Catania, Italy
Catania, Italy

The University of Catania is a university located in Catania, Italy, and founded in 1434. It is the oldest university in Sicily, the 13th oldest in Italy and the 29th oldest university in the world. With a population of over 60,000 students, it is the main university in Sicily. Wikipedia.


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Battiston F.,Queen Mary, University of London | Nicosia V.,Queen Mary, University of London | Latora V.,Queen Mary, University of London | Latora V.,University of Catania
European Physical Journal: Special Topics | Year: 2017

What do societies, the Internet, and the human brain have in common? They are all examples of complex relational systems, whose emerging behaviours are largely determined by the non-trivial networks of interactions among their constituents, namely individuals, computers, or neurons, rather than only by the properties of the units themselves. In the last two decades, network scientists have proposed models of increasing complexity to better understand real-world systems. Only recently we have realised that multiplexity, i.e. the coexistence of several types of interactions among the constituents of a complex system, is responsible for substantial qualitative and quantitative differences in the type and variety of behaviours that a complex system can exhibit. As a consequence, multilayer and multiplex networks have become a hot topic in complexity science. Here we provide an overview of some of the measures proposed so far to characterise the structure of multiplex networks, and a selection of models aiming at reproducing those structural properties and quantifying their statistical significance. Focusing on a subset of relevant topics, this brief review is a quite comprehensive introduction to the most basic tools for the analysis of multiplex networks observed in the real-world. The wide applicability of multiplex networks as a framework to model complex systems in different fields, from biology to social sciences, and the colloquial tone of the paper will make it an interesting read for researchers working on both theoretical and experimental analysis of networked systems. © 2017, The Author(s).


Falciglia P.P.,University of Catania | Malarbi D.,University of Catania | Vagliasindi F.G.A.,University of Catania
Electrochimica Acta | Year: 2016

In this work, the Hg removal potentiality of an electrokinetic (EK) decontamination treatment enhanced by a biodegradable complexing agent (MGDA) also in combination with a biodegradable surfactant (Tween®80) was investigated to decontaminate heavily contaminated marine sediments. The main results revealed that the nature of sediments and their interactions with different enhancing agents significantly influenced the remediation processes. A general increase of pH values along the sediment specimen was observed due to the strong buffering capacity of the carbonates, which are the main constituent minerals. This, in combination with the high organic matter and sulphide sediment content, resulted in very poor contaminant mobilization without any appropriate conditioning agents. The use of EDTA as a processing fluid resulted in a modest increase in Hg removal of ∼15%, whereas a further improvement in the Hg removal rate (∼39%) was achieved by replacing EDTA with MGDA as the anodic solution in response to its ability to form stable negative complexes with mercury, which can be moved towards the anode. A significantly higher Hg-removal of ∼71% was obtained by the simultaneous use of MGDA and Tween®80 due to their synergic action in remedial processes and, especially, due to the improved selective action of the non-ionic surfactant adopted in favour of organo-Hg-complex removal. Compared with other Hg-removal technologies, the investigated enhanced-EK treatment allows the achievement of remediation targets, which can hardly met by one-stage processes. The data can be useful for predicting the remediation activity responses, as well as for guiding the design and scaling-up of EK treatment of Hg-contaminated sediments. In addition, the knowledge of the investigated Hg-removal mechanism can provide basic information, which is helpful for improving the development of further novel enhanced-EK technologies. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd


Maggioni D.,University of Venice | Santangelo G.D.,University of Catania
Ecological Economics | Year: 2017

We add to the debate on the determinants of firms’ green investment strategies (GIS) by looking at societal stakeholders and explicitly testing the role of local environmental non-profit organizations (ENPOs) in GIS engagement by family and non-family firms. We argue that ENPOs favor GIS engagement only by family firms, which, due to their resource constraints, risk aversion and local embeddedness, are more sensitive to ENPOs normative pressure. We also suggest that the role of ENPOs is especially important for family firms’ GIS in those sectors with less stringent regulations, where ENPOs may act as a substitute for the coercive pressure of regulation, and promote firms’ self-regulatory behaviors. We test and find support for our arguments on a sample of about 2000 Italian manufacturing firms over the period 2001–2003. Our results are robust to the control of observable omitted variables, reverse causality and to alternative model specifications. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.


Capodanno D.,University of Catania | Angiolillo D.J.,Jacksonville University
JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions | Year: 2017

The introduction of bioresorbable vascular scaffolds (BVS) for clinical use has raised a number of questions on whether current dual-antiplatelet therapy (DAPT) recommendations after drug-eluting stent (DES) implantation, mostly deriving from data on second-generation DES, are also applicable to this completely different technology. This article aims to review the technical shortcomings of BVS—the most extensively studied fully bioresorbable coronary stent—and its contemporary rates of scaffold thrombosis, with a focus on recommendations for DAPT duration. © 2017 American College of Cardiology Foundation


Rosario L.,University of Catania | Francesco S.P.,University of Catania
Energy Procedia | Year: 2016

It is useful to know about whether one or more pollutants predominate in different parts of a city and contributes to evaluating the efficacy of a variety of counter-measures for lowering pollutants in urban areas. This paper compares Catania (Italy) air quality measured in 2003 with that in 2012. The investigation was carried out at four monitoring stations of the city's Air Quality Monitoring Network (AQMN). The monitoring station locations had not changed from 2003 to 2012. The impact of the city's primary and secondary pollutants was estimated from analyses of the daily concentrations of CO, SO2, PM10, NO2 andO3, and then by assembling the data into classes by applying Sturge's rule which provides the optimal number of intervals (or classes). Each class provides frequency density to make comparable intervals with different amplitudes. By analysing the frequency density intervals, the prevalence of a pollutant class could be highlighted and consequently linked to a range of representative concentrations in each urban area for each year analysed. Thus, after a decade, the decrease, stability or increase in a given pollutant could be defined providing a general overview of air quality traits in Catania and giving guidelines for pollution control policies. © 2016 The Authors.


OBJECTIVE:: To evaluate the efficacy of low concentrations of vaginal estriol gel in postmenopausal women with pelvic static disorders before and after vaginal surgical treatment, assessing vaginal health, sexual function, and quality of life (QoL). METHODS:: Women affected by genital prolapse were enrolled. Vaginal health, QoL, and sexual function were investigated at baseline (T0), before surgery (T1), and 13 weeks after surgery (T2). At baseline, participants were randomized 1:1. Women in group A (38 women) were treated daily with vaginal gel containing 50?μg estriol for 12 weeks and women in group B (37 women) did not receive any estrogen treatment. After this period and before surgery, a first examination was carried out (T1). One week after surgical treatment, group A underwent randomization 1:1 to group A1 repeating estriol vaginal gel for 12 weeks, and group A2 discontinuing the estrogen treatment. The second follow-up examination (T2) was performed at the 13th week after surgery. RESULTS:: All aspects of vaginal health improved in group A on estriol before surgery with respect to baseline (P?


Barbanti M.,University of Catania | Tamburino C.,University of Catania
EuroIntervention | Year: 2016

There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the durability of current transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) devices up to 5 years. However, it is well known that transcatheter aortic valves can degenerate in a manner similar to surgical bioprostheses. In this review we briefly discuss the modes of failure of transcatheter aortic valves and their potential management. © Europa Digital & Publishing 2016. All rights reserved.


Capodanno D.,University of Catania | Leon M.B.,Columbia University
EuroIntervention | Year: 2016

Over the past decade, approximately 15,000 patients have been randomised in clinical trials of transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI), and as many patients will be randomised in ongoing and future investigations aimed at broadening indications, comparing devices, simplifying the procedure, and optimising clinical outcomes. The purpose of this review is to summarise the rationale and design of upcoming studies in the field of TAVI. © Europa Digital & Publishing 2016. All rights reserved.


PURPOSE:: To evaluate the efficacy of an intravitreal dexamethasone (Dex) implant 0.7 mg compared with intravitreal ranibizumab (Ra) for the treatment of radiation maculopathy with macular edema secondary to plaque brachytherapy in choroidal melanoma. METHODS:: Eight patients were treated with intravitreal Ra, and eight patients received the Dex intravitreal implant. Visual acuity and foveal thickness were evaluated using spectral domain optical coherence tomography. RESULTS:: The mean calculated irradiation to the fovea and mean times from brachytherapy to maculopathy development did not differ significantly between groups. In the Ra group, a mean 7.8 ± 3.9 injections were given and the mean follow-up was 33 ± 15 months (range, 7–52 months). In the Dex group, a mean 2.1 ± 0.8 injections were given and the mean follow-up was 22 ± 7 months (range, 11–31 months). The mean visual acuity improved significantly from the baseline to the last follow-up visit in both groups. Foveal thickness decreased significantly in both groups from 459 ± 81 μm to 243 ± 58 μm and from 437 ± 71 μm to 254 ± 44 μm from the baseline to the last follow-up visit in the Ra and Dex groups, respectively. No patients developed significant cataract or ocular hypertension in both groups. CONCLUSION:: Both Ra and Dex are effective treatments for macular edema secondary to plaque brachytherapy for uveal melanoma. Dex-treated patients required fewer injections to achieve anatomical and functional improvement. © 2017 by Ophthalmic Communications Society, Inc.


PURPOSE:: To assess the effect of topical antibiotic prophylaxis on postoperative endophthalmitis after intravitreal injection of anti–vascular endothelial growth factor agents. METHODS:: A systematic literature search was performed from inception to March 2016 using PubMed, Medline, Web of Science, Embase, and the Cochrane Library, to identify articles that reported cases of endophthalmitis after intravitreal injection of anti–vascular endothelial growth factor agents. We used a pooled analysis to estimate the incidence of cases of endophthalmitis who developed after injections performed with and without topical antibiotic prophylaxis. We used regression analysis to explore the effects of study characteristics on heterogeneity. RESULTS:: From our search of electronic databases, we identified and screened 4,561 unique records. We judged 60 articles to have reported findings for cohorts of patients who met our inclusion criteria, (12 arms of randomized clinical trials, 11 prospective cohort studies, and 37 retrospective cohort studies), which included 244 cases of endophthalmitis and 639,391 intravitreal injections of anti–vascular endothelial growth factor agents. The final pooled estimate endophthalmitis proportions were 9/10,000 (95% confidence interval, 7/10,000–12/10,000) in the antibiotic-treated group and 3/10,000 (95% confidence interval, 2/10,000–5/10,000) in the untreated group. The estimated incidence of endophthalmitis with topical antibiotic prophylaxis was approximated three times the incidence without prophylaxis. Random effects regression showed that none of the study characteristics significantly affected the effect size in either group. CONCLUSION:: Topical antibiotic after intravitreal injection of anti–vascular endothelial growth factor agents is associated with a higher risk of endophthalmitis. © 2017 by Ophthalmic Communications Society, Inc.


Campisano A.,University of Catania | Lupia F.,Research Center for Policies and Bioeconomy
Urban Water Journal | Year: 2017

A dimensionless methodology to evaluate the water saving obtainable from large-scale implementation of domestic rain water harvesting (RWH) systems in urban areas is presented. The methodology combines the use of regressive relationships for water saving evaluation based on the results of the dimensionless rainwater tank water balance and of catchment-wide information obtained from geospatial databases. The adopted RWH scheme included internal use of rainwater for toilet flushing and external use for garden irrigation. An application to a portion of the city of Rome, Italy showed the methodology to allow systematic and accurate evaluation of RWH system performance at the selected urban scale. Results pointed out high water saving potential for toilet flushing ranging between 38–65% for tank sizes within 1–50 m3. Furthermore, more than one third of the systems provided water saving benefit for irrigation larger than 20% by using a 50 m3 tank. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group


Ancarani A.,University of Catania | Di Mauro C.,University of Catania | D'Urso D.,University of Catania
Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management | Year: 2016

Overconfidence has emerged as a significant explanation of behaviour in diverse managerial settings. In this paper, we explore the relevance of overconfidence for supply chain management by running a series of human experiments within the framework of the classic Beer Game. Unlike previous experimental studies, participants were knowledgeable about supply chain management, either being graduate students in Operations Management or purchasing professionals. Results of the study support the view that overconfidence may lead supply chain professionals to be less careful in the management of inventories and thus incur more costs. A first implication for organizations is that purchasing professionals should be trained to discount their expectations of success by removing this optimistic bias. A second is the importance of providing managers and employees with benchmarks that allow them to assess correctly their performance in relative terms. The study also underlines the effect of environmental uncertainty as an important contextual factor influencing overconfident behaviour. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd


Marano D.,National institute for astrophysics | Dario Grasso A.,University of Catania
2016 IEEE International Conference on Electronics, Circuits and Systems, ICECS 2016 | Year: 2016

In this paper, the traditional equivalent electrical model of silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs) is profitably extended to include the important effects of the read-out electronics on the shape of the output pulse waveforms. An improved analytical expression has been developed, which accurately reproduces the fast detector ignition, the avalanche self-quenching and the slow recharging operations, also taking into account both loading effect and bandwidth limitation of the coupled front-end. By means of the adopted analytical model, the SiPM dynamic response can be accurately mimicked and predicted, and reliable simulations can be also performed. Experimental tests on real detection systems corroborate the SiPM model and analytical results. © 2016 IEEE.


Messina F.,University of Catania | Sarne F.A.,Polytechnic of Milan
CEUR Workshop Proceedings | Year: 2016

In open virtual communities, thematic groups promote mutual cooperation among their members in order to reach specific targets. To this purpose, users share portions of their knowledge in a reciprocal understandable manner. For this aim, personal software agents are able to assist users by encoding personal information about preferences and goals into suitable profiles. In this work we present a multi-agent solution to manage knowledge shared by users across a number of common thematic groups. A common catalog is created for each thematic group of interest that, in turn, is associated with a group agent. The group agent is devoted to support the group by interacting with personal agents in order to manage the group affiliation process and enrich the common thematic catalog of its own group. In presence of heterogeneous agents, such a common group catalog is a key element to provide knowledge sharing and agent interoperability with both other personal and the group agents. In the proposed approach each user agent is able to personalize its own catalog and contribute to enrich that of its own group by collaborating with its group agent.


Mirone G.,University of Catania | Corallo D.,University of Catania | Barbagallo R.,University of Catania
International Journal of Impact Engineering | Year: 2017

This paper is firstly aimed at the quantitative evaluation of the error levels achievable in the dynamic characterization of ductile metals via Hopkinson bar tensile tests, ran according to the classical strain-gauge-based experimental procedure and to the enhanced high-speed-camera-assisted procedure. Also the effect of the specimen slenderness is investigated for checking the sensitivity of both the above techniques to different specimen geometries. Secondly, a material model is proposed here for the dynamic hardening, based on the experimental true stress and on a dynamic postnecking correction derived from the MLR function, originally developed for the quasistatic necking. Finally, the necking onset is demonstrated to freeze the sensitivity of the stress-strain curve to the strain rate; this feature, supported here by both experiments and finite elements analyses, is a novelty according to the authors knowledge, and might have a considerable impact on the whole dynamic characterization of ductile metals undergoing large postnecking strains before failure. © 2017


Ingrao C.,University of Catania | Gigli M.,University of Rome Tor Vergata | Siracusa V.,University of Catania
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2017

Food packaging systems mainly serve to contain and protect foods during their shelf-lives. However, it is well known that a package is responsible for several environmental impacts associated with its entire life-cycle. Therefore, package design should be developed taking into account not only cost, food shelf-life and safety, as well as user-friendliness, but also environmental sustainability. To address and improve this latter issue, environmental evaluation methodologies need to be applied: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is one amongst them, and can be considered a valid tool for this purpose. Indeed, it has been long applied in the food packaging field to highlight both environmental hotspots and improvement potentials for more eco-friendly products. In this context, this paper reports upon an LCA application experience in the production of foamy Polylactic Acid (PLA) trays for fresh-food packaging applications. The study highlighted that the highest environmental impacts come from the production and transport of the granules, so remarking the need to search for alternative biopolymers. In this regard, the results of this study will form the base for another one regarding the assessment of second-generation PLA granules, namely those produced by processing both wastes and wastewaters from starchy crop cultivation systems and processing plants. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd


Cuspilici A.,University of Catania | Monforte P.,University of Catania | Ragusa M.A.,University of Catania
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2017

Nowadays, particulate matter, especially that with small dimension as PM10, PM2.5 and PM1, is the air quality indicator most commonly associated with a number of adverse health effects. In this paper it is analyzed the impact that a natural event, such as the transport of Saharan dust, can have on increasing the particulate matter concentration in Sicily.Consulting the data of daily PM10 concentration, acquired by air quality monitoring network belonging to “Agenzia Regionale Protezionedell’ Ambiente” (Environmental Protection Regional Agency), it was possible to analyze the trend from 2013 to 2015. The days, in which the limit value was exceeded, were subjected to combined analysis. It was based on three models: interpretations of the air masses back-trajectories, using the atmospheric model HYSPLIT (HYbrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated trajectory); on the calculation of the concentration on the ground and at high altitude particulate applying DREAM model (Dust REgional atmospheric model) and on the calculation of the concentration of mineral aerosols according to the atmospheric optical thickness (AOT) applying NAAPS model (Navy Aerosol Analysis and Prediction System).The daily limit value exceedances were attributed to the transport of Saharan dust events exclusively when the three models were in agreement with each other. Identifying the natural events, it was possible to quantify the contribution of the Saharan dust and consequently the reduction of the exceedances number. To quantify the contribution of Saharan dust on daily PM10 concentration, it was calculated the regional background in according to precautionary approach recommended by “Guidance on the quantification of the contribution of natural sources under the EU Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC”, when the application of the method cannot be validated with chemical analysis, as in this case. In this study is obtained, as the most important quantitative goal, the convergence of the three models to the same result. So, is evident that exceedances of the daily limit value that occurred from 2013 to 2015 in Sicily can be attributed, in most cases, to the Saharan dust intrusion. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd


Romano P.,National institute for astrophysics | Falco M.,National institute for astrophysics | Guglielmino S.L.,University of Catania | Murabito M.,University of Catania
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2017

We describe high-resolution observations of a GOES B-class flare characterized by a circular ribbon at the chromospheric level, corresponding to the network at the photospheric level. We interpret the flare as a consequence of a magnetic reconnection event that occurred at a three-dimensional (3D) coronal null point located above the supergranular cell. The potential field extrapolation of the photospheric magnetic field indicates that the circular chromospheric ribbon is cospatial with the fan footpoints, while the ribbons of the inner and outer spines look like compact kernels. We found new interesting observational aspects that need to be explained by models: (1) a loop corresponding to the outer spine became brighter a few minutes before the onset of the flare; (2) the circular ribbon was formed by several adjacent compact kernels characterized by a size of 1″-2″; (3) the kernels with a stronger intensity emission were located at the outer footpoint of the darker filaments, departing radially from the center of the supergranular cell; (4) these kernels started to brighten sequentially in clockwise direction; and (5) the site of the 3D null point and the shape of the outer spine were detected by RHESSI in the low-energy channel between 6.0 and 12.0 keV. Taking into account all these features and the length scales of the magnetic systems involved in the event, we argue that the low intensity of the flare may be ascribed to the low amount of magnetic flux and to its symmetric configuration. © 2017. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved..


Stift M.J.,Armagh Observatory | Leone F.,University of Catania | Leone F.,National institute for astrophysics
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2017

Empirical abundance maps derived with the help of Zeeman Doppler mapping are found to be at variance with the predictions of numerical models of atomic diffusion in magnetic atmospheres of ApBp stars. Although theory has often been made responsible for this lack of agreement, direct spectral synthesis based on the published abundance maps reveals that all the chemical inhomogeneities claimed for HD 3980 are entirely spurious, and those of HD 50773 to a large extent. In the former case, this is shown to be due to the neglect of a strong magnetic field, and in the latter case, due to noisy spectra in combination with considerable rotational broadening and ensuing strong line blending. Doppler maps for other magnetic ApBp stars could be affected by similar problems. It is also pointed out that the patchy, extreme overabundances in HD 3980 cannot be reconciled with the theory of stellar atmospheres. © 2016 The Authors.


Di Pasquale G.,University of Catania | Pollicino A.,University of Catania
Journal of Nanomaterials | Year: 2017

Montmorillonite/polystyrene nanocomposites were prepared by in situ photopolymerization of styrene in the presence of 2% by weight of clay organomodified by two new imidazolium surfactants having in their structure an alkyl chain with 20 or 22 carbon atoms, respectively. Thermogravimetry showed that the new surfactants are more thermally stable than conventional alkylammonium surfactants. The properties of the obtained nanocomposites were compared with those of pristine polystyrene, with those of a microcomposite obtained by in situ polymerization of styrene in the presence of unmodified clay, and with those of a nanocomposite obtained starting from an organomodified clay with a short alkyl chain (12 carbon atoms) imidazolium surfactant. XRD, TEM, and rheological analysis showed that the clay/PS nanocomposites have a mixture of intercalated and partially exfoliated structure layers, where the higher the surfactant alkyl chain length, the higher the exfoliation degree. Kinetics curve of accelerated UV aging, obtained by following through infrared spectroscopy the increase of carbonyl functions during aging, showed that the rate of photooxidation of clay containing samples is higher than neat polystyrene. The rate is higher as a function of the degree of dispersion of the filler in the polymer matrix. © 2017 Giovanna Di Pasquale and Antonino Pollicino.


Giordano F.,University of Catania
Nuovo Cimento della Societa Italiana di Fisica C | Year: 2017

After a period of maintenance the LHC was restarted in 2015 delivering p-p collisions at a larger center of mass energy of 13 TeV. This new achievement by the machine opened the phase space of many searches for physics beyond the standard model (BSM). In this review a summary of the searches for supersymmetry (SUSY) pursued by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations is presented, covering a broad number of models and scenarios. Even at this early stage the new searches greatly extend the reach of the previous Run1 analyses limiting the phase space for natural SUSY to exist. © CERN on behalf of the ATLAS and CMS Collaborations.


Bentivegna E.,University of Catania
Physical Review D | Year: 2017

The applications of numerical relativity to cosmology are on the rise, contributing insight into such cosmological problems as structure formation, primordial phase transitions, gravitational-wave generation, and inflation. In this paper, I present the infrastructure for the computation of inhomo-geneous dust cosmologies which was used recently to measure the effect of nonlinear inhomogeneity on the cosmic expansion rate. I illustrate the code's architecture, provide evidence for its correctness in a number of familiar cosmological settings, and evaluate its parallel performance for grids of up to several billion points. The code, which is available as free software, is based on the Einstein Toolkit infrastructure, and in particular leverages the automated-code-generation capabilities provided by its component Kranc.


Buscemi M.,University of Catania | Buscemi M.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy
Nuovo Cimento della Societa Italiana di Fisica C | Year: 2017

The Pierre Auger Observatory is the largest observatory in the world for the detection of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays. The Auger Collaboration started collecting data in 2004, and, so far, results have led to many significant discoveries in this field but also to puzzling observations. To answer all the key questions that are still open it was decided to extend the operation of the Observatory up to 2024 and to enhance its capability in identifying the mass of the primary cosmic rays. Motivations for the upgrade will be described together with some hardware characteristics of the project. © CERN on behalf of the ATLAS and CMS Collaborations.


Oliveri V.,University of Catania | Oliveri V.,Consorzio Interuniversitario Of Ricerca In Chimica Dei Metalli Nei Sistemi Biologici | Bellia F.,CNR Institute of Biostructure and Bioimaging | Vecchio G.,University of Catania
Chemistry - A European Journal | Year: 2017

Cyclodextrins are used as building blocks for the development of a host of polymeric biomaterials. The cyclodextrin polymers have found numerous applications as they exhibit unique features such as mechanical properties, stimuli responsiveness and drug loading ability. Notwithstanding the abundance of cyclodextrin polymers studied, metal-chelating polymers based on cyclodextrins have been poorly explored. Herein we report the synthesis and the characterization of the first metal-chelating β-cyclodextrin polymer bearing 8-hydroxyquinoline ligands. The metal ions (Cu2+ or Zn2+) can modulate the assembly of the polymer nanoparticles. Moreover, the protective activity of the new chelating polymer against self- and metal-induced Aβ aggregation and free radical species are significantly higher than those of the parent compounds. These synergistic effects suggest that the incorporation of hydroxyquinoline moieties into a soluble β-cyclodextrin polymer could represent a promising strategy to design multifunctional biomaterials. © 2017 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim


Salomone F.,Ospedale di Acireale | Galvano F.,University of Catania | Volti G.L.,University of Catania
Nutrients | Year: 2017

Coffee is the most consumed beverage worldwide. Epidemiological studies with prospective cohorts showed that coffee intake is associated with reduced cardiovascular and all-cause mortality independently of caffeine content. Cohort and case-control studies reported an inverse association between coffee consumption and the degree of liver fibrosis as well as the development of liver cancer. Furthermore, the beneficial effects of coffee have been recently confirmed by large meta-analyses. In the last two decades, various in vitro and in vivo studies evaluated the molecular determinants for the hepatoprotective effects of coffee. In the present article, we aimed to critically review experimental evidence regarding the active components and the molecular bases underlying the beneficial role of coffee against chronic liver diseases. Almost all studies highlighted the beneficial effects of this beverage against liver fibrosis with the most solid results indicating a pivot role for both caffeine and chlorogenic acids. In particular, in experimental models of fibrosis, caffeine was shown to inhibit hepatic stellate cell activation by blocking adenosine receptors, and emerging evidence indicated that caffeine may also favorably impact angiogenesis and hepatic hemodynamics. On the other side, chlorogenic acids, potent phenolic antioxidants, suppress liver fibrogenesis and carcinogenesis by reducing oxidative stress and counteract steatogenesis through the modulation of glucose and lipid homeostasis in the liver. Overall, these molecular insights may have translational significance and suggest that coffee components need clinical evaluation. © 2017 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


Cherubini S.,University of Catania
Nuovo Cimento della Societa Italiana di Fisica C | Year: 2016

During the last two decades indirect methods where proposed and used in many experiments in order to measure nuclear cross sections between charged particles at stellar energies. These are among the lowest to be measured in nuclear physics. One of these methods, the Trojan Horse method, is based on the Quasi- Free reaction mechanism and has proved to be particularly flexible and reliable. It allowed for the measurement of the cross sections of various reactions of astrophysical interest using stable beams. The use and reliability of indirect methods become even more important when reactions induced by Radioactive Ion Beams are considered, given the much lower intensity generally available for these beams. The first Trojan Horse measurement of a process involving the use of a Radioactive Ion Beam dealt with the 18F(p,α)15O process in Nova conditions. To obtain pieces of information on this process, in particular about its cross section at Nova energies, the Trojan Horse method was applied to the 18F(d,α 15O)n three body reaction. In order to establish the reliability of the Trojan Horse method approach, the Treiman-Yang criterion is an important test and it will be addressed briefly in this paper.


Marchese D.,University of Catania
Critica Letteraria | Year: 2016

Marinetti, Palazzeschi, Boccioni and other major exponents of Futurism celebrate provocatively the charm and worth of a body modified and embellished" by war and modernity. A body mutilated, deformed, pierced with iron and fire, but also turned into food, materially and metaphorically; a body whose reproductive functions ought to take place artificially, rewriting the rela-tionship between man and woman; a body whose anticlassical canon is proudly pursued in the search for all that is ugly and disharmonious, turning viewpoints and style upside down so as to point out the pressing need for change and for a rupture with old-fashioned modes of writing.


Mastrosimone A.,University of Catania | Panno D.,University of Catania
Wireless Networks | Year: 2017

Mobile connectivity is a vital requirement for people’s everyday life. Users would like to have unlimited access to information for anyone, anywhere, and anytime, especially in public means of transport where they spend a lot of time travelling. The connectivity to Internet becomes difficult for passengers because public transportation vehicles suffer from the low quality signal from the outside wireless network. A first solution to improve the broadband connectivity is to deploy more eNodeBs close to busses or train routes, but it requires high investment for providers and a higher complexity in managing the increasing number of handover. The rapid growth in the deployment of LTE femtocells for indoor use and their benefits have led many authors to propose using them even in vehicles, implementing the so-called Moving Networks. This paper shows that the use of pure LTE mobile femtocells exhibits relevant issues in terms of interference and consequently poor performance in a realistic use. In order to overcome these issues, we propose to adopt the millimeter Wave (mmWave) technology in the Moving Networks, creating the Hybrid Mobile Femtocells. In the paper we discuss the concerns arising from applying mmWave communications at 60 GHz inside vehicles. We provide a new throughput analysis in order to benchmark our proposal to the solutions presented in literature. Furthermore, we analyse the system performance in two different scenarios: a sub-urban setup and in an urban configuration where different kind of cells are deployed. The results obtained by Matlab simulations, show a noticeable improvement of the global system throughput by using Hybrid Mobile Femtocells. © 2017 Springer Science+Business Media New York


Bellia C.,University of Catania | Pilato M.,The University of Winchester | Seraphin H.,The University of Winchester
Quality - Access to Success | Year: 2017

The issues of quality and food safety, as a resource for the enterprise that adopts them, and consequently a source of competitive advantage, they are, today, spread far beyond the borders of Europe and receive progressively greater attention at international level, even in virtue of a widespread and more intense consumer attention towards the content of tangible and intangible services that accompany food. The importance assumed by the new major global players, the change in lifestyle, the role played by large-scale distribution have made “food” one of the globalizing phenomena in absolute terms and, at the same time, one of the areas of consumption of more hedonistic content. In particular, the agri-food quality production is a topic of considerable interest, not only within the scientific community and the complex entrepreneurial system called into question with numerous production chains involved, but also for the final consumer. This paper is divided into two parts, the first part will limit the analysis to the literature, the empirical research, economic models with the aim of creating a framework, which does not have the claim to being exhaustive, but placing the reader in a position to acquire a comprehensive overview on the subject, it is able to put out some critical points. In the second part we will try to assess the importance of quality certifications from the signs of indication of geographical origin (PDO, PGI), as a competitive advantage factor in the analysis of profitability differentials-competitiveness. In particular, it will be analysed the case of the firms of the Consortium for the protection of PGI table grapes of Mazzarrone with particular reference to access to markets, and the recognition to the the firm to pay a premium price for the adoption of the distinctive sign of origin, compared to the selling price of a product not certified. © 2017, SRAC - Societatea Romana Pentru Asigurarea Calitatii. All rights reserved.


Siracusa V.,University of Catania | Ingrao C.,University of Catania
Polymer Testing | Year: 2017

Permeability of gases in polymers depends strongly upon the polymer structure, the gas type, as well as the conditions of temperature and film thickness. The in-use temperature and thickness of the polymer membrane can play the most important role on preservation and prolongation of food shelf-life. In this work the gas transmission parameters of six Bi-axially Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP) films were investigated as a function of temperature, gas type and thickness. O2, CO2, N2, N2O, C2H4, Air (79%N2/21%O2) and Modified Atmosphere (MA) of 79%N2O/21%O2 were used as test gas. In order to understand the kinetic of the process, by the activation energy determination, samples were tested at a different temperature, from 10 °C to 40 °C. Gas Transmission Rate (GTR), solubility (S) and diffusion (D) relationship was investigated. The gas/thickness/temperature correlation was reflected in the obtained perm-selectivity ratios and a good linear correlation was found only at 23 °C. Deviations recorded were attributed to temperature fluctuations. Gas transmission process follows the Arrhenius model while the solubility/diffusion process shows consistent deviation, correlated to the temperature and the thickness of the film. By Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) a different crystallinity percentage was recorded, whose influence was evidenced only in the sorption/diffusion processes. The melting temperature remained unchanged. FT-IR Spectroscopy was also carried out to confirm the morphology. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd


We tested the effects of microiontophoretic application of serotonin (5-HT) on the firing rate of neurons located in the gracile nucleus (GN) of rats. Application of 5-HT1A and 5-HT2 agonists and antagonists respectively mimicked/ modulated and blocked the effects produced by the amine, respectively. Among the tested neurons, 88.2% modified their background firing activity in the presence of 5-HT. Responsive neurons decreased their mean firing activity (MFA) in 56.7% of cases and increased it in the remaining 43.3%. To ascertain the specificity of the effects induced by 5-HT, we utilized 8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino) tetralin (8-OH-DPAT) and alpha-methyl-5-hydroxytryptamine (α-MET-5-HT), agonists for 5-HT1A and 5-HT2 receptors, respectively. The microiontophoresis of 8-OH-DPAT modified the background firing rate of all GN neurons (100% of tested neurons) mimicking the decrease of MFA evoked by 5-HT. The application of a-MET-5-HT modified the MFA in 76.9% of tested neurons, decreasing it in 61.5% of cases and increasing in the remaining 23.1%. The decrease of MFA induced by 8-OH-DPAT was antagonized by application of the 5-HT1A receptor antagonist N-[2-[-(2-Methoxyphenyl)-1-piperazinyl]ethyl]-N-2-pyridinylcyclohexanecarboxamide maleate salt (WAY100635), while application of 5-HT2 receptor antagonist ketanserine tartrate (KET) antagonized only the increase of MFA induced by a-MET-5-HT. These results indicate that 5-HT is able to modulate the background firing activity of GN neurons by 5-HT1A and 5-HT2 receptors.


Falciglia P.P.,University of Catania | Scandura P.,University of Catania | Vagliasindi F.G.A.,University of Catania
Journal of Soils and Sediments | Year: 2017

Purpose: Microwave heating (MWH) has been recently proposed as a high-performance technique for the remediation of soils contaminated with organic pollutants. However, despite MWH potential advantages, it is scarcely applied due to the lack of full-scale in situ detailed studies. In this work, the in situ MWH applicability for the remediation of hydrocarbon-polluted soils was assessed by means of a specific energy and economic analysis. Essential technical information has also been purchased. Materials and methods: Energy and economic analysis was performed using data obtained from modelling for which a dedicated equation-based process computer code simulating MWH phenomena was adopted. Elaborations involved the assessment of the influence of soil texture and moisture as well as operating conditions (supplied power and time) on electric field penetration into the soils and soil temperature variation as a function of time and radial distance from the irradiation source. Results and discussion: Main results reveal that sandy soils are more penetrable by MW irradiation with respect to clayey ones. The soil MW penetrability was also observed to increase with decreasing the soil moisture. This was in turn reflected in the soil temperature profiles. However, the major effect on MWH effectiveness is ascribable by the changing of the operating power. In fact, the use of magnetrons with powers lower than 3 kW does not ensure enough microwave penetration into the soil and, therefore, is not suitable for in situ activities, whereas the application of a power of 6 kW led to a maximum treatable radius of 145 cm. In terms of energy consumption, calculation showed that almost 3 days more are in general required to remediate clayey soils with respect to sandy ones. Consequently, the economic analysis revealed that energy costs for sandy soils are about 3 € t−1 lower than those required for clayey soils. Furthermore, the application of a power of 6 instead of 3 kW results in a higher total energy cost, which, jointly with the higher soil volume treatable, leads to almost equal specific costs. Conclusions: The comparison of calculated costs with those of other available clean-up technologies for hydrocarbon-contaminated soils shows that very short remediation times and energy costs obtained (18–27 € t−1) make in situ MWH a deliverable alternative to conventional thermal desorption or physical-chemical techniques. © 2017 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg


Sanfilippo R.,University of Catania | Rosso A.,University of Catania | Reitano A.,Museo di Storia Naturale di Comiso | Insacco G.,Museo di Storia Naturale di Comiso
Acta Palaeontologica Polonica | Year: 2017

Some tubular fossils attributable to sabellids and serpulids, and a serpulid operculum are described for the first time from the Wordian to upper Permian "Pietra di Salomone", "Rupe di San Calogero", and "Rupe di San Benedetto" limestones (Sosio Valley, western Sicily, Italy). Tubes are attached to skeletons of sponges, crinoids, brachiopods and stromatoporoids. The material consists of about twenty incomplete tubes (attached and free portions) and includes some small tubes, ca. 0.2 mm wide, belonging to the sabellid Glomerula (with the species G. testatrix comb. nov. and G. gemmellaroi sp. nov.), the serpulid Filograna sp., and large-sized tubes, up to 3 mm wide, belonging to three newly described serpulids: Propomatoceros permianus sp. nov., "Serpula" distefanoi sp. nov., and Serpulidae sp. indet. They are triangular or circular in cross-sections, and display growth lines and/or ornamentations (keels or ribs) on their outer surfaces. Furthermore, an opercular cup referable to those assigned to the genus Pyrgopolon, is also described under the name P. gaiae sp. nov. All specimens show large secondary calcite crystals in their tubes, the original structure being biased by diagenesis. Material represents the first evidence of genuine calcareous tube-dwelling polychaetes from the Palaeozoic, and possibly so far unknown ancestral representatives of the families Sabellidae and Serpulidae. The tubeworm association together with the invertebrates upon which they settled, presumably lived in an exposed shallow-water palaeoenvironment, at the outer edge of a carbonate platform. Copyright © 2017 R. Sanfilippo et al.


Porto S.M.C.,University of Catania | D'Emilio A.,University of Catania | Cascone G.,University of Catania
Journal of Agricultural Engineering | Year: 2017

Among the causes that influence cow welfare, heat stress induced by microclimatic conditions is one of the most relevant and many studies have investigated the efficacy of different cooling systems on animal health status. Nevertheless, the direct influence of the cooling systems on possible modifications of dairy cow behaviour has been addressed in a few studies and the related results were affected by the presence of a paddock, which gave a refuge from hot temperature. Since an alteration of the daily time budget spent by dairy cows in their usual activities can be associated with changes in their health status, this study investigated the effects of the alternation of two different cooling systems on lying, standing, and feeding behaviour of a group of dairy cows bred in a free-stall dairy house where animals had no access to a paddock. The barn was equipped with a fogging system associated with forced ventilation installed in the resting area and a sprinkler system associated with forced ventilation installed in the feeding area. The two systems were activated alternately. The results demonstrated that the management of the two cooling systems affected the analysed behaviours. Though the activation of the cooling system installed in the resting area encouraged the decubitus of animals in the stalls, the activation of that one of the feeding alley could not be able to influence the standing behaviour and had only a moderate positive influence on the feeding activity. © M. Bijankhan and V. Ferro, 2017.


Siringo F.,University of Catania
EPJ Web of Conferences | Year: 2017

Generalized dispersion relations are discussed for unphysical particles, e.g. confined degrees of freedom that are not present in the physical spectra but can give rise to observable bound states. While in general the propagator of the unphysical particles can have complex poles and cannot be reconstructed from the knowledge of the imaginary part, under reasonable assumptions the missing piece of information is shown to be in the rational function that contains the poles and must be added to the integral representation. For pure Yang-Mills theory, the rational part and the spectral term are identified in the explicit analytical expressions provided by the massive expansion of the gluon propagator. The multi particle spectral term turns out to be very small and the simple rational part provides, from first principles, an approximate propagator that is equivalent to the tree-level result of simple phenomenological models like the refined Gribov-Zwanziger model. © The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2017.


