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MacAluso F.,University of Palermo | MacAluso F.,Stellenbosch University | Myburgh K.H.,Stellenbosch University
Journal of Muscle Research and Cell Motility | Year: 2012

The number of adult stem cells (ASCs) is very small, limiting the regenerative potential of tissues. One of the most studied ASCs in humans is the satellite cell (SC), which proliferates and increases pool size under exercise stress and muscle damage. This review examines the growth factor response to specific types of exercise to show the potential of exercise to stimulate not only SC self-renewal, but also other ASCs. We postulate that the same factors that stimulate a high proliferation of SCs in skeletal muscle after physical exercise should also stimulate the proliferation of ASCs in the tissue in which they reside, such as heart, bone, liver and etc. Regular exercise should be promoted, not only for disease prevention, but to maintain a high ASCs reserve and progenitor cell potential for rapid activation in response to future stressors and damage. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012.

Pizzuti C.,CNR Institute for High Performance Computing and Networking | Rombo S.E.,University of Palermo
Bioinformatics | Year: 2014

Motivation: Protein-protein interaction (PPI) networks are powerful models to represent the pairwise protein interactions of the organisms. Clustering PPI networks can be useful for isolating groups of interacting proteins that participate in the same biological processes or that perform together specific biological functions. Evolutionary orthologies can be inferred this way, as well as functions and properties of yet uncharacterized proteins. Results: We present an overview of the main state-of-the-art clustering methods that have been applied to PPI networks over the past decade. We distinguish five specific categories of approaches, describe and compare their main features and then focus on one of them, i.e. population-based stochastic search. We provide an experimental evaluation, based on some validation measures widely used in the literature, of techniques in this class, that are as yet less explored than the others. In particular, we study how the capability of Genetic Algorithms (GAs) to extract clusters in PPI networks varies when different topology-based fitness functions are used, and we compare GAs with the main techniques in the other categories. The experimental campaign shows that predictions returned by GAs are often more accurate than those produced by the contestant methods. Interesting issues still remain open about possible generalizations of GAs allowing for cluster overlapping. © The Author 2014.

Garzanti E.,University of Milan Bicocca | Ando S.,University of Milan Bicocca | Censi P.,University of Palermo | Vignola P.,CNR Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes
Earth and Planetary Science Letters | Year: 2011

Sediments carried in suspension represent a fundamental part of fluvial transport. Nonetheless, largely because of technical problems, they have been hitherto widely neglected in provenance studies. In order to determine with maximum possible precision the mineralogy of suspended load collected in vertical profiles from water surface to channel bottom of Rivers Ganga and Brahmaputra, we combined Raman spectroscopy with traditional heavy-mineral and X-ray diffraction analyses, carried out separately on low-density and dense fractions of all significant size classes in each sample (multiple-window approach). Suspended load resulted to be a ternary mixture of dominant silt enriched in phyllosilicates, subordinate clay largely derived from weathered floodplains, and sand mainly produced by physical erosion and mechanical grinding during transport in Himalayan streams. Sediment concentration and grain size increase steadily with water depth. Whereas absolute concentration of clay associated with Fe-oxyhydroxides and organic matter is almost depth-invariant, regular mineralogical and consequently chemical changes from shallow to deep load result from marked increase of faster-settling, coarser, denser, or more spherical grains toward the bed. Such steady intersample compositional variability can be modeled as a mixture of clay, silt and sand modes with distinct mineralogical and chemical composition. With classical formulas describing sediment transport by turbulent diffusion, absolute and relative concentrations can be predicted at any depth for each textural mode and each detrital component. Based on assumptions on average chemistry of detrital minerals and empirical formulas to calculate their settling velocities, the suspension-sorting model successfully reproduces mineralogy and chemistry of suspended load at different depths. Principal outputs include assessment of contributions by each detrital mineral to the chemical budget, and calibration of dense minerals too rare to be precisely estimated by optical or Raman analysis but crucial in both detrital-geochronology and settling-equivalence studies. Hydrodynamic conditions during monsoonal discharge could also be evaluated. Understanding compositional variability of suspended load is a fundamental pre-requisite to correctly interpret mineralogical and geochemical data in provenance analysis of modern and ancient sedimentary deposits, to accurately assess weathering processes, sediment fluxes and erosion patterns, and to unambiguously evaluate the effects of anthropogenic modifications on the natural environment. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

Cannella S.,University of Palermo | Ciancimino E.,University of Palermo | Framinan J.M.,University of Seville
Production Planning and Control | Year: 2011

The aim of this article is to show how to modify a replenishment rule in relation to the operational information shared by suppliers. More specifically, we present a model of an Automatic Pipeline Variable Inventory and Order-Based Production Control System rule for a multi-echelon supply chain characterised by different increasing levels of shared information. A numerical study is presented to underline the performance differences for three variants of the smoothing order rule in terms of bullwhip reduction, inventory stability and operational and customer responsiveness. Results show how the effectiveness of a smoothing replenishment rule depends on the level of information sharing. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.

Roeters Van Lennep J.,Erasmus Medical Center | Averna M.,University of Palermo | Alonso R.,Lipid Clinic | Alonso R.,Lipid Unit
Journal of Clinical Lipidology | Year: 2015

Homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia (HoFH) is a rare genetic disease characterised by markedly elevated plasma levels of low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C). Lomitapide is a microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP) inhibitor approved as an adjunct to other lipid-lowering therapies (LLTs), with or without lipoprotein apheresis (LA), for the treatment of adult HoFH. Diet with <20% calories from fat is required. Due to a varying genetic and phenotypic profile of patients with HoFH, individual patients may respond to therapy differently; therefore examining individual cases in a 'real-world' setting provides valuable information on the effective day-to-day management of HoFH cases. Four HoFH cases were selected for analysis and discussion: a 20-year-old female compound heterozygote; a 62-year old female homozygote; a 42-year-old female compound heterozygote; and a 36-year-old male homozygote. Each patient was commenced on lomitapide according to the prescribed protocol and subjected to routine follow-up. All four patients experienced clinically meaningful reductions in LDL-C levels of 35-73%. Three of the patients had evidence of steatosis or mildly elevated liver function tests) before lomitapide was started, but effects of lomitapide on hepatic function were not universal. Three of the patients experienced gastrointestinal adverse events, but were managed with appropriate dietary control. Lomitapide is an effective adjunct LLT in the management of patients with HoFH, with or without LA. Real-world use of lomitapide has a side-effect profile consistent with clinical trials and one that can be managed by adherence to recommendations on dose escalation, dietary modification and dietary supplements. © 2015 National Lipid Association. All rights reserved.

Di Liegro I.,University of Palermo
International Journal of Molecular Medicine | Year: 2014

Post-transcriptional control of mRNA trafficking and metabolism plays a critical role in the actualization and fine tuning of the genetic program of cells, both in development and in differentiated tissues. Cis-acting signals, responsible for post-transcriptional regulation, reside in the RNA message itself, usually in untranslated regions, 5′ or 3′ to the coding sequence, and are recognized by trans-acting factors: RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) and/or non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). ncRNAs bind short mRNA sequences usually present in the 3′-untranslated (3′-UTR) region of their target messages. RBPs recognize specific nucleotide sequences and/or secondary/tertiary structures. Most RBPs assemble on mRNA at the moment of transcription and shepherd it to its destination, somehow determining its final fate. Regulation of mRNA localization and metabolism has a particularly important role in the nervous system where local translation of pre-localized mRNAs has been implicated in developing axon and dendrite pathfinding, and in synapse formation. Moreover, activity-dependent mRNA trafficking and local translation may underlie long-lasting changes in synaptic efficacy, responsible for learning and memory. This review focuses on the role of RBPs in neuronal development and plasticity, as well as possible connections between ncRNAs and RBPs.

Cosentino M.,University of Palermo | Salimi P.,Islamic Azad University at Rasht | Vetro P.,University of Palermo
Acta Mathematica Scientia | Year: 2014

In this paper we obtain fixed point and common fixed point theorems for self-mappings defined on a metric-type space, an ordered metric-type space or a normal cone metric space. Moreover, some examples and an application to integral equations are given to illustrate the usability of the obtained results. © 2014 Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics.

Salimi P.,Islamic Azad University at Rasht | Vetro P.,University of Palermo
Acta Mathematica Scientia | Year: 2014

Recently, Suzuki [T. Suzuki, A generalized Banach contraction principle that characterizes metric completeness, Proc. Amer. Math. Soc. 136 (2008), 1861-1869] proved a fixed point theorem that is a generalization of the Banach contraction principle and characterizes the metric completeness. Paesano and Vetro [D. Paesano and P. Vetro, Suzuki's type characterizations of completeness for partial metric spaces and fixed points for partially ordered metric spaces, Topology Appl., 159 (2012), 911-920] proved an analogous fixed point result for a self-mapping on a partial metric space that characterizes the partial metric 0-completeness. In this article, we introduce the notion of partial G-metric spaces and prove a result of Suzuki type in the setting of partial G-metric spaces. We deduce also a result of common fixed point. © 2014 Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics.

Robinson J.G.,University of Iowa | Farnier M.,Point Medical | Krempf M.,University of Nantes | Bergeron J.,Clinique des Maladies Lipidiques de Quebec | And 9 more authors.
New England Journal of Medicine | Year: 2015

Background: Alirocumab, a monoclonal antibody that inhibits proprotein convertase subtilisin- kexin type 9 (PCSK9), has been shown to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in patients who are receiving statin therapy. Larger and longer-term studies are needed to establish safety and efficacy. Methods: We conducted a randomized trial involving 2341 patients at high risk for cardiovascular events who had LDL cholesterol levels of 70 mg per deciliter (1.8 mmol per liter) or more and were receiving treatment with statins at the maximum tolerated dose (the highest dose associated with an acceptable side-effect profile), with or without other lipid-lowering therapy. Patients were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive alirocumab (150 mg) or placebo as a 1-ml subcutaneous injection every 2 weeks for 78 weeks. The primary efficacy end point was the percentage change in calculated LDL cholesterol level from baseline to week 24. Results: At week 24, the difference between the alirocumab and placebo groups in the mean percentage change from baseline in calculated LDL cholesterol level was -62 percentage points (P<0.001); the treatment effect remained consistent over a period of 78 weeks. The alirocumab group, as compared with the placebo group, had higher rates of injection-site reactions (5.9% vs. 4.2%), myalgia (5.4% vs. 2.9%), neurocognitive events (1.2% vs. 0.5%), and ophthalmologic events (2.9% vs. 1.9%). In a post hoc analysis, the rate of major adverse cardiovascular events (death from coronary heart disease, nonfatal myocardial infarction, fatal or nonfatal ischemic stroke, or unstable angina requiring hospitalization) was lower with alirocumab than with placebo (1.7% vs. 3.3%; hazard ratio, 0.52; 95% confidence interval, 0.31 to 0.90; nominal P = 0.02). Conclusions: Over a period of 78 weeks, alirocumab, when added to statin therapy at the maximum tolerated dose, significantly reduced LDL cholesterol levels. In a post hoc analysis, there was evidence of a reduction in the rate of cardiovascular events with alirocumab. (Funded by Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals; ODYSSEY LONG TERM number, NCT01507831.) Copyright © 2015 Massachusetts Medical Society.

Samet B.,University of Tunis | Vetro C.,University of Palermo
Acta Mathematica Scientia | Year: 2012

We establish some results on coincidence and common fixed points for a two-pair of multi-valued and single-valued maps in complete metric spaces. Presented theorems generalize recent results of Gordji et al [4] and several results existing in the literature. © 2012 Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics.

Fiore V.,University of Palermo | Valenza A.,University of Palermo | Di Bella G.,CNR Institute of Advanced Energy Technologies Nicola Giordano
Composites Science and Technology | Year: 2011

The aim of this paper is to examine the use of artichoke fibres as potential reinforcement in polymer composites. The fibres are extracted from the stem of artichoke plant, which grows in Southern Sicily. In order to use these lignocellulosic fibres as potential reinforcement in polymer composites, it is fundamental to investigate their microstructure, chemical composition and mechanical properties. Therefore, the morphology of artichoke fibres was investigated through electron microscopy, the thermal behaviour through thermogravimetric analysis and the real density through a helium pycnometer. The chemical composition of the natural fibres in terms of cellulose, lignin, and ash contents was determinated by using standard test methods. Finally, the mechanical characterization was carried out through single fibre tensile tests, analysing the results through statistical analysis. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Ricci-Vitiani L.,Instituto Superiore Of Sanita | Pallini R.,Catholic University of Rome | Biffoni M.,Instituto Superiore Of Sanita | Todaro M.,University of Palermo | And 9 more authors.
Nature | Year: 2010

Glioblastoma is a highly angiogenetic malignancy, the neoformed vessels of which are thought to arise by sprouting of pre-existing brain capillaries. The recent demonstration that a population of glioblastoma stem-like cells (GSCs) maintains glioblastomas indicates that the progeny of these cells may not be confined to the neural lineage. Normal neural stem cells are able to differentiate into functional endothelial cells. The connection between neural stem cells and the endothelial compartment seems to be critical in glioblastoma, where cancer stem cells closely interact with the vascular niche and promote angiogenesis through the release of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and stromal-derived factor 1 (refs 5-9). Here we show that a variable number (range 20-90%, mean 60.7%) of endothelial cells in glioblastoma carry the same genomic alteration as tumour cells, indicating that a significant portion of the vascular endothelium has a neoplastic origin. The vascular endothelium contained a subset of tumorigenic cells that produced highly vascularized anaplastic tumours with areas of vasculogenic mimicry in immunocompromised mice. In vitro culture of GSCs in endothelial conditions generated progeny with phenotypic and functional features of endothelial cells. Likewise, orthotopic or subcutaneous injection of GSCs in immunocompromised mice produced tumour xenografts, the vessels of which were primarily composed of human endothelial cells. Selective targeting of endothelial cells generated by GSCs in mouse xenografts resulted in tumour reduction and degeneration, indicating the functional relevance of the GSC-derived endothelial vessels. These findings describe a new mechanism for tumour vasculogenesis and may explain the presence of cancer-derived endothelial-like cells in several malignancies. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Chen R.R.,University of California at Davis | Roma P.,University of Palermo
Production and Operations Management | Year: 2011

Under group buying, quantity discounts are offered based on the buyers' aggregated purchasing quantity, instead of individual quantities. As the price decreases with the total quantity, buyers receive lower prices than they otherwise would be able to obtain individually. Previous studies on group buying focus on the benefit buyers receive in reduced acquisition costs or enhanced bargaining power. In this paper, we show that buyers can instead get hurt from such cooperation. Specifically, we consider a two-level distribution channel with a single manufacturer and two retailers who compete for end customers. We show that, under linear demand curves, group buying is always preferable for symmetric (i.e., identical) retailers. For asymmetric retailers (i.e., differing in market base and/or efficiency), group buying is beneficial to the smaller (or less efficient) player. However, it can be detrimental to the larger (or more efficient) one. Despite the lower wholesale price under group buying, the manufacturer can receive a higher revenue. Interestingly, group buying is more likely to form when retailers are competitive in different dimensions. These insights are shown to be robust under general nonlinear demand curves, except for constant elastic demand with low demand elasticity. © 2010 Production and Operations Management Society.

Di Paola M.,University of Palermo | Failla G.,University of Reggio Calabria | Zingales M.,University of Palermo | Zingales M.,Instituto Euro Mediterraneo Of Science E Tecnologia Iemest
European Journal of Mechanics, A/Solids | Year: 2013

This paper presents the dynamics of a non-local Timoshenko beam. The key assumption involves modeling non-local effects as long-range volume forces and moments mutually exerted by non-adjacent beam segments, that contribute to the equilibrium of any beam segment along with the classical local stress resultants. Elastic and viscous long-range volume forces/moments are endowed in the model. They are built as linearly depending on the product of the volumes of the interacting beam segments and on generalized measures of their relative motion, based on the pure deformation modes of the beam. Attenuation functions governing the space decay of the non-local effects are introduced. Numerical results are presented for a variety of non-local parameters. © 2013 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2011.5.6 | Award Amount: 4.57M | Year: 2011

In his opening address to the ECB Central Banking Conference, Jean-Claude Trichet said that in the face of the crisis, we felt abandoned by conventional tools, and went on to call for the development of complex systems based approaches to augment existing ways of understanding the economy. This project proposes to address this need by creating an integrated set of complex systems-based ICT tools for modeling the economy, of practical use to policy makers, to be used in both simulation and gaming modes.\nThe core element of our project will be a pair of coupled agent-based models of the European economy, one for the financial system and one for the macro-economy. The European model will in turn be coupled to a corresponding American model developed in an independently funded sister project. These models will be carefully calibrated using a comprehensive data set. The models will be constructed around the available data, so that the resulting model can be placed in the existing state of the real economy at any given point in time, and used to simulate that economy going forward. The decision making components of the model will also be calibrated using laboratory experiments with human subjects. The final result will include a sophisticated graphical user interface with open-source software. This model will allow us to do research to better understand the combined European and American economies, freed from the constraint of unrealistic assumptions such as perfect rationality and representative agents.\nThe output of the research will be used to provide new insights for policy makers and evaluate quantitatively policy measures at the European level.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA | Phase: ICT-2009.9.1 | Award Amount: 582.49K | Year: 2010

FORESTA project wants to boost the research dimension of ICT cooperation and policy dialogue between the EU and the Latin American region. In particular, the project targets the four countries having signed S&T Agreements with the EU, and Colombia, which adopted in 2008 the DVB-T standard for digital broadcasting and has recently intensified contacts with the EU to start discussions on an S&T Agreement. The project is structured in two main blocks of activities: one looking at immediate opportunities for cooperation between researchers of the two communities (Europe and Latin America) via the organisation and follow up of conferences in the five target countries, the other one looking at long-term perspectives. This latter evolves around two sets of activities: a) analysis of current ICT policies in the region and identification of key research issues to address in the future; b) recommendations on how to make a better use of support instruments to ICT research cooperation (European or national funding programmes and other initiatives). The expected results are: immediate increase in the number and intensity of Euro-LA cooperation as an effect of the conferences; set of recommendations related to future joint research areas and ways of supporting them. More in general, the project aims at coordinating efforts being done in encouraging ICT research cooperation between the two regions. The whole project will be backed by a solid dissemination and communication action. A regional organisation, ALETI, present in most of Central and South American countries will be key to the visibility of FORESTA also in countries that are not directly involved. The expected impact of FORESTA is to pave the way to a more structured and intense Euro-Latin American ICT research cooperation and to encourage other Latin American countries to set up a regular ICT policy dialogue with the European Union.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2011.9.14 | Award Amount: 2.18M | Year: 2012

The GLODERS research project is directed towards development of an ICT model for understanding a specific aspect of the dynamics of the global financial system: Extortion Racket Systems (ERSs). ERSs, of which the Mafia is but one example, are spreading globally from a small number of seed locations, causing massive disruption to economies. Yet there is no good understanding of their dynamics and thus how they may be countered. ERSs are not only powerful criminal organizations, operating at several hierarchical levels, but also prosperous economic enterprises and highly dynamic systems, likely to reinvest in new markets. If stakeholders - legislators and law enforcers - are to be successful in attacking ERSs, they need the much better understanding of the evolution of ERSs that computational models and ICT tools can give them.\n\nGLODERS will provide a theory-driven set of computational tools, developed through a process of participatory modelling with stakeholders, to study, monitor, and possibly predict the dynamics of ERSs, as they spread from local through regional into global influence.\n\nThe research will draw on expertise already developed in the small, but highly experienced multidisciplinary consortium to use:\n\tcomputer-assisted qualitative text mining of documentary evidence;\n\tguided semi-automatic semantic analysis of stakeholder narratives and other textual data; and\n\tmulti-level, stakeholder-centred agent-based modelling of the distributed negotiations between normative agents.\nThese methods will advance the state of the art for using data to inform policy decisions.\n\nThroughout, the project will interact with a large, international group of stakeholder representatives from EU Ministries of Justice and police forces. The output will provide a set of ICT tools to facilitate strategic policies that could prevent the further penetration and extension of the global menace posed by ERSs.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: ECSEL-RIA | Phase: ECSEL-04-2015 | Award Amount: 18.33M | Year: 2016

The ageing population and related increase in chronic diseases put considerable pressure on both the healthcare system and the society, resulting in an unsustainable rise of healthcare costs. As a result there is an urgent need to improve efficiency of care and reduce hospitalisation time in order to control cost and increase quality of life. Addressing this need, medical applications need to become less invasive and improve disease detection, diagnosis and treatment using advanced imaging and sensing techniques. ASTONISH will deliver breakthrough imaging and sensing technologies for monitoring, diagnosis and treatment applications by developing smart optical imaging technology that extends the use of minimally invasive diagnosis and treatment and allows for unobtrusive health monitoring. The project will integrate miniaturized optical components, data processing units and SW applications into smart imaging systems that are less obtrusive, cheaper, more reliable and easier to use than state of the art systems. This results into 6 demonstrators by which the technologies will be validated and which allow for pre-clinical testing in the scope of the project. The overall concept within ASTONISH builds on the development and application of common imaging/sensing technologies. Smart algorithms, multimodal fusion techniques and biomedical signal processing will process the acquired data and advanced user interfaces will simplify the complex clinical tasks. These technology components will be integrated to build application specific solutions for physiological signs monitoring, tumour detection, minimally invasive surgery, brain function monitoring and rehabilitation. The ASTONISH partners cover the full value chain, from semiconductor manufacturing to clinical centres testing the final application. The proposed innovations improve the global competitiveness of the European industry in the healthcare domain.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-RISE | Phase: MSCA-RISE-2015 | Award Amount: 252.00K | Year: 2016

Insects can be accidentally introduced into non-native ecosystems by humans, or expand their geographical range toward the poles as a consequence of global warming. As they invade new environments, exotic species interact with local species, modifying the structure of local food webs. New associations arising from with biological invasions can impact the strength of existing links with effects cascading through trophic levels. When invasive species are herbivores that can attack economically important crops, they can cause serious economic losses. For example, recent invasion of the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) (Halyomorpha halys) in Europe and North America has the potential to interfere with local trophic webs and poses a serious threat to several agro-ecosystems. In this project, we will adopt a multidisciplinary approach to study the ecological consequences of BMSB invasions. In particular, we will focus on the effect of alien herbivore invasion on local natural enemies using the following work packages: 1) the impact of exotic herbivores on infochemical communication between plants, herbivores and natural enemies; 2) Learned responses of parasitoids to infochemical evolutionary traps in a climate change context; 3) Contest behaviour of local egg parasitoids for possession of co-evolved and non-coevolved hosts; 4) Patch time allocation of local egg parasitoids after alien herbivore invasion: behavioural and modelling approaches; 5) Molecular aspects of indirect plant defences against invasive and local species 6) Genetic structure of invasive alien herbivores across Europe and North America The proposed research will be of great relevance for the RISE call as it will be an unparalleled opportunity for complementary European and Canadian research groups to join forces, resulting in the development of lasting research collaborations, the transfer of knowledge between research institutions and improving research potential at the European and global levels.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: LCE-33-2016 | Award Amount: 2.86M | Year: 2017

Despite process heat is recognized as the application with highest potential among solar heating and cooling applications, Solar Heat for Industrial Processes (SHIP) still presents a modest share of about 0.3% of total installed solar thermal capacity. As of todays technology development stage economic competitiveness restricted to low temperature applications; technology implementation requiring interference with existing heat production systems, heat distribution networks or even heat consuming processes - Solar thermal potential is mainly identified for new industrial capacity in outside Americas and Europe. In this context, INSHIP aims at the definition of a ECRIA engaging major European research institutes with recognized activities on SHIP, into an integrated structure that could successfully achieve the coordination objectives of: more effective and intense cooperation between EU research institutions; alignment of different SHIP related national research and funding programs, avoiding overlaps and duplications and identifying gaps; acceleration of knowledge transfer to the European industry, to be the reference organization to promote and coordinate the international cooperation in SHIP research from and to Europe, while developing coordinated R&D TRLs 2-5 activities with the ambition of progressing SHIP beyond the state-of-the-art through: an easier integration of low and medium temperature technologies suiting the operation, durability and reliability requirements of industrial end users; expanding the range of SHIP applications to the EI sector through the development of suitable process embedded solar concentrating technologies, overcoming the present barrier of applications only in the low and medium temperature ranges; increasing the synergies within industrial parks, through centralized heat distribution networks and exploiting the potential synergies of these networks with district heating and with the electricity grid.

Dewailly D.,Lille University of Science and Technology | Lujan M.E.,Cornell University | Carmina E.,University of Palermo | Cedars M.I.,University of California at San Francisco | And 3 more authors.
Human Reproduction Update | Year: 2014

Background: The diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) relies on clinical, biological and morphological criteria. With the advent of ultrasonography, follicle excess has become the main aspect of polycystic ovarian morphology (PCOM). Since 2003, most investigators have used a threshold of 12 follicles (measuring 2-9 mm in diameter) per whole ovary, but that now seems obsolete. An increase in ovarian volume (OV) and/or area may also be considered accurate markers of PCOM, yet their utility compared with follicle excess remains unclear. Methods: Published peer-reviewed medical literature about PCOM was searched using online facilities and was submitted to critical assessment by a panel of experts. Studies reporting antral follicle counts (AFC) or follicle number per ovary (FNPO) using transvaginal ultrasonography in healthy women of reproductive age were also included. Only studies that reported the mean or median AFC or FNPO of follicles measuring 2-9 mm, 2-10 mm or <10 mm in diameter, or visualized all follicles, were included. Results: Studies addressing women recruited from the general population and studies comparing control and PCOS populations with appropriate statistics were convergent towards setting the threshold for increased FNPO at ≥25 follicles, in women aged 18-35 years. These studies suggested maintaining the threshold for increased OV at ≥10 ml. Critical analysis of the literature showed that OV had less diagnostic potential for PCOM compared with FNPO. The review did not identify any additional diagnostic advantage for other ultrasound metrics such as specific measurements of ovarian stroma or blood flow. Even though serum concentrations of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) showed a diagnostic performance for PCOM that was equal to or better than that of FNPO in some series, the accuracy and reproducibility issues of currently available AMH assays preclude the establishment of a threshold value for its use as a surrogate marker of PCOM. PCOM does not associate with significant consequences for health in the absence of other symptoms of PCOS but, because of the use of inconsistent definitions of PCOM among studies, this question cannot be answered with absolute certainty. Conclusions: The Task Force recommends using FNPO for the definition of PCOM setting the threshold at ≥25, but only when using newer technology that affords maximal resolution of ovarian follicles (i.e. transducer frequency ≥8 MHz). If such technology is not available, we recommend using OV rather than FNPO for the diagnosis of PCOM for routine daily practice but not for research studies that require the precise full characterization of patients. The Task Force recognizes the still unmet need for standardization of the follicle counting technique and the need for regularly updating the thresholds used to define follicle excess, particularly in diverse populations. Serum AMH concentration generated great expectations as a surrogate marker for the follicle excess of PCOM, but full standardization of AMH assays is needed before they can be routinely used for clinical practice and research. Finally, the finding of PCOM in ovulatory women not showing clinical or biochemical androgen excess may be inconsequential, even though some studies suggest that isolated PCOM may represent the milder end of the PCOS spectrum. © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. All rights reserved.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-IRSES | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IRSES | Award Amount: 71.40K | Year: 2013

Nezara viridula, a member of the stink bug complex, is cosmopolitan in distribution as it occurs throughout tropical and subtropical regions of Europe, Asia, Africa the Americans and Australasia. This species is extremely polyphagous attacking several plants species, and most of them are economic species. Non-selective insecticides belonging to carbamates, such as monocrotophos, metamidophos, chlorpyrifos, and endosulfan, are currently used to control N. viridula populations. However, it is well known that the massive use of insecticides of this kind not only increases production costs, but can also generate pest-resistant populations by selective pressure. In the view of above, recently the European Parliament established a framework for Community action encouraging the development of alternative eco-sustainable approaches or techniques (Directive 2009/128/EC). Among them, biological control utilizing native natural enemies is expected to become a more important control tactic in the near future. Among natural enemies, parasitoids attacking the hosts at the egg stage are often favoured for biocontrol deployment because they kill the pest before its crop-feeding stage and thus have a high potential for preventing damage. However, biological control programmes using egg-parasitoids have had very variable success rates, as in the case of Trissolcus basalis, the main egg parasitoid of N. viridula that has been extensively used against this pest with inconsistent results. The key to improving success of T. basalis against N. viridula is to collect a good understanding of its biology, behaviour and ecology. The proposed work is consistent with increasing global recognition that agro-ecology has to be the approach for future farming. It therefore supports the conclusions and recommendations of the United Nations. The project brings together internationally recognized groups in biological control of insect pests aiming to address the common problem of food security.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: HEALTH-2009-2.3.2-2 | Award Amount: 19.00M | Year: 2010

With 14.4 million prevalent cases and 1.7 million deaths tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the most serious infectious diseases to date. An estimated 2 billion people are believed to be infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis and at risk of developing disease. Multi- and extensively drug resistant strains are increasingly appearing in many parts of the world, including Europe. While with current control measures the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set for 2015 may be achieved, reaching these would still leave a million people per year dying from TB. Much more effective measures, particularly more effective vaccines will be essential to reach the target of eliminating TB in 2050. Two successive FP5 and FP6 funded projects, Tuberculosis (TB) Vaccine Cluster (2000-2003) and TBVAC (2004-2008), have in the recent decade made significant contributions to the global TB vaccine pipeline, with four vaccines (out of nine globally) being advanced to clinical stages. Both projects strongly contributed to the strengthening and integration of expertise and led to a European focus of excellence that is unique in the area of TB vaccine development. In order to sustain and accelerate the TB vaccine developments and unique integrated excellence of TBVAC, a specific legal entity was created named TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI). The NEWTBVAC proposal is the FP7 successor of TBVAC, and will be coordinated by TBVI. The proposal has the following objectives : 1) To sustain and innovate the current European pipeline with new vaccine discoveries and advance promising candidates to clinical stages; 2) To design new, second generation vaccines based new prime-boost strategies and/or new (combinations of) promising subunit vaccines, that will impact on reduction of disease in exposed individuals; 3) To sustain and innovate discovery, evaluation and testing of new biomarkers, that will be critically important for future monitoring of clinical trials.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA | Phase: ENERGY.2013.10.1.10 | Award Amount: 21.20M | Year: 2014

Concentrating Solar Thermal Energy encompasses Solar Thermal Electricity (STE), Solar Fuels, Solar Process Heat and Solar Desalination that are called to play a major role in attaining energy sustainability in our modern societies due to their unique features: 1) Solar energy offers the highest renewable energy potential to our planet; 2) STE can provide dispatchable power in a technically and economically viable way, by means of thermal energy storage and/or hybridization, e.g. with biomass. However, significant research efforts are needed to achieve this goal. This Integrated Research Programme (IRP) engages all major European research institutes, with relevant and recognized activities on STE and related technologies, in an integrated research structure to successfully accomplish the following general objectives: a) Convert the consortium into a reference institution for concentrating solar energy research in Europe, creating a new entity with effective governance structure; b) Enhance the cooperation between EU research institutions participating in the IRP to create EU added value; c) Synchronize the different national research programs to avoid duplication and to achieve better and faster results; d) Accelerate the transfer of knowledge to industry in order to maintain and strengthen the existing European industrial leadership in STE; e) Expand joint activities among research centres by offering researchers and industry a comprehensive portfolio of research capabilities, bringing added value to innovation and industry-driven technology; f) Establish the European reference association for promoting and coordinating international cooperation in concentrating solar energy research. To that end, this IRP promotes Coordination and Support Actions (CSA) and, in parallel, performs Coordinated Projects (CP) covering the full spectrum of current concentrating solar energy research topics, selected to provide the highest EU added value and filling the gaps among national programs.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: NMP.2012.1.1-1 | Award Amount: 4.60M | Year: 2013

Biomass conversion is of high priority for sustainable fuel production, to reduce the reliance of Europe on fossil fuel production and to provide environmentally friendly energy. Aqueous phase reforming (APR) is one of the most promising, competitive ways for the production of liquid and gaseous fuels from biomass, since it is low energy consuming. APR enables processing of wet biomass resources without energy intensive drying and additional hydrogen production from water by the water-gas-shift reaction. Hence, APR is one of the processes that allow fast industrialization of conversion systems suited for wet biomass resources. Catalysis is here the key technology. State-of-the-art catalysts used are a) not optimized and b) can lack hydrothermal stability. Regarding the latter, the paradigm shifts towards carbon supported catalysts, due to its superior hydrothermal stability. Within the project experts for multinational industry, SMEs and academia focus on the optimization of hydrothermally stable carbon supported catalysts for the APR to unleash the potential of catalysts. Methodology employed is not a trial and error optimization. By deduction of fundamental structure-property relationships from highly defined model catalysts a catalyst design capability is build up. This capability will be used for optimization with the objectives to increase catalyst activity, selectivity and hydrothermal stability. Cost efficient routes to produce these catalysts in a technical scale will be evaluated and a demonstration catalysts synthesized and operated in long term tests with technical feedstocks and at a competitive price.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE.2011.1.2-12 | Award Amount: 3.97M | Year: 2012

The PALM PROTECT consortium aims to develop reliable methods, for use by national plant protection organisations (NPPO), inspection services, growers and other end-users, for early detection, eradication, control and containment of the red palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus and the moth Paysandisia archon. The methods will be developed for use at origin, point of entry, in transit and on-site to combat these invasive pests of palm trees. The methods will support stakeholders and end-users in the implementation of Council Directives 2000/29/EC, 2007/365/EC, 2008/776/EC, 2009/7/EC and 2010/467/EU. The objectives identified to achieve these goals are: 1) to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the biology (life cycles, host range, capacity for dispersal, behaviour) of R. ferrugineus and P. archon to facilitate decision making for risk assessment and optimisation of monitoring and control methods. 2) To combat the spread and establishment of R. ferrugineus and P. archon by the development of technologies for the early detection and monitoring of these pests. Detection in quarantine areas using dogs, acoustic and thermal methods, and in open areas using trapping and aerial/satellite imaging, along with a decision support system 3) To develop methods to eradicate, control and contain R. ferrugineus and P. archon, to restrict their further invasion of EU territories. Scientifically based protocols will be developed for quarantine treatments, for eradication and containment including preventive and curative techniques, and proper disposal of infested material. 4) To disseminate the findings of this work both within and outside the EU Community, through working with NPPOs, the European Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) and other stakeholders. PALM PROTECT will address gaps in current technology for the detection, eradication and containment of R. ferrugineus and P. archon, thereby helping to minimise the economic and environmental impact of these pests.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA | Phase: INFRA-2007-3.0-03 | Award Amount: 4.06M | Year: 2008

PESI provides standardised and authoritative taxonomic information by integrating and securing Europes taxonomically authoritative species name registers and nomenclators (name databases) that underpin the management of biodiversity in Europe.\nPESI defines and coordinates strategies to enhance the quality and reliability of European biodiversity information by integrating the infrastructural components of four major community networks on taxonomic indexing into a joint work programme. This will result in functional knowledge networks of taxonomic experts and regional focal points, which will collaborate on the establishment of standardised and authoritative taxonomic (meta-) data. In addition PESI will coordinate the integration and synchronisation of the European taxonomic information systems into a joint e-infrastructure and the set up of a common user-interface disseminating the pan-European checklists and associated user-services results\nThe organisation of national and regional focal point networks as projected not only assures the efficient access to local expertise, but is also important for the synergistic promotion of taxonomic standards throughout Europe, for instance to liaison with national governmental bodies on the implementation of European biodiversity legislations. In addition PESI will start with the geographic expansion of the European expertise networks to eventually cover the entire Palaearctic biogeographic region.\nPESI supports international efforts on the development of a Global Names Architecture by building a common intelligent name-matching device in consultation with the principal initiatives (GBIF, TDWG, EoL, SpeciesBase). PESI contributes the development of a unified cross-reference system and provides of high quality taxonomic standards. PESI will further involve the Europe-based nomenclatural services and link the planned joint European taxonomic e-infrastructures middle-layer to the global e-gateway.

