, i.e. in the " preserved" hemifield. Importantly, however, patients displayed a fast-evolving and short-lasting, phasic modulation of spatial attentional weighting, with a re-distribution of attentional weights from the pathological rightward bias to a normal, more balanced distribution of visual attention. In control participants, the cueing effects on perceptual processing speed and spatial weighting were generally less pronounced than in neglect patients. Replicating results of a prior study, cueing induced a stable, slightly leftward, distribution of attentional weights, whilst in the no-cue condition, a temporary rightward shift of attentional weights was found.This pattern of effects suggests a close interaction between alertness and spatial-attentional weighting in the syndrome of visual hemi-neglect. It supports the hypothesis that the manifestation of spatial neglect involves at least in part intrinsic alertness deficits. It also provides clues to a more detailed account of the mechanisms responsible for alleviating neglect in patients following manipulations of the alertness level, both in the short (cueing) and in the long term (alertness training). © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


News Article | November 4, 2015
Site: phys.org

Surgery is unavoidable for treating inner ear tumors, but the inner ear is difficult to access. This is because it is covered by a cranial bone known as the mastoid, or petrosal bone. What's more, the surrounding tissue contains lots of nerves and blood vessels. For this reason the surgeons will cut out as much of the mastoid bone as needed until they have located each one of these sensitive structures. Only then can they be sure not to damage them. What this entails most of the time is the removal of the entire bone. The hole thus created is filled in with fatty tissue taken from the abdomen after the completion of the procedure. In the future this operation will be performed in a less invasive fashion, requiring just a small hole measuring 5 mm in diameter through which the tumor can be resected from the inner ear. The technology that makes this possible goes by the name of NiLiBoRo, a German acronym which stands for "Non-linear Drilling Robot". The system is being developed by researchers in the Mannheim Project Group for Automation in Medicine and Biotechnology, part of the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology and Automation IPA, in cooperation with the Technical University of Darmstadt, the University of Aachen, and the Düsseldorf University Clinic. Drilling machines capable of boring a tunnel through bone already exist, but they can do so only in a straight line. "NiLiBoRo is the first one that can drill around corners as well," says project group scientist Lennart Karstensen. It is this particular characteristic that makes it possible to perform minimally invasive surgery on inner ear tumors. If the tunnel were to run in a straight line, it would at times come troublingly close to hitting nerves. To avoid injuring nerve tissue, the tunnel would have to be no more than 1 to 2 mm in diameter. However, it is impossible to perform surgery through such a small opening. The NiLiBoRo on the other hand is capable of steering around sensitive areas. This makes it possible to achieve a tunnel diameter of 5 m, which is wide enough to perform the operation. Hydraulic lines allow the robot worm to crawl forward So how does this "worm" manage to drill around curves and corners through the mastoid bone? "The worm consists of a 'head' and a 'tail' section," explains Karstensen. "Both of these parts are connected with one another by means of a flexible bellows mechanism." The design is reminiscent of an articulated public transit bus in which the front and rear sections are coupled by means of a hose-like center section that looks like an accordion. As it travels through the bone, the robot is connected to the "outside world" – in other words the control units and pumps in the operation room – by means of 8 to 12 hydraulic lines. It is these lines that allow the robot to crawl forward in the right direction. This is done by first pumping hydraulic fluid into three bladders found in the rear section of the robot. The bladders fill in the empty space between the worm and the bone and thereby fix the rear section of the robot in place. The hydraulic fluid then travels into the bellows. This causes the "accordion" to expand, which pushes the head forward. The worm stretches, so to speak, and presses its front section further into the bone. The drill attached to the head bores deeper inward. Now the rear section retracts towards the head in a motion similar to that of a real worm. To do so, the bladders in the front section are pumped full of fluid to hold the front in place while the fluid in the rear bladders is evacuated. At this point the fluid is also being sucked out of the bellows through the hydraulic lines. The robot contracts, which pulls the rear section up behind the front. In this way the NiLiBoRo makes its way forward bit by bit. "We can alter the robot's direction of travel by adjusting the bladders in the front section. For instance, if we wanted to move left then we fill the left bladder with less fluid than the right, which will cause the robot to veer to the left," says Karstensen. In the laboratory, and later in the operation room, the path the NiLiBoRo takes as it drills its way forward is precisely monitored by an electromagnetic tracking system, or EMT for short. Designed by partners at the Technical University of Darmstadt, this system works by sporadically capturing images of the robot using computer tomography in order to monitor its position. Researchers have already constructed an initial prototype of the NiLiBoRo, which is currently five times larger than the planned final version. Right now it is composed of only the forward section together with the heart of the machine, the bellows. The developers plan to continue optimizing and expanding the prototype piece by piece. Once all the technology has been developed, the NiLiBoRo will be shrunk down to its final size. Researchers hope to have the miniature robot ready for testing by physicians in two years.