Lanzoni S.,University of Padua | Gregoretti C.,University of Padua | Stancanelli L.M.,University of Catania
Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface | Year: 2017

A systematic set of flume experiments is used to investigate the features of velocity profiles within the body of coarse-grained debris flows and the dependence of the transport sediment concentration on the relevant parameters (runoff discharge, bed slope, grain size, and form). The flows are generated in a 10 m long laboratory flume, initially filled with a layer consisting of loose debris. After saturation, a prescribed water discharge is suddenly supplied over the granular bed, and the runoff triggers a debris flow wave that reaches nearly steady conditions. Three types of material have been used in the tests: gravel with mean grain size of 3 and 5 mm, and 3 mm glass spheres. Measured parameters included: triggering water discharge, volumetric sediment discharge, sediment concentration, flow depth, and velocity profiles. The dynamic similarity with full-sized debris flows is discussed on the basis of the relevant dimensionless parameters. Concentration data highlight the dependence on the slope angle and the importance of the quasi-static friction angle. The effects of flow rheology on the shape of velocity profiles are analyzed with attention to the role of different stress-generating mechanisms. A remarkable collapse of the dimensionless profiles is obtained by scaling the debris flow velocity with the runoff velocity, and a power law characterization is proposed following a heuristic approach. The shape of the profiles suggests a smooth transition between the different rheological regimes (collisional and frictional) that establish in the upper and lower regions of the flow and is compatible with the presence of multiple length scales dictated by the type of contacts (instantaneous or long lasting) between grains. © 2017. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


Panto B.,University of Catania | Calio I.,University of Catania | Lourenco P.B.,University of Minho
Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering | Year: 2017

Many reinforced concrete buildings have been built with masonry infill walls for architectural needs without considering their mechanical contribution. However, ignoring the structural influence of infills may lead to significant inaccuracies in the prediction of the actual seismic capabilities of the structure. Aiming at providing numerical tools suitable for engineering practice, simplified methodologies for predicting the nonlinear seismic behaviour of infilled frame structures (IFS) have been proposed, mostly considering the contribution of the infill as an equivalent diagonal strut element. In this paper, an alternative plane macro-element approach for the seismic assessment of IFS is proposed, validated and applied to a benchmark prototype building. The model validation is focused on recent experimental and numerical results that investigate the influence of non-structural infills, also in the presence of different openings layouts. As a benchmark investigation, a multi-storey plane frame prototype, for which the results of pseudo-dynamic tests are available, is investigated and compared to the results obtained by using a commonly adopted single-strut model. The merits and drawbacks of the considered numerical approaches are highlighted. © 2017 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht


Suma P.,University of Catania | Longo S.,University of Catania
EPPO Bulletin | Year: 2017

The bougainvillea mealybug, Phenacoccus peruvianus Granara de Willink (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), was first detected in Sicily in 2002 at high population levels on Bougainvillea glabra Choisy (Nyctaginaceae). In 2016, during a recent monitoring activity, natural enemies of this pest were detected for the first time. This report represents the first identification of P. peruvianus parasitoids in Italy and some information on the recovered entomophagous species is provided. © 2017 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2017 OEPP/EPPO


Siringo F.,University of Catania
EPJ Web of Conferences | Year: 2017

Analytical functions for the propagators of QCD, including a set of chiral quarks, are derived by a one-loop massive expansion in the Landau gauge, and are studied in Minkowski space, yielding a direct proof of positivity violation and confinement from first principles. Complex conjugated poles are found for the gluon propagator. © The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2017.


Siringo F.,University of Catania
EPJ Web of Conferences | Year: 2017

A universal behavior is predicted for ghost and gluon propagators in the infrared. The universal behavior is shown to be a signature of a one-loop approximation and emerges naturally by the massive expansion that predicts universal analytical functions for the inverse dressing functions that do not depend on any parameter or color number. By a scaling of units and by adding an integration constant, all lattice data, for different color numbers (and even quark content for the ghosts), collapse on the same universal curves predicted by the massive expansion. © The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2017.


Bosco M.,University of Catania | Marino E.M.,University of Catania | Rossi P.P.,University of Catania
Engineering Structures | Year: 2017

Several research studies have proved the beneficial effects resulting from the presence of moment resisting frames and braced frames in dual structural systems. Nonetheless, Eurocode 8 provides design rules only for dual systems with moment resisting frames and concentrically braced frames and thus ignores that moment resisting frames may beneficially combine with other types of braced frames. In this paper, a design procedure for dual systems with moment resisting frames and eccentrically braced frames is proposed based on the current design provisions of Eurocode 8 for dual structures with moment resisting frames and concentrically braced frames. To evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed procedure, the seismic response of the designed systems is evaluated through incremental nonlinear dynamic analysis. The buildings considered are founded on hard or soft soil and are characterised by different values of the link length and number of storeys. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd


Greco V.,University of Catania
Journal of Physics: Conference Series | Year: 2017

This is an overview of the main theoretical developments presented at SQM2016 held in Berkeley, California (USA) in June 2015. © Published under licence by IOP Publishing Ltd.


Scapellato A.,University of Catania
AIP Conference Proceedings | Year: 2017

Aim of this study is to obtain an interior estimate for the solution of the Dirichlet problem for a linear elliptic partial differential equations having the coefficients of the principal part that belong to the Sarason class VMO of functions with vanishing mean oscillation. In order to obtain the desidered result we use some estimates for singular integral operators and commutators on Generalized Local Morrey Spaces. © 2017 Author(s).


Ragusa M.A.,University of Catania | Tachikawa A.,Tokyo University of Science
AIP Conference Proceedings | Year: 2017

Our main goal is the study some regularity results where are considered estimates in Morrey spaces for the derivatives of local minimizers of variational integrals of the form A (u,Ω)= ∫ΩF(x,u,Du)dx where Ω is a bounded domain in rm and the integrand F have some different forms. © 2017 Author(s).


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: physicsworld.com

Taken from the May 2017 issue of Physics World Powerful computers are now allowing cosmologists to solve Einstein’s frighteningly complex equations of general relativity in a cosmological setting for the first time. Tom Giblin, James Mertens and Glenn Starkman describe how this new era of simulations could transform our understanding of the universe From the Genesis story in the Old Testament to the Greek tale of Gaia (Mother Earth) emerging from chaos and giving birth to Uranus (the god of the sky), people have always wondered about the universe and woven creation myths to explain why it looks the way it does. One hundred years ago, however, Albert Einstein gave us a different way to ask that question. Newton’s law of universal gravitation, which was until then our best theory of gravity, describes how objects in the universe interact. But in Einstein’s general theory of relativity, space–time (the marriage of space and time) itself evolves together with its contents. And so cosmology, which studies the universe and its evolution, became at least in principle a modern science – amenable to precise description by mathematical equations, able to make firm predictions, and open to observational tests that could falsify those predictions. Our understanding of the mathematics of the universe has advanced alongside observations of ever-increasing precision, leading us to an astonishing contemporary picture. We live in an expanding universe in which the ordinary material of our everyday lives – protons, neutrons and electrons – makes up only about 5% of the contents of the universe. Roughly 25% is in the form of “dark matter” – material that behaves like ordinary matter as far as gravity is concerned, but is so far invisible except through its gravitational pull. The other 70% of the universe is something completely different, whose gravity pushes things apart rather than pulling them together, causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate over the last few billion years. Naming this unknown substance “dark energy” teaches us nothing about its true nature. Now, a century into its work, cosmology is brimming with existential questions. If there is dark matter, what is it and how can we find it? Is dark energy the energy of empty space, also known as vacuum energy, or is it the cosmological constant, Λ, as first suggested by Einstein in 1917? He introduced the constant after mistakenly thinking it would stop the universe from expanding or contracting, and so – in what he later called his “greatest blunder” – failed to predict the expansion of the universe, which was discovered a dozen years later. Or is one or both of these invisible substances a figment of the cosmologist’s imagination and it is general relativity that must be changed? At the same time as being faced with these fundamental questions, cosmologists are testing their currently accepted model of the universe – dubbed ΛCDM – to greater and greater precision observationally. (CDM indicates the dark-matter particles are cold because they must move slowly, like the molecules in a cold drink, so as not to evaporate from the galaxies they help bind together.) And yet, while we can use general relativity to describe how the universe expanded throughout its history, we are only just starting to use the full theory to model specific details and observations of how galaxies, clusters of galaxies and superclusters are formed and created. How this happens is simple – the equations of general relativity aren’t. While they fit neatly onto a T-shirt or a coffee mug, Einstein’s field equations are horrible to solve even using a computer. The equations involve 10 separate functions of the four dimensions of space and time, which characterize the curvature of space–time in each location, along with 40 functions describing how those 10 functions change, as well as 100 further functions describing how those 40 changes change, all multiplied and added together in complicated ways. Exact solutions exist only in highly simplified approximations to the real universe. So for decades cosmologists have used those idealized solutions and taken the departures from them to be small perturbations – reckoning, in particular, that any departures from homogeneity can be treated independently from the homogeneous part and from one another. This “first-order perturbation theory” has taught us a lot about the early development of cosmic structures – galaxies, clusters of galaxies and superclusters – from barely perceptible concentrations of matter and dark matter in the early universe. The theory also has the advantage that we can do much of the analysis by hand, and follow the rest on computer. But to track the development of galaxies and other structures from after they were formed to the present day, we’ve mostly reverted to Newton’s theory of gravity, which is probably a good approximation. To make progress, we will need to improve on first-order perturbation theory, which treats cosmic structures as independent entities that are affected by the average expansion of the universe, but neither alter the average expansion themselves, nor influence one another. Unfortunately, higher-order perturbation theory is much more complicated – everything affects everything else. Indeed, it’s not clear there is anything to gain from using these higher-order approximations rather than “just solving” the full equations of general relativity instead. Improving the precision of our calculations – how well we think we know the answer – is one thing, as discussed above. But the complexity of Einstein’s equations has made us wonder just how accurate the perturbative description really is. In other words, it might give us answers, but are they the right ones? Nonlinear equations, after all, can have surprising features that appear unexpectedly when you solve them in their full glory, and it is hard to predict surprises. Some leading cosmologists, for example, claim that the accelerating expansion of the universe, which dark energy was invented to explain, is caused instead by the collective effects of cosmic structures in the universe acting through the magic of general relativity. Other cosmologists argue this is nonsense. The only way to be sure is to use the full equations of general relativity. And the good news is that computers are finally becoming fast enough that modelling the universe using the full power of general relativity – without the traditional approximations – is not such a crazy prospect. With some hard work, it may finally be feasible over the next decade. Numerical general relativity itself is not new. As far back as the late 1950s, Richard Arnowitt, Stanley Deser and Charles Misner – together known as ADM – laid out a basic framework in which space–time could be carefully separated into space and time – a vital first step in solving general relativity with a computer. Other researchers also got in on the act, including Thomas Baumgarte, Stuart Shapiro, Masaru Shibata and Takashi Nakamura, who made important improvements to the numerical properties of the ADM system in the 1980s and 1990s so that the dynamics of systems could be followed accurately over long enough times to be interesting. Other techniques for obtaining such long-time stability were also developed, including one imported from fluid mechanics. Known as adaptive mesh refinement, it allowed scarce computer memory resources to be focused only on those parts of problems where they were needed most. Such advances have allowed numerical relativists to simulate with great precision what happens when two black holes merge and create gravitational waves – ripples in space–time. The resulting images are more than eye candy; they were essential in allowing members of the US-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) collaboration to announce last year that they had directly detected gravitational waves for the first time. By modelling many different possible configurations of pairs of black holes – different masses, different spins and different orbits – LIGO’s numerical relativists produced a template of the gravitational-wave signal that would result in each case. Other researchers then compared those simulations over and over again to what the experiment had been measuring, until the moment came when a signal was found that matched one of the templates. The signal in question was coming to us from a pair of black holes a billion light-years away spiralling into one another and merging to form a single larger black hole. Using numerical relativity to model cosmology has its own challenges compared to simulating black-hole mergers, which are just single astrophysical events. Some qualitative cosmological questions can be answered by reasonably small-scale simulations, and there are state-of-the-art “N-body” simulations that use Newtonian gravity to follow trillions of independent masses over billions of years to see where gravity takes them. But general relativity offers at least one big advantage over Newtonian gravity – it is local. The difficulty with calculating the gravity experienced by any particular mass in a Newtonian simulation is that you need to add up the effects of all the other masses. Even Isaac Newton himself regarded this “action at a distance” as a failing of his model, since it means that information travels from one side of the simulated universe to the other instantly, violating the speed-of-light limit. In general relativity, however, all the equations are “local”, which means that to determine the gravity at any time or location you only need to know what the gravity and matter distribution were nearby just moments before. This should, in other words, simplify the numerical calculations. Recently, the three of us at Kenyon College and Case Western Reserve University showed that the cosmological problem is finally becoming tractable (Phys. Rev. Lett. 116 251301 and Phys. Rev. D 93 124059). Just days after our paper appeared, Eloisa Bentivegna at the University of Catania in Italy and Marco Bruni at the University of Portsmouth, UK, had similar success (Phys. Rev. Lett. 116 251302). The two groups each presented the results of low-resolution simulations, where grid points are separated by 40 million light-years, with only long-wavelength perturbations. The simulations followed the universe for only a short time by cosmic standards – long enough only for the universe to somewhat more than double in size – but both tracked the evolution of these perturbations in full general relativity with no simplifications or approximations whatsoever. As the eminent Italian cosmologist Sabino Matarese wrote in Nature Physics, “the era of general relativistic numerical simulations in cosmology ha[s] begun”. These preliminary studies are still a long way from competing with modern N-body simulations for resolution, duration or dynamic range. To do so will require advances in the software so that the code can run on much larger computer clusters. We will also need to make the code more stable numerically so that it can model much longer periods of cosmic expansion. The long-term goal is for our numerical simulations to match as far as possible the actual evolution of the universe and its contents, which means using the full theory of general relativity. But given that our existing simulations using full general relativity have revealed no fluctuations driving the accelerated expansion of the universe, it appears instead that accelerated expansion will need new physics – whether dark energy or a modified gravitational theory. Both groups also observe what appear to be small corrections to the dynamics of space–time when compared with simple perturbation theory. Bentivegna and Bruni studied the collapse of structures in the early universe and suggested that they appear to coalesce somewhat more quickly than in the standard simplified theory. Drawing specific conclusions about simulations is a subtle matter in general relativity. At the mathematical heart of the theory is the principle of “co-ordinate invariance”, which essentially says that the laws of physics should be the same no matter what set of labels you use for the locations and times of events. We are all familiar with milder versions of this symmetry: we wouldn’t expect the equations governing basic scientific laws to depend on whether we measure our positions in, say, New York or London, and we don’t need new versions of science textbooks whenever we switch from standard time to daylight savings time and back. Co-ordinate invariance in the context of general relativity is just a more extreme version of that, but it means we must ensure that any information we extract from our simulations does not depend on how we label the points in our simulations. Our Ohio group has taken particular care with this subtlety by sending simulated beams of light from distant points in the distant past at the speed of light through space–time to arrive at the here and now. We then use those beams to simulate observations of the expansion history of our universe. The universe that emerges exhibits an average behaviour that agrees with a corresponding smooth, homogeneous model, but with inhomogeneous structures on top. These additional structures contribute to deviations in observable quantities across the simulated observer’s sky that should soon be accessible to real observers. This work is therefore just the start of a journey. Creating codes that are accurate and sensitive enough to make realistic predictions for future observational programmes – such as the all-sky surveys to be carried out by the Large Scale Synoptic Telescope or the Euclid satellite – will require us to study larger volumes of space. These studies will also have to incorporate ultra-large-scale structures some hundreds of millions of light-years across as well as much smaller-scale structures, such as galaxies and clusters of galaxies. They will also have to follow these volumes for longer stretches of time than is currently possible. All this will require us to introduce some of the same refinements that made it possible to predict the gravitational-wave ripples produced by a merging black hole, such as adaptive mesh refinement to resolve the smaller structures like galaxies, and N-body simulations to allow matter to flow naturally across these structures. These refinements will let us characterize more precisely and more accurately the statistical properties of galaxies and clusters of galaxies – as well as the observations we make of them – taking general relativity fully into account. Doing so will, however, require clusters of computers with millions of cores, rather than the hundreds we use now. These improvements to code will take time, effort and collaboration. Groups around the world – in addition to the two mentioned – are likely to make important contributions. Numerical general-relativistic cosmology is still in its infancy, but the next decade will see huge strides to make the best use of the new generation of cosmological surveys that are being designed and built today. This work will either give us increased confidence in our own scientific genesis story – ΛCDM – or teach us that we still have a lot more thinking to do about how the universe got itself to where it is today.


Grosso G.,University of Catania | Yang J.,Tufts University | Marventano S.,Section of Hygiene and Public Health | Micek A.,Jagiellonian University | And 2 more authors.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition | Year: 2015

Background: Recent pooled analyses supported a beneficial impact of nut consumption on health, but to our knowledge, whether nuts are associated with overall decreased mortality has not been previously reviewed. Objectives: We aimed to systematically review prospective studies that explored the effects of nut consumption on all-cause, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and cancer mortality and quantify the size effect through a meta-analysis. We also reviewed confounding factors associated with nut consumption to assess potential clustering with other covariates. Design: We searched PubMed and EMBASE for studies published up to June 2014. Study characteristics, HRs, and 95% CIs were generated on the basis of quantitative analyses. A dose-response analysis was performed when data were available. Results: Seven studies for all-cause mortality, 6 studies for CVD mortality, and 2 studies for cancer mortality were included in the meta-analysis with a total of 354,933 participants, 44,636 cumulative incident deaths, and 3,746,534 cumulative person-years. Nut consumption was associated with some baseline characteristics such as lower body mass index and smoking status as well as increased intakes of fruit, vegetables, and alcohol. One-serving of nuts per week and per day resulted in 4% (RR: 0.96; 95% CI: 0.93, 0.98) and 27% (RR: 0.73; 95% CI: 0.60, 0.88) decreased risk of all-cause mortality, respectively, and decreased risk of CVD mortality [RR: 0.93 (95% CI: 0.88, 0.99) and 0.61 (95% CI: 0.42, 0.91), respectively]. Effects were primarily driven by decreased coronary artery disease deaths rather than stroke deaths. Nut consumption was also associated with decreased risk of cancer deaths when highest compared with lowest categories of intake were compared (RR: 0.86; 95% CI: 0.75, 0.98), but no dose-effect was shown. Conclusion: Nut consumption is associated with lower risk of allcause, CVD, and cancer mortality, but the presence of confounding factors should be taken into account when considering such findings. © 2015 American Society for Nutrition.


Mobasheri A.,University of Surrey | Mobasheri A.,University of Nottingham | Mobasheri A.,King Abdulaziz University | Kalamegam G.,King Abdulaziz University | And 2 more authors.
Maturitas | Year: 2014

Osteoarthritis (OA) represents a final and common pathway for all major traumatic insults to synovial joints. OA is the most common form of degenerative joint disease and a major cause of pain and disability. Despite the global increase in the incidence of OA, there are no effective pharmacotherapies capable of restoring the original structure and function of damaged articular cartilage. Consequently cell-based and biological therapies for osteoarthritis (OA) and related orthopaedic disorders have become thriving areas of research and development. Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) has been used for treatment of osteoarticular lesions for over two decades. Although chondrocyte-based therapy has the capacity to slow down the progression of OA and delay partial or total joint replacement surgery, currently used procedures are associated with the risk of serious adverse events. Complications of ACI include hypertrophy, disturbed fusion, delamination, and graft failure. Therefore there is significant interest in improving the success rate of ACI by improving surgical techniques and preserving the phenotype of the primary chondrocytes used in the procedure. Future tissue-engineering approaches for cartilage repair will also benefit from advances in chondrocyte-based repair strategies. This review article focuses on the structure and function of articular cartilage and the pathogenesis of OA in the context of the rising global burden of musculoskeletal disease. We explore the challenges associated with cartilage repair and regeneration using cell-based therapies that use chondrocytes and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). This paper also explores common misconceptions associated with cell-based therapy and highlights a few areas for future investigation. © 2014 The Authors.


Chavez M.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Valencia M.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Navarro V.,Epilepsy Unit | Latora V.,University of Catania | Martinerie J.,French National Center for Scientific Research
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2010

We analyze the connectivity structure of weighted brain networks extracted from spontaneous magnetoencephalographic signals of healthy subjects and epileptic patients (suffering from absence seizures) recorded at rest. We find that, for the activities in the 5-14 Hz range, healthy brains exhibit a sparse connectivity, whereas the brain networks of patients display a rich connectivity with a clear modular structure. Our results suggest that modularity plays a key role in the functional organization of brain areas during normal and pathological neural activities at rest. © 2010 The American Physical Society.


Paladino E.,University of Catania | Paladino E.,CNR Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems | Paladino E.,University of Oslo | Paladino E.,RAS Ioffe Physical - Technical Institute | And 12 more authors.
Reviews of Modern Physics | Year: 2014

The efficiency of the future devices for quantum information processing is limited mostly by the finite decoherence rates of the individual qubits and quantum gates. Recently, substantial progress was achieved in enhancing the time within which a solid-state qubit demonstrates coherent dynamics. This progress is based mostly on a successful isolation of the qubits from external decoherence sources obtained by engineering. Under these conditions, the material-inherent sources of noise start to play a crucial role. In most cases, quantum devices are affected by noise decreasing with frequency f approximately as 1/f. According to the present point of view, such noise is due to material- and device-specific microscopic degrees of freedom interacting with quantum variables of the nanodevice. The simplest picture is that the environment that destroys the phase coherence of the device can be thought of as a system of two-state fluctuators, which experience random hops between their states. If the hopping times are distributed in an exponentially broad domain, the resulting fluctuations have a spectrum close to 1/f in a large frequency range. This paper reviews the current state of the theory of decoherence due to degrees of freedom producing 1/f noise. Basic mechanisms of such noises in various nanodevices are discussed and several models describing the interaction of the noise sources with quantum devices are reviewed. The main focus of the review is to analyze how the 1/f noise destroys their coherent operation. The start is from individual qubits concentrating mostly on the devices based on superconductor circuits and then some special issues related to more complicated architectures are discussed. Finally, several strategies for minimizing the noise-induced decoherence are considered. © 2014 American Physical Society.


Musumeci G.,University of Catania | Szychlinska M.A.,University of Catania | Mobasheri A.,University of Surrey | Mobasheri A.,University of Nottingham | Mobasheri A.,King Abdulaziz University
Histology and Histopathology | Year: 2015

Aging is a natural process by which every single living organism approaches its twilight of existence in a natural way. However, aging is also linked to the pathogenesis of a number of complex diseases. This is the case for osteoarthritis (OA), where age is considered to be a major risk factor of this important and increasingly common joint disorder. Half of the world's population, aged 65 and older, suffers from OA. Although the relationship between the development of OA and aging has not yet been completely understood, it is thought that age-related changes correlate with other risk factors. The most prominent hypothesis linking aging and OA is that chondrocytes undergo premature aging due to several factors, such as excessive mechanical load or oxidative stress, which induce the so called “stress-induced senescent state”, which is ultimately responsible for the onset of OA. This review focuses on molecular markers and mechanisms implicated in chondrocyte aging and the pathogenesis of OA. We discuss the most important age-related morphological and biological changes that affect articular cartilage and chondrocytes. We also identify the main senescence markers that may be used to recognize molecular alterations in the extracellular matrix of cartilage as related to senescence. Since the aging process is strongly associated with the onset of preventing chondrocyte senescence, as well as the identification of new increasingly sensitive senescent markers, could have a positive impact on the development of new therapies for this severe disease. © 2015, Histology and Histopathology. All rights reserved.


Turrisi G.F.,University of Catania | Jennings J.T.,University of Adelaide | Vilhelmsen L.,Universitetsparken 15
Invertebrate Systematics | Year: 2014

The results of the first phylogenetic investigation of members of the Aulacidae of the world are presented. The main objective was to test the monophyly of the currently recognised genera. In total, 79 morphological characters were scored for a substantial sample of the extant aulacid fauna, including 72 species, as well as 12 outgroup taxa belonging to Evaniidae, Gasteruptiidae, Megalyridae, Trigonalidae, Braconidae and Stephanidae. All zoogeographic regions were represented. The dataset was analysed under different conditions (ordered, unordered, equal and implied weighting). The results under different weighting conditions are not fully congruent andmanyrelationships remain unresolved. However, the analyses demonstrate that the current generic classification of the Aulacidae is not a natural one. There is support for a very large, monophyletic clade which includes all Pristaulacus Kieffer spp. + Panaulix Benoit spp. This suggests a wider generic concept for Pristaulacus, which is redefined and rediagnosed here. As a consequence, Panaulix becomes a junior synonym of Pristaulacus (syn. nov.), and the two described species of Panaulix are transferred to Pristaulacus: Pristaulacus rex (Benoit, 1984), comb. nov., and Pristaulacus irenae (Madl, 1990), comb. nov. The genus Aulacus Jurine was consistently paraphyletic and is not valid as currently defined. Furthermore, we failed to retrieve a consistent topology among the different clades of Aulacus. A satisfactory reclassification of Aulacus, however, requires a much more comprehensive taxon sample and/or additional character data. © CSIRO 2009.


Berendonk T.U.,TU Dresden | Manaia C.M.,Catholic University of Portugal | Merlin C.,CNRS Laboratory of Physical Chemistry and Microbiology for the Environment | Fatta-Kassinos D.,University of Cyprus | And 13 more authors.
Nature Reviews Microbiology | Year: 2015

Antibiotic resistance is a threat to human and animal health worldwide, and key measures are required to reduce the risks posed by antibiotic resistance genes that occur in the environment. These measures include the identification of critical points of control, the development of reliable surveillance and risk assessment procedures, and the implementation of technological solutions that can prevent environmental contamination with antibiotic resistant bacteria and genes. In this Opinion article, we discuss the main knowledge gaps, the future research needs and the policy and management options that should be prioritized to tackle antibiotic resistance in the environment. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


Biondi A.,University of Catania | Biondi A.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Zappala L.,University of Catania | Stark J.D.,Washington State University | Desneux N.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Pesticide risk assessments are usually based on short-term acute toxicity tests, while longer-term population dynamic related traits, critical to the success of biological control and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs, are often overlooked. This is increasingly important with respect to new biopesticides that frequently cause no short-term acute effects, but that can induce multiple physiological and behavioral sublethal effects, leading to a decrease in population growth and ecosystem services. In this study we assessed the lethal and sublethal effects of six biopesticides [abamectin, azadirachtin, Bacillus thuringiensis, borax plus citrus oil (Prev-Am®), emamectin benzoate, and spinosad], used in tomato crops to control the invasive pest Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae), on adults and pupae of the parasitoid Bracon nigricans (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Data on female survival and production of female offspring were used to calculate population growth indexes as a measure of population recovery after pesticide exposure. Spinosad caused 100% and 80% mortality in exposed adults (even 10 d after the treatment) and pupae, respectively. Although most of the biopesticides had low levels of acute toxicity, multiple sublethal effects were observed. The biocontrol activity of both females that survived 1-h and 10-d old residues, and females that emerged from topically treated pupae was significantly affected by the application of the neurotoxic insecticides emamectin benzoate and abamectin. Furthermore, very low B. nigricans demographic growth indices were estimated for these two insecticides, indicating potential local extinction of the wasp populations. Among the tested products, Bt proved to be the safest for B. nigricans adults and pupae. Our findings emphasize that acute toxicity assessment alone cannot fully predict the actual impact of pesticides on non-target parasitoids. Thus, sublethal effects related to the species specific life-history variables must be carefully considered in order to assess pesticide risks and to incorporate new pesticides, including biopesticides, into IPM programmes. © 2013 Biondi et al.


Stefani S.,University of Catania | Chung D.R.,Sungkyunkwan University | Lindsay J.A.,St George's, University of London | Friedrich A.W.,University of Groningen | And 3 more authors.
International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents | Year: 2012

This article reviews recent findings on the global epidemiology of healthcare-acquired/associated (HA), community-acquired/associated (CA) and livestock-associated (LA) meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and aims to reach a consensus regarding the harmonisation of typing methods for MRSA. MRSA rates continue to increase rapidly in many regions and there is a dynamic spread of strains across the globe. HA-MRSA is currently endemic in hospitals in most regions. CA-MRSA clones have been spreading rapidly in the community and also infiltrating healthcare in many regions worldwide. To date, LA-MRSA is only prevalent in certain high-risk groups of workers in direct contact with live animals. CA-MRSA and LA-MRSA have become a challenge for countries that have so far maintained low rates of MRSA. These evolutionary changes have resulted in MRSA continuing to be a major threat to public health. Continuous efforts to understand the changing epidemiology of S. aureus infection in humans and animals are therefore necessary, not only for appropriate antimicrobial treatment and effective infection control but also to monitor the evolution of the species. The group made several consensus decisions with regard to harmonisation of typing methods. A stratified, three-level organisation of testing laboratories was proposed: local; regional; and national. The functions of, and testing methodology used by, each laboratory were defined. The group consensus was to recommend spa and staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) typing as the preferred methods. Both are informative in defining particular strain characteristics and utilise standardised nomenclatures, making them applicable globally. Effective communication between each of the different levels and between national centres was viewed as being crucial to inform and monitor the molecular epidemiology of MRSA at national and international levels. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. and the International Society of Chemotherapy. All rights reserved.


Biondi A.,University of Catania | Biondi A.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Desneux N.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Siscaro G.,University of Catania | Zappala L.,University of Catania
Chemosphere | Year: 2012

The generalist predator Orius laevigatus (Fieber) (Hemiptera: Anthocoridae) is a key natural enemy of various arthropods in agricultural and natural ecosystems. Releases of this predator are frequently carried out, and it is included in the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs of several crops. The accurate assessment of the compatibility of various pesticides with predator activity is key for the success of this strategy. We assessed acute and sublethal toxicity of 14 pesticides on O. laevigatus adults under laboratory conditions. Pesticides commonly used in either conventional or organic farming were selected for the study, including six biopesticides, three synthetic insecticides, two sulfur compounds and three adjuvants. To assess the pesticides' residual persistence, the predator was exposed for 3. d to pesticide residues on tomato sprouts that had been treated 1. h, 7. d or 14. d prior to the assay. The percentage of mortality and the sublethal effects on predator reproductive capacity were summarized in a reduction coefficient (E x) and the pesticides were classified according to the IOBC (International Organization for Biological Control) toxicity categories. The results showed that the pesticides greatly differed in their toxicity, both in terms of lethal and sub lethal effects, as well as in their persistence. In particular, abamectin was the most noxious and persistent, and was classified as harmful up to 14. d after the treatment, causing almost 100% mortality. Spinosad, emamectin, metaflumizone were moderately harmful until 7. d after the treatment, while the other pesticides were slightly harmful or harmless. The results, based on the combination of assessment of acute mortality, predator reproductive capacity pesticides residual and pesticides residual persistence, stress the need of using complementary bioassays (e.g. assessment of lethal and sublethal effects) to carefully select the pesticides to be used in IPM programs and appropriately time the pesticides application (as function of natural enemies present in crops) and potential releases of natural enemies like O. laevigatus. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Maisano F.,San Raffaele Scientific Institute | Franzen O.,Rigshospitalet | Baldus S.,University of Hamburg | Hausleiter J.,Deutsches Herzzentrum Munich | And 8 more authors.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology | Year: 2013

Objectives The purpose of this article is to report early and mid-term outcomes of the ACCESS-EU study (ACCESS-Europe A Two-Phase Observational Study of the MitraClip System in Europe), a European prospective, multicenter, nonrandomized post-approval study of MitraClip therapy (Abbott Vascular, Inc., Santa Clara, California). Background MitraClip has been increasingly performed in Europe after approval; the ACCESS-EU registry provides a snapshot of the real-world clinical demographic data and outcomes. Methods A total of 567 patients with significant mitral valve regurgitation (MR) underwent MitraClip therapy at 14 European sites. Mean logistic European System for Cardiac Operative Risk Evaluation at baseline was 23.0 ± 18.3; 84.9% patients were in New York Heart Association functional class III or IV, and 52.7% of patients had an ejection fraction ≤40%. Results The MitraClip implant rate was 99.6%. A total of 19 patients (3.4%) died within 30 days after the MitraClip procedure. The Kaplan-Meier survival at 1 year was 81.8%. Intensive care unit and hospital length of stay was 2.5 ± 6.5 days and 7.7 ± 8.2 days, respectively. Single leaflet device attachment was reported in 27 patients (4.8%). There were no MitraClip device embolizations. Thirty-six subjects (6.3%) required mitral valve surgery within 12 months after the MitraClip implant procedure. There was improvement in the severity of MR at 12 months, compared with baseline (p < 0.0001), with 78.9% of patients free from MR, severity of >2+ at 12 months. At 12 months, 71.4% of patients had New York Heart Association functional class II or class I. Six-min-walk-test improved 59.5 ± 112.4 m, and Minnesota-living-with-heart-failure score improved 13.5 ± 20.5 points. Conclusions In the real-world, post-approval experience in Europe, patients undergoing the MitraClip therapy are high-risk, elderly patients, mainly affected by functional MR. In this patient population, the MitraClip procedure is effective with low rates of hospital mortality and adverse events. © 2013 by the American College of Cardiology Foundation Published by Elsevier Inc.


Farsalinos K.E.,Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center | Polosa R.,University of Catania
Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety | Year: 2014

Electronic cigarettes are a recent development in tobacco harm reduction. They are marketed as less harmful alternatives to smoking. Awareness and use of these devices has grown exponentially in recent years, with millions of people currently using them. This systematic review appraises existing laboratory and clinical research on the potential risks from electronic cigarette use, compared with the well-established devastating effects of smoking tobacco cigarettes. Currently available evidence indicates that electronic cigarettes are by far a less harmful alternative to smoking and significant health benefits are expected in smokers who switch from tobacco to electronic cigarettes. Research will help make electronic cigarettes more effective as smoking substitutes and will better define and further reduce residual risks from use to as low as possible, by establishing appropriate quality control and standards. © The Author(s), 2014.


Lugaresi A.,University of Chieti Pescara | Patti F.,University of Catania
Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics | Year: 2014

Multiple sclerosis requires long-term management, often with disease-modifying therapies. Poor medication adherence, especially to injectables, can increase relapse and hospitalisation rates and consume healthcare resources. We discuss adherence definitions and terminology and its prevalence in multiple sclerosis (MS). Typical causes of poor adherence in patients with MS include: insufficient efficacy or tolerability, concurrent disorders, and consequences of MS (e.g., forgetfulness, depression, fatigue and poor motor skills). Ways to improve adherence rates are reviewed, focusing on interdisciplinary healthcare teams, good communication between healthcare workers and patients (and their families), ongoing support and digital tools to promote adherence. We consider open communication and continuing education to be key, and that MS nurses have a pivotal role in ensuring patients' adherence to MS medicines. © Informa UK, Ltd.


Livatino S.,University of Hertfordshire | Banno F.,Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies | Muscato G.,University of Catania
IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics | Year: 2012

This paper proposes an augmented reality visualization interface to simultaneously present visual and laser sensors information further enhanced by stereoscopic viewing and 3-D graphics. The use of graphic elements is proposed to represent laser measurements that are aligned to video information in 3-D space. This methodology enables an operator to intuitively comprehend scene layout and proximity information and so to respond in an accurate and timely manner. The use of graphic elements to assist teleoperation, sometime discussed in the literature, is here proposed following an innovative approach that aligns virtual and real objects in 3-D space and color them suitably to facilitate comprehension of objects proximity during navigation. This paper is developed based on authors' previous experience on stereoscopic teleoperation. The approach is experimented on a real telerobotic system, where a user operates a mobile robot located several kilometers apart. The result showed simplicity and effectiveness of the proposed approach. © 2006 IEEE.


Celano G.,University of Catania | De Magalhaes M.S.,IBGE Inc | Costa A.F.B.,São Paulo State University | Fichera S.,University of Catania
International Journal of Production Economics | Year: 2011

An economic model including the labor resource and the process stage configuration is proposed to design X̄ charts allowing for all the design parameters to be varied in an adaptive way. A random shift size is considered during the economic design selection. The results obtained for a benchmark of 64 process stage scenarios show that the activities configuration and some process operating parameters influence the selection of the best control chart strategy; to model the random shift size, its exact distribution can be approximately fitted by a discrete distribution obtained from a relatively small sample of historical data. However, an accurate estimation of the inspection costs associated to the SPC activities is far from being achieved. An illustrative example shows the implementation of the proposed economic model in a real industrial case. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Barigozzi M.,The London School of Economics and Political Science | Fagiolo G.,Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies | Mangioni G.,University of Catania
Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications | Year: 2011

We study the community structure of the multi-network of commodity-specific trade relations among world countries over the 19922003 period. We compare structures across commodities and time by means of the normalized mutual information index (NMI). We also compare them with exogenous community structures induced by geography and regional trade agreements. We find that commodity-specific community structures are very heterogeneous and much more fragmented than that characterizing the aggregate ITN. This shows that the aggregate properties of the ITN may result (and be very different) from the aggregation of very diverse commodity-specific layers of the multi-network. We also show that commodity-specific community structures, especially those related to the chemical sector, are becoming more and more similar to the aggregate one. Finally, our findings suggest that geography-induced partitions of our set of countries are much more correlated with observed community structures than partitions induced by regional-trade agreements. This result strengthens previous findings from the empirical literature on trade. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Cardone V.F.,National institute for astrophysics | Cardone V.F.,University of Naples Federico II | Leubner M.P.,University of Innsbruck | del Popolo A.,University of Catania
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2011

The consideration of galaxies as self-gravitating systems of many collisionless particles allows us to use methods of statistical mechanics for inferring the distribution function of these stellar systems. Actually, the long-range nature of the gravitational force contrasts with the underlying assumptions of Boltzmann statistics, where the interactions among particles are assumed to be short-ranged. A particular generalization of the classical Boltzmann formalism is available within the non-extensive context of Tsallisq-statistics, subject to the non-additivity of the entropies of subsystems. Assuming stationarity and isotropy in the velocity space, when solving the generalized collisionless Boltzmann equation it is possible to derive the galaxy distribution function and density profile. We present a particular set of non-extensive models and we investigate their dynamical and observable properties. As a test of the viability of this generalized context, we fit the rotation curve of M33, showing that the proposed approach leads to dark matter haloes in excellent agreement with the observed data. © 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS.