IRRESISTIBLE In the project IRRISITIBLE partners work together to make young people more aware about Responsible Research and Innovation issues. Universities and science centres will cooperate in the project using the expertise they have in linking formal land informal learning. For a long term effect the project focusses on teacher training. Each partner will form a Community of Learners in which teachers work together with formal education experts and informal education experts. The topics they will work on are derived from cutting edge research taking place at the partners university. Researchers and people from industry will complement the Community of Learners. The Community of Learners will develop material to be used both in the classroom as well as in the science centres. During the first part content knowledge about the research will be introduced using the well established IBSE methodology. In the second part students will discuss and work on Responsible Research and Innovation issues regarding the research they have studied. Each partner will develop one module to be used in the classroom During the module students will be developing exhibits about the RRI issues that they have studied. These exhibits will be presented in the science centres.The best exhibits from each partner will be brought together during the yearly conferences of the project. By using new techniques like digital fabrication (ie. 3D printing) the exchange of exhibits will be easy between partners. In the second round of the project the teachers from the first Community of Learners will work in a new Community with 4 to 5 new teachers. They will help these teachers introduce the developed modules in their own classroom. This way the number of teachers involved grows. After receiving feedback from the first two rounds the 10 modules will be published and disseminated using and through workshops at local and (inter)national conferences

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2007.1.6 | Award Amount: 8.38M | Year: 2008

PII addresses the need for large-scale testing facilities in the communications area by implementing an infrastructure for federating testbeds. The central objective of PII is to create a testbed federation among regional innovation clusters in Europe. This will enable companies participating in these clusters to test new communication services and applications across Europe. The testbed federation includes four core innovation clusters and three satellite clusters. PII will develop and deploy effective mechanisms and technologies to enable a functioning federation of existing testbeds. This will provide added value to users of existing local testbeds, and it will prove that federation is a model for the establishment of a long-term sustainable, large-scale and diverse testing infrastructure for (tele-)communications technologies, services and applications in Europe. In particular PII will: - Develop mechanisms and tools to describe, store, locate and orchestrate testing services as well as means to automatically provide composite testbeds across multiple administrative domains. - Develop and elaborate mechanisms to combine and accommodate future clean-slate approaches and provide testing services in a network-agnostic manner. - Define a common abstract control framework, which enables the interconnection of diverse testbeds. - Establish trust across the federation by means of quality assurance processes and tools. - Integrate the concept of User Driven Innovation. - Execute a techno-socio-economic study to assess the long-term sustainability of the federation model. PIIs testbed federation infrastructure will build on the legal, operational, and technical framework developed by the Panlab SSA in FP6. 20 partners constitute a highly competent, well-balanced consortium of SMEs, associations, academic institutions as well as large manufacturers and network operators, to mobilise the critical mass at European level to achieve the project objectives.

Di Paola M.,University of Palermo | Failla G.,University of Reggio Calabria | Pirrotta A.,University of Palermo
Probabilistic Engineering Mechanics | Year: 2012

A method is presented to compute the stochastic response of single-degree-of-freedom (SDOF) structural systems with fractional derivative damping, subjected to stationary and non-stationary inputs. Based on a few manipulations involving an appropriate change of variable and a discretization of the fractional derivative operator, the equation of motion is reverted to a set of coupled linear equations involving additional degrees of freedom, the number of which depends on the discretization of the fractional derivative operator. As a result of the proposed variable transformation and discretization, the stochastic analysis becomes very straightforward and simple since, based on standard rules of stochastic calculus, it is possible to handle a system featuring Markov response processes of first order and not of infinite order like the original one. Specifically, for inputs of most relevant engineering interest, it is seen that the response second-order statistics can be readily obtained in a closed form, to be implemented in any symbolic package. The method applies for fractional damping of arbitrary order α(0≤α≤1). The results are compared to Monte Carlo simulation data. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Cellura M.,University of Palermo | Guarino F.,University of Palermo | Longo S.,University of Palermo | Mistretta M.,University of Reggio Calabria
Energy and Buildings | Year: 2014

The paper starts from the results of one of the six case-studies of the SubTask B in the International Energy Agency joint Solar Heating and Cooling Task40 and Energy Conservation in Buildings and Community Systems Annex 52, whose purpose is to document state of the art and needs for current thermo-physical simulation tools in application to Net Zero Energy Buildings. The authors extend the Net Zero Energy Buildings (Net ZEB) methodological framework, introducing the life-cycle perspective in the energy balance and thus including the embodied energy of building and its components. The case study is an Italian building, tailored to be a Net ZEB, in which the magnitude of the deficit from the net zero energy target is assessed according to a life-cycle approach. The annual final energy balance, assessed with regard to electricity, shows a deficit which makes the case study a nearly Net ZEB, when the encountered energy flows are measured at the final level. Shifting from final to primary energy balance the case-study moves to a non-Net ZEB condition, because of the large difference between the conversion factors of photovoltaics generated electricity and imported electricity. The adoption of a life cycle perspective and the addition of embodied energy to the balance causes an even largest shift from the nearly ZEB target: the primary energy demand is nearly doubled in comparison to the primary energy case. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Cellura M.,University of Palermo | Longo S.,University of Palermo | Mistretta M.,University of Reggio Calabria
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews | Year: 2011

Promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns is a key challenge for the future, in order to use the Earth resources efficiently, to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, and to decouple the economic growth from the environmental degradation. New or customized methods have to be applied to support decisions makers in the choice of environmental-friendly products, and to select policy priorities and sustainable strategies. A modified input-output model can aid to analyse the relationships among economic growth, energy consumptions and pollutants, in order to assess the energy and environmental impacts due to the actual production and consumption patterns. The following paper introduces an energy and environmental extended input-output model and combines it with the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology. The authors apply this model to the Italian context in order to assess the energy and environmental impacts related to the consumptions of the Italian households in the period 1999-2006 and to identify the economic sectors involving the highest impacts. The paper represents one of the first Italian studies aimed at identifying those national economic sectors and final goods and services to be assumed prior in the definition of sustainable production and consumption strategies. Results show that about the 70% of the total energy, needed to meet the household final demand of products, is consumed by the productive sectors. In particular tertiary, "electricity, gas and vapour", road transports and "food and beverage" sectors are the most contributors, accounting for about 75%. Further, the environmental impact analysis associated to Italian households consumptions is carried out, starting from three different data sources The results point out that, to include emissions arising both from energy and non-energy sources, in the assessment of environmental impacts is of paramount importance to obtain reliable simulations of the link between households consumptions and energy and environmental performances. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Ardente F.,University of Palermo | Beccali M.,University of Palermo | Cellura M.,University of Palermo | Mistretta M.,University of Reggio Calabria
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews | Year: 2011

The paper presents the results of an energy and environmental assessment of a set of retrofit actions implemented in the framework of the EU Project "BRITA in PuBs" (Bringing Retrofit Innovation to Application in Public Buildings-no: TREN/04/FP6EN/S07.31038/503135). Outcomes arise from a life cycle approach focused on the following issues: (i) construction materials and components used during retrofits; (ii) main components of conventional and renewable energy systems; (iii) impacts related to the building construction, for the different elements and the whole building. The results are presented according to the data format of the Environmental Product Declaration. Synthetic indices, as energy and GWP payback times, and energy return ratio, are defined to better describe the energy and environmental performances of the actions. The project highlights the role of the life cycle approach for selecting the most effective options during the design and implementation of retrofit actions. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Cellura M.,University of Palermo | Longo S.,University of Palermo | Mistretta M.,University of Reggio Calabria
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews | Year: 2011

The results of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study can be affected by several uncertainty sources, mainly due to the methodological choices, the initial assumptions, i.e. allocation rules, system boundaries and impact assessment methods, and the quality of the available data. Then, the experts should estimate the extent of the above-mentioned sources of uncertainty for improving the reliability and the representativeness of the obtained eco-profiles. To estimate the uncertainty is necessary to obtain reliable, transparent and representative LCA results and to correctly support decision-makers in the selection of different product or process options. The following paper starts from a LCA study of the so-called "Sicilian tiles", which are typical roof tiles employed in restoring old buildings of the Mediterranean area. The authors identify the most relevant sources of uncertainty in the LCA study. Then a sensitivity analysis is performed to estimate the effects on the tile eco-profile of different secondary input data and of the chosen methods for the environmental impact assessment. The results show that, in some cases, significant differences in the energy and environmental indices can be obtained, pointing out the need of developing sensitivity analysis for strengthening the reliability of the obtained eco-profiles. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Berns A.E.,Jülich Research Center | Conte P.,University of Palermo
Organic Geochemistry | Year: 2011

Cross polarization (CP) magic angle spinning (MAS) 13C NMR spectroscopy is a solid state NMR technique widely applied to study the chemical composition of natural organic matter. In high magnetic fields (>7T), fast sample spinning is required in order to reduce the influence of spinning sidebands underlying other chemical shift regions. As the spinning speed increases, the Hartmann-Hahn matching profiles break down into a series of narrow matching bands. In order to account for this instability variable amplitude cross polarization techniques (e.g. VACP, ramp-CP) have been developed. In the present study, we experimentally verified the stability of the Hartmann-Hahn condition under two MAS speeds for different samples with known structure and two different humic acids. For a complete restoration of flat matching profiles, large ramp sizes were needed. The matching profiles of the humic acids showed that both samples needed different ramp sizes to restore flat profiles. A set up based on the matching profiles of the commonly used glycine would have led to an insufficient ramp size for one of the humic acids. For the characterization of natural organic matter, we hence recommend to roughly set the matching conditions with a standard and subsequently optimize the matching conditions on a more complex, preferably representative, sample such as a humic acid. We would suggest to either run an array of different ramp sizes until maximum signal intensity is reached for all chemical shift regions or, in the case of unavailable measurement time, to use a ramp size twice the spinning speed. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Vazquez E.,University of Huelva | Giacalone F.,University of Palermo | Prato M.,University of Trieste
Chemical Society Reviews | Year: 2014

Very often, chemical transformations require tedious and long procedures, which, sometimes, can be avoided using alternative methods and media. New protocols, enabling us to save time and solvents, allow us also to explore new reaction profiles. This Tutorial Review focuses on the physical and chemical behavior of carbon nanoforms, CNFs (fullerenes, nanotubes, nanohorns, graphene, etc.) when non-conventional methods and techniques, such as microwave irradiation, mechano-chemistry or highly ionizing radiations are employed. In addition, the reactivity of CNFs in non-conventional media such as water, fluorinated solvents, supercritical fluids, or ionic liquids is also discussed. © 2014 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Iavarone M.,University of Milan | Cabibbo G.,University of Palermo | Piscaglia F.,S. Orsola Malpighi University Hospital | Zavaglia C.,Struttura Complessa di Epatologia e Gastroenterologia | And 4 more authors.
Hepatology | Year: 2011

A multicenter randomized controlled trial established sorafenib as a standard of care for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Because the study was prematurely interrupted due to survival benefits in the sorafenib arm, we conducted an observational study to adequately assess risks and benefits of this regimen in field practice. Starting in 2008, all clinically compensated patients with advanced HCC and those with an intermediate HCC who were unfit or failed to respond to ablative therapies were consecutively evaluated in six liver centers in Italy, for tolerability as well as radiologic and survival response to 800-mg/d sorafenib therapy. Treatment was down-dosed or interrupted according to drug label. Two hundred ninety-six patients (88% Child-Pugh A, 75% Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer [BCLC]-C, and 25% BCLC-B) received sorafenib for 3.8 months (95% CI 3.3-4.4). Two hundred sixty-nine (91%) patients experienced at least one adverse event (AE), whereas 161 (54%) had to reduce dosing. Treatment was interrupted in 103 (44%) for disease progression, in 95 (40%) for an AE, and in 38 (16%) for liver deterioration. The median survival was 10.5 months in the overall cohort, 8.4 months in BCLC-C versus 20.6 months in BCLC-B patients (P < 0.0001), and 21.6 months in the 77 patients treated for >70% of the time with a half dose versus 9.6 months in the 219 patients treated for >70% of the time with a full dose. At month 2 of treatment, the overall radiologic response was 8%. Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, macrovascular invasion, extrahepatic spread of the tumor, radiologic response at month 2, and sorafenib dosing were independent predictors of shortened survival. Conclusion: Overall, safety, effectiveness, and generalizability of sorafenib therapy in HCC was validated in field practice. The effectiveness of half-dosed sorafenib may have implications for tailored therapy. (HEPATOLOGY 2011) © 2011 American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Salmaso N.,Instituto Agrario Of S Michele Alladige Fondazione E Machinery | Naselli-Flores L.,University of Palermo | Padisak J.,University of Pannonia
Hydrobiologia | Year: 2012

This article summarizes the outcomes of the 16th Workshop of the International Association for Phytoplankton Taxonomy and Ecology. Four major issues dealing with the impact exerted by human activities on phytoplankton were addressed in the articles of this special volume: climate change and its impacts on phytoplankton, the role of land use in shaping composition and diversity of phytoplankton, the importance of autecological studies to fully understand how phytoplankton is impacted by stressors and the role of ecological classification to evaluate community changes due to the different impacts. Case studies from different types of aquatic environments (rivers, deep and shallow lakes, reservoirs, mountain lakes, and temporary ponds) and from diverse geographical locations (not only from the Mediterranean and temperate regions, but also from subtropical and tropical ones) have shown that a complex spectrum of human impacts, not exclusively linked to eutrophication, severely conditions structure and dynamics of phytoplankton assemblage both in the short and long terms. Moreover, the trade-offs between climate change and other human-induced stresses as eutrophication, agricultural and urban land use or water overexploitation contribute to make more severe the impact exerted by humans on phytoplankton and, in turn, on the functioning of aquatic ecosystems. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Beccali M.,University of Palermo | Cellura M.,University of Palermo | Fontana M.,University of Palermo | Longo S.,University of Palermo | Mistretta M.,University of Reggio Calabria
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews | Year: 2013

When a building undergoes a retrofit project, the goal of assessing energy and environmental performances of retrofit actions is a complex matter. Building and its environment are complex systems in which all sub-systems are strongly interdependent and influence the overall efficiency performance. In the following paper, starting from a literature review of building life-cycle studies, the authors highlight that there is a strong interplay among all the phases of a building life-cycle, as each one can affect one or more of the others. In detail, starting from the results of a "cradle to grave" life cycle study of an existing Mediterranean single-family house, a set of retrofit actions voted to reduce the energy consumption during the operation is analysed. The proposed actions are addressed to improve the thermal performance of the building envelope and the energy efficiency of technical equipment. Performance assessment of these actions has been carried out not only considering the related effects on energy saving for building operation, but also taking into account other phases of the life cycles. In fact, these measures will cause an increase in the building embodied energy, which is the energy embedded in building materials, utilised in transportation and construction processes, in maintenance and demolition. Thus, a balance between the energy saving during operation and the avoided environmental benefits due to the other phases has been done. In particular, the embodied energy and the environmental impacts related to production, transportation and installation phases of the required material/components for retrofit implementation are assessed. In other terms, LCA allows to estimate the reduction of the operation energy and the increase of the embodied energy within the building life-cycle, and to understand whether the achieved energy benefits could be supported in a life cycle perspective or were overcome by the environmental burdens of the actions. © 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Cellura M.,University of Palermo | Longo S.,University of Palermo | Mistretta M.,University of Reggio Calabria
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2012

In this paper a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of protected crops was carried out. In particular, energy and environmental performances of peppers, melons, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and zucchini in different typologies of greenhouses (tunnel and pavilion) were assessed. The study aimed at assessing the ecoprofile of each product and the share of each life-cycle step on the total environmental impacts. The related process flow chart, the relevant mass and energy flows and the key environmental issues were identified for each product. Collection of primary data was conducted by means of a detailed questionnaire distributed to a producer company in southern Italy. The analysis was developed according to the LCA standards of the ISO 14040 series. The results showed that for all the examined vegetables the packaging step and the greenhouse structures have a relevant share in the environmental impact distribution. Further tunnel and pavilion greenhouses are characterized by comparable ecoprofiles and both of them are characterized by lower energy consumptions than greenhouses in the North of Europe, due to the non-use of auxiliary heating systems in the former. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Zingales M.,University of Palermo | Di Paola M.,University of Palermo | Failla G.,University of Reggio Calabria
International Journal of Solids and Structures | Year: 2010

This paper presents the generalization to a three-dimensional (3D) case of a mechanically-based approach to non-local elasticity theory, recently proposed by the authors in a one-dimensional (1D) case. The proposed model assumes that the equilibrium of a volume element is attained by contact forces between adjacent elements and by long-range forces exerted by non-adjacent elements. Specifically, the long-range forces are modelled as central body forces depending on the relative displacement between the centroids of the volume elements, measured along the line connecting the centroids. Further, the long-range forces are assumed to be proportional to a proper, material-dependent, distance-decaying function and to the products of the interacting volumes. Consistently with the modelling of the long-range forces as central body forces, the static boundary conditions enforced on the free surface of the solid involve only local stress due to contact forces. The proposed 3D formulation is developed both in a mechanical and in a variational context. For this the elastic energy functionals of the solid with long-range interactions are introduced, based on the principle of virtual work to set the proper correspondence between the mechanical and the kinematic variables of the model. Numerical applications are reported for 2D solids under plane stress conditions. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Schiro G.,University of Palermo | Caronna C.,SLAC | Natali F.,CNR Institute of Materials | Koza M.M.,ILL | Cupane A.,University of Palermo
Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters | Year: 2011

We give experimental evidence that the main features of protein dynamics revealed by neutron scattering, i.e., the "protein dynamical transition" and the "boson peak", do not need the protein polypeptide chain. We show that a rapid increase of hydrogen atoms fluctuations at about 220 K, analogous to the one observed in hydrated myoglobin powders, is also observed in a hydrated amino acids mixture with the chemical composition of myoglobin but lacking the polypeptide chain; in agreement with the protein behavior, the transition is abolished in the dry mixture. Further, an excess of low-frequency vibrational modes around 3 meV, typically observed in protein powders, is also observed in our mixture. Our results confirm that the dynamical transition is a water-driven onset and indicate that it mainly involves the amino acid side chains. Taking together the present data and recent results on the dynamics of a protein in denatured conformation and on the activity of dehydrated proteins, it can be concluded that the "protein dynamical transition" is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for active protein conformation and function. © 2011 American Chemical Society.

Cellura M.,University of Palermo | La Rocca V.,University of Palermo | Longo S.,University of Palermo | Mistretta M.,University of Reggio Calabria
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2014

Energy-related Products (ErP) account for a large proportion of European energy and natural resource consumption. In 2007, ErP were responsible for the consumption of about 239 Mtoe of electricity and about 555 Mtoe of fuels. In order to reduce the energy and environmental impacts of these products, the European Commission published the Directive 2009/125/EC on the eco-design of ErP. This Directive represents a key component of European policy for improving the energy and environmental performances of products in the internal market. In this context, it is important to develop scientific research aimed at assessing the energy and environmental impacts of ErP, and at defining their eco-design criteria. In fact, the European Commission estimated that, in 2020, the application of eco-design for ErP could save about 32 Mtoe of electricity, which represents more than 12% of the final 2009 electricity consumption in Europe. Among the ErP, an important share of the market is comprised of solid fuel appliances (including biomass boilers), which, in 2007, reached sales of 313,000 units in Europe, and of micro-cogeneration systems, of which worldwide sales, in 2008, were 22,700 units. In the context of the above Directive, the paper presents the results of a Life Cycle Assessment applied to two biomass fuelled systems: 1) a system constituted by a biomass boiler that produces thermal energy for heating and domestic hot water; and 2) a micro-combined heat and power system, comprised of a biomass boiler and electricity equipment that generate heat and electricity. The main goal of the study is to compare the energy and environmental performance of the two systems, and to identify the life-cycle steps of the systems that are characterized by the higher impacts. The selected functional unit is 1 GJ of net thermal energy produced by each examined system. The results show that system 1) causes higher impacts than system 2), in which heat and electricity are produced. For both systems, the operation step is responsible for about 97-99% of the total primary energy consumption, and contributes to environmental impacts by more than 71%. The obtained results can be used as an environmental 'knowledge basis' for the assessment of the energy and environmental performances of biomass boilers and micro-cogeneration systems, the identification of improvement solutions and the definition of eco-design criteria. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Goodarzi M.O.,Cedars Sinai Medical Center | Carmina E.,University of Palermo | Azziz R.,Georgia Regents University
Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology | Year: 2015

Approximately 20-30% of PCOS women demonstrate excess adrenal precursor androgen (APA) production, primarily using DHEAS as a marker of APA in general and more specifically DHEA, synthesis. The role of APA excess in determining or causing PCOS is unclear, although observations in patients with inherited APA excess (e.g., patients with 21-hydroxylase deficient congenital classic or non-classic adrenal hyperplasia) demonstrate that APA excess can result in a PCOS-like phenotype. Inherited defects of the enzymes responsible for steroid biosynthesis, or defects in cortisol metabolism, account for only a very small fraction of women suffering from hyperandrogenism or APA excess. Rather, women with PCOS and APA excess appear to have a generalized exaggeration in adrenal steroidogenesis in response to ACTH stimulation, although they do not have an overt hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction. In general, extra-adrenal factors, including obesity, insulin and glucose levels, and ovarian secretions, play a limited role in the increased APA production observed in PCOS. Substantial heritabilities of APAs, particularly DHEAS, have been found in the general population and in women with PCOS; however, the handful of SNPs discovered to date account only for a small portion of the inheritance of these traits. Paradoxically, and as in men, elevated levels of DHEAS appear to be protective against cardiovascular risk in women, although the role of DHEAS in modulating this risk in women with PCOS remains unknown. In summary, the exact cause of APA excess in PCOS remains unclear, although it may reflect a generalized and inherited exaggeration in androgen biosynthesis of an inherited nature. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Atzeni F.,University of Milan | Benucci M.,San Giovanni Of Dio Hospital | Salli S.,University of Palermo | Bongiovanni S.,University of Milan | And 2 more authors.
Autoimmunity Reviews | Year: 2013

Biological drugs have brought new hope to patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in whom previously existing treatments could not control inflammation, joint destruction, or the progression of disability. The five currently available TNF blockers are approved for treating RA patients, but they have different structures, morphology, pharmacokinetic properties, and activity.Randomised clinical trials (RCTs) have shown that they improve the signs and symptoms of both early and long-standing RA and other inflammatory arthritides, prevent radiographic progression, and improve the patients' health-related quality of life. However, they are more effective in combination with methotrexate (MTX) than alone. Combined treatment is generally well tolerated, and seems to be relatively safe in the short term, as confirmed by RCTs, long-term observational studies and in clinical practice. Patients who fail to respond or develop adverse effects - when treated with one anti-TNF agent can be successfully treated with a second TNF antagonist. However, in the case of primary failure, it is possible that biological agents with a different mechanism of action may be more successful. Tocilizumab alone or in combination with MTX is more effective than MTX monotherapy in reducing disease activity over 24. weeks. Abatacept is well tolerated and retains its efficacy over time, as does rituximab in non-responders to other anti-TNF drugs. Finally, although these drugs improve the quality of life of RA patients, they considerably increase direct medical costs. © 2012 Elsevier B.V..

Mercadante S.,University of Palermo | Caraceni A.,Italian National Cancer Institute
Palliative Medicine | Year: 2011

In this paper we describe the results of a systematic search of the literature on conversion ratios during opioid switching. This is part of a project of the European Palliative Care Research Collaboration to update the European Association for Palliative Care recommendations for the use of opioid analgesics in the treatment of cancer pain. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they involved adult patients with chronic cancer pain, contained data on opioid conversion ratios, were prospective and were written in English. Thirty-one studies were identified and included. The majority of the studies had methodological flaws and were not designed to explore or demonstrate equianalgesic dose data. However, the data allow some recommendations to be made that could be helpful to clinicians for whom there are few reliable experimental data on which to base dosing guidelines. Switching to transdermal fentanyl (TDfe) or buprenorphine (TDbu) is an option for patients with stable, controlled pain. Reliable and consistent studies show a ratio of 100 : 1 between oral morphine (ORmo) and TDfe. A ratio of 75 : 1 between ORmo and TDbu may be appropriate, but the supporting evidence here is much less robust. Data are relatively consistent to support a conversion ratio between ORmo and oral hydromorphone (ORhy) of 5 : 1. Despite some limitations, there is evidence to support the use of an approximate conversion ratio of ORmo:oral oxycodone (ORox) of 1.5 : 1. The conversion between ORox and ORhy is estimated to be 1 : 4. When switching from different opioids to methadone the conversion ratio is highly variable, ranging from 5 : 1 to 10 : 1 and much higher in some studies. The derived ratios are influenced by several factors, including the reasons for switching and previous opioid doses. An individual treatment decision and strict monitoring is recommended for patients considered at risk. © 2011 The Author(s).

Giacalone F.,University of Palermo | Martin N.,Complutense University of Madrid | Martin N.,Autonomous University of Madrid
Advanced Materials | Year: 2010

A new classifi cation on the different types of fullerene-containing polymers is presented according to their different properties and applications they exhibit in a variety of fi elds. Because of their interest and novelty, water-soluble and biodegradable C60-polymers are discussed first, followed by polyfullerenebased membranes where unprecedented supramolecular structures are presented. Next are compounds that involve hybrid materials formed from fullerenes and other components such as silica, DNA, and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) where the most recent advances have been achieved. A most relevant topic is still that of C60-based donor-acceptor (D-A) polymers. Since their application in photovoltaics D-A polymers are among the most realistic applications of fullerenes in the so-called molecular electronics. The most relevant aspects in these covalently connected fullerene/polymer hybrids as well as new concepts to improve energy conversion effi ciencies are presented. The last topics disccused relate to supramolecular aspects that are in involved in C60 -polymer systems and in the self-assembly of C60 -macromolecular structures, which open a new scenario for organizing, by means of non-covalent interactions, new supramolecular structures at the nano- and micrometric scale, in which the combination of the hydrofobicity of fullerenes with the versatility of the noncovalent chemistry afford new and spectacular superstructures. © 2010 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 4.07M | Year: 2013

The design, construction, maintenance, use and end-of-life management of road pavements and railways is associated with a number of important impacts on the environment; namely the consequences of energy consumption, unsustainable use of materials/resources, waste generation and release of hazardous substances into the environment. It is estimated that over 80% of all these environmental impacts are defined during the design phase of a product, including road pavements and railways. SUP&R (Sustainable Pavement & Rail) ITN,through a coherent research and training approach involving close collaboration between research institutions and industrial stakeholders across Europe, will allow this step change in the sustainability of road and rail infrastructure to be addressed by targeting the following overall aim: To setup a multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral network in order to form a new generation of engineers versed in sustainable technologies and to provide, to both academia and industry, design procedures and sustainability assessment methodologies to certify the sustainability of the studied technologies to the benefit of the European community SUP&R ITN includes an intensive four year training programme which will be international, multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral. The young researchers will be trained through individual research projects, with a strong collaborations of partners from the private sector that will allow to jointly investigated strategies to overcome the existing barriers and deliver long-term benefits in terms of: 1. Eco-designed road and rail infrastructure that maximises the recycling of waste materials and ensures best performance characteristics to suit the diverse set of European environments; 2. Reduced installation, maintenance and operating costs as well as long term sustainable solutions; 3. A bespoke sustainability assessment tool, tailored to needs of product development in the road pavement and rail infrastructure sector.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: HEALTH-2009-2.2.1-2 | Award Amount: 15.03M | Year: 2010

The aim of EU-GEI is to identify the interactive genetic, clinical and environmental determinants involved in the development, severity and outcome of schizophrenia (EU-GEI, Schiz. Res. 2008; 102: 21-6). In order to identify these interactive determinants, EU-GEI will employ family-based, multidisciplinary research paradigms, which allow for the efficient assessment of gene-environment interactions. In order to go beyond old findings from historical convenience cohorts with crude measures of environmental factors and clinical outcomes, the focus in EU-GEI will be on recruitment of new, family-based clinical samples with state-of-the-art assessments of environmental, clinical and genetic determinants as well as their underlying neural and behavioural mechanisms. New statistical tools will be developed to combine the latest multilevel epidemiological with the latest genome-wide genetic approaches to analysis. Translation of results to clinical practice will be facilitated by additional experimental research and risk assessment bioinformatics approaches. This will result in the identification of modifiable biological and cognitive mechanisms underlying gene-environment interactions and the construction of Risk Assessment Charts and Momentary Assessment Technology tools which can be used for (i) early prediction of transition to psychotic disorder in help-seeking individuals with an at-risk mental state and (ii) early prediction of course and outcome after illness onset. In order to reach these goals, EU-GEI has assembled a multidisciplinary team of top schizophrenia researchers who have the range of skills required to deliver a program of research that meets all the calls requirements and who have access to / will collect a number of unique European samples. The partners in EU-GEI represent the nationally funded schizophrenia / mental health networks of the UK, Netherlands, France, Spain, Turkey and Germany as well as other partners.

Cellura M.,University of Palermo | Longo S.,University of Palermo | Mistretta M.,University of Reggio Calabria
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews | Year: 2012

The design of sustainable production and consumption strategies and the assessment of implemented actions require to identify the driving forces that influence the trend of energy consumption and environmental impacts. For this purpose, the Structural Decomposition Analysis (SDA) was developed as a suitable methodology to analyse the driving forces of the changes in economic, energy and environmental indicators. The paper presents one of the first Italian studies that apply an energy and environmental extended input-output model, opportunely shaped to the examined context, combined with SDA. In detail, it aims at: (1) investigating the energy use and the air emissions arisen from the productive sectors to meet the household final demand in the period 1999-2006; (2) identifying the sources of variations in energy and environmental indicators; and (3) identifying which economic sectors are the most relevant sources of variation and must to be taken into account in the definition of sustainable production and consumption strategies. As sources of changes, the authors investigate: energy and emission intensity effects, Leontief effect and final demand effect. Outcomes point out that the increase of the final consumptions often nullifies the energy and environmental benefits due to the improvement of the eco-efficiency and to the introduction of innovative technologies of production. The sector level analysis shows that "tertiary" and "electricity, gas and vapour" result the highest Italian consuming sectors of energy. Thus they should be focused for energy saving strategies. "Agriculture, hunting and sylviculture" and "road transports", that are primarily sectors affecting air emissions, should be taken into account for the reduction of environmental impacts. Results highlight that the current dichotomy of final demand growth and improvement of eco-efficiency represents a key problem that needs to be addressed. Therefore the presented study can aid to define suitable oriented strategies for the energy and environmental impact reduction. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENERGY-2007-4.1-03 | Award Amount: 3.43M | Year: 2008

The overall objective of the MEDIRAS project is the development and demonstration of cost effective and very reliable solar driven desalination systems for water scarcity affected regions with high insolation. The modular system set up is based on the highly innovative Membrane Distillation (MD) technology. MD is favorably applicable for small distributed desalination systems in the capacity range between 0.1-20m/day. MD is very robust against different raw water conditions and operable with alternating energy supply like solar energy. With respect to demonstration and market penetration of MD systems, the project will be focused on cost reduction and quality improvement for life time extension of MD modules and MD systems, on the development of components such as brine cooler and brine disposal units for ground water desalination at inland locations with limited raw water resources, and on the development of scalable system configurations in order to adapt them to different customer demands. Solar energy driven units for potable water disinfection will be integrated into the desalination units for health protection. The emphasize of the MEDIRAS project is on the design, set up and operation of different demonstration systems. Three compact systems of different sizes (150l/day and 300l/day) and two multi module two loop systems (3m/day and 5m/day) for full solar energy supply and for combined solar and waste heat energy supply will be installed in different European potential user sites in , Gran Canaria (Spain), Tenerife (Spain) and Pantelleria (Italy), as well as in Tunesia as an example for an North-African country. Comprehensive performance evaluation and water quality analyses will be conducted. With respect to market penetration in addition to the technological goals, focus will also be on the identification of suitable markets and target user-groups for the technology and the preparation of the conditions for the system to enter the identified markets.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2012.6.4-2 | Award Amount: 7.88M | Year: 2012

The main objectives of FUTUREVOLC are to establish an integrated volcanological monitoring procedure through European collaboration, develop new methods to evaluate volcanic crises, increase scientific understanding of magmatic processes and improve delivery of relevant information to civil protection and authorities. To reach these objectives the project combines broad European expertise in seismology, volcano deformation, volcanic gas and geochemistry, infrasound, eruption monitoring, physical volcanology, satellite studies of plumes, meteorology, ash dispersal forecasting, and civil defence. This European consortium leads the way for multi-national volcanological collaboration with the aim of mitigating the effects of major eruptions that pose cross-border hazards. Iceland is selected as a laboratory supersite area for demonstration because of (i) the relatively high rate of large eruptions with potential for long ranging effects, and (ii) Icelands capability to produce the near full spectrum of volcano processes at its many different volcano types. Based on present monitoring networks and ongoing research, the project will bridge gaps and combine efforts for a coherent close-to-real-time evaluation of the state of Icelandic volcanoes and their unrest. The project will provide timely information on magma movements from combined interpretation of earthquake sources relocated in three-dimensional velocity models, magma sources inferred from ground and space geodetic data, and measurements of volcanic volatiles. For better response during eruptions, the project will develop operational models of magma discharge rate, contributing directly to improved forecasts of ash dispersion. They will help to minimise economic disruption on a European scale during eruptions. By integrating a Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre and a civil protection unit into the project, European citizens will benefit directly from the scientific work of FUTUREVOLC.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: JTI-CP-ARTEMIS | Phase: SP1-JTI-ARTEMIS-2010-2 | Award Amount: 17.11M | Year: 2011

HIGH PROFILE combines industrial and clinical driven R&D activities dealing with image diagnostic platforms for the central nervous system. The projects approach is to progress state-of-the-art by integrating imaging equipment for diagnostics including algorithms, equipment and infrastructure for massive image processing and simulation to support combinations of images from different medical equipment modalities (MRI, MRS, fMRI, NIRS, EIT and EEG) and comparison/fusion of images with physiological models of central nervous systems. HIGH PROFILE aims to develop multi-scale, adaptive algorithms to merge information about the actual behavior of the brain, originating from (f)MRI, MRS, NIRS, EIT and EEG. These algorithms allow a physician to follow the status of the patient during his/her evolution, and be supported by a suitable content management platform and a data infrastructure capable of handling the massive quantities of data produced by these technologies, delivering them to their point of use. Better imaging of the central nervous system and the head/neck area will improve diagnosis treatment of neurological diseases like insomnia, depression, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, as well as brain and head/neck cancer. The approach developed by HIGH PROFILE for these conditions should also be extendable to the whole field of advanced medical imaging. For deployment it is necessary to address the challenge of the increasing complexity of real time image processing. The necessary image processing components will be deployed on standard hardware to perform the necessary processing tasks. Image processing is a performance intensive task and system integrators will deploy it on emerging standard hardware platforms running (configurations of) multi-core processors. As this deployment is not only relevant for healthcare only, and a generic platform improves the possibilities to integrate external software, other domains are involved in the deployment of image processing chains. APPROVED BY ARTEMIS-JU 24/06/2014

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: LCE-01-2014 | Award Amount: 4.13M | Year: 2015

The concept is based on the generation of electricity from salinity gradient using Reverse Electrodialysis with artificial saline solutions operating in a closed-loop. The original salinity gradient is regenerated by a separation step that uses heat at 40 - 100 C. The regenerated solutions can be stored at very low costs and the stack can react within seconds, providing flexibility to the power system. It is a quiet technology operating under normal pressures and temperatures imposing no risks. The industrial partners ensures the MRL will be kept aligned with the advances in TRL. The overall objective is to prove this revolutionary concept, develop the necessary materials, components and know-how for bringing it to the level of a lab prototype generating electricity from low-grade heat at higher efficiencies and lower costs than ever achieved to date. Specific objectives: Select the most suitable technologies for the regeneration process and the combinations of salts and solvents that can maximise the system performance. Create new knowledge for developing: membranes for the selected solutions; membrane manufacturing concepts that can be scaled-up for high volume and low-cost production; efficient stacks suitable for this application; energy efficient regeneration processes. Implement and validate a process simulation tool to analyse the performance under different configurations and operating conditions. Evaluate and improve the performance of the overall system through tests on a lab-prototype, identifying potential up-scaling and operational issues (System efficiencies reaching 15% and power densities of 25 W/m2 of cell pair). Define a development roadmap, taking into account environmental, social and regulatory issues, leading to levelised cost of electricity below 0.03 Euro/kWh by 2025 to 2030. Involve target group representatives to the Advisory Board and communicate the key results in order to initiate a dialogue and facilitate the engagement of key actors.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: IA | Phase: NMP-24-2015 | Award Amount: 9.80M | Year: 2016

The REvivED water project will establish electrodialysis (ED) as the new standard providing a source of safe, affordable, and cost-competitive drinking water, using less than half the energy required by state-of-the-art Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants. The innovations of the project constitute a technology platform with a very wide field of potential applications. All components and systems have reached at least TRL4 and will be further developed reaching at least TRL7. The main focus of the project will be on the following applications: 1. A simplified ED system that can be used for brackish water desalination (8 pilots in developing countries) or for tap-water softening (2 pilots in Germany and the Netherlands). 2. A multistage ED system for industrial-scale seawater desalination, which will be demonstrated to reach energy consumption as low as 1.5 kWh/m3 (1 pilot in the Netherlands). 3. Combinations of the multistage ED system with the latest salinity gradient power systems (Reverse ElectroDialysis - RED), which can further reduce energy consumption for seawater desalination to the region of 1 kWh/m3 (1 pilot in the Netherlands). 4. The versatile nature of the developed innovations will be demonstrated by testing their combinations with Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems (1 pilot in Spain). This will allow initial market introduction, without the need to replace the extensive RO infrastructure. The pilot systems in developing countries will be located in critical areas where the project partner PHAESUN has local offices in Africa (Eritrea, Ivory Coast, Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia), Asia (Dubai, and India) and Latin America (Panama). The consortium brings together leading partners covering the whole value chain and ensuring exploitation of the results. It is clearly industry driven, and it gives European industry the chance to take the lead of the ED revival and face the competition from the US that is also actively pursuing this important growth market.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2016 | Award Amount: 3.99M | Year: 2017

Sustainable Multi-functional Automated Resilient Transport Infrastructures ETN, will bring together a stimulating platform where the stakeholders of the transport infrastructure sector will work alongside world-wide experts in smartening of systems (developers of high-tech sensors, advanced monitoring equipment, automated structures, etc.,) with direct support from the roads, railways and airports managers. This environment will enable talented graduates to conceive the transport infrastructure network of the future and will provide them with world-wide extended training in each of the four pillars supporting the SMARTI vision: designed to last by maximising recycling and minimizing impact (Sustainable), conceived not for transport purposes only and towards optimisation of land use (Multi-functional), equipped for communicating with managers and users, to allow a more intuitive use and a simplified management (Automated), built to be adaptable to natural and anthropogenic hazards (Resilient). The consortium will combine and share expertise to offer advanced scientific training structured into network-wide thematic taught modules combined with original research supported by secondments that will expose fellows to both academia and industry and will also allow them with the possibility to be award with Doctoratus Europeus. The training programme will be enriched by specific modules to support job creation by enabling the fellows with business, entrepreneurship, communication, project management and other transferrable skills. A tailored Dissemination strategy will evaluate the variety of channels and means appropriate to allow the fellows to be prepared and successful in reaching both scientific and larger public audiences. As a result, SMARTI ETN will create a new generation of highly-skilled and appealing professionals that will be in great demand in this rapidly expanding field and will benefit Europe and developing countries

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: IA | Phase: SPIRE-01-2016 | Award Amount: 5.78M | Year: 2016

The ReWaCEM project aims at reducing water use, wastewater production, energy use, valuable metal resource recovery and water footprint by between 30-90% in the metal plating, galvanizing and printed circuit board industry. In order to achieve these goals, ReWaCem will adopt two cutting edge membrane technologies suitable for the requirements of closed material cycles approaches and recovery concepts in metal processing industry: Diffusion Dialysis (DD) and Membrane Distillation (MD) as an integrated hybrid process. This combination of existing technologies will be adapted to fit the requirements of 4 pilot demonstration sites in representative industrial applications of the metallurgical industry in order to evaluate the accomplishment of the ReWaCEM goals. Through the evaluation of the demonstration a highly attractive technological solution for low energy wastewater treatment will be available to be entered into the large and growing market of metal processing. This market will profit significantly from the technological outcome of the innovation action, with cost savings and environmental benefits as relevant rewards. In order to maximise impact, the project consortium was selected carefully to represent all relevant stakeholders in the quadrant of end users, scientific partners, associations and decision makers and SMEs. The consortium will establish a dissemination & exploitation board that will create a substantial network of interest groups from agencies, industry, research SMEs and research centres as well as universities. The successful exploitation of the results will lead to a post project up-scaling of the technology and a step by step market introduction. Part of ReWaCEM will be to mobilise all relevant stakeholders into promoting innovative membrane solutions for industrial water and resources management, leading to the effective implementation of European directives and policies while creating market opportunities for European industry and SMEs.