News Article | December 14, 2016
Site: www.sciencemag.org

New York City is known for its strange sights. But on 12 July, even locals were shocked by what they saw: more than 30 people staggering around a Brooklyn block with empty stares, shuffling their arms and feet and occasionally groaning. What sounds like the opening of a horror movie was suspected from the start to be the work of a synthetic cannabinoid. Now, a new analysis, out today in The New England Journal of Medicine , confirms those suspicions. But it has also raised scientific ire over its prolific use of the word “zombie.” Developed by academics and pharma companies to study cannabinoid receptors in the human body, synthetic cannabinoids act on the same receptor on brain cells as cannabis. The compounds, which can be up to 100 times more potent than cannabis, are a rapidly growing class of drugs, usually dissolved in liquid and sprayed on leaves to be smoked. There are hundreds of different compounds, and though they are quickly made illegal in many places, new ones appear every year. To find out what was responsible for the Brooklyn episode, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), started with a foil-wrapped pouch of herbs found on one of the patients, labeled “AK-47 24 Karat Gold.” When they analyzed a sample, they found it contained the substance AMB-FUBINACA, a powerful synthetic cannabinoid similar to a compound first patented by Pfizer in 2009. The researchers also found breakdown products of AMB-FUBINACA in the blood of eight patients. But the most interesting thing, says Rainer Spanagel, a pharmacologist at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany, is that AMB-FUBINACA seems to have resulted in fewer serious side effects compared with similar compounds. “These highly potent cannabinoids usually have a strong toxic effect on the heart, but that does not seem to be the case here,” he says. The authors also note that its effects on the brain were not accompanied by hyperthermia or acute kidney injury, as is often the case. But the Brooklyn episode is “nothing special,” says Volker Auwärter, a forensic toxicologist at University Clinic Freiburg in Germany. “We have people coming to the hospital all the time,” similarly affected by synthetic cannabinoids. One of those is MDMB-CHMICA, which has been associated with at least 71 serious adverse events including 29 deaths in eight EU states, according to a 2016 report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and the Europol law enforcement agency. Many prisons in the United Kingdom are awash in similar substances, says David Nutt, a pharmacologist at Imperial College London. “We have people go to hospitals with adverse events every day,” he says. Auwärter and Spanagel also criticized the use of the word “zombie” in the article, which appears once in the title and six times in the text. “It’s frankly surprising that an old, prestigious journal like The New England Journal of Medicine would sensationalize it this way,” Spanagel says. And Auwärter calls it “a bit of a trick to make the story sexier.” Roy Gerona, a clinical chemist at UCSF and the last author on the paper, says the word’s use started as a whim. “We were joking around: What if we just put in ‘zombie outbreak’ and see what happens?” he says. A controversial title, Gerona adds, could also help get the attention not just of scientists, but regulators and policymakers for the problem of synthetic cannabinoids. “I feel bad that we are stooping to this level, but unfortunately the more sensational a title, the more attention it gets,” he notes. Indeed, medical journals apparently have a fondness for the undead. Exactly a year ago, on 14 December 2015 published a paper called “Zombie infections: epidemiology, treatment, and prevention.” That, however, was a tongue-in-cheek paper title for the journal’s traditionally goofy Christmas edition.