Micali G.,University of Catania | Lacarrubba F.,University of Catania | Massimino D.,University of Catania
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology | Year: 2011

Dermatoscopy, also known as dermoscopy, epiluminescence microscopy, or surface microscopy, is a noninvasive technique allowing rapid and magnified (×10) in vivo observation of the skin with the visualization of morphologic features often imperceptible to the naked eye. Videodermatoscopy (VD) represents the evolution of dermatoscopy and is performed with a video camera equipped with lenses providing higher magnification (×10 to ×1000). Over the past few years, both dermatoscopy and VD have been demonstrated to be useful in a wide variety of cutaneous disorders, including ectoparasitic infestations, cutaneous/mucosal infections, hair and nail abnormalities, psoriasis, and other dermatologic as well as cosmetologic conditions. Depending on the skin disorder, both dermatoscopy and VD may be useful for differential diagnosis, prognostic evaluation, and monitoring response to treatment. Nowadays, it represents an important and relatively simple aid in daily clinical practice. © 2010 by the American Academy of Dermatology, Inc.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2011.3.2 | Award Amount: 13.04M | Year: 2011

Smart systems consist of heterogeneous subsystems and components providing different functionalities; they are normally implemented as Multi-Package on a Board. To fully exploit the potential of current nanoelectronics technologies, as well as to enable the integration of existing/new IPs and More than Moore devices, smart system miniaturization and Multi-Chip in a Package implementation are unavoidable. Such goals are only achievable if a flexible software platform (i.e., the SMAC platform) for smart subsystems/components design and integration is made available to designers and system integrators.\nThe platform must include methodologies and EDA tools enabling multi-disciplinary and multi-scale modeling and design, simulation of multi-domain systems, subsystems and components at all levels of abstraction, system integration and exploration for optimization of specific metrics, such as power, performance, reliability and robustness.\nKey ingredients for the construction of the SMAC platform include: (1) The development of a cosimulation and co-design environment which is aware (and thus considers) the essential features of the basic subsystems and components to be integrated. (2) The development of modeling and design techniques, methods and tools that, when added to the platform, will enable multi-domain simulation and optimization at various levels of abstraction and across different technological domains.\nThe SMAC platform will allow to successfully address the following grand challenges related to the design and manufacturing of miniaturized smart systems: (1) Development of innovative smart subsystems and components demonstrating advanced performance, ultra low power and the capability of operating under special conditions (e.g., high reliability, long lifetime). (2) Design of miniaturized and integrated smart systems with advanced functionality and performance, including nanoscale sensing systems, possibly operating autonomously and in a networked fashion


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SPA.2013.2.1-01 | Award Amount: 2.81M | Year: 2013

We propose a focused space-based and ground-based multi-mode, multi-wavelength study of solar flares - the most intense energy release events in the solar system. We will center our attention on the flare chromosphere, from which most of the radiation originates. This work calls on space-based and ground-based observations, plus theoretical and modeling expertise. The project will have two major outcomes: advances in our understanding of the physics of energy dissipation and radiation in the flaring solar atmosphere, and a catalogue and archive facility for the solar physics community to access combined ground-based and space-based datasets for well-observed flare events, and flare atmospheric models to aid in data interpretation. It will have scientific impacts for both solar and stellar flare communities. We plan a dissemination activity for public and scientific communities alike, including an effort to involve amateur astronomers in co-ordinated flare campaigns.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INFRAIA-1-2014-2015 | Award Amount: 9.98M | Year: 2015

HYDRALAB is an advanced network of environmental hydraulic institutes in Europe, which has been effective in providing access to a suite of major and unique environmental hydraulic facilities from across the whole European scientific community. A continuation project will prepare environmental hydraulic modelling for the upcoming urgent technical challenges associated with adaptations for climate change. A multi-disciplinary approach is essential to meet these challenges. We denote the project HYDRALAB\, in recognition of the added value that will follow from our network changing to enhance the collaboration between specialists and engaging with a new range of stakeholders. The issues associated with climate change impacts on rivers and coasts are significant enough to ask the scientific community to which we open up our facilities to focus their research efforts on adaptations for climate change. We plan to issue themed calls for proposals for access to the facilities, with scientific merit as the main selection criterion, but with preference to the proposals that also address issues of adaptation to climate change impact. In HYDRALAB\, with the prospect of climate change, we will build networking activities that will also involve the wider hydraulic community in the process of generating the deliverables of the project. The first Workshop in the project will be devoted to working together with the larger European hydraulics community not directly involved in HYDRALAB. Increased emphasis will be placed by HYDRALAB\ on engagement with industry a theme that will be delivered initially through the vehicle of a focussed Workshop between HYDRALAB researchers and industry. We will work together with industry to have HYDRALAB\ become part of the innovation cycle by bringing development to market this is particularly relevant for the instruments we develop - to involve industry in our range of project deliverables.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 3.92M | Year: 2015

The proposed ITN entitled Modelling and computation of Shocks and Interfaces will focus on the training of young researchers in the general area of nonlinear hyperbolic and convection dominated PDEs with emphasis on innovative modelling and computational methods. The research program of the proposed ITN is centered on an important field (in terms of both history and scope), that is placed at the forefront of modern Computational and Applied Mathematics. The fact that hyperbolic convection dominated PDEs is probably one of the very few areas within Computational and Applied Mathematics, where traditionally modelling, Physics, Mechanics, analytical approaches, and advanced computational methods have contributed in synergy to several achievements to date, makes this field eminently suitable to train young researchers in. These researchers can become research leaders in a wide area as well as impacting on both industry and non-academic scientific institutions. The network will consist of some of Europes leading research groups on hyperbolic PDEs, and includes experts on Modelling, Analysis and Computation. A well defined training program is outlined in the proposal. The training program emphasises the European and international dimension of the effort. The training design is expected to produce effective results and foster the expertise on how to structure doctoral training at the European level and enhance the innovation capacity of the involved individuals. The innovative techniques developed will be applied to diverse concrete problems ranging from fluid dynamics and geophysical flows to materials science. In the pursuance of this goal, the research groups will be assisted by experts in these areas of application and non-academic partners, resulting in a significant enhancement of the impact of the research and training program.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: SEC-2007-1.2-02 | Award Amount: 23.54M | Year: 2009

The Integrated Mobile Security Kit (IMSK) project will combine technologies for area surveillance; checkpoint control; CBRNE detection and support for VIP protection into a mobile system for rapid deployment at venues and sites (hotels, sport/festival arenas, etc) which temporarily need enhanced security. The IMSK accepts input from a wide range of sensor modules, either legacy systems or new devices brought in for a specific occasion. Sensor data will be integrated through a (secure) communication module and a data management module and output to a command & control centre. IMSK will have an advanced man-machine interface using intuitive symbols and a simulation platform for training. End-users will define the overall system requirements, ensuring compatibility with pre-existing security systems and procedures. IMSK will be compatible with new sensors for threat detection and validation, including cameras (visual & infra-red); radar; acoustic and vibration; x-ray and gamma radiation and CBRNE. Tracking of goods, vehicles and individuals will enhance situational awareness, and personal integrity will be maintained by the use of, for example,. non-intrusive terahertz sensors. To ensure the use of appropriate technologies, police and counter-terrorist operatives from several EU nations have been involved in defining the project in relevant areas. Close cooperation with end-users will ensure compatibility with national requirements and appropriate interfaces with existing procedures. The effectiveness of IMSK will be verified through field trials. Through IMSK security of the citizen will be enhanced even in asymmetric situations.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2009.5.3 | Award Amount: 15.53M | Year: 2011

The airways diseases asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affect over 400 million people world-wide and cause considerable morbidity and mortality. Airways disease costs the European Union in excess of 56 billion per annum. Current therapies are inadequate and we do not have sufficient tools to predict disease progression or response to current or future therapies. Our consortium, Airway Disease PRedicting Outcomes through Patient Specific Computational Modelling (AirPROM), brings together the exisiting clinical consortia (EvA FP7, U-BIOPRED IMI and BTS Severe Asthma), and expertise in physiology, radiology, image analysis, bioengineering, data harmonization, data security and ethics, computational modeling and systems biology. We shall develop an integrated multi-scale model building upon existing models. This airway model will be comprised of an integrated micro-scale and macro-scale airway model informed and validated by omic data and ex vivo models at the genome-transcriptome-cell-tissue scale and by CT and functional MRI imaging coupled to detailed physiology at the tissue-organ scale utilising Europes largest airway disease cohort. Validation will be undertaken cross-sectionally, following interventions and after longitudinal follow-up to incorporate both spatial and temporal dimensions. AirPROM has a comprehensive data management platform and a well-developed ethico-legal framework. Critically, AirPROM has an extensive exploitation plan, involving at its inception and throughout its evolution those that will develop and use the technologies emerging from this project. AirPROM therefore will bridge the critical gaps in our clinical management of airways disease, by providing validated models to predict disease progression and response to treatment and the platform to translate these patient-specific tools, so as to pave the way to improved, personalised management of airways disease.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-IRSES | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IRSES | Award Amount: 394.80K | Year: 2014

The project aims at characterizing and comparing food webs associated with aphids developing on 6 distinct ecosystems in native vs. invaded areas (continents). By considering food webs associated with pest insects and comparing food web structure & functioning on an international scale, we will broaden our understanding of processes underpinning food web functioning and herbivore population regulation. We will also document structural and functional changes owing to migration or invasion processes. Comparison of food webs in native and invaded regions will also focus on factors structuring trophic networks associated with aphid pests in various ecosystems worldwide. The key actions will be to: (1) Develop molecular identification techniques to detect trophic links in field collected samples. Ease of implementation should be aimed at (2) Create food webs: quantify trophic links between aphids, their natural enemies and other key species. Standardized sampling protocols will be used in the various ecosystems at various locations worldwide (3) Use existing food web analysis methods and develop new ones to quantify changes in food webs on an international scale (4) Investigate determinants and mechanisms affecting the outcome of invasion (or introduction for classical biological control) of aphid-associated alien species The scope of potential results of the project is wide. Aphids being a worldwide pest, food web studies can provide crucial data for biological control applications, from classical to conservation approaches. The international scale of the study will enable investigating biogeographic hypotheses, which are a valuable contribution to ecological theory but are also applicable to biosecurity, e.g. safety of classical biological control programs for endemic biodiversity. Possible additional local scale comparisons and studies would provide information documenting theories on apparent competition, host range, specialization and their effects on trophic levels


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-RISE | Phase: MSCA-RISE-2015 | Award Amount: 1.19M | Year: 2016

The project For a Better Tomorrow: Social Enterprises on the Move (FAB-MOVE) brings together researchers and practitioners in order to explore the question of how social enterprises can grow and flourish. These objectives will be achieved through a carefully crafted network of academic and non-academic partner organisations co-operating worldwide. Managers and practitioners of social enterprises often lack an easy access to the frontiers of science. FAB-MOVE will significantly improve the transfer of knowledge between academics and non-academics and thus increase the practical applicability of research findings. For an enduring sustainable impact, FAB-MOVE develops a teaching tool to educate (future) managers of social enterprises on how to set up their enterprise in a specific environment, how to combine business with a social goal, and how to develop strategies for growth and scaling-up. Currently there is a lack of knowledge about the influence of different social and economic environments on social enterprises. Local eco-systems and traditions have a decisive impact on the wellbeing, growth and potentials for scaling-up of social enterprises. FAB-MOVE focuses on the embeddedness of social enterprises and its impact on their evolution. It identifies crucial success factors for a sustainable development of these new and innovative organisations in an internationally comparative perspective. Thoroughly analysed case studies will serve as best practices by highlighting how social enterprises overcome crucial problems and manage to grow in different social areas and various regions around the world. In particular, the cases will shed light on how managers of social enterprises cooperate with stakeholders and how their environment composed of promoting actors and existing (political) structures meet their needs in order to improve social cohesion all over Europe.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2009.1.2 | Award Amount: 13.63M | Year: 2010

The webinos project will define and deliver an Open Source Platform and specific components for the Future Internet, which will enable web applications and services to be used and shared consistently and securely over a broad spectrum of converged and connected devices, including mobile, PC, home media (TV) and in-car units. Promoting a single service for every device vision, webinos will move the existing baseline from installed applications to services, running consistently across a wide range of connected devices, ensuring that the technologies for describing, negotiating, securing, utilizing device functionalities and adapting to context are fit for purpose. Innovations in contextual description will be broad covering but not limited to device capabilities, network access, user identity and preferences, location, behaviourally induced properties and finally the more complex issue of the users social network context.\nwebinos will directly address security and privacy issues as part of Quality of Service that users of web services expect. The addressed challenges comprise: how to provision and adapt security across a range of devices, services, networks as well as how individuals can gain control over the privacy aspects of their web presence regardless of the service that is being used. Context and privacy are intimately intertwined: rich context is valuable but without user controlled privacy it becomes a liability.\nwebinos will boost the industry migration towards web-based services. webinos can back this by providing inter-operable, standardised, open source technology utilizable across domains with direct commercially exploitable value. webinos will also act as an industry catalyst to encourage collaboration and discourage fragmentation in this space.\nThere are strong industry moves towards Internet friendly and Internet integrated offerings, and there exists a window of opportunity to place this Web OS technology on a robust open foundation that will remove economic barriers to engagement, embody policy on data privacy in concrete technology (protecting consumers and enterprise) and creating a centre of web centric expertise (benefiting technical competitiveness).


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH-2011.2.2.1-3 | Award Amount: 8.07M | Year: 2011

This project will undertake pre-clinical and cohort studies that address susceptibility factors for paediatric and adolescent tic disorders, with a particular focus on comorbid obsessive-compulsive symptomatology, from clinical, epidemiological, genetic, microbiological and immunological angles. EMTICS aims to elucidate the complex aetiology of the onset and clinical course of chronic tic disorders and associated obsessive-compulsive symptoms, through disentangling the interplay between environmental factors and genetic background; translate research findings into clinical applications by developing disease prediction models and investigation of a treatment strategy; and will establish a Pan-European infrastructure for the study of tic disorders. We hypothesise that the onset and/or exacerbation of tic and comorbid obsessive-compulsive disorders is associated with increased preceding occurrence of Group A beta-haemolytic Streptococcus (GAS) infections of specific molecular subtypes, and that this association is based on genetic susceptibility factors and mediated through immunological mechanisms related to psychosocial stress and immunological factors in host and GAS strains. Large-scale cohort studies will involve affected patients and at-risk first-degree relatives within an integrated, multidisciplinary research strategy. Treatment effects of active surveillance and standardized antibiotic treatment of GAS colonisation, thus addressing one of the main environmental factors involved (GAS infections) will be evaluated. Our approach will result in the identification of genetic and environmental susceptibility factors and will greatly contribute to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of tic disorders, with a focus on elucidating the role of autoimmunity. Our consortium brings together the highest expertise in the field of tic disorders across Europe in academia and industry, including a number of SMEs and a professional management company.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-IRSES | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IRSES | Award Amount: 260.40K | Year: 2013

The general aim of this project is to promote the integration of new practices (derived from fundamental research in biology, genetics & biological control) for promoting the sustainable control of two invasive pests the tomato leafminer Tuta absoluta and the spotted wing fly Drosophila suzukii by: (i) strengthening the links between researchers from several disciplines, needed to conduct top-quality programs of sustainable control (ii) integrating updated techniques for characterizing the populations of each pest and natural enemy (iii) refining methods for monitoring and detecting different stages of each pest and natural enemy (iv) assessing target and non-target effects from pesticides (v) characterizing the semiochemicals regulating tritrophic interactions in selected cropping systems (vi) supporting and training researchers/growers/advisors in invaded and to-be-invaded countries ASCII will support the development of sustainable control programs against two invasive pests by making possible durable collaboration between partners working against the same crop pests, each partner participating with its own expertise and helping visiting partners in familiarizing with different techniques and approaches finalized to the sustainable control of target pest. The impact of ASCII can be summarized as follows: improving research collaborations for the development of techniques in crop protection; improving communication and exchange of expertise, methods and ideas through the creation of stable and durable networks of single researchers and research teams; enhancing the sustainable control against 2 pests currently invading Europe.The strong link between each partner and local farmers and stakeholders guarantees the immediate resonance of the results representing the modern concept of research that is devoted to the solution of practical problems in agriculture. The resources from the European network ENDURE will be taken advantage of.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: INFRADEV-02-2016 | Award Amount: 9.05M | Year: 2017

The European Solar Telescope (EST) will be a revolutionary Research Infrastructure that will play a major role in answering key questions in modern Solar Physics. This 4-meter class solar telescope, to be located in the Canary Islands, will provide solar physicists with the most advanced state-of-the-art observing tools to transform our understanding of the complex phenomena that drive the solar magnetic activity. The principal objective of the present Preparatory Phase is to provide both the EST international consortium and the funding agencies with a detailed plan regarding the implementation of EST. The specific objectives of the proposed preparatory phase are: (1) to explore possible legal frameworks and related governance schemes that can be used by agencies to jointly establish, construct and operate EST as a new research infrastructure, with the implementation of an intermediate temporary organisational structure, as a previous step for future phases of the project; (2) to explore funding schemes and funding sources for EST, including a proposal of financial models to make possible the combination of direct financial and in-kind contributions towards the construction and operation of EST; (3) to compare the two possible sites for EST in the Canary Islands Astronomical Observatories and prepare final site agreements; (4) to engage funding agencies and policy makers for a long-term commitment which guarantees the construction and operation phases of the Telescope; (5) to involve industry in the design of EST key elements to the required level of definition and validation for their final production; (6) to enhance and intensify outreach activities and strategic links with national agencies and the user communities of EST. To accomplish the aforementioned goals, this 4-year project, promoted by the European Association for Solar Telescopes (EAST) and the PRE-EST consortium, encompassing 23 research institutions from 16 countries, will set up the Project Office


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SSH.2012.2.2-3 | Award Amount: 2.81M | Year: 2012

Environmental crime is a threat to environmental, social and economic sustainability and is in conflict with key commitments and strategies of the European Union, including the Europe 2020 Strategy. EFFACE will propose effective and feasible policy options for the EU to combat environmental crime. The recently adopted Environmental Crime Directive, the Ship-Source Pollution Directive, and the new provisions of the Lisbon Treaty have created new instruments and opportunities for increasing the effectiveness of EU measures against environmental crime through harmonisation and co-ordination. However, utilisation of these opportunities suffers from a serious lack of information on environmental crime: e.g. harmonisation measures based on the new Article 83(2) TFEU depend on the availability of reliable information on the impacts of environmental crime. EFFACE will help to address this gap by generating relevant information. Drawing on a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches and data and an in-depth investigation of different types of environmental crime, EFFACE will provide an assessment of the main costs, impacts and causes of environmental crime in the EU, including those linked to the EU, but occurring outside its territory, complemented by a comprehensive analysis of the status quo in terms of existing instruments, actors and institutions. A SWOT analysis will identify strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities associated with the EUs current efforts to combat environmental crime. Feasible policy options for harmonisation and better co-ordination of actors will then be developed with the help of, i.a., typologies of different approaches to harmonisation, sanctioning and strategic enforcement. These policy options will consider the use of policy mixes and innovative approaches to govern such mixes. Stakeholder involvement in EFFACE through interactive policy analysis will promote mutual learning with and among a broad range of stakeholders.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: SSH.2013.1.2-1 | Award Amount: 6.38M | Year: 2014

The multi-disciplinary CUPESSE project carries out a comparative analysis of both the demand and supply side of youth unemployment in ten Member States of the EU and Associated Countries (i.e. Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom). These ten countries represent the main empirical scope of the project, but whenever possible, the analysis is extended to include all European countries. CUPESSE has five main objectives. The first objective is to obtain a more refined understanding of the supply side of young adults employment by concentrating on how the inter-generational accumulation of social capital and cultural capital in the context of family organisation influences the economic self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship of young people in Europe. The second objective is to examine how supply-side factors and demand-side factors affect the unemployment of young adults. In this context we are particularly interested in the degree to which the attitudes and skills of young adults match with employers demands. The third objective is to understand the implications of young adults unemployment in the longer term, including the effects on the unemployed individuals and on society as a whole. The fourth objective is to investigate the degree to which flexicurity policies, policies supporting business start-ups and self-employment, and policies promoting education and training platforms are embraced by the European states and to assess their impacts on young adults unemployment. The fifth objective of the CUPESSE project is to present ideas for new policy measures and formulate strategy for overcoming youth unemployment in Europe. To attain this goal, the project brings together theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches from four academic disciplines, namely economics, political science, psychology, and sociology.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2010-1.1.26 | Award Amount: 10.18M | Year: 2010

The co-ordinated and integrated approach of HYDRALAB aims at structuring the access to unique and costly hydraulic and ice engineering research infrastructures in the European Research Area. The network of HYDRALAB is unique in the hydraulic research community and has large experience in co-operating since its start in 1997. It began by informing and co-ordinating the activities of the partners in HYDRALAB I and II, and via strong collaboration in HYDRALAB III we will now realize further integration of our research services in Europe in HYDRALAB IV. Over the course of 10 years our network has grown from 8 participants in 1997 to a total of 30 participants from 15 countries today. Research in our infrastructures deals with complex questions regarding the interaction of water with environmental elements, sediment, structures and ice and goes beyond just hydraulic research: hence we have adopted the theme More than water. Questions that we need to answer deal with e.g. the development of adaptive strategies to climate change and sustainable measures against natural hazards, like floods. A fully integrated and balanced ensemble of Networking Activities (5), Joint Research Activities (4) and Transnational Access Activities (10) enhances the operation of our infrastructures and their instrumentation facilities beyond the present state-of-the-art and identifies potential future developments. By means of the common User Selection Procedure optimal access is guaranteed. With our dissemination events we foster a culture of co-operation between the participants and the wider user community. Further objectives of HYDRALAB IV are to improve access to experimental data, by providing researchers with a database on results of experiments, and bring young researchers and first time users from across Europe to the cutting edge of experimental research. As compared to the first proposal for HYDRALAB IV this proposal is improved with the recommendations made by the review panel.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2012.3.5-03 | Award Amount: 7.70M | Year: 2012

Water4Crops provides a combination of technical improvements in the field of bio-treatment and agricultural water use within a transdisciplinary identification of novel agri-business opportunities. Water4Crops aims at: a) developing innovative biotechnological wastewater treatments for improved water recycling, b) initiating the co-creation of alternative combinations of bio-treatment, recycling of high value elements, and combinations for bioproducts leading to a better commercialization of biotechnology and agricultural products in Europe and India, c)improving water use efficiency at field level through agronomics, plant breeding and locally adapted new irrigation technologies and accurate crop water requirement measurements techniques. Water4Crops will boost bio-based economy by applying a double track approach. First a comprehensive set of key Green-Economy technologies for: 1) valorization of volatile fatty acids; 2) obtaining: natural antioxidants (polyphenols), biopolymers (PHAs), energy (biomethane); 3) new substances for selective recovery of valuable products from wastewater; 4) tailoring effluent properties from decentralized innovative bioreactors; 5) low bio-sludge production by SBBG Reactors; 6) removal of organopollutants by nanobiocatalysts; 7) reduced clogging of wetlands; 8) virus monitoring detection assays; 9) suitable precision irrigation systems for reclaimed water; 10) new monitoring for increase crop water productivity; 11) understanding the genetic mechanisms regulating drought-adaptive traits across maize, sorghum, millet and tomato; 12) optimized waste water related combinations of species/genotypes x environment x management. Second, new product market combinations will be identified. The co-creation process will be organized by two Mirror cases (Emilia Romagna area in Italy and Hyderabad region in India) within a specific Science-Practice Interface (INNOVA platforms). Developing the new applications and business opportunities with regional enterprises and stakeholder will move India and Europe towards a Green Economy.


News Article | December 15, 2015
Site: phys.org

Researchers from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment of the University of Catania, are testing the best mix of local organic residues, mainly citrus skins, to compose the "diet" of five anaerobic digesters located on the University's farm. They aim to create a local source of renewable energy from the 400,000 to 700,000 tons of orange residue from fruit juice production, the disposal of which costs between €12 and 21 million every year. However, about 150 km from Catania, plans for a 21MV power plant between Enna and Caltanissetta have met with resistance from local communities and green activists. The plant was supposed to use fuel from one of the island's green lungs, which would have meant cutting about 6,000 hectares of Eucalyptus trees, thus increasing the hydrogeological instability in the region. For the moment the demonstrators have won their battle in Sicily. The contract between the power plant management and the regional government, which owns the woods, has been stopped. "Context is everything when evaluating sustainability," says Ben Allen, senior policy analyst at the Institute for European Environmental Policy, "because it determines the feasibility of a power plant, the availability of the resources, the conditions of supplying and the interaction with the wider business community." From this perspective, residues seem to be a promising solution for improving biomass sustainability, as shown by the report "Wasted – Europe's untapped resources," which weighs up the potential of farm and urban wastes to produce biofuels. The research has found that every year in Europe, 220 million tons of wasted cellulosic materials, which include crop residues, forest slash and municipal solid waste, can potentially be converted into biofuels, thus cutting GHG emissions by 60 to 85 percent and covering 16 percent of transport fuel needs by 2030. "The consultants looked into all alternative uses of waste—its displacement impact and its benefits, especially for municipal solid waste, resulting from avoiding decomposition and methane," explains Allen, who helped in coordinating the research for the project. Biomass, indeed, is not neutral in terms of greenhouse emissions, with a variable impact ranging from lower values for forest residues to the highest, related to palm kernel. Considering that the 2030 EU climate goal aims to cut greenhouse emissions by 40 percent compared to 1990, tight controls are required. In Spain, at Laguna De Duero, three biomass boilers are fed with woodchips from local forests to heat 1,488 dwellings situated in the Torrelago district. "In this way, we are able to cut CO2 emissions by up to 85 percent, which corresponds to about 3,000 tons per year," explains Javier Martín Sanz, engineer at Veolia and in charge of the European project CITyFiED. "Moreover, each boiler has a system that removes ashes through blasts of compressed air. The detached particles are then filtered out and collected, minimising the final dust emissions." The quality of wood biomass and the treatment of smoke are, indeed, key factors regarding types and quantities of GHG emissions. "We should only choose fuels from certified production chains," says Vito Pignatelli, chief of the Laboratory of Biomass and Biotechnologies at Enea. The agency is working on a new generation of ceramic filters able to cut particulate emissions by up to 92 percent. "These filters are made of silicon carbide and dipped in a copper ferrite catalyst, which makes them able to decompose particulates when heated," Pignatelli concludes. Explore further: Waste-biogas is at least ten times more effective than crop-biogas at reducing greenhouse gas emissions


The proposed integrating project LOWINPUTBREEDS aims to develop integrated LIVESTOCK BREEDING and MANAGEMENT strategies to improve ANIMAL HEALTH, product QUALITY and PERFORMANCE in European organic and low input milk, meat and egg production through research, dissemination and training activities. The consortium includes 11 academic centres of excellence and 6 genetics/breeding companies (4 SMEs) in 11 European, 2 ICPC and 2 industrialised third countries. The proposed project has 4 main Science and Technology OBJECTIVES: 1. To DEVELOP and evaluate INNOVATIVE BREEDING CONCEPTS, including (a) genome wide and (b) marker assisted selection, and (c) cross-, (d) flower- and (e) farmer participatory breeding strategies, which will deliver genotypes with robustness and quality traits required under low input conditions. The project will focus on 5 LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION SYSTEMS (dairy cows, dairy and meat sheep, pigs and laying hens) and design SPECIES-SPECIFIC BREEDING STRATEGIES for different macroclimatic regions in Europe. 2. To INTEGRATE the use of IMPROVED GENOTYPES with INNOVATIVE MANAGEMENT approaches including improved diets, feeding regimes and rearing systems. This will focus on issues (e.g. mastitis and parasite control, animal welfare problems) where breeding or management innovations alone are unlikely to provide satisfactory solutions. 3. To IDENTIFY potential ECONOMIC, ENVIRONMENTAL, GENETIC DIVERSITY and ETHICAL IMPACTS of project deliverables to ensure they conform to different societal priorities and consumer demands/expectations and are acceptable to producers. 4. To ESTABLISH an efficient TRAINING and DISSEMINATION programme aimed at rapid exploitation and application of project deliverables by the organic and low input livestock industry.


Polimeni G.,IRCCS Centro Neurolesi | Esposito E.,Messina University | Bevelacqua V.,University of Catania | Guarneri C.,Messina University | Cuzzocrea S.,Messina University
Frontiers in Bioscience - Landmark | Year: 2014

Neurodegenerative diseases are chronic and progressive disorders characterized by selective destruction of neurons in motor, sensory and cognitive systems. Despite their different origin, free radicals accumulation and consequent tissue damage are importantly concerned for the majority of them. In recent years, research on melatonin revealed a potent activity of this hormone against oxidative and nitrosative stress-induced damage within the nervous system. Indeed, melatonin turned out to be more effective than other naturally occurring antioxidants, suggesting its beneficial effects in a number of diseases where oxygen radical-mediated tissue damage is involved. With specific reference to the brain, the considerable amount of evidence accumulated from studies on various neurodegeneration models and recent clinical reports support the use of melatonin for the preventive treatment of major neurodegenerative disorders. This review summarizes the literature on the protective effects of melatonin on Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, Huntington's disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Additional studies are required to test the clinical efficacy of melatonin supplementation in such disorders, and to identify the specific therapeutic concentrations needed.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: SEC-2011.1.3-3 | Award Amount: 19.77M | Year: 2012

Clearing large civilian areas from anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions is a difficult problem because of the large diversity of hazardous areas and explosive contamination. A single solution does not exist and many mine action actors have asked for a toolbox from which they could choose the tools best fit to a given situation. Some have built their own toolboxes, usually specific to some precise tasks, such as clearance. The TIRAMISU project aims at providing the foundation for a global toolbox that will cover the main mine action activities, from the survey of large areas to the actual disposal of explosive hazards, including mine risk education. The toolbox produced by the project will provide mine action actors with a large set of tools, grouped into thematic modules, that will help them do their job. These tools will have been designed with the help of end-users and validated by them in mine affected countries. To reach the level of expertise needed the TIRAMISU team includes organisations that were involved in some of the most important European and international research projects in mine action of the last fifteen years. The TIRAMISU partners will build on their past experience of this topic, their long tradition to work with each other, and the strong links they have forged over the years with mine action centres and mine action authorities, demining companies and non-governmental organisations, to bring a toolbox that will represent a step forward in mine action by being the basis for a unifying, comprehensive and modular integrated solution to the clearing of large areas from explosive hazards. The philosophy of the TIRAMISU project is to concentrate most of its efforts, not on already existing technology, but on the most mature technologies and methods that are still to be fielded and on promising and innovating solutions even if they may require more work to be fielded


Capodanno D.,University of Catania | de Caterina R.,University of Chieti Pescara
Thrombosis and Haemostasis | Year: 2015

Bivalirudin is a valuable anticoagulant option in patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS) undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention. Advantages over heparin as a parenteral anticoagulant include more predictable pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, shorter half-life, no need for cofactors, some degree of antiplatelet effect, and the ability to inhibit clot-bound thrombin. Clinical evidence supporting the use of bivalirudin over heparin in current ACS guidelines, however, derives mostly from early randomised trials that may no longer reflect current management patterns, now including the use of oral antiplatelet agents more potent than clopidogrel (i.e. prasugrel or ticagrelor) and a broader implementation of strategies to reduce bleeding (i.e. radial access for percutaneous coronary intervention, and use of glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors only in bailout situations). Defining the fine balance between bivalirudin efficacy and safety over heparins in the context of other antithrombotic treatments remains a challenge in clinical practice, particularly in a fast-evolving scenario, such as ACS, where numerous new trials have been presented in very recent times. Here we provide an up-to-date overview of the evidence on the use of bivalirudin in ACS, with focus on new data, open issues, and future directions. © 2015 Schattauer.


Scordia D.,University of Catania | Cosentino S.L.,University of Catania | Lee J.-W.,Chonnam National University | Jeffries T.W.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Jeffries T.W.,University of Wisconsin - Madison
Biomass and Bioenergy | Year: 2011

Biomass pretreatment is essential to overcome recalcitrance of lignocellulose for ethanol production. In the present study we pretreated giant reed (Arundo donax L.), a perennial, rhizomatous lignocellulosic grass with dilute oxalic acid. The effects of temperature (170-190 °C), acid loading (2-10% w/w) and reaction time (15-40 min) were handled as a single parameter, combined severity. We explored the change in hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin composition following pretreatment and glucan conversion after enzymatic hydrolysis of the solid residue. Two different yeast strains, Scheffersomyces (Pichia) stipitis CBS 6054, which is a native xylose and cellobiose fermenter, and Saccharomyces carlsbergensis FPL-450, which does not ferment xylose or cellobiose, were used along with commercial cellulolytic enzymes in simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF). S. carlsbergensis attained a maximum ethanol concentration of 15.9 g/l after 48 h at pH 5.0, while S. stipitis, at the same condition, took 96 h to reach a similar ethanol value; increasing the pH to 6.0 reduced the S. stipitis lag phase and attained 18.0 g/l of ethanol within 72 h. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Pinzone M.R.,University of Catania | Berretta M.,Italian National Cancer Institute | Cacopardo B.,University of Catania | Nunnari G.,University of Catania
Seminars in Oncology | Year: 2015

The human gammaherpesvirus family includes Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and human herpesvirus (HHV)-8, also known as Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). In human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients, both EBV and KSHV have been implicated in the development of a wide range of tumors. KSHV-associated diseases include Kaposi sarcoma (KS), primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), and multicentric Castleman disease (MCD). EBV has been associated with the development of several malignancies, including Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has dramatically modified the natural history of HIV infection, causing a decline in the incidence of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-defining malignancies, including KS. However, it has had a less favorable impact on EBV-related malignancies and NHLs remain the most common tumors in the HAART era. In this review, we briefly summarize the pathogenesis, epidemiology, clinical features, and therapeutic approach to EBV- and KSHV-associated tumors in the setting of HIV infection. © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Atzori L.,University of Cagliari | Iera A.,University of Reggio Calabria | Morabito G.,University of Catania
IEEE Communications Letters | Year: 2011

The actual development of the Internet of Things (IoT) needs major issues related to things' service discovery and composition to be addressed. This paper proposes a possible approach to solve such issues. We introduce a novel paradigm of "social network of intelligent objects", namely the Social Internet of Things (SIoT), based on the notion of social relationships among objects. Following the definition of a possible social structure among objects, a preliminary architecture for the implementation of SIoT is presented. Through the SIoT paradigm, the capability of humans and devices to discover, select, and use objects with their services in the IoT is augmented. Besides, a level of trustworthiness is enabled to steer the interaction among the billions of objects which will crowd the future IoT. © 2011 IEEE.


Capra A.,University of Reggio Calabria | Consoli S.,University of Catania | Scicolone B.,Agronomist consultant
Water Resources Management | Year: 2013

In recent decades a general change in climate has been documented in several locations over the world. Such changes could have significant effects on various environmental scenarios, including water resource management, agriculture, hydrology and ecosystems. The complex topography and coastlines of Mediterranean regions influences the climatic regime exhibiting substantial fine-scale spatial variability. In Italy, the climate is generally becoming warmer and drier, with quite large differences depending on the site and data treatment. In this study a historical set of meteorological data (110 precipitation and 28 temperature series), collected over 1921-2007 in the Calabria region (Southern Italy) was analysed. Several meteorological and agrometeorological indices were selected for whether they could evaluate the potential effects of climate change on water availability for natural vegetation and cultivated plants. The significance of the analysed time series (monthly, seasonal and annual time scales) was evaluated by using statistical trend analysis (Mann-Kendall and t-test). Moreover, the intensities of drought events were determined using the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) for the time scales of 3 and 6 months. The analysis highlighted a general decrease in annual precipitation and an increase in drought intensity. At a regional level, yearly precipitation decreased by almost 318 mm/100 years (representing almost 30 % of the yearly mean precipitation in the region). Temperature changes were more complex. On a regional scale, yearly mean minimum temperatures increased by 0. 9 °C/100 years and maximum and mean temperatures decreased by 1 °C/100 years and 0. 8 °C/100 years, respectively. Due to the asymmetric behaviour of temperatures, there was a decreasing impact on evapotranspiration. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Atzori L.,University of Cagliari | Iera A.,University of Reggio Calabria | Morabito G.,University of Catania | Nitti M.,University of Cagliari
Computer Networks | Year: 2012

Recently there has been quite a number of independent research activities that investigated the potentialities of integrating social networking concepts into Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. The resulting paradigm, named Social Internet of Things (SIoT), has the potential to support novel applications and networking services for the IoT in more effective and efficient ways. In this context, the main contributions of this paper are the following: (i) we identify appropriate policies for the establishment and the management of social relationships between objects in such a way that the resulting social network is navigable; (ii) we describe a possible architecture for the IoT that includes the functionalities required to integrate things into a social network; (iii) we analyze the characteristics of the SIoT network structure by means of simulations.


Testa G.,University of Catania | Gresta F.,University of Reggio Calabria | Cosentino S.L.,University of Catania
European Journal of Agronomy | Year: 2011

The best trade-off between quantity and quality in forage crops is one the most important targets of the agronomic research, since quantitative and qualitative traits are generally inversely correlated. With the aim of exploring the effect of harvest time (early and late), soil water content (irrigated and rainfed) and variety (Equipe, Europe and Midi) on duration, yield and quality of alfalfa, a four year trial was carried out in a Mediterranean environment. Early cut resulted in a reduction of forage yield (12%) with a faster reduction of longevity, but with a higher quality characteristics in terms of protein (20.2%) and fibre (23.1%) compared to the late cut (18.0 and 25.9%, respectively for protein and fibre). Dry treatment led to a limited reduction of yield and quality traits, suggesting alfalfa is a potential forage resource for the improvement of hilly areas of Mediterranean environment. The tested varieties show all a good regrowth capability allowing three, sometimes four, cut per year. The obtained results pointed out that the combination of early and late harvest times would allow a better distribution of the forage production between the months of June and September as well as a fair useful forage regrowth during the months of October and November. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Dipasquale S.,King's College London | Dipasquale S.,University of Catania | Pariante C.M.,King's College London | Dazzan P.,King's College London | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Psychiatric Research | Year: 2013

Objective: People with schizophrenia show a high incidence of metabolic syndrome, which is associated with a high mortality from cardiovascular disease. The aetiology of the metabolic syndrome in schizophrenia is multi-factorial and may involve antipsychotic treatment, high levels of stress and unhealthy lifestyle, such as poor diet. As a poor diet can predispose to the development of metabolic abnormalities, the aims of this review are to clarify: 1) the dietary patterns of patients with schizophrenia, 2) the association of these dietary patterns with a worse metabolic profile, and 3) the possible factors influencing these dietary patterns. Methods: A search was conducted on Pubmed, The Cochrane Library, Scopus, Embase, Ovid, Psychoinfo and ISI web of Knowledge from 1950 to the 1st of November 2011. 783 articles were found through the investigation of such databases. After title, abstract or full-text reading and applying exclusion criteria we reviewed 31 studies on dietary patterns and their effects on metabolic parameters in schizophrenia. Results: Patients with schizophrenia have a poor diet, mainly characterized by a high intake of saturated fat and a low consumption of fibre and fruit. Such diet is more likely to increase the risk to develop metabolic abnormalities. Data about possible causes of poor diet in schizophrenia are still few and inconsistent. Conclusion: Subjects with schizophrenia show a poor diet that partly accounts for their higher incidence of metabolic abnormalities. Further studies are needed to clarify the causes of poor diet and the role of dietary intervention to improve their physical health. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Kandoth N.,University of Catania | Mosinger J.,Charles University | Gref R.,University Paris - Sud | Sortino S.,University of Catania
Journal of Materials Chemistry B | Year: 2013

We have developed an engineered hydrogel formed, in the absence of any toxic solvents or reagents, by spontaneous self-assembly of three key components: a poly-β-cyclodextrin polymer (1), a hydrophobically modified dextran (2) and a nitric oxide (NO) photodonor bearing an adamantyl appendage (3). The formation of this supramolecular assembly is based on a "lock-and-key" mechanism in which the alkyl side chains of 2 and the adamantane moiety of 3 form inclusion complexes with the β-CD cavities of 1. The multivalent character of the interactions between all components and the insolubility of the NO photodonor in an aqueous medium ensure the stability of the hydrogel and the total lack of leaching of the photoactive component from the gel network under physiological conditions, even in the absence of protective coating agents. The photochemical properties of the NO photodonor are well preserved in the supramolecular matrix as demonstrated by the remote-controlled release of NO through visible light excitation and its transfer to a protein such as myoglobin. The utility of this NO photoreleasing platform is demonstrated in effective and strictly light-dependent bactericidal activity against the Gram-negative Escherichia coli bacterial colony suspension. © 2013 The Royal Society of Chemistry.


Duntas L.H.,National and Kapodistrian University of Athens | Bernardini R.,University of Catania
Thyroid | Year: 2010

Background: Sorafenib (BAY 43-9006) is an inhibitor of multiple-receptor tyrosine kinases involved in tumor growth and angiogenesis, which can be advantageously administered orally. Initially used as monotherapy in advanced renal cell carcinoma, sorafenib was proven to increase progression-free survival while enhancing disease control. Clinical trials on sorafenib are at present ongoing for the treatment of various malignancies, including thyroid cancer (TC). Summary: Specifically, in two phase II studies recently conducted on papillary TC, although the respective results were not entirely compatible as regard partial response rate and progression-free survival, sorafenib demonstrated a relatively favorable benefit/risk profile. In another more recent phase II study, whose primary endpoint was the reinduction of radioactive iodine uptake at 26 weeks, although no reinduction of radioactive iodine uptake was observed, 59% had a beneficial response and 34% had stable disease. Sorafenib hence appears to be a valid alternative to conventional treatment of metastatic papillary TC refractory to radioiodine therapy. Conclusions: Further prospective investigations are required to define the characteristics of tumor response to the drug and the factors inducing resistance to treatment. A major issue demanding immediate attention involves optimization of sorafenib treatment: this concerns multidrug combination with different tyrosine kinase inhibitors or immunomodulating agents with the aim of reducing doses and thereby improving drug tolerability and antineoplastic capability. © 2010, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


Fraix A.,University of Catania | Kandoth N.,University of Catania | Manet I.,CNR Institute for Organic Syntheses and Photoreactivity | Cardile V.,University of Catania | And 3 more authors.
Chemical Communications | Year: 2013

A multifunctional nanoplatform with four-in-one photoresponsive functionalities has been achieved through the co-encapsulation of two chromo-fluorogenic components within biocompatible polymeric nanoparticles. This engineered nanoconstruct efficiently delivers different photosensitizers in melanoma cells, which can be detected through their dual-color fluorescence, and induces amplified cell mortality due to the simultaneous photogeneration of singlet oxygen and nitric oxide. © 2013 The Royal Society of Chemistry.