Nedic A.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign | Bauso D.,University of Palermo
IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control | Year: 2013

We consider a sequence of transferable utility (TU) games where, at each time, the characteristic function is a random vector with realizations restricted to some set of values. The first part of the paper contributes to the definition of a robust (coalitional) TU game and the development of a distributed bargaining protocol. We prove the convergence with probability 1 of the bargaining process to a random allocation that lies in the core of the robust game under some mild conditions on the underlying communication graphs. The second part of the paper addresses the more general case where the robust game may have empty core. In this case, with the dynamic game we associate a dynamic average game by averaging over time the sequence of characteristic functions. Then, we consider an accordingly modified bargaining protocol. Assuming that the sequence of characteristic functions is ergodic and the core of the average game has a nonempty relative interior, we show that the modified bargaining protocol converges with probability 1 to a random allocation that lies in the core of the average game. © 1963-2012 IEEE.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: FCT-16-2015 | Award Amount: 4.46M | Year: 2016

PROTON aims at improving existing knowledge on the processes of recruitment to organised crime and terrorist networks (OCTN) through an innovative integration between social and computational sciences. Moving beyond the state of the art, this integration will support evidence-based policies at the international, national and local level. To achieve its aim, PROTON will complete three specific objectives: 1. Investigate the social, psychological and economic factors leading to OCTN (WP1 and 2), including their connection with cybercrime and the cyberspace (WP3). The factors will be transformed into input (WP4) for PROTONs final outputs, PROTON-S and PROTON Wizard (WP5), designed for helping policy makers to act more effectively against OCTN. 2. Develop PROTON-S, agent-based modelling (ABM) simulations of the effects of different societal and environmental changes on OCTN. PROTON-S will generate virtual societies in a computer laboratory, enabling to test the impact of different scenarios on the evolution of, and particularly individuals recruitment to, OCTN. 3. Develop PROTON Wizard, a user-friendly software tool embedding the results of the ABM simulations. PROTONs impact will improve the quality of prevention policies on OCTN, providing at the same time significant innovations in the social, technological and computational sciences. PROTON-S, based on simulations, will bear no ethical and societal risks, and will create a breakthrough in the understanding of OCTN, enabling better policies and stimulating further innovation. PROTON Wizard will provide the first support tool for policy makers at the international, national and local level, giving easy access to the most advanced scientific research. The participation of different policy makers and potential end-users throughout the whole project will make sure that the final results specifically meet their needs and expectations.

Colombo R.,Vita-Salute San Raffaele University | Salonia A.,Vita-Salute San Raffaele University | Leib Z.,Rabin Medical Center Beilinson Campus | Pavone-Macaluso M.,University of Palermo | Engelstein D.,Rabin Medical Center Beilinson Campus
BJU International | Year: 2011

OBJECTIVE: • To present long-term efficacy data of intravesical thermochemotherapy vs chemotherapy alone with mitomycin-C (MMC) randomly administered to patients with non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) as an adjuvant treatment after complete transurethral resection. PATIENTS AND METHODS: • In all, 83 patients with intermediate-/high-risk NMIBC, following complete transurethral resection, were randomly assigned to receive either intravesical thermochemotherapy by means of Synergo® (Medical Enterprises, Amsterdam, The Netherlands) or intravesical chemotherapy alone, for prophylaxis of tumour recurrence. • Two doses of MMC (20 mg dissolved in 50 mL distilled water administered throughout two consecutive sessions) was used as the chemotherapeutic agent in both arms. • In all, 75 patients completed the original study (35 of 42 in the treatment arm, 40 of 41 in the control arm), whose results at minimum 2-year follow-up have already been published. • Recently, the files of these patients have been updated for long-term outcome definition. Data on general health, follow-up examinations, tumour relapse or progression, and cause of death were collected and analysed. RESULTS: • Updated complete data collection was available for 65/75 (87%) of the original patients. • The median follow-up for tumour-free patients was 91 months. The 10-year disease-free survival rate for thermochemotherapy and chemotherapy alone were 53% and 15%, respectively (P < 0.001). • An intent-to-treat analysis performed to overcome the potential bias introduced by the asymmetrical discontinuation rate still showed a significant advantage of the active treatment over the control treatment. Bladder preservation rates for thermochemotherapy and chemotherapy alone were 86% and 79%, respectively. CONCLUSION: • This is the first analysis of long-term follow-up of patients treated with intravesical thermochemotherapy. The high rate (53%) of patients who were tumourfree 10 years after treatment completion, as well as the high rate (86%) of bladder preservation, confirms the efficacy of this adjuvant approach for NMIBC at long-term follow-up, even in patients with multiple tumours. © 2010 The Authors BJU International © 2010 BJU International.

Leggio B.,University of Palermo | Leggio B.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Napoli A.,University of Palermo | Messina A.,University of Palermo | Breuer H.-P.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg
Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics | Year: 2013

Employing the stochastic wave function method, we study quantum features of stochastic entropy production in nonequilibrium processes of open systems. It is demonstrated that continuous measurements on the environment introduce an additional, nonthermal contribution to the entropy flux, which is shown to be a direct consequence of quantum fluctuations. These features lead to a quantum definition of single trajectory entropy contributions, which accounts for the difference between classical and quantum trajectories and results in a quantum correction to the standard form of the integral fluctuation theorem. © 2013 American Physical Society.

Scaffaro R.,University of Palermo | Maio A.,University of Palermo | Tito A.C.,Polytechnic of Milan
Composites Science and Technology | Year: 2012

Commercial and home-made carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were plasma treated under oxygen atmosphere and then added to polyamide 6 (PA6) in order to prepare fibres by melt spinning. For comparison, pristine nanofillers were used too. The effect of functionalization and of filler characteristics on the morphological, rheological, mechanical and electrical properties of the fibres was studied by TEM and SEM, rheological measurements, tensile and electrical conductivity tests. The results demonstrated that the functionalization led to a better mechanical performance and the morphological analysis confirmed that the adhesion, the dispersion and the alignment of the nanotubes within the polymer matrix were improved when using functionalized CNTs. Electrical tests marked that functionalization slightly reduced the conductivity of the materials. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Butera S.,Heriot - Watt University | Di Paola M.,University of Palermo
Annals of Physics | Year: 2014

We show a relation between fractional calculus and fractals, based only on physical and geometrical considerations. The link has been found in the physical origins of the power-laws, ruling the evolution of many natural phenomena, whose long memory and hereditary properties are mathematically modelled by differential operators of non integer order. Dealing with the relevant example of a viscous fluid seeping through a fractal shaped porous medium, we show that, once a physical phenomenon or process takes place on an underlying fractal geometry, then a power-law naturally comes up in ruling its evolution, whose order is related to the anomalous dimension of such geometry, as well as to the model used to describe the physics involved. By linearizing the non linear dependence of the response of the system at hand to a proper forcing action then, exploiting the Boltzmann superposition principle, a fractional differential equation is found, describing the dynamics of the system itself. The order of such equation is again related to the anomalous dimension of the underlying geometry. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.

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.

Cucinella G.,University of Palermo | Granese R.,Messina University | Calagna G.,University of Palermo | Somigliana E.,Fondazione C Granda | Perino A.,University of Palermo
Fertility and Sterility | Year: 2011

Objective: To report the development of parasitic myomas after the use of a morcellator. Design: Retrospective study. Setting: Tertiary care referral center for the treatment of benign gynecologic pathologies. Patient(s): Women undergoing surgery for uterine fibroids. Intervention(s): Chart review. Main Outcome Measure(s): Presence of parasitic leiomyomas. Result(s): We identified four cases of parasitic myomas over the 3-year study period. Two out of the four were symptomatic. The prevalence of this complication, considering all women with whom the electric morcellator was used (n = 423) was 0.9% (95% CI, 0.3-2.2%). Considering exclusively the women who underwent myomectomy (n = 321), it was 1.2% (95% CI, 0.4-2.9%). Conclusion(s): Laparoscopic myomectomy with the use of a morcellator is associated with an increased risk of developing of parasitic myomas. A thorough inspection and washing of the abdominopelvic cavity at the end of the surgery should be performed to prevent this rare complication. Copyright © 2011 American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Published by Elsevier Inc.

Xu J.-S.,Hefei University of Technology | Sun K.,Hefei University of Technology | Li C.-F.,Hefei University of Technology | Xu X.-Y.,Hefei University of Technology | And 4 more authors.
Nature Communications | Year: 2013

Revivals of quantum correlations in composite open quantum systems are a useful dynamical feature against detrimental effects of the environment. Their occurrence is attributed to flows of quantum information back and forth from systems to quantum environments. However, revivals also show up in models where the environment is classical, thus unable to store quantum correlations, and forbids system-environment back-action. This phenomenon opens basic issues about its interpretation involving the role of classical environments, memory effects, collective effects and system-environment correlations. Moreover, an experimental realization of back-action-free quantum revivals has applicative relevance as it leads to recover quantum resources without resorting to more demanding structured environments and correction procedures. Here we introduce a simple two-qubit model suitable to address these issues. We then report an all-optical experiment which simulates the model and permits us to recover and control, against decoherence, quantum correlations without back-action. We finally give an interpretation of the phenomenon by establishing the roles of the involved parties. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Schiro G.,University of Palermo | Caronna C.,European Synchrotron Radiation Facility | Caronna C.,SLAC | Natali F.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience | Cupane A.,University of Palermo
Journal of the American Chemical Society | Year: 2010

Elastic incoherent neutron scattering has been used to study the temperature dependence of the mean-square displacements of nonexchangeable hydrogen atoms in powders of a series of homomeric polypeptides (polyglycine, polyalanine, polyphenylalanine and polyisoleucine) in comparison with myoglobin at the same hydration level (h = 0.2). The aim of the work was to measure the dynamic behavior of different amino acid residues separately and assess the contribution of each type of side chain to the anharmonic dynamics of proteins. The results provide direct experimental evidence that the first anharmonic activation, at ∼150 K, is largely due to methyl group rotations entering the time window of the spectrometer used; however, contributions on the order of 10-20% from the motions of other groups (e.g., the phenolic ring and the methylene groups) are present. Our data also indicate that the dynamical transition occurring at ∼230 K can be attributed, at least at the hydration level investigated, mainly to motions involving backbone fluctuations. © 2010 American Chemical Society.

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.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-IRSES | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IRSES | Award Amount: 214.70K | Year: 2013

The project is focused on the ecological and morphological characteristics of river channels and related processes of erosion, sediment transport and deposition under changing boundary conditions described by socio economic and climate change scenarios. We will study effects of these changes on river systems at different spatial and temporal scales. The specific focus of the project is addressing the interface between the river channel and related slope systems. We will study historic evolution of river systems and will simulate future developments using scenarios. The main projects scopes are: 1) Exchange of experience, methods and knowledge in fluvio-morphologic processes research. 2) Developing and harmonization of tools and models for monitoring and management of hillslope-river channel-systems. 3) Assessment of hydromorphological processes, and pressures across multiple temporal and spatial scales in different European river systems; We will examine the links between erosive processes and hydromorphology in the context of integrated river basin management, considering the interactions with other elements of the whole system such as anthropogenic pressures and environmental changes. The new tools will help to assess the processes dynamics at the interface between hydrogeomorphological river processes and slope systems in a qualitative way. Moreover, new innovative techniques will be developed and applied that allow a quantification of the processes. The special focus is on remote sensing, aerial photography, field measurements with total stations, GPS, statistical analysis, all integrated in a GIS. We will reach these targets as a multidisciplinary team across Europe, sharing knowledge, developing new approaches and applying them in different environments. We will explicitly aim to identify and integrate the different and overlapping conceptual understandings of scientists from the different disciplines carrying out joined research in this project.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: SiS-2009- | Award Amount: 3.77M | Year: 2010

The aim of ESTABLISH is to facilitate and implement an inquiry based approach in the teaching and learning of science and technology across Europe, mainly focussed, through the collaborative actions of the consortium, on appropriate teacher education and support using trialled and tested resource material particularly suited to inquiry based teaching. Inquiry based teaching methodologies are encouraged to engage students in science and mathematics by increasing their interest in science and also by stimulating teacher motivation. However, widespread implementation of such a methodology will only occur with inclusion and participation of all partners in education, both formal and informal. ESTABLISH addresses this by drawing together over 60 partners from across 11 European countries to work together on a 48 month multidisciplinary project to encourage and promote the more widespread use of inquiry-based science teaching techniques in second level schools through appropriate teacher education, creation of authentic learning environments and actions to bridge the gap between the science education research community, science teachers, students, parents, local industry as well as policy makers in order to facilitate the uptake of inquiry-based science teaching. The outcomes of this project will firstly be a large team of teachers across Europe who are skilled and confident in their delivery of inquiry based teaching. Further outcomes will be the identification of suitable model(s) of teacher education, at both pre- and in-service levels, for inquiry based teaching and also identification of best practice in guiding change through all the stakeholders involved in science and science education. Teachers are active partners as developers, researchers and agents so that real change in classroom practice can be achieved. ESTABLISH is committed to sharing and disseminating best practice in inquiry-based methods through European teacher networks, conferences and publications.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: MSCA-NIGHT-2016 | Award Amount: 512.74K | Year: 2016

Researchers love to engage with nature, society, with future and ultimately with all the complex challenges that will allow them to contribute to a better world. Researchers also love to engage with other people to make the quest theyre involved in a collective endeavour. All this make researchers persons passionate for engagement who are developing a growing sense of responsibility related to their work and their role in society. In such a professional life researchers experience strong driving forces such as enthusiasm, emotions, combined with new knowledge and innovative discoveries. All these elements are summarized in the acronym SHARPER - Sharing Researchers Passion for Engagement and Responsibility the name of the European Researchers Night in the Centre and South of Italy that will take place on the 30th of September 2016 and on the 29th of September 2017 simultaneously in five cities: Perugia, LAquila, Ancona and Palermo the four capital cities of the regions Marche, Umbria, Abruzzo, Sicily and in Cascina the city hosting the European Gravitational Observatory one of the cutting edge European research facilities. This network of cities combined with their Research Institutions and with their social and cultural actors provides a team of excellence and reliability both in the fields of research and science communication at national and international level. The SHARPER project will create effective communication bridges between researchers and the cities and communities they live and act within, through: street labs, exhibitions, performances in city squares or activities that will take place in focal city venues, where citizens use to spend their everyday life. SHARPER 2016-2017 will geographically broaden the impact of the communication actions of European Researchers Night in Italy massively engaging kids, young students, schools, associations and citizens at large actively involved by researchers since the planning phase of the activities.

Mesa K.R.,Yale University | Rompolas P.,Yale University | Zito G.,University of Palermo | Myung P.,Yale University | And 7 more authors.
Nature | Year: 2015

Tissue homeostasis is achieved through a balance of cell production (growth) and elimination (regression). In contrast to tissue growth, the cells and molecular signals required for tissue regression remain unknown. To investigate physiological tissue regression, we use the mouse hair follicle, which cycles stereotypically between phases of growth and regression while maintaining a pool of stem cells to perpetuate tissue regeneration. Here we show by intravital microscopy in live mice that the regression phase eliminates the majority of the epithelial cells by two distinct mechanisms: terminal differentiation of suprabasal cells and a spatial gradient of apoptosis of basal cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that basal epithelial cells collectively act as phagocytes to clear dying epithelial neighbours. Through cellular and genetic ablation we show that epithelial cell death is extrinsically induced through transforming growth factor (TGF)-β activation and mesenchymal crosstalk. Strikingly, our data show that regression acts to reduce the stem cell pool, as inhibition of regression results in excess basal epithelial cells with regenerative abilities. This study identifies the cellular behaviours and molecular mechanisms of regression that counterbalance growth to maintain tissue homeostasis. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Messina R.,Paris Observatory | Vasile R.,University of Turku | Passante R.,University of Palermo
Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics | Year: 2010

We study the time evolution of the Casimir-Polder force acting on a neutral atom in front of a perfectly conducting plate, when the system starts its unitary evolution from a partially dressed state. We solve the Heisenberg equations for both atomic and field quantum operators, exploiting a series expansion with respect to the electric charge and an iterative technique. After discussing the behavior of the time-dependent force on an initially partially dressed atom, we analyze a possible experimental scheme to prepare the partially dressed state and the observability of this new dynamical effect. © 2010 The American Physical Society.

Mazzola L.,University of Turku | Bellomo B.,University of Palermo | Lo Franco R.,University of Palermo | Compagno G.,University of Palermo
Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics | Year: 2010

We investigate the dynamical relations among entanglement, mixedness, and nonlocality, quantified by concurrence C, purity P, and maximum Bell function B, respectively, in a system of two qubits in a common structured reservoir. To this aim we introduce the C-P-B parameter space and analyze the time evolution of the point representative of the system state in such a space. The dynamical interplay among entanglement, mixedness, and nonlocality strongly depends on the initial state of the system. For a two-excitation Bell state the representative point draws a multibranch curve in the C-P-B space and we show that a closed relation among these quantifiers does not hold. By extending the known relation between C and B for pure states, we give an expression among the three quantifiers for mixed states. In this equation we introduce a quantity, vanishing for pure states, which in general does not have a closed form in terms of C, P and B. Finally, we demonstrate that for an initial one-excitation Bell state, a closed C-P-B relation instead exists and the system evolves, remaining always a maximally entangled mixed state. © 2010 The American Physical Society.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SSH.2013.5.2-2 | Award Amount: 2.94M | Year: 2014

The project is an interdisciplinary approach to cultural landscapes of Mediterranean mountainous areas, taking as a central axis the historical study of two natural resources essential to generate agro-systems: water and soil. The proposal focuses on Sierra Nevada (Spain), Monti di Trapani (Italy), Colli Euganei (Italy) and Vjosa Valley (Albania). Landscapes and their structure are strongly conditioned by the need to ensure the livelihood of rural communities over time. Essentially they are the spatial representation of production and reproduction strategies of societies over time. Understanding them necessarily requires knowledge of the historical processes that have led to specific relationships with nature: mainly extraction and use of resources. These uses have largely shaped the medium, generating not only its shape, but also the culture that makes possible its management and maintenance. The various exploitation strategies have resulted in different landscapes and forms of cultural expression throughout Europe and the Mediterranean, but have also produced very important common areas. Agro-systems represent one of their greatest expressions. Agricultural traditions and the different ways of exploiting natural resources including management over time are crucial for conservation of the landscape and its ability to adapt to current global changes: globalisation and agrarian industrialisation, loss of peasant knowledge, loss of rural population and climate change. Conservation can be achieved through the exploitation of this heritage to generate environmental and cultural conservation strategies for sustainable development in rural areas; with the aim of protecting this cultural heritage and, at the same time, increasing and transmitting knowledge about it in order to benefit the local and wider European society.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2007.2.2 | Award Amount: 3.11M | Year: 2009

Human communicative skills rely on a complex mixture of social and spatio-temporal perception-action processes. Autonomous virtual agents that interact with people could benefit greatly from socio-communicative skills; endowing them with such skills, however, could mean decades of person-years in manual programming. Enabling the agents to learn these skills is an alternative solution the learning mechanisms for this, however, are also well beyond the state of the art. Our goal is to develop new cognitive architectural principles to allow intelligent agents to learn socio-communicative skills by observing and imitating people in dynamic social situations on the job. Skill development, in our approach, is a fundamental architectural feature: Learning happens through unique architectural constructs specified by developers, coupled with the ability of the architecture to automatically reconfigure itself to accommodate new skills through observation. As an appropriate and challenging demonstration the resulting system will control a virtual humanoid television host, capable of taking interviews with users and conducting a 10-minute TV program. By observing and imitating humans the TV-host will acquire increasingly complex socio-communicative skills; by the end of the project it will have reached socio-communicative skills comparable to an average human television show host. The agents skills will be evaluated using a thorough, formal method.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: TPT-2008.0.0.2 | Award Amount: 1.93M | Year: 2009

The CATCH Project aims to develop a knowledge platform which will become a public information system for mobility related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction advice. The holistic Platform will provide travellers, businesses, planners and other mobility stakeholders with the tools to play their part in creating a new mobility culture promoting timely and informed climate-friendly travel choice and policies. The Platform will enable travellers to understand the climate change impacts of their choices, and take effective actions to reduce them, and enable policy decision makers to include carbon constraints into their actions. The Platform will include a range of CATCH tools, including a virtual environmental travel assistant, and be driven by the CATCH mobility knowledge engine. The main project activities to achieve this aim are: - Strong user understanding and user-based design; - review of the results in previous research, and engagement with existing EU funded projects WISETRIP and i-Travel projects, and the CIVITAS initiative; - realization of a database of GHG and transportation performance, which interfaces with appropriate emissions-related systems; - identification and assessment of climate-friendly travel scenarios; - development, testing and validation of the mobility knowledge engine; - defined exploitation path and wide dissemination of results through a dedicated internet web site, publications, conferences and workshops. CATCH will involve 40 cities and global carbon constraint professionals from mobility and related fields. Each city and professional has different experiences and brings new understanding. CATCHs expected results meet the following work programme objectives: - to guarantee at least neutral impacts on climate change; - to cover the critical gaps in existing emission information systems - to apply large scale demonstrations of integrated solutions for cities in Europe, regional and interregional mobility.

News Article | January 25, 2016

Web surfing patterns as people read financial news can be used to make accurate predictions of stock movements from a few minutes to up to a couple of hours in advance, a new study suggests. With further development, the technique may be useful to financial authorities as they monitor markets and seek to fend off emerging crises. A team of physicists led by Gabriele Ranco of the IMT Institute for Advanced Studies in Lucca, Italy, suspected that better stock predictions might be made by looking at more than the positive or negative sentiment expressed in an article about a particular company. Another key indicator might be how many people actually click on links to those articles, a sign of the social influence of the article and how much its readers are paying attention. The team used data collected over a yearlong period in 2012 and 2013 from Yahoo! Finance, an online portal for financial news and data. Looking at the 100 U.S. companies with the most frequent mentions in news articles, the researchers calculated a measure of sentiment for each article. They then weighted that measure to reflect readers’ behavior: Articles counted for more if more readers clicked on links to them. The result was a moment-by-moment signal for each company showing how sentiment and interest fluctuated during the day, and how strongly. The researchers then compared these signals with actual market fluctuations of prices, volume and volatility for the 100 different stocks. The signals offer a significantly improved predictive capacity for stock movements, even for movements only a few minutes later, the researchers conclude January 25 in PLOS ONE. Rosario Mantegna, an expert in mathematical finance at the University of Palermo in Italy, suggests that this method could prove useful for financial authorities worried about the potential for explosive financial events —a bank run triggered by a surge of investor fear, for example. “Monitoring in this way could provide some useful indicators,” he says. An important aspect of the new work is its ability to monitor web activity on timescales as short as a minute, says study coauthor Guido Caldarelli, a physicist also at the IMT Institute for Advanced Studies. In principle, he says, this kind of analysis could be carried out in real time if financial authorities had access to the data. More generally, says Caldarelli, the study illustrates the potential of “big data” to provide new means to detect broad social patterns of belief —a problematic task in areas ranging from public health to political polling. “Questionnaires are slow and people don't always give their real views,” he says. “An advantage of web data is that people tend to be more sincere when they’re browsing.” Editor’s note: This article was updated February 2, 2016, to correct the time range used in the study, to clarify reader behavior and to correct the primary academic affiliation of the coauthor.

Landi E.,University of Michigan | Reale F.,University of Palermo | Reale F.,National institute for astrophysics | Testa P.,Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2012

Context. Recent studies carried out with SOHO and Hinode high-resolution spectrometers have shown that the plasma in the off-disk solar corona is close to isothermal. If confirmed, these findings may have significant consequences for theoretical models of coronal heating. However, these studies have been carried out with diagnostic techniques whose ability to reconstruct the plasma distribution with temperature has not been thoroughly tested. Aims. In this paper, we carry out tests on the Monte Carlo Markov chain (MCMC) technique with the aim of determining: 1) its ability to retrieve isothermal plasmas from a set of spectral line intensities, with and without random noise; 2) to what extent can it discriminate between an isothermal solution and a narrow multithermal distribution; and 3) how well it can detect multiple isothermal components along the line of sight. We also test the effects of 4) atomic data uncertainties on the results, and 5) the number of ions whose lines are available for the DEM reconstruction. Methods. We first use the CHIANTI database to calculate synthetic spectra from different thermal distributions: single isothermal plasmas, multithermal plasmas made of multiple isothermal components, and multithermal plasmas with a Gaussian DEM distribution with variable width. We then apply the MCMC technique on each of these synthetic spectra, so that the ability of the MCMC technique at reconstructing the original thermal distribution can be evaluated. Next, we add a random noise to the synthetic spectra, and repeat the exercise, in order to determine the effects of random errors on the results. We also we repeat the exercise using a different set of atomic data from those used to calculate synthetic line intensities, to understand the robustness of the results against atomic physics uncertainties. The size of the temperature bin of the MCMC reconstruction is varied in all cases, in order to determine the optimal width. Results. We find that the MCMC technique is unable to retrieve isothermal plasmas to better than Δlog T ≈ 0.05. Also, the DEM curves obtained using lines calculated with an isothermal plasma and with a Gaussian distribution with FWHM of log T ≈ 0.05 are very similar. Two near-isothermal components can be resolved if their temperature separation is Δlog T = 0.2 or larger. Thus, DEM diagnostics has an intrinsic resolving power of log T = 0.05. Atomic data uncertainties may significantly affect both temperature and peak DEM values, but do not alter our conclusions. The availability of small sets of lines also does not worsen the performance of the MCMC technique, provided these lines are formed in a wide temperature range. Conclusions. Our analysis shows the present limitations in our ability to identify the presence of strictly isothermal plasmas in stellar and solar coronal spectra. © 2012 ESO.

Sara G.,University of Palermo | de Pirro M.,Accademia Mare Ambiente
Italian Journal of Zoology | Year: 2011

Changes in heart beat rates (HBR) of Brachidontes pharaonis (an invasive Lessepsian species) and Mytilaster minimus (a native Mediterranean species) in response to changes in salinity values from brackish (20) to extreme hyper-saline (75) were investigated both in situ and in the laboratory. The two species displayed different responses to varying salinity, with clear differences in HBR observed between groups investigated at different salinities and between groups originating from different environments. The native species, adapted to narrow salinity changes as those observed in the superficial waters of the Mediterranean Sea, showed signs of stress at salinities slightly above 37 (in the range 37-45). On the other hand, the invasive species displayed clear signs of stress only at salinities over 45 and exhibited heart activity even under hyper-saline conditions (i.e. salinity = 75). These results indicate that the Lessepsian species has the potential to invade most of the transitional environments across the entire Mediterranean basin. We therefore stress the need of including Brachidontes pharaonis in all coastal monitoring programmes assessing the actual and potential spreading of alien species in the Mediterranean region. © 2011 Unione Zoologica Italiana.

Testa P.,Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory | Reale F.,University of Palermo | Reale F.,National institute for astrophysics
Astrophysical Journal Letters | Year: 2012

We use coronal imaging observations with the Solar Dynamics Observatory/Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), and Hinode/Extreme-ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) spectral data to explore the potential of narrowband EUV imaging data for diagnosing the presence of hot (T ≳ 5MK) coronal plasma in active regions. We analyze observations of two active regions (AR 11281, AR 11289) with simultaneous AIA imaging and EIS spectral data, including the Ca XVII line (at 192.8Å), which is one of the few lines in the EIS spectral bands sensitive to hot coronal plasma even outside flares. After careful co-alignment of the imaging and spectral data, we compare the morphology in a three-color image combining the 171, 335, and 94Å AIA spectral bands, with the image obtained for Ca XVII emission from the analysis of EIS spectra. We find that in the selected active regions the Ca XVII emission is strong only in very limited areas, showing striking similarities with the features bright in the 94Å (and 335Å) AIA channels and weak in the 171Å band. We conclude that AIA imaging observations of the solar corona can be used to track hot plasma (6-8MK), and so to study its spatial variability and temporal evolution at high spatial and temporal resolution. © 2012. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Cabibbo G.,University of Palermo | Enea M.,University of Palermo | Attanasio M.,University of Palermo | Bruix J.,Hospital Clinic | And 3 more authors.
Hepatology | Year: 2010

Knowing the spontaneous outcome of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is important for designing randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of new therapeutic approaches; however, survival of patients in the absence of treatment is highly variable, and prognostic factors influencing outcomes are incompletely defined. The aims of this meta-analysis were to estimate the 1-year and 2-year survival rates of untreated HCC patients enrolled in RCTs of palliative treatments, and to identify prognostic factors. RCTs evaluating therapies for HCC with placebo or no-treatment arms were identified on MEDLINE through April 2009. Data were combined in a random effect model. Primary outcomes were 1-year and 2-year survival. Thirty studies met the inclusion criteria. The pooled estimates of the survival rates were 17.5% at 1 year (95% confidence interval [95%CI], 11%-27%; range, 0%-75%) and 7.3% at 2 years (95%CI, 3.9%-13%; range, 0%-50%). Heterogeneity among studies was highly significant (P < 0.0001) both for 1-year and 2-year survival, and persisted when RCTs were stratified according to all patient and study features. Through meta-regression, impaired performance status, Child-Pugh B-C class, and presence of portal vein thrombosis were all independently associated with shorter survival. Ascites was strongly linked to a worse outcome in intermediate/advanced Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stages. Conclusion: This meta-analysis confirms the heterogeneity of behavior of untreated HCC and provides a sound basis for stratifying patients with HCC according to expected survival in future trials of new anti-cancer agents. Copyright © 2010 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Cox A.J.,Illumina | Bauer M.J.,Illumina | Jakobi T.,Bielefeld University | Rosone G.,University of Palermo
Bioinformatics | Year: 2012

Motivation: The Burrows-Wheeler transform (BWT) is the foundation of many algorithms for compression and indexing of text data, but the cost of computing the BWT of very large string collections has prevented these techniques from being widely applied to the large sets of sequences often encountered as the outcome of DNA sequencing experiments. In previous work, we presented a novel algorithm that allows the BWT of human genome scale data to be computed on very moderate hardware, thus enabling us to investigate the BWT as a tool for the compression of such datasets.Results: We first used simulated reads to explore the relationship between the level of compression and the error rate, the length of the reads and the level of sampling of the underlying genome and compare choices of second-stage compression algorithm. We demonstrate that compression may be greatly improved by a particular reordering of the sequences in the collection and give a novel 'implicit sorting' strategy that enables these benefits to be realized without the overhead of sorting the reads. With these techniques, a 45× coverage of real human genome sequence data compresses losslessly to under 0.5 bits per base, allowing the 135.3 Gb of sequence to fit into only 8.2 GB of space (trimming a small proportion of low-quality bases from the reads improves the compression still further).This is >4 times smaller than the size achieved by a standard BWT-based compressor (bzip2) on the untrimmed reads, but an important further advantage of our approach is that it facilitates the building of compressed full text indexes such as the FM-index on large-scale DNA sequence collections. © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

Bagarello F.,University of Palermo | Bagarello F.,University of Turin
Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics | Year: 2013

Using as a prototype example the harmonic oscillator we show how losing self-adjointness of the Hamiltonian H changes drastically the related functional structure. In particular, we show that even a small deviation from strict self-adjointness of H produces two deep consequences, not well understood in the literature: First of all, the original orthonormal basis of H splits into two families of biorthogonal vectors. These two families are complete but, contrarily to what often claimed for similar systems, none of them is a basis for the Hilbert space H. Second, the so-called metric operator is unbounded, as well as its inverse. In the second part of the paper, after an extension of some previous results on the so-called D pseudobosons, we discuss some aspects of our extended harmonic oscillator from this different point of view. © 2013 American Physical Society.

Bagarello F.,University of Palermo | Bagarello F.,University of Turin
Annals of Physics | Year: 2015

In a recent paper we have introduced several possible inequivalent descriptions of the dynamics and of the transition probabilities of a quantum system when its Hamiltonian is not self-adjoint. Our analysis was carried out in finite dimensional Hilbert spaces. This is useful, but quite restrictive since many physically relevant quantum systems live in infinite dimensional Hilbert spaces. In this paper we consider this situation, and we discuss some applications to well known models, introduced in the literature in recent years: the extended harmonic oscillator, the Swanson model and a generalized version of the Landau levels Hamiltonian. Not surprisingly we will find new interesting features not previously found in finite dimensional Hilbert spaces, useful for a deeper comprehension of this kind of physical systems. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.

Bagarello F.,University of Palermo | Bagarello F.,University of Turin
Annals of Physics | Year: 2015

We discuss systematically several possible inequivalent ways to describe the dynamics and the transition probabilities of a quantum system when its hamiltonian is not self-adjoint. In order to simplify the treatment, we mainly restrict our analysis to finite dimensional Hilbert spaces. In particular, we propose some experiments which could discriminate between the various possibilities considered in the paper. An example taken from the literature is discussed in detail. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.