News Article | November 30, 2016
Site: www.sciencemag.org

Could a psychedelic drug help people who are dying of cancer face their fears? Two long-awaited studies suggest that the hallucinogenic compound in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, could do just that. “They are the most rigorous double-blind placebo-controlled trials of a psychedelic drug in the past 50 years,” writes David Nutt, a pharmacologist at Imperial College London who was not involved in the work, in an editorial accompanying the papers. Both studies, published today in the , combined a psychedelic trip with several sessions of psychotherapy. In one, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, 51 cancer patients received two doses of the drug 5 weeks apart, one relatively high and one so low that it was unlikely to have any effect. In the second study, at New York University (NYU) in New York City, 29 cancer patients randomly received either psilocybin or niacin, a compound that mimics some side effects of psilocybin—including a flushed, hot feeling—but without the hallucinogenic properties. Seven weeks later, the patients received the other compound. Of the participants who received the high dose in the second study, 83% reported feeling significantly less depression and 58% reported less anxiety after 7 weeks. Only 14% of those who received niacin reported less anxiety and less depression. And the effect in both studies was still apparent months later. For instance, in the Johns Hopkins study, about 60% of all participants still showed normal levels of depression and anxiety after 6 months. “The findings are impressive, with good safety data and large effect sizes," says Robin Carhart-Harris, who studies psychedelic drugs at Imperial College London. "My feeling is that these studies will play a significant role in waking up the scientific and medical mainstream to the therapeutic potential of psychedelics." Two things in particular are striking about the results, says Isabella Heuser, a psychiatrist at Charité, the University Clinic in Berlin: There seemed to be a rapid onset of the effect, and it was still measurable months later. “These are still small trials,” Heuser cautions. “But the fact that they both show very similar results is very encouraging.” Guy Goodwin, a psychiatrist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, says the trials have moved the field forward. “I think they represent a kind of landmark," he says. “But they are the beginning of something, not the end or the proof of something.” Many cancer patients develop severe depression and anxiety after their diagnosis, says Roland Griffiths, who led the John Hopkins study. These feelings can persist even when the cancer is gone. Dinah Bazer, a 69-year old woman from Brooklyn, New York, who participated in the NYU study, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010. Surgery and chemotherapy were successful but she was consumed with anxiety and fear of the cancer coming back. “It was running my life and ruining my life,” she says. “This drug saved my life.” But patients like Bazer don’t typically have the option for such treatment today. In the 1960s, psilocybin and LSD were used to treat depression or alcoholism in numerous trials. But widespread misuse—and their association with the counter-culture—led to a political backlash. In 1970, U.S. President Richard Nixon banned the drugs and virtually all research ceased. Research started up again in the 1990s, but it has been hampered by strict regulations and methodological issues. One of the problems facing researchers is how to ensure that participants and investigators don’t know whether they are dealing with the drug or a placebo. In the Johns Hopkins study, participants and therapists were told that patients would receive psilocybin on both occasions and that the dose could vary. But fooling participants who might be feeling the effects of a powerful mind-altering drug isn’t easy. This is particularly worrisome, because the measures of effect on depression or anxiety tend to be subjective, Goodwin says. “If they could show for instance that people go back to work or that they move around more, that would be objective evidence.” How exactly psilocybin could lead to a decrease in anxiety and depression is unclear. Both studies found that patients who have a stronger mystical experience also showed a better outcome, whether or not they reported being religious, says Stephen Ross, who led the NYU study. Bazer, for instance, says she experienced “being bathed in God’s love” for hours after taking psilocybin. “I really had no other way to describe this incredibly powerful experience," says Bazer, who says she was and still is an atheist. “I believe this was something that happened in my brain." But whether that experience somehow catalyzes changes itself, or is just a side effect of other changes, is hard to pinpoint. Either way, the treatment could help many patients, Ross says. The Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing an application for a phase III trial of psilocybin, the last step before the therapy could be approved. There is good reason to be hopeful, Ross says. On Tuesday, the regulatory body gave the green light for a phase III trial of another contentious drug: using ecstasy to treat posttraumatic stress disorder.


News Article | September 16, 2016
Site: phys.org

Researchers at the Universidad Miguel Hernández (UMH) and AISOY Robotics are collaborating to expand the potential of their robot assistant for the treatment of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Specifically, the goal is to explore the ways in which the AISOY robot can enhance therapy sessions at the UMH University Clinic.


News Article | September 16, 2016
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Researchers are collaborating to expand the potential of their robot assistant for the treatment of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Specifically, the goal is to explore the ways in which the AISOY robot can enhance therapy sessions at the UMH University Clinic.


Yeung C.-H.,University Clinic
Asian Journal of Andrology | Year: 2010

Mammalian spermatozoa have relatively high water permeability and swell readily, as in the hypo-osmotic swelling test used in the andrology clinic. Physiologically, spermatozoa experience changes in the osmolality of the surrounding fluids in both the male and the female tracts on their journey from the testis to the ovum. Sperm volume regulation in response to such osmotic challenges is important to maintain a stable cell size for the normal shape and function of the sperm tail. Alongside ion channels for the fluxes of osmolytes, water channels would be crucial for sperm volume regulation. In contrast to the deep knowledge and numerous studies on somatic cell aquaporins (AQPs), the understanding of sperm AQPs is limited. Among the 13 AQPs, convincing evidence for their presence in spermatozoa has been confined to AQP7, AQP8 and AQP11. Overall, current findings indicate a major role of AQP8 in water influx and efflux for sperm volume regulation, which is required for natural fertilization. The preliminary data suggestive of a role for AQP7 in sperm glycerol metabolism needs further substantiation. The association of AQP11 with the residual cytoplasm of elongated spermatids and the distal tail of spermatozoa supports the hypothesis of more than just a role in conferring water permeability and also in the turnover and recycling of surplus cellular components made redundant during spermiogenesis and spermiation. This would be crucial for the maintenance of a germinal epithelium functioning efficiently in the production of spermatozoa. © 2010 AJA, SIMM & SJTU All rights reserved.