Mancini G.,University of Catania | Tamma R.,L.E.S.S. | Viotti P.,University of Rome La Sapienza
Waste Management | Year: 2010

Until only recently fluff has been largely disposed of in controlled landfill sites. However, in Europe environmental regulations, including the EU Landfill Directive 1999/31/EC and ELV (End of Life Vehicle) Directive 2000/53/EC, have dramatically increased the pressure on all stakeholders to develop alternative solutions. As increasingly stringent legislation forces Shredder Residues (SR) to be diverted from landfilling, newly developed technologies will be in a position to compete for the market value of disposing of the waste. However, the fluff waste stream is so variable that it cannot be automatically assumed that processes developed for one type of fluff will prove to be suitable for other fluff streams. This situation has contributed towards convincing stakeholders to withhold investment funds or delay taking decisions as to how best to proceed; as a consequence, very few technologies have been fully developed on a commercial basis. It is of particular interest therefore that commercial alternatives to be used in dealing with this complex waste stream should be identified. The present paper illustrates the findings of a full-scale thermal treatment performed on SR samples obtained from various shredding plants. The outcome of the study provides an important contribution towards assessing the feasibility and reliability of the process, thus constituting a basic prerequisite for process performance evaluation. The full-scale plant, designed for the thermo-valorization of tyres, was purpose-modified to allow for fluff combustion. Three different fluff compositions (car fluff with different percentage of shredding, whites and 100% car fluff) were taken into consideration. Both the raw samples and solid products were thoroughly characterized. Combustion emissions were continuously analyzed during the test period, alternatively operating for tyre and fluff combustion. Classification of combustion residues for landfill disposal was carried out indicating only 2% (ashes) as hazardous waste. Preliminary results, obtained from a unsophisticated thermodynamic analysis of the process, indicated a value of 0.61 for energy efficiency parameter calculated in accordance with the Directive 2008/98/EC. To conclude, the thermal treatment investigated may be deemed an appropriate technique for use in managing fluff. Indeed, values obtained for all organic and inorganic contaminants released into the atmosphere were lower than legal limits prescribed, and a significant energy content was recovered from waste fractions. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Atzori L.,University of Cagliari | Iera A.,University of Reggio Calabria | Morabito G.,University of Catania
IEEE Communications Magazine | Year: 2014

Social networking concepts have been applied to several communication network settings, which span from delay-tolerant to peer-to-peer networks. More recently, one can observe a flourish of proposals aimed at giving social-like capabilities to the objects in the Internet of Things. Such proposals address the design of conceptual (and software) platforms, which can be exploited to easily develop and implement complex applications that require direct interactions among objects. The major goal is to build techniques that allow the network to enhance the level of trust between objects that are "friends" with each other. Furthermore, a social paradigm could definitely guarantee network navigability even if the number of nodes becomes orders of magnitude higher than in the traditional Internet. Objectives of this article are to analyze the major opportunities arising from the integration of social networking concepts into the Internet of Things, present the major ongoing research activities, and point out the most critical technical challenges. © 1979-2012 IEEE.


Palano M.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Imprescia P.,University of Catania | Imprescia P.,CNR Institute of Environmental Geology and Geoengineering | Gresta S.,University of Catania
Earth and Planetary Science Letters | Year: 2013

The stress and strain-rate fields characterizing the Dead Sea Fault System are investigated by using seismological and geodetic observations. In order to assess spatial variations in the regional stress field, we compiled a multidisciplinary dataset of well-constrained horizontal indicators, by merging all available data reported in literature with the data obtained in this study through weighted stress inversions of focal plane solutions. Our findings indicate that the state of stress is characterized by the coexistence of a normal faulting stress regime with the primarily strike-slip one, according to the regional frame illustrated by previous geological and seismological observations. An updated velocity field computed from new observations and earlier published data depicts the general left-lateral motion of the Dead Sea Fault System well. In agreement with previous studies, we detected some differences in the slip-rate pattern between the northern and the southern sectors of the fault system. The geodetic strain-rate field highlights how much of the deformation is accommodated along the fault system itself in a narrow region. The comparison between the stress and the strain-rate directions reveals that both orientations are near-parallel, clearly indicating that present-day crustal stress and ground deformation patterns are chiefly driven by the same tectonic processes. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Pellegriti G.,Garibaldi Nesima Hospital | Frasca F.,University of Catania | Regalbuto C.,University of Catania | Squatrito S.,University of Catania | Vigneri R.,Garibaldi Nesima Hospital And Humanitas
Journal of Cancer Epidemiology | Year: 2013

Background. In the last decades, thyroid cancer incidence has continuously and sharply increased all over the world. This review analyzes the possible reasons of this increase. Summary. Many experts believe that the increased incidence of thyroid cancer is apparent, because of the increased detection of small cancers in the preclinical stage. However, a true increase is also possible, as suggested by the observation that large tumors have also increased and gender differences and birth cohort effects are present. Moreover, thyroid cancer mortality, in spite of earlier diagnosis and better treatment, has not decreased but is rather increasing. Therefore, some environmental carcinogens in the industrialized lifestyle may have specifically affected the thyroid. Among potential carcinogens, the increased exposure to medical radiations is the most likely risk factor. Other factors specific for the thyroid like increased iodine intake and increased prevalence of chronic autoimmune thyroiditis cannot be excluded, while other factors like the increasing prevalence of obesity are not specific for the thyroid. Conclusions. The increased incidence of thyroid cancer is most likely due to a combination of an apparent increase due to more sensitive diagnostic procedures and of a true increase, a possible consequence of increased population exposure to radiation and to other still unrecognized carcinogens. © 2013 Gabriella Pellegriti et al.


Tomaselli V.,CNR Institute of Plant Genetics | Tenerelli P.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | Sciandrello S.,University of Catania
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment | Year: 2012

In the Mediterranean Region, habitat loss and fragmentation severely affect coastal wetlands, due to the rapid expansion of anthropogenic activities that has occurred in the last decades. Landscape metrics are commonly used to define landscape patterns and to evaluate fragmentation processes. This investigation focuses on the performance of a set of landscape pattern indices within landscapes characterized by coastal environments and extent below 1,000 ha. The aim is to assess the degree of habitat fragmentation for the monitoring of protected areas and to learn whether values of landscape metrics can characterize fine-resolution landscape patterns. The study areas are three coastal wetlands belonging to the Natura 2000 network and sited on the Adriatic side of Apulia (Southern Italy). The Habitat Maps were derived from the Vegetation Maps generated integrating phytosociological relevés and Earth Observation data. In the three sites, a total of 16 habitat types were detected. A selected set of landscape metrics was applied in order to investigate their performance in assessing fragmentation and spatial patterns of habitats. The final results showed that the most significant landscape patterns are related to highly specialized habitat types closely linked to coastal environments. In interpreting the landscape patterns of these highly specialized habitats, some specific ecological factors were taken into account. The shape indices were the most useful in assessing the degree of fragmentation of habitat types that usually have elongated morphology along the shoreline or the coastal lagoons. In all the cases, to be meaningful, data obtained from the application of the selected indices were jointly assessed, especially at the class level. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


Shoshan-Barmatz V.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | De Pinto V.,University of Catania | De Pinto V.,Instituto Nazionale Of Biomembrane E Biosistemi | Zweckstetter M.,Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry | And 3 more authors.
Molecular Aspects of Medicine | Year: 2010

Research over the past decade has extended the prevailing view of the mitochondrion to include functions well beyond the generation of cellular energy. It is now recognized that mitochondria play a crucial role in cell signaling events, inter-organellar communication, aging, cell proliferation, diseases and cell death. Thus, mitochondria play a central role in the regulation of apoptosis (programmed cell death) and serve as the venue for cellular decisions leading to cell life or death. One of the mitochondrial proteins controlling cell life and death is the voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC), also known as mitochondrial porin. VDAC, located in the mitochondrial outer membrane, functions as gatekeeper for the entry and exit of mitochondrial metabolites, thereby controlling cross-talk between mitochondria and the rest of the cell. VDAC is also a key player in mitochondria-mediated apoptosis. Thus, in addition to regulating the metabolic and energetic functions of mitochondria, VDAC appears to be a convergence point for a variety of cell survival and cell death signals mediated by its association with various ligands and proteins. In this article, we review what is known about the VDAC channel in terms of its structure, relevance to ATP rationing, Ca2+ homeostasis, protection against oxidative stress, regulation of apoptosis, involvement in several diseases and its role in the action of different drugs. In light of our recent findings and the recently solved NMR- and crystallography-based 3D structures of VDAC1, the focus of this review will be on the central role of VDAC in cell life and death, addressing VDAC function in the regulation of mitochondria-mediated apoptosis with an emphasis on structure-function relations. Understanding structure-function relationships of VDAC is critical for deciphering how this channel can perform such a variety of functions, all important for cell life and death. This review also provides insight into the potential of VDAC1 as a rational target for new therapeutics. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Capodanno D.,University of Catania | Joner M.,CVPath Institute Inc. | Zimarino M.,University of Chieti Pescara
EuroIntervention | Year: 2015

Bioresorbable scaffolds promise to counteract late thrombosis by the absence of residual foreign material over time and the restoration of functional endothelial coverage. However, although currently available data are controversial, initial post-marketing studies have raised some concerns about the putative increased early thrombogenicity of bioresorbable scaffolds as compared to currently available second-generation drug-eluting stents. This article focuses on incidence rates, putative mechanisms and prevention strategies of scaffold thrombosis. © 2015 Europa Digital & Publishing. All rights reserved.


Scordia D.,University of Catania | Cosentino S.L.,University of Catania | Lee J.-W.,Chonnam National University | Jeffries T.W.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Jeffries T.W.,University of Wisconsin - Madison
Biomass and Bioenergy | Year: 2012

The objective of this study was to evaluate the production of ethanol by Scheffersomyces (Pichia) stipitis CBS6054, a native xylose fermenting yeast, from sugars contained in the giant reed (Arundo donax L.) hemicellulosic hydrolysate.A response surface methodology with two input parameters, severity factor and oxalic acid concentration ranging from 2.87 to 4.05 and from 2 to 8 (% w oxalic acid/w solid dry matter), respectively, was employed to minimize degradation products and maximize sugar release. However, at the optimum condition for sugar release (43.8gl -1), levels of toxic degradation products (acetic acid, furfural, HMF and phenolic compounds) were considered too high for yeast fermentation. The condition to minimize degradation products and maximize sugar yields was judged to be 2.87 severity factor and 5.0% oxalic acid concentration. At this condition 26.0gl -1 xylose, 5.0gl -1 glucose and 2.4gl -1 arabinose were recovered in giant reed hydrolysate fraction. Adjustment of pH to 5.0 with Ca(OH) 2 decreased xylose, glucose and acetic acid, 22%, 8% and 27% respectively. Increasing the initial pH from 5.0 to 5.5, 6.0 and 6.5, respectively, significantly improved the fermentability of the giant reed hemicelluloses hydrolysate; no fermentation was observed at pH 5.0 after 96h, while 8.20gl -1 of ethanol was obtained at pH 6.0 after 48h, with an ethanol yield of 0.33 (g e/g s) and a productivity of 0.17gl -1h -1. The optimum pH of acid hydrolysate fermentation for ethanol production was 6.0-6.5. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Failla G.,University of Reggio Calabria | Impollonia N.,University of Catania
Archive of Applied Mechanics | Year: 2012

The theory of generalized functions is used to address the static equilibrium problem of Euler-Bernoulli non-uniform and discontinuous 2-D beams. It is shown that if simple integration rules are applied, the full set of response variables due to end nodal displacements and to in-span loads can be derived, in a closed form, for most common beam profiles and arbitrary discontinuity parameters. On this basis, for finite element analysis purposes, a non-uniform and discontinuous beam element is implemented, for which the exact stiffness matrix and the fixed-end load vector are derived. Upon computing the nodal response, no numerical integration is required to build the response variables along the beam element. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.


Giuffre S.,University of Reggio Calabria | Maugeri A.,University of Catania
AIP Conference Proceedings | Year: 2013

The existence of Lagrange multiplier as a Radon measure is ensured for an elastic-plastic torsion problem associated to a linear operator. © 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.


Guglielmino S.L.,Institute of Astrophysics of Canarias | Guglielmino S.L.,University of La Laguna | Zuccarello F.,University of Catania
Astrophysical Journal Letters | Year: 2011

We investigate signatures of siphon flows in a region around a solar magnetic pore, observed in the photosphere at μ = 0.6, during its decay phase. We analyze high-resolution Stokes spectra acquired by Hinode/Solar Optical Telescope along the FeI pair at 630.2nm. We determine the vector magnetic field and the line-of-sight velocity by an inversion of the full Stokes vector using the SIR code. We also analyze photospheric G-band filtergrams. We find evidence of a transient siphon (counter)flow at the edge of the pore. An arch-shaped structure is found to have upflow motions of 4kms-1 in the footpoint with a stronger magnetic field and positive polarity, and downflows of the same order of magnitude in the footpoint with opposite polarity and a weaker magnetic field. The event is different from those reported in previous observations of the Sun's atmosphere and may represent a physical constraint for numerical models. © 2011. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


Romano P.,Italian National Cancer Institute | Giugno R.,University of Catania | Pulvirenti A.,University of Catania
Briefings in Bioinformatics | Year: 2011

Advanced research requires intensive interaction among a multitude of actors, often possessing different expertise and usually working at a distance from each other. The field of collaborative research aims to establish suitable models and technologies to properly support these interactions. In this article, we first present the reasons for an interest of Bioinformatics in this context by also suggesting some research domains that could benefit from collaborative research. We then review the principles and some of the most relevant applications of social networking, with a special attention to networks supporting scientific collaboration, by also highlighting some critical issues, such as identification of users and standardization of formats. We then introduce some systems for collaborative document creation, including wiki systems and tools for ontology development, and review some of the most interesting biological wikis. We also review the principles of Collaborative Development Environments for software and show some examples in Bioinformatics. Finally, we present the principles and some examples of Learning Management Systems. In conclusion, we try to devise some of the goals to be achieved in the short term for the exploitation of these technologies. © The Author(s) 2011. Published by Oxford University Press.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-ITN-2008 | Award Amount: 2.42M | Year: 2009

There is a high demand for the development of new drug delivery strategies to combat major diseases in our society, particularly cancer. Current treatments are based on high efficacy drugs, however their non-selective uptake by both normal and tumor cells as well as the development of multidrug resistance (MDR), constitute major hurdles. Resistance is also associated with the use of nucleoside analogues as anticancer drugs in vivo. Photodynamic therapy (PDT), aims at selectively killing neoplastic lesions by the combined action of a photosensitizer and visible light. Passive targeting, involving enhanced permeability and retention effect, allows the accumulation of drugs on tumor sites, and concomitant active targeting with suitable functionalities, constitute properties currently associated with polymeric delivery systems. Cyclodextrins (CDs) are biocompatible and biodegradable oligosaccharide nanocages, known to improve the solubility, stability and bioavailability of drugs. Scattered literature reports incidents that CDs may constitute potential means to overcome certain forms of MDR, or to effectively deliver photosensitizing anticancer drugs preserving their photodynamic properties. This network, highly specialized in CD chemistry, photochemistry, in vitro drug evaluation and in vivo applications, proposes to synthesize diverse families of new CD derivatives to build a platform of CD-based drug delivery nanosystems with a variety of architectures. These new generation nanocarriers, encompassing many cavities in a nm-sized vehicle, will possess high drug loading capacity, improved permeability and retention effect, enhanced targeting and complete biocompatibility. Their mode of action will be assessed in vitro and in vivo. These goals will be achieved via a strong training program of ESRs and ERs in a highly collaborating, multidisciplinary and application oriented program, with full participation of an SME partner, a leader in CD applications.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 3.89M | Year: 2014

The worldwide spread of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms can be viewed as an ecological consequence of the systematic use of antimicrobial agents. Resistant bacteria prevail in healthcare environments where antibiotic selective pressure is intensive. Novel therapeutic approaches are urgently required to deliver the well-documented existing drugs in an optimized fashion to: i) protect them toward degradation; ii) increase their bioavailability; iii) reduce toxic side effects; iv) increase patient compliance and iv) reduce treatment duration and related costs. In this sense, nanocarriers based on cyclodextrins (CDs) are particularly appealing for the delivery of antibiotics. This approach is of main interest for tuberculosis (TB), infections related to Salmonella Typhimurium, Staphyloccocus aureus and for species most frequently implicated in hospital infections such as enteric gram-negative rods. We will design and characterize CD-based nanocarriers, test their ability to encapsulate drugs, study their efficacy in vitro on bacteria and infected cells. The best formulation will be tested in vivo and scaled up. The objectives of the CycloN Hit project are to take full advantage of nanotechnology and of the high level interdisciplinary expertise of the partners to efficiently encapsulate and protect antibiotics in nanocarriers to combat resistant bacteria, and study the mechanisms in biological systems using state-of-the art techniques. This will be accomplished through a strong and demanding training program for 11 Early Stage and 5 young Experienced Researchers which will gather interdisciplinary expertise of 11 Full partners and 6 Associated partners, of which 7 are SMEs. Using the most recent advances in the nanomedicine field, the final goal of the CycloN Hit project is to bring to the preclinical studies an antibiotic formulation for the treatment of TB and more tailored alternative therapeutic approaches for other resistant microorganisms.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: KBBE.2012.3.1-03 | Award Amount: 1.24M | Year: 2012

The FIBRA network has as main target to link the research and development activities for fibre crop innovations carried out by universities and institutions in both EU and China. This proposal is set up to promote the communication between experts about the key issues of fibre crop production, processing and application, while attention towards quality and efficiency improvement, and product diversification will result in improved markets and enhanced economic scope for sustainable fibre crop production in EU and China. The creation of opportunities for networking and cooperation between experts from different disciplines from China and EU will result in a better exchange of know-how and is expected to bring the state of the art of fibre crop utilization to a higher level on both sides. The FIBRA network is set up to optimize the information exchange on specialized topics for fibre crop productivity, and innovation. The FIBRA network is to provide the basis for common R&D activities between Chinese and European partners. The FIBRA network will provide a long term vision on future common research activities on fibre crops that will contribute to the international policies of the EU and will improve researchers training opportunities.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SSH-2007-2.2-01 | Award Amount: 1.58M | Year: 2009

The FRIDA (Fostering Regional Innovation and Development through Anchors and Networks) project aims to improve regional policy making within the EU, by advancing state of the art understanding of the importance of anchor firms to regional development and cohesion. Anchor firms are known to be increasingly important to regional development as highly entrepreneurial, multi-national firms restructure and relocate in response to the pressures of globalisation. However, there is currently a substantial gap in our understanding of the reasons for their qualitatively different impacts on different regions, how and why they assist the development of networks and capabilities in regions, and what local policies make particular regions attractive, and influence anchor firms to contribute towards more cohesion and even development. By addressing these questions, the FRIDA project aims to both improve understanding and contribute towards the effectiveness of policy making. The outputs of the project are designed to directly help regional policy-making to better anticipate and respond to economic restructuring by helping create regional governance systems that ensure less developed regions level-up to the most developed regions, rather than more developed regions levelling-down in response to the increasing freedom of movement of capital, production and knowledge. In doing so, the project aims to directly address the main points in the call and improve development throughout Europe in a way that is more sustainable, even and socially cohesive.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: KBBE-2007-1-3-01 | Award Amount: 1.26M | Year: 2008

As different sectors food, feed, fiber, and fuels compete for land, the yielding potential of the future non-food crops has to be as efficient as possible in order to minimize the competition for land. The main objective of the proposed 4F CROPS is to survey and analyse all the parameters that will play an important role in successful non-food cropping systems in the agriculture of EU27 alongside the existing food crop systems. The work will start (WP1) with the prediction of the future land use in short term (2020) and long term (2030), taking under consideration restrict factors for agriculture and the market demand for non-food crops. The cropping possibilities (WP2) based on regional potential levels, ecology and climate will be determined. This group of non-food crops will be then subjected to a comparative cost analysis with conventional crops (WP3) for the same time framework. Socio-economic impacts, like farmers income, rural development, public development, and public acceptance will analyse. Then environmental implications will be assessed compared to their respective conventional products (fossil energy, conversional materials) (WP4). Several environmental impacts will be assessed like soil quality and soil erosion, air quality and climate change, water issues, biodiversity and landscape by using LCA and EIE methods. The regulatory framework of the non-food crops will be considered including existing policies, co-existence and safety measures when the crops used for both food and non-food crops (WP5). The work from WP1 WP5 will be used for the formation of scenarios for successful non-food cropping alongside food cropping systems (WP6) answering whether a completive bioeconomy is a viable option for EU27. The dissemination (WP7) will be done though the web-site (intranet), the four project workshops and other articles, leaflet, conferences, fact sheets, and links. WP8 aims at the coordination, management and reporting of the project.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2007.2.1 | Award Amount: 1.31M | Year: 2008

The aim of SPARK II is to develop, evaluate, optimise and generalise a new, insect brain inspired, computational model. The architecture will be hierarchical, based on parallel sensory-motor pathways, implementing reflex-driven basic behaviours. These will be enriched with higher and complex insect brain structural models (Mushroom Bodies, Central Complex) and more physically-inspired nonlinear lattices. The latters will be able to generate self-organizing complex dynamics, while the formers will reproduce relevant cognitive functions in insects such as attention-like processes, short-term memory and rewarding mechanisms. Both of them will work concurrently to generate cognitive behaviours at the output motor layer. \nThe architecture will exploit a number of different sensors, processing signals distributed in space and time and also showing nonlinear dynamics. Perceptual processes are conceived as emerging pattern flows (result of a nonlinear spatial-temporal dynamics). Pattern meaning (concept generation) will be incrementally built upon information derived from sensors as well as from some basic inherited behaviours mediated through the environment. Emerged patterns, with the concurrent dynamics generated by models of the relevant perception centres in insects, will influence the particular associated motor behaviour. \nTo show the generality of the approach, the model will be applied to different robotics architectures, asked to work in real life, unstructured, cluttered and dynamically changing environment. This will demonstrate that perception for action, formulated by suitably merging complex systems with dynamics derived by insect brain models, can lead to the emergence of general archetypes of wide applicability.\nFinally another challenging task will consist in using the same model, applied to different robots, to lead to the emergence of cooperation capabilities to perform tasks unable to be fulfilled by one robot alone: further proof of generality.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: BSG-SME | Phase: SME-1 | Award Amount: 1.42M | Year: 2009

The project will focus on the pre-clinical development of carbon monoxide releasing molecules (CORMs) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Carbon monoxide (CO) has been shown, by several renowned laboratories around the world, to have a number of anti-inflammatory properties which turn it into an exceptionally promising compound against chronic inflammatory diseases such as RA. In its gaseous form CO will hardly be applicable as a drug in a clinical setting. One proponent SME, has conceived and produced a large number of molecules which will release or donate CO, inside the organism, in specific physiological or pathological conditions. These molecules, called CORMs, hold the promise of delivering CO in controlled amounts, at specific rates and in a targeted manner to inflamed tissues such as arthritic joints. In recent months some of these CORMs have been tested in preliminary experiments using rodent models of RA, and have yielded encouraging results in terms of efficacy and toxicity. The main goal of this project will be: to select a small number of exceptionally promising CORMs for the treatment of RA, to develop the best formulations for those compounds, to test their detailed pharmacological and toxicological properties, and ultimately arrive at one lead candidate for clinical development. With this aim, three different SMEs will join their resources, critical mass and knowledge in the field of CORMs, pharmacological test, analysis and standardization and validation of developed assays to gain the ambitious, but reasonable goal: at least one new molecule in clinical trials.


Fraix A.,University of Catania | Gref R.,University Paris - Sud | Sortino S.,University of Catania
Journal of Materials Chemistry B | Year: 2014

We have developed an engineered supramolecular hydrogel, formed in the absence of any toxic solvents or reagents, by the self-assembly of four different components: a poly-β-cyclodextrin polymer, a hydrophobically modified dextran, a commercial zinc phthalocyanine and a tailored nitric oxide photodonor. The formation of this supramolecular assembly is based on a "lock-and-key" mechanism in which the alkyl side chains of the modified dextran form inclusion complexes with the cyclodextrin cavities of the poly-β-cyclodextrin polymer. The multivalent character of the interactions between all the components ensures the stability of the hydrogel and the negligible leaching of the photoactive components from the gel network under physiological conditions, even in the absence of protective coating agents. The combination of steady-state and time-resolved spectroscopic techniques together with photoamperometric measurements shows that the two chromo-fluorogenic components do not interfere with each other while being enclosed in their supramolecular matrix and can thus be operated in parallel under the control of light stimuli. Specifically, excitation with visible light results in the red and green fluorescence emission typical of the two photoactive centers and in their capability to generate singlet oxygen and nitric oxide, two cytotoxic species playing a key role in photodynamic cancer and bacterial therapies. This journal is © the Partner Organisations 2014.


Viccaro M.,University of Catania | Nicotra E.,University of Catania | Millar I.L.,British Geological Survey | Cristofolini R.,University of Catania
Chemical Geology | Year: 2011

High-precision Hf isotopic data for selected historic (pre-1971 eruption) and recent (post-1971) Etnean lavas are discussed in light of their covariation with previously reported Sr-Nd-Pb isotope ratios. 176Hf/177Hf ranges between 0.282961 and 0.282989 in the historic lavas, and between 0.282943 and 0.282990 in the recent ones, displaying, especially among the most recently erupted products, an overall decrease. In Hf-Nd and, to a minor extent, Hf-Sr-Pb isotope spaces, Etnean lavas plot slightly below the linear array defined by MORB and OIB, between the enriched end of the FOZO and HIMU fields. This may suggest that, prior to the formation of Etnean melts, the garnet-bearing source experienced an episode of low-degree melting; this source then evolved for enough time to produce the 176Hf/177Hf and 143Nd/144Nd decoupling observed in the historic and recent lavas. In addition, the distinct εHf values of the historic and recent lavas may be accounted for by portions of the mantle with distinct Lu/Hf ratios, likely related to decreasing modal proportions of garnet in favour of metasomatic phases involved in partial melting. Integration of all the available data suggests that FOZO is the dominant component in the source of Etnean magmas, although this is not enough to solve the observed 176Hf/177Hf change coupled with the Sr-Nd-Pb variation through time. Binary mixing between FOZO and EM-type components demonstrates that addition of about 10% of an EM1-type component to FOZO can account for the isotopic variability of Etnean magmas, a feature more emphasized in the most recent lavas. Divergences from a dominant FOZO signature of erupted magmas at Mt. Etna may therefore be attributed to small-scale heterogeneity produced by access into the source of enriched material with an EM1-type signature. The coupled analysis of 176Hf/177Hf and trace element ratios, such as Sm/Hf and Th/Hf, provides evidence that this enriched infiltrating component could be metasomatizing silicate melts rather than aqueous, low-T fluids. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Pappalardo F.,University of Catania | Pennisi M.,University of Catania | Ricupito A.,Vita-Salute San Raffaele University | Topputo F.,Polytechnic of Milan | Bellone M.,San Raffaele Scientific Institute
Bioinformatics | Year: 2014

Motivation: Although results from phase III clinical trials substantially support the use of prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines against cancer, what has yet to be defined is how many and how frequent boosts are needed to sustain a long-lasting and protecting memory T-cell response against tumor antigens. Common experience is that such preclinical tests require the sacrifice of a relatively large number of animals, and are particularly time- and money-consuming. Results: As a first step to overcome these hurdles, we have developed an ordinary differential equation model that includes all relevant entities (such as activated cytotoxic T lymphocytes and memory T cells), and investigated the induction of immunological memory in the context of wild-type mice injected with a dendritic cell-based vaccine. We have simulated the biological behavior both in the presence and in the absence of memory T cells. Comparing results of ex vivo and in silico experiments, we show that the model is able to envisage the expansion and persistence of antigen-specific memory T cells. The model might be applicable to more complex vaccination schedules and substantially in any biological condition of prime-boosting. Availability and implementation: The model is fully described in the article. Contact: Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online. © The Author 2014.


Palmerini S.,University of Perugia | La Cognata M.,University of Catania | La Cognata M.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Cristallo S.,University of Granada | Busso M.,University of Perugia
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2011

We present computations of nucleosynthesis in low-mass (LM) red giant branch (RGB) and asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars of Population I experiencing extended mixing. We adopt the updated version of the FRANEC evolutionary model, a new post-process code for non-convective mixing and the most recent revisions for solar abundances. In this framework, we discuss the effects of recent improvements in relevant reaction rates for proton captures on intermediate-mass (IM) nuclei (from carbon to aluminum). For each nucleus, we briefly discuss the new choices and their motivations. The calculations are then performed on the basis of a parameterized circulation, where the effects of the new nuclear inputs are best compared to previous works. We find that the new rates (and notably the one for the 14N(p, γ)15O reaction) imply considerable modifications in the composition of post-main-sequence stars. In particular, the slight temperature changes due to the reduced efficiency of proton captures on 14N induce abundance variations at the first dredge-up (especially for 17O, whose equilibrium ratio to 16O is very sensitive to the temperature). In this new scenario, presolar oxide grains of AGB origin turn out to be produced almost exclusively by very low mass stars (M ≤ 1.5-1.7 M), never becoming C-rich. The whole population of grains with 18O/16O below 0.0015 (the limit permitted by first dredge-up) is now explained. Also, there is now no forbidden area for very low values of 17O/16O (below 0.0005), contrary to previous findings. A rather shallow type of transport seems to be sufficient for the CNO changes in RGB stages. Both thermohaline diffusion and magnetic-buoyancy-induced mixing might provide a suitable physical mechanism for this. Thermohaline mixing is in any case certainly inadequate to account for the production of 26Al on the AGB. Other transport mechanisms must therefore be at play. In general, observational constraints from RGB and AGB stars, as well as from presolar grains, are well reproduced by our approach. The nitrogen isotopic ratio in mainstream SiC grains remains an exception. For the low values measured in them (i.e., for 14N/15N ≤2000), we have no explanation. Actually, for the several grains with subsolar nitrogen isotopic ratios, no known stellar process acting in LM stars can provide a clue. This might be an evidence that some form of contamination from cosmic ray spallation occurs in the interstellar medium, adding fresh 15N to the grains. © 2011. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


De Pinto V.,University of Catania | Messina A.,University of Catania | Lane D.J.R.,Monash University | Lawen A.,Monash University
FEBS Letters | Year: 2010

Voltage-dependent anion channels (VDACs) have originally been characterized as mitochondrial porins. Starting in the late 1980s, however, evidence began to accumulate that VDACs can also be expressed in plasma membranes. In this review, we briefly revisit the historical milestones in the discovery of plasma membrane-bound VDAC, and we critically analyze the evidence for VDAC plasma membrane localization obtained from various purification strategies and recently from plasma membrane proteomics studies. We discuss the possible biological function and relevance of VDAC in the plasma membrane and finally discuss a hypothetical model of how VDAC may be targeted to the plasma membrane. © 2010 Federation of European Biochemical Societies.


Athappan G.,Cleveland Clinic | Athappan G.,Case Western Reserve University | Patvardhan E.,Cleveland Clinic | Tuzcu E.M.,Cleveland Clinic | And 11 more authors.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology | Year: 2013

Objectives: This study was designed to establish the incidence, impact, and predictors of post-transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) aortic regurgitation (AR). Background: AR is an important limitation of TAVR with ill-defined predictors and unclear long-term impact on outcomes. Methods: Studies published between 2002 and 2012 with regard to TAVR were identified using an electronic search and reviewed using the random-effects model of DerSimonian and Laird. From 3,871 initial citations, 45 studies reporting on 12,926 patients (CoreValve [Medtronic CV Luxembourg S.a.r.l., Tolochenaz, Switzerland] n = 5,261 and Edwards valve [Edwards Lifesciences, Santa Ana, California] n = 7,279) were included in the analysis of incidence and outcomes of post-TAVR AR. Results: The pooled estimate for moderate or severe AR post-TAVR was 11.7% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 9.6 to 14.1). Moderate or severe AR was more common with use of the CoreValve (16.0% vs. 9.1%, p = 0.005). The presence of moderate or severe AR post-TAVR increased mortality at 30 days (odds ratio: 2.95; 95% CI: 1.73 to 5.02) and 1 year (hazard ratio: 2.27; 95% CI: -1.84 to 2.81). Mild AR was also associated with an increased hazard ratio for mortality, 1.829 (95% CI: 1.005 to 3.329) that was overturned by sensitivity analysis. Twenty-five studies reported on predictors of post-TAVR AR. Implantation depth, valve undersizing, and Agatston calcium score (r = 0.47, p = 0.001) were identified as important predictors. Conclusions: Moderate or severe aortic regurgitation is common after TAVR and an adverse prognostic indicator of short- and long-term survival. Incidence of moderate or severe AR is higher with use of the CoreValve. Mild AR may be associated with increased long-term mortality. Therefore, every effort should be made to minimize AR by a comprehensive pre-procedural planning and meticulous procedural execution. © 2013 American College of Cardiology Foundation.


Nikolic I.,University of Belgrade | Saksida T.,University of Belgrade | Mangano K.,University of Catania | Vujicic M.,University of Belgrade | And 3 more authors.
Diabetologia | Year: 2014

Aims/hypothesis: Recent studies have identified carbon monoxide (CO) as a potential therapeutic molecule for the treatment of autoimmune diseases owing to its anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic properties. We explored the efficacy and the mechanisms of action of the CO-releasing molecule (CORM)-A1 in preclinical models of type 1 diabetes. Methods: The impact of CORM-A1 on diabetes development was evaluated in models of spontaneous diabetes in NOD mice and in diabetes induced in C57BL/6 mice by multiple low-dose streptozotocin (MLDS). Ex vivo analysis was performed to determine the impact of CORM-A1 both on T helper (Th) cell and macrophage differentiation and on their production of soluble mediators in peripheral tissues and in infiltrates of pancreatic islets. The potential effect of CORM-A1 on cytokine-induced apoptosis in pancreatic islets or beta cells was evaluated in vitro. Results: CORM-A1 conferred protection from diabetes in MLDS-induced mice and reduced diabetes incidence in NOD mice as confirmed by preserved insulin secretion and improved histological signs of the disease. In MLDS-challenged mice, CORM-A1 attenuated Th1, Th17, and M1 macrophage response and facilitated Th2 cell differentiation. In addition, CORM-A1 treatment in NOD mice upregulated the regulatory arm of the immune response (M2 macrophages and FoxP3+ regulatory T cells). Importantly, CORM-A1 interfered with in vitro cytokine-induced beta cell apoptosis through the reduction of cytochrome c and caspase 3 levels. Conclusions/interpretation: The ability of CORM-A1 to protect mice from developing type 1 diabetes provides a valuable proof of concept for the potential exploitation of controlled CO delivery in clinical settings for the treatment of autoimmune diabetes. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Grimminger F.,University of Marburg | Grimminger F.,Justus Liebig University | Gunther A.,University of Marburg | Vancheri C.,University of Catania
European Respiratory Journal | Year: 2015

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive lung disease with a median survival time from diagnosis of 2-3 years. Although the pathogenic pathways have not been fully elucidated, IPF is believed to be caused by persistent epithelial injury in genetically susceptible individuals. Tyrosine kinases are involved in a range of signalling pathways that are essential for cellular homeostasis. However, there is substantial evidence from in vitro studies and animal models that receptor tyrosine kinases, such as the platelet-derived growth factor receptor, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor and fibroblast growth factor receptor, and non-receptor tyrosine kinases, such as the Src family, play critical roles in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. For example, the expression and release of tyrosine kinases are altered in patients with IPF, while specific tyrosine kinases stimulate the proliferation of lung fibroblasts in vitro. Agents that inhibit tyrosine kinases have shown anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory effects in animal models of pulmonary fibrosis. Recently, the tyrosine kinase inhibitor nintedanib has shown positive results in two phase III trials in patients with IPF. Here, we summarise the evidence for involvement of specific tyrosine kinases in the pathogenesis of IPF and the development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors as treatments for IPF. Copyright © ERS 2015.


Lo Franco R.,University of Palermo | Lo Franco R.,University of Catania | Bellomo B.,University of Palermo | Andersson E.,Heriot - Watt University | Compagno G.,University of Palermo
Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics | Year: 2012

Revivals of quantum correlations have often been explained in terms of back-action on quantum systems by their quantum environment(s). Here we consider a system of two independently evolving qubits, each locally interacting with a classical random external field. The environments of the qubits are also independent, and there is no back-action on the qubits. Nevertheless, entanglement, quantum discord, and classical correlations between the two qubits may revive in this model. We explain the revivals in terms of correlations in a classical-quantum state of the environments and the qubits. Although classical states cannot store entanglement on their own, they can play a role in storing and reviving entanglement. It is important to know how the absence of back-action, or modeling an environment as classical, affects the kind of system time evolutions one is able to describe. We find a class of global time evolutions where back-action is absent and for which there is no loss of generality in modeling the environment as classical. Finally, we show that the revivals can be connected with the increase of a parameter used to quantify non-Markovianity of the single-qubit dynamics. © 2012 American Physical Society.


Latib A.,San Raffaele Scientific Institute | Capodanno D.,University of Catania | Lesiak M.,Poznan University of Medical Sciences | Tamburino C.,University of Catania | Colombo A.,San Raffaele Scientific Institute
EuroIntervention | Year: 2015

Bifurcations are increasingly being treated with bioresorbable vascular scaffolds (BVS) and accounted for about 25% of patients treated in the large multicentre GHOST-EU registry. This registry, along with bench testing, has provided a glimpse of the techniques and limitations of treating bifurcations with BVS. The provisional strategy remains the default approach to bifurcation treatment with BVS. If correctly performed, SB dilatation, T-kissing inflation, crossover to side branch stenting and elective double stenting are feasible without causing scaffold disruption. Theoretically, when the scaffolds are resorbed, the normal bifurcation anatomy, flow and vascular function will be restored, while jailed SBs will be liberated. However, data from the GHOST-EU registry are awaited to confirm the long-term safety and efficacy of BVS in coronary bifurcations. © 2015 Europa Digital & Publishing. All rights reserved.