Vicari G.,University of Turin | Vicari G.,University of Palermo | Adenzato M.,University of Turin | Adenzato M.,Neuroscience Institute of Turin
Consciousness and Cognition | Year: 2014

In their 2002 seminal paper Hauser, Chomsky and Fitch hypothesize that recursion is the only human-specific and language-specific mechanism of the faculty of language. While debate focused primarily on the meaning of recursion in the hypothesis and on the human-specific and syntax-specific character of recursion, the present work focuses on the claim that recursion is language-specific. We argue that there are recursive structures in the domain of motor intentionality by way of extending John R. Searle's analysis of intentional action. We then discuss evidence from cognitive science and neuroscience supporting the claim that motor-intentional recursion is language-independent and suggest some explanatory hypotheses: (1) linguistic recursion is embodied in sensory-motor processing; (2) linguistic and motor-intentional recursions are distinct and mutually independent mechanisms. Finally, we propose some reflections about the epistemic status of HCF as presenting an empirically falsifiable hypothesis, and on the possibility of testing recursion in different cognitive domains. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.

Cascioferro S.,University of Palermo | Totsika M.,Queensland University of Technology | Schillaci D.,University of Palermo
Microbial Pathogenesis | Year: 2014

Sortase A is a membrane enzyme responsible for the anchoring of surface-exposed proteins to the cell wall envelope of Gram-positive bacteria. As a well-studied member of the sortase subfamily catalysing the cell wall anchoring of important virulence factors to the surface of staphylococci, enterococci and streptococci, sortase A plays a critical role in Gram-positive bacterial pathogenesis. It is thus considered a promising target for the development of new anti-infective drugs that aim to interfere with important Gram-positive virulence mechanisms, such as adhesion to host tissues, evasion of host defences, and biofilm formation. The additional properties of sortase A as an enzyme that is not required for Gram-positive bacterial growth or viability and is conveniently located on the cell membrane making it more accessible to inhibitor targeting, constitute additional reasons reinforcing the view that sortase A is an ideal target for anti-virulence drug development. Many inhibitors of sortase A have been identified to date using high-throughput or in silico screening of compound libraries (synthetic or natural), and while many have proved useful tools for probing the action model of the enzyme, several are also promising candidates for the development into potent inhibitors. This review is focused on the most promising sortase A inhibitor compounds that are currently in development as leads towards a new class of anti-infective drugs that are urgently needed to help combat the alarming increase in antimicrobial resistance. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Nibali L.,University College London | Tatarakis N.,University College London | Needleman I.,University College London | Tu Y.-K.,National Taiwan University | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism | Year: 2013

Background: Several epidemiological studies have reported an association between metabolic syndrome (MetS) and periodontal diseases (PDs). The aim of this systematic review was to investigate the existence and magnitude of this association. Materials and Methods: A systematic search of the literature was conducted looking for casecontrol, cross-sectional, cohort studies and population surveys including patients with measures of MetS and PD. Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, and Cochrane library databases were used for the search by 2 independent reviewers. A meta-analysis was conducted to investigate the association for coexistence of MetS and PD. Results: A total of 20 studies were included in the review, from an initial search of 3486 titles. Only 1 study reported longitudinal data on the onset of MetS components in association with periodontal measures. However, several studies investigated coexistence. A random effects meta-analysis showed that the presence of MetS is associated with the presence of periodontitis in a total of 36 337 subjects (odds ratio=1.71;95%confidence interval=1.42 to 2.03). When only studies with "secure" diagnoses wereincluded (n=16 405), themagnitudeof association increased (odds ratio=2.09;95%confidence interval = 1.28 to 3.44). Moderate heterogeneity was detected (I2 = 53.6%; P = .004). Conclusions: This review presents clear evidence for an association between MetS and periodontitis. The direction of the association and factors influencing it should be investigated by longitudinal and treatment studies. Periodontal diagnostic procedures should be routinely carried out in MetS patients. Copyright © 2013 by The Endocrine Society.

Di Marco V.,University of Palermo | De Vita F.,The Second University of Naples | Koskinas J.,Hippokration General Hospital | Semela D.,Cantonal Hospital St Gallen | And 2 more authors.
Annals of Oncology | Year: 2013

Sorafenib is considered the standard systemic therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), in patients with wellpreserved liver function (Child-Pugh A class) and advanced-stage HCC (BCLC-C) or in patients with HCC progressing after locoregional therapies, with a high grade of recommendation. The approval of sorafenib for this indication was grounded on the efficacy and the safety results reported by two international randomized, controlled trials, the SHARP and the Asia-Pacific studies. In addition, the efficacy and the safety of sorafenib in clinical practice are addressed by several field-practice experiences, including the multinational GIDEON study and the SOFIA study. Finally, further research on sorafenib is ongoing to optimize the use of this molecule. This review aims to provide an overview of the most relevant clinical data on the efficacy and the safety of sorafenib in patients with HCC. © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society for Medical Oncology. All rights reserved.

Fiasconaro A.,Centro Universitario Of La Defensa Of Zaragoza | Fiasconaro A.,University of Zaragoza | Spagnolo B.,University of Palermo
Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics | Year: 2011

This work analyzes numerically the role played by the asymmetry of a piecewise linear potential, in the presence of both a Gaussian white noise and a dichotomous noise, on the resonant activation phenomenon. The features of the asymmetry of the potential barrier arise by investigating the stochastic transitions far behind the potential maximum, from the initial well to the bottom of the adjacent potential well. Because of the asymmetry of the potential profile together with the random external force uniform in space, we find, for the different asymmetries: (1) an inversion of the curves of the mean first passage time in the resonant region of the correlation time τ of the dichotomous noise, for low thermal noise intensities; (2) a maximum of the mean velocity of the Brownian particle as a function of τ; and (3) an inversion of the curves of the mean velocity and a very weak current reversal in the miniratchet system obtained with the asymmetrical potential profiles investigated. An inversion of the mean first passage time curves is also observed by varying the amplitude of the dichotomous noise, behavior confirmed by recent experiments. © 2011 American Physical Society.

Mercadante S.,Pain Relief and Supportive Care Unit | Mercadante S.,University of Palermo
Drugs | Year: 2012

Breakthrough pain (BTP) is a transient exacerbation of pain that occurs either spontaneously, or in relation to a specific predictable or unpredictable trigger, despite relatively stable and adequately controlled background pain.The principal pharmacological treatment of BTP is represented by the administration of opioids as needed. Oral opioids have traditionally been the only available drugs for BTP. However, the onset and duration of action of oral opioids such as morphine or oxycodone may not be suitable for treating many episodes of BTP that are of short onset and duration. Transmucosal administration of lipophilic substances has gained a growing popularity in recent years due to the rapid effect, clinically observable 10-15 minutes after drug administration, and the non-invasive form. Different technologies have been developed to provide fast pain relief with potent opioid drugs such fentanyl, delivered by non-invasive routes (rapid onset opioids, ROOs). All the studies performed with ROOs have recommended that these drugs should be administered to opioid-tolerant patients receiving doses of oral morphine equivalents of at least 60 mg. These preparations, including oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate, fentanyl buccal tablet, sublingual fentanyl, intranasal fentanyl spray, fentanyl-pectin nasal spray and fentanyl buccal soluble film have shown better efficacy than placebo or oral opioids. Long-term studies have confirmed their efficacy and safety. © 2012 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved.

Di Bella G.,Architettura lle Science Motorie Delluniversita Kore Of Enna | Torregrossa M.,University of Palermo
Journal of Environmental Management | Year: 2013

Membrane bioreactors (MBRs) represent by now a well established alternative for wastewater treatment. Their increasing development is undoubtedly related to the several advantages that such technology is able to guarantee. Nevertheless, this technology is not exempt from operational problems; among them the foaming still represents an "open challenge" of the MBR field, due to the high complexity of phenomenon. Unfortunately, very little work has been done on the foaming in MBRs and further studies are required. Actually, there is not a distinct difference between conventional activated system and MBR: the main difference is that the MBR plants can retain most Extracellular Polymeric Substances (EPSs) in the bioreactor. For these reason, unlike conventional activated sludge systems, MBRs have experienced foaming in the absence of foam-forming micro-organisms. Nevertheless, the actual mechanisms of EPS production and the role of bacteria in producing foam in activated sludge in MBRs are still unclear. In this paper, the authors investigated the roles of EPS and foam-forming filamentous bacteria by analyzing samples from different pilot plants using MBRs. In particular, in order to define the macroscopic features and the role of EPS and filamentous bacteria, a Modified Scum Index (MSI) test was applied and proposed. Based on the MSI and the foam power test, the causes of biological foaming were identified in terms of the potential for foaming, the quality and the quantity of the foam. The results indicated that the MBR foaming was influenced significantly by the concentration of bound EPSs in the sludge. In addition, the quantity and stability of MBR scum increased when both bound EPSs and foam-forming filamentous bacteria were present in the activated sludge. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Cannone M.,University Paris Est Creteil | Lombardo M.C.,University of Palermo | Sammartino M.,University of Palermo
Nonlinearity | Year: 2013

In this paper we shall be concerned with Prandtl's equations with incompatible data, i.e. with initial data that, in general, do not fulfil the boundary conditions imposed on the solution. Under the hypothesis of analyticity in the streamwise variable, we shall prove that Prandtl's equations, on the half-plane or on the half-space, are well posed for a short time. © 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd & London Mathematical Society.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: NMP-2009-3.2-1 | Award Amount: 10.03M | Year: 2010

POLYCAT provides an integrated, coherent and holistic approach utilizing novel polymer based nanoparticulate catalysts in pharmaceutical, crop protection and vitamin syntheses in conjunction with the enabling functions of micro process technology and green solvents such as water or ethyl lactate. This provides a discipline bridging approach between fine chemistry, catalysis and engineering. This will lead to the replacement of a number of chemical or microbiological reaction steps in fine chemical syntheses by catalytic ones using more active, selective and stable nanoparticulate catalysts. In addition, POLYCAT will lead to the development of novel chiral modifiers immobilized on the polymeric supports. Micro process technology provides testing under almost ideal processing conditions, with much improved heat management, with improved costing, at high data validity, at high process confidence, and with high certainty for scale-out. The industrial applicability is demonstrated by scale-out of the industrial demonstration reactions to the pilot scale. A multi-purpose, container-type plant infrastructure will integrate individual reaction and separation modules in block format, standardised basic logistics, process control, safety installations, and on-line analytics. As guidance before (ex-ante) and during the whole development, holistic life cycle (LCA) and cost analyses will pave directions towards competitiveness and sustainability. The POLYCAT technologies have potential to reduce the environmental impact by 20% up to orders of magnitude: e.g. reduction of green house gas emissions, acids (SO2-Eq.), nutrients (NOx-Eq.), toxic substances (1,4-DCB Eq.) and finite abiotic resources (antimony eq.). With (enantio)selectivity increases up to 25%, solvent reductions of 30-100%, and products cost decreases of about 10%, a midterm impact of 30-110 Mio Euro and longterm impact of 100-560 Mio Euro result.

Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 161.44K | Year: 2015

EVI-MED - Constructing an evidence base of contemporary Mediterranean migrations seeks to conduct urgent data collection and essential analysis on the Mediterranean migration crisis and to make these swiftly and publicly available to policymakers, practitioners, migrant community support organisations, and the research community. EVI-MED will provide insights into the major humanitarian, social, economic and political implications for the principal countries of arrival - above all Italy and Greece - as well as Malta which is a central pillar of the search and rescue effort. The project is also relevant to other potential countries of reception and settlement in Europe, including the United Kingdom. This will be achieved through a diversity of research methods, including: A) The collection and standardization of a broad range of secondary data on migration, including statistics provided by search and rescue organisations and national and European bodies which will be integrated with data-sets made available by international NGOs, to create a synthetic database on migration trends and characteristics of flows. B) A survey of individual migrants - with at least 750 participants across Sicily, Greece and Malta - providing insight into profiles, routes, experiences and migration plans. This survey data will be complemented by 45 in-depth interviews focusing on migrant life-histories, decision making and use of networks. C) A systematic mapping of the reception systems in Sicily, Greece and Malta, identifying governmental and non-governmental actors involved in the identification, management, reception, integration and potential return of migrants who make the journey across the Mediterranean. D) Overall analysis of the migration and reception situation, derived from the above data-sets and integrated with further interviews with experts and practitioners, the contribution of international advisors, and the evidence emerging from the existing literature and other research and ongoing research activities. The project benefits from close collaboration with a number of well-established specialist organisations, including the Greek Council for Refugees, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), Migrant Report, Borderline Sicily, People for Change Foundation Malta and with expert knowledge of countries of origin provided by the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat (RMMS), a project of the Danish Refugee Council working in the Horn of Africa and Middle East. EVI-MEDs wide-ranging engagement platform capitalises on the network of collaborations and partnerships established with Middlesexs Mediterranean Observatory on Migration Protection and Asylum (MOMPA) - a joint initiative of Middlesex University London and Middlesex University Malta. The project outputs - including data-sets, policy briefs, academic articles, situation reports, interactive maps - will be made available through the project website, in order to advertise them as widely as possible through EVI-MEDs engagement platform, networks and social media provided by partners and collaborating organisations. Other outputs include conferences, knowledge exchange events, consultations and briefings with national and European policymakers.

News Article | October 12, 2016

In June of 2012, Venus made its most recent transit – an event which will not happen again until 2117. Luckily, during this latest event, scientists made some very interesting observations which revealed X-ray and ultraviolet emissions coming from the dark side of Venus. This finding could tell us much about Venus' magnetic environment, and also help in the study of exoplanets as well. For the sake of their study (titled "X-raying the Dark Side of Venus") the team of scientists – led by Masoud Afshari of the University of Palermo and the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) – examined data obtained by the x-ray telescope aboard the Hinode (Solar-B) mission, which had been used to observe the Sun and Venus during the 2012 transit. In a previous study, scientists from the University of Palermo used this data to get truly accurate estimates of Venus' diameter in the X-ray band. What they observed was that in the visible, UV, and soft X-ray bands, Venus' optical radius (taking into account its atmosphere) was 80 km larger than its solid body radius. But when observing it in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) and soft X-ray band, the radius increased by another 70 km. To determine the cause of this, Afshari and his team combined updated information from Hinode's x-ray telescope with data obtained by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). From this, they concluded that the EUV and X-ray emissions were not the result of a fault within the telescope, and were in fact coming from the dark side of Venus itself. They also compared the data to observations made by the Chandra X-ray Observatory of Venus in 2001 and again in 2006-7m which showed similar emissions coming from the sunlit side of Venus. In all cases, it seemed clear that Venus had unexplained source of non-visible light coming from its atmosphere, a phenomena which could not be chocked up to scattering caused by the instruments themselves. Comparing all these observations, the team came up with an interesting conclusion. As they state in their study: "The effect we are observing could be due to scattering or re-emission occurring in the shadow or wake of Venus. One possibility is due to the very long magnetotail of Venus, ablated by the solar wind and known to reach Earth's orbit… The emission we observe would be the reemitted radiation integrated along the magnetotail." In other words, they postulate that the radiation observed emanating from Venus could be due to solar radiation interacting with Venus' magnetic field and being scattered along its tail. This would explain why from various studies, the radiation appeared to be coming from Venus' itself, thus extending and adding optical thickness to its atmosphere. If true, this finding would not only help us to learn more about Venus' magnetic environment and assist our exploration of the planet, it would also improve our understanding of exoplanets. For example, many Jupiter-sized planets have been observed orbiting close to their suns (i.e. "Hot Jupiters"). By studying their tails, astronomers may come to learn much about these planets' magnetic fields (and whether or not they have one). Afshari and his colleagues hope to conduct future studies to learn more about this phenomenon. And as more exoplanet-hunting missions (like TESS and the James Webb Telescope) get underway, these newfound observations of Venus will likely be put to good use – determining the magnetic environment of distant planets. Explore further: Venus to appear in once-in-a-lifetime event More information: M. Afshari et al. X-RAYING THE DARK SIDE OF VENUS—SCATTER FROM VENUS' MAGNETOTAIL?, The Astronomical Journal (2016). DOI: 10.3847/0004-6256/152/4/107

Bagarello F.,University of Palermo | Bagarello F.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Fring A.,City University London
Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics | Year: 2013

We demonstrate that a non-self-adjoint Hamiltonian of harmonic-oscillator type defined on a two-dimensional noncommutative space can be diagonalized exactly by making use of pseudobosonic operators. The model admits an antilinear symmetry and is of the type studied in the context of PT-symmetric quantum mechanics. Its eigenvalues are computed to be real for the entire range of the coupling constants and the biorthogonal sets of eigenstates for the Hamiltonian and its adjoint are explicitly constructed. We show that despite the fact that these sets are complete and biorthogonal, they involve an unbounded metric operator and therefore do not constitute (Riesz) bases for the Hilbert space L2(R2), but instead only D quasibases. As recently proved by one of us, this is sufficient to deduce several interesting consequences. © 2013 American Physical Society.

Nashine H.K.,Disha Institute of Management and Technology | Samet B.,University of Tunis | Vetro C.,University of Palermo
Mathematical and Computer Modelling | Year: 2011

The purpose of this paper is to present some fixed point theorems for T-weakly isotone increasing mappings which satisfy a generalized nonlinear contractive condition in complete ordered metric spaces. As application, we establish an existence theorem for a solution of some integral equations. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Bagarello F.,University of Palermo | Bagarello F.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Gargano F.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience
Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics | Year: 2014

We discuss the role of pseudofermions in the analysis of some two-dimensional models, recently introduced in connection with non-self-adjoint Hamiltonians. Among other aspects, we discuss the appearance of exceptional points in connection with the validity of the extended anticommutation rules which define the pseudofermionic structure. © 2014 American Physical Society.

Mori K.-I.,Toyohashi University of Technology | Bay N.,Technical University of Denmark | Fratini L.,University of Palermo | Micari F.,University of Palermo | Tekkaya A.E.,TU Dortmund
CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology | Year: 2013

As the scale and complexity of products such as aircraft and cars increase, demand for new functional processes to join mechanical parts grows. The use of plastic deformation for joining parts potentially offers improved accuracy, reliability and environmental safety as well as creating opportunities to design new products through joining dissimilar materials. This paper aims to provide an overview of the state of the art in such joining processes, including cold welding, friction stir welding, self-pierce riveting, mechanical clinching and joining by forming. The paper includes description of the mechanism of joint formation, and analysis of joint performance and applicability. © 2013 CIRP.

Negro F.,University of Geneva | Forton D.,St Georges Hospital | Craxi A.,University of Palermo | Sulkowski M.S.,Johns Hopkins University | And 2 more authors.
Gastroenterology | Year: 2015

Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with several extrahepatic manifestations. Patients with HCV may develop mixed cryoglobulinemia and its sequelae, ranging from cutaneous and visceral vasculitis to glomerulonephritis and B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. HCV-infected patients have increased rates of insulin resistance, diabetes, and atherosclerosis, which may lead to increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Neurological manifestations of HCV infection include fatigue and cognitive impairment. The mechanisms causing the extrahepatic effects of HCV infection are likely multifactorial and may include endocrine effects, HCV replication in extrahepatic cells, or a heightened immune reaction with systemic effects. Successful eradication of HCV with interferon alfa and ribavirin was shown to improve some of these extrahepatic effects; sustained virological response is associated with resolution of complications of cryoglobulinemia, reduced levels of insulin resistance, reduced incidence of diabetes and stroke, and improved fatigue and cognitive functioning. The availability of new interferon-free, well-tolerated anti-HCV treatment regimens is broadening the spectrum of patients available for therapy, including those in whom interferon was contraindicated, and will likely result in greater improvements in the extrahepatic manifestations of HCV. If these regimens are shown to confer significant benefit in the metabolic, cardiovascular, or neuropsychiatric conditions associated with HCV infection, extrahepatic manifestations of HCV may become a major indication for treatment even in the absence of liver disease. © 2015 AGA Institute.

Badalamenti F.,CNR Institute for Coastal Marine Environment | Alagna A.,CNR Institute for Coastal Marine Environment | Fici S.,University of Palermo
Scientific Reports | Year: 2015

Posidonia oceanica meadows are acknowledged as one of the most valuable ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea. P. oceanica has been historically described as a species typically growing on mobile substrates whose development requires precursor communities. Here we document for the first time the extensive presence of sticky hairs covering P. oceanica seedling roots. Adhesive root hairs allow the seedlings to firmly anchor to rocky substrates with anchorage strength values up to 5.23â €...N, regardless of the presence of algal cover and to colonise bare rock without the need for precursor assemblages to facilitate settlement. Adhesive root hairs are a morphological trait common on plants living on rocks in high-energy habitats, such as the riverweed Podostemaceae and the seagrass Phyllospadix scouleri. The presence of adhesive root hairs in P. oceanica juveniles suggests a preference of this species for hard substrates. Such an adaptation leads to hypothesize a new microsite driven bottleneck in P. oceanica seedling survival linked to substrate features. The mechanism described can favour plant establishment on rocky substrates, in contrast with traditional paradigms. This feature may have strongly influenced P. oceanica pattern of colonisation through sexual propagules in both the past and present.

Milazzo M.,University of Palermo | Mirto S.,CNR Institute for Coastal Marine Environment | Domenici P.,CNR Institute for Coastal Marine Environment | Gristina M.,CNR Institute for Coastal Marine Environment
Journal of Animal Ecology | Year: 2013

Biological responses to warming are presently based on the assumption that species will remain within their bioclimatic envelope as environmental conditions change. As a result, changes in the relative abundance of several marine species have been documented over the last decades. This suggests that warming may drive novel interspecific interactions to occur (i.e. invasive vs. native species) or may intensify the strength of pre-existing ones (i.e. warm vs. cold adapted). For mobile species, habitat relocation is a viable solution to track tolerable conditions and reduce competitive costs, resulting in 'winner' species dominating the best quality habitat at the expense of 'loser' species. Here, we focus on the importance of warming in exacerbating interspecific interactions between two sympatric fishes. We assessed the relocation response of the cool-water fish Coris julis (a potential 'loser' species in warming scenarios) at increasing relative dominance of the warm-water fish Thalassoma pavo (a 'winner' species). These wrasses are widespread in the Mediterranean nearshore waters. C. julis tolerates cooler waters and is found throughout the basin. T. pavo is common along southern coasts, although the species range is expanding northwards as the Mediterranean warms. We surveyed habitat patterns along a thermo-latitudinal gradient in the Western Mediterranean Sea and manipulated seawater temperature under two scenarios (present day vs. projected) in outdoor arenas. Our results show that the cool-water species relocates to a less-preferred seagrass habitat and undergoes lower behavioural performance in warmer environments, provided the relative dominance of its warm-water antagonist is high. The results suggest that expected warming will act synergistically with increased relative dominance of a warm-water species to cause a cool-water fish to relocate in a less-preferred habitat within the same thermal environment. Our study highlights the complexity of climate change effects and has broad implications for predictive models of responses to warming. To achieve more accurate predictions, further consideration is needed of the pervasive importance of species interactions. We believe these fundamental issues to be addressed to understand the biotic consequences of climate change. © 2012 The Authors. Journal of Animal Ecology © 2012 British Ecological Society.

Bagarello F.,University of Palermo | Bagarello F.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy
International Journal of Theoretical Physics | Year: 2015

This paper consider the possibility of using some quantum tools in decision making strategies. In particular, we consider here a dynamical open quantum system helping two players, G1$\mathcal {G}_{1}$ and G2$\mathcal {G}_{2}$, to take their decisions in a specific context. We see that, within our approach, the final choices of the players do not depend in general on their initial mental states, but they are driven essentially by the environment which interacts with them. The model proposed here also considers interactions of different nature between the two players, and it is simple enough to allow for an analytical solution of the equations of motion. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: BG-10-2014 | Award Amount: 5.21M | Year: 2015

SUCCESS is bringing together an integrated team of scientists from all fields of fisheries and aquaculture science with industry partners and key stakeholders to work on solutions which shall improve the competitiveness of the European fisheries and aquaculture sector. The supply-side of seafood markets is limited from both sea fisheries and aquaculture. At the same time demand for seafood products is increasing. In a globalised economy, the conjunction of these two trends should generate high opportunities for any seafood production activity. However, both fisheries and aquaculture companies are facing key challenges, which currently hinder them reaping the full benefits of seafood markets expansion, and even question their sustainability. As a whole, the EU fisheries sector remains at low levels of profitability and sustainability. The SUCCESS project will examine two strategies to improve the competitiveness of the sector: (i) increasing demand for EU seafood products, especially improving the awareness of the advantages of European production (including sustainability requirements and adjustment to market evolution); and (ii) cost reduction in certain production segments. For both strategies development on world markets as well as consumer preferences and awareness will be analysed. Additionally, SUCCESS will explore the different sectors along the value chain (from fisheries and aquaculture producers via processing companies, wholesalers, retailers to direct marketing to mobile fishmongers and restaurants) and their potential for improvements in competitiveness. These analyses also include long term predictions about the viability of certain production systems and will be considered in specific case studies on for example mussel production, shrimp fisheries, whitefish, traditional pond aquaculture and new aquaculture production systems.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENERGY.2010.10.2-1 | Award Amount: 3.91M | Year: 2010

The project is focusing on the salinity gradient power reverse electrodialysis (SGP-RE) process. It has been shown in scientific papers that the performance of the process can be increased by an order of magnitude when brine and sea or brackish water are used for the creation of the salinity gradient rather than the current approach of seawater with fresh water. The overall potential is very high and the REAPower project aims to enable the SGP-RE technology to play an important role in the energy mix of the next decades, contributing to the major objectives of energy policy for sustainability, security of supply and competitiveness. The following specific scientific and technological objectives are expected to be achieved within the life-time of the project: (i) Create materials and components tailored to the requirements of the process, including the membranes, spacers, electrodes and electrolyte. (ii) Optimise the design of the SGP-RE cell pairs and stack using a computer modelling tool developed for that purpose (iii) Verify the model, and assess the developed materials, components and design through tests on laboratory stacks. (iv) Evaluate and improve the performance of the overall system through tests on a prototype fed with real brine from a salt pond (v) Evaluate the results, analyse the economics, assess the environmental impacts and define the next necessary R&D activities for further development of the technology The REAPower project explores a new path that has been so far only theoretically analysed. A highly innovative novel technology will be applied that overcomes the limitations of the current approach. The multidisciplinary consortium brings together key players from the industry and the academic world to work across traditional boundaries. The development of the new materials and components will contribute to the establishment of a strong scientific and technical base for European science and technology in this emerging area of energy research.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INFRAIA-1-2014-2015 | Award Amount: 5.09M | Year: 2015

We propose a set of integrated Activities in the High Energy Astrophysics Domain (AHEAD) in response to the INFRAIA-2014-2015 call Research Infrastructures for High EnergyAstrophysics. The overall objective of AHEAD is to integrate national efforts in high-energy Astrophysics and to promote the domain at the European level, to keep its community at the cutting edge of science and technology in this competitive research area and ensure that space observatories for high-energy astrophysics are at the state of the art. AHEAD will integrate key research infrastructures for on-ground test and calibration of space-based sensors and electronics and promote their coordinated use. In parallel, the best facilities for data analysis of high-energy astrophysical observatories will be made available to the European community. The technological development will focus on the improvement of selected critical technologies, background modeling, cross calibration, and feasibility studies of space-based instrumentation for the benefit of future X-ray and gamma-ray missions, and the best exploitation of existing observatories. AHEAD will support the community via grants for collaborative studies, dissemination of results, and promotion of workshops. A strong public outreach package will ensure that the domain is well publicized at national, European and International level. The virtual circle infrastructure - networking - joint research activities, as devised in AHEAD, serves to establish strong connections between institutes and industry to create the basis for a more rapid advancement of high-energy astrophysical science, space-oriented instrumentation and cutting-edge sensor technology in Europe. This enables the development of new technologies and the associated growth of the European technology market, - with a dedicated technology innovation package - as well as the creation of a new generation of researchers.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: BSG-SME | Phase: SME-2011-1 | Award Amount: 1.44M | Year: 2011

Laser Powder Deposition is a recently developed technology for manufacture of small intricate metal parts such as those used in aerospace and automobile engines. This technology has significant potential advantages over conventional casting methods in that small parts with internal features can be built, enabling special processes and light structures to be constructed. The powder deposition process works by melting a layer of powder in a pattern determined by the path of a laser. The layers are either 500 m or 20-50 m thick depending on the process used. To take full advantage of the intricacy of form enabled by these additive technology approaches in these applications commensurate non-destructive inspection capability is needed which can support the cycle times needed in Rapid Agile manufacture of high performance, high loading efficiency structures. This requires an inspection process capable of handling the complex evolving forms, in cycle with a processing environment with a feature resolution on a scale relevant to the component structural elements. This project aims to address this problem and provide non-destructive testing techniques with known capabilities for the process. Objectives: To provide inspection methods for the laser powder deposition process with known capability. To manufacture a prototype laser powder deposition manufacturing system with known inspection capabilities and to demonstrate these capabilities. Candidate inspection technologies have been identified that have potential to provide the inspection capability. Note that these will probably need to be robotically deployed and remotely operated within the laser cell between the deposition of each layer. Eddy current, ultrasound signals generated by lasers, thermal patterns and optical methods for surface distortion measurement technologies will be evaluated, developed and the performance established for the range of defects and sizes required.

Mercadante S.,Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit | Prestia G.,Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit | Adile C.,Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit | Casuccio A.,University of Palermo
Journal of Pain | Year: 2014

The aim of this randomized, crossover, comparison study was to assess the analgesic and adverse effects of 2 nasal preparations, intranasal fentanyl (INFS) and fentanyl pectin nasal spray (FPNS), for breakthrough pain, given in doses proportional to opioid basal regimen. Each patient randomly received INFS or FPNS in doses proportional to opioid dosages used for background analgesia for 2 pairs of episodes. For each episode of breakthrough pain, pain intensity and adverse effects intensity were recorded just before starting the INFS or FPNS (T0) and 5 minutes (T5), 10 minutes (T10), and 20 minutes (T20) after the administration of the nasal drugs. Sixty-nine patients were studied. The mean age was 63.4 years, and 37 patients were males. For the present analysis, 188 episodes were considered. A statistical decrease in pain intensity was observed with both nasal drugs after 5, 10, and 20 minutes. A decrease in pain intensity of >33% was observed in 16, 102, and 159 treated episodes at T5, T10, and T20, respectively. Adverse effects were of mild nature in most cases or were preexistent because of basal opioid therapy. No differences were found in summed pain intensity difference 20 minutes after dosing. Most of patients did not find substantial preferences. INFS and FPNS were effective and well-tolerated treatments for breakthrough pain management. Both delivery systems, in doses proportional to the basal opioid regimen, provided significant analgesia within 10 minutes, without producing relevant adverse effects. Perspective This article showed that INFS and FPNS in doses proportional to basal opioid regimen are equally safe and effective for the management of breakthrough pain in cancer patients. These data provide new insights on the use of nasal preparations of fentanyl. © 2014 by the American Pain Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Certini G.,University of Florence | Scalenghe R.,University of Palermo | Scalenghe R.,University of Poitiers
Holocene | Year: 2011

We propose that the Anthropocene be defined as the last c. 2000 years of the late Holocene and characterized on the basis of anthropogenic soils. This contrasts with the original definition of the Anthropocene as the last c. 250 years (since the Industrial Revolution) and more recent proposals that the Anthropocene began some 5000 to 8000 years ago in the early to mid Holocene (the early-Anthropocene hypothesis). Anthropogenic soil horizons, of which several types are recognized, provide extensive terrestrial stratigraphic markers for defining the start of the Anthropocene. The pedosphere is regarded as the best indicator of the rise to dominance of human impacts on the total environment because it reflects strongly the growing impact of early civilisations over much of the Earth's surface. Hence, the composition of anthropogenic soils is deemed more appropriate than atmospheric composition in providing 'golden spikes' for the Anthropocene. © SAGE Publications 2011.

Cigna F.,University of Florence | Del Ventisette C.,University of Florence | Liguori V.,University of Palermo | Casagli N.,University of Florence
Natural Hazards and Earth System Science | Year: 2011

We present a new post-processing methodology for the analysis of InSAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry) multi-temporal measures, based on the temporal under-sampling of displacement time series, the identification of potential changes occurring during the monitoring period and, eventually, the classification of different deformation behaviours. The potentials of this approach for the analysis of geological processes were tested on the case study of Naro (Italy), specifically selected due to its geological setting and related ground instability of unknown causes that occurred in February 2005. The time series analysis of past (ERS1/2 descending data; 1992-2000) and current (RADARSAT-1 ascending data; 2003-2007) ground movements highlighted significant displacement rates (up to 6 mm yr-1) in 2003-2007, followed by a post-event stabilization. The deformational behaviours of instable areas involved in the 2005 event were also detected, clarifying typology and kinematics of ground instability. The urban sectors affected and unaffected by the event were finally mapped, consequently re-defining and enlarging the influenced area previously detected by field observations. Through the integration of InSAR data and conventional field surveys (i.e. geological, geomorphologic and geostructural campaigns), the causes of instability were finally attributed to tectonics. © Author(s) 2011.

Agrigento P.,University of Palermo | Beier M.J.,ETH Zurich | Knijnenburg J.T.N.,ETH Zurich | Baiker A.,ETH Zurich | Gruttadauria M.,University of Palermo
Journal of Materials Chemistry | Year: 2012

Magnetic particles entrapped into highly cross-linked imidazolium salts were synthesized using a straightforward approach by radical polymerization of bis-vinylimidazolium salts in the presence of superparamagnetic iron oxide particles. Potential applications for these new materials as (i) catalysts for conversion of propylene oxide to propylene carbonate, (ii) supports for organocatalysts, and (iii) scavenger materials for palladium removal are outlined. © 2012 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Mercadante S.,Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit | Mercadante S.,University of Palermo
Current Medical Research and Opinion | Year: 2011

Pain is still one of the most prevalent and distressing symptom in patients with chronic pain. Opioids are the most potent existing analgesics available in clinical practice. However, they are not always effective, particularly in the non-cancer population. Alternately adverse effects may limit their analgesic activity. Several different drug-development strategies have attempted to reduce side effects by exploiting anatomic barriers to drug distribution and to provide different analgesic mechanisms, as in the case of the oxycodonenaloxone combination or tapentadol. New delivery systems have been developed for a more effective management of breakthrough pain. Pharmacogenetics could play a critical role in personalizing pain management in the future. © 2011 Informa UK Ltd.

Bauso D.,University of Palermo | Blanchini F.,University of Udine | Pesenti R.,University of Venice
IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control | Year: 2010

We consider continuous-time robust network flows with capacity constraints and unknown but bounded time-varying demand. The problem of interest is to design a control strategy off-line with no knowledge of the demand realization. Such a control strategy regulates the flow on-line as a function of the realized demand. © 2009 IEEE.

Bauso D.,University of Palermo | Giarre L.,University of Palermo | Pesenti R.,University of Venice
IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control | Year: 2012

Dissensus is a modeling framework for networks of dynamic agents in competition for scarce resources. Originally inspired by biological cell behaviors, it also fits marketing, finance and many other application areas. Competition is often unstable in the sense that strong agents, those having access to large resources, gain more and more resources at the expenses of weak agents. Thus, strong agents duplicate when reaching a critical amount of resources, whereas weak agents die when losing all their resources. To capture all these phenomena we introduce discrete time gossip systems with unstable state dynamics interrupted by discrete events affecting the network topology. Invariancy of states, topologies, and network connectivity are explored. © 2011 IEEE.

Mantegna R.N.,University of Palermo | Kertesz J.,Budapest University of Technology and Economics | Kertesz J.,Aalto University
New Journal of Physics | Year: 2011

This focus issue presents a collection of papers on recent results in statistical physics modeling in economics and finance, commonly known as econophysics. We touch briefly on the history of this relatively new multidisciplinary field, summarize the motivations behind its emergence and try to characterize its specific features. We point out some research aspects that must be improved and briefly discuss the topics the research field is moving toward. Finally, we give a short account of the papers collected in this issue. © IOP Publishing Ltd and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.

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.

Savorelli A.,University of Florence | Masini F.,University of Palermo
Palaeontographica, Abteilung A: Palaozoologie - Stratigraphie | Year: 2016

Mystemys giganteus is a new strongly endemic cricetid that occurs only in the recently discovered M013 Terre Rosse fissure filling of the Gargano area. This species was presented alongside the other taxa of the M013 fissure in a previous paper and it is here described in detail. Although the material includes only five molars, Mystemys is exceptional for its very large size (length of M1: 6.23 mm) and peculiar morphology. The molars are heavy built with bulged and robust cusps, tubercular crests, narrow valleys, very thick and crenulated enamel. The morphological features of Mystemys are very carefully described, with special focus on the evolutionary modifications induced by isolation. The strong endemic modifications as well as the peculiar combination of features distinguish this cricetid from all the other mainland species, obscuring its phylogenetic relationship. Nevertheless, the systematic comparisons with the mainland cricetid genera suggest that this insular taxon should have derived from a Miocene mainland ancestor with a primitive "Democricetodon-like" or "Cricetodon-like" morphological pattern. This conclusion constrains the age of the potential mainland ancestor to a chronological interval spanning MN1-MN9. This time slice is not suitable for the dispersal of the ancestor of Gargano Muridae, thus reinforcing the idea that the Terre Rosse fauna is the result of multiple dispersal events. © 2016 E. Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, Germany.