News Article | February 3, 2016
Site: www.nature.com

He created stunningly lifelike moulages: wax models of the human body in states of disease, once used for training doctors. Later, he turned to art, rising in the 1950s to become a star of the US abstract scene with paintings featuring vibrantly hued geometric shapes. Adolf Fleischmann (1892–1968) had impacts on medicine and art that were equally powerful and strangely divided. This year, two Berlin exhibitions (for which I have contributed to the catalogues) will explore Fleischmann's oeuvre: Surfaces at the Berlin Museum of Medical History at the Charité (which adapts a joint presentation of the Museum of Concrete Art and the German Museum of Medical History, both in Ingolstadt) and the Adolf Fleischmann Retrospective at Daimler Contemporary Berlin. Whereas Surfaces is a survey of Fleischmann's varied life, focusing on medical works made between 1917 and 1927, the Daimler Contemporary retrospective concentrates on Fleischmann's artistic career in the United States, between 1952 and 1965. The German-born Fleischmann trained as a graphic illustrator, then studied fine art in Stuttgart from 1911 to 1913. Heavily wounded in the First World War, he moved to neutral Switzerland in 1917 to work as a medical sculptor at Zurich's Surgical University Clinic. With the encouragement of the eminent moulage-maker Luise (Lotte) Volger and under clinic head and eminent surgeon Paul Clairmont, Fleischmann built up a unique collection of 400 surgical moulages over 10 years. These documented, in graphic 3D, trauma, pathological changes in the body, and therapeutic interventions visible on the patient's skin — such as wounds caused by strong electrical currents, swellings of the thyroid gland and side-effects of X-rays, such as skin atrophy. Impressive moulages of this kind will be on display at the Museum of Medical History. Medical moulage-making, which had begun in cities including Jena, Germany, in the early nineteenth century, blossomed from the 1850s in the European medical centres of London, Paris, Vienna and Berlin. Around 1900, it spread around the world, coexisting with photography and other forms of graphic medical illustration until the 1950s, when the colour slide finally reached a satisfactory technical standard. Creating a moulage involved taking a plaster cast of an area of the patient's skin and filling it with coloured liquid wax. Once detached, the wax shell was painted and finished from life to capture every nuance of form and colour, creating a perfect illusion for teaching. Although the process was clearly mimetic, the observational skill demanded was superb training for the artist's eye: in the topography of diseased and traumatized skin, Fleischmann could study organic form and detect graphic patterns and gradations of colour. Although Fleischmann's moulages are unsigned, he did sign other works in his medical oeuvre, indicating that he felt they stood out visually and even artistically. These are 30 histopathological drawings of skin tissue, held at the Zurich Moulage Museum and largely overlooked. In Zurich between 1918 and 1927, Fleischmann used a microscope to make unprecedentedly subtle and accurate ink drawings of the dermatological evidence of diseases, such as the scaly skin disorder ichthyosis vulgaris, Hodgkin's lymphoma or the systemic autoimmune condition lupus erythematosus. He documented the intricate details of complex structures and interactions of cells, nerves and veins, building his scientific understanding of visible organization and structure. As with the moulages, he reproduced form and colour; but with the drawings he also did more. There is a dynamical element in his mastery of line: the illustrations reveal a subtle movement, sublime gestures, the hidden contours under the skin. In these images, Fleischmann liberates himself as an artist. He had been striving to become a fine artist, and to be seen as one, since the 1920s in Zurich. Here, he was able to absorb expressionist and cubist artworks, in particular those of Munich's Blue Rider group, which included Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc. But his path to acceptance was long and strewn with obstacles. The rise of Nazism and the Second World War forced moves to France, Spain, Italy and, post-war, back to Paris. Studying the work of artistic luminaries Robert Delaunay and Piet Mondrian, he finally arrived at his own distinct style in 1950. Settling in New York City two years later, he produced a stream of outstanding abstract paintings and prints that drew heavily on the urban elements of his new home. Fleischmann only occasionally returned to medical imaging. However, there are hints of his microscopic drawings in several of his late works of art, such as the oil painting Composition 71 N.Y. (1956), highlighted in the Daimler Contemporary show. Rounded motifs call to mind a microscope lens, for instance, and intricate grids of horizontal and vertical lines — combined with the 'flickering' appearance of the colours — give the pieces a visual dynamic. Perhaps this is why Fleischmann's artworks, although radically abstract in composition, appear so breathtakingly lively.

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