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Coimbra, Portugal

The University of Coimbra dɨ kuˈĩbɾɐ]) is a Portuguese public university in Coimbra, Portugal. Established in 1290, it is one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world, the oldest university of Portugal, and one of its largest higher education and research institutions. It is organized into eight different faculties according to a wide range of fields, granting academic bachelor's , master's and doctorate degrees in arts, engineerings, humanities, mathematics, natural science, social science, sports and technologies. It is a founding member of the Coimbra Group, a group of leading European research universities, whose inaugural meeting it hosted. The University of Coimbra has approximately 20,000 students, and hosts one of the largest communities of international students in Portugal, being the most cosmopolitan Portuguese university.On 22 June 2013, UNESCO added the university to its World Heritage List. Wikipedia.

Heleno R.H.,University of Coimbra
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2013

Alien plants are a growing threat to the Galápagos unique biota. We evaluated the impact of alien plants on eight seed dispersal networks from two islands of the archipelago. Nearly 10 000 intact seeds from 58 species were recovered from the droppings of 18 bird and reptile dispersers. The most dispersed invaders were Lantana camara, Rubus niveus and Psidium guajava, the latter two likely benefiting from an asynchronous fruit production with most native plants, which facilitate their consumption and spread. Lava lizards dispersed the seeds of 27 species, being the most important dispersers, followed by small ground finch, two mockingbirds, the giant tortoise and two insectivorous birds. Most animals dispersed alien seeds, but these formed a relatively small proportion of the interactions. Nevertheless, the integration of aliens was higher in the island that has been invaded for longest, suggesting a time-lag between alien plant introductions and their impacts on seed dispersal networks. Alien plants become more specialized with advancing invasion, favouring more simplified plant and disperser communities. However, only habitat type significantly affected the overall network structure. Alien plants were dispersed via two pathways: dry-fruited plants were preferentially dispersed by finches, while fleshy fruited species were mostly dispersed by other birds and reptiles. Source

Salvador J.A.,University of Coimbra
Natural product reports | Year: 2012

This review highlights the potential of natural and semisynthetic ursane-type triterpenoids as candidates for the design of multi-target bioactive compounds, with focus on their anticancer effects. A brief illustration of the biosynthesis, sources, and general biological effects of the main classes of naturally occurring pentacyclic triterpenoids (PTs) are provided. Source

Tavares R.S.,University of Coimbra
Human reproduction (Oxford, England) | Year: 2013

Is the environmental endocrine disruptor p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE) able to induce non-genomic changes in human sperm and consequently affect functional sperm parameters? p,p'-DDE promoted Ca(2+) flux into human sperm by activating CatSper channels even at doses found in human reproductive fluids, ultimately compromising sperm parameters important for fertilization. p,p'-DDE may promote non-genomic actions and interact directly with pre-existing signaling pathways, as already observed in other cell types. However, although often found in both male and female reproductive fluids, its effects on human spermatozoa function are not known. Normozoospermic sperm samples from healthy individuals were included in this study. Samples were exposed to several p,p'-DDE concentrations for 3 days at 37°C and 5% CO2 in vitro to mimic the putative continuous exposure to this toxicant in the female reproductive tract in vivo. Shorter p,p'-DDE incubation periods were also performed in order to monitor sperm rapid Ca(2+) responses. All experiments were repeated on a minimum of five sperm samples from different individuals. All healthy individuals were recruited at the Biosciences School, University of Birmingham, the Medical Research Institute, University of Dundee and in the Human Reproduction Service at University Hospitals of Coimbra. Intracellular Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca(2+)]i) was monitored by imaging single spermatozoa loaded with Oregon Green BAPTA-1AM and further whole-cell patch-clamp recordings were performed to validate our results. Sperm viability and acrosomal integrity were assessed using the LIVE/DEAD sperm vitality kit and the acrosomal content marker PSA-FITC, respectively. p,p'-DDE rapidly increased [Ca(2+)]i (P < 0.05) even at extremely low doses (1 pM and 1 nM), with magnitudes of response up to 200%, without affecting sperm viability, except after 3 days of continuous exposure to the highest concentration tested (P < 0.05). Furthermore, experiments performed in a low Ca(2+) medium demonstrated that extracellular Ca(2+) influx was responsible for this Ca(2+) increase (P < 0.01). Mibefradil and NNC 55-0396, both inhibitors of the sperm-specific CatSper channel, reversed the p,p'-DDE-induced [Ca(2+)]i rise, suggesting the participation of CatSper in this process (P < 0.05). In fact, whole-cell patch-clamp recordings confirmed CatSper as a target of p,p'-DDE action by monitoring an increase in CatSper currents of >100% (P < 0.01). Finally, acrosomal integrity was adversely affected after 2 days of exposure to p,p'-DDE concentrations, suggesting that [Ca(2+)]i rise may cause premature acrosome reaction (P < 0.05). This is an in vitro study, and caution must be taken when extrapolating the results. A novel non-genomic p,p'-DDE mechanism specific to sperm is shown in this study. p,p'-DDE was able to induce [Ca(2+)]i rise in human sperm through the opening of CatSper consequently compromising male fertility. The promiscuous nature of CatSper activation may predispose human sperm to the action of some persistent endocrine disruptors. The study was supported by both the Portuguese National Science Foundation (FCT; PEst-C/SAU/LA0001/2011) and the UK Wellcome Trust (Grant #86470). SM was supported by the Infertility Research Trust. RST is a recipient of a PhD fellowship from FCT (SFRH/BD/46002/2008). None of the authors has any conflict of interest to declare. Source

The present invention relates to a high precision method, model and apparatus for calibrating, determining the rotation of the lens scope around its symmetry axis, updating the projection model accordingly, and correcting the image radial distortion in real-time using parallel processing for best image quality. The solution provided herein relies on a complete geometric calibration of optical devices, such as cameras commonly used in medicine and in industry in general, and subsequent rendering of perspective correct image in real-time. The calibration consists on the determination of the parameters of a suitable mapping function that assigns each pixel to the 3D direction of the corresponding incident light. The practical implementation of such solution is very straightforward, requiring the camera to capture only a single view of a readily available calibration target, that may be assembled inside a specially designed calibration apparatus, and a computer implemented processing pipeline that runs in real time using the parallel execution capabilities of the computational platform.

The invention involves therapy and diagnostics using nanoparticles that provide targeted delivery of agents to cancer cells and stem cells, including cancer stem cells, the nanoparticles being pH sensitive and incorporating cytotoxic ceramides.

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