Certini G.,University of Florence | Scalenghe R.,University of Palermo | Woods W.I.,University of Kansas
Earth-Science Reviews | Year: 2013

One of the most dramatic ways humans can affect soil properties is through the performance of military activities. Warfare-induced disturbances to soil are basically of three types - physical, chemical, and biological - and are aimed at causing direct problems to enemies or, more often, are indirect, undesired ramifications. Physical disturbances to soil include sealing due to building of defensive infrastructures, excavation of trenches or tunnels, compaction by traffic of machinery and troops, or cratering by bombs. Chemical disturbances consist of the input of pollutants such as oil, heavy metals, nitroaromatic explosives, organophosphorus nerve agents, dioxins from herbicides, or radioactive elements. Biological disturbances occur as unintentional consequences of the impact on the physical and chemical properties of soil or the deliberate introduction of microorganisms lethal to higher animals and humans such as botulin or anthrax. Soil represents a secure niche where such pathogens can perpetuate their virulence for decades.Soil morphology, composition, and biology can be profoundly modified by warfare activities in either wartime or peacetime (e.g. at test-firing facilities), and complete recovery of some characteristics can require years or even centuries. A few soil functions can be definitively compromised, if appropriate reclaiming techniques are not carried out. Such techniques often are extremely expensive, as in the case of contamination by dioxins or radionuclides, and remediation can even impel the complete removal of the polluted soil and its substitution with soil material from elsewhere. Taking into account how much of the pedosphere is currently and was in the past involved in warfare, warfare is actually a major means by which humans play a recognized role as a soil forming factor, as well as the parent material, topography, time, climate, and organisms not endowed with the power of reason. The variegated impact of warfare on the soil environment is reviewed here. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

A small moonrat belonging to the Galericini tribe occurs in all the assemblages from the Terre Rosse fissure fillings of the Gargano. It was first mentioned in the pioneering report of Freudenthal and by Butler in his study of the " gigantic" Deinogalerix, and has been quoted with different names several times in faunal lists of the Terre Rosse endemic faunas. Up to date, however, the description of this gymnure has never been achieved. We present here the taxonomical and morphological description of a sample from Fissure Filling F32 that is considered to document the youngest phase of population of the Gargano Paleoarchipelago. The comparisons with genera Galerix, Parasorex and Schizogalerix, show that the Gargano gymnure is well distinct from these three genera, and that it deserves a generic status. The small Galericini is therefore referred to Apulogalerix pusillus nov. gen., nov. sp. The enlarged and swollen premolar series, the small, pointed molars, some details in the morphology of the lower fourth premolar and of the third upper premolar, indicate that Apulogalerix nov. gen. is an endemic taxon, likely derived from a Parasorex ancestor, which specialized in a malacophagous diet. © 2013 Elsevier Masson SAS.

Mercadante S.,Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit | Craig D.,H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute | Giarratano A.,University of Palermo
Drugs | Year: 2012

Prescriptions for opioid analgesics to manage moderate-to-severe chronic non-cancer pain have increased markedly over the last decade. An unintentional consequence of greater prescription opioid utilization has been the parallel increase in misuse, abuse and overdose, which are serious risks associated with all opioid analgesics. In response to disturbing rises in prescription opioid abuse, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed the implementation of aggressive Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS). While REMS could dramatically change the development, release, marketing and prescription of extended-release opioids, questions remain on how these programmes may influence prescribing practices, patient safety and ultimately patient access to these agents. The extent of the availability and misuse of prescription opioids in Europe is difficult to assess from the data currently available, due in large part to the considerable differences in prescribing patterns and regulations between countries. Balancing the availability of prescription opioids for those patients who have pain, while discouraging illicit use, is a complex challenge and requires effective efforts on many levels, particularly in Europe where policies are quite different between countries.

Vermeulen L.,University of Amsterdam | De Sousa E Melo F.,University of Amsterdam | Van Der Heijden M.,University of Amsterdam | Cameron K.,University of Amsterdam | And 11 more authors.
Nature Cell Biology | Year: 2010

Despite the presence of mutations in APC or Β-catenin, which are believed to activate the Wnt signalling cascade constitutively, most colorectal cancers show cellular heterogeneity when Β-catenin localization is analysed, indicating a more complex regulation of Wnt signalling. We explored this heterogeneity with a Wnt reporter construct and observed that high Wnt activity functionally designates the colon cancer stem cell (CSC) population. In adenocarcinomas, high activity of the Wnt pathway is observed preferentially in tumour cells located close to stromal myofibroblasts, indicating that Wnt activity and cancer stemness may be regulated by extrinsic cues. In agreement with this notion, myofibroblast-secreted factors, specifically hepatocyte growth factor, activate Β-catenin-dependent transcription and subsequently CSC clonogenicity. More significantly, myofibroblast-secreted factors also restore the CSC phenotype in more differentiated tumour cells both in vitro and in vivo. We therefore propose that stemness of colon cancer cells is in part orchestrated by the microenvironment and is a much more dynamic quality than previously expected that can be defined by high Wnt activity. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Bauso D.,University of Palermo | Pesenti R.,University of Venice
Dynamic Games and Applications | Year: 2013

This paper studies linear quadratic games with set up costs monotonic on the number of active players, namely, players whose action is non-null. Such games arise naturally in joint replenishment inventory systems. Building upon a preliminary analysis of the properties of the best response strategies and Nash equilibria for the given game, the main contribution is the study of the same game under large population. We also analyze the influence of an additional disturbance in the spirit of the literature on H∞ control. Numerical illustrations are provided. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Lo Coco G.,University of Palermo | Gullo S.,University of Palermo | Kivlighan D.M.,University of Maryland University College
Journal of Counseling Psychology | Year: 2012

There is a lack of research examining patients' and other group members' agreement about their therapeutic alliance. In the present study, the person-group (P-G) fit model was adopted to predict that the group member symptom reduction will be greater when the group member's and the other group members' perceptions of their alliance to the group-as-a-whole fit and are high. In addition, the effect of disagreement between the group member and the other group members in their perceptions of the group alliance on the individual's outcome was investigated by using response surface analysis. Thirty-two patients from 5 long-term (> 1 year) psychodynamic group treatments were studied. Participants filled out the California Psychotherapy Alliance Scale-Group (CALPAS-G; Gaston & Marmar, 1993) and the Outcome Questionnaire-45 (OQ-45; Lambert et al., 1996) monthly over the course of group treatment until termination. As hypothesized, patient's symptom reduction was greater when there was agreement between the group member and the other group members that their alliance to the group as a whole was strong. Contrary to the authors' hypothesis, a lack agreement on alliance to the group as a whole between the patient and the other group members was not related to less symptom reduction, as lack of fit increased, symptom reduction decreased. Also contrary to the authors' hypothesis, when other group members saw their alliance to the group as a whole as stronger than did the patient, there was increased symptom reduction. The findings suggest that the P-G fit model may be a useful strategy to examine group process variables in the psychotherapy context. © 2012 American Psychological Association.

Ibanez J.J.,University of Valencia | Zinck J.A.,University of Twente | Dazzi C.,University of Palermo
Geoderma | Year: 2013

For decades, soil geography has beenmainly a qualitative and descriptive discipline. There are nowtechnologies and mathematical tools available that allow formalizing soil geography in more quantitative terms. In this paper, the distribution and diversity of the soils of Europe are analyzed using GIS tools and pedodiversity algorithms. Soil data were taken from the European Soil Database (V2.0) and computed within the spatial framework of the Biogeographical Regions of Europe (BGRE) as defined by the European Environmental Agency (EEA) on the basis of climate and vegetation. The results obtained show the soil assemblages, including dominant soils and endemic and non-endemic soil minorities, and their respective soil diversity for each BGRE. Most BGRE have dominant soils thatmainly reflect the influence of the climatic conditions prevailing in each regional context. Although the definition of the BGRE lacks relevant information on geology, relief and paleogeographic evolution, soil assemblages of most biogeographical regions are idiosyncratic and characterize quite well the European soilscapes. Northern BGRE (i.e. Arctic and Boreal) have low pedotaxa diversity in contrast to the other BGRE. The mountain biome has the highest pedorichness at European as well as at global level. The Atlantic andMediterranean regions and, to some extent, the Alpine region aremutually related.Most continental soilscapes constitute a mix of typical steppe and forest soils. The Black Sea region, the smallest one of all, has no idiosyncratic soil type, suggesting that it could be considered as an important biodiversity hotspot rather than a genuine biogeographical region. These results are relevant as baseline information for a full inventory of pedodiversity and as an important part of the European natural heritage. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Tesoriere L.,University of Palermo | Attanzio A.,University of Palermo | Allegra M.,University of Palermo | Cilla A.,University of Valencia | And 2 more authors.
Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry | Year: 2014

Background/Aims: Oxysterol activity on the erythrocyte (RBC) programmed cell death (eryptosis) had not been studied yet. Effects of an oxysterol mixture in hyper-cholesterolemic-relevant proportion, and of individual compounds, were investigated on RBCs from healthy humans. Methods: Membrane phosphatidylserine (PS) externalization, calcium entry, ROS production, amino-phospholipid translocase (APLT) activity were evaluated by cytofluorimetric assays, cell volume from forward scatter. Prostaglandin PGE2 was measured by ELISA; GSH-adducts and lipoperoxides by spectrophotometry. Involvement of protein kinase C and caspase was investigated by inhibitors staurosporin, calphostin C, and Z-DEVD-FMK, respectively. Results: Oxysterols caused PS externalization and cell shrinkage, associated with PGE2 release, opening of PGE2-dependent calcium channels, ROS production, GSH depletion, membrane lipid oxidation. Addition of antioxidants prevented Ca2+ influx and eryptosis. Calcium removal prevented cell shrinkage, with small effect (-20%) on the PS exposure, whereas ROS generation was unaltered. Either in the presence or absence of calcium i) oxysterols inhibited APLT, ii) staurosporin, calphostin C, Z-DEVD-FMK blunted and iii) antioxidants fully prevented the oxysterol-induced PS externalization. Only 7-ketocholesterol and cholestan-3β,5α,6β-triol were individually active. Eryptosis was observed in RBCs isolated after ex vivo spiking of human whole blood with the oxysterol mixture. Conclusions: Oxysterols induce an oxidative stress-dependent eryptosis, involving calcium-independent mechanisms. Eryptotic activity of oxysterols may be relevant in vivo. Copyright © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.

Craparo G.,Kore University of Enna | Ardino V.,The London School of Economics and Political Science | Gori A.,University of Florence | Caretti V.,University of Palermo
Psychiatry Investigation | Year: 2014

Objective Addiction is often considered a dissociative behavior that is related to alexithymia and developmental trauma. The study aims were to explore the relationships between early trauma, alexithymia, and dissociation. Methods A total of 117 (males=60; females=57) alcohol-addicted individuals and 117 healthy individuals (males=60; females=57) were administered a series of self-report questionnaires that assess traumatic experiences, alexithymia, and pathological dissociation. Results Correlation analyses indicated significant correlations between alexithymia, dissociation, and trauma and a significant difference between the target and control groups, with higher alexithymia and dissociation scores in the target group. Conclusion These findings suggest that trauma, alexithymia, and dissociation are predictors of alcohol addiction. © 2014 Korean Neuropsychiatric Association.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: SPA.2010.2.2-01 | Award Amount: 2.63M | Year: 2010

Observations from space offer huge improvements in many fields of science. They expand widely the range of the spectral information compared to ground applications. Recently, the use of space qualified cryocoolers to decrease the temperature of instruments down to few kelvins and even below, allows the use of new resistive sensors exhibiting outstanding performances when compared to classical devices. For example, new moderately cooled magnetometers arrays can provide a very high magnetic sensitivity for space exploration, thermal X-ray detectors can reach a spectral resolution two orders of magnitude better than Silicon ones, and in the Infrared domain, observations with bolometers will soon be limited only by the photon background of zodiacal light. The development of large format array detectors in these three fields is today constrained by the amount of signal channels that can be extracted in parallel from the power limited cold stages. The goal of this network is to provide the community with cryogenic electronic elements performing all the essential functions to preserve the signal quality of a large amount of sensors (pixels). For this purpose, two ways must be followed in parallel: -the development of new components (transistors) showing low noise and reduced power consumption to replace the JFETs limited to 120 K -the conception of new circuits based on the cryogenic proven CMOS and SiGe technologies to realize complex functions (amplification, filtering, multiplexing and digitalization) The network gathers fundamental solid-state research laboratories for the development of elementary electronic components; a semi-industrial company already manufacturing complex CMOS and SiGe circuits for cryogenic space applications (Herschel), specialists of cryogenic measurements having already the know how for (sub) Kelvin measurements, together with confirmed space instrumentalists

Cillino G.,University of Palermo | Casuccio A.,University of Palermo | Pasti M.,University of Florence | Bono V.,University of Palermo | And 2 more authors.
Ophthalmology | Year: 2014

Purpose To compare the visual outcomes, reading performance, and quality of life (QoL) of working-age cataractous patients bilaterally implanted with 3 different diffractive multifocal intraocular lenses (MIOLs). Design Two-center, randomized, prospective, double-masked study. Participants Sixty-three consecutive patients (126 eyes) seen at Ophthalmology Section, Palermo and Florence University, Italy, randomized to receive the ReSTOR SN6AD3 (Alcon Laboratories, Inc, Irvine, CA) (20 patients, group A), ReSTOR SN6AD1 (Alcon Laboratories, Inc) (21 patients, group B), or TECNIS ZMA00 (Abbott Medical Optics, Santa Ana, CA) (22 patients, group C) MIOL. Intervention Phacoemulsification. Main Outcome Measures One-year follow-up differences among the 3 MIOL groups in visual acuity, reading performance by MNREAD (Minnesota Laboratory for Low-Vision Research, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN) reading acuity (RA), critical print size (CPS), and maximum reading speed (MRS) under mesopic and photopic conditions. Secondary Outcome Measures Photopic and mesopic contrast sensitivity (CS) by Pelli-Robson test and patient satisfaction by National Eye Institute Refractive Error Quality of Life Instrument-42 (NEI RQL-42) questionnaire. Results Mean photopic uncorrected near visual acuity (UNVA), distance-corrected near visual acuity (DCNVA), and corrected near visual acuity (CNVA) did not differ among groups, with a preferred reading distance greater in group B (P < 0.0005). Photopic distance-corrected intermediate visual acuity (DCIVA) was best in group B (P = 0.001) and better in group C than in group A. Mesopic UNVA and DCNVA were worse in groups A and B compared with group C (P < 0.0005 in both cases), with better DCNVA in group B than in group A (P = 0.031). Mesopic uncorrected intermediate visual acuity (UIVA) and DCIVA were worst in group A, with better results in group C (P < 0.0005 and P = 0.001, respectively). Mesopic MNREAD RA was better in group C (P = 0.02), and mesopic MRS was higher in groups B and C than in group A (P = 0.002). The QoL scores by the NEI RQL-42 test exhibited no differences among groups in 9 over 13 scales. "Near vision" (P = 0.005), "symptoms" (P = 0.001), and "satisfaction with correction" scale scores (P = 0.030) were lowest in group A, and "appearance" scale score was lowest in group B (P = 0.045). Conclusions Newer-generation aspheric diffractive MIOLs, especially low-add hybrid apodized or full diffractive, are highly suited for working-age cataractous patients in terms of visual outcomes, reading performance, and QoL. Intrinsic optical differences, such as optimization for computer or dim-light working, or night driving, could be useful tools to customize the IOL in each single case. © 2014 by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Casella G.,University of Padua | Casella G.,University of Palermo | Causin V.,University of Padua | Rastrelli F.,University of Padua | Saielli G.,CNR Institute on Membrane Technology
Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics | Year: 2014

The stability of thermotropic ionic liquid crystals is essentially due to micro-phase segregation between the ionic heads and the long alkyl chains. Here we show, using newly synthesized viologen dimers, that the structure of the central core is another key parameter to play with in order to tune the mesomorphic behaviour. © 2014 the Owner Societies.

Zhong W.,Guangzhou University | Leto G.,University of Palermo | Wang L.,East Tennessee State University | Zeng G.,Guangzhou University
Journal of Endourology | Year: 2015

Objective: To evaluate the risk factors for systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) after flexible ureteroscopic lithotripsy (FUL). Materials and Methods: Patients who underwent FUL between October 2012 and November 2013 were studied. Complete data was available for 260 adult patients who met this criteria. Preoperative and intraoperative risk factors that potentially contribute to SIRS were compared in patients who developed postoperative SIRS and those who did not. Furthermore, multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed and the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated to identify the independent risk factors for SIRS after FUL. Results: The incidence of SIRS after FUL was 8.1%. In the univariate test analysis, significant correlation between SIRS and four factors was noted: sex of the patient (P<0.001), stone size (P=0.001), irrigation flow rate (P<0.001), and irrigation volume (P<0.001). Multivariable logistic regression analysis identified stone size (OR=1.691; 95% CI,0.879-3.255), small-caliber ureteral access sheath (UAS) (OR=2.293; 95% CI, 0.730-7.200), irrigation flow rate (OR=1.161; 95% CI, 1.096-1.230), and struvite calculi (OR=3.331; 95% CI, 0.971-11.426) as independent risk factors for SIRS after FUL. Conclusions: We recommend that the length of lithotripsy be well controlled in patients with large stone burden and struvite calculi. Staging procedures are also required. Additionally, irrigating with a low flow rate and low pressure and using a large-caliber UAS for better drainage are required to keep a low renal pelvic pressure during FUL procedures. © Copyright 2015, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2015.

Ciric L.,University of Zagreb | Samet B.,Ecole Superieure des science et Techniques de Tunis | Vetro C.,University of Palermo
Mathematical and Computer Modelling | Year: 2011

We prove some common fixed point theorems in probabilistic semi-metric spaces for families of occasionally weakly compatible mappings. We also give a common fixed point theorem for mappings satisfying an integral-type implicit relation. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

De Paola A.,University of Palermo | Ortolani M.,University of Palermo | Lo Re G.,University of Palermo | Anastasi G.,University of Pisa | Das S.K.,Missouri University of Science and Technology
ACM Computing Surveys | Year: 2014

In recent years, reduction of energy consumption in buildings has increasingly gained interest among researchers mainly due to practical reasons, such as economic advantages and long-term environmental sustainability. Many solutions have been proposed in the literature to address this important issue from complementary perspectives, which are often hard to capture in a comprehensive manner. This survey article aims at providing a structured and unifying treatment of the existing literature on intelligent energy management systems in buildings, with a distinct focus on available architectures and methodology supporting a vision transcending the well-established smart home vision, in favor of the novel Ambient Intelligence paradigm. Our exposition will cover the main architectural components of such systems, beginning with the basic sensory infrastructure, moving on to the data processing engine where energy-saving strategies may be enacted, to the user interaction interface subsystem, and finally to the actuation infrastructure necessary to transfer the planned modifications to the environment. For each component, we will analyze different solutions, and we will provide qualitative comparisons, also highlighting the impact that a single design choice can have on the rest of the system. © 2014 ACM.

Ciriminna R.,CNR Institute of Nanostructured Materials | Sciortino M.,CNR Institute of Nanostructured Materials | Alonzo G.,University of Palermo | De Schrijver A.,Greenseal Chemicals NV | Pagliaro M.,CNR Institute of Nanostructured Materials
Chemical Reviews | Year: 2011

Encapsulation occurs as the silicon precursors polymerize to build an oxide cage around the polar droplets which, acting as microreactors, yield microparticles with size comparable to the size of the droplets. Stirring of the water-in-oil emulsion leads to the formation of sol droplets containing water and ethanol inside the emulsion drop, protected by the adsorbed layer of Span-80 molecules. When the ethanol-to-water ratio used is higher than 0.7 or lower than 0.37, full, solid spherical spheres are formed, pointing to the crucial role exercised by the ratio of ethanol/water used in the emulsion system. The uniformity of the size and shell thickness of the hollow silica spheres prepared by the O/W emulsion method is often poor due to the dynamic character of the emulsion droplets. The amount of ethanol introduced into the emulsion system must be optimized since EtOH can not only stabilize but also dissolve the TEOS droplets.

Cataldo S.,University of Palermo | Salice P.,University of Padua | Menna E.,University of Padua | Pignataro B.,University of Palermo
Energy and Environmental Science | Year: 2012

The use of carbon nanotubes in photovoltaics is still challenging due to different issues connected to their synthesis, purification, functionalization, processing and device integration. From this perspective at first we review on selected contributions dealing with the above issues; then we focus on the advantages and limitations of carbon nanotubes for the development of organic solar cells. © 2012 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Paoli A.,University of Padua | Bianco A.,University of Palermo | Grimaldi K.A.,National Technical University of Athens
Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews | Year: 2015

The ketogenic diet (KD) is used widely as a weight loss strategy and, more rarely, as therapy for some diseases. In many sports, weight control is often necessary (boxing, weightlifting, wrestling, etc.), but the KD usually is not considered. Our hypothesis is that KD might be used to achieve fat loss without affecting strength/power performance negatively. © 2015 by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Materassi D.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Salapaka M.V.,University of Minnesota | Giarre L.,University of Palermo
Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Decision and Control | Year: 2011

The article main focus is on the identification of a graphical model from time series data associated with different interconnected entities. The time series are modeled as realizations of stochastic processes (representing nodes of a graph) linked together via transfer functions (representing the edges of the graph). Both the cases of non-causal and causal links are considered. By using only the measurements of the node outputs and without assuming any prior knowledge of the network topology, a method is provided to estimate the graph connectivity. In particular, it is proven that the method determines links to be present only between a node and its "kins", where kins of a node consist of parents, children and co-parents (other parents of all of its children) in the graph. With the additional hypothesis of strictly casual links, a similar method is provided that allows one to exactly reconstruct the original graph. Main tools for determining the network topology are based on Wiener, Wiener-Hopf and Granger filtering. Analogies with the problem of Compressing Sensing are drawn and two greedy algorithms to address the problem of reducing the complexity of the network structure are also suggested. © 2011 IEEE.

Fabiano S.,University of Palermo | Musumeci C.,Superlab Consorzio Catania Ricerche | Chen Z.,Polyera Corporation | Scandurra A.,Superlab Consorzio Catania Ricerche | And 4 more authors.
Advanced Materials | Year: 2012

Monolayer field-effect transistors based on a high-mobility n-type polymer are demonstrated. The accurate control of the long-range order by Langmuir-Schäfer (LS) deposition yields dense polymer packing exhibiting good injection properties, relevant current on/off ratio and carrier mobility in a staggered configuration. Layer-by-layer LS film transistors of increasing thickness are fabricated and their performance compared to those of spin-coated films. © 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Fagiolini A.,University of Palermo | Fagiolini A.,University of Pisa | Bicchi A.,University of Pisa | Bicchi A.,Italian Institute of Technology
Automatica | Year: 2013

We introduce a novel consensus mechanism by which the agents of a network can reach an agreement on the value of a shared logical vector function depending on binary input events. Based on results on the convergence of finite-state iteration systems, we provide a technique to design logical consensus systems that minimizing the number of messages to be exchanged and the number of steps before consensus is reached, and tolerating a bounded number of failed or malicious agents. We provide sufficient joint conditions on the input visibility and the communication topology for the method's applicability. We describe the application of our method to two distributed network intrusion detection problems. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Cammalleri C.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Ciraolo G.,University of Palermo
International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation | Year: 2012

Application of FAO-56 methodology for the assessment of reference evapotranspiration, ET0, is challenging in areas of the world with sparse meteorological network stations. For this reason alternative procedures using remotely observed data have been proposed in the literature. In this work, a simplified version of the Makkink approach [J. Inst. Wat. Eng. 11: 277-288, 1957] was tested in a typical Mediterranean environment (Sicily, Italy). The implemented Makkink approach (MAK) uses remotely estimated solar radiation derived from Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) satellite data and in situ observations of air temperature to assess ET0 at daily time scale. Alternatively, taking advantage of well-defined relationships that exist between seasonality, elevation and air temperature, a deterministic procedure for estimating air temperature inputs used in the MAK approach (named RS) was also tested. This approach allows the assessment of daily ET0 without the need of auxiliary air temperature ground observations. A comparison between the FAO-56 and MAK approaches was performed for 45 sites in Sicily over the period 2007-2010. Assuming FA0-56 as the benchmark, the average accuracy of the MAK methodology was 0.4 mm d-1, with a relative error of 12%. Similar to other applications of the same procedure, the MAK approach showed a slightly underestimation of ET0 high values; however, an average regression slope of 0.96 (and negligible intercept) suggests a satisfactory agreement with the FAO-56 modeled values. Air temperature observations acquired during 2002-2006 were used to calibrate the deterministic relation between air temperature, seasonality (as a function of the DOY) and orography (as a function of elevation). For the period 2007-2010, the RS approach performs similarly to MAK, with an average difference of less than 0.05 mm d-1. Analysis of monthly, seasonal and yearly ET0 maps shows a slight decrease in RS performance during June and July; nevertheless, the differences between MAK and RS approaches are negligible at all analyzed temporal scales. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Di Paola M.,University of Palermo | Heuer R.,Vienna University of Technology | Pirrotta A.,University of Palermo
International Journal of Solids and Structures | Year: 2013

Aim of this paper is the response evaluation of fractional visco-elastic Euler-Bernoulli beam under quasi-static and dynamic loads. Starting from the local fractional visco-elastic relationship between axial stress and axial strain, it is shown that bending moment, curvature, shear, and the gradient of curvature involve fractional operators. Solution of particular example problems are studied in detail providing a correct position of mechanical boundary conditions. Moreover, it is shown that, for homogeneous beam both correspondence principles also hold in the case of Euler-Bernoulli beam with fractional constitutive law. Virtual work principle is also derived and applied to some case studies. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Bancheva S.,Bulgarian Academy of Science | Geraci A.,University of Palermo | Raimondo F.M.,University of Palermo
Plant Biosystems | Year: 2011

The Centaurea parlatoris group belongs to sect. Dissectae and is one of the most taxonomically critical groups in Sicily. The taxa included in it inhabit dry slopes, pastures and rocky places. Some of them are narrow endemics to Sicily, and others to Italy. The great morphological variability at the intrapopulation level has not permitted the creation of an adequate taxonomic scheme. The recent proposal of two new species from Sicily confirms the insufficient knowledge of the taxonomic diversity. This study involves eight Sicilian populations of the C. parlatoris group. Seven loci from nine enzyme systems [isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH), malate dehydrogenase (MDH), 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (6-PGD), phosphoglucomutase (PGM), alcohol deydrogenase (ADH), shikimate deydrogenase (SKD), leucine aminopeptidase (LAP), glutamate-oxaloacetate transaminase (GOT) and phosphoglucoisomerase (PGI)] were examined. A total of 23 alleles were identified; seven were fixed in different populations, others were rare. The allele frequencies and the genetic variability values for each population were calculated. The highest intrapopulation variability was found in the populations of Monte Occhio and San Martino (71.4%), as well as in C. giardinae and C. sicana (57.1%). The lowest values were registered in the population of Isnello. The obtained dendrogram reflects the recent taxonomic treatment of the group. The study can provide means for both assessment of the future impact of erosion on diversity and elaboration of effective conservation strategies for these endemic taxa. © 2011 Società Botanica Italiana.

Airo Farulla C.,University of Palermo | Battiato A.,ART Agroscope Reckenholz Tänikon | Ferrari A.,Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Unsaturated Soils - Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Unsaturated Soils | Year: 2011

The paper presents the results of a comprehensive experimental programme aimed to characterize the retention properties of a compacted scaly clay by determining the retention curves in terms of main wetting and main drying branches at different values of void ratio, ranging between 0.45 and 0.80. Different experimental techniques were combined in order to explore the retention properties in a wide range of suction. Vapour equilibrium technique was used to impose total suction in the range 2 ÷ 110 M Pa, while the air overpressure technique was applied to control matric suction in the range 0.01 ÷ 0.80 M Pa. Collected results clearly pointed out a strong dependence of the retention curves on the void ratio. The dependences of the air entry value and of the hysteresis on the compaction state of the material are analysed. These aspects are discussed in the light of the microstructural arrangement resulting from the compaction process. © 2011 Taylor & Francis Group, London.

Allegra M.,University of Palermo | Ianaro A.,University of Naples Federico II | Tersigni M.,University of Naples Federico II | Panza E.,University of Naples Federico II | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Nutrition | Year: 2014

Nutritional research has shifted recently from alleviating nutrient deficiencies to chronic disease prevention. We investigated the activity of indicaxanthin, a bioavailable phytochemical of the betalain class from the edible fruit of Opuntia ficus-indica (L. Miller) in a rat model of acute inflammation. Rat pleurisy was achieved by injection of 0.2 mL of δ-carrageenin in the pleural cavity, and rats were killed 4, 24, and 48 h later; exudates were collected to analyze inflammatory parameters, such as nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α); cells recruited in pleura were analyzed for cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression, and nuclear factor k-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-kB) activation. Indicaxanthin (0.5, 1, or 2 μmol/kg), given orally before carrageenin, time-and dose-dependently, reduced the exudate volume (up to 70%) and the number of leukocytes recruited in the pleural cavity (up to 95%) at 24 h. Pretreatment with indicaxanthin at 2 μmol/kg inhibited the carrageenin-induced release of PGE2 (91.4%), NO (67.7%), IL-1β (53.6%), and TNF-α (71.1%), and caused a decrease of IL-1β (34.5%), TNF-α (81.6%), iNOS (75.2%), and COX2 (87.7%) mRNA, as well as iNOS (71.9%) and COX-2 (65.9%) protein expression, in the recruited leukocytes. Indicaxanthin inhibited time-and dose-dependently the activation of NFkB, a key transcription factor in the whole inflammatory cascade. A pharmacokinetic study with a single 2 μmol/kg oral administration showed amaximum 0.22 ± 0.02 μmol/L (n = 15) plasma concentration of indicaxanthin, with a half-life of 1.15 ± 0.11 h. When considering the high bioavailability of indicaxanthin in humans, our findings suggest that this dietary pigment has the potential to improve health and prevent inflammation-based disorders. © 2014 American Society for Nutrition.

Salerno M.,University of Naples Federico II | Terravecchia S.,University of Palermo | Zito L.,University of Palermo
Computational Mechanics | Year: 2013

The object of the paper concerns a consistent formulation of the classical Signorini's theory regarding the frictionless contact problem between two elastic bodies in the hypothesis of small displacements and strains. The employment of the symmetric Galerkin boundary element method, based on boundary discrete quantities, makes it possible to distinguish two different boundary types, one in contact as the zone of potential detachment, called the real boundary, the other detached as the zone of potential contact, called the virtual boundary. The contact-detachment problem is decomposed into two sub-problems: one is purely elastic, the other regards the contact condition. Following this methodology, the contact problem, dealt with using the symmetric boundary element method, is characterized by symmetry and in sign definiteness of the matrix coefficients, thus admitting a unique solution. The solution of the frictionless contact-detachment problem can be obtained: (i) through an iterative analysis by a strategy based on a linear complementarity problem by using boundary nodal quantities as check quantities in the zones of potential contact or detachment; (ii) through a quadratic programming problem, based on a boundary min-max principle for elastic solids, expressed in terms of nodal relative displacements of the virtual boundary and nodal forces of the real one. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.

Cembalo L.,University of Naples Federico II | Migliore G.,University of Palermo | Schifani G.,University of Palermo
Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics | Year: 2013

European society, with its steadily increasing welfare levels, is not only concerned with food (safety, prices), but also with other aspects such as biodiversity loss, landscape degradation, and pollution of water, soil, and atmosphere. To a great extent these concerns can be translated into a larger concept named sustainable development, which can be defined as a normative concept by). Sustainability in the food chain means creating a new sustainable agro-food system while taking the institutional element into account. While different concepts of sustainability abound, in recent years, spontaneous groups of consumers called solidarity purchase groups (SPG) have been developing. In short, they are characterized by an economy that is not necessarily local, but ethical and equitable, where social and economic territorial relations tend to develop districts and networks. One of the main characteristics of a SPG is the direct relationships between small farms and their customers; a relationship that is characterized by consumer participation and farmer specialization. This study aims to address issues related to organizational frameworks, at farm and chain level, and to assess those elements that lead to consumer choice and satisfaction. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Capodici F.,University of Naples Federico II | D'Urso G.,University of Naples Federico II | Maltese A.,University of Palermo
Remote Sensing | Year: 2013

Monitoring spatial and temporal variability of vegetation is important to manage land and water resources, with significant impact on the sustainability of modern agriculture. Cloud cover noticeably reduces the temporal resolution of retrievals based on optical data. COSMO-SkyMed (the new Italian Synthetic Aperture RADAR-SAR) opened new opportunities to develop agro-hydrological applications. Indeed, it represents a valuable source of data for operational use, due to the high spatial and temporal resolutions. Although X-band is not the most suitable to model agricultural and hydrological processes, an assessment of vegetation development can be achieved combing optical vegetation indices (VIs) and SAR backscattering data. In this paper, a correlation analysis has been performed between the crossed horizontal-vertical (HV) backscattering (σo HV) and optical VIs (VIopt) on several plots. The correlation analysis was based on incidence angle, spatial resolution and polarization mode. Results have shown that temporal changes of σo HV (δσo HV) acquired with high angles (off nadir angle; θ > 40°) best correlates with variations of VIopt (δVI). The correlation between δVI and δσo HV has been shown to be temporally robust. Based on this experimental evidence, a model to infer a VI from σo (VISAR) at the time, ti+1, once known, the VIopt at a reference time, ti, and δσo HV between times, ti+1 and ti, was implemented and verified. This approach has led to the development and validation of an algorithm for coupling a VIopt derived from DEIMOS-1 images and σo HV. The study was carried out over the Sele plain (Campania, Italy), which is mainly characterized by herbaceous crops. In situ measurements included leaf area index(LAI), which were collected weekly between August and September 2011 in 25 sites, simultaneously to COSMO-SkyMed (CSK) and DEIMOS-1 imaging. Results confirm that VISAR obtained using the combined model is able to increase the feasibility of operational satellite-based products for supporting agricultural practices. This study is carried out in the framework of the COSMOLAND project (Use of COSMO-SkyMed SAR data for LAND cover classification and surface parameters retrieval over agricultural sites) funded by the Italian Space Agency (ASI). © 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Migliore G.,University of Palermo | Schifani G.,University of Palermo | Cembalo L.,University of Naples Federico II
Food Quality and Preference | Year: 2015

In recent years new forms of food distribution organisation, known as short supply chains, have gained ground. The local nature of such distribution has positive effects on the environment and on the local economy. Consumers appear to trust the short supply chain, and it has achieved considerable success. However, the short supply chain has credence characteristics which, by their very nature, cannot be identified through a system of certification. The question we address in this paper is whether it is possible to identify the constituent elements of the credence trait in relation to food quality in the short supply chain. Our hypothesis is that the latter are linked to a range of socially constructed food quality criteria. To develop a more inclusive vision of how such criteria are coordinated in food quality assessment by consumers, use has been made of convention theory. In accordance with convention theory, quality is identified, in a social context and informally, as one of the spheres in which economic activity is regulated by procedures which go beyond regulation by price. The aim of our study was to measure the effects of coordinated conventions of quality in the context of one type of short supply chain: farmers' markets specialised in the sale of organic products. An ordered logit model was implemented. Our results allow credence characteristics to be classified within conventions of quality and could help support strategies aimed at spreading sustainable forms of food distribution and consumption. Future research might go to the direction of validating our results based on a single form of supply organisation. Moreover, additional efforts should be made understanding the effect of situational factors on socio-demographic variables such as gender. Finally, an attempt should be made to merge different theories to better understand the issue of consumer choice. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

De Luca A.,University of Naples Federico II | Fici G.,University of Palermo
Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics) | Year: 2013

A word is closed if it contains a proper factor that occurs both as a prefix and as a suffix but does not have internal occurrences, otherwise it is open. We deal with the sequence of open and closed prefixes of Sturmian words and prove that this sequence characterizes every finite or infinite Sturmian word up to isomorphisms of the alphabet. We then characterize the combinatorial structure of the sequence of open and closed prefixes of standard Sturmian words. We prove that every standard Sturmian word, after swapping its first letter, can be written as an infinite product of squares of reversed standard words. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Umbrello D.,University of Calabria | Umbrello D.,University of Kentucky | Micari F.,University of Palermo | Jawahir I.S.,University of Kentucky
CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology | Year: 2012

This paper presents results of an experimental study of cryogenic machining of hardened AISI 52100 steel, focusing on surface integrity. Experiments were performed under dry and cryogenic cooling conditions using CBN tools varying cutting speeds, workpiece hardness and tool geometry. Surface integrity parameters (surface roughness, white layer thickness, residual stresses, metallurgical conditions including grain size, phase transformation, etc.) were investigated to establish the effects of cryogenic cooling on the surface integrity of the machined component, and results were compared with those from dry hard machining. Overall, cryogenic cooling provides improved surface integrity leading to extended product life and performance. © 2012 CIRP.