Detailed urban land-cover maps are essential information for sustainable planning. Land-cover maps assist planners in designing strategies for the optimisation of urban ecosystem services and climate change adaptation. In this study, the statistical software R was applied to land cover analysis for the Catania metropolitan area in Sicily, Italy. Six land cover classes were extracted from high-resolution orthophotos. Five different classification algorithms were compared. Texture and contextual layers were tested in different combinations as ancillary data. Classification accuracies of 89% were achieved for two of the tested algorithms. © 2013 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


De Nardi P.,San Raffaele Scientific Institute | Capretti G.,San Raffaele Scientific Institute | Corsaro A.,University of Catania | Staudacher C.,San Raffaele Scientific Institute
Diseases of the Colon and Rectum | Year: 2014

BACKGROUND: Few randomized trials have compared the results of Doppler-guided transanal hemorrhoid dearterialization with mucopexy and excisional open hemorrhoidectomy. Few studies have reported long-term results. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to evaluate the results of Doppler-guided transanal hemorrhoid dearterialization with mucopexy compared with excisional open hemorrhoidectomy in patients with grade II hemorrhoids. DESIGN: This is a prospective randomized study registered at clinicaltrials.gov (NCT01263431). A power analysis assessed the study's sample size. Patients were randomly assigned to undergo either hemorrhoidectomy or Doppler-guided hemorrhoid dearterialization plus mucopexy. The χ2 test, Mann-Whitney U test, Student t test, and a regression model were used, as appropriate. SETTINGS: This study was conducted at the Department of Surgery, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy. PATIENTS: Fifty consecutive patients were treated for grade II hemorrhoids from July to November 2010. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome was postoperative pain. The secondary outcomes included postoperative morbidity, the resumption of social and/or working activity, patient satisfaction, and the relapse of symptoms at 1 and 24 months. RESULTS: No major complications occurred in either group. The median visual analog scale scores for pain in the hemorrhoidectomy and Doppler-guided dearterialization plus mucopexy groups on days 1, 7, 14, and 30 were 7 vs 5.5, 3 vs 2.5, 1 vs 0, and 0 vs 0 (p > 0.05). The median work resumption day was the 22nd in the hemorrhoidectomy group and the 10th in the Doppler-guided dearterialization plus mucopexy group (p = 0.09). Patient satisfaction at 1 and 24 postoperative months, with the use of a 4-point scale, was 3 vs 4 and 4 vs 4 (p > 0.05). During the follow-up, 2 patients in the dearterialization group required ambulatory treatment, and 1 patient in each group required further surgery for symptom relapse. LIMITATIONS: Nonvalidated questionnaires were used in the follow-up. Cost analysis was not performed. CONCLUSION: Compared with hemorrhoidectomy, dearterialization with mucopexy resulted in similar postoperative pain and morbidity, and a similar longterm cure rate. © The ASCRS 2014.


Nevin A.,Polytechnic of Milan | Spoto G.,University of Catania | Anglos D.,Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas | Anglos D.,University of Crete
Applied Physics A: Materials Science and Processing | Year: 2012

Spectroscopic methods using laser sources have significantly improved our capacity to unravel the chemical composition of works of art and archaeological remains. Lasers enhance the performance of spectroscopic techniques which require intense light sources and specific analytical protocols assuring a microanalytical approach for analysis has been established. This review focuses on laser spectroscopic methods used in the field of cultural heritage diagnostics. Emphasis in this work is given to the analytical capabilities of laser-based techniques for elemental and/or molecular analysis and in-situ use, spatial resolution and microanalysis. Analytical methods are classified according to the elemental (LIBS, LA-ICP-MS) and molecular (LIF/LIDAR, time-resolved absorption spectroscopy, laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry) information they yield. For non-destructive laser-induced fluorescence (LIF/LIDAR) and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy, imaging applications are described. The advantages provided by combined complementary techniques including but not limited to LIBS-LIF-Raman and LIBS-XRF are presented, as are recent improvements in terms of chemical imaging. Advances and applications of THz spectroscopy, non-linear spectroscopy and imaging are outlined. Finally, laser spectroscopies are described for investigations of different materials and works of art which include Bronze Age ceramics, Minoan archaeological remains, Ancient Roman buildings, Renaissance wall paintings and sculptures, and manuscripts containing iron gall inks and colorants. © Springer-Verlag 2011.


Arrabito G.,University of Catania | Galati C.,ST Microelectronics Stradale Primosole | Castellano S.,University of Salerno | Pignataro B.,University of Palermo
Lab on a Chip - Miniaturisation for Chemistry and Biology | Year: 2013

Here we show the fabrication of the Luminometric Sub-nanoliter Droplet-to-droplet Array (LUMDA chip) by inkjet printing. The chip is easy to be implemented and allows for a multiplexed multi-step biochemical assay in sub-nanoliter liquid spots. This concept is here applied to the integral membrane enzyme CYP3A4, i.e. the most relevant enzymatic target for phase I drug metabolism, and to some structurally-related inhibitors. © The Royal Society of Chemistry.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2007.3.7 | Award Amount: 3.85M | Year: 2008

The project Flexible Wireless Automation in Real-Time Environment aims to implement a novel platform, which will have a real-time communication based on WLAN (IEEE 802.11). This novel secure middleware between the physical communication and the application will be designed with special respect to security, flexibility and mobile, real-time enabled nodes that can roam between the Access Points of the system. This and the conjunction with localization services will enable the dynamically reconfigurable factory of the future, seizing new market opportunities with revolutionary new possibilities for applications. The interfaces to the applications will be open, allowing third party development in a secure and predictable factory automation network. The outcome of the project will open possibilities for more efficient production processes and plants due to its flexibility and scalability. Moreover it is likely that this proposed pro ject will influence science as well as the market due to the savings for (re-)cabling and maintenance as well as new opportunities as factory wide maps of goods.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: EURO-4-2014 | Award Amount: 2.28M | Year: 2015

The European Union (EU) is facing the daunting prospect of transboundary crises: threats that escalate across national borders and policy domains. EU member states must collaborate to address these crises. EU governance can play a pivotal role in facilitating a joint response. But does the EU have the institutional leadership capacities to deal with transboundary crises? The response to the financial crisis a textbook example of a transboundary crisis revealed deep problems with crisis leadership, including conflicting diagnoses, regulatory gaps, unclear political jurisdictions and responsibilities, a lack of problem solving capacity, and blame-shifting. Growing euroscepticism has been directly related to the EUs role during this transboundary crisis. This project outlines the institutional requirements for effective and legitimate crisis leadership in the face of transboundary crisis. We define crisis leadership as a set of strategic management functions, including the detection of impending threats, the collection and sharing of information, the coordination of partners, and the communication to the public about the crisis and the response. The project analyses the capacities of political leaders in EU institutions and member states to fulfill these leadership functions. It will pinpoint the existing and required capacities to support these functions. It investigates the crisis management capacities of individual political leaders, and EU institutions. It explores the effects of political leadership on the member state level and studies how crisis management capacity is exercised in various policy sectors. The project will result in recommendations for effective and legitimate crisis leadership. It establishes a crisis management capital index that allows for an evidence-based assessment. It proposes strategies to build support for transboundary crisis management in a multilevel system, reconnecting citizens with an idea of what the EU can do for them.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2011.3.1-02 | Award Amount: 3.91M | Year: 2011

OPTIMA will integrate an ambitious biology system approach for perennial grasses such as switchgrass, miscanthus and giant reed in the Mediterranean environment. Moreover the perennial species cardoon, which has been proven to be particularly adapted to the Mediterranean climate, will be used as a control species. The main objective of the OPTIMA project is to identify high-yielding perennial grasses for the Mediterranean area, within optimized production chain that will provide stable source for both biomass and new plant derived bio-products. OPTIMA will explore the potentialities of perennial grasses on underutilized or abandoned marginal lands. An interdisciplinary approach involving physiology, biotechnology, and agronomy, socio-economical and environmental analysis at different scale levels will be undertaken with the aim at tackling specific bottlenecks of perennial grasses in the Mediterranean area and to create alternative end-use chains. OPTIMA approach has been to link the research proposed here by including industrial end-users in the project. This should allow the output of this research to develop in a commercial context as rapidly as possible the new findings. The major goals of this multidisciplinary network are to evaluate the existing genotypes; to characterize and deliver novel species; to deliver sustainable crop management practices (sowing/planting strategies to reduce the use of pesticide and increase biomass on the first year establishment, cultivation under salinity conditions and/or water deficit, reducing losses during harvest); to evaluate the industrial production of bioenergy and added value bio-products; to assess the environmental impact through an integrated assessment of sustainability criteria, to disseminate the achieved findings at different level (local, regional, national, international).


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2009.3.3 | Award Amount: 9.78M | Year: 2010

COSMIC advances the state-of- the- art of complementary organic circuits, i.e. circuits combining n-type and p-type organic thin film transistors (OTFTs). The project comprises extensive research on technology, circuit design, OTFT modeling and characterization. The technology effort includes material and printing processes co-development (incl. LC polymers) and focuses on large area and highly productive in-line compatible processes. COSMICs research will strongly contribute to advancement of the scientific knowledge in organic electronics. The use of complementary transistors will enable major breakthroughs in performance and application potential of OTFT circuits.\nComplementary digital circuits show much lower power consumption and highly improved noise margin, which enables higher circuit complexity, improves fabrication robustness compared to p-type-only circuits and lowers power consumption. These advantages are expected to result in major breakthroughs in performance and fabrication of organic electronics .\nThe availability of complementary devices will also enable the design of analogue circuits using OTFTs, a basically unexplored field at the moment. In COSMIC an analogue to digital converter coupled to a temperature sensor will be demonstrated, showing for the first time the potential of OTFTs in the sensors and actuator market. A silent authentication tag comprising a first organic RF receiver will also be build, to show organic electronics potential in the field of item-level, secure tracking of goods. Additionally the RF interface will be combined with a sensor application to demonstrate remote sensing in the Smart Objects area\nAll COSMIC applications are of direct relevance to the industrial partners within the consortium and demonstrate the capability of organic complementary technology to generate value for the European industry at large.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: INFRASUPP-7-2014 | Award Amount: 1.34M | Year: 2015

In African Communities of Practice (CoPs), international collaboration and the pursuit of scientific endeavour has faced a major barrier with the lack of access to e-Infrastructures and high performance network infrastructure enjoyed by European counterparts. With AfricaConnect, the proposed AfricaConnect2 and regional developments, this situation is changing rapidly. In the project Teaming-up for exploiting e-Infrastructures potential to boost RTDI in Africa (eI4Africa) it has been demonstrated clearly that it is possible to develop e-Infrastructures in Africa. It has also been demonstrated clearly that, as with the rest of the world, easy to use web portals, or Science Gateways, are needed to help CoPs to easily access e-Infrastructure facilities and through these collaborate with CoPs across the world. However, a major problem exists: it is very difficult for non-experts to develop Science Gateways and supporting e-Infrastructures. Elements of guides and supporting materials exist but these are either written for different audiences or out of date. This present Coordination and Support Action, called Energising Scientific Endeavour through Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures in Africa (Sci-GaIA), therefore proposes to bring together these materials into clearly structured guides and educational documents that can be used to train and support representatives of NRENs, CoPs and, importantly, Universities to develop Science Gateways and other e-Infrastructures services in Africa. Sci-GaIA plans to work with new and emerging CoPs to develop these exciting technologies, to strengthen e-Infrastructure service provision, especially in terms of open access linked data, and to deliver training and dissemination workshops. This will give a sustainable foundation on which African e-Infrastructures can be developed and be linked to scientific networks across Africa. Importantly, the results of our project will be usable by CoPs in Europe and the rest of the world.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: phys.org

A team of researchers with different expertise in the fields of optical spectroscopy, photonics and material science has reported on a new physical effect demonstrating the coherent nature of spontaneous Raman-scattered light. The work, recently published in Nature Photonics with the title "Coherent Backscattering of Raman Light," paves the way to the development of a new research field on complex photonics systems exploiting both elastic (Rayleigh) and inelastic (Raman) scattered light. "A dense forest of ultrathin silicon wires arranged in a disordered fashion, in which light waves bounce back and forth countless times before coming out, is the material that allowed us to reveal this new phenomenon. What we observed as a macroscopic physical effect is the coherence between Raman scattered light waves, which typically occurs on the scale of nanometers, given by the phonon coherence length," says the paper by Barbara Fazio (CNR-IPCF, Messina), Matteo Galli (University of Pavia), Francesco Priolo (University of Catania and CNR-IMM) and Diederik Wiersma (LENS, University of Firenze), who led the study. The physical phenomenon is known as coherent backscattering of light, which has long been observed and studied only for elastically scattered light and now is demonstrated also for inelastic light scattering (Raman). Coherent backscattering of light is a very subtle interference effect occurring in disordered scattering media (such as semiconductor powders or micro-particle suspensions like milk or fog), in which wave coherence is preserved even after a very large number of random scattering events, eventually manifesting as a maximum of interference in the exact backscattering direction. The team of researchers demonstrated that this experimental evidence surprisingly survives also for inelastic light scattering, such as the spontaneous Raman process, as long as the optical information of the propagating wave is retained. In this kind of inelastic scattering event, light loses a small part of its energy by changing wavelength (colour). Its phase coherence, however, is preserved for a very short time, thus making interference between Raman scattered waves still possible. The observed maximum of interference in the exact backscattering direction is therefore a signature of the coherent nature of individual Raman scattering processes. To date, evidence on the coherence properties of Raman scattering has been reported only by looking at the nanoscopic scale, through complex near-field experiments making use of very sharp tips or through ultra-fast time resolved techniques. This time, however, the researchers did not rely on complex experiments or advanced techniques. The combination of the unique structural properties of a silicon-based nanomaterial, an accurate experimental procedure and, above all, effective brainstorming and synergy between research groups were the only ingredients for the observation of a new unexpected physical phenomenon, which opens the way to new and important discoveries. Explore further: Lattice of nanotraps and line narrowing in Raman gas


Barbanera F.,University of Catania | De'Liguoro U.,University of Turin
PPDP'10 - Proceedings of the 2010 Symposium on Principles and Practice of Declarative Programming | Year: 2010

We propose a refinement and a simplification of the behavioural semantics of session types, based on the concepts of compliance and sub-behaviour from the theory of web contracts. We introduce two relations, representing the idea of sub-behaviour from the point of view of the client and the server, respectively, and characterize the sub-behaviour relation (from the literature) as the intersection of the other two. We show that a proper subclass of behaviours, called "session behaviors", and the sub-behaviour relations model session types and subtyping, clarifying the otherwise problematic extension of session type subtyping with concepts from the theory of contracts. © 2010 ACM.


Barone R.,University of Catania | Fiumara A.,University of Catania | Jaeken J.,University Hospital Gasthuisberg
Seminars in Neurology | Year: 2014

Congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG) are genetic diseases due to defective glycosylation of proteins and lipids. The authors present an update on these disorders affecting the central nervous system with a focus on cerebellar involvement. The rate of identification of novel CDG shows an exponential increase. Some 76 CDG are actually known, not taking into account the defects in glycan-modifying proteins. Neurologic involvement is present in the large majority of CDG. Screening methods are limited to serum transferrin isoelectrofocusing (for N-glycosylation disorders with sialic acid deficiency), and serum apolipoprotein C-III isoelectrofocusing (for core 1 mucin-type O-glycosylation disorders). Whole exome/genome sequencing is increasingly used in the diagnostic workup of patients with CDG-X. Treatment is greatly lagging behind because only one CDG is efficiently treatable (MPI-CDG). Cerebellar involvement is an important feature of PMM2-CDG, the congenital muscular dystrophies due to dystroglycanopathy, and SRD5A3-CDG. It has also been reported in some patients with ALG1-CDG, ALG3-CDG, ALG9-CDG, ALG6-CDG, ALG8-CDG, PIGA-CDG, DPM1-CDG, DPM2-CDG, B4GALT1-CDG, SLC35A2-CDG, COG1-CDG, COG5-CDG, COG7-CDG, and COG8-CDG. © 2014 by Thieme Medical ublishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, ew York.


Zhou X.-R.,Xiamen University | Schulze H.-J.,University of Catania
Nuclear Physics A | Year: 2013

We determine the properties of kaonic (K -) nuclei in the Skyrme-Hartree-Fock nuclear structure approach. We find instabilities for a too strong kaon-nucleon interaction, which effectively limit the maximum binding of the kaon in this approach. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Becattini F.,University of Florence | Castorina P.,University of Catania | Milov A.,Weizmann Institute of Science | Satz H.,Bielefeld University
European Physical Journal C | Year: 2010

We perform a systematic comparison of the statistical model parametrization of hadron abundances observed in high-energy pp, AA and e+e- collisions. The basic aim of the study is to test if the quality of the description depends on the nature of the collision process. In particular, we want to see if nuclear collisions, with multiple initial interactions, lead to "more thermal" average multiplicities than elementary pp collisions or e+e- annihilation. Such a comparison is meaningful only if it is based on data for the same or similar hadronic species and if the analyzed data has quantitatively similar errors. When these requirements are maintained, the quality of the statistical model description is found to be the same for the different initial collision configurations. © Springer-Verlag / Società Italiana di Fisica 2010.


Lorenzo J.M.,Centro Tecnologico Of La Carne Of Galicia | Sarries M.V.,Public University of Navarra | Tateo A.,University of Bari | Polidori P.,University of Camerino | And 2 more authors.
Meat Science | Year: 2014

Meat has exerted a crucial role in human evolution and is an important component of a healthy and well balanced diet due to its nutritional richness. The aim of the present review was to shed light on the nutritional composition of horsemeat and their benefits for human health. One of the reasons for such interest was the occurrence, in Europe several years ago, of dioxin, Bovine Encephalopathy and foot-and-mouth disease problems in farm animals. Therefore, consumers began to look for alternative red meats from other non-traditional species. There is no carcass classification system on horses designated to meat consumption. It would be advisable to standardize the equine meat market to reduce variations that may reflect differences in meat quality. The nutritional composition of horsemeat by comparison with pork, beef or poultry is characterized by low levels of fat and cholesterol (about 20% less), relatively high concentrations of n-3 fatty acids and heme iron indicating that its consumption may be beneficial for health. Therefore, horsemeat may supplement the meat market with good quality products, although as in other dietary components moderation is advisable. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Castorina P.,University of Catania | Miller D.E.,Pennsylvania State University | Miller D.E.,Bielefeld University | Satz H.,Bielefeld University
European Physical Journal C | Year: 2011

We consider deconfined matter in SU(N) gauge theory as an ideal gas of transversely polarized quasi-particle modes having a temperature-dependent mass m(T). Just above the transition temperature, the mass is assumed to be determined by the critical behavior of the energy density and the screening length in the medium. At high temperature, it becomes proportional to T as the only remaining scale. The resulting (trace anomaly based) interaction measure A = (e - 3P)/T4 and energy density are found to agree well with finite temperature SU(3) lattice calculations. © Springer-Verlag/Società Italiana di Fisica 2011.


Luca M.,Medical University-Sofia | Luca A.,University of Catania | Calandra C.,Medical University-Sofia
Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity | Year: 2013

Nitro-oxidative stress (NOS) plays a fundamental role in aging, as well as in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders, and major depression (MD). The latter is a very frequent psychiatric illness characterized by accelerated aging, neurodegeneration, high comorbidity with age-related disorders, and premature mortality; all of these conditions find an explanation in an altered redox homeostasis. If aging, neurodegeneration, and major depression share a common biological base in their pathophysiology, common therapeutic tools could be investigated for the prevention and treatment of these disorders. As an example, antidepressants have been demonstrated to present neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties and to stimulate neurogenesis. In parallel, antioxidants that stimulate the antioxidant defense systems and interact with the monoaminergic system show an antidepressant-like activity. Further research on this topic could lead, in the near future, to the expansion of the therapeutic possibilities for the treatment of NOS-related disorders. © 2013 Maria Luca et al.


Nunnari G.,University of Catania | Nunnari G.,Thomas Jefferson University | Schnell M.J.,Thomas Jefferson University
Frontiers in Bioscience - Scholar | Year: 2011

Hepatitis C virus infection is the main cause of liver disease worldwide, often leading to chronic hepatitis. Recent studies have demonstrated that miRNA-122, a liver-specific miRNA, is required for HCV replication in hepatocytes by its binding to the 5' UTR of HCV. Down-regulation of miRNA-122 in vitro and in vivo has led to significant inhibition of viral replication. In the present article, we report the major recent findings on the potential therapeutic role of antimiRNA- 122 molecules.


Del Popolo A.,University of Catania | Del Popolo A.,University of Sao Paulo
AIP Conference Proceedings | Year: 2013

This paper is based on lectures given at the IX Mexican School on Gravitation and Mathematical Physics. The lectures (as the paper) were a broad-band review of the current status of non-baryonic dark matter research. I start with a historical overview of the evidences of dark matter existence, then I discuss how dark matter is distributed from small scale to large scale, and I then verge the attention to dark matter nature: dark matter candidates and their detection. I finally discuss some of the limits of the ΛCDM model, with particular emphasis on the small scale problems of the paradigm. © 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.


Giunta S.,University of Catania | Andriolo V.,University of Turin | Castorina A.,University of Catania
International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology | Year: 2014

In a previous work we have shown that exposure to aluminum (Al) chloride (AlCl3) enhanced the neurotoxicity of the amyloid beta 25-35 fragment (Abeta25-35) in neuroblastoma cells and affected the expression of Alzheimer's disease (AD)-related genes. Caffein, a compound endowed with beneficial effects against AD, exerts neuroprotection primarily through its antagonist activity on A2A adenosine receptors (A2AR), although it also inhibits A1Rs with similar potency. Still, studies on the specific involvement of these receptors in neuroprotection in a model of combined neurotoxicity (Abeta25-35 + AlCl3) are missing. To address this issue, cultured SH-SY5Y cells exposed to Abeta25-35 + AlCl3 were assessed for cell viability, morphology, intracellular ROS activity and expression of apoptosis-, stress- and AD-related proteins. To define the role of A1R and A 2ARs, pretreatment with caffein, specific receptor antagonists (DPCPX or SCH58261) or siRNA-mediated gene knockdown were delivered. Results indicate that AlCl3 treatment exacerbated Abeta25-35 toxicity, increased ROS production, lipid peroxidation, β-secretase-1 (BACE1) and amyloid precursor protein (APP). Interestingly, SCH58261 successfully prevented toxicity associated to Abeta25-35 only, whereas pretreatment with both DPCPX and SCH58261 was required to fully avert Abeta25-35 + AlCl3-induced damage, suggesting that A1Rs might also be critically involved in protection during combined toxicity. The effects of caffein were mimicked by both N-acetyl cysteine, an antioxidant, and desferrioxamine, likely acting through distinct mechanisms. Altogether, our data establish a novel protective function associated with A1R inhibition in the setting of combined Abeta25-35 + AlCl3 neurotoxicity, and expand our current knowledge on the potential beneficial role of caffein to prevent AD progression in subjects environmentally exposed to aluminum. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Aguglia A.,University of Turin | Salvi V.,University of Turin | Maina G.,University of Turin | Rossetto I.,University of Catania | Aguglia E.,University of Catania
Journal of Affective Disorders | Year: 2011

Objective: Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain and higher pain perception in specific anatomic sites called tender points. Fibromyalgia is frequently associated with psychiatric symptoms, like depression and anxiety; indeed some authors have argued about the possibility to classify this syndrome into affective spectrum disorder. Few studies have analyzed the impact of depressive symptoms on pain threshold. This research is aimed at evaluating the prevalence and the clinical correlates of depressive symptoms in fibromyalgic patients, and investigating their impact on pain perception and quality of life. Methods: Outpatients between 18 and 75 years with diagnosis of fibromyalgia according to the criteria of the American College of Rheumatology have been included. All subjects have been evaluated with the following rating scales: HAM-D; VAS (to quantify pain); a visual analogical scale to evaluate quality of life; and Paykel's List of Recent Life Events. Results: Thirty subjects have been recruited. Most patients (83.3%) had clinically significant depressive symptoms as indicated by a HAM-D score > 7. Depressive symptoms are associated with higher pain perception, worse quality of life and more severe life events. Conclusion: The presence of depressive symptoms is associated with a great impairment in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome: indeed the psychiatric comorbidity lowers pain threshold and worsens the quality of life of our patients. Future studies should be conducted in order to identify the individual factors, e.g. stress or inflammatory processes, which drive the association between depression and higher severity of fibromyalgia syndrome. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Cardone V.F.,I.N.A.F. Osservatorio Astronomico di Rome | Del Popolo A.,University of Catania | Del Popolo A.,University of Sao Paulo
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2012

We revisit the issue of the constancy of the dark matter (DM) and baryonic Newtonian acceleration scales within the DM scale radius by considering a large sample of late-type galaxies. We rely on a Markov Chain Monte Carlo method to estimate the parameters of the halo model and the stellar mass-to-light ratio and then propagate the uncertainties from the rotation curve data to the estimate of the acceleration scales. This procedure allows us to compile a catalogue of 58 objects with estimated values of the B-band absolute magnitudeMB, the virial mass Mvir, and the DM and baryonic Newtonian accelerations (denoted as gDM(r0) and gbar(r0), respectively) within the scale radius r0 which we use to investigate whether it is possible to define a universal acceleration scale. We find a weak but statistically meaningful correlation with Mvir thus making us argue against the universality of the acceleration scales. However, the results somewhat depend on the sample adopted so that a careful analysis of selection effects should be carried out before any definitive conclusion can be drawn. © 2012 The Authors.


Del Popolo A.,University of Catania | Del Popolo A.,University of Sao Paulo
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2012

The present paper extends a previous study of Del Popolo to clusters of galaxies, considering how baryon-dark matter (DM) interplay shapes the density profiles of dwarf galaxies. Cluster density profiles are determined taking into account dynamical friction, random and ordered angular momentum and the response of DM haloes to condensation of baryons. We find that haloes containing only DM are characterized by Einasto's profiles, and that profiles flatten with increasing content of baryons and increasing values of random angular momentum. The analytical results obtained in the first part of the paper are applied to well-studied clusters, the inner profiles of which have slopes flatter than Navarro, Frenk & White (NFW) predictions (A611, A383) or are characterized by profiles in agreement with the NFW model (MACS J1423.8+2404, RXJ1133). By using an independently measured baryonic fraction and a typical spin parameter value λ≃ 0.03 and adjusting the random angular momentum, we re-obtain the mass and density profiles of the quoted clusters. Finally, we show that the baryonic mass inside ≃10kpc, M b, in, is correlated with the total mass of the clusters as. © 2012 The Author Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS.


Caccamo A.,University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio | Magri A.,University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio | Magri A.,University of Catania | Medina D.X.,University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio | And 4 more authors.
Aging Cell | Year: 2013

Accumulation of tau is a critical event in several neurodegenerative disorders, collectively known as tauopathies, which include Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia. Pathological tau is hyperphosphorylated and aggregates to form neurofibrillary tangles. The molecular mechanisms leading to tau accumulation remain unclear and more needs to be done to elucidate them. Age is a major risk factor for all tauopathies, suggesting that molecular changes contributing to the aging process may facilitate tau accumulation and represent common mechanisms across different tauopathies. Here, we use multiple animal models and complementary genetic and pharmacological approaches to show that the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) regulates tau phosphorylation and degradation. Specifically, we show that genetically increasing mTOR activity elevates endogenous mouse tau levels and phosphorylation. Complementary to it, we further demonstrate that pharmacologically reducing mTOR signaling with rapamycin ameliorates tau pathology and the associated behavioral deficits in a mouse model overexpressing mutant human tau. Mechanistically, we provide compelling evidence that the association between mTOR and tau is linked to GSK3β and autophagy function. In summary, we show that increasing mTOR signaling facilitates tau pathology, while reducing mTOR signaling ameliorates tau pathology. Given the overwhelming evidence that reducing mTOR signaling increases lifespan and healthspan, the data presented here have profound clinical implications for aging and tauopathies and provide the molecular basis for how aging may contribute to tau pathology. Additionally, these results provide preclinical data indicating that reducing mTOR signaling may be a valid therapeutic approach for tauopathies. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd and the Anatomical Society.


Romano V.,University of Catania | Rusakov A.,Qimonda AG
Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering | Year: 2010

2d numerical solutions of a new macroscopic model describing the electron transport in semiconductors coupled with the heating of the crystal lattice are presented. The model has been obtained with the use of the maximum entropy principle. Numerical simulations of a nanoscale MOSFET are presented and the influence of self heating on the electrical characteristics is analyzed. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Giarlotta A.,University of Catania | Watson S.,York University
Order | Year: 2013

A hierarchy of chains is a transfinite sequence of linear orderings such that each chain in the sequence order-embeds into all chains following it but not in those preceding it. We construct a c +-long hierarchy of chains that order-embed into the lexicographic power (ℝω,≺lex). Each linear ordering L in this hierarchy is such that there exists a tree representation of L, which is an ℝ-branching tree with no infinite branches. The existence of such a hierarchy sheds some light on the hidden complexity of (ℝω,≺lex). © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


Ripoli C.,University Cattolica | Cocco S.,University Cattolica | Li Puma D.D.,University Cattolica | Piacentini R.,University Cattolica | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Neuroscience | Year: 2014

Intracellular accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) protein has been proposed as an early event in AD pathogenesis. In patients with mild cognitive impairment, intraneuronal Aβ immunoreactivity was found especially in brain regions critically involved in the cognitive deficits of AD. Although a large body of evidence demonstrates that Aβ42 accumulates intraneuronally (inAβ), the action and the role of Aβ42 buildup on synaptic function have been poorly investigated. Here, we demonstrate that basal synaptic transmission and LTP were markedly depressed following Aβ42 injection into the neuron through the patch pipette. Control experiments performed with the reverse peptide (Aβ42-1) allowed us to exclude that the effects of inAβ depended on changes in oncotic pressure. To further investigate inAβsynaptotoxicity we used an Aβ variant harboring oxidized methionine in position 35 that does not cross the neuronal plasma membrane and is not uploaded from the extracellular space. This Aβ42 variant had no effects on synaptic transmission and plasticity when applied extracellularly, but induced synaptic depression and LTP inhibition after patch-pipette dialysis. Finally, the injection of an antibody raised against human Aβ42 (6E10) in CA1 pyramidal neurons of mouse hippocampal brain slices and autaptic microcultures did not, per se, significantly affect LTP and basal synaptic transmission, but it protected against the toxic effects of extracellular Aβ42. Collectively, these findings suggest that Aβ42-induced impairment of glutamatergic synaptic function depends on its internalization and intracellular accumulation thus paving the way to a systemic proteomic analysis of intracellular targets/partners of Aβ42. © 2014 the authors.


Del Popolo A.,University of Catania | Del Popolo A.,University of Sao Paulo | Pace F.,University of Portsmouth | Lima J.A.S.,University of Sao Paulo
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2013

We study, for the first time, how shear and angular momentum modify typical parameters of the spherical collapse model, in dark-energy-dominated universes. In particular, we study the linear density threshold for collapse δc and the virial overdensity Δv for several dark energy models and its influence on the cumulative mass function. The equations of the spherical collapse are those obtained in Pace et al., who used the fully non-linear differential equation for the evolution of the density contrast derived from Newtonian hydrodynamics, and assumed that dark energy is present only at the background level.With the introduction of the shear and rotation terms, the parameters of the spherical collapse model are now mass dependant. The results of the paper show, as expected, that the new terms considered in the spherical collapse model oppose the collapse of perturbations on galactic scale giving rise to higher values of the linear overdensity parameter with respect to the non-rotating case.We find a similar effect also for the virial overdensity parameter. For what concerns the mass function, we find that its high-mass tail is suppressed, while the low-mass tail is slightly affected except in some cases, e.g. the Chaplygin gas case. © 2013 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.


Del Popolo A.,University of Catania | Del Popolo A.,University of Sao Paulo | Cardone V.F.,National institute for astrophysics | Belvedere G.,University of Catania
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2013

In this paper, we analysed the correlation between the central surface density and the halo core radius of galaxies, and cluster of galaxies dark matter (DM) haloes, in the framework of the econdary infall model. We used Del Popolo secondary infall model taking into account ordered and random angular momentum, dynamical friction and DM adiabatic contraction to calculate the density profile of haloes, and then these profiles are used to determine the surface density of DM haloes. The main result is that r* (the halo characteristic radius) is not a universal quantity as claimed by Donato et al. and Gentile et al. On the contrary, we find a correlation with the halo mass M200 in agreement with Cardone & Tortora, Boyarsky et al. and Napolitano, Romanowsky & Tortora, but with a significantly smaller scatter, namely 0.16 ± 0.05. We also consider the baryon column density finding this latter being indeed a constant for low-mass systems, such as dwarfs, but correlating with mass with a slope of α = 0.18 ± 0.05. In the case of the surface density of D for a system composed only of DM, as in dissipationless simulations, we get α = 0.20 ± 0.05. These results leave little room for the recently claimed universality of (dark and stellar) column density. © 2012 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.


Barbanera F.,University of Catania | De'Liguoro U.,University of Turin
Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science, EPTCS | Year: 2014

In the context of "session behaviors" for client/server systems, we propose a weakening of the compliance and sub-behaviour relations where the bias toward the client (whose "requests" must be satisfied) is pushed further with respect to the usual definitions, by admitting that "not needed" output actions from the server side can be skipped by the client. Both compliance and sub-behaviour relations resulting from this weakening remain decidable, though the proof of the duals-as-minima property for servers, on which the decidability of the sub-behaviour relation relies, requires a tighter analysis of client/server interactions. © F. Barbanera & U. de'Liguoro.


Romeo G.,Messina University | Chiacchio U.,University of Catania | Corsaro A.,University of Catania | Merino P.,University of Zaragoza
Chemical Reviews | Year: 2010

The chemical synthesis of heterocyclic nucleoside analogues has been discussed. The pyrrolidinyl nucleosides can be prepared by the direct addition of a silylated base to a cyclic enamine in the presence of an activant such as N-iodosuccinimide or phenylselenyl bromide. The different analogues of immucillins have been prepared by constructing the heterocyclic ring over the adequate substituents of the pyrrolidine ring. The activation of the double bond with N-iodosuccinimide in the presence of silylated thymine afforded 1:10 mixtures of α/β anomers in 88% combined yield. The acetoxy intermediates are easily prepared from L-ascorbic acid, which could be transformed into carboxylic acids. The synthesis for oxathiolane nucleosides in which the heterocyclic base is vicinal to the sulfur atom has been developed. The stereocontrolled addition of the enolates either as sodium enolates or as silyl ketene acetals in the presence of a Lewis acid, allowed the enantiodivergent synthesis of series of isoxazolidinyl nucleosides.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2009.2.1 | Award Amount: 2.04M | Year: 2011

The EMICAB consortium takes a holistic approach to the engineering of artificial cognitive systems. Our goal is to integrate smart body mechanics in intelligent planning and control of motor behaviour. To achieve this goal the consortium accounts equally for problems in neuroscience (e.g., multi-sensory integration, internal body models, intelligent action planning) and technology (smart body mechanics, distributed embodied sensors and brain-like controllers). Our approach starts with a strongly sensorised bionic body with redundant whole-body kinematics and then designs the technological infrastructure such that cognitive mechansims emerge from distributed sensorimotor intelligence. The concept is based on neuroscience research on insects whose motor dexterity, adaptiveness and pre-rational abilities in learning and memory rival those of lower mammals: stick insects orchestrate a wide range of dexterous motor behaviours and flies can maintain object locations in short-term memory during navigation tasks, just to mention paradigms that are studied by UNIBI and JGUM. The partners UNICT and SDU will devise bio-inspired models and, in turn, guide ongoing experimental research in order to achieve the overall technological goal: a dexterous hexapod robot that exploits its bodily resources for cognitive functions. Two levels of analysis and modelling will be accounted for: the smart brain that captures various aspects of motion intelligence (motor learning, context-dependent actions, multi-sensory integration) and the smart body equipped with distributed proprioceptors and muscle-like compliance, allowing for novel, highly adaptive, neurobionic control strategies. The EMICAB robot will draw from its complex body features and learn by use of a manipulable internal body model. This will be monitored by an ambitious set of benchmarking scenarios. We expect mutual benefit for applied research on autonomous mobile robots and for basic research in neuroscience.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: NOE | Phase: ICT-2009.3.3 | Award Amount: 4.71M | Year: 2010

In the NoE FlexNet, 17 participants from eleven European countries work together in order to support Europe in becoming a world leader in Flexible, Organic and Large Area Electronics (FOLAE). FlexNet aims at interlinking Europes FOLAE-expertise in the domains of science, technology development, components, devices and systems integration technologies. A special emphasis will be set on the subsequent commercial exploitation of FOLAE-based systems knowledge especially through SMEs, in order to enable a wide spread of FOLAE-based future business in Europe.\n\nThe NoE FlexNet will support the integration process of the scientific excellence of FOLAE-oriented European research on Materials, Devices and Systems. This part is complementary to the NoE PolyNet efforts. In addition, FlexNet will integrate excellent scientific capacities from Southern and Eastern Europe.\n\nFlexNet partners have identified the organic transistor as the most crucial building block in order to realised integrated organic systems. Therefore, the scientific focus of the NoE FlexNet will be set on the application of FOLAE-specific organic semiconductors as well as supporting materials for OTFTs including research on interface properties, barrier materials, characterisation, and OTFT device integration into systems. Further topics of dedicated attention and activity will be devices characterisation, systems integration, modelling and design of systems, and manufacturing processes for systems.\n\nAccordingly, NoE FlexNet will be structured in three platforms:\n- A platform FOLAE Materials and Devices Integration,\n- A platform Systems Integration and\n- A platform Knowledge, Dissemination and Transfer to industry\n\nThe knowledge associated to these topics will actively be made available to European stakeholders from research and industry, especially SMEs, in Southern and Eastern Europe. This will make FlexNet a bidirectional catalyst for information transfer in the FOLAE area between West-Central- and South-Eastern Europe.\n\nFlexNet will work in close contact with existing coordination actions in the FOLAE area like the Quadriga projects. This will ensure additional support in unifying and streamlining the fragmented FOLAE R&D arena in Europe.