Calise F.,University of Naples Federico II | Cipollina A.,University of Palermo | Dentice d'Accadia M.,University of Naples Federico II | Piacentino A.,University of Palermo
Applied Energy | Year: 2014

This paper investigates the integration of solar and geothermal energy in a novel polygeneration system producing simultaneously: electricity, thermal energy, cooling energy and fresh water. The polygeneration system under analysis includes concentrating photovoltaic/thermal solar collectors (CPVT), a Geothermal Well (GW) a multi-effect distillation (MED) system for seawater desalination, a single-stage LiBr-H2O absorption chiller and additional components, such as: storage tanks, heat exchangers and balance of plant devices. The CPVT produces simultaneously electrical energy and thermal energy, at a maximum temperature of about 100°C. The electrical energy is delivered to the grid, whereas the thermal energy can be used for different scopes. First, the thermal energy can be used for heating purposes and/or Domestic Hot Water production. As an alternative, solar thermal energy can be used to drive an absorption chiller, producing chilled water for space cooling. Finally, solar energy, in combination with the thermal energy produced by low-enthalpy (about 80°C) geothermal wells, may be used by the MED system to convert seawater into desalinated water. Geothermal energy is also used to produce Domestic Hot Water at 45°C. The system is dynamically simulated by means of a zero-dimensional transient simulation model. The simulation model also includes detailed control strategies, for the management of the different technologies included in such a complex system. The system is assumed to be operated in some of the several small volcanic islands in the Mediterranean Sea, assuming Pantelleria (Trapani, Italy) as main case study. Here, the availability of solar and geothermal energy is high whereas the availability of fresh water is scarce and its cost consequently high. Results show an excellent energetic performance of the system under investigation. From the economic point of view, the profitability of the system dramatically increases when user Domestic Hot Water demand is high. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Calise F.,University of Naples Federico II | Dentice d'Accadia M.,University of Naples Federico II | Piacentino A.,University of Palermo
Energy | Year: 2014

The paper investigates the integration of renewable energy sources and water systems, presenting a novel solar system producing simultaneously: electrical energy, thermal energy, cooling energy and domestic water. Such system is designed for small communities in European Mediterranean countries, rich in renewable sources and poor in fossil fuels and water resources. The polygeneration system under analysis includes PVT (photovoltaic/thermal solar collectors), a MED (multi-effect distillation) system for SW (seawater) desalination, a single-stage LiBr-H2O ACH (absorption chiller) and additional components, such as storage tanks, AHs (auxiliary heaters) and BOP (balance of plant) devices. The PVT produces simultaneously electrical energy and thermal energy. The electrical energy is delivered to the grid, whereas the thermal energy may be used for space heating and/or domestic HW (hot water) production. As an alternative, the solar thermal energy can be used to drive an ACH, producing CHW (chilled water) for space cooling. Finally, the solar energy, in combination with the thermal energy produced by an auxiliary biomass-fired heater, may be used by the MED system to convert SW into potable water. The system is dynamically simulated by means of a zero-dimensional transient simulation model. A thermo-economic analysis is also presented, aiming at determining the optimal values of the most important design variables. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Filippone G.,University of Naples Federico II | Dintcheva N.T.,University of Palermo | La Mantia F.P.,University of Palermo | Acierno D.,University of Naples Federico II
Polymer | Year: 2010

We investigate the gradual changes of the microstructure of two blends of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyamide 6 (PA6) at opposite composition filled with increasing amounts of an organomodified clay. The filler locates preferentially inside the polyamide phase, bringing about radical alterations in the micron-scale arrangement of the polymer phases. When the host polyamide represents the major constituent, a sudden reduction of the average sizes of the polyethylene droplets was observed upon addition of even low amounts of organoclay. A morphology refinement was also noticed at low filler contents when the particles distributes inside the minor phase. In this case, however, keep increasing the organoclay content eventually results in a high degree of PA6 phase continuity. Rheological analyses reveal that the filler loading at which the polyamide assembles in a continuous network corresponds to the critical threshold for its rheological transition from a liquid- to a gel-like behaviour, which is indicative of the structuring of the filler inside the host PA6. On the basis of this finding, a schematic mechanism is proposed in which the role of the filler in driving the space arrangement of the polymer phases is discussed. Finally, we show that the synergism between the reinforcing action of the filler and its ability to affect the blend microstructure can be exploited in order to enhance relevant technological properties of the materials, such as their high temperature structural integrity. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2007.6.3 | Award Amount: 5.08M | Year: 2008

Targeting environmental sustainability, energy efficiency and new power distribution business models, BeyWatch aims to design, develop and evaluate an innovative, energy-aware, flexible and user-centric solution, able to provide interactive energy monitoring, intelligent control and power demand balancing at home, block and neighbour level. The system will interconnect legacy/consumer electronic devices with a new generation of energy-aware white-goods in a common network, where multilevel hierarchic metering, control, and scheduling will be applied, based on power demand, network conditions and personal preferences. By scheduling and controlling the electronic devices operation, BeyWatch aims to minimize power distribution peaks, balancing energy load in power distribution networks and ultimately achieving predictable large-scale energy-consumption profiles. Moreover, BeyWatch will integrate an innovative combined photovoltaic/solar (CPS) system, which will provide hot water for white goods in order to reduce/remove the energy-hungry heating operational cycles and generate electrical energy, which can be utilised at home, or during peak periods even fed to the electricity network in a reverse power generation/ distribution business model. BeyWatch proposed solution combines innovation in six areas: a) Technologies for very low-cost white goods power consumption. Incorporate ultra-low power motor control and FET technologies (refrigerator) and removal/ reduction of the heating phases by using hot-water available from solar energy and smart cycles (washing machine, dishwasher). b) Mechanisms and standards for in-home ultra low-cost communications. Select the most appropriate technology and protocol for seamless, reliable and ultra low-cost in-home communication and control of white goods and consumer electronic devices. c) Intelligent personalized energy-management/control and small-scale power demand balancing platform.

Casella G.,University of Palermo | Ferrante F.,University of Palermo | Saielli G.,CNR Institute on Membrane Technology
Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry | Year: 2010

ZORA relativistic and non-relativistic DFT protocols have been used to investigate vicinal coupling constants, 3J(Sn-C-X-C), in several organotin(iv) compounds, with particular emphasis on cyclic α- aminoorganostannanes. The dependence of the coupling constant on the heteroatom X (X = N,O,S) in the coupling path, and, for X = N, its substituents, has been studied in detail. The electron-withdrawing strength of the N-substituents has been found to strongly affect the magnitude and shape of the Karplus-type curve. The results obtained for the simple model systems, having no or little conformational flexibility, have helped in rationalizing the data concerning real flexible cyclic systems recently investigated in the literature. For these intricate cases a population analysis of various conformers has allowed to obtain a very good agreement between calculated and experimental data. It is therefore established that NMR J couplings, together with DFT calculations, are a very useful tool to investigate conformational issues in solution by comparison of experimental and weighted average calculated values. © 2010 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Sikora E.,Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology | Scapagnini G.,University of Molise | Barbagallo M.,University of Palermo
Immunity and Ageing | Year: 2010

A Symposium regarding the Pathophysiology of Successful and Unsuccessful Ageing was held in Palermo, Italy between April 7 and 8th2009. Here the lecture by Sikora with some input from the chairpersons Scapagnini and Barbagallo is summarized. Ageing is manifested by the decreasing health status and increasing probability to acquire age-related disease such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, atherosclerosis, metabolic disorders and others. They are likely caused by low grade inflammation driven by oxygen stress and manifested by the increased level of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6 and TNF-α, encoded by genes activated by the transcription factor NF-κB. It is believed that ageing is plastic and can be slowed down by caloric restriction as well as by some nutraceuticals. Accordingly, slowing down ageing and postponing the onset of age-related diseases might be achieved by blocking the NF-κB-dependent inflammation. In this review we consider the possibility of the spice curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent possibly capable of improving the health status of the elderly.© 2010 Sikora et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Di Stefano L.,Harvard University | Di Stefano L.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Walker J.A.,Harvard University | Walker J.A.,Massachusetts General Hospital | And 5 more authors.
Genes and Development | Year: 2011

Dynamic regulation of histone modifications is critical during development, and aberrant activity of chromatinmodifying enzymes has been associated with diseases such as cancer. Histone demethylases have been shown to play a key role in eukaryotic gene transcription; however, little is known about how their activities are coordinated in vivo to regulate specific biological processes. In Drosophila, two enzymes, dLsd1 (Drosophila ortholog of lysine-specific demethylase 1) and Lid (little imaginal discs), demethylate histone H3 at Lys 4 (H3K4), a residue whose methylation is associated with actively transcribed genes. Our studies show that compound mutation of Lid and dLsd1 results in increased H3K4 methylation levels. However, unexpectedly, Lid mutations strongly suppress dLsd1 mutant phenotypes. Investigation of the basis for this antagonism revealed that Lid opposes the functions of dLsd1 and the histone methyltransferase Su(var)3-9 in promoting heterochromatin spreading at heterochromatin-euchromatin boundaries. Moreover, our data reveal a novel role for dLsd1 in Notch signaling in Drosophila, and a complex network of interactions between dLsd1, Lid, and Notch signaling at euchromatic genes. These findings illustrate the complexity of functional interplay between histone demethylases in vivo, providing insights into the epigenetic regulation of heterochromatin/euchromatin boundaries by Lid and dLsd1 and showing their involvement in Notch pathway-specific control of gene expression in euchromatin. Copyright © 2011 by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

La Cognata A.,University of Palermo | Valenti D.,University of Palermo | Dubkov A.A.,Novgorod State University | Spagnolo B.,University of Palermo
Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics | Year: 2010

We consider a Lotka-Volterra system of two competing species subject to multiplicative α -stable Lévy noise. The interaction parameter between the species is a random process which obeys a stochastic differential equation with a generalized bistable potential in the presence both of a periodic driving term and an additive α -stable Lévy noise. We study the species dynamics, which is characterized by two different regimes, exclusion of one species and coexistence of both. We find quasiperiodic oscillations and stochastic resonance phenomenon in the dynamics of the competing species, analyzing the role of the Lévy noise sources. © 2010 The American Physical Society.

Ushakov Y.V.,Novgorod State University | Dubkov A.A.,Novgorod State University | Spagnolo B.,University of Palermo
Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics | Year: 2010

The phenomena of dissonance and consonance in a simple auditory sensory model composed of three neurons are considered. Two of them, here so-called sensory neurons, are driven by noise and subthreshold periodic signals with different ratio of frequencies, and its outputs plus noise are applied synaptically to a third neuron, so-called interneuron. We present a theoretical analysis with a probabilistic approach to investigate the interspike intervals statistics of the spike train generated by the interneuron. We find that tones with frequency ratios that are considered consonant by musicians produce at the third neuron inter-firing intervals statistics densities that are very distinctive from densities obtained using tones with ratios that are known to be dissonant. In other words, at the output of the interneuron, inharmonious signals give rise to blurry spike trains, while the harmonious signals produce more regular, less noisy, spike trains. Theoretical results are compared with numerical simulations. © 2010 The American Physical Society.

D'Alessandro A.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Luzio D.,University of Palermo | D'Anna G.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Mangano G.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology
Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America | Year: 2011

A properly organized seismic network is a valuable tool for monitoring seismic zones and assessing seismic hazards. In this paper we propose a new method (seismic network evaluation through simulation, SNES) to evaluate the performance of hypocenter location of a seismic network. The SNES method gives, as a function of magnitude, hypocentral depth, and confidence level, the spatial distribution of the number of active stations in the location procedure and their relative azimuthal gaps, along with confidence intervals in hypocentral parameters. The application of the SNES method also permits evaluation of the magnitude of completeness (MC), the background noise levels at the stations, and assessment of the appropriateness of the velocity model used in location routine. Italy sits on a tectonically active plate boundary at the convergence of the Eurasian and African lithospheric plates and has a high level of seismicity. In this paper, we apply the SNES method to the Italian National Seismic Network (Rete Sismica Nazionale Centralizzata dell'Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, RSNC- INGV) which has monitored Italian seismicity since the early 1980s, following the destructive 1980 Irpinia earthquake. In recent years, the RSNC-INGV has grown significantly. In fact, in February 2010, it received signals from 305 seismic stations, 258 with wideband three-component sensors. We constructed SNES maps for magnitudes of 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 3, fixing the hypocentral depth at 10 km and the confidence level at 95%. Through the application of the SNES method, we show that the RSNC-INGV provides the best monitoring coverage in the Apennine Mountains with errors that for M 2, are less than 2 and 4 km for epicenter and hypocentral depth, respectively. At M 2.5 this seismic network is capable of constraining earthquake hypocenters to depths of about 150 km for most of the Italian Peninsula. This seismic network provides a threshold of completeness down to M 2 for almost the entire Italian territory.

Scaillet S.,CNRS Earth Sciences Institute of Orléans | Vita-Scaillet G.,CNRS Earth Sciences Institute of Orléans | Rotolo S.G.,University of Palermo | Rotolo S.G.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology
Quaternary Science Reviews | Year: 2013

With the advent of annually-resolved polar ice records extending back to 70ka, marine and continental paleoclimate studies have now matured into a discipline where high-quality age control is essential for putting on an equal pace layer-counted timescale models and Late Quaternary sedimentary records. High-resolution U-Th dating of speleothem records and 40Ar/39Ar dating of globally recorded geomagnetic excursions have recently improved the time calibration of Quaternary archives, reflecting the cross-disciplinary effort made to synchronize the geologic record at the millennial scale. Yet, tie-points with such an absolute age control remain scarce for paleoclimatic time-series extending beyond the radiocarbon timescale, most notably in the marine record. Far-travelled tephra layers recorded both onland and offshore provide an alternative in such instance to synchronize continental and marine archives via high-resolution 40Ar/39Ar dating of the parent volcanic eruption. High-resolution 40Ar/39Ar data are reported herein for one such volcanic marker, the Green Tuff of Pantelleria and its Y-6 tephra equivalent recorded throughout the Central and Eastern Mediterranean. Published radiochronometric and δ18O orbitally-tied ages for this marker horizon scatter widely from about 41ka up to 56ka. Our new 40Ar/39Ar age at 45.7±1.0ka (2σ) reveals that previous estimates are biased by more than their reported errors would suggest, including recent orbital tuning of marine records hosting the tephra bed that are reevaluated in the context of this study. This improved estimate enables potential phase lags and leads to be studied between deep-sea and terrestrial archives with unrivaled (near-millennial) 40Ar/39Ar precision in the marine record. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Barone G.,Tokyo Polytechnic University | Pirrotta A.,University of Palermo
Engineering Analysis with Boundary Elements | Year: 2013

Evaluation of shear stresses distribution due to external shear forces applied to De Saint-Venant beams has been solved through Complex Variable Boundary Element Method properly extended, to benefit from advantages of this method, so far widely used for twisted solids. Extending the above method, further simplifications have been introduced such as those of performing line integrals only, instead of domain integrals. Numerical applications confirm accuracy and efficiency of the proposed extended version of the method, since the good agreement with results proposed in literature. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Barone G.,Tokyo Polytechnic University | Pirrotta A.,University of Palermo
Journal of Engineering Mechanics | Year: 2013

In this paper, complex variable boundary element method (CVBEM) is used for the solution of de Saint-Venant's torsion problem in homogenous isotropic elastic beams with a generic cross section, considering a complex potential function related to the stress field. Generally, CVBEM, when used for torsion problems, leads to evaluation of the stress field divided by the twist rotation. The latter has been evaluated by performing a domain integral. In this paper, taking advantage of the aforementioned potential function, it is possible, by applying CVBEM, to evaluate the complete stress distribution and the twist rotation of the cross section and the torsional stiffness factor, performing line integrals only. Numerical results were compared with both analytical and numerical results proposed by other authors, thus assessing the validity of the proposed method. © 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers.

Arnone E.,University of Palermo | Noto L.V.,University of Palermo | Lepore C.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Bras R.L.,Georgia Institute of Technology
Geomorphology | Year: 2011

Landslides are a serious threat to life and property throughout the world. The causes of landslides are various since multiple dynamic processes are involved in driving slope failures. One of these causes is prolonged rainfall, which affects slope stability in different ways. Water infiltrating in a hillslope may cause a rise of the piezometric surface, which, in turn, involves an increase of the pore water pressure and a decrease of the soil shear resistance. For this reason, knowledge of spatio-temporal dynamics of soil water content, infiltration processes and groundwater dynamics, is of considerable importance in the understanding and prediction of landslides dynamics.In this paper a spatially distributed and physically based approach is presented, which embeds a slope failure method in a hydrological model. The hydrological model here used is the tRIBS model (Triangulated Irregular Network Real-Time Integrated Basin Simulator) that allows simulation of most of spatial-temporal hydrologic processes (infiltration, evapotranspiration, groundwater dynamics and soil moisture conditions) that can influence landsliding. Slope stability is assessed by implementing the infinite slope model in tRIBS. The model, based on geotechnical and geomorphological characteristics, classifies each computational cell as unconditionally stable or conditionally stable. Soil moisture conditions resulting from precipitation can trigger landslides at conditionally stable locations. When a landslide occurs, the model also computes the amount of detached soil and its possible path downslope.Model performance has been initially tested on a small catchment with very steep slopes, located in the northern part of Sicily (Italy), after a sensitivity analysis concerning some model parameters. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

Orecchio S.,Dipartimemto di Science e Tecnologie Biologiche Chimiche e Farmaceutiche | Polizzotto G.,University of Palermo
Microchemical Journal | Year: 2013

A modified Tessier method was applied to sediments dredged from Augusta (Italy) coastal area with the purpose of establishing the amount and the forms in which mercury is present in the different sediment fractions. The mercury fractionation was made by measuring the concentration of the metal ion on the solutions and directly on the sediment fractions obtained by sequential extraction. The measurements on the solutions as well as that on the solid fractions were carried out by using a Direct Mercury Analyser, DMA 80. This new instrument does not require sample preparation, and gives results comparable to those obtained with CV-AAS and ICP-MS and few minutes are necessary for each analysis. The quality of the experimental data together with the applicability of the technique to real samples was checked by analyzing certified reference materials (CRM) and some sediment samples collected from the coastal site during the research. The results of fractionation analysis were used as an assessment tool to establish the best remediation technique for removal of mercury from this polluted area. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Ushakov Y.V.,Novgorod State University | Dubkov A.A.,Novgorod State University | Spagnolo B.,University of Palermo
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2011

Spike train regularity of the noisy neural auditory system model under the influence of two sinusoidal signals with different frequencies is investigated. For the increasing ratio m/n of the input signal frequencies (m, n are natural numbers) the linear growth of the regularity is found at the fixed difference (m-n). It is shown that the spike train regularity in the model is high for harmonious chords of input tones and low for dissonant ones. © 2011 American Physical Society.

Mercadante S.,La Maddalena Cancer Center | Mercadante S.,University of Palermo | Porzio G.,Aquila
Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology | Year: 2012

Malignant bowel obstruction (MBO) is a challenging complication of advanced cancer. Conservative treatment of inoperable MBO in terminal cancer patients has been found to be effective in controlling the distressing symptoms caused by this complication in inoperable cancer patients. Twenty years ago, octreotide was proposed to treat symptoms related to malignant bowel obstruction. Since then several reports have confirmed the efficacy of octreotide in the management of gastrointestinal symptoms of MBO. Fifteen randomized controlled trials or observational reports with a significant number of patients treated with octreotide have been reviewed; 281 patients were surveyed. Authors reported a therapeutic success ranging between 60% and 90%. Despite the limited number of controlled studies, the large experience acquired through 20 years suggests that octreotide is the first-choice antisecretory agent for MBO. As such, octreotide is the only drug approved by the health-care system in Italy for this treatment. © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

Madonia P.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Fiordilino E.,University of Palermo
Bulletin of Volcanology | Year: 2013

The constant and mild activity of Stromboli volcano (Italy) is occasionally interrupted by effusive events and/or more energetic explosions, referred to as major explosions and paroxysms, which are potentially dangerous for the human community. Although several premonitory signals for effusive phases have been identified, precursors of major explosions and paroxysms still remain poorly understood. With the aim of contributing to the identification of possible precursors of energetic events, this work discusses soil temperature data acquired in low-temperature fumaroles at Stromboli in the period 2006-2010. Data analysis revealed that short-term anomalies recorded in the thermal signal are potentially useful in predicting state changes of the volcano. In particular, sudden changes in fumarole temperatures and their hourly gradients were observed from several days to a few hours prior to fracturing and paroxysmal events, heralded by peculiar waveforms of the recorded signals. The qualitative interpretation is supported by a quantitative, theoretical treatment that uses circuit theory to explain the time dependence of the short-period temperature variations, showing a good agreement between theoretical and observational data. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

D'Alessandro A.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Mangano G.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | D'Anna G.,Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology | Luzio D.,University of Palermo
Geophysical Journal International | Year: 2013

In 2009 December, the OBSLab-INGV (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia) deployed an Ocean Bottom Seismometer with Hydrophone (OBS/H) near the epicentral area of the main shock of the Palermo seismic sequence of 2002. The monitoring activity had a total duration of about 8 months. During this experiment, the OBS/H recorded 247 very local microearthquakes, whose local magnitude is between -0.5 and 2.5 and TS - TP delay time between 0.2 and 5 s, almost all ofwhichwere undetected by the Italian National Seismic Network. This local microseismicity has been analysed using an innovative clustering technique that exploits the similarity between the waveforms generated by different events. The clustering technique implemented, based on hierarchical agglomerative algorithms, nearest neighbour technique and dendrogram representation, allowed us to identify nine distinct multiplets characterized by a high degree of similarity between the waveforms. The microevents were located through an improved single-station location (SSL) technique based on the polarization analysis of the 3C signals and on the estimation of the TS - TP time. In the new SSL technique, an unbiased covariance matrix was defined and a ray tracer-based determination of the epicentral distance and hypocentral depth was proposed. All the multiplets were generated by events with hypocentres that were very close to each other. However, not all the identified clusters are also clustered in the time-magnitude domain. It was also observed that some multiplets have clouds of hypocentres overlapping each other. These clusters, indistinguishable without the application of a waveforms clustering technique, show differences in the waveforms that must be attributed to differences in the focal mechanisms which generated the waveforms. The local seismic events recorded are typical of a seismicity generated by a volume characterized by a highly complex fracturing pattern and by an important role in the dynamics of fluid systems that, given the great depth of some multiplets, could come from the mantle. This picture is in agreement with the geometric characterization of the Palermo 2002 seismogenic volume. © The Authors 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society.

News Article | November 21, 2016

The drying process is a critical final stage in various manufacturing processes – it influences the quality of many a product and has many industrial applications, particularly in the food and pharmaceutical sectors. Freeze drying (lyophilization) is a drying method where the solvent is frozen prior to drying and is then sublimed. In addition to providing an extended shelf-life, successful freeze-drying should yield a product that has a short reconstitution time with acceptable potency levels. The process should be reproducible with well defined temperature, pH and time parameters for each step. Visual and functional characteristics of the dried product are also important for many applications. In pharmaceuticals, freeze drying is commonly used to preserve the integrity and bioactivity of protein drugs, minimising chemical and physical degradation during their shelf life. Unfortunately for such an integral process, storage in freeze-dried states does not guarantee long-term stability, and aggregation is often observed after thawing or reconstitution of freeze-dried powder samples. A particular issue is the formation of ice which is known to have a destabilising effect on protein molecules during freezing. Therefore an essential step in optimising the conservation and stabilisation of samples is to understand the biophysical mechanisms involved during the freeze-drying process – a knowledge gap that a recent a Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) study addressed. This work was a collaboration between ILL, Soleil, CEMHTI laboratory in Orleans and the University of Palermo. The study focused on the structural evolution of protein solutions up to supersaturation conditions, created by partial evaporation of the solvent, to mimic drying process conditions. This enabled structural analysis to be obtained at a series of time intervals at different drying conditions of the sample, therefore enabling data to be collected during the process itself and mimicking realistic lab conditions. Container interactions and contamination of the sample can affect greatly the freeze-dried process and thereby, the quality of the final product – there is no universal 'safe' choice of container. Therefore, in order to ensure optimum understanding of the freeze-drying process, container-free or 'contactless' techniques must be used. In this study, acoustic levitation was the chosen technique – solid and liquid samples positioned in the surrounding medium (ambient air or defined gas) by means of a stationary ultrasonic field creating a pressure gradient in the medium. A single droplet is held in a node of a standing acoustic wave, avoiding any contact with a thermally-conducting holding-device. The droplet size can be controlled in a wide range up to 5 mm in diameter. The surrounding drying-gas can be conditioned such that its temperature, relative humidity, and flow rate past the droplet are accurately controlled. Evaporation of the solvent during levitation gradually decreases the volume of the droplet and therefore increases the corresponding concentration of the solute. Thus, formation of aggregates and processes of crystallisation could be followed in situ in order to identify suitable crystallising conditions. This paper shows the capabilities of the levitation technique once integrated into small angle neutron scattering (SANS) and x-ray scattering (SAXS) beamlines. Despite the small quantities of sample that it is possible to suspend (just few tens of nanoliters in volume), the high intensity of neutron instruments make possible in-situ monitoring of fast containerless reactions, providing detailed molecular and structural information. Changes in the SANS and SAXS signal intensities provide information on particle distances and morphology of proteins, possible formation of larger domains, as clusters or heterogeneities, directly linked to the drying condtions. It was observed that, considering a lysozyme dissolved in D2O solution at low concentration, the center-to-center distances between proteins become smaller due to the evaporation inducing an increase in concentration. For high concentration solutions, the distance between molecules changes little during evaporation. The acoustic levitation device shows its potential when used in combination with synchrotron radiation circular dichroism. Preliminary results on myoglobin in aqueous solution allow to follow up the evolution of the secondary structure of the protein as a function of concentration, revealing an increase of α-helices content and the full loss of parallel β-sheets. The results prove that the acoustic levitator can be used as a tool for structure analysis and that it easily permits the contactless study of many kinds of samples. Neutrons are the ideal tool for this type of experiment due to their non-destructive properties so data can be collected at room temperature, closer to physiological temperatures and resulting in the determination of 'damage-free' structures – essential for studying biological molecules. SAXS experiments were carried out at the SOLEIL synchrotron's SWING beamline while SANS was conducted on the ILL's D16 and D33 instruments. This study allows us to validate levitation methodology for investigating bio-based materials during the drying process. To our knowledge, this SANS investigation combined with acoustic levitation is the first study of its kind. Using these advanced analytical methods for characterisation of various pharmaceuticals including small molecules and proteins, drug substances and products, we open up the way for novel insights into aggregation and crystallisation phenomena. A better understanding of the biochemical mechanisms of these classes of bio-materials is necessary to improve the long-term stability of pharmaceutical formulations. These studies could underpin improvements in industrial processes such as spray-drying and spray-freeze-drying and the process development of pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals. The behaviour of protein solutions at low temperature and the role of cryo- and lyo- protectant agents added to a protein solution using neutron (SANS) techniques will be the main topic of future work in this area. Explore further: Researchers develop environmentally friendly process to improve storage stability of probiotics More information: Viviana Cristiglio et al. Combination of acoustic levitation with small angle scattering techniques and synchrotron radiation circular dichroism. Application to the study of protein solutions, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2016.04.026

Calandra P.,CNR Institute for Chemical and Physical Processes | Mandanici A.,Messina University | Liveri V.T.,University of Palermo
RSC Advances | Year: 2013

Structural and dynamic features of bis(2-ethylhexyl) phosphoric acid (HDEHP)-n-octylamine (NOA) mixtures as a function of the NOA mole fraction (XNOA) have been investigated by SAXS, WAXS, IR, dielectric spectroscopy and polarized optical microscopy. In the 0 ≤ XNOA < 0.5 range, mixtures are transparent liquids, while the abrupt formation of a waxy solid characterized by an hexagonal bidimensional structure occurs at XNOA = 0.5. Such a composition-induced phase transition results from the synergetic effect of the progressive increase in number density of ordered HDEHP-NOA nanodomains with XNOA. Mainly driven by an HDEHP to NOA proton transfer, the increase of structural order with XNOA arises from the progressive substitution of loosely hydrogen bonded HDEHP-HDEHP aggregates with strongly bonded NOA-HDEHP ones. Analysis of SAXS patterns at temperatures in the 10-70 °C range emphasized that these local structures are scarcely impacted by an increase of thermal fluctuations. Effects due to the steric compatibility between HDEHP and NOA apolar moieties have been highlighted. Overall, the results allow us to emphasize the role of specific polar and apolar interactions joined to steric effects in regulating the molecular organization in surfactant mixtures and can be used to design novel materials with planned physico-chemical properties. © 2013 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Bondi M.L.,CNR Institute of Nanostructured Materials | Di Gesu R.,University of Palermo | Craparo E.F.,University of Palermo
Methods in Enzymology | Year: 2012

In this chapter, the main production methods of lipid nanostructures such as solid lipid nanoparticles and nanostructured lipid carriers, and their application are described. In particular, we describe the strategies commonly used to obtain lipid nanoparticles to overcome the blood-brain barrier (BBB) for the treatment of several brain diseases. The use of these carriers as targeted drug delivery systems is associated with many advantages that include excellent storage stability, easy production without the use of any organic solvent, the possibility of steam sterilization and lyophilization, and large scale production. They exhibit good stability during long-term storage, consist of physiologically well-tolerated ingredients often already approved for pharmaceutical applications in humans, and are generally recognized as safe. Under optimized conditions, they can be produced to incorporate several drugs and therapeutic proteins. Formulation in solid lipid nanostructures confers improved drug loading and protein stability, targeting, and sustained release of the incorporated molecules. Moreover, their lipophilic features lead them to the central nervous system by an endocytotic mechanism, overcoming the BBB. Many drugs have been incorporated into solid lipid nanosystems and several therapeutic applications may be foreseen, such as targeting with molecules useful for treatment of brain diseases. © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Yurdakal S.,Afyon Kocatepe University | Augugliaro V.,University of Palermo
RSC Advances | Year: 2012

Aromatic alcohols with substituent groups in different positions have been partially oxidised to the corresponding aldehydes in a photocatalytic system in order to investigate the influence of the substituents on reactivity and selectivity to aldehyde. To this aim benzyl alcohol, 2-methoxybenzyl alcohol, 3-methoxybenzyl alcohol, 4-methoxybenzyl alcohol, 2,4-dimethoxybenzyl alcohol, 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol and 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzyl alcohol have been photocatalytically oxidised to their corresponding aldehydes in aqueous TiO 2 suspensions under near-UV irradiation. Home-made and commercial rutile TiO 2 samples were used as photocatalysts. The catalysts were characterized by XRD, BET, SEM, TEM and TGA measurements. For all the used substrates the main oxidation products were the corresponding aldehydes and CO 2. The aromatic alcohols showed selectivity values decreasing with the substituent position on the aromatic ring according the following order: para > ortho > meta. In the presence of two substituent groups, the overall oxidation rate increased while the selectivity decreased. The home-made catalyst generally showed selectivity higher but activity lower than those of the commercial one. The results showed that the reaction rate and selectivity were dependent not only on the catalyst properties such as crystallinity and hydrophilicity but also on the kind and position of the substituent groups of the aromatic alcohols. This journal is © 2012 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Liotta L.F.,CNR Institute of Nanostructured Materials | Pantaleo G.,CNR Institute of Nanostructured Materials | Puleo F.,University of Palermo | Venezia A.M.,CNR Institute of Nanostructured Materials
Catalysis Today | Year: 2012

In this work gold catalysts supported over SBA-15 with different CeO 2 loadings (5-30 wt%) were prepared, characterized by N 2 physisorption analyses, SAXS, XRD, STEM and XPS techniques and their catalytic performances were evaluated in the CO oxidation, chosen as reaction test. Over a selected catalyst, Au/CeO 2(20 wt%)-SBA-15, the effect of CO 2 and of the mixture (CO 2 + H 2O) on the CO conversion to CO 2 was also evaluated. Characterizations by SAXS, XRD, STEM and XPS were carried out on selected spent catalysts after CO oxidation. The results were discussed in terms of relationship between morphological, structural, electronic and catalytic properties as a function of the ceria loading. The CO oxidation activity was strongly affected by gold particle size and gold/ceria interface as well. For gold catalysts supported on ceria-doped SBA-15, the oxygen vacancies in ceria likely act as nucleation sites for gold anchoring and stabilization against sintering. The optimum of the catalytic performances was found for 20 wt% ceria loading, likely due to the optimum synergistic interaction between highly dispersed defective ceria oxide and nanosized gold. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Vaccaro L.,University of Palermo | Morana A.,CNRS Hubert Curien Laboratory | Radzig V.,RAS Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics | Cannas M.,University of Palermo
Journal of Physical Chemistry C | Year: 2011

We demonstrate that a porous film of silica nanoparticles emits a bright visible luminescence associated with defects stabilized by oxygen chemisorption at oxygen-deficient center sites. Time-resolved spectra excited by a tunable laser allow us to distinguish the luminescence at 1.99 eV, characteristic of the nonbridging oxygen hole center (NBOHC) (≡ - Si-O)3Si-O•, and a fast and a slow emission: the first (lifetime τ ≈ 25 ns) is peaked at 2.27 eV with an excitation spectrum centered at 5.5 eV; the second (τ ≈ 7.5 μs) is peaked at 2.41 eV and is excited around 3.2 and 5.2 eV. Reaction in an air atmosphere leads to the disappearance of the NBOHC luminescence and of the fast band, whereas the slow one remains stable. On the basis of the comparison with previous experimental and computational works, we discuss the role of the silanone Si≡ - O and of the dioxasilyrane Si(O2) as the emitting defects. © 2011 American Chemical Society.

Augugliaro V.,University of Palermo | Bellardita M.,University of Palermo | Loddo V.,University of Palermo | Palmisano G.,University of Palermo | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology C: Photochemistry Reviews | Year: 2012

This review provides the reader with a general overview on heterogeneous photocatalytic oxidation mechanisms in the presence of TiO 2, with a special address to conversion of aliphatic and aromatic organic species. The aim was to clarify the steps of the photo-oxidation of the various classes of compounds and to relate them with the properties of the catalysts and the experimental conditions used. Reactions carried out to perform complete degradation and photocatalytic partial oxidations have been deeply discussed. Recent isotopic studies highlighted new reaction pathways concerning partial oxidation of alcohols to aldehyde and oxidation of benzene while EPR investigations confirmed that not only the photogenerated hole but also the OH radicals are involved in the oxidation of the substrates. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Craparo E.F.,University of Palermo | Bondi M.L.,CNR Institute of Nanostructured Materials
Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology | Year: 2012

Purpose of review The purpose of the present review is to underline the importance of nanoparticulate carriers, such as polymeric nanoparticles, in the future development of safe and effective formulation in the field of immunotherapy against infectious diseases and cancer. Recent findings Polymeric nanoparticles can modulate the immune response, that is, by targeting antigens to dendritic cells that possess a crucial role in initiating immune responses, and might be potentially useful in immunotherapy. Summary In the last decades, significant progress in research and clinics has been made to offer possible innovative therapeutics for the management of infectious diseases and cancer. Polymeric nanoparticles are particularly adept at facilitating immunotherapeutic approaches because they can be engineered to have different physical properties, encapsulated agents, and surface ligands. Moreover, these systems are administrable for all routes, are capable of being actively taken up by dendritic cells and have shown promising potential in systemic and mucosal immunotherapy. Here, some recent findings on these systems, in their potential applications for infectious and cancer immunotherapy, are reported. © 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Ammari H.,Ecole Normale Superieure de Paris | Ciraolo G.,University of Palermo | Kang H.,Inha University | Lee H.,Inha University | Yun K.,Hankuk University of foreign Studies
Archive for Rational Mechanics and Analysis | Year: 2013

When holes or hard elastic inclusions are closely located, stress which is the gradient of the solution to the anti-plane elasticity equation can be arbitrarily large as the distance between two inclusions tends to zero. It is important to precisely characterize the blow-up of the gradient of such an equation. In this paper we show that the blow-up of the gradient can be characterized by a singular function defined by the single layer potential of an eigenfunction corresponding to the eigenvalue 1/2 of a Neumann-Poincaré type operator defined on the boundaries of the inclusions. By comparing the singular function with the one corresponding to two disks osculating to the inclusions, we quantitatively characterize the blow-up of the gradient in terms of explicit functions. In electrostatics, our results apply to the electric field, which is the gradient of the solution to the conductivity equation, in the case where perfectly conducting or insulating inclusions are closely located. © 2012 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Ammari H.,Ecole Normale Superieure de Paris | Ciraolo G.,University of Palermo | Kang H.,Inha University | Lee H.,Inha University | Milton G.W.,University of Utah
Archive for Rational Mechanics and Analysis | Year: 2013

The aim of this paper is to give a mathematical justification of cloaking due to anomalous localized resonance (CALR). We consider the dielectric problem with a source term in a structure with a layer of plasmonic material. Using layer potentials and symmetrization techniques, we give a necessary and sufficient condition on the fixed source term for electromagnetic power dissipation to blow up as the loss parameter of the plasmonic material goes to zero. This condition is written in terms of the Newtonian potential of the source term. In the case of concentric disks, we make the condition even more explicit. Using the condition, we are able to show that for any source supported outside a critical radius, CALR does not take place, and for sources located inside the critical radius satisfying certain conditions, CALR does take place as the loss parameter goes to zero. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Barone G.,University of Palermo | Barone G.,Instituto Euromediterraneo Of Science E Tecnologia | Terenzi A.,University of Palermo | Lauria A.,University of Palermo | And 4 more authors.
Coordination Chemistry Reviews | Year: 2013

Nickel(II), copper(II) and zinc(II) complexes with the same ligands normally display analogous coordination geometry and binding mode toward DNA. However, although qualitatively alike in structure and properties, different DNA-binding ability has often been observed. This review surveys the most recent examples of binding of the three metal ions complexed with monodentate and chelating bidentate to tetradentate ligands to DNA. An attempt has also been made to rationalize the observed trend in the values of the intrinsic DNA-binding constant, Kb, in terms of structural and chemical features. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Craparo E.F.,University of Palermo | Bondi M.L.,CNR Institute of Nanostructured Materials | Pitarresi G.,University of Palermo | Cavallaro G.,University of Palermo
CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics | Year: 2011

Brain delivery is one of the major challenges for the neuropharmaceutical industry since an alarming increase in brain disease incidence is going on. Despite major advances in neuroscience, many potential therapeutic agents are denied access to the central nervous system (CNS) because of the existence of a physiological low permeable barrier, the blood-brain barrier (BBB). To obtain an improvement of drug CNS performance, sophisticated approaches such as nanoparticulate systems are rapidly developing. Many recent data demonstrate that drugs could be transported successfully into the brain using colloidal systems after i.v. injection by several mechanisms such as endocytosis or P-glycoprotein inhibition. This review summarizes the main brain targeted nanoparticulate carriers such as liposomes, lipid nanoparticles, polymeric nanoparticles, and micelles with great potential in drug delivery into the CNS. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Ciriminna R.,CNR Institute of Nanostructured Materials | Cara P.D.,University of Palermo | Sciortino M.,University of Palermo | Pagliaro M.,CNR Institute of Nanostructured Materials
Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis | Year: 2011

Silicates doped with catalytic species have only been slowly adopted by the fine chemicals and pharmaceutical industries, in spite of their remarkable and unique properties such as pronounced physical and chemical stability; high (enantio)selective activity and ease of materials production and application. This is now changing thanks to stricter safety regulations and to concomitant success of the first commercial catalysts. In this account we tell the story of these materials and identify some deficiencies in the innovation process that may serve as lesson in guiding the future management of innovation in these relevant industries. Copyright © 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Lucania G.,Cervello | Vitrano A.,University of Palermo | Filosa A.,U.O.S. Talassemia Pediatrica | Maggio A.,Cervello
British Journal of Haematology | Year: 2011

Blood transfusions may prevent and treat serious complications related to sickle-cell disease (SCD) when performed according to specific guidelines. However, blood transfusion requirements in SCD inevitably lead to increased body iron burden. An adequate chelation treatment may prevent complications and reduce morbidity and mortality. This review evaluates the effectiveness, safety and costs of chelation treatment. The included trials were examined according to the recommendations of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA). Overall, 14 trials and a total of 502 patients with SCD were included in this review. Deferoxamine alone (s.c. or i.v.), deferiprone alone or versus deferoxamine, deferasirox versus deferoxamine and combined treatment with deferoxamine plus deferiprone were included and evaluated in the analysis. Only two randomized clinical trials have been reported. The results of this analysis suggest that use of chelation treatment in SCD to date has been based on little efficacy and safety evidence, although it is widely recommended and practised. The cost/benefit ratio has not been fully explored. Further research with larger randomized clinical trials needs to be performed. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Vecchio A.,University of Milan | Mineo V.,University of Palermo | Planeta D.,University of Palermo
Food Control | Year: 2012

The occurrence of ochratoxin A (OTA) in instant coffee from different brands and types was assessed. The survey covered 44 soluble coffees, 10 of which were decaffeinated, and 6 coffee products; the samples were collected in supermarkets and retail stores of Italy in 2011. The OTA was extracted, cleaned-up by immunoaffinity columns, and detected by HPLC-fluorescence detection. The detection and quantification limits were 0.05 and 0.2 μg/kg, respectively. Recovery, from samples spiked at levels of 0.5, 3.0, and 6.0 μg/kg, was 86.0 ± 7.1%, 91.0 ± 4.2%, and 91.7 ± 5.9% respectively. Forty-eight samples (96%) contained OTA at levels ranging from 0.32 to 6.40 μg/kg, always below the European legal limit. The high frequency of OTA occurrence in the instant coffee samples demonstrates the importance of an effective control of this product by government authorities and industries. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Demmacara P.,CNR Institute of Nanostructured Materials | Ciriminna R.,CNR Institute of Nanostructured Materials | Shiju N.R.,University of Palermo | Rothenberg G.,University of Amsterdam | Pagliaro M.,CNR Institute of Nanostructured Materials
ChemSusChem | Year: 2014

We study the catalytic condensation of furfuryl alcohol with 1-butanol to butyl levulinate. A screening of several commercial and as-synthesized solid acid catalysts shows that propylsulfonic acid-functionalized mesoporous silica outperforms the state-of-the-art phosphotungstate acid catalysts. The catalyst is prepared via template-assisted sol-gel polycondensation of TEOS and MPTMS. It gives 96 % yield (and 100 % selectivity) of butyl levulinate in 4h at 110 °C. Reaction profiles before and after a hot filtration test confirm that the active catalytic species do not leach into the solution. The catalyst synthesis, characterization, and mode of operation are presented and discussed. Sour cat: Screening several commercial and as-synthesized solid acid catalysts in the condensation of furfuryl alcohol with 1-butanol to afford butyl levulinate shows that the best catalyst is a sulfonic acid-functionalized mesoporous silica, allowing a significant improvement over the state-of-the-art. The catalyst selectively affords n-butyl levulinate in relatively short time at 110 °C. © 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-IRSES | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IRSES | Award Amount: 240.90K | Year: 2013

The main objective of the proposal is the creation, and development of a cooperative research network which utilizes the strengths and synergies of the knowledge of the member research groups. This new cooperation symbolizes the coercive power of two branches of mathematics, namely those of ALGEBRA and GEOMETRY, which had been unified first in the creation Decartesian coordinate geometry. 3 of 6 research groups are on the edge of algebraic research, while the others gained essential results and knowledge in geometry. With different backgrounds, new synergies and methodologies will arise and accelerate the research activities. Besides the traditional mobility schemes and distributing ideas on conferences and publications, new methodology of continuous reaction is planned to put in practice by the usage of world wide web, creating the platform of online web workshops at regular times. This will ensure sustainability of the network for long time. We plan to achieve new scientific results on the following topics: imprimitive transformation groups, affine geometries over paradual near rings; fundamental theorem of geometric algebra, Novikovs conjecture and the properties of skew-symmetric and symmetric elements for general involutions in group algebras. multiplication loops of locally compact topological translation planes; Lie groups which are the groups topologically generated by all left and right translations of topological loops; the inverse problem of the calculus of variations for second order ordinary differential equations: existence of variational multipliers, in particular, of multipliers satisfying the Finsler homogeneity conditions, and Riemannian and Finsler metrizability; metric structures associated with Lagrangians and Finsler functions variational structures in Finsler geometry and applications in physics (general relativity, Feynmam integral); Hamiltonian structures for homogeneous Lagrangians.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE-2009-3-3-01 | Award Amount: 3.76M | Year: 2010

The focus of this proposal is to develop an economically viable production process for the lantibiotic NAI-107, a new antibiotic with the potential to treat life-threatening infections caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-positive pathogens. NAI-107 is produced by fermentation of the actinomycete Microbispora sp., is undergoing formal toxicology studies and is expected to enter Phase I clinical trials in the second half of 2009. NAICONS, an SME participating in the project and acting as coordinator, is developing NAI-107. A challenge in advancing a new antibiotic into clinical development is to devise a production process that will deliver a high quality compound at reasonable yields. This is particularly relevant for NAI-107 since no lantibiotics are industrially produced as drugs for human use and there are no examples of industrial use of Microbispora. The development of a robust and economically feasible production process for NAI-107 requires the integration of basic knowledge of the physiology of the strain which can be best obtained by a combination of classical and post-genomic approaches (proteome/transcriptome), with a detailed knowledge of the production process and its scalability to industrial level. This will be achieved by flux analyses and 2D-maps for discovering primary metabolism proteins up-regulated during antibiotic production. Combined with a study of other limiting steps, such as precursor uptake, product excretion and the intrinsic resistance of the producing strain, and with analysis of the transcriptional regulation of the NAI-107 biosynthetic genes, bottlenecks in production will be identified and bypassed by metabolic engineering leading to an optimized metabolic pathway for the production of this life-saving antibiotic and an efficient production process utilizing a high producing strain, an improved production medium and an efficient recovery process.

Genduso F.,University of Palermo | Miceli R.,University of Palermo | Rando C.,University of Palermo | Galluzzo G.R.,University of Palermo
IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics | Year: 2010

In this paper, a low-time-consuming and low-cost sensorless-control algorithm for high-dynamic performance permanent-magnet synchronous motors, both surface and internal permanent-magnet mounted for position and speed estimation, is introduced, discussed, and experimentally validated. This control algorithm is based on the estimation of rotor speed and angular position starting from the back electromotive force space-vector determination without voltage sensors by using the reference voltages given by the current controllers instead of the actual ones. This choice obviously introduces some errors that must be vanished by means of a compensating function. The novelties of the proposed estimation algorithm are the position-estimation equation and the process of compensation of the inverter phase lag that also suggests the final mathematical form of the estimation. The mathematical structure of the estimation guarantees a high degree of robustness against parameter variation as shown by the sensitivity analysis reported in this paper. Experimental verifications of the proposed sensorless-control system have been made with the aid of a flexible test bench for brushless motor electrical drives. The test results presented in this paper show the validity of the proposed low-cost sensorless-control algorithm and, above all, underline the high dynamic performances of the sensorless-control system also with a reduced equipment. © 2006 IEEE.

Jovanovic V.P.,Columbia University | Carmina E.,University of Palermo | Lobo R.A.,Columbia University
Fertility and Sterility | Year: 2010

Although definitive and confirmatory data are lacking, women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are considered to be at increased risk for cardiovascular and metabolic disease. In recent years, the diagnosis of PCOS has broadened considerably to result in several phenotypes. Here we review the evidence for cardiovascular and metabolic risks in PCOS in the classic disorder and the various phenotypes. We conclude that not all women with PCOS should be considered as being similar in terms of cardiovascular risk profiles. © 2010 by American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Orecchio S.,University of Palermo | Indelicato R.,University of Palermo | Barreca S.,University of Palermo
Microchemical Journal | Year: 2014

Phthalate esters for decades, and probably even now, were used as softeners in water-based paintings. In general, these compounds are dangerous owing to their carcinogenicity and reproductive effects. Phthalates are not chemically but only physically bound to the matrices, hence, they may be leached into the environment and are ubiquitously found in environmental matrices. Considering that, construction is one of most important fields in Europe, and probably worldwide, with respect to its economic, technological and environmental impact.In the present work the phthalate esters content of several mural paintings was evaluated by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Because, this issue is especially important to ensure proper security measurements during processes that could involve particulate inhalation, the total concentrations of 15 compounds in the analyzed mural paintings, ranged from 0.8 to 236. mg/Kg d.w. with an average of 39.4. mg/Kg d.w. The highest concentration was found in a mural painting sampled in an apartment built about 50. years ago, though, building age was not significantly correlated with the levels of total and single PAEs. Among the monitored phthalates, only four (bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, diisobutyl phthalate, Di-n-butyl phthalate and diethyl phthalate) were detected in appreciable quantities. Benzyl butyl phthalate was relevant only for one sample and, at trace levels, only for two samples. In all tested mural paintings, except two samples, predominates the bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) (from 30 to 100% of total). In general, occasionally, dinonyl phthalate (DNP) was used as an alternative to DEHP, however, in our case, its occurrence was not found. Diisobutyl phthalate (DiBP) was detected in seven samples and ranged from 0.17 to 13.2. mg/Kg d.w. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Zimbardo M.,University of Palermo
Engineering Geology | Year: 2016

This paper aims at finding a framework for the Sicilian Calcarenites relating the strength and the deformability of these materials to their geological and structural features: fabric, bonding, initial and actual specific volume. In particular, this study sets out to separate the effects of fabric and of bonding on the mechanical response. The investigated lithotypes, Calcarenites from Palermo and Marsala, outcropping in many areas of southwestern Sicily, are characterized by sudden changes in their deformability, strength and permeability characteristics. The geotechnical identification, by means of computerized axial tomography and thin section petrographic analysis suggested a subdivision of these two calcarenites into five lithotypes as a function of their structural configuration. These calcarenites are metastable rockswhosemechanical behaviour depends on the fabric and bonding. Oedometer, triaxial and isotropic tests were conducted to analyzed interparticle bonding and/or fabric effects on the mechanical behaviours. For each lithotype the yield limitwas defined and three distinct behavioural patterns were identified as a function of the confining stress level: 1) an initial linear elastic behaviour up to the yielding strength, 2) a yielding phase characterized by a strain-softening response, 3) a final phase of the destructured material. At yield state, bonding is the major factor contributing to the soil strength, while the effect of fabric comes into play at post-yield stress state. For the assessment of the yielding conditions the yield stress values obtained from various stress-paths were taken into account. © 2016 Elsevier B.V..

Mercadante S.,University of Palermo
The Lancet Oncology | Year: 2010

In recent years, a growing interest in palliative care and in routes of administration other than oral have prompted more aggressive measures to improve the efficacy of analgesic interventions in patients with difficult pain conditions. This review provides an overview of the use of intravenous morphine to control pain in patients with cancer. Intravenous morphine has been increasingly used in different clinical situations-including breakthrough pain, poor pain control with escalating doses of oral opioids, retitrating patients with acute pain, treating patients with long-standing poor pain control and unpredictable needs, and optimising opioid therapy to prevent incident pain associated with bone metastases. Although intravenous administration requires supervision, it has considerable advantages, since direct administration into the circulation provides a rapid and predictable effect that is independent of absorption problems. IV morphine is advantageous in specific clinical situations and should be part of armamentarium of all physicians treating pain in patients with cancer. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Ciaccio M.,University of Palermo | Bellia C.,University of Palermo
Current Clinical Pharmacology | Year: 2010

Homocysteine is a sulfur-containing aminoacid produced during metabolism of methionine. Since 1969 the relationship between altered homocysteine metabolism and both coronary and peripheral atherotrombosis has been known; in recent years experimental evidences have shown that elevated plasma levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular ischemic events. Several mechanisms by which elevated homocysteine impairs vascular function have been proposed, including impairment of endothelial function, production of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and consequent oxidation of low-density lipids. Folic acid and B vitamins, required for remethylation of homocysteine to methionine, are the most important dietary determinants of homocysteinemia and daily supplementation typically lowers plasma homocysteine levels. Recently, large-scale intervention trials have been conducted to determine whether lowering homocysteine concentrations through B vitamins supplementation can decrease cardiovascular risk in healthy subjects or improve survival in patients with coronary heart disease. Some of these trials found no significant beneficial effects of combined treatment with folate and vitamin B12, with or without vitamin B6, in spite of adequate homocysteine lowering. In conclusion, it is still unclear whether decreasing plasma levels of homocysteine through diet or drugs may be paralleled by a reduction in cardiovascular risk. © 2010 Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.

Petta S.,University of Palermo | Craxi A.,University of Palermo
Current Pharmaceutical Design | Year: 2010

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most frequent primary neoplasm of the liver, and is the fourth most common malignancy worldwide. It is also the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Most cases of HCC develop on a pre-existing chronic liver disease, usually due to hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), or alcohol. However, between 15% and 50% of HCC develops in the absence of a known etiology of liver disease, and different lines of evidence identify in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) a possible relevant risk factor for occurrence of HCC. Insulin resistance (IR), steatosis, oxidative stress and imbalances in adipokine/cytokine interplay, the most important factors involved in NAFLD pathogenesis and progression, could also have a determinant role in liver carcinogenesis by promoting cellular growth and DNA damage. Recently, behavioral therapy and various insulin sensitizing agents have been tested in the treatment of NAFLD. A number of studies suggest that these approaches improve IR and reduce steatosis, necroinflammation and fibrosis. A potential role of these therapeutic strategies in the prevention of hepatocarcinogenesis can thus be envisaged. © 2010 Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.

Di Paola M.,University of Palermo | Pinnola F.P.,University of Palermo | Zingales M.,University of Palermo
Meccanica | Year: 2013

Fractional hereditary materials are characterized for the presence, in the stress-strain relations, of fractional-order operators with order βâ̂̂[0,1]. In Di Paola and Zingales (J. Rheol. 56(5):983-1004, 2012) exact mechanical models of such materials have been extensively discussed obtaining two intervals for β: (i) Elasto-Viscous (EV) materials for 0≤β≤1/2; (ii) Visco-Elastic (VE) materials for 1/2≤β≤1. These two ranges correspond to different continuous mechanical models. In this paper a discretization scheme based upon the continuous models proposed in Di Paola and Zingales (J. Rheol. 56(5):983-1004, 2012) useful to obtain a mechanical description of fractional derivative is presented. It is shown that the discretized models are ruled by a set of coupled first order differential equations involving symmetric and positive definite matrices. Modal analysis shows that fractional order operators have a mechanical counterpart that is ruled by a set of Kelvin-Voigt units and each of them provides a proper contribution to the overall response. The robustness of the proposed discretization scheme is assessed in the paper for different classes of external loads and for different values of βâ̂̂[0, 1]. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Lupo T.,University of Palermo
Quality and Reliability Engineering International | Year: 2014

The present paper proposes a design approach for a statistical process control (SPC) procedure implementing a c control chart for non-conformities, with the aim to minimize the hourly total quality-related costs. The latter take into account the costs arising from the non-conforming products while the process is in-control and out-of-control, for false alarms, for assignable cause locations and system repairs, for sampling and inspection activities and for the system downtime. The proposed economic optimization approach is constrained by the expected hourly false alarms frequency, as well as the available labor resource level. A mixed integer non-linear constrained mathematical model is developed to solve the treated optimization problem, whereas the Generalized Reduced Gradient Algorithm implemented on the solver of Microsoft Excel is adopted to resolve it. In order to illustrate the application of the developed procedure, a numerical analysis based on a 2V5-1 fractional factorial design scheme, to investigate on the influence of several operating and costs parameters, is carried out, and the related considerations are given. Finally, the obtained results show that only few parameters have a meaningful effect on the selection of the optimal SPC procedure. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Cilona T.,University of Palermo
Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics) | Year: 2016

The complex urban reality, in continuous evolution, are characterized by buildings, facilities, equipment, human capital, social capital and the ability to create sustainable economic development. Today, urban planning is called to respond to the new needs of the community, for this reason it is necessary to avoid the mistakes made in the past and think of a plan to be adapted to the change. All this is possible through the implementation of participatory strategic actions which ensure high levels of quality of life as well as responsible management of land resources. This outlines the concept of sustainable development and resilient cities, forcefully entered in today’s urban paradigm, becoming the key to activate the competitiveness of cities. In this work, particular attention is paid to sustainable mobility in Italy, in the knowledge that the innovations of the mobility and transport system is needed to ensure the livability of future cities. © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016.

Song D.-M.,East China University of Science and Technology | Tumminello M.,Carnegie Mellon University | Tumminello M.,University of Palermo | Zhou W.-X.,East China University of Science and Technology | Mantegna R.N.,University of Palermo
Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics | Year: 2011

We investigate the daily correlation present among market indices of stock exchanges located all over the world in the time period January 1996 to July 2009. We discover that the correlation among market indices presents both a fast and a slow dynamics. The slow dynamics reflects the development and consolidation of globalization. The fast dynamics is associated with critical events that originate in a specific country or region of the world and rapidly affect the global system. We provide evidence that the short term time scale of correlation among market indices is less than 3 trading months (about 60 trading days). The average values of the nondiagonal elements of the correlation matrix, correlation-based graphs, and the spectral properties of the largest eigenvalues and eigenvectors of the correlation matrix are carrying information about the fast and slow dynamics of the correlation of market indices. We introduce a measure of mutual information based on link co-occurrence in networks in order to detect the fast dynamics of successive changes of correlation-based graphs in a quantitative way. © 2011 American Physical Society.

Milazzo A.,University of Palermo
Journal of Sound and Vibration | Year: 2013

A new one-dimensional model for the dynamic problem of magneto-electro- elastic generally laminated beams is presented. The electric and magnetic fields are assumed to be quasi-static and a first-order shear beam theory is used. The electro-magnetic problem is first solved in terms of the mechanical variables, then the equations of motion are written leading to the problem governing equations. They involve the same terms of the elastic dynamic problem weighted by effective stiffness coefficients, which take the magneto-electro-mechanical couplings into account. Additional terms, which involve the third spatial derivative of the transverse displacement, also occur as a result of the piezoelectric and/or piezomagnetic behavior. It is also shown that the magneto-electric inputs can be treated as equivalent external axial forces and bending moments per unit length. Free vibrations and frequency response solutions are presented to validate the model by comparing the present results with those found in the literature or obtained by finite element analysis. Based on the successful validation of the model, new results for free vibrations of functionally graded magneto-electro-elastic beams are presented. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Ferro V.,University of Palermo
Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering | Year: 2012

In this paper, the outflow process of a sharp-crested and broad weir is studied using the dimensional analysis and the incomplete self-similarity theory. The new stage discharge is theoretically deduced and its testing is carried out using measurements both available in literature and obtained by laboratory runs carried out in this investigation. © 2012 American Society of Civil Engineers.

Cavaleri L.,University of Palermo | Di Trapani F.,University of Palermo
Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering | Year: 2014

The recent large interest in nonlinear seismic analysis methods, static and dynamic, has required proper strategies of modeling based on reliable, and at the same time easy to use, constitutive laws for the structural elements. Regarding the behavior of framed structures, special attention has to be devoted to infills because of the key role they play in modifying overall stiffness, strength and ductility under seismic excitation. Pointing out the attention on this topic the paper discusses a criteria for modeling the structural behavior of infills based on a macromodeling approach, that is to say on the substitution of infills with diagonal pin jointed struts. Is here shown how multilinear plastic link elements governed by a hysteretic Pivot model, available in different FEM codes, can be appropriately used to model the equivalent struts to perform linear or nonlinear analyses. In order to enlarge experimental knowledge on cyclic behavior of infilled frames structures and as reference for developing the above mentioned modeling strategy, an experimental campaign on single-storey, single-bay, fully infilled frames with different kinds of masonry and subjected to lateral cyclical loads, was carried out, and some others available in the literature are referred to. Validation of Pivot modeling approach was carried out comparing experimental results and computer simulations of the experimental tests. In the paper hysteresis parameters values calibrating Pivot law are also given for involved masonry infills typologies and some proposals for correlation between strength and stiffness of infilled frames and of masonry infills are provided as a tool for the quick calibration of the Pivot model in practical applications. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Di Paola M.,University of Palermo | Pinnola F.P.,University of Palermo
Probabilistic Engineering Mechanics | Year: 2012

The aim of this paper is the probabilistic representation of the probability density function (PDF) or the characteristic function (CF) in terms of fractional moments of complex order. It is shown that such complex moments are related to Riesz and complementary Riesz integrals at the origin. By invoking the inverse Mellin transform theorem, the PDF or the CF is exactly evaluated in integral form in terms of complex fractional moments. Discretization leads to the conclusion that with few fractional moments the whole PDF or CF may be restored. Application to the pathological case of an α-stable random variable is discussed in detail, showing the impressive capability to characterize random variables in terms of fractional moments. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Grillone G.,University of Palermo | Agnese C.,University of Palermo | D'Asaro F.,University of Palermo
Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering | Year: 2012

Daily solar radiation Rs at ground level is a necessary input variable required for the evaluation of evapotranspiration and crop growth, development, and yield-simulation models. Nevertheless, it is measured in few weather stations and at many locations it is not observed; also, available Rs temporal series are generally no longer than a few years. A valid surrogate of Rs measurement is the diurnal air-temperature range (δT); indeed, δT is inversely proportional to cloudiness and therefore could be a good indicator of atmospheric transmittance. As opposed to Rs, daily maximum and minimum air temperatures are measured at many locations and their observations in developed countries began in the 19th century. For this reason, several models that permit Rs indirect evaluation from air-temperature data have been suggested in the literature. The most famous models are the simple Hargreaves-Samani (HS) formula, many times recalibrated by the authors, and the Bristow-Campbell model, which has recently been improved. In this paper, the suitability of each proposed model is tested by comparing Rs real data, recorded in 33 Sicilian agrometeorological stations in the period 2003-2008, typically representing the Mid-Mediterranean area, with Rs estimates obtained by the models from δT data. In addition, a regional relationship is obtained for the scale coefficient K(T) of the Hargreaves-Samani formula: the relationship found improves Rs data prediction with respect to the original HS formulation. © 2012 American Society of Civil Engineers.

Fiore V.,University of Palermo | Scalici T.,University of Palermo | Valenza A.,University of Palermo
Carbohydrate Polymers | Year: 2014

The aim of this paper is to study the possibility of using of Arundo donax L. fibers as reinforcement in polymer composites. The fibers are extracted from the outer part of the stem of the plant, which widely grows in Mediterranean area and is diffused all around the world. To use these lignocellulosic fibers as reinforcement in polymer composites, it is necessary to investigate their microstructure, chemical composition and mechanical properties. Therefore, the morphology of A. donax L. fibers was investigated through electron microscopy, the thermal behavior through thermogravimetric analysis and the real density through a helium pycnometer. The chemical composition of the natural fibers in terms of cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and ash contents was determinated by using standard test methods. The mechanical characterization was carried out through single fiber tensile tests and a reliability analysis of the experimental data was performed. Furthermore, a mathematical model was applied to investigate the relation between the transverse dimension of the fibers and the mechanical properties. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Butera S.,University of Palermo | Passante R.,University of Palermo
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2013

We consider a scalar field in a one-dimensional cavity with a mobile wall. The wall is assumed bounded by a harmonic potential and its mechanical degrees of freedom are treated quantum mechanically. The possible motion of the wall makes the cavity length variable, and yields a wall-field interaction and an effective interaction among the modes of the cavity. We consider the ground state of the coupled system and calculate the average number of virtual excitations of the cavity modes induced by the wall-field interaction, as well as the average value of the field energy density. We compare our results with analogous quantities for a cavity with fixed walls, and show a correction to the Casimir potential energy between the cavity walls. We also find a change of the field energy density in the cavity, particularly relevant in the proximity of the mobile wall, yielding a correction to the Casimir-Polder interaction with a polarizable body placed inside the cavity. Similarities and differences of our results with the dynamical Casimir effect are also discussed. © 2013 American Physical Society.

Di Piazza I.,University of Palermo | Ciofalo M.,University of Palermo
International Journal of Thermal Sciences | Year: 2010

Computational results were obtained for turbulent flow and heat transfer in curved pipes, representative of helically coiled heat exchangers. Following a grid refinement study, grid independent predictions from alternative turbulence models (k-ε, SST k-ω and RSM-ω) were compared with DNS results and experimental pressure drop and heat transfer data. Using the SST k-ω and RSM-ω models, pressure drop results were in excellent agreement with literature data and the Ito correlation. For heat transfer, the literature is not comparably complete or accurate, but a satisfactory agreement was obtained in the range of available data. Unsatisfactory results, both for pressure drop and heat transfer, were given by the k-ε model with wall functions. Following the validation study, the RSM-ω model was used to compute friction coefficients and Nusselt numbers in the range Re = 1.4·104-8·104, Pr = 0.7-5.6 and δ (coil curvature) = 3·10-3-0.3. Power-law correlations were found unsuitable to fit the Re-, Pr- and δ-dependence of the Nusselt number, while the use of a properly formulated momentum-heat transfer analogy collapsed all results with high accuracy. © 2009 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

Abbene L.,University of Palermo | Gerardi G.,University of Palermo | Principato F.,University of Palermo
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment | Year: 2013

Digital pulse processing (DPP) systems, based on direct digitizing and processing of detector signals, have recently been favoured over analog electronics, ensuring higher flexibility, stability, lower dead time and better spectroscopic performance. In this work, we present the performance of a new real time DPP system for X-ray and gamma ray semiconductor detectors. The system is based on a commercial digitizer equipped with a custom DPP firmware, developed by our group, for on-line pulse height and shape analysis. X-ray and gamma ray spectra measurements with cadmium telluride (CdTe) and germanium (Ge) detectors highlight the excellent performance of the system both at low and high rate environments (up to 800 kcps). These results make the proposed DPP system a very attractive tool for both laboratory research and the development of advanced detection systems for high-rate-resolution spectroscopic imaging, recently proposed in diagnostic medicine, industrial imaging and security screening. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

The present paper aims to show, both from a stratigraphic and structural points of view, the main features of a wedge-top syntectonic basin which evolved recording polyphase and non-coaxial tectonics. The study area is the Scillato Basin (. SB), a roughly N-S-oriented structural depression located in the central-northern sector of the Sicililian Maghrebides. There, an approximately 1300. m-thick upper Serravallian to upper Tortonian succession of clastic units outcrops as a portion of the Neogene syntectonic covers of the Sicilian fold and thrust belt. Within the outcropping succession the upper Tortonian Terravecchia Fm represents the main topic of this paper. A multidisciplinary approach was carried out through an integration of sedimentology, facies, stratal pattern and structural analyses; this was applied to the formation enabling one to recognize in the Scillato Basin a fining to coarsening upward succession, deposited recording an early transgressive and a late regressive depositional stage. In our model these two main depositional stages developed and are directly relatable to a two-step structural evolution of the basin. During the first step, a NW-SE-oriented structural depression existed, enclosed between structural highs and accommodating the lower and middle portion of the upper Tortonian succession. Subsequently, during the second step, the NW-SE depression was non-coaxially deformed by superimposition of high-angle transpressive faults (many of which were SE-dipping), developed in response to the upward propagation of structures enucleated at deeper structural levels. This step was recorded in the basin by development of both depositional and structural interferences recognizable along the upper portion of the Scillato Basin succession. A comparison between field data and deep geophysical data interpreted at the preliminary stage, raises questions about the late Miocene geological evolution of this sector of the Sicilian chain, including: (i) the syn-tectonic deposition of the Terravecchia Fm. in the Scillato Basin clearly recorded the interference of two main and non-coaxial tectonic events; (ii) the younger of these two events has a clear tranpressional character and was active during the very late Tortonian; (iii) as also indicated by many authors in neighboring orogenic wedges, the main control on the location, geometry and depositional evolution of the Scillato wedge-top Basin was carried out by compressional and transpressional structures developed at a deeper structural level. Their deformation propagated upward both into the shallow structural level and sedimentary covers; therefore (iv) the late Miocene structural scenario here depicted is not consistent either with the back-arc-related extension or with the late orogenic gravitational collapse models previously invoked by other authors with regard to this sector of the Sicilian thrust belt. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Sorge F.,University of Palermo | Cammalleri M.,University of Palermo
Journal of Sound and Vibration | Year: 2010

Most of the undesired whirling motions of rotating machines can be efficiently reduced by supporting journal boxes elastically and controlling their movement by viscous dampers or by dry friction surfaces normal to the shaft axis, which rub against the frame. In the case of diy dampers, resonance ranges of the floating support configuration can be easily cut off by planning a motionless adhesive state of the friction surfaces. On the contrary, the dry friction contact must change automatically into sliding conditions when the fixed support resonances are to be feared. Moreover, the whirl amplitude can be restrained throughout the speed range by a proper choice of the suspension-to-shaft stiffness ratio and of the support-to-rotor mass ratio. This theoretical research deals firstly with the natural precession speeds and looks for Campbell plots in dependence on the shaft angular speed, for several rotorsuspension systems. Then, the steady response to unbalance is investigated, in terms of rotor and support orbits and of conical path of the rotor axis. In this search, the ranges of adhesive or sliding contact are identified in particular for system with dry friction damping. At last, the destabilizing influence of the shaft hysteresis in the supercritical regime is focalized and the counterbalancing effect of the other dissipative sources is verified. In the nonlinear case of dry friction dampers, the control of linear stability is fulfilled by a perturbation procedure, checking the magnitude of Floquet characteristic multipliers on the complex plane. Moreover, the nonlinear stability far from steady motion is tested by the direct numerical solution of the full motion equations. The comparison configuration of suspension systems with viscous dampers and no dry friction is examined through an analytical first approximation approach and closedform results for stability thresholds are derived in particular for the symmetric case. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Bocchetta P.,University of Salento | Santamaria M.,University of Palermo | Di Quarto F.,University of Palermo
Electrochimica Acta | Year: 2013

Stoichiometric CdSe nanotubes (NTs) with a length of ∼700 nm have been successfully grown by one-step electrochemical technique into anodic alumina membranes. Cyclovoltammetric method has been performed using porous anodic alumina as template electrode and an electrochemical bath containing Cd 2+ ions and SeO2. The as-prepared NTs have been identified as face-centred-cubic CdSe by XRD, while micro-Raman analysis reveals the typical peaks of nanostructured CdSe. The stoichiometric deposition of CdSe NTs formation is suggested by EDX analysis, with an average atomic percentage of Cd:Se of ∼0.93. Photoelectrochemical measurements reveal that CdSe NTs are photoactive materials with direct band gap of 1.75 eV and n-type semiconducting behaviour. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Mannino A.M.,University of Palermo | Graziano M.,University of Palermo
Plant Biosystems | Year: 2016

Ruppia cirrhosa growth cycle was analysed in a southern Mediterranean shallow system throughout 1 year. We examined the temporal variation in R. cirrhosa cover percentage, shoot density, biomass, leaf length, no. flowers m− 2 and no. fruits m− 2 in two groups of pond characterized by differences in some environmental parameters. Ponds were comparable for salinity and temperature but they differed for other environmental parameters such as water depth, level of suspended organic matter and chlorophyll a (CHL a). Biological parameter values were higher in B ponds, characterized by lower values of water depth, suspended organic matter and CHL a. A seasonal trend for all considered biological parameters in both typologies of ponds with maximum values in summer was also observed. Moreover, differences were observed between the two groups of ponds in relation to the reproductive strategy adopted by the plant, with populations subjected to a higher organic input and a lower water depth displaying an annual cycle. Results showed how R. cirrhosa is able to resist and to adapt to variations in environmental conditions because of the plasticity and flexibility in the growth cycle and in the reproductive effort. © 2014 Società Botanica Italiana.

The island of Sicily, Italy, and its main city, Palermo, appear an ideal scenario for sustainable food provisioning: the former being the first region in Italy for organically cultivated land, the latter Italy's fifth largest city. This article explores ideals and practices of sustainable urban food systems through an example of environmental consumer activism in Palermo. It does this by narrating the story of an organic farmers' market created by citizens and producers. The article reflects critically on understandings of food-related 'sustainability' held by the actors involved, showing the difficulties of operationalizing the concept for qualitative, socio-cultural research. It also highlights the potential of grass-roots activism among consumers and farmers. With particular reference to the Palermitan context, this potential runs counter to an enduring image of the southern Italian region as a place where civil society initiatives are wanting. By analyzing the market's history from its inception to its demise due to difficulties with the center-right-wing municipality, the article shows that it is the political element, rather than the cultural one, that often constrains grass-roots activism in Sicily. These problems of power and political representation raise a crucial question: can a consumer mobilization become a tool for social and environmental transformation in locales where institutions are not already favorably disposed, at least to a certain degree, to the values of such mobilization? © 2011 by the American Anthropological Association.