Patane C.,CNR Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems In the Mediterranean | Tringali S.,CNR Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems In the Mediterranean | Sortino O.,University of Catania
Scientia Horticulturae | Year: 2011

Processing tomato is a high water demanding crop, thus requiring irrigation throughout growing season in arid and semiarid areas. The application of deficit irrigation (DI) strategies to this crop may greatly contribute to save irrigation water. A two-year study was carried out in order to assess the effects of DI upon water productivity, final biomass, fruit yield and some quality traits of open-field processing tomato cv. Brigade in a typical semi-arid Mediterranean environment of South Italy. Four irrigation treatments were studied: no irrigation following plant establishment (V0); 100% (V100) or 50% (V50) evapotranspiration (ETc) restoration up to fruit maturity, 100% ETc restoration up to flowering, then 50% ETc restoration (V100-50). Total dry biomass accumulation was significantly depressed by early soil water deficit in V0; irrigation at a reduced rate (50% ETc) from initial stages (V50) or from flowering onwards (V100-50) did not induce any losses in final dry biomass. The marketable yield did not significantly differ among plots irrigated, but an averaged irrigation water saving of 30.4% in V100-50 and 46.2% in V50 was allowed as compared to V100. Marketable yield was negatively affected by the early water shortage in V0, due to the high fruit losses (>44%). The effects of DI on fruit quality were generally the converse of those on fruit yield. DI improved total soluble solids content, titratable acidity and vitamin C content. Water use efficiency was positively affected by DI, suggesting that the crop does not benefits from the water when this last is supplied to fulfil total crop requirements for the whole season. Yield response factor, which indicates the level of tolerance of a crop to water stress, was 0.49 for total dry biomass (Kss) and 0.76 for marketable yield (Ky), indicating that in both cases the reduction in crop productivity is proportionally less than the relative ET deficit. In conclusion, the adoption of DI strategies where a 50% reduction of ETc restored is applied for the whole growing season or part of it could be suggested in processing tomato, to save water improving its use efficiency, minimizing fruit losses and maintaining high fruit quality levels. This aspect is quite important in semi-arid environments, where water scarcity is an increasing concern and water costs are continuously rising. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


D'Agata R.,University of Catania | Spoto G.,University of Catania | Spoto G.,CNR Institute of Biostructure and Bioimaging | Spoto G.,Italian National Institute of Biosystems and Biostructures
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry | Year: 2013

Surface plasmon resonance imaging (SPRI) is a powerful tool for simple, fast and cheap nucleic acid detection. Great efforts have been made during the last decade with the aim of developing even more sensitive and specific SPRI-based methods to be used for the direct detection of DNA and RNA. Here, after a description of the fundamentals of SPRI, the state of the art of recent platform and assay developments is presented, with special attention given to advances in SPRI signal enhancement procedures. © 2012 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Lombardo S.,University of Catania | Pandino G.,University of Catania | Ierna A.,CNR Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems In the Mediterranean | Mauromicale G.,University of Catania
Food Research International | Year: 2012

Globe artichoke, a crop native to the Mediterranean Basin, is rich in polyphenols whose health-promoting properties have been well documented in literature. Here, we reported the variation of polyphenol content and antioxidant activity in plant parts (floral stem, receptacle, inner and outer bracts) of 17 cultivars. Our objectives were also to evaluate the influence of harvest time (winter and spring) on total polyphenol content and to assess the polyphenol composition by HPLC in six cultivars not previously analysed. The total content and profile of polyphenols were significantly different amongst cultivars and plant parts. 'Tema 2000', 'Nobre' and 'Violetto di Sicilia clone 4/8' had the highest level of total polyphenol content, whilst 'Camerys' and 'Tempo' had the lowest. Polyphenols resulted more abundant in the floral stem and receptacle. These were, respectively, rich in caffeoylquinic acids and apigenin derivatives. Each cultivar preferentially accumulated polyphenols in specific plant parts and, hence, may have a specific end-use based on its polyphenol content. In this view, the high level of total polyphenols in the receptacles of 'Tema 2000', 'Opal' and 'Nobre' makes them more suitable for the fresh consumption, whereas the floral stems of 'Violetto di Sicilia clone 4/8', 'Nobre' and 'Tema 2000' are suggested for the exploitation as source of natural antioxidants. In addition, the cultivar-dependency of both polyphenol content and antioxidant activity of globe artichoke extracts led to foresee the possible manipulation by specific breeding and selection programmes in order to improve the health-beneficial properties of globe artichoke head. Our findings prove also the influence of harvest time on the polyphenol content and thus suggest giving specific consideration to the other factors (e.g. temperature and photoperiod) that may affect polyphenol biosynthesis and accumulation in globe artichoke plant. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Cappuzzello F.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Carbone D.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Carbone D.,University of Catania | Cavallaro M.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment | Year: 2011

A technique to measure the momentum vector of the ions produced in a nuclear reaction and analyzed by a magnetic spectrometer is presented. It consists of a powerful procedure for the reconstruction of the ions trajectory based on the use of a focal plane detector, accurate three-dimensional models of the magnetic fields and efficient algorithms to solve the highly non-linear transport equations. The technique is quite general and reliable even with large acceptance optical devices. Experimental results obtained with the MAGNEX spectrometer show a remarkable resolution of about 0.2° in the horizontal direction, 0.7° in the vertical one and 1/1800 in the momentum modulus. A high degree of accuracy is also found in the reconstruction of both the direction and the modulus of the momentum vector, with the latter strongly depending on the order of reconstruction. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Ierna A.,CNR Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems In the Mediterranean | Mauromicale G.,University of Catania
Agricultural Water Management | Year: 2012

Excessive amounts of irrigation water are often utilized for early potato cultivated in the Mediterranean basin. Given that water is an expensive and limited resource in semi-arid areas, it is crucial to provide a better irrigation management and/or irrigation technologies that facilitate its efficient and effective use, in turn leading to savings in water. With the aim of achieving appropriate irrigation water regimes in cultivation management of a potato crop in a Mediterranean environment, a two-year experiment was conducted in Sicily (South Italy). The effects of four irrigation regimes (irrigation only at plant emergence, irrigation during the whole cycle, irrigation from tuber initiation up to 50% of tuber growth, irrigation from 50% of tuber growth to the end of tuber growth), on the tuber yield and yield components, on irrigation water productivity (IWP) and on tuber quality, were studied. Our results showed a marked and significant effect of the irrigation regime on tuber yield, IWP, source/sink relationships and dry matter content of tubers. We also demonstrate that high yield levels of potatoes, high IWP and good tuber quality can be reached by irrigating with 100% maximum evapotranspiration (ETm) supply from tuber initiation up to 50% of tuber growth. Compared to irrigation with 100% ETm supply throughout the whole cycle, this allows making savings of irrigation water of roughly 77mmyear-1, which is a significant reduction for the semi-arid areas. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Tribble R.E.,Texas A&M University | Bertulani C.A.,Texas A&M University-Commerce | Cognata M.La.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Mukhamedzhanov A.M.,Texas A&M University | And 2 more authors.
Reports on Progress in Physics | Year: 2014

In this review, we discuss the present status of three indirect techniques that are used to determine reaction rates for stellar burning processes, asymptotic normalization coefficients, the Trojan Horse method and Coulomb dissociation. A comprehensive review of the theory behind each of these techniques is presented. This is followed by an overview of the experiments that have been carried out using these indirect approaches. © 2014 IOP Publishing Ltd.


Ierna A.,CNR Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems In the Mediterranean | Mauro R.P.,University of Catania | Mauromicale G.,University of Catania
Agronomy for Sustainable Development | Year: 2012

Efficient fertilization is a central topic in sustainable agriculture since fertilization strongly influences both crop performances and environmental impact. In several Mediterranean regions, globe artichoke fertilization is still empirically oriented toward nitrogen overdressing and insufficient phosphorus supply. To date, there is a lack of systematic research on the relationships between nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizations, especially in terms of nutrient efficiency. Here, in a 2-year experiment, we studied the effects of two phosphorus fertilization rates, 50 and 150 kg P2O5ha-1, and four nitrogen fertilization rates, 0, 150, 300 and 450 kg Nha-1, on earliness, yield characteristics and nutrient efficiency indices of two globe artichoke genotypes: the traditional vegetatively propagated 'Violetto di Sicilia' and the modern 'seed'-propagated 'Opal F1'. The nutrient efficiency indices included partial factor productivity of nitrogen (PFPN), total factor productivity (TFP) and nitrogen agronomic efficiency (NAE). Results show that the highest phosphorus rate allowed to reduce nitrogen supply from 450 to 300 kg ha-1 without compromising earliness or yield of the crop. The highest phosphorus rate also increased PFPN up to 6.9 kg heads dry weight ha-1 kg-1 and NAE up to 2.5 -kg dry weight ha-1 kg-1, thus indicating a better nitrogen utilization of the crop, especially at lower doses. 'Opal F1', as compared to 'Violetto di Sicilia', showed higher PFPN of 8.1 versus 5.2 kg heads dry weight ha-1 kg-1 and TFP of 4.0 versus 2.4 kg heads dry weight ha-1 kg-1, especially at low nitrogen supplies. We conclude that balancing nitrogen and phosphorus supplies, together with the adoption of globe artichoke genotypes characterized by more efficient utilization of soil mineral nutrients, are effective tools to promote both yield performances and a more sustainable nitrogen fertilization of the crop.© INRA and Springer-Verlag, France 2012.


Brunetto C.,ENEL S.p.A | Tina G.,University of Catania
Electric Power Systems Research | Year: 2011

Today there is a lot of interest in wind energy exploitation. It has been emphasized by adopted incentive mechanisms and by the possibility to sell energy to the electrical market in different ways. The rise of wind installed power requires more energy for ancillary services. Moreover, imbalance costs have to be sustained by the Transmission System Operator (TSO) which could charge them to all the consumers where wind power producers are not penalized for their imbalances. To solve this problem some solutions can be adopted depending on market rules that are different from one country to another. In particular referring to the current Italian market framework and taking into account to the state-of-the-art wind power forecasting, an economic assessment of imbalance for some wind farms have been compared to balancing costs of the TSO. Different stochastic approaches have been adopted, using available historical data, in the analysis of various scenarios both for the TSO and for wind plant owners. Also possible mechanisms for imbalance settlements have been proposed in order to maintain grid safety costs within a reasonable level for electricity consumers, and to avoid an excessively penalizing treatment for wind energy source investments in order to satisfy environmental targets of the European Community. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Barbarino S.,University of Catania | Consoli F.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy
Progress in Electromagnetics Research | Year: 2010

The study of a planar circular slot antenna for Ultrawideband (UWB) communications is presented. The integration on this antenna of a notch filter, to reduce the possible interferences with the 5 GHz WLAN communications, has been discussed in detail. Four different structures, achieved by etching a suitable pattern on the antenna circular stub, have been considered, and their features have been compared. The antenna with symmetrical and inverted-L cuts shows the best performance, and it has been therefore realized and fully characterized. It shows very good matching features over the UWB band, and notable rejection of the 5 GHz WLAN band.


Barbarino S.,University of Catania | Consoli F.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy
IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation | Year: 2010

We present a detailed study of a very large band planar circular asymmetrical dipole antenna, fed by a microstrip, for the purpose of covering most of the common communication channels with one solution. The study has been performed on two planar substrates having different dielectric permittivities. The prototype on the substrate with lower permittivity shows much larger bandwidth, and it has been realized and fully characterized, in terms of impedance matching and radiation properties. Its measured band ratio is 21.9:1. The comparison with other super-wideband (SWB) antennas of similar type, with more complex design and therefore required optimization, shows that this prototype has very appealing features of very large absolute bandwidth and band ratio, and a compact size. © 2006 IEEE.


Bonanno A.,National institute for astrophysics | Bonanno A.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Platania A.,National institute for astrophysics | Platania A.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Platania A.,University of Catania
Physics Letters, Section B: Nuclear, Elementary Particle and High-Energy Physics | Year: 2015

Asymptotically Safe theories of gravity have recently received much attention. In this work we discuss a class of inflationary models derived from quantum-gravity modification of quadratic gravity according to the induced scaling around the non-Gaussian fixed point at very high energies. It is argued that the presence of a three dimensional ultraviolet critical surface generates operators of non-integer power of the type R2-θ/2 in the effective Lagrangian, where θ>0 is a critical exponent. The requirement of a successful inflationary model in agreement with the recent Planck 2015 data puts important constraints on the strength of this new type of couplings. © 2015 The Authors.


Das S.K.,University of Catania | Das S.K.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Scardina F.,University of Catania | Scardina F.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | And 4 more authors.
Physics Letters, Section B: Nuclear, Elementary Particle and High-Energy Physics | Year: 2015

The heavy quarks constitute a unique probe of the quark-gluon plasma properties. A puzzling relation between the nuclear modification factor RAA(pT) and the elliptic flow v2(pT) has been observed both at RHIC and LHC energies. Predicting correctly both observables has been a challenge to all existing models, especially for D mesons. We discuss how the temperature dependence of the heavy quark drag coefficient is responsible for a large part of such a puzzle. In particular, we have considered four different models to evaluate the temperature dependence of drag and diffusion coefficients propagating through a quark gluon plasma (QGP). All the four different models are set to reproduce the same RAA(pT) observed in experiments at RHIC and LHC energy. We point out that for the same RAA(pT) one can generate 2-3 times more v2 depending on the temperature dependence of the heavy quark drag coefficient. A non-decreasing drag coefficient as T→Tc is a major ingredient for a simultaneous description of RAA(pT) and v2(pT). © 2015 The Authors.


Carbone D.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Carbone D.,University of Catania
European Physical Journal Plus | Year: 2015

The 12C(18O,16O)14C and 13C(18O,16O)15C reactions have been explored at 84MeV incident energy and the ejectiles have been detected at forward angles by the MAGNEX spectrometer. Thanks to the peculiarities of MAGNEX and to the ray-reconstruction technique, high-resolution spectra up to 22MeV excitation energy and high-quality cross-section angular distributions have been obtained. In the region above the two-neutron emission threshold, unknown wide structures have been observed in both the 14C and 15C residual nuclei. A detailed analysis of such resonances identifies them as the long-searched Giant Pairing Vibration. These data represent the first experimental signature of it. © 2015, Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Patane C.,CNR Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems In the Mediterranean | Sortino O.,University of Catania
Industrial Crops and Products | Year: 2010

Kenaf is an interesting crop for fibre production, which has recently received great attention as a multi-purposes crop for energy, paper pulp, thermal insulation boards and fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites production, etc., in Mediterranean countries. Its high sensitivity to photoperiod limits seed production to the semi-arid environments of Southern Europe. In order to investigate the effects of sowing time on seed yield of kenaf in the Mediterranean climate, a 2-year research was carried out in Sicily (South Italy) adopting cv. Tainung 2, under no water restriction (100% evapotranspiration-ET c restoration) throughout the whole growing season. Four sowings per year were carried out, from late May to late June-early July. Flowering took place in a rather restricted period (late September-early October) irrespective of sowing date, confirming a strong daylength control over floral initiation. Thermal time calculated for the interval 'plant emergence (E)-flowering (F)', on average 1900.6°Cd, decreased from the first to the last sowing date in both years, as an effect of photoperiod. The photoperiodic sensitivity (PS), calculated regressing thermal time 'E-F' against photoperiod at flowering time and equal to 497.21°Cdh, can be considered as thermal time to flowering controlled by photoperiod. A base vegetative phase (BVP) of 1563°Cd and a critical photoperiod (CP) of 13.94h were calculated for cv. Tainung 2. The photoperiod inductive phase (PIP), which describes the effect of photoperiod on flowering time and varied between 497.2 and 182.2°Cdh, allowed to predict the date of flowering with certain reliability, with values differing, in the worst case, 2 days only from the observed date.With late May sowings, the crop produced a final dry biomass (>27tha -1) significantly greater than that obtained with the following sowings, which approximated 15tha -1 in late June-early July sowings. Seed yield was negatively affected by the shift of sowing time, decreasing from over 3.5 to less than 1.6tha -1 due to a cut in number of pods per plant. According to the results of this research, early sowings of kenaf are suggested in semi-arid areas of South Italy for both seed and biomass production, maximum seed yield corresponding to maximum biomass yield, and with this last achieved with sowings of late May. The identification of both thermal and photoperiodic requirements to achieve high levels of seed yield in kenaf may help to individuate areas of seed production other than South of Italy, where however similar climatic conditions must be ensured to the crop. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Anglani R.,CNR Institute of Intelligent Systems for Automation | Casalbuoni R.,University of Florence | Ciminale M.,dellUniversita e della Ricerca | Ippolito N.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | And 3 more authors.
Reviews of Modern Physics | Year: 2014

Inhomogeneous superconductors and inhomogeneous superfluids appear in a variety of contexts including quark matter at extreme densities, fermionic systems of cold atoms, type-II cuprates, and organic superconductors. In the present review the focus is on properties of quark matter at high baryonic density, which may exist in the interior of compact stars. The conditions realized in these stellar objects tend to disfavor standard symmetric BCS pairing and may favor an inhomogeneous color superconducting phase. The properties of inhomogeneous color superconductors are discussed in detail and in particular of crystalline color superconductors. The possible astrophysical signatures associated with the presence of crystalline color superconducting phases within the core of compact stars are also reviewed. © 2014 American Physical Society.


Das S.K.,Yonsei University | Das S.K.,University of Catania | Das S.K.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Davody A.,Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences
Physical Review C - Nuclear Physics | Year: 2014

The drag force of charm quarks propagating through a thermalized system of Quark Gluon Plasma (QGP) has been considered within the framework of both conformal and nonconformal anti-de Sitter (AdS) correspondence. A newly derived Einstein fluctuation-dissipation relation has been used to calculate the heavy flavor diffusion coefficients. Using the drag and diffusion coefficients as inputs, the Langevin equation has been solved to study the heavy flavor suppression factor. It has been shown that within conformal AdS correspondence the D-meson suppression at Large Hadron Collider energy can be reproduced, whereas the nonconformal AdS correspondence fails to reproduce the experimental results. This suggests collisional loss alone within nonconformal AdS correspondence cannot reproduce the experimental results, and inclusion of radiative loss becomes important. © 2014 American Physical Society.


Micali G.,University of Catania | Lacarrubba F.,University of Catania | Nasca M.R.,University of Catania | Ferraro S.,University of Catania | Schwartz R.A.,Rutgers University
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology | Year: 2014

The purpose of the paper is to provide an in-depth, evidence-based analysis of the clinical use of topical treatments for skin cancer. A comprehensive review of topical drugs has been performed, including 5-fluorouracil, imiquimod, diclofenac, ingenol mebutate, retinoids, resiquimod, piroxicam, dobesilate, and betulinic acid. The evaluated studies were rated according to their level of evidence level (I-V), as indicated by recent guidelines for evidence-based medicine, The Oxford 2011 Levels of Evidence. Therapeutic response is generally related to tumor type, extent, and localization, and also to patient compliance. Careful patient selection is required in order to achieve the desired goal of complete tumor clearance. © 2014 by the American Academy of Dermatology, Inc.


Micali G.,University of Catania | Lacarrubba F.,University of Catania | Nasca M.R.,University of Catania | Schwartz R.A.,Rutgers University
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology | Year: 2014

Topical pharmacotherapy represents an effective alternative treatment for superficial skin cancer, primarily actinic keratoses and basal cell carcinomas. We provide an in-depth analysis of the pharmacologic aspects of available topical drugs for the treatment of primary skin tumors. In particular, we evaluate the mechanisms of action, formulations and indications, side effects, and contraindications of 5-fluorouracil, imiquimod, diclofenac, ingenol mebutate, and retinoids. Moreover, the characteristics of some investigational molecules (ie, resiquimod, piroxicam, dobesilate, and betulinic acid) are presented. © 2014 by the American Academy of Dermatology, Inc.


Pellegrino F.M.D.,University of Catania | Angilella G.G.N.,University of Catania | Angilella G.G.N.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Pucci R.,University of Catania
Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics | Year: 2012

We study tunneling across a strain-induced superlattice in graphene. In studying the effect of applied strain on the low-lying Dirac-like spectrum, both a shift of the Dirac points in reciprocal space, and a deformation of the Dirac cones is explicitly considered. The latter corresponds to an anisotropic, possibly nonuniform, Fermi velocity. Along with the modes with unit transmission usually found across a single barrier, we analytically find additional resonant modes when considering a periodic structure of several strain-induced barriers. We also study the bandlike spectrum of bound states, as a function of conserved energy and transverse momentum. Such a strain-induced superlattice may thus effectively work as a mode filter for transport in graphene. © 2012 American Physical Society.


Plumari S.,University of Catania | Plumari S.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Puglisi A.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Scardina F.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | And 2 more authors.
Physical Review C - Nuclear Physics | Year: 2012

The shear viscosity η has been calculated by using the Green-Kubo relation in the framework of a partonic transport approach solved at cascade level. We compare the numerical results for η obtained from the Green-Kubo correlator with the analytical formulas in both the relaxation time approximation (RTA) and the Chapman-Enskog (CE) approximation. We investigate and emphasize the differences between the isotropic and anisotropic cross sections and between the massless and massive particles. We show that in the range of temperature explored in a heavy ion collision and for perturbative-QCD-like cross section, the RTA significantly underestimates the viscosity by about a factor of 2-3, while a good agreement is found between the CE approximation and Gree-Kubo relation already at first-order of approximation. The agreement with the CE approximation supplies an analytical formula that allows us to develop a kinetic transport theory at fixed shear-viscosity to entropy-density ratio, η/s. This opens the possibility of exploring dissipative nonequilibrium evolution of the distribution functions versus T-dependent η/s and particle momenta in the dynamics of the quark-gluon plasma created in ultrarelativistic heavy-ion collisions. © 2012 American Physical Society.


Capodanno D.,University of Catania | Capodanno D.,University of Florida | Angiolillo D.J.,University of Florida
Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions | Year: 2014

Atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common cardiac arrhythmia, occurs in 1% to 2% of the general population, with a prevalence varying from 0.5% in subjects 40 to 50 years old to 5% to 15% in the elderly who are >80 years old.1-3 Stroke is the most feared complication of AF, resulting in death or disabling symptoms in a vast proportion of cases.4 In the Framingham study, the age-adjusted incidence of stroke was 5-fold higher in subjects with AF, and the attributable risk raised from 1.5% at 50 to 59 years to 23.5% at 80 to 89 years. © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.


Barbagallo R.N.,University of Catania | Di Silvestro I.,CNR Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems In the Mediterranean | Patane C.,CNR Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems In the Mediterranean
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture | Year: 2013

Background: The 'processing tomato' is an important source of natural antioxidants whose concentration depends, along with other parameters, on water availability. In order to better understand the mechanisms that regulate the response to water stress, a study was carried out in a typically semi-arid Mediterranean environment to investigate the yield, chemical composition and visual quality of tomato cv. 'Brigade' field grown under no irrigation (V0) in comparison with those of the conventional fully irrigated crop (V100). Results: The stressful conditions of V0 affected the total yield. Nevertheless, fruits exhibited an increase in firmness (+27%), total solids (+23%) and total soluble solids (+5%). The dynamic balance between the antioxidant pattern and polyphenol oxidase activity under water stress conditions resulted in fruits with increased antioxidant activity (+12%), due to a decline in enzyme activity (-48%) and a rise in vitamin C (+20%) and total phenolic (+13%) contents. Conclusion: It is possible to manage water stress by applying water-saving irrigation strategies in order to promote the quality and nutritional properties of tomatoes while also contributing to saving water. This is a relevant aspect in processing tomato cultivation in semi-arid environments, where both the cost and availability of irrigation water represent a rising problem in agricultural activities. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry.


Pellegrino F.M.D.,University of Catania | Pellegrino F.M.D.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Angilella G.G.N.,University of Catania | Angilella G.G.N.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Pucci R.,University of Catania
Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics | Year: 2010

Within the tight-binding approximation, we study the dependence of the electronic band structure and of the optical conductivity of a graphene single layer on the modulus and direction of applied uniaxial strain. While the Dirac-cone approximation, albeit with a deformed cone, is robust for sufficiently small strain, band dispersion linearity breaks down along a given direction, corresponding to the development of anisotropic massive low-energy excitations. We recover a linear behavior of the low-energy density of states, as long as the cone approximation holds, while a band gap opens for sufficiently intense strain, for almost all, generic strain directions. This may be interpreted in terms of an electronic topological transition, corresponding to a change in topology of the Fermi line, and to the merging of two inequivalent Dirac points as a function of strain. We propose that these features may be observed in the frequency dependence of the longitudinal-optical conductivity in the visible range, as a function of strain modulus and direction, as well as of field orientation. © 2010 The American Physical Society.


Pappalardo F.,University of Catania | Flower D.,Aston University | Russo G.,University of Catania | Pennisi M.,University of Catania | Motta S.,University of Catania
Pharmacological Research | Year: 2015

Excepting the Peripheral and Central Nervous Systems, the Immune System is the most complex of somatic systems in higher animals. This complexity manifests itself at many levels from the molecular to that of the whole organism. Much insight into this confounding complexity can be gained through computational simulation. Such simulations range in application from epitope prediction through to the modelling of vaccination strategies. In this review, we evaluate selectively various key applications relevant to computational vaccinology: these include technique that operates at different scale that is, from molecular to organisms and even to population level. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Bentivegna E.,University of Catania | Bentivegna E.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Bruni M.,University of Portsmouth
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2016

We construct a three-dimensional, fully relativistic numerical model of a universe filled with an inhomogeneous pressureless fluid, starting from initial data that represent a perturbation of the Einstein-de Sitter model. We then measure the departure of the average expansion rate with respect to this homogeneous and isotropic reference model, comparing local quantities to the predictions of linear perturbation theory. We find that collapsing perturbations reach the turnaround point much earlier than expected from the reference spherical top-hat collapse model and that the local deviation of the expansion rate from the homogeneous one can be as high as 28% at an underdensity, for an initial density contrast of 10-2. We then study, for the first time, the exact behavior of the backreaction term QD. We find that, for small values of the initial perturbations, this term exhibits a 1/a scaling, and that it is negative with a linearly growing absolute value for larger perturbation amplitudes, thereby contributing to an overall deceleration of the expansion. Its magnitude, on the other hand, remains very small even for relatively large perturbations. © 2016 American Physical Society.


Barbera A.C.,University of Catania | Maucieri C.,University of Catania | Cavallaro V.,CNR Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems In the Mediterranean | Ioppolo A.,University of Catania | Spagna G.,University of Catania
Agricultural Water Management | Year: 2013

The disposal of olive mill wastewaters (OMWs) is a major problem that affects soil and groundwater. Different papers have discussed the effects of OMW discharge on soil characteristics, plant production and phytotoxicity. In this work, a holistic approach is proposed and the main research studies regarding the effects of OMWs on crops and soils are reviewed. Generally, direct application of OMWs exerts a temporary positive effect on soil physical properties. However, in clay soils, the accumulation of salts from these wastewaters could lead to the disintegration of the soil structure. Deterioration of soil structure would decrease the soil hydraulic conductivity, which is a key parameter for determining the volume of OMW that can be spread on a soil. Organic matter (OM) makes up approximately 65% of the OMW dry weight. Among the soil chemical characteristics, the soil pH remains almost constant following OMW applications. Polyphenols are the most limiting factor for spreading OMWs on soils because of their antimicrobial and phytotoxic effects. Nevertheless, these polyphenols are rapidly degraded depending on environmental conditions. Due to the highly variable chemical composition of the OMWs, these effluents provide variable macronutrient inputs (especially potassium and phosphorus), which potentially reduce necessary fertilizer inputs. Regarding soil microflora, the OMWs exert the following two contrasting actions: stimulating microflora development by temporarily enriching soil carbon and inhibiting certain microorganisms and phytopathogenic agents by adding antimicrobial substances to the soil. For many crops, spreading OMWs benefits crop yield. However, the application of OMWs may also damage germination. Thus, the application of OMWs should adequately precede sowing. The beneficial effects of OMWs on crop yields indicate that these wastewaters may become very important sources of OM and nutrients in agriculture soils and positively impact soil fertility. However, to improve their effectiveness, some use restrictions based on soil characteristics were outlined. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Salomone S.,University of Catania | Caraci F.,University of Catania | Leggio G.M.,University of Catania | Fedotova J.,RAS Pavlov Institute of Physiology | Drago F.,University of Catania
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology | Year: 2012

Current approved drug treatments for Alzheimer disease (AD) include cholinesterase inhibitors (donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine) and the NMDA receptor antagonist memantine. These drugs provide symptomatic relief but poorly affect the progression of the disease. Drug discovery has been directed, in the last 10 years, to develop 'disease modifying drugs' hopefully able to counteract the progression of AD. Because in a chronic, slow progressing pathological process, such as AD, an early start of treatment enhances the chance of success, it is crucial to have biomarkers for early detection of AD-related brain dysfunction, usable before clinical onset. Reliable early biomarkers need therefore to be prospectively tested for predictive accuracy, with specific cut off values validated in clinical practice. Disease modifying drugs developed so far include drugs to reduce β amyloid (Aβ) production, drugs to prevent Aβ aggregation, drugs to promote Aβ clearance, drugs targeting tau phosphorylation and assembly and other approaches. Unfortunately none of these drugs has demonstrated efficacy in phase 3 studies. The failure of clinical trials with disease modifying drugs raises a number of questions, spanning from methodological flaws to fundamental understanding of AD pathophysiology and biology. Recently, new diagnostic criteria applicable to presymptomatic stages of AD have been published. These new criteria may impact on drug development, such that future trials on disease modifying drugs will include populations susceptible to AD, before clinical onset. Specific problems with completed trials and hopes with ongoing trials are discussed in this review. © 2011 The Authors. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology © 2011 The British Pharmacological Society.


Spoto G.,University of Catania | Spoto G.,Italian National Institute of Biosystems and Biostructures | Minunni M.,University of Florence
Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters | Year: 2012

This Perspective discusses recent advances in the field of surface plasmon resonance imaging (SPRi) for the label-free, multiplex, and sensitive study of biomolecular systems. Large efforts have been made during the past decade with the aim of developing even more sensitive and specific SPRi-based platforms. Metal nanostructures have been used to enhance SPRi sensitivity and to build a specific SPR-active surface, while special effects such as long-range SPR have been investigated to develop more effective SPRi platforms. Here, we review some of the significant work performed with SPRi for the ultrasensitive detection of biomolecular systems and provide a perspective on the challenges that need to be overcome to enable the wide use of SPRi in emerging key areas such as health diagnostics and antidoping controls. © 2012 American Chemical Society.


Calabrese E.J.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Mattson M.P.,U.S. National Institute on Aging | Calabrese V.,University of Catania
Human and Experimental Toxicology | Year: 2010

Resveratrol induces hormetic dose responses in a wide range of biological models, affecting numerous endpoints of biomedical and therapeutic significance. These responses were reported for numerous human tumor cell lines affecting breast, prostate, colon, lung, uterine and leukemia. In such cases, low concentrations of resveratrol enhanced tumor cell proliferation whereas higher concentrations were inhibitory. Similar resveratrol-induced biphasic dose responses were seen with several parasitic diseases, including Leishmaniasis and trichinella. Hormetic effects were also reported in animal models for cardiovascular induced injury, gastric lesions, ischemic stroke, Alzheimer's disease and osteoporosis. In these cases, there was often a protective effect at low doses but an adverse effect at higher doses, exacerbating the disease process/incidence. This analysis indicates that many effects induced by resveratrol are dependent on dose and that opposite effects occur at low and high doses, being indicative of a hormetic dose response. Despite consistent occurrence of hormetic dose responses of resveratrol in a wide range of biomedical models, epidemiologic and clinical trials are needed to assess the nature of its dose-response in humans. © 2010 The Author(s).


Gatto R.,University of Geneva | Ruggieri M.,University of Catania
Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology | Year: 2012

We analyze the phase diagram of hot quark matter in presence of an axial chemical potential, μ 5. The latter is introduced to mimic the chirality transitions induced, in hot quantum chromodynamics, by the strong sphaleron configurations. In particular, we study the curvature of the critical line at small μ 5, the effects of a finite quark mass and of a vector interaction. Moreover, we build the mixed phase at the first order phase transition line and draw the phase diagram in the chiral density and temperature plane. We finally compute the full topological susceptibility in presence of a background of topological charge. © 2012 American Physical Society.


Firetto Carlino M.,University of Catania | Di Stefano A.,University of Catania | Budillon F.,CNR Institute for Coastal Marine Environment
Marine Geology | Year: 2013

Morphological and seismic-stratigraphic features of the Augusta Bay (offshore eastern Sicily) have been characterized by means of Sub-bottom Chirp profiles, Multibeam data and Side Scan Sonar images, covering an area of about 110km2. The marine data set was combined to mainland stratigraphy, derived from coastal boreholes and geological maps, to achieve a land-sea correspondence of main morpho-structural and stratigraphical features. The study area is located in the western sector of the Ionian Sea which represents a key area to reconstruct the geological parameters that control the processes of convergence between Africa and Europe in the Mediterranean. In particular, the area of interest draws the attention for problems concerning high seismicity and environmental pollution from oil and chemical industries. The Augusta Bay offshore displays a marked variability of morphologies and seismic-stratigraphic characters, related to the influence of both large-scale geological processes and local variables. It consists of an irregular surfaced narrow shelf, generally tracing out the shape of the relative coastline seaward bounded by a steep continental slope. This latter is deeply engraved by gullies and shows evidences of recent withdrawal, favored by the occurrence of structural lineaments. The Augusta offshore reflects the corresponding on-land geological pattern, being characterized by a central basinal area filled with Pleistocene-Holocene successions, bounded by two relieved sectors corresponding to the seaward prosecution of the Mt. Tauro and Magnisi-St. Panagia horsts, where the Miocene substratum outcrops. The seismic-stratigraphic architecture of the basinal area not only is the result of sea-level variations related to the Late Pleistocene sea-level fall and subsequent transgressive phase, responsible for the formation of a main angular unconformity, but also depends on pre-existing substratum arrangement, which leads to a wide lateral facies variability, on short distances. Morphological and seismic-stratigraphic evidences outline the presence of structural lineaments whose orientation is consistent with that of the on-land sectors. Slight movements are testified by the dislocation of recent sedimentary covers, pointing to active tectonic processes during Holocene. Such vertical movements are also responsible for a southward differential subsidence of the basinal area, whereas the proximal portion of the shelf seems to be strictly connected to the uplifting emerged sectors. This evidence is consistent with the recognition of recently active tectonic structures where the distal offshore represents the down-faulted sector. Our results, providing a detailed knowledge of the submerged sector of a highly populated area, affected by high seismicity and environmental pollution risk may significantly contribute to an appropriate management of the area in the next future. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Barcikowski S.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Compagnini G.,University of Catania
Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics | Year: 2013

Today, nanoparticles are widely implemented as functional elements onto surfaces, into volumes and as nano-hybrids, resulting for example in bioactive composites and biomolecule conjugates. However, only limited varieties of materials compatible for integration into advanced functional materials are available: nanoparticles synthesized using conventional gas phase processes are often agglomerated into micro powders that are hard to re-disperse into functional matrices. Chemical synthesis methods often lead to impurities of the nanoparticle colloids caused by additives and precursor reaction products. In the last decade, laser ablation and nanoparticle generation in liquids has proven to be a unique and efficient technique to generate, excite, fragment, and conjugate a large variety of nanostructures in a scalable and clean manner. This editorial briefly highlights selected recent advancements and critical aspects in the field of pulsed laser-based nanoparticle generation and manipulation, including exemplary strategies to harvest the unique properties of the laser-generated nanomaterials in the field of biomedicine and catalysis. The presented critical aspects address future assignments such as size control and scale-up. This journal is © 2013 the Owner Societies.


Pellegrino F.M.D.,University of Catania | Angilella G.G.N.,University of Catania | Angilella G.G.N.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Pucci R.,University of Catania
Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics | Year: 2011

We consider the effect of uniaxial strain on ballistic transport in graphene, across single and multiple tunneling barriers. Specifically, we show that applied strain not only shifts the position of the Dirac points in reciprocal space, but also induces a deformation of the Dirac cones, and that both effects are of the same order on the applied strain intensity. We therefore study the deviations thereby induced on the angular dependence of the tunneling transmission across a single barrier, as well as on the conductivity and Fano factor across a single barrier and a superstructure of several, periodically repeated, such sharp barriers. Our model is generalized to the case of nonuniform barriers, where either the strain or the gate potential profiles may depend continuously on position. This should afford a more accurate description of realistic "origami" nanodevices based on graphene, where "foldings" are expected to involve several lattice spacings. © 2011 American Physical Society.


Pellegrino F.M.D.,University of Catania | Angilella G.G.N.,University of Catania | Angilella G.G.N.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Pucci R.,University of Catania
Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics | Year: 2011

After deriving a general correspondence between linear response correlation functions in graphene with and without applied uniaxial strain, we study the dependence on the strain modulus and direction of selected electronic properties, such as the plasmon dispersion relation and the optical conductivity, as well as the magnetic and electric susceptibilities. Specifically, we find that the dispersion of the recently predicted transverse plasmon mode exhibits an anisotropic deviation from linearity, thus facilitating its experimental detection in strained graphene samples. © 2011 American Physical Society.


Lang F.,University of Tübingen | Gulbins E.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Lang P.A.,University of Tübingen | Zappulla D.,University of Catania | Foller M.,University of Tübingen
Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry | Year: 2010

The suicidal death of erythrocytes or eryptosis is characterized by cell shrinkage, membrane blebbing and cell membrane phospholipid scrambling resulting in phosphatidylserine exposure at the cell surface. Eryptosis is stimulated in a wide variety of diseases including sepsis, haemolytic uremic syndrome, malaria, sickle-cell anemia, beta-thalassemia, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD)-deficiency, phosphate depletion, iron deficiency and Wilson's disease. Moreover, eryptosis is elicited by osmotic shock, oxidative stress, energy depletion as well as a wide variety of endogenous mediators and xenobiotics. Excessive eryptosis is observed in erythrocytes lacking the cGMP-dependent protein kinase type I (cGKI) or the AMP-activated protein kinase AMPK. Inhibitors of eryptosis include erythropoietin, nitric oxide NO, catecholamines and high concentrations of urea. Eryptosis-triggering diseases and chemicals are partially effective by stimulating the formation of ceramide, which in turn fosters cell membrane scrambling. Accordingly, ceramide-induced eryptosis participates in the pathophysiology of several diseases and contributes to the effects of a large number of xenobiotics. The mechanisms underlying ceramide formation in erythrocytes are, however, still ill defined. In case of osmotic cell shrinkage, ceramide formation is apparently due to activation of phospholipase 2, leading to formation of platelet activating factor PAF and PAF-dependent stimulation of ceramide formation, which possibly involves acid sphingomyelinase. Additional experiments are needed to conclusively define the ceramide-generating enzyme and the ceramide-dependent cellular events eventually leading to suicidal erythrocyte death. Copyright © 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel.


Ierna A.,CNR Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems In the Mediterranean | Mauro R.P.,University of Catania | Mauromicale G.,University of Catania
Biomass and Bioenergy | Year: 2012

A three-year experiment was conducted in Sicily (South Italy) aimed at evaluating the effects of three fertilization levels (low, medium and high) and two harvest times (flowering vs. achenes ripening) on aboveground biomass, grain and energy yield of five Cynara cardunculus genotypes (three cultivated cardoons, one wild cardoon accession and one globe artichoke line). The cultivated cardoons showed the highest aboveground dry biomass yield (on average 26 t ha -1 y -1), grain yield (on average 1.2 t ha -1 y -1) and energy yield (on average 450 GJ ha -1 y -1). Among these, 'Bianco avorio' and 'Gigante di Lucca' were able to maximize their biomass and energetic response under medium fertilization level, and improved, also, their performances along the three-year experiment. The shift in harvest time from flowering to achenes ripening decreased the aboveground biomass yield (grain excepted) (on average, from 21.1 to 19.0 t ha -1 y -1), but without significant effects on energy yield, as a consequence of the energy obtained from grains. The results show that combining an adequate choice of genotype and agronomical technique can make C. cardunculus a very competitive and sustainable energy crop in Mediterranean environment. Agronomical and breeding innovations are needed to further improve and stabilize crop performances and its agro-ecological sustainability. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Patane C.,CNR Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems In the Mediterranean | Cosentino S.L.,University of Catania
European Journal of Agronomy | Year: 2013

Kenaf is a warm-season species that recently has been proved to be a good source of biomass for cellulose pulp for the paper industry in Mediterranean countries, where the use of hemp is problematic for legal reasons. A two-year research program aiming at studying the effects of different water regimes and nitrogen fertilization levels, upon plant growth, leaf area index, biomass accumulation, water and radiation use efficiency, was carried out on kenaf under a typically semi-arid Mediterranean climate of South Italy. In cv. Tainung 2, four different water regimes (I0=no irrigation, I25, I50 and I100=25, 50 and 100% ETc restoration, respectively) and three nitrogen levels (N0=no nitrogen, N75 and N150=75 and 150kgha-1 of N, respectively) were studied. The amount of water applied strongly affected plant growth (in terms of LAI, plant height and biomass) and final total and stem dry yield, which significantly increased from I0 to I100. Nitrogen did not exert any beneficial effect upon dry yield. Radiation Use Efficiency (RUE), calculated in the second year only, was the highest (1.95gDMMJ-1) in fully irrigated treatment (I100) and the lowest (0.86gDMMJ-1) in the dry control. Water use efficiency (WUE) was rather similar among water regimes, whilst irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE) progressively increased with the decrease of total volume of water distributed to the crop by irrigation, from 3.47 to 12.45kgm-3 in 2004 and from 4.27 to 7.72kgm-3 in 2005. The results obtained from this research demonstrate that in semi-arid areas of South Italy, irrigation at a reduced rate (50% ETc restoration) may be advantageous, since it allowed a 42-45% irrigation water saving, when compared to the fully irrigation treatment, against a 23% (in 2004) and 36% (in 2005) yield reduction, and a still good efficiency (near that potential) in transforming the solar radiation in dry biomass was maintained (RUE=1.76gDMMJ-1, against 1.95gDMMJ-1 in fully irrigated treatment). © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Patane C.,CNR Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems In the Mediterranean | Cosentino S.L.,University of Catania
Agricultural Water Management | Year: 2010

In order to assess the effect of soil water deficit (SWD) during fruit development and ripening, on yield and quality of processing tomato under deficit irrigation in the Mediterranean climate, an open-field experiment was carried out in two sites differing from soil and climatic characteristics, in Sicily, South Italy. Six irrigation treatments were studied: no irrigation following plant establishment (NI); 100% (F = full) or 50% (D = deficit) ETc restoration with long-season irrigation (L) or short-season irrigation up to 1st fruit set (S); and long-season irrigation with 100% ETc restoration up to beginning of flowering, then 50% ETc restoration (LFD). The greatest effect of increasing SWD was the rise in fruit firmness, total solids and soluble solids (SS). A negative trend in response to increasing SWD was observed for fruit yield and size. Tough yield and SS were negatively correlated, the final SS yield under the LD regime was close to that of LF, and 47% water was saved. However, SS seems to be more environmental sensitive than SWD, since it varied more between sites than within site. The variations between sites in fruit quality response to deficit irrigation demonstrate that not only SWD but also soil and climatic characteristics influence the quality traits of the crop. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Spitaleri C.,University of Catania | Spitaleri C.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy
Journal of Physics: Conference Series | Year: 2013

The knowledge of nucleosynthesis and of energy production in stars requires an increasingly precise measurement of nuclear fusion reactions at the Gamow energy. Because of the Coulomb barrier reaction cross sections in astrophysics cannot be accessed directly at ultra -low energies, unless very favorable conditions are met. Moreover, the energies characterizing nuclear processes in several astrophysical contexts are so low that the presence of atomic electrons must be taken into account. Theoretical extrapolations of available data are then needed to derive astrophysical S(E)-factors. To overcome these experimental difficulties the Trojan Horse Method (THM) has been introduced. The method provides a valid alternative path to measure unscreened low-energy cross sections of reactions between charged particles, and to retrieve information on the electron screening potential when ultra-low energy direct measurements are available. While the theory has been discussed in detail in some theoretical works, present in the scientific literature, also in relation to different types of excitation functions (e.g. non-resonant and resonant), work on detailed methodology used to extract the events to be considered for the bare nucleus cross section measurements is still on going. In this work we will present some critical points in the application of THM that deserve to be discussed in more detail.


Gatto R.,University of Geneva | Ruggieri M.,University of Catania
Lecture Notes in Physics | Year: 2013

In this chapter, we discuss several aspects of the theory of strong interactions in presence of a strong magnetic background. In particular, we summarize our results on the effect of the magnetic background on chiral symmetry restoration and deconfinement at finite temperature. Moreover, we compute the magnetic susceptibility of the chiral condensate and the quark polarization at zero temperature. Our theoretical framework is given by chiral models: the Nambu-Jona-Lasinio (NJL), the Polyakov improved NJL (or PNJL) and the Quark-Meson (QM) models. We also compare our results with the ones obtained by other groups. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013.


Scardina F.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Scardina F.,Messina University | Colonna M.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Plumari S.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | And 3 more authors.
Physics Letters, Section B: Nuclear, Elementary Particle and High-Energy Physics | Year: 2013

We study the evolution of the quark-gluon composition of the plasma created in ultra-Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collisions (uRHIC's) employing a partonic transport theory that includes both elastic and inelastic collisions plus a mean fields dynamics associated to the widely used quasi-particle model. The latter, able to describe lattice QCD thermodynamics, implies a "chemical" equilibrium ratio between quarks and gluons strongly increasing as T→Tc, the phase transition temperature. Accordingly we see in realistic simulations of uRHIC's a rapid evolution from a gluon dominated initial state to a quark dominated plasma close to Tc. The quark-to-gluon ratio can be modified by about a factor of ~20 in the bulk of the system and appears to be large also in the high pT region. We discuss how this aspect, often overflown, can be important for a quantitative study of several key issues in the QGP physics: shear viscosity, jet quenching, quarkonia suppression. Furthermore a bulk plasma made by more than 80% of quarks plus antiquarks provides a theoretical basis for hadronization via quark coalescence. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Ruggieri M.,University of Catania | Scardina F.,University of Catania | Scardina F.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Plumari S.,University of Catania | And 3 more authors.
Physics Letters, Section B: Nuclear, Elementary Particle and High-Energy Physics | Year: 2013

A current goal of relativistic heavy-ion collisions experiments is the search for a Color Glass Condensate (CGC) as the limiting state of QCD matter at very high density. In viscous hydrodynamics simulations, a standard Glauber initial condition leads to estimate 4πη/. s~. 1, while employing the Kharzeev-Levin-Nardi (KLN) modeling of the glasma leads to at least a factor of 2 larger η/. s. Within a kinetic theory approach based on a relativistic Boltzmann-like transport simulation, our main result is that the out-of-equilibrium initial distribution reduces the efficiency in building-up the elliptic flow. At RHIC energy we find the available data on v2 are in agreement with a 4πη/. s~. 1 also for KLN initial conditions. More generally, our study shows that the initial non-equilibrium in p-space can have a significant impact on the build-up of anisotropic flow. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Stone R.C.,Rutgers University | Micali G.A.,University of Catania | Schwartz R.A.,Rutgers University
International Journal of Dermatology | Year: 2014

Roseola infantum, also known as exanthem subitum or sixth disease, is a generally benign febrile exanthem of infancy. It has a characteristic clinical course of high fever followed by the appearance of an exanthem upon defervescence. Febrile seizures are a frequent complication. Roseola is caused by infection with human herpesviruses 6 or 7 (HHV-6/7), which are acquired at a young age. Diagnosis is made by serology or by virus detection in body fluids and tissues. Treatment of roseola is supportive; recovery is usually complete with no significant sequelae. However, HHV-6/7 can reactivate in immunocompetent as well as immunocompromised individuals with severe systemic consequence. © 2014 The International Society of Dermatology.


Calabrese V.,University of Catania | Cornelius C.,University of Catania | Dinkova-Kostova A.T.,University of Dundee | Dinkova-Kostova A.T.,Johns Hopkins University | And 2 more authors.
Antioxidants and Redox Signaling | Year: 2010

Despite the capacity of chaperones and other homeostatic components to restore folding equilibrium, cells appear poorly adapted for chronic oxidative stress that increases in cancer and in metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases. Modulation of endogenous cellular defense mechanisms represents an innovative approach to therapeutic intervention in diseases causing chronic tissue damage, such as in neurodegeneration. This article introduces the concept of hormesis and its applications to the field of neuroprotection. It is argued that the hormetic dose response provides the central underpinning of neuroprotective responses, providing a framework for explaining the common quantitative features of their dose-response relationships, their mechanistic foundations, and their relationship to the concept of biological plasticity, as well as providing a key insight for improving the accuracy of the therapeutic dose of pharmaceutical agents within the highly heterogeneous human population. This article describes in mechanistic detail how hormetic dose responses are mediated for endogenous cellular defense pathways, including sirtuin and Nrf2 and related pathways that integrate adaptive stress responses in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases. Particular attention is given to the emerging role of nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide gases in hormetic-based neuroprotection and their relationship to membrane radical dynamics and mitochondrial redox signaling. © 2010 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


Micale V.,Masaryk University | Micale V.,Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry | Micale V.,University of Catania | Di Marzo V.,National Research Council Italy | And 3 more authors.
Pharmacology and Therapeutics | Year: 2013

The endocannabinoid system (ECS), comprising two G protein-coupled receptors (the cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 [CB1 and CB2] for marijuana's psychoactive principle δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol [δ9-THC]), their endogenous small lipid ligands (namely anandamide [AEA] and 2-arachidonoylglycerol [2-AG], also known as endocannabinoids), and the proteins for endocannabinoid biosynthesis and degradation, has been suggested as a pro-homeostatic and pleiotropic signaling system activated in a time- and tissue-specific way during physiopathological conditions. In the brain activation of this system modulates the release of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters and of cytokines from glial cells. As such, the ECS is strongly involved in neuropsychiatric disorders, particularly in affective disturbances such as anxiety and depression. It has been proposed that synthetic molecules that inhibit endocannabinoid degradation can exploit the selectivity of endocannabinoid action, thus activating cannabinoid receptors only in those tissues where there is perturbed endocannabinoid turnover due to the disorder, and avoiding the potential side effects of direct CB1 and CB2 activation. However, the realization that endocannabinoids, and AEA in particular, also act at other molecular targets, and that these mediators can be deactivated by redundant pathways, has recently led to question the efficacy of such approach, thus opening the way to new multi-target therapeutic strategies, and to the use of non-psychotropic cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), which act via several parallel mechanisms, including indirect interactions with the ECS. The state of the art of the possible therapeutic use of endocannabinoid deactivation inhibitors and phytocannabinoids in mood disorders is discussed in this review article. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.


Plumari S.,University of Catania | Plumari S.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Greco V.,University of Catania | Greco V.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy
AIP Conference Proceedings | Year: 2012

We have investigated the build up of anisotropic flows within a parton cascade approach at fixed shear viscosity to entropy density η/s to study the generation of collective flows in ultrarelativistic heavy ion collisions. We present a study of the impact of a temperature dependent η/s(T) on the generation of the elliptic flow at both RHIC and LHC. Finally we show that the transport approach, thanks to its wide validity range, is able to describe naturally the rise-fall and saturation of the ν 2(p T) observed at LHC. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH-2007-2.4.4-1 | Award Amount: 3.93M | Year: 2008

In the eurIPFnet consortium, leading European basic and clinical scientists in the field of interstitial lung diseases associate to jointly decipher the natural course and molecular pathomechanisms of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and to develop new therapeutic strategies for patients with IPF. This devastating disease affects about 360.000 patients in the EU and causes a substantial socioeconomic burden. IPF patients experience a gradual decrease in quality of life due to progressive dyspnoe and coughing, and usually die within 3-5 years upon diagnosis. There is currently no approved treatment available. Our translational research programme includes implementation of a European IPF registry (eurIPFreg), in which data with regard to natural course, familiar background and susceptibility factors of IPF will be collected, and of a European IPF biobank (eurIPFbank) of blood, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, cells and tissue specimen of IPF. In these samples, we will perform transcriptome, proteome, phosphoproteome and lipidome analysis, cellular studies and genetic analysis to unravel the molecular pathways underlying IPF and to identify and establish new diagnostic and prognostic markers. Candidate gene verification will be performed in cell culture and animal studies, including siRNA and gene transfection technologies and development of genetically altered mice and will result in the development of new animal models of IPF. Identification of new therapeutic targets in these models will be followed by rapid commercial exploitation and early preclinical and early clinical evaluation. Ultimately, we wish to establish a unique, sustainable and internationally unrivalled European infrastructure for investigation and treatment of IPF. Our mission statement is straight-forward and clear: Fighting for improved survival in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2010.3.2-1 | Award Amount: 3.73M | Year: 2010

International Research Project on Financing Quality in Healthcare InterQuality gathers the interest for financing systems effect on quality of healthcare of researchers from seven EU countries and US. The study, based on administrative and survey data, is designed for 36 months. It will take into account needs of four different patient groups (sectors), affected by: hospital, outpatient, pharmaceutical and integrated care. The scope of research will cover: utilization of resources and efficiency, quality of care, including: equity of access, patient satisfaction and safety of treatment. Resources allocated by each sector will be analyzed in relation to risk of their overuse, underuse or misuse. Critical appraisal of individual contracts will be based on the New Institutional Economics theory. Principal-Agent framework, the new standard approach to modelling relationships between payers and providers in healthcare, will be applied to the analysis of reimbursement schemes. The first two work-packages will prepare theoretical background and collect statistical data in required format. Dedicated Data Warehouse will be launched and exploited by all project participants. Work-packages 3-6 will perform core analytical work by building and testing sector-specific models and delivering expected project results. The research will be conducted in Poland, Italy, Denmark, Germany, United Kingdom and United States. Each of the chosen countries has different health care financing system therefore the comparison of the results and outcomes, addressing different aspects of financial incentives effect on quality of care, will advance the knowledge base on sustainability of the health systems. Further knowledge gained from the project will provide support for Member States to choose the right financing mechanisms in the different areas of the health care system, according to their needs, in order to achieve better health with available resources.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: FP7-2008-PEOPLE-NIGHT | Award Amount: 80.06K | Year: 2008

The role of researchers is very important for the growth of European Unions competitiveness and for the well being of society. However, the work they do is still not sufficiently known and the stereotyped image of researchers as people detached from reality and thoroughly concentrated in their activity, in some cases, still exists. The main objective of the SEER project consists of bringing researchers closer to people and making citizens understand that their work is very important for their daily life. The SEER proposal is managed by Catania University in cooperation with all scientific and research organisations active in the city. As such, it is expected to reach a large audience. People participating in the Night of Researchers should become aware of what researchers do and understand that they are ordinary people with the same hobbies, dreams and amusements as everyone. During the event, numerous both amusing and interesting activities will be carried out with the active involvement of researchers, who will let people discover the world of researchers and science and in such way contribute to encourage children and young people to consider a future scientific career. The Night of Researchers will not only create a bridge between researchers and people but also contribute to eliminate the stereotyped idea of the researcher. Moreover, the support of European Union and the simultaneous organisation of the Researchers Night on September 26th in all participating countries (except in Israel) will give great emphasis to the event. As a consequence, the Night of Researchers is expected to have a significant impact on people and, more generally, on the territory.


Evola G.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Margani G.,University of Catania | Marletta L.,University of Catania
Energy and Buildings | Year: 2011

In the cold climate of continental Europe the correction of thermal bridges in buildings is a mandatory issue, as in these areas they produce not only heat losses but frequently also condensation and mould growth. In mild Mediterranean climate thermal bridges also cause an increase in energy consumption, but usually do not present condensation effects. In Italy, the current regulations for new buildings only recommend but do not impose the thermal bridge correction, which usually needs extra costs during construction and refurbishment phases. This paper presents a study on the effects of thermal bridges for two building types (terraced houses and semi-detached houses) and three current envelope solutions in Italian climate, which may be considered representative of mild Mediterranean climate. The buildings are characterised by reinforced concrete frameworks and clay block walls; the thermal performance of the envelopes complies with Italian regulations for new constructions. In a first step the impact of thermal bridges on both heating and cooling energy demand is studied; then the economic convenience of correcting such thermal bridges is assessed by calculating the discounted payback period referred to the additional costs of construction and refurbishment. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Giuffrida A.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience | Maccarrone G.,University of Catania | Cucinotta V.,University of Catania | Orlandini S.,University of Florence | Contino A.,University of Catania
Journal of Chromatography A | Year: 2014

This review highlights recent progresses in the chiral recognition and separation of amino acid enantiomers obtained by capillary electromigration techniques, using different chiral selectors and especially cyclodextrins, covering the literature published from January 2010 to March 2014. Sections are dedicated to the use of derivatization reagents and to the possibility to enantioseparate underivatized amino acids by using either ligand exchange capillary electrophoresis (LECE) and capillary electrophoresis (CE) coupled on line with mass spectrometry. A short insight on frontier nanomaterials is also given. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.


Greco S.,University of Catania | Matarazzo B.,University of Catania | Giove S.,University of Venice
Fuzzy Sets and Systems | Year: 2011

We present a generalization of Choquet integral in which the capacity depends also on the value of the aggregated variables. We show that as particular cases of our generalization of Choquet integral there are the Sugeno integral, the Šipoš integral and the Cumulative Prospect Theory functional. We also show that many concepts such as Möbius transform, importance index, interaction index, k-order capacities and OWA operators, introduced in the research about Choquet integral, can be generalized in the considered context. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All Rights Reserved.


Fornaro M.,University of Catania | Rocchi G.,University of Genoa | Escelsior A.,University of Genoa | Contini P.,Immunology Laboratory | Martino M.,University of Genoa
Journal of Affective Disorders | Year: 2013

Background: Correlational studies investigating neurohormonal-cytokine modulation by antidepressants suggest, among others, variations in cytokines balances as state markers of different biological subtypes of major depressive disorder (MDD) and response predictors to specific treatments. Objective of the study was to investigate cytokines modulation by duloxetine, a relatively newer SNRI with clean dual serotonin/norepinephrine mechanism. Methods: 30 MDD patients and 32 healthy controls were assessed using Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM-D) and monitored for levels of IL-1β, IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, IL-12, IFN-γ and TNF-α, at baseline, week 6 and week 12 of duloxetine treatment (60 mg/day) and at baseline, respectively. Results: Early responders (ER: defined at week 6 by reduction >50% of baseline HAM-D score) and early non-responders (ENR) showed opposite trends in cytokine levels during duloxetine treatment: ENR were characterized by baseline Th2 shift compared to controls (lower IL-1β, IFN-γ and TNF-α) with increase in Th1 cytokines levels during treatment (increase of IL-1β, IL-12, IFN-γ, IL-1β/IL-10 and TNF-α/IL-10, decrease of IL-10), achieving clinical response at week 12; ER were characterized by baseline Th2-to-Th1 relative switch compared to ENR (higher IL-1β, IL-1β/IL-10 and TNF-α/IL-10) with reduction in Th1 cytokines levels during treatment (decrease of TNF-α and TNF-α/IL-10), achieving clinical response at week 6. Limitations: Small sample size. Conclusions: In accordance to early clinical response, duloxetine treatment could divide depressed patients into at least 2 subgroups characterized by clinical and laboratory differentiated behavior, suggesting different neurobiological background within depressive syndrome differentially sensitive to different drug components: pro-serotonergic effect and increase in Th1 cytokines in ENR vs. pro-noradrenergic effect and decrease in Th1 cytokines in ER. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Evola G.,University of Catania | Marletta L.,University of Catania | Sicurella F.,French National Center for Scientific Research
Building and Environment | Year: 2013

The present paper describes a methodology for the comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of Phase Change Materials (PCMs) for the improvement of summer thermal comfort in lightweight buildings. To this aim, a series of indicators is firstly introduced, that allow a precise description of both the PCM behaviour (frequency of melting, storage efficiency) and the intensity and duration of the thermal comfort perceived by the occupants. Then a case study is proposed, based on simulations, that consists in the application of newly developed wallboards, containing organic PCMs, on the partition walls of a lightweight office building. The approach presented in the study can be useful for assisting the detection of the most appropriate PCM and its installation pattern as a function of the climatic operating conditions and of the comfort requirements. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Scapagnini G.,University of Molise | Sonya V.,University of Palermo | Nader A.G.,University of Toledo | Calogero C.,University of Palermo | And 2 more authors.
Molecular Neurobiology | Year: 2011

In recent years, there has been a growing interest, supported by a large number of experimental and epidemiological studies, for the beneficial effects of some phenolic substances, contained in commonly used spices and herbs, in preventing various age-related pathologic conditions, ranging from cancer to neurodegenerative diseases. Although the exact mechanisms by which polyphenols promote these effects remain to be elucidated, several reports have shown their ability to stimulate a general xenobiotic response in the target cells, activating multiple defense genes. Data from our and other laboratories have previously demonstrated that curcumin, the yellow pigment of curry, strongly induces heme-oxygenase-1 (HO-1) expression and activity in different brain cells via the activation of heterodimers of NF-E2-related factors 2 (Nrf2)/antioxidant responsive element (ARE) pathway. Many studies clearly demonstrate that activation ofNrf2 target genes, and particularly HO-1, in astrocytes and neurons is strongly protective against inflammation, oxidative damage, and cell death. In the central nervous system, the HO system has been reported to be very active, and its modulation seems to play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders. Recent and unpublished data from our group revealed that low concentrations of epigallocatechin-3-gallate, the major green tea catechin, induces HO-1 by ARE/Nrf2 pathway in hippocampal neurons, and by this induction, it is able to protect neurons against different models of oxidative damages. Furthermore, we have demonstrated that other phenolics, such as caffeic acid phenethyl ester and ethyl ferulate, are also able to protect neurons via HO-1 induction. These studies identify a novel class of compounds that could be used for therapeutic purposes as preventive agents against cognitive decline. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011.


Nicosia V.,Queen Mary, University of London | Valencia M.,University of Navarra | Chavez M.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Diaz-Guilera A.,University of Barcelona | And 2 more authors.
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2013

We study a Kuramoto model in which the oscillators are associated with the nodes of a complex network and the interactions include a phase frustration, thus preventing full synchronization. The system organizes into a regime of remote synchronization where pairs of nodes with the same network symmetry are fully synchronized, despite their distance on the graph. We provide analytical arguments to explain this result, and we show how the frustration parameter affects the distribution of phases. An application to brain networks suggests that anatomical symmetry plays a role in neural synchronization by determining correlated functional modules across distant locations. © 2013 American Physical Society.


Zhavnerko G.,National Academy of Sciences of Belarus | Marletta G.,University of Catania
Materials Science and Engineering B: Solid-State Materials for Advanced Technology | Year: 2010

Several industrially important aspects of functionalized surfaces are discussed including applications to artificial membranes, patterning materials, thin film optical devices, and displays. Special attention is focused on the design of nanostructured surfaces by update of Langmuir-Blodgett method. The potentialities of the method of horizontal precipitation of monolayer films for the formation of artificial membranes are demonstrated, and the formation of "raft" domains resulting in the self-organization of lipids in a monolayer is reported. Also, many approaches to flexible polymeric support modification using specially developed LB equipment are described, including examples dealing with the effective ways of capsulation of drugs, formation of hybrid structures, and surface patterning, from the standpoint of medical or plastic electronic applications. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Ekser B.,University of Pittsburgh | Ekser B.,University of Catania | Ezzelarab M.,University of Pittsburgh | Hara H.,University of Pittsburgh | And 7 more authors.
The Lancet | Year: 2012

The shortage of organs and cells from deceased individuals continues to restrict allotransplantation. Pigs could provide an alternative source of tissue and cells but the immunological challenges and other barriers associated with xenotransplantation need to be overcome. Transplantation of organs from genetically modified pigs into non-human primates is now not substantially limited by hyperacute, acute antibody-mediated, or cellular rejection, but other issues have become more prominent, such as development of thrombotic microangiopathy in the graft or systemic consumptive coagulopathy in the recipient. To address these problems, pigs that express one or more human thromboregulatory or anti-inflammatory genes are being developed. The results of preclinical transplantation of pig cells - eg, islets, neuronal cells, hepatocytes, or corneas - are much more encouraging than they are for organ transplantation, with survival times greater than 1 year in all cases. Risk of transfer of an infectious microorganism to the recipient is small. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Pappalardo S.,University of Catania | Guarnieri R.,S.C.S. Scientific Consulting Services
Journal of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery | Year: 2014

Purpose The aim of the present study is to compare piezoelectric surgery to the conventional rotatory surgery in mandibular cyst enucleation, and to determine the 2 method's suitability and the postoperative outcomes. Material and methods Eighty patients were included in the study. 35 male and 45 female, which showed cystic mandibular lesions, compared with the inferior alveolar nerve or the mental nerve. The patients were randomly divided into two groups. In the test group, cystectomy was performed using conventional rotatory instrumentation (rotatory-group), and in the other one piezoelectric surgery (piezo-group). The swelling was documented 24/48/72 h and 1 week post-surgery and the patients recorded their subjective postoperative pain daily for 7 days using a Visual Analog Scale (VAS). Results Patients treated with piezoelectric technique have presented a lower VAS, minor swelling and less recovery time compared to the rotatory-group. No lesions of the mandible nerve were detected with piezosurgery whereas surgery with rotary instruments resulted in 8% hypesthesia at least up to one week. Conclusion The results of this study suggest that piezosurgery may be considered effective in cyst enucleation compared to traditional procedures with burs, since it grants the patients significantly less post-surgical pain and swelling. © 2013 European Association for Cranio-Maxillo-Facial Surgery. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Greco S.,University of Catania | Kadzinski M.,Poznan University of Technology | Mousseau V.,École Centrale Paris | Slowinski R.,Poznan University of Technology | Slowinski R.,Polish Academy of Sciences
Decision Support Systems | Year: 2012

We introduce the principle of robust ordinal regression to multiple criteria group decision, and we present two new methods using a set of additive value functions as a preference model, called UTA GMS-GROUP and UTADIS GMS-GROUP. With respect to the set of decision makers (DMs), we consider two levels of certainty for the results. The first level is related to the necessary or possible consequences of indirect preference information provided by each DM, whereas the other refers to the subset of DMs agreeing for a specific outcome. In this way, we investigate spaces of consensus and disagreement between the DMs. The proposed methods are illustrated by examples showing how they can support real-world group decision. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Pavone P.,University of Catania | Striano P.,University of Genoa | Falsaperla R.,University of Catania | Pavone L.,University of Catania | Ruggieri M.,University of Catania
Brain and Development | Year: 2014

The current spectrum of disorders associated to clinical spasms with onset in infancy is wider than previously thought; accordingly, its terminology has changed. Nowadays, the term Infantile spasms syndrome (ISs) defines an epileptic syndrome occurring in children younger than 1year (rarely older than 2years), with clinical (epileptic: i.e., associated to an epileptiform EEG) spasms usually occurring in clusters whose most characteristic EEG finding is hypsarrhythmia [the spasms are often associated with developmental arrest or regression]. The term West syndrome (WS) refers to a form (a subset) of ISs, characterised by the combination of clustered spasms and hypsarrhythmia on an EEG and delayed brain development or regression [currently, it is no longer required that delayed development occur before the onset of spasms]. Less usually, spasms may occur singly rather than in clusters [infantile spasms single-spasm variant (ISSV)], hypsarrhythmia can be (incidentally) recorded without any evidence of clinical spasms [hypsarrhythmia without infantile spasms (HWIS)] or typical clinical spasms may manifest in absence of hypsarrhythmia [infantile spasms without hypsarrhythmia (ISW)]. There is a growing evidence that ISs and related phenotypes may result, besides from acquired events, from disturbances in key genetic pathways of brain development: Specifically, in the gene regulatory network of GABAergic forebrain dorsal-ventral development, and abnormalities in molecules expressed at the synapse. Children with these genetic associations also have phenotypes beyond epilepsy, including dysmorphic features, autism, movement disorders and systemic malformations. The prognosis depends on: (a) the cause, which gives origin to the attacks (the complex malformation forms being more severe); (b) the EEG pattern(s); (c) the appearance of seizures prior to the spasms; and (d) the rapid response to treatment. Currently, the first-line treatment includes the adrenocorticotropic hormone ACTH and vigabatrin. In the near future the gold standard could be the development of new therapies that target specific pathways of pathogenesis. In this article we review the past and growing number of clinical, genetic, molecular and therapeutic discoveries on this expanding topic. © 2013 The Japanese Society of Child Neurology. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Attizzani G.F.,University of Catania | Attizzani G.F.,Pitangueiras Hospital | Attizzani G.F.,University Hospitals | Capodanno D.,University of Catania | And 4 more authors.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology | Year: 2014

Incomplete stent apposition (ISA) is characterized by the lack of contact of at least 1 stent strut with the vessel wall in a segment not overlying a side branch; it is more commonly found in drug-eluting stents than bare-metal stents. The accurate diagnosis of ISA, initially only possible with intravascular ultrasound, can currently be performed with higher accuracy by optical coherence tomography, which also enables strut-level assessment due to its higher axial resolution. Different circumstances related both to the index procedure and to vascular healing might influence ISA occurrence. Although several histopathology and clinical studies linked ISA to stent thrombosis, potential selection bias precluded definitive conclusions. Initial studies usually performed single time point assessments comparing overall ISA percentage and magnitude in different groups (i.e., stent type), thus hampering a comprehensive understanding of its relationship with vascular healing. Serial intravascular imaging studies that evaluated vascular response heterogeneity recently helped fill this gap. Some particular clinical scenarios such as acute coronary syndromes, bifurcations, tapered vessels, overlapping stents, and chronic total occlusions might predispose to ISA. Interventional cardiologists should be committed to optimal stent choices and techniques of implantation and use intravascular imaging guidance when appropriate to aim at minimizing acute ISA. In addition, the active search for new stent platforms that could accommodate vessel remodeling over time (i.e., self-expandable stents) and for new polymers and/or eluting drugs that could induce less inflammation (hence, less positive remodeling) could ultimately reduce the occurrence of ISA and its potentially harmful consequences.


Distefano G.,University of Catania | Gentile A.,University of Catania | Herrero M.,Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas
Annals of Botany | Year: 2011

•Background and Aims: An intense pollen-pistil interaction precedes fertilization. This interaction is of particular relevance in agronomically important species where seeds or fruits are the edible part. Over time some agronomically species have been selected for the ability to produce fruit without seeds. While this phenomenon is critical for commercial production in some species, very little is known about the events behind the production of seedless fruit. In this work, the relationship between pollenpistil interaction and the onset of fruiting was investigated in citrus mandarin. •Methods: Pistils were sequentially examined in hand-pollinated flowers paying attention to pollen-tube behaviour, and to cytochemical changes along the pollen-tube pathway. To evaluate which of these changes were induced by pollination/ fertilization and which were developmentally regulated, pollinated and unpollinated pistils were compared. Also the onset of fruiting was timed and changes in the ovary examined. •Key Results: Conspicuous changes occurred in the pistil along the pollen-tube pathway, which took place in a basipetal way encompassing the timing of pollen-tube growth. However, these changes appear to be developmentally regulated as they happened in the same way and at the same time in unpollinated flowers. Moreover, the onset of fruiting occurred prior to fertilization and the very same changes could be observed in unpollinated flowers. •Conclusions: Pollen-pistil interaction in citrus showed similarities with unrelated species and families belonging to other taxa. The uncoupling of the reproductive and fruiting processes accounts for the parthenocarpic ability of unpollinated flowers to produce fruit in citrus. However, the maintenance of a functional reproductive process reflects the potential to produce seeded fruits, providing a basis for the understanding of the production of seeded or unseeded fruits and further understanding of the process of parthenocarpy in other species. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Annals of Botany Company. All rights reserved.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SPA.2011.2.1-01 | Award Amount: 2.52M | Year: 2012

The consortium e-HEROES aims at exploiting the existing data gathered on several European and international space missions, and to produce new value-added data products to provide the best estimate and prediction of the threats that missions of exploration will encounter in reaching beyond the Earth orbit, to the Moon, to Mars and beyond. The scope of the project is to characterise the environment in space, to provide useful information for planning and implementing space missions, manned or robotic. We plan to realize effective scientific exploitation of space data combining different datasets from current solar system robotic explorations with data from current and past space-based and complementing ground-based observations, joined with new data sources from the newest missions. We plan to add value to the data by better organising it and cross link it, by applying state of the art models and developing new ones to analyse it. We plan additionally to assimilate the heliospheric data in space environment simulations. The wealth of data, models and simulations commanded by the project will be used to characterise the evolution of space in time, looking forward over the future at the possible scenarios for planning new missions. We will consider key aspects on how the expected space environment can affect missions, in terms of predicting the impact on reliability and correct functionality of instrumentation as well as in terms of main radiation components affecting the health of astronauts. The proposing team would realize a wide international synergy in the fields of solar and space physics including experts from 11 European countries, a space-faring partner from Russia, and collaborators from US and Canada. The set of public deliverables published on-line facilitates access to the higher level data for those scientists who are not part of the team. The research work will be accompanied with wide dissemination activity.


Scordia D.,University of Catania | Cosentino S.L.,University of Catania | Jeffries T.W.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Jeffries T.W.,University of Wisconsin - Madison
Industrial Crops and Products | Year: 2013

Giant reed was evaluated for enzymatic hydrolysis and simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) using a commercial cellulase/β-glucosidase and Scheffersomyces (Pichia) stipitis CBS 6054 for ethanol production following dilute-oxalic acid pretreatment. A response surface methodology with two input parameters - severity factor (SF) and oxalic acid concentration (OA) - was employed to optimize both enzymatic hydrolysis and SSF. Xylan content after dilute-OA pretreatment decreased with increasing SF and OA; almost complete hydrolysis was observed when the harsher pretreatment conditions were used. Glucan and lignin content showed an opposite trend with respect to xylan content after dilute-OA pretreatment. Accordingly, enzymatic hydrolysis and ethanol production reached 95% of glucan conversion and 18gl-1 (75.3% of the maximum theoretical ethanol yield), respectively, with the pretreatment condition 4.05 SF and 5% OA w/w.Dilute-OA mediated pretreatment of giant reed followed by coupled saccharification and fermentation can be considered a promising methodology for second generation bioethanol production. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Herault A.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Bilotta G.,University of Catania | Dalrymple R.A.,Johns Hopkins University
Journal of Hydraulic Research | Year: 2010

A Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) method for free surface flows has been implemented on a graphical processing unit (GPU) using the Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) developed by Nvidia, resulting in tremendous speed-ups. The entire SPH code, with its three main components: neighbor list construction, force computation, and integration of the equation of motion, is computed on the GPU, fully exploiting its computational power. The simulation speed achieved is one to two orders of magnitude faster than the equivalent CPU code. Example applications are shown for paddle-generated waves in a basin and a dam-break wave impact on a structure. GPU implementation of SPH permits high resolution SPH modeling in hours and days rather than weeks and months on inexpensive and readily available hardware. © 2010 International Association of Hydraulic Engineering and Research.


Hettegger H.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Sumerskii I.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Sortino S.,University of Catania | Potthast A.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Rosenau T.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
ChemSusChem | Year: 2015

The modification of cellulosic materials is of great interest in materials research. Wet bacterial cellulose sheets were modified by an alkoxysilane under mild conditions to make them accessible to click chemistry derivatization. For this purpose (3-azidopropyl)triethoxysilane was grafted covalently onto the cellulosic surface. The silanized bacterial cellulose sheets were characterized comprehensively by attenuated total reflectance FTIR spectroscopy, solid-state NMR spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, SEM with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, and elemental analysis. To demonstrate subsequent click chemistry functionalization, a new fluorophore based on fluorescein was synthesized and clicked to the silane-modified bacterial cellulose. The new method renders bacterial cellulose and other never-dried cellulosic materials susceptible to direct and facile functionalization in an aqueous medium without the need to work in water-free organic phases or to employ extensive protecting group chemistry and functional group interconversion. © 2015 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


Motta S.,University of Catania | Pappalardo F.,University of Catania | Pappalardo F.,Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Briefings in Bioinformatics | Year: 2013

Mathematical and computational models are increasingly used to help interpret biomedical data produced by high-throughput genomics and proteomics projects. The application of advanced computer models enabling the simulation of complex biological processes generates hypotheses and suggests experiments. Appropriately interfaced with biomedical databases, models are necessary for rapid access to, and sharing of knowledge through data mining and knowledge discovery approaches. © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press.


Arena G.,University of Catania | La Mendola D.,University of Pisa | Pappalardo G.,CNR Institute of Biostructure and Bioimaging | Sovago I.,Debrecen University | And 2 more authors.
Coordination Chemistry Reviews | Year: 2012

The review describes the stability and the coordination modes of Cu 2+ complexes with different regions of N-terminus prion proteins. The structural features of the different metal species are correlated both with the Cu 2+-driven redox properties and with the conformational changes induced by the Cu 2+ in the different metal binding regions of the protein. The formation of mixed metal complexes is also discussed.We emphasize that binding features should be discussed by referring to the species that actually forms under specific conditions (pH, buffer, etc.) rather than to the " binding site" ; correlating properties with the structures of the so called 'binding sites' may lead to misinterpretation of the experimental results, since a 'binding site' often corresponds to a mixture of species. We also highlight that ignoring species that form with ligands other than the prion peptide (e.g. the buffer) may lead to underestimating their role in crucial processes (e.g. redox activity). © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Polosa R.,University of Catania | Caponnetto P.,University of Catania | Sands M.F.,State University of New York at Buffalo | Sands M.F.,Veterans Administration Healthcare System of Western New York
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology | Year: 2012

Smoking is associated with a higher incidence of asthma, and the asthmatic patient who smokes might represent a distinct phenotype. Smokers with asthma are at risk of a more severe form of the disease. Smoking accelerates the decrease in lung function and increases the severity of airflow obstruction in asthmatic patients. Smokers with asthma are less sensitive to the beneficial effects of steroids. Use of combination therapy with an ICS and a long-acting b2-agonist should be preferred to the use of high-dose ICSs alone in smokers with asthma. Smoking cessation improves asthma symptoms, lung function, and restores steroid responsiveness. All smokers with asthma should be advised to quit. Physicians have the responsibility both to alert their patients with asthma about the additional risks of smoking and also to engage in smoking cessation interventions.


Cancelliere A.,University of Catania | Salas J.D.,Colorado State University
Journal of Hydrology | Year: 2010

Probabilistic characterization of drought events is extremely important in water resources planning and management. In spite of the large number of studies that have been carried on the subject, the exact derivation of the probabilistic structure of drought characteristics is still an open problem, especially when both duration and accumulated deficit (or intensity) are taken into account. This study focuses on the derivation of the probability distribution of drought episodes considering both drought duration and accumulated deficit (or intensity) as well as of the ensuing return period, when the underlying hydrological variable is autocorrelated. First, the marginal distribution of drought length is investigated, showing that the simple Markov chain, usually adopted to model the sequence of deficits and surpluses, is not adequate when the underlying series exhibits a significant autocorrelation. Following previous studies, a Discrete Autoregressive Moving Average (DARMA) model is proposed to better model drought length. Then, the derivation of the moments of accumulated deficit conditioned on a fixed drought length is pursued. It is shown that the deficit series that is obtained by clipping an autocorrelated stationary series with a constant threshold is not i.i.d., and therefore not stationary. Thus, a fully multivariate approach, based on a truncated multivariate normal model, is applied to derive the moments of accumulated deficit as a function of the distribution of the underlying variable and of the threshold. In order to overcome numerical difficulties related to the integration of the multivariate distributions, empirical approximations are also proposed. Such moments are then used to derive approximate expressions of the bivariate distributions of accumulated deficit (or intensity) and length, based on the assumption that the distribution of accumulated deficit conditioned on a fixed length is beta, and expressions to compute the return period of drought events. The proposed procedure is illustrated by applying it to four streamflow data characterized by different levels of autocorrelation and skewness. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Borin M.,University of Padua | Milani M.,University of Catania | Salvato M.,University of Padua | Toscano A.,University of Catania
Ecological Engineering | Year: 2011

The design, operation, pollutant removal as well as hydraulic modeling of wetland systems for wastewater treatment can be improved by better understanding and simulating the evapotranspiration process. To this purpose, two experiments were carried out in Northern (Veneto region) and Southern (Sicily region) Italy to measure evapotranspiration (ET) and determine the crop coefficient of Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. using the FAO 56 approach. The experimental set-up consisted of a combination of vegetated and unvegetated plastic tanks (Veneto) or pilot sub-surface flow beds (Sicily). The ET values were obtained by measuring the amount of water needed to restore the initial volume in the tanks and in the beds after a certain period. All the needed climatic variables were measured and taken into account in the ET measurements. In the two experimental sites cumulative reference evapotranspiration (ET0) was similar to the cumulative ET measured in the control tanks and beds (without vegetation, ETcon), while ET measured for P. australis (ETphr) was significantly higher, underlining the strong effect of vegetation. From June 2009 to September 2009 the cumulative ET0, ETcon and ETphr in Veneto were 455, 424 and 3048mm, in Sicily 653, 556 and 3899mm, respectively. The plant coefficient trend of P. australis (Kp) estimated in Veneto was similar to that in Sicily, suggesting that the role of the plant in dispersing water is similar under different environmental conditions. Additional measurements made in the Veneto plant showed that Kp assumes different patterns and values in relation to plant age and growth stage. These results highlight the importance of the plants in regulating water losses from a wetland system, above all from small-scale constructed wetlands where the effect of the advection in ET rates is evident. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Deretzis I.,University of Catania | Deretzis I.,CNR Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems | Fiori G.,University of Pisa | Iannaccone G.,University of Pisa | La Magna A.,CNR Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems
Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics | Year: 2010

We present a systematic study of electron backscattering phenomena during conduction for graphene nanoribbons with single-vacancy scatterers and dimensions within the capabilities of modern lithographic techniques. Our analysis builds upon an ab initio parameterized semiempirical model that breaks electron-hole symmetry and nonequilibrium Green's-function methods for the calculation of the conductance distribution g. The underlying mechanism is based on wave-function localizations and perturbations that in the case of the first π- π* plateau can give rise to impuritylike pseudogaps with both donor and acceptor characteristics. Confinement and geometry are crucial for the manifestation of such effects. Self-consistent quantum transport calculations characterize vacancies as local charging centers that can induce electrostatic inhomogeneities on the ribbon topology. © 2010 The American Physical Society.


Calabrese E.J.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Iavicoli I.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Calabrese V.,University of Catania
Biogerontology | Year: 2012

This paper offers a broad assessment of the hormetic dose response and its relevance to biogerontology. The paper provides detailed background information on the historical foundations of hormesis, its quantitative features, mechanistic foundations, as well as how the hormesis concept could be further applied in the development of new therapeutic advances in the treatment of age-related diseases. The concept of hormesis has direct application to biogerontology not only affecting the quality of the aging process but also experimental attempts to extend longevity. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


Calabrese E.J.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Calabrese V.,University of Catania
International Journal of Radiation Biology | Year: 2013

Purpose: The aim of this paper was to provide an integrative mechanistic appraisal to account for consistent observations of protective effects of ionizing radiation on the occurrence/ progression of arthritis in multiple animal models. Materials and methods: A critical analysis of the biomedical literature was undertaken to assess mechanisms by which low doses of ionizing radiation prevent and/or reduce the occurrence of experimental-induced arthritis in animal models. Results: Detailed mechanistic-related research indicates that low doses of ionizing radiation induce a highly integrated multiple pathway process that results in the formation of a generalized anti-inflammatory phenotype which can both prevent the occurrence of arthritic changes and/or reverse such effects. Conclusions: The manifestation of the anti-inflammatory features occurred within the context of highly consistent hormetic (i.e., biphasic dose) responses across studies, biological models and mechanisms. The reduction of multiple bioindicators of experimentally-induced arthritis by exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation was associated with the occurrence of a generalized anti-inflammatory phenotype. © 2013 Informa UK, Ltd.


Calabrese E.J.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Iavicoli I.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Calabrese V.,University of Catania
Human and Experimental Toxicology | Year: 2013

This article offers a broad assessment of the hormetic dose response and its relevance to biomedical researchers, physicians, the pharmaceutical industry, and public health scientists. This article contains a series of 61 questions followed by relatively brief but referenced responses that provides support for the conclusion that hormesis is a reproducible phenomenon, commonly observed, with a frequency far greater than other dose-response models such as the threshold and linear nonthreshold dose-response models. The article provides a detailed background information on the historical foundations of hormesis, its quantitative features, mechanistic foundations, as well as how hormesis is currently being used within medicine and identifying how this concept could be further applied in the development of new therapeutic advances and in improved public health practices. © 2013 The Author(s).


Giamblanco N.,University of Catania | Martines E.,University of Catania | Martines E.,University College Dublin | Marletta G.,University of Catania
Langmuir | Year: 2013

This work addresses the influence that the nanometric features of biologically relevant surfaces have on the conformation and properties of adsorbed laminin. It was observed that the adsorption kinetics and the nanomorphology of laminin were affected by the change in local curvature of chemically homogeneous nanostructured surfaces. The nanostructured surfaces were prepared by exploiting the self-assembly process of carboxylated polystyrene NPs, with diameters of 45, 109, and 209 nm, onto a polyelectrolyte multilayer formed by alternate deposition of poly(acrylic acid) and poly(allylamine hydrochloride) on gold. The anchored polymeric NPs were finally coated with a homogeneous layer of poly(allylamine hydrochloride), providing three surfaces with different nanometric local curvature. Atomic force microscopy was employed to characterize the relevant morphological parameters of the nanostructured surfaces. Quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring was employed to determine the adsorbed mass of laminin as well as its adsorption rate as a function of the local surface curvature. A model is proposed to explain the higher and faster laminin adsorption on surfaces with lower local curvature, where a switching of laminin anchoring orientation from a side-on to an end-on geometry can be predicted by a simple curvature-dependent parameter, γ, connecting the average nanostructure height h and the macromolecule radius of gyration Rg. The results provide a framework to understand the dependence of biomolecule orientation on local nanostructure. © 2013 American Chemical Society.


Babu K.S.,Queen Alexandra Hospital | Polosa R.,University of Catania | Morjaria J.B.,University of Hull
Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy | Year: 2013

Introduction: Omalizumab is a recombinant DNA-derived humanized IgG1 monoclonal antibody that selectively binds to free and membrane-bound immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. Omalizumab has been licensed for use in severe allergic asthma. A search on the website clinicaltrials.gov reveals there are currently 109 clinical trials with Omalizumab of which 46 are for conditions other than asthma. Areas covered: In addition to asthma, Omalizumab has been investigated in various other conditions including perennial and seasonal allergic rhinitis (AR), peanut allergy, latex allergy, atopic dermatitis, chronic urticaria (CU), idiopathic anaphylaxis, mastocytosis, eosinophilic gastroenteritis and nasal polyposis. This review aims to look at the various randomised and non-randomised clinical trials, case series and case reports for the role of Omalizumab in conditions other than asthma. Numerous clinical trials have shown a positive light on the role of Omalizumab in conditions other than asthma. Expert opinion: We feel that the future of Omalizumab would include a more diverse range of clinical conditions, and future trials should not only look into the clinical usefulness but also the economic impact of using this interesting molecule. © 2013 Informa UK, Ltd.


Calanna S.,Copenhagen University | Calanna S.,University of Catania | Christensen M.,Copenhagen University | Holst J.J.,Copenhagen University | And 4 more authors.
Diabetologia | Year: 2013

Aims/hypothesis: We carried out a systematic review of clinical studies investigating glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) secretion in patients with type 2 diabetes and non-diabetic controls and performed meta-analyses of plasma total GLP-1 concentrations during an OGTT and/or meal test. Methods: Random effects models for the primary meta-analysis and random effects meta-regression, subgroup and regression analyses were applied. Results: Random effects meta-analysis of GLP-1 responses in 22 trials during 29 different stimulation tests showed that patients with type 2 diabetes (n = 275) and controls without type 2 diabetes (n = 279) exhibited similar responses of total GLP-1 (p = NS) as evaluated from peak plasma concentrations (weighted mean difference [95% CI] 1.09 pmol/l [-2.50, 4.67]), total AUC (tAUC) (159 pmol/l×min [-270, 589]), time-corrected tAUC (tAUC min-1) (0.99 pmol/l [-1.28, 3.27]), incremental AUC (iAUC) (-122 pmol/l×min [-410, 165]) and time-corrected iAUC (iAUC min-1) (-0.49 pmol/l [-2.16, 1.17]). Fixed effects meta-analysis revealed higher peak plasma GLP-1 concentrations in patients with type 2 diabetes. Subgroup analysis showed increased responses after a liquid mixed meal test (peak, tAUC and tAUC min-1) and after a 50 g OGTT (AUC and tAUC min-1), and reduced responses after a solid mixed meal test (tAUC min-1) among patients with type 2 diabetes. Meta-regression analyses showed that HbA1c and fasting plasma glucose predicted the outcomes iAUC and iAUC min-1, respectively. Conclusions/interpretation: The present analysis suggests that patients with type 2 diabetes, in general, do not exhibit reduced GLP-1 secretion in response to an OGTT or meal test, and that deteriorating glycaemic control may be associated with reduced GLP-1 secretion. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Calabrese E.J.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Calabrese V.,University of Catania
International Journal of Radiation Biology | Year: 2013

Purpose: This paper provides a critical assessment of the hypothesis that low doses of ionizing radiation may be potentially effective in the treatment of inflammatory conditions, with particular focus on arthritis. Materials and methods: A critical review of the biomedical literature was undertaken to assess whether low doses of ionizing radiation may affect the progression of experimentally-induced arthritis using multiple animal models. Results: The findings indicate that low doses of ionizing radiation were effective in alleviating the occurrence of clinical symptoms of arthritis in five complementary experimental models of arthritis. Conclusions: Consistent findings by multiple research groups indicate that low doses of ionizing radiation can be highly effective in reducing a broad range of arthritic changes in multiple animal models in a manner quantitatively similar to that of well known pharmaceutical agents. © 2013 Informa UK, Ltd.


Castagliola P.,University of Nantes | Celano G.,University of Catania | Psarakis S.,Athens University of Economics and Business
Journal of Quality Technology | Year: 2011

The coefficient of variation (CV) is a quality characteristic that has several applications in applied statistics and is receiving increasing attention in quality control. A few papers have proposed control charts that monitor this normalized measure of dispersion. This paper suggests a new method to monitor the CV by means of two one-sided EWMA charts of the coefficient of variation squared γ 2. Tables are provided for the statistical properties of the EWMA-γ 2 when the shift size is deterministic or unknown. An example illustrates the use of these charts on real data gathered from a metal sintering process.


Galluccio L.,University of Catania | Palazzo S.,University of Catania | Santagati G.E.,State University of New York at Buffalo
Nano Communication Networks | Year: 2013

In the next future nanodevices are expected to be implanted in the human body and communicate with each other as well as with biological entities, e.g. neuronal cells, thus opening new frontiers for disease treatment, especially in neurological therapy and for drug delivery. Moreover, considering that these nanoscale devices will be small in size, will have limitations in terms of energy consumption and processing and will be injected into a biological system, they will be not able to use traditional electromagnetic or acoustic communications paradigms: rather, they will employ communication schemes similar to those used by neuronal cells and based on molecule exchange. With respect to this, a theoretical work is required to identify the information bounds for nanoscale neuronal communications. In previous papers, achievable information rates of active and passive transport in molecular communication systems have been investigated in the hypothesis of considering two nanodevices which exchange information through molecules released by a transmitter and diffused according to a Brownian motion or using molecular motors. Stochasticity in the diffusion process of these molecules causes noise in the communication among these nanodevices. In this paper we address the derivation of information bounds by introducing a realistic neuron-like communication model which takes into account interactions among nanodevices that can be implanted in the human body and, like neurons, can be simultaneously connected through thousands of synapses. In particular, an accurate characterization of the communication channel is derived and the estimation of the capacity bounds is achieved. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Stefani S.,University of Catania | Goglio A.,Ospedale di Bergamo
International Journal of Infectious Diseases | Year: 2010

Staphylococcus aureus is a well adapted human pathogen, capable of living freely in the inanimate environment and spreading from person to person, existing as a colonizer or commensal, hiding in intracellular compartments and, most importantly, inducing various forms of human disease. Infections caused by S. aureus, above all by antibiotic-resistant strains, have reached epidemic proportions globally. The overall burden of staphylococcal disease caused by antibiotic-resistant S. aureus, particularly by the methicillin-resistant strains, is increasing in many countries, including Italy, in both healthcare and community settings. The widespread use of antibiotics has undoubtedly accelerated the evolution of S. aureus, which, acquiring multiple resistance genes, has become able to survive almost all antibiotic families; this evolution versus more resistant phenotypes has continued among the newer agents, including linezolid and daptomycin. The diminished clinical usefulness of vancomycin is seen as one of the most worrisome problems in many clinical settings and in many countries. In fact, the increasing spread of heteroresistant vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus (hVISA) and vancomycin intermediate (VISA) strains adds new problems, not only in terms of the treatment of severe infections sustained by these microorganisms, but also in the microbiological definition of susceptibility. © 2010 International Society for Infectious Diseases.


Wu L.-J.,Fuzhou University | Wu L.-J.,University of Pavia | Casciati F.,University of Pavia | Casciati S.,University of Catania
Engineering Structures | Year: 2014

In the class of not-contact sensors, the techniques of vision-based displacement estimation enable one to gather dense global measurements of static deformation as well as of dynamic response. They are becoming more and more available thanks to the ongoing technology developments. In this work, a vision system, which takes advantage of fast-developing digital image processing and computer vision technologies and provides high sample rate, is implemented to monitor the 2D plane vibrations of a reduced scale frame mounted on a shaking table as available in a laboratory. The physical meanings of the camera parameters, the trade-off between the system resolution and the field-of-view, and the upper limitation of marker density are discussed. The scale factor approach, which is widely used to convert the image coordinates measured by a vision system in the unit of pixels into space coordinates, causes a poor repeatability of the experiment, an unstable experiment precision, and therefore a global poor flexibility. To overcome these problems, two calibrations approaches are introduced: registration and direct linear transformation. Based on the constructed vision-based displacement measurement system, several experiments are carried out to monitor the motion of a scale-reduced model on which dense markers are glued. The experiment results show that the proposed system can capture and successfully measure the motion of the laboratory model within the required frequency band. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Settimo M.,University Paris Diderot | Settimo M.,University of Siegen | De Domenico M.,Rovira i Virgili University | De Domenico M.,University of Catania
Astroparticle Physics | Year: 2015

Ultra-high energy (UHE) photons play an important role as an independent probe of the photo-pion production mechanism by UHE cosmic rays. Their observation, or non-observation, may constrain astrophysical scenarios for the origin of UHECRs and help to understand the nature of the flux suppression observed by several experiments at energies above 1019.5 eV. The interaction length of UHE photons above 1017 eV ranges from a few hundred kpc up to tens of Mpc. Interactions with the extragalactic background radiation initiate the development of electromagnetic cascades which affect the fluxes of photons observed at Earth. The interpretation of the current experimental results rely on the simulations of the UHE photon propagation. In this paper, we present the novel Monte Carlo code "EleCa" to simulate the Electromagnetic Cascading initiated by high-energy photons and electrons. We provide an estimation of the survival probability for photons inducing electromagnetic cascades as a function of their distance from the observer and we calculate the distances within which we expect to observe UHE photons with energy between 1017 and 1019 eV. Furthermore, the flux of GZK photons at Earth is investigated in several astrophysical scenarios where we vary both the injection spectrum and composition, and the intensity of the intervening extragalactic magnetic field. Although the photon propagation depends on several astrophysical factors, our numerical predictions combined with future experimental observations (or non-observations) of UHE photons in the energy range between 1017.5 eV and 1020 eV can help to constrain these scenarios. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


D'Antoni S.,CNR Institute of Neurological Sciences | Spatuzza M.,CNR Institute of Neurological Sciences | Bonaccorso C.M.,IRCCS Oasi Maria SS | Musumeci S.A.,IRCCS Oasi Maria SS | And 5 more authors.
Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews | Year: 2014

Activation of group-I metabotropic glutamate receptors, mGlu1 and mGlu5, triggers a variety of signalling pathways in neurons and glial cells, which are differently implicated in synaptic plasticity. The earliest and much of key studies discovered abnormal mGlu5 receptor function in Fragile X syndrome (FXS) mouse models which then motivated more recent work that finds mGlu5 receptor dysfunction in related disorders such as intellectual disability (ID), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and autism. Therefore, mGlu1/5 receptor dysfunction may represent a common aetiology of these complex diseases. Furthermore, many studies have focused on dysregulation of mGlu5 signalling to synaptic protein synthesis. However, emerging evidence finds abnormal mGlu5 receptor interactions with its scaffolding proteins in FXS which results in mGlu5 receptor dysfunction and phenotypes independent of signalling to protein synthesis. Finally, both an increased and reduced mGlu5 functioning seem to be associated with ID and autism spectrum disorders, with important consequences for potential treatment of these developmental disorders. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Spasiano D.,University of Naples Federico II | Marotta R.,University of Naples Federico II | Di Somma I.,CNR Institute for Research on Combustion | Mancini G.,University of Catania
Applied Catalysis B: Environmental | Year: 2015

The conversion of pyridinemethanol isomers into their respective aldehydes and carboxylic acids has been attempted in aqueous solution through sacrificial TiO2 photocatalysis in the presence of cupric ions, at ambient temperature, under acidic and deaerated conditions, using artificial sunlight. The presence of a nitrogen atom in the aromatic ring, with respect to benzylic alcohol and its derivatives, affects the photocatalytic behavior of the substrate. The influence of both pH and temperature has also been investigated. The position of the methanolic group on the aromatic ring leads to slight changes in the selectivities, yields and the oxidation rates. Under the adopted conditions, the yields and selectivities to aldehydes are always higher than those of the respective carboxylic acids. The photocatalytic process can be carried out in consecutive copper reduction/oxidation steps in order to reuse the catalyst. In this way greater yields and selectivities to the desired product than 60% can be achieved. The process can be considered interesting as it concerns the eco-green production of valuable fine chemicals, using water as a solvent at ambient conditions, a cheap heterogeneous catalyst and solar radiation. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.


Puzzo D.,University of Catania | Lee L.,Columbia University | Palmeri A.,University of Catania | Calabrese G.,University of Naples Federico II | Arancio O.,Columbia University
Biochemical Pharmacology | Year: 2014

In Alzheimer's disease (AD) basic research and drug discovery, mouse models are essential resources for uncovering biological mechanisms, validating molecular targets and screening potential compounds. Both transgenic and non-genetically modified mouse models enable access to different types of AD-like pathology in vivo. Although there is a wealth of genetic and biochemical studies on proposed AD pathogenic pathways, as a disease that centrally features cognitive failure, the ultimate readout for any interventions should be measures of learning and memory. This is particularly important given the lack of knowledge on disease etiology - assessment by cognitive assays offers the advantage of targeting relevant memory systems without requiring assumptions about pathogenesis. A multitude of behavioral assays are available for assessing cognitive functioning in mouse models, including ones specific for hippocampal-dependent learning and memory. Here we review the basics of available transgenic and non-transgenic AD mouse models and detail three well-established behavioral tasks commonly used for testing hippocampal- dependent cognition in mice - contextual fear conditioning, radial arm water maze and Morris water maze. In particular, we discuss the practical considerations, requirements and caveats of these behavioral testing paradigms. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.


Stift M.J.,University of Vienna | Leone F.,University of Catania | Cowley C.R.,University of Michigan
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2012

We present a detailed analysis of the reliability of abundance and magnetic maps of Ap stars obtained by Zeeman Doppler mapping (ZDM). It is shown how they can be adversely affected by the assumption of a mean stellar atmosphere instead of appropriate 'local' atmospheres corresponding to the actual abundances in a given region. The essence of the difficulties was already shown by Chandrasekhar's picket-fence model. The results obtained with a suite of Stokes codes written in the Ada programming language and based on modern line-blanketed atmospheres are described in detail. We demonstrate that the high metallicity values claimed to have been found in chemically inhomogeneous (horizontally and vertically) Ap star atmospheres would lead to local temperature structures, continuum and line intensities, and line shapes that differ significantly from those predicted by a mean stellar atmosphere. Unfortunately, past applications of ZDM have consistently overlooked the intricate aspects of metallicity with their all-pervading effects. The erroneous assumption of a mean atmosphere for a spotted star can lead to phase-dependent errors of uncomfortably large proportions at varying wavelengths both in the Stokes I and V profiles, making precise mapping of abundances and magnetic field vectors largely impossible. The relation between core and wings of the Hβ line changes, too, with possible repercussions on the determination of gravity and effective temperature. Finally, a ZDM analysis of the synthetic Stokes spectra of a spotted star reveals the disturbing differences between the respective abundance maps based on a mean atmosphere on the one hand, and on appropriate 'local' atmospheres on the other. We then discuss what this all means for published ZDM results. Our discussion makes it clear that realistic local atmospheres must be used, especially if credible small-scale structures are to be obtained. © 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS.


Del Popolo A.,University of Catania | Del Popolo A.,Argelander Institute For Astronomie
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2010

The secondary infall model (described in a previous paper by this author), which takes into account the effect of dynamical friction, ordered and random angular momentum, baryon adiabatic contraction and dark matter (DM) baryon interplay, is used to study how the inner slopes of relaxed ΛCDM haloes with and without baryons (baryons+DM and pure DM) depend on redshift and on halo mass. This method is applied to structures on galactic scales and clusters of galaxies scales. It is found that the inner logarithmic density slope, α≡ d log ρ/d log r, of DM haloes with baryons has a significant dependence on halo mass and redshift, with slopes ranging from α{reversed tilde equals} 0 for dwarf galaxies to α{reversed tilde equals} 0.4 for objects of M{reversed tilde equals} 1013 M⊙ and α{reversed tilde equals} 0.94 for M{reversed tilde equals} 1015 M⊙ clusters of galaxies. Structure slopes increase with increasing redshift, and this trend reduces going from galaxies to clusters. In the case of density profiles constituted just of DM, the mass and redshift dependence of the slope are very slight. In this last case, the analysis of Merritt et al. is used. They compared N-body density profiles with various parametric models, finding systematic variation in the profile shape with halo mass. This last analysis suggests that the galaxy-sized haloes obtained with this model have a different shape parameter (i.e. a different mass distribution) than the cluster-sized haloes obtained with the same model. The results of the present paper argue against universality of density profiles constituted by DM and baryons and confirm the claims of a systematic variation in profile shape with halo mass, for DM haloes. © 2010 The Author. Journal compilation © 2010 RAS.


Greco S.,University of Catania | Kadziski M.,AGH University of Science and Technology | Sowiski R.,AGH University of Science and Technology | Sowiski R.,Polish Academy of Sciences
Computers and Operations Research | Year: 2011

We introduce the concept of a representative value function in robust ordinal regression applied to multiple criteria sorting problems. The proposed approach can be seen as an extension of UTADIS GMS, a new multiple criteria sorting method that aims at assigning actions to p pre-defined and ordered classes. The preference information supplied by the decision maker (DM) is composed of desired assignments of some reference actions to one or several contiguous classes - they are called assignment examples. The robust ordinal regression builds a set of general additive value functions compatible with the assignment examples and results in two assignments: necessary and possible. The necessary assignment specifies the range of classes to which the action can be assigned considering all compatible value functions simultaneously. The possible assignment specifies, in turn, the range of classes to which the action can be assigned considering any compatible value function individually. In this paper, we propose a way of selecting a representative value function among the set of compatible ones. We identify a few targets which build on results of the robust ordinal regression and could be attained by a representative value function. They concern enhancement of differences between possible assignments of two actions. In this way, the selected function highlights the most stable part of the robust sorting, and can be perceived as representative in the sense of robustness preoccupation. We envisage two possible uses of the representative value function in decision support systems. The first one is an explicit exhibition of the function along with the results of the UTADIS GMS method, in order to help the DM to understand the robust sorting. The other is an autonomous use, in order to supply the DM with sorting obtained by an example-based procedure driven by the chosen function. Three case studies illustrating the use of a representative value function in real-world decision problems are presented. One of those studies is devoted to the comparison of the introduced concept of representativeness with alternative procedures for determining a single value function, which we adapted to sorting problems, because they were originally proposed for ranking problems. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Kadzinski M.,Poznan University of Technology | Greco S.,University of Catania | Greco S.,University of Portsmouth | Slowinski R.,Poznan University of Technology | Slowinski R.,Polish Academy of Sciences
Information Sciences | Year: 2014

We present a new multiple criteria sorting method deriving from Dominance-based Rough Set Approach (DRSA). The preference information supplied by the Decision Maker (DM) is a set of possibly imprecise and inconsistent assignment examples on a subset of reference alternatives relatively well-known to the DM. To structure the data we use DRSA, and subsequently, represent the assignment examples by all minimal sets of rules covering all alternatives from the lower approximations of class unions. Such a set of rules is called minimal-cover set - it is one of the instances of the preference model compatible with DM's preference information. In this way, we implement the principle of Robust Ordinal Regression (ROR) to decision rule preference model. For each alternative, we derive the necessary and possible assignments specifying the range of classes to which the alternative is assigned by all or at least one compatible set of rules, respectively, as well as class acceptability indices. We also introduce the notion of a representative compatible minimal-cover set of rules whose selection builds on the results of ROR, addressing the robustness concern. Application of the approach is demonstrated by classifying 69 land zones in 4 classes representing different risk levels. © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Guglielmino F.,Instituto Nazionale Of Geofisica | Nunnari G.,University of Catania | Puglisi G.,Instituto Nazionale Of Geofisica | Spata A.,University of Catania
IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing | Year: 2011

We propose a new technique, named SISTEM, based on the elastic theory, to efficiently estimate 3-D displacements for producing deformation maps by integrating sparse Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements of deformations and differential interferometric synthetic aperture radar (DInSAR) maps of movements of the Earth's surface. Previous approaches in the literature to combine GPS and DInSAR data require two steps: a first step in which sparse GPS measurements are interpolated in order to fill in GPS displacements in the DInSAR grid and a second step to estimate the 3-D surface displacement maps by using a suitable optimization technique. One of the advantages of the proposed approach, compared to previous ones, is that it does not require the preliminary interpolation of the observed deformation pattern. Indeed, we propose a linear matrix equation which accounts for both the GPS and DInSAR data whose solution simultaneously provides the strain tensor, the displacement field, and the rigid body rotation tensor. The mentioned linear matrix equation is solved by using the weighted least square (WLS), thus assuring both numerical robustness and high computation efficiency. The methodology was tested on both synthetic and experimental data, these last from GPS and DInSAR measurements carried out on Mount Etna during the 20032004 period. In order to appreciate the accuracy of the results, the estimated standard errors computed by the WLS are provided. These tests also allow optimizing the choice of specific parameters of this algorithm. This method can be further exploited to account for other available data sets, such as additional interferograms or other geodetic data (e.g., leveling, tilt, etc.), in order to achieve higher accuracy. © 2011 IEEE.


Branca S.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Ferrara V.,University of Catania
Tectonophysics | Year: 2013

The reinterpretation of more than 2500 subsurface data, consisting of geoelectric and borehole prospecting undertaken at Mount Etna, allows reconstructing the contour map of the sedimentary basement. This reconstruction highlights a complex asymmetric topography due to the inhomogeneous long-term updoming of the region and the interrelationship between the development of the drainage network and flank instability. These different processes have produced a major morphological difference between the eastern sector, characterised by a 17km-wide horseshoe-shaped depression, and the other flanks formed by palaeovalleys. The origin of the wide horseshoe-shaped depression can be attributed to the large-scale flank instability processes involving the entire continental margin in the Etna offshore. This depression of the Etna basement was generated by a series of coalescent landslides before the beginning of the eruptive activity of the Timpe phase more than 220ka ago. This wide depression is the main cause of the flank instability that produced the gravitational slope failures of the Valle del Bove about 10ka ago. Regarding Mt Etna's geometry, we have estimated a total volume of about 532km3 that was emplaced during the past 330ka, resulting in an average rate of volcanic output of 0.0016km3/a. The reconstruction of the temporal variation of the average eruptive rate highlights a drastic increase of volcanism during the last 100ka in response to the gradual stabilization of the plumbing system in the Etna region that led to the build-up of the composite stratovolcano structure. The data presented in this paper represent the state of knowledge of the sedimentary basement of Etna, which can be used for future studies aimed at developing a detailed understanding of the deep structure of the volcano's unstable flanks. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Ganci G.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Vicari A.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Cappello A.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Cappello A.,University of Catania | Del Negro C.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology
Remote Sensing of Environment | Year: 2012

Spaceborne remote sensing techniques and numerical simulations have been combined in a web-GIS framework (LAV@HAZARD) to evaluate lava flow hazard in real time. By using the HOTSAT satellite thermal monitoring system to estimate time-varying TADR (time averaged discharge rate) and the MAGFLOW physics-based model to simulate lava flow paths, the LAV@HAZARD platform allows timely definition of parameters and maps essential for hazard assessment, including the propagation time of lava flows and the maximum run-out distance. We used LAV@HAZARD during the 2008-2009 lava flow-forming eruption at Mt Etna (Sicily, Italy). We measured the temporal variation in thermal emission (up to four times per hour) during the entire duration of the eruption using SEVIRI and MODIS data. The time-series of radiative power allowed us to identify six diverse thermal phases each related to different dynamic volcanic processes and associated with different TADRs and lava flow emplacement conditions. Satellite-derived estimates of lava discharge rates were computed and integrated for the whole period of the eruption (almost 14months), showing that a lava volume of between 32 and 61million cubic meters was erupted of which about 2/3 was emplaced during the first 4months. These time-varying discharge rates were then used to drive MAGFLOW simulations to chart the spread of lava as a function of time. TADRs were sufficiently low (<30m 3/s) that no lava flows were capable of flowing any great distance so that they did not pose a hazard to vulnerable (agricultural and urban) areas on the flanks of Etna. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.


Scapagnini G.,University of Molise | Davinelli S.,University of Molise | Drago F.,University of Catania | De Lorenzo A.,University of Rome Tor Vergata | Oriani G.,University of Molise
CNS Drugs | Year: 2012

Depression is a medical condition with a complex biological pattern of aetiology, involving genetic and epigenetic factors, along with different environmental stressors. Recent evidence suggests that oxidative stress processes might play a relevant role in the pathogenic mechanism(s) underlying many major psychiatric disorders, including depression.Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species have been shown to modulate levels and activity of noradrenaline (norepinephrine), serotonin, dopamine and glutamate, the principal neurotransmitters involved in the neurobiology of depression. Major depression has been associated with lowered concentrations of several endogenous antioxidant compounds, such as vitamin E, zinc and coenzyme Q10, or enzymes, such as glutathione peroxidase, and with an impairment of the total antioxidant status. These observations introduce new potential targets for the development of therapeutic interventions based on antioxidant compounds.The present review focuses on the possible role of oxidative stress processes in the pathogenesis of depression. The therapeutic potential of antioxidant compounds as a co-adjuvant treatment to conventional antidepressants is discussed. For instance, N-acetyl-cysteine has been shown to have a significant benefit on depressive symptoms in a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Additionally, curcumin, the yellow pigment of curry, has been shown to strongly interfere with neuronal redox homeostasis in the CNS and to possess antidepressant activity in various animal models of depression, also thanks to its ability to inhibit monoamine oxidases. There is an urgent need to develop better tolerated and more effective treatments for depressive disorders and several antioxidant treatments appear promising and deserve further study. © 2012 Springer International Publishing AG. All rights reserved.


Blaszczynski J.,Poznan University of Technology | Greco S.,University of Catania | Slowinski R.,Poznan University of Technology | Slowinski R.,Polish Academy of Sciences
Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence | Year: 2012

We are considering knowledge discovery from data describing a piece of real or abstract world. The patterns being induced put in evidence some laws hidden in the data. The most natural representation of patterns-laws is by if.; then. decision rules relating some conditions with some decisions. The same representation of patterns is used in multi-attribute classification, thus the data searched for discovery of these patterns can be seen as classification data. We adopt the classification perspective to present an original methodology of inducing general laws from data and representing them by so-called monotonic decision rules. Monotonicity concerns relationships between values of condition and decision attributes, e.g. the greater the mass (condition attribute), the greater the gravity (decision attribute), which is a specific feature of decision rules discovered from data using the Dominance-based Rough Set Approach (DRSA). While in DRSA one has to suppose a priori the presence or absence of positive or negative monotonicity relationships which hold in the whole evaluation space, in this paper, we show that DRSA can be adapted to discover rules from any kind of input classification data, exhibiting monotonicity relationships which are unknown a priori and hold in some parts of the evaluation space only. This requires a proper non-invasive transformation of the classification data, permitting representation of both positive and negative monotonicity relationships that are to be discovered by the proposed methodology. Reported results of a computational experiment confirm that the proposed methodology leads to decision rules whose predictive ability is similar to the best classification predictors. It has, however, a unique advantage over all competitors because the monotonic decision rules can be read as laws characterizing the analyzed phenomena in terms of easily understandable if.; then. decision rules, while other predictor models have no such straightforward interpretation. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Greco S.,University of Catania | Slowinski R.,Poznan University of Technology | Slowinski R.,Polish Academy of Sciences | Szczech I.,Poznan University of Technology
Information Sciences | Year: 2012

We are considering properties of interestingness measures of rules induced from data. These are: Bayesian confirmation property, two properties related to the case of entailment or refutation, called (Ex 1) and logicality L, and a group of symmetry properties. We propose a modification of properties (Ex 1) and L, called weak (Ex 1), and weak L, that deploy the concept of confirmation in its larger sense. We demonstrate that properties (Ex 1) and L do not fully reflect such understanding of the confirmation concept, and thus, we propose to substitute (Ex 1) by weak (Ex 1) and L by weak L. Moreover, we introduce four new approaches to normalization of confirmation measures in order to transform measures so that they would obtain desired properties. The analysis of the results of the normalizations of the confirmation measures takes into account all considered properties. We advocate for two normalized confirmation measures: measure Z considered in the literature, and newly proposed measure A. Finally, we provide some ideas for combining them in a single measure keeping all desirable properties. © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Corrente S.,University of Catania | Greco S.,University of Catania | Slowinski R.,Poznan University of Technology | Slowinski R.,Polish Academy of Sciences
Decision Support Systems | Year: 2012

A great majority of methods designed for Multiple Criteria Decision Aiding (MCDA) assume that all evaluation criteria are considered at the same level, however, it is often the case that a practical application is imposing a hierarchical structure of criteria. The hierarchy helps decomposing complex decision making problems into smaller and manageable subtasks, and thus, it is very attractive for users. To handle the hierarchy of criteria in MCDA, we propose a methodology called Multiple Criteria Hierarchy Process (MCHP) which permits consideration of preference relations with respect to a subset of criteria at any level of the hierarchy. MCHP can be applied to any MCDA method. In this paper, we apply MCHP to Robust Ordinal Regression (ROR) being a family of MCDA methods that takes into account all sets of parameters of an assumed preference model, which are compatible with preference information elicited by a Decision Maker (DM). As a result of ROR, one gets necessary and possible preference relations in the set of alternatives, which hold for all compatible sets of parameters or for at least one compatible set of parameters, respectively. Applying MCHP to ROR one gets to know not only necessary and possible preference relations with respect to the whole set of criteria, but also necessary and possible preference relations related to subsets of criteria at different levels of the hierarchy. We also show how MCHP can be extended to handle group decision and interactions among criteria. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Kadzinski M.,Poznan University of Technology | Greco S.,University of Catania | Slowinski R.,Poznan University of Technology | Slowinski R.,Polish Academy of Sciences
Computers and Operations Research | Year: 2012

We introduce the concept of a representative set of parameters for multiple criteria outranking methods: ELECTRE GKMS and PROMETHEE GKS which apply the principle of robust ordinal regression. We exploit the necessary and the possible results provided by these methods to choose a single instance of the preference model, which would represent all other compatible instances. The representative set of parameters is selected within an interactive preference-driven procedure which allows combining some pre-defined targets into different scenarios. Each target concerns enhancement of the results of robust ordinal regression. Precisely, the DM may emphasize either the advantage of some alternatives over the others, acknowledged by all compatible outranking models, or ambiguity in the comparison for some other pairs of alternatives. Selecting the representative set of parameters, we satisfy the desire of some DMs of assigning precise values to variables of the model. We also enable exploitation of the outranking relation for these parameters in order to arrive at a representative recommendation in a traditional way. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Mollo S.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Scarlato P.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Lanzafame G.,University of Catania | Ferlito C.,University of Catania
Lithos | Year: 2013

We report results from geochemical and isotopic analyses conducted on nine samples collected from the vertical section of a pahoehoe lava flow unit from Mt. Etna volcano. Textural observations in the field show that, during lava emplacement, volatile exsolution and degassing allowed the nucleation and growth of bubbles, which subsequently rose from the base towards the uppermost lava crust. The amount of phenocrysts is low (about 12vol.%) and their compositions are comparable to intratelluric crystals analyzed for from historical and recent products. In contrast, from the basal zone to the uppermost lava crust, groundmass microlites are characterized by progressively more primitive compositions, i.e., olivines and clinopyroxenes show increasing Mg#, plagioclases are enriched in anorthite, and the ulvospinel content in titanomagnetites increases. Calculations based on thermodynamic models, thermometers and oxygen barometers indicate that, during post-eruption conditions, crystals formed at higher crystallization temperatures with increasing vertical height. The redox state of the melt progressively increased from the base towards the uppermost crust of the lava flow as is attested by increasing Fe2O3/FeO ratios in clinopyroxene and titanomagnetite. The lowest fO2 is recorded at the basal zone and suggests that this part of the lava was inaccessible to diffusion of atmospheric oxygen at the time of emplacement; whereas, the highest fO2 measured for the uppermost lava crust testifies to post-eruptive hydrogen loss, mainly transported by carrier gas phases.Whole-rock analyses of lava samples also indicate higher Fe2O3/FeO ratios with increasing vertical height as well as substantial enrichments in MgO and transitional elements. Results from both mass balance and Rayleigh fractionation calculations show that about 6vol.% of titanomagnetite and olivine microlites accumulated in the upper parts of the lava flow during emplacement. At the same time, due to progressive volatile exsolution, concentrations of Cl, F and Cs in whole rock decreased from the base towards the uppermost lava crust; indeed, oxygen isotopes indicate a substantial 22wt.% of CO2 degassing. From this, we conclude that even short-term exposure to post-eruptive conditions results in significant local compositional changes for lava flows at Mt. Etna volcano. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Barreca G.,University of Catania | Bonforte A.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Neri M.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research | Year: 2013

A pilot GIS-based system has been implemented for the assessment and analysis of hazard related to active faults affecting the eastern and southern flanks of Mt. Etna. The system structure was developed in ArcGis® environment and consists of different thematic datasets that include spatially-referenced arc-features and associated database. Arc-type features, georeferenced into WGS84 Ellipsoid UTM zone 33 Projection, represent the five main fault systems that develop in the analysed region. The backbone of the GIS-based system is constituted by the large amount of information which was collected from the literature and then stored and properly geocoded in a digital database. This consists of thirty five alpha-numeric fields which include all fault parameters available from literature such us location, kinematics, landform, slip rate, etc.Although the system has been implemented according to the most common procedures used by GIS developer, the architecture and content of the database represent a pilot backbone for digital storing of fault parameters, providing a powerful tool in modelling hazard related to the active tectonics of Mt. Etna. The database collects, organises and shares all scientific currently available information about the active faults of the volcano. Furthermore, thanks to the strong effort spent on defining the fields of the database, the structure proposed in this paper is open to the collection of further data coming from future improvements in the knowledge of the fault systems. By layering additional user-specific geographic information and managing the proposed database (topological querying) a great diversity of hazard and vulnerability maps can be produced by the user. This is a proposal of a backbone for a comprehensive geographical database of fault systems, universally applicable to other sites. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Cappello A.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Bilotta G.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Bilotta G.,University of Catania | Neri M.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Negro C.D.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth | Year: 2013

The statistical analysis of volcanic activity at Mt Etna was conducted with the twofold aim of (1) constructing a probability map for vent opening of future flank eruptions and (2) forecasting the expected number of eruptive events at the summit craters. The spatiotemporal map of new vent opening at Etna volcano is based on the analysis of spatial locations and frequency of flank eruptions starting from 1610. Thanks to the completeness and accuracy of historical data over the last four centuries, we examined in detail the spatial and temporal distribution of flank eruptions showing that effusive events follow a nonhomogenous Poisson process with space-time varying intensities. After demonstrating the spatial nonhomogeneity and the temporal nonstationarity of flank eruptions at Etna, we calculated the recurrence rates (events expected per unit area per unit time) and produced different spatiotemporal probability maps of new vent opening in the next 1, 10 and 50 years. These probabilistic maps have an immediate use in evaluating the future timing and areas of Etna prone to volcanic hazards. Finally, the results of the analysis of the persistent summit activity during the last 110 years indicate that the hazard rate for eruptive events is not constant with time, differs for each summit crater of Mt Etna, highlighting a general increase in the eruptive frequency starting from the middle of last century and particularly from 1971, when the SE crater was formed