Mercadante S.,La Maddalena Cancer Center | Mercadante S.,University of Palermo | Giarratano A.,La Maddalena Cancer Center | Giarratano A.,University of Palermo
Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology | Year: 2013

The aim of this review was to assess the value of NSAIDs and paracetamol in patients with cancer pain to update a previous review performed ten years ago on this topic. The approach was analytic and based on clinical considerations, rather than on raw evidence, which often does not provide useful information in clinical practice. Both published reports from an extensive search of electronic data bases were collected from January 2001 to December 2011. A free-text search method was used including the following words and their combination: "Anti-inflammatory drugs OR paracetamol OR acetaminophen" AND/OR "cancer pain". Any randomized-controlled trial was considered.Thirteen reports fulfitted inclusion criteria in this systematic review. Randomized trials have been performed by using different modalities of intervention. Single drugs added on opioid therapy or during opioid substitution with opioids as rescue drugs through a patient controlled analgesia, were compared with placebo or between them. Five studies regarded paracetamol. Other four studies assessed the efficacy dipyrone, ketorolac, dexketoprofen, and subcutaneous ketoprofen in cancer pain management, mainly on top of an opioid regimen. The role of paracetamol and NSAIDs in the management of cancer pain still remains controversial. The papers published in this last decade were unable to answer the main questions. There is no proof that they should be used to start the treatment and how long they should be administered when opioid treatment is added on top. While paracetamol seems to be devoid of any benefit, particularly if given at usual clinical doses which should be less than 4. g/day, ketorolac seems to provide an additive analgesic effect even in patients receiving different doses of opioids. The main indication from the analysis of these data is that NSAIDs could be given in patients receiving opioids, evaluating their benefit and weight on opioid therapy in individual patients who have a favorable response to justify a prolonged use. © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

Boscaino V.,University of Palermo | Capponi G.,University of Palermo
Advances in Power Electronics | Year: 2012

Wide-input, low-voltage, and high-current applications are addressed. A single-ended isolated topology which improves the power efficiency, reduces both switching and conduction losses, and heavily lowers the system cost is presented. During each switching cycle, the transformer core reset is provided. The traditional tradeoff between the maximum allowable duty-cycle and the reset voltage is avoided and the off-voltage of active switches is clamped to the input voltage. Therefore, the system cost is heavily reduced and the converter is well suited for wide-input applications. Zero-voltage switching is achieved for active switches, and the power efficiency is greatly improved. In the output mesh, an inductor is included making the converter suitable for high-current, low-voltage applications. Since the active clamp forward converter is the closest competitor of the proposed converter, a comparison is provided as well. In this paper, the steady-state and small-signal analysis of the proposed converter is presented. Design examples are provided for further applications. Simulation and experimental results are shown to validate the great advantages brought by the proposed topology. © 2012 V. Boscaino and G. Capponi.

Guastella E.,University of Palermo | Longo R.A.,University of Palermo | Carmina E.,University of Palermo
Fertility and Sterility | Year: 2010

Objective: To evaluate the clinical and endocrine differences between main polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) phenotypes. Design: To evaluate clinical and hormone parameters in a large group of consecutive women with PCOS diagnosed according Rotterdam criteria and divided according their phenotype. Setting: University department of medicine. Patient(s): Three hundred eighty-two consecutive women with PCOS and 85 ovulatory controls. Intervention(s): Evaluation of clinical and hormone parameters. Main Outcome Measure(s): Blood levels of gonadotropins, testosterone, sex-hormone-binding globulin, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, 17α-hydroxyprogesterone, progesterone, glucose, and insulin, and calculation of the free androgen index and insulin sensitivity. Result(s): The severe PCOS phenotype (hyperandrogenism, chronic anovulation, and polycystic ovaries: type I classic PCOS) was the most common phenotype in 53.9% of the patients. The phenotype of 8.9% of patients was characterized by hyperandrogenism and chronic anovulation but normal ovaries (type II classic PCOS). The two phenotypes of classic PCOS had similar clinical and endocrine characteristics, but the patients with polycystic ovaries had a higher luteinizing hormone/follicle-stimulating hormone (LH/FSH) ratio. Ovulatory PCOS was relatively common (28.8% of PCOS patients) and presented milder clinical and endocrine alterations than the classic PCOS phenotypes. The normoandrogenic phenotype was relatively uncommon. These patients had a normal body mass index, insulin sensitivity, and free androgen index but showed increased levels of LH and LH/FSH ratio. Conclusion(s): Ovulatory PCOS represents the mild form of classic PCOS, but the normoandrogenic phenotype, although part of the spectrum, may represent a different disorder or have a different pathogenetic pathway. Copyright © 2010 American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Published by Elsevier Inc.

Trapanese M.,University of Palermo
Conference Proceedings - IEEE Applied Power Electronics Conference and Exposition - APEC | Year: 2012

In this paper Dynamic Preisach Model is applied to develop a mathematical model of the hysteresis in lithium battery. Dynamic Preisach Model allows to describe both the hysteresis and the dynamical features of charging and discharging cycles in a lithium battery. The identification of the model is obtained by using a neural network technique developed for magnetic systems. The model is validated by some experimental tests on commercial batteries. © 2012 IEEE.

Bubella R.M.,University of Palermo | Bubella D.M.,University of Palermo | Cillino S.,University of Palermo
Journal of Glaucoma | Year: 2014

AIM:: To evaluate the presence of type A behavior in patients affected by open-angle glaucoma (OAG) and the possible role of psychophysiological stress as a risk factor for OAG. MATERIALS AND METHODS:: Fifty patients, 30 women and 20 men, affected by OAG, underwent ophthalmological examination consisting of complete biomicroscopy, tonometry and daily tonometric curve, examination of the visual field by means of computerized perimeter "Octopus 1-2-3," and its assessment with the Glaucoma Staging System 2, morphologic monitoring of the retinal nerve fiber layer with GDx VCC and psychological assessment (Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale) to evaluate the presence of anxiety and its level; type A/B personality questionnaire (Jenkin Modified Activity Survey; Ercta-B test for the further evaluation of type A personality; STAY test; Brief-cope test; Life event. RESULTS:: Sixty-four percent of the subjects, 17 women and 13 men, showed type A behavior, and in these patients both trait and state anxiety were much more evident (P=0.001). In the type A subjects, there was a much more significant visual field involvement (P=0.001); this involvement showed a negative correlation (P=0.024) with the Brief-cope scale. CONCLUSIONS:: The personality study is an extremely important part of the diagnostic work-up and treatment of OAG. © 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Giorgi G.L.,Institute Fisica Interdisciplinar y Sistemas Complejos | Bellomo B.,University of Palermo | Galve F.,Institute Fisica Interdisciplinar y Sistemas Complejos | Zambrini R.,Institute Fisica Interdisciplinar y Sistemas Complejos
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2011

Generalizing the quantifiers used to classify correlations in bipartite systems, we define genuine total, quantum, and classical correlations in multipartite systems. The measure we give is based on the use of relative entropy to quantify the distance between two density matrices. Moreover, we show that, for pure states of three qubits, both quantum and classical bipartite correlations obey a ladder ordering law fixed by two-body mutual informations, or, equivalently, by one-qubit entropies. © 2011 American Physical Society.

Lupo T.,University of Palermo
Proceedings - 19th ISSAT International Conference on Reliability and Quality in Design, RQD 2013 | Year: 2013

With refer to a Global Service Contract between a Service Provider and a Logistic Company, the purpose of the present paper is to develop an optimization model aimed to minimize the maintenance related total cost. In particular, such contract requires the supplying of a mandatory set of corrective maintenance services on a set of equal vehicles, in a fixed time horizon. The considered problem is formulated by a non-linear constrained mathematical model that, for large practical systems as the one herein considered, becomes difficult or very hard to solve by mathematical resolution approach. For this reason, a specific resolution approach based on a constrained genetic algorithm is herein developed to solve the treated problem. The obtained results show that meaningful cost reductions can be achieved by using the proposed approach.

Domina G.,University of Palermo | Mazzola P.,University of Palermo
Plant Biosystems | Year: 2011

Original material of the 12 taxa described as new by Bertoloni has been examined, and typification of their names is discussed. Lectotypes are designated for 11 of Bertoloni's names, one (O. densiflora Bertol.) had been lectotypified before. Orobanche bicolor Bertol. (non C. A. Mey.) belongs to O. cernua L., O. cruenta Bertol. to O. gracilis Sm., O. stricta Moris ex Bertol. to O. schultzii Mutel, O. thyrsoidea Moris ex Bertol to O. rigens Loisel., O. crithmi Bertol. to O. minor Sm., O. vitalbae Bertol. to O. artemisiae-campestris Gaudin, O. fragrantissima Bertol. to O. lutea Baumg., O. laurina Bertol. to O. hederae Duby, O. yuccae Savi f. ex Bertol. to O. hederae Duby (not to O. minor Sm.), O. centaurina Bertol. to O. litorea Guss. (not to O. artemisiae-campestris Gaudin). O. australis Moris ex Bertol., included by Beck in O. canescens C. Presl, is a good species restricted to Sardinia. O. densiflora Bertol. must not, as is customary, be ascribed to Reuter who republished it later. © 2011 Società Botanica Italiana.

Ciresi A.,University of Palermo | Amato M.C.,University of Palermo | Guarnotta V.,University of Palermo | Lo Castro F.,University of Palermo | Giordano C.,University of Palermo
Clinical Endocrinology | Year: 2013

Objective Currently available studies that fully analyse the metabolic parameters in patients with prolactinoma are scarce and discordant. The aim of this study was to evaluate the metabolic effects of cabergoline (CAB) treatment in patients with newly diagnosed prolactinoma in relation to disease control and CAB dosage. Design This is a retrospective clinical-based therapy analysis. Patients Forty-three patients with prolactinoma (eight men, 35 women), aged 33·65 ± 11·23 years, were evaluated metabolically at baseline and after 12 months of CAB treatment. Measurements Body mass index (BMI), systolic and diastolic blood pressure, waist circumference (WC), lipid profile, haemoglobinA1c (HbA1c), glucose and insulin levels (and their areas under the curve, AUC) after an oral glucose tolerance test, homoeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (Homa-IR) index, insulin sensitivity index (ISI) Matsuda, oral disposition index (DIo) and visceral adiposity index (VAI) were measured at baseline and after 12 months of treatment. Results Twelve months of CAB reduced WC (P < 0·001), total (P = 0·001) and low-density lipoprotein \terol (P < 0·001), triglycerides (P = 0·024), fasting insulin (P < 0·001), AUCINSULIN (P < 0·001), HbA1c (P = 0·022), Homa-IR (P < 0·001) and VAI (P < 0·001), with a concomitant increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P < 0·001) and in ISI Matsuda (P < 0·001), regardless of the degree of reduction in prolactin levels. The patients receiving higher doses (>0·50 mg/week) of CAB showed lower BMI (P = 0·009), fasting insulin (P = 0·001), Homa-IR (P < 0·001) and VAI (P = 0·018) and higher ISI Matsuda (P = 0·002) and DIo (P = 0·011), compared with those on lower doses. Conclusions A significant metabolic improvement was observed in patients with prolactinoma after 12 months of CAB treatment, especially when higher doses were used, highlighting the importance of considering the metabolic profile in these patients and the role of active treatment with high CAB doses. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Ippolito M.G.,University of Palermo | Riva Sanseverino E.,University of Palermo | Zizzo G.,University of Palermo
Energy and Buildings | Year: 2014

The paper focuses on the evaluation of the impact on residential buildings of building automation control (BAC) and technical building management (TBM) systems. This work shows how the control, monitoring and automation functions considered by the European Standard EN 15232 can considerably influence the energy performance of a single-family test house and, consequently, its energy performance class. The study puts into evidence that the benefit that can be drawn from the installation of BAC and TBM systems depends on the type of technical appliances in the household and on the starting energy performance class. Finally, the economic impact due to the introduction of BACS or TBM function is evaluated for different starting energy classes of the household under consideration. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Corriere F.,University of Palermo
ARPN Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences | Year: 2014

In this paper the problem of a road's capacity in presence of perturbations in the vehicular flow is dealt. In particular, among the different causes of delay, is here considered the presence of vehicles parked along the road in relation at their parking activity. Preliminarily is evaluated the delay, caused by each vehicle that leaves its parking position and enters in the traffic flow or by that who slows down the flow to enter in the parking, by introducing these effects in the equations of flow, it is possible to evaluate the modifications that the same curves of down flow suffer. Consequently, it is also possible to evaluate the increase of pollutant emissions. © 2006-2014 Asian Research Publishing Network (ARPN).

Bagarello F.,University of Palermo
Physics Letters, Section A: General, Atomic and Solid State Physics | Year: 2010

We discuss two physical examples of the so-called pseudo-bosons, recently introduced in connection with pseudo-hermitian quantum mechanics. In particular, we show that the so-called extended harmonic oscillator and the Swanson model satisfy all the assumptions of the pseudo-bosonic framework introduced by the author. We also prove that the biorthogonal bases they produce are not Riesz bases. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Gallitto A.A.,University of Palermo
Physics Education | Year: 2010

The event 'School adopts an experiment' is an event targeted at high schools and secondary schools. It is based on a tight and direct collaboration between researchers and school students and teachers. Several schools were involved in the event by 'adopting' an experiment in physics research laboratories. Groups of selected students were first trained by university researchers, then they demonstrated the experiments to other students and teachers during the event. Students who adopted an experiment acquired knowledge of the subjects connected with the experiment in a most impressive way compared with the usual didactics at school. Further positive points were: (i) to establish a close and direct collaboration between university researchers and high-school students and teachers; (ii) to give school students the opportunity to visit physics research laboratories. © 2010 IOP Publishing Ltd.

Lupo T.,University of Palermo
Quality and Reliability Engineering International | Year: 2014

In an attempt to improve the effectiveness of statistical process control (SPC) procedures, a variety of adaptive schemes has been developed in the last decades. However, considering control charts for attributes, relatively few works about adaptive schemes have been proposed, and most of them were proposed only recently. The common characteristic of those schemes is that one or more chart parameters are allowed to adaptively vary during the SPC operations according to the sampling information history, typically the current point plotted on the chart. In this way, the adaptive schemes are smarter than the related static ones, but they are also more complicated in terms of implementation. The purpose of the present work is to evaluate and compare the economic performance of the main adaptive schemes of a control chart for attributes, in order to derive conclusions on their relative effectiveness. In particular, the analysis is focused on the c chart that is used to monitor the total nonconformities number in an inspection unit. A numerical comparative study, based on a 2V5-1 fractional factorial design scheme, to investigate on the influence of several operating and costs parameters, is carried out, and the related considerations are given. The obtained results show that the chart parameter having the most impact on the economic performance is the sampling interval. Therefore, in most cases, the use of a c chart with adaptive sampling intervals is the better choice than other adaptive schemes, which are also more complicated in terms of implementation. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Lupo T.,University of Palermo
Quality and Reliability Engineering International | Year: 2014

The present paper proposes a multi-objective design approach for the c chart, considering in the optimization process of the chart parameters both the statistical and the economic objectives. In particular, the minimization of the hourly total quality related costs is the considered objective to carry out the economic goal, whereas the statistical objective is reached by the minimization the out-of-control average run length of the chart. A mixed integer non-linear constrained mathematical model is formulated to solve the treated multi-objective optimization problem, whereas the Pareto optimal frontier is described by the-constraint method. In order to show the employment of the proposed approach, an illustrative example is developed and the related considerations are given. Finally, some sensitivity analysis is also performed to investigate the effects of operative and costs parameters on the chart performance. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Granata M.F.,University of Palermo
Engineering Structures | Year: 2014

Incremental launching is a common and convenient methodology to build continuous girder bridges on several piers. Although it has mainly been applied to straight bridges with box sections, today it is also used for construction of horizontally curved bridges with concrete and composite steel-concrete closed or open sections like I-girders. In these cases the contribution of torsion to the stress state becomes of primary importance when the construction stages of these bridges are analysed. Moreover, the presence of thin-walled cross-sections, makes the analysis of non-uniform torsion fundamental when the angle of twist per unit length is not constant or warping is prevented in those sections where rigid internal diaphragms occur. Consequently the stress state in the launching phases can be strongly influenced by non-uniform torsion, especially for the evaluation of axial stresses in I-girder bridges, where non-uniform torsion presents its maximum influence. In this paper a methodology for the repetitive analysis of launching steps is proposed, based on the Hamiltonian Structural Analysis method, which takes into account the internal characteristics of non-uniform torsion (warping and bimoment) in order to evaluate the influence of prevented warping on the stress state at each stage of launching. The methodology is convenient because it can be considered a sort of generalised beam theory and presents a reduced computational burden with respect to finite element or boundary element procedures, with fast solution of many bridge launching static schemes. A validation of the method is given through a comparison with finite element procedures and literature data. An application is presented on a bridge with different typologies of cross-section in order to compare the different behaviours of thin-walled sections and the different degree of influence of non-uniform torsion on the stress state. The results are given in the form of envelope graphs of internal forces and stresses for the entire launching sequence and for the different cases examined. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Hopps E.,University of Palermo | Caimi G.,University of Palermo
European Journal of Internal Medicine | Year: 2012

Metabolic syndrome is commonly accompanied by an elevated cardiovascular risk with high morbidity and mortality. The alterations of the arterial vasculature begin with endothelial dysfunction and lead to micro- and macrovascular complications. The remodeling of the endothelial basal membrane, that promotes erosion and thrombosis, has a multifactorial pathogenesis that includes leukocyte activation, increased oxidative stress and also an altered matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) expression. MMPs are endopeptidases which degrade extracellular matrix proteins, such as collagen, gelatins, fibronectin and laminin. They can be secreted by several cells within the vascular wall, but macrophages are determinant in the atherosclerotic plaques. Their activity is regulated by tissue inhibitors of MMP (TIMPs) and also by other molecules, such as plasmin. MMPs could be implicated in plaque instability predisposing to vascular complications. It has been demonstrated that an impaired MMP or TIMP expression is associated with higher risk of all-cause mortality. A large number of studies evaluated MMPs pattern in obesity, diabetes mellitus, arterial hypertension and dyslipidemia, all of which define metabolic syndrome according to several Consensus Statement (i.e. IDF, ATP III, AHA). However, few research have been carried out on subjects with metabolic syndrome. The evidences of an improvement in MMP/TIMP ratio with diet, exercise and medical therapy should encourage further investigations with the intent to contrast the atherosclerotic process and to reduce morbidity and mortality of this kind of patients. © 2011 European Federation of Internal Medicine.

Mansueto P.,University of Palermo | Seidita A.,University of Palermo | D'Alcamo A.,University of Palermo | Carroccio A.,University of Palermo
Journal of the American College of Nutrition | Year: 2014

Background: A significant percentage of the general population report problems caused by wheat and/or gluten ingestion, even though they do not have celiac disease (CD) or wheat allergy (WA), because they test negative both for CD-specific serology and histopathology and for immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated assays. Most patients report both gastrointestinal and nongastrointestinal symptoms, and all report improvement of symptoms on a gluten-free diet. This clinical condition has been named non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Aim: We attempt to define the current pathogenic, clinical, and diagnostic criteria of this "new" disease, to provide a practical view that might be useful to evaluate, diagnose, and manage NCGS patients. Methods: We reviewed the international literature through PubMed and Medline, using the search terms "wheat (hyper)sensitivity," "wheat allergy," "wheat intolerance," "gluten (hyper)sensitivity," and "gluten intolerance," and we discuss current knowledge about NCGS. Results: It has been demonstrated that patients suffering from NCGS are a heterogeneous group, composed of several subgroups, each characterized by different pathogenesis, clinical history, and, probably, clinical course. NCGS diagnosis can be reached only by excluding CD and WA. Recent evidence shows that a personal history of food allergy in infancy, coexistent atopy, positive for immunoglobulin G (IgG) antigliadin antibodies and flow cytometric basophil activation test, with wheat and duodenal and/or ileum-colon intraepithelial and lamina propria eosinophil counts, could be useful to identify NCGS patients. Conclusions: Future research should aim to identify reliable biomarkers for NCGS diagnosis and to better define the different NCGS subgroups. Key teaching points: • Most patients report both gastrointestinal and nongastrointestinal symptoms, and all agree that there is an improvement of symptoms on a gluten-free diet. • NCGS diagnosis can be reached only by excluding celiac disease and wheat allergy. • Patients suffering from NCGS are a heterogeneous group, composed of several subgroups, each characterized by different pathogenesis, clinical history, and, probably, clinical course. • A personal history of food allergy in infancy, coexistent atopy, positive IgG antigliadin antibodies (AGA) and flow cytometric basophil activation test, with wheat and duodenal and/or ileum-colon intraepithelial and lamina propria eosinophil counts, could be useful to identify NCGS patients. • Future research should aim to identify reliable biomarkers for NCGS diagnosis and to better define the different NCGS subgroup. © 2014 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Franzitta V.,University of Palermo | Viola A.,University of Palermo | Trapanese M.,University of Palermo
Advanced Materials Research | Year: 2013

In this paper Preisach Model is applied to obtain a mathematical model of the hysteresis in lithium battery. Preisach Model allows to describe the hysteresis of charging and discharging cycles in a lithium battery. The identification of the model is obtained by using a neural network technique developed for magnetic systems. The model is verified on some experimental tests on commercial batteries. © (2013) Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland.

Orecchio S.,University of Palermo
Atmospheric Environment | Year: 2011

This study investigates PAHs indoor emissions from burning decorative candle in an indoor environment because emissions from burning wax in home have rarely been addressed. A total of 12 air samples were collected during the entire burning period of the decorative candles. Particulate and gaseous PAHs emissions were simultaneously measured by passing effluent through a filter (to collect particulate-phase PAHs), a cold trap and ORBO 43 tubes (to capture gaseous-phase PAHs). Analysis involved ultrasound extraction, followed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).The measured total PAHs concentration (particulate + aqueous phase + gas phases) for the candles, reported as mass of PAHs emitted/mass of candle burning, was between 2.3 and 49.8 μg kg-1 and mean 15 μg kg-1. Considering the volume of sampled air, the concentrations of total PAHs ranged from 7 ng m-3 to 267 ng m-3. Concentrations of B[a]P emitted by candles ranged from 0.1 to 7.5 ng m-3, while total carcinogenic PAHs, expressed as B[a]eq, ranged from 0.2 to 10.7 ng m-3. The values of all the isomeric indices calculated in this research are in good agreement to literature data for emissions from high temperature processes. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Since the latest Oligocene-earliest Miocene the building of the Sicilian fold and thrust belt has been accompanied by development of a " peripheral" foreland basin system which migrated toward the foreland. In north-western Sicily, the sedimentary record of the foreland basin system migration is represented by a stratigraphic succession made up of several lithostratigraphic units, bounded by regional unconformity surfaces, deposited recording at least four main sedimentary phases, each characterized by the development of different types of syntectonic basins.In particular, during the Late Miocene (Late Tortonian to Early Messinian) a wide wedge-top depozone developed in the innermost sectors of the Sicilian foreland basin system, above the moving thrust sheets. There, wide to quite narrow " syn-kinematic" sedimentary basins developed in response to the tectonic deformation of the deeper carbonate units (Cu).These basins were filled by a thick wedge of silico- and carbonate-clastic deposits pertaining to the Terravecchia Formation (Upper Tortonian-Lower Messinian) which unconformably overlaid the already deformed substrate. Among these basins, the " Camporeale wedge-top Basin" (NW Sicily) was located between an uplifting subaerial chain (northward) acting as source area for coarse clastics and a major depositional area (foredeep depozone) mainly characterized by fine-grained marine sedimentation.Integrated stratigraphic and sedimentologic analyses performed on the Terravecchia Fm. in the Camporeale Basin allowed us to identify a coarsening to fining upward " outer wedge-top sequence" characterized by three main facies associations (i) sandy-to-gravelly unconfined braidplain, (ii) sandywave and storm-dominated delta front, (iii) clayey offshore, settled in several adjacent sedimentary environments. Sedimentation has been driven by several interplaying control factors among which the tectonics played a predominant role. Moreover, the structural analysis performed on the Camporeale Basin fill allows us to recognize major E-W, NE-SW, N-S-, NW-SE-trending structures (faults and folds) interpreted as the superficial expression of deep-seated thrusts with both S-ward and predominantly N-ward vergence, developed under a roughly N170°-oriented stress field. The comparison of the Camporeale Basin with other coeval basins of Sicily allows us to image the Late Miocene Sicilian foreland basin system, as being characterized by a wide continental to shallow-marine wedge-top depozone characterized, in turn, by an inner and outer sector passing basinward, through a foredeep transition zone, into a foredeep depozone characterized by open marine deposition. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Fioroni T.,University of Palermo
European Journal of Health Economics | Year: 2010

This paper investigates the relationship between saving and health spending in a two-period overlapping generations economy. Individuals work in the first period of life and live in retirement in old age. Health spending is an activity that increases quality of life and longevity. Empirical evidence shows that both health spending and saving behave as luxury goods but their behaviour differs markedly according to the level of per capita GDP. The share of saving on GDP has a concave shape with respect to per capita GDP, whereas the share of health spending on GDP increases more than proportionally with respect to per capita GDP. The ratio of saving to spending is nonlinear with respect to income, i.e. first increasing and then decreasing. This ratio, in the proposed model, is equal to the ratio between the elasticity of the utility function with respect to saving and the elasticity of the utility function with respect to health. © Springer-Verlag 2009.

Dominguez L.J.,University of Palermo
Acta bio-medica : Atenei Parmensis | Year: 2010

Osteoporosis is a major and global public health concern. This disorder is characterized by a compromised bone strength and increased susceptibility to fractures, with important health and socioeconomic consequences. Age remains a cardinal, independent determinant of fracture risk; hence, the prevalence of osteoporotic fractures is expected to rise as the proportion of older populations increases worldwide. The prevention of osteoporosis should begin early and continue all the way through life with measures that improve or maintain bone health including regular physical activity and a balanced diet, considering not only an adequate intake of calcium but also of other minerals, proteins, and food rich in antioxidants. Smoking and alcohol abuse should be avoided. In older persons, who are particularly at risk of fragility fractures, the prevention of falls and the maintenance of an adequate vitamin D status are essential. Assessment of fracture risk followed by proved effective nonpharmacological and pharmacological management is still low, even in patients who have sustained a fragility fracture. Nonpharmacologic strategies should always be implemented, but many patients also need pharmacologic intervention to achieve adequate fracture protection. It is clear today that although low bone mineral density (BMD) is an important determinant of bone fragility, it is not the only one, hence, drugs used in the treatment of osteoporosis must not only show to promote changes in BMD, but to reduce the incidence of fractures. Safety issues should be always considered in an individual basis. This article reviews the available nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic interventions -proved to be effective- that may be implemented to reduce the risk of osteoporotic fractures.

Carmina E.,University of Palermo | Campagna A.M.,University of Palermo | Lobo R.A.,Columbia University
Human Reproduction | Year: 2013

STUDY QUESTIONWhat alters cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors with aging in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?SUMMARY ANSWERLipid parameters, mainly low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, increase with aging, but not in women who attain ovulatory cycles.WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADYCardiovascular and metabolic parameters tend to increase with aging, but this has not been shown in a prospective longitudinal study in women with PCOS. Correlates of these changes have not been identified.STUDY DESIGNA prospective cohort of 118 hyperandrogenic women with PCOS who were followed from the age of 20-25 years at 5 year intervals for 20 years.PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODSThirty-five age-matched controls and another 35 age-matched controls in their 40s, 20 years later. Longitudinal measurements of body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, fasting serum steroids, glucose, insulin, lipids, prevalence of metabolic syndrome and ovulatory status.MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCEAfter 20 years, in the entire group, waist circumference increased as did glucose, total cholesterol (C), high-density lipoprotein-C (HDL-C), LDL-C and non-HDL-C. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 7% at the beginning and 6% at the end. Fifty-one women with PCOS were found to be ovulatory and 67 remained anovulatory after 20 years. Anovulatory women had higher insulin, lower QUICKI and higher total C, LDL-C, non-HDL-C and lower HDL-C. In ovulatory women there were no alterations in lipids or glucose and minor changes in insulin and QUICKI compared with controls. None of the parameters were influenced by BMI or waist circumference.LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTIONInability to follow controls for 20 years. Associations observed between ovulatory function and lowered cardiovascular and metabolic risks cannot imply cause and effect.WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGSPhenotypic variability, particularly ovulatory function, in women diagnosed to have PCOS appears to influence cardiovascular and metabolic risks. It is unclear if these data pertain to other populations and ethnicities of women.STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTSSelf-funded; no conflicts of interest. © The Author 2013.

Schifilliti D.,Messina University | Grasso G.,University of Palermo | Conti A.,Messina University | Fodale V.,Messina University
CNS Drugs | Year: 2010

In designing the anaesthetic plan for patients undergoing surgery, the choice of anaesthetic agent may often appear irrelevant and the best results obtained by the use of a technique or a drug with which the anaesthesia care provider is familiar. Nevertheless, in those surgical procedures (cardiopulmonary bypass, carotid surgery and cerebral aneurysm surgery) and clinical situations (subarachnoid haemorrhage, stroke, brain trauma and post-cardiac arrest resuscitation) where protecting the CNS is a priority, the choice of anaesthetic drug assumes a fundamental role. Treating patients with a neuroprotective agent may be a consideration in improving overall neurological outcome. Therefore, a clear understanding of the relative degree of protection provided by various agents becomes essential in deciding on the most appropriate anaesthetic treatment geared to these objectives.This article surveys the current literature on the effects of the most commonly used anaesthetic drugs (volatile and gaseous inhalation, and intravenous agents) with regard to their role in neuroprotection. A systematic search was performed in the MEDLINE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINHAL®) and Cochrane Library databases using the following keywords: 'brain' (with the limits 'newborn' or 'infant' or 'child' or 'neonate' or 'neonatal' or 'animals') AND 'neurodegeneration' or 'apoptosis' or 'toxicity' or 'neuroprotection' in combination with individual drug names ('halothane', 'isoflurane', 'desflurane', 'sevoflurane', 'nitrous oxide', 'xenon', 'barbiturates', 'thiopental', 'propofol', 'ketamine'). Over 600 abstracts for articles published from January 1980 to April 2010, including studies in animals, humans and in vitro, were examined, but just over 100 of them were considered and reviewed for quality.Taken as a whole, the available data appear to indicate that anaesthetic drugs such as barbiturates, propofol, xenon and most volatile anaesthetics (halothane, isoflurane, desflurane, sevoflurane) show neuroprotective effects that protect cerebral tissue from adverse events such as apoptosis, degeneration, inflammation and energy failure caused by chronic neurodegenerative diseases, ischaemia, stroke or nervous system trauma. Nevertheless, in several studies, the administration of gaseous, volatile and intravenous anaesthetics (especially isoflurane and ketamine) was also associated with dose-dependent and exposure time-dependent neurodegenerative effects in the developing animal brain. At present, available experimental data do not support the selection of any one anaesthetic agent over the others. Furthermore, the relative benefit of one anaesthetic versus another, with regard to neuroprotective potential, is unlikely to form a rational basis for choice. Each drug has some undesirable adverse effects that, together with the patients medical and surgical history, appear to be decisive in choosing the most suitable anaesthetic agent for a specific situation. Moreover, it is important to highlight that many of the studies in the literature have been conducted in animals or in vitro; hence, results and conclusions of most of them may not be directly applied to the clinical setting. For these reasons, and given the serious implications for public health, we believe that further investigation geared mainly to clarifying the complex interactions between anaesthetic drug actions and specific mechanisms involved in brain injury, within a setting as close as possible to the clinical situation is imperative. © 2010 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved.

La Rocca V.,University of Palermo | Panno G.,University of Palermo
Applied Energy | Year: 2011

This paper presents the results of an experimental analysis comparing the performance of a vapour compression refrigerating unit operating with R22, and its performance in comparison to a new HFC fluid, substituting the former according to Regulation No 2037/2000.In particular, the plant working efficiency was first tested with R22 and then with three new HFC fluids: R417A, R422A and R422D. The investigation verified that despite the case of substitution and the advantage of being able to continue to use mineral oil as a lubricant in the compressor, the performance with the new tested fluids did not result as efficient as when using R22. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

The paper deals with the cold energy available during LNG regasification, which can be recovered and utilized both inside the LNG regasification area and at a distance, such as in deep freezing agro food industry facilities and for space conditioning in the commercial and residential sector (e.g. Supermarkets and Hypermarkets). The feasibility study of this kind of application has been carried out at DREAM, Palermo University, within the framework of a research program.The results of a feasibility study of the kind of venture proposed, starting from its conceptual design and with a thorough thermodynamic and economic analysis, demonstrated the suitability and the profitability of the applications proposed. They seem very attractive due to expected wide future exploitation of LNG regasification in the World. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Cavallaro G.,University of Palermo | Donato D.I.,University of Palermo | Lazzara G.,University of Palermo | Milioto S.,University of Palermo
Journal of Physical Chemistry C | Year: 2011

This study focused on the preparation and characterization of films based on biopolymers (hydroxypropylcellulose and low methoxyl pectin) and halloysite nanotubes (HNTs). The morphology is strongly dependent on the polymer nature. In particular, we observed a sandwich-like structure composed of two hydroxypropylcellulose layers incorporating the HNTs and a homogeneous distribution of the nanotubes into the low methoxyl pectin matrix. The different mesoscopic properties were invoked to explain the dielectric, thermal, and wettability properties of the corresponding films. Nanocomposites obtained by combining materials from renewable resources and HNTs is a challenging task in view of designing green materials with tunable barrier and delivery properties for specific purposes. © 2011 American Chemical Society.

Bonsignore M.R.,University of Palermo | Bonsignore M.R.,CNR Institute of Biomedicine and Molecular Immunology Alberto Monroy | McNicholas W.T.,St Vincents University Hospital | Montserrat J.M.,Hospital Clinic IDIBAPS CIBERES | Eckel J.,German Diabetes Center
European Respiratory Journal | Year: 2012

A European Respiratory Society research seminar on "Metabolic alterations in obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)" was jointly organised in October 2009 together with two EU COST actions (Cardiovascular risk in the obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome, action B26, and Adipose tissue and the metabolic syndrome, action BM0602) in order to discuss the interactions between obesity and OSA. Such interactions can be particularly significant in the pathogenesis ofmetabolic abnormalities and in increased cardiovascular risk in OSA patients. However, studying the respective role of OSA and obesity is difficult in patients, making it necessary to refer to animal models or in vitro systems. Since most OSA patients are obese, their management requires a multidisciplinary approach. This review summarises some aspects of the pathophysiology and treatment of obesity, and the possible effects of sleep loss on metabolism. OSA-associated metabolic dysfunction (insulin resistance, liver dysfunction and atherogenic dyslipidaemia) is discussed from the perspective of both obesity and OSA in adults and children. Finally, the effects of treatment for obesity or OSA, or both, on cardio-metabolic variables are summarised. Further interdisciplinary research is needed in order to develop new comprehensive treatment approaches aimed at reducing sleep disordered breathing, obesity and cardiovascular risk. Copyright©ERS 2012.

Marrone F.,University of Palermo | Lo Brutto S.,University of Palermo | Hundsdoerfer A.K.,Senckenberg Natural History Collections Dresden | Arculeo M.,University of Palermo
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution | Year: 2013

Our comprehension of the phylogeny and diversity of most inland-water crustaceans is currently hampered by their pronounced morphological bradytely, which contributed to the affirmation of the "Cosmopolitanism Paradigm" of freshwater taxa. However, growing evidence of the existence of cryptic diversity and molecular regionalism is available for calanoid copepods, thus stressing the need for careful morphological and molecular studies in order to soundly investigate the systematics, diversity and distribution patterns of the group. Diaptomid copepods were here chosen as model taxa, and the morphological and molecular diversity of the species belonging to the west-Mediterranean diaptomid subgenus Occidodiaptomus were investigated with the aim of comparing the patterns of morphological and molecular evolution in freshwater copepods. Three species currently lumped under the binomen Hemidiaptomus (Occidodiaptomus) ingens and two highly divergent clades within H. (O.) roubaui were distinguished, thus showing an apparent discordance between the molecular distances recorded and Occidodiaptomus morphological homogeneity, and highlighting a noteworthy decoupling between the morphological and molecular diversity in the subgenus. Current Occidodiaptomus diversity pattern is ascribed to a combined effect of ancient vicariance and recent dispersal events. It is stressed that the lack of sound calibration points for the molecular clock makes it difficult to soundly temporally frame the diversification events of interest in the taxon studied, and thus to asses the role of morphological bradytely and of accelerated molecular evolutionary rates in shaping the current diversity of the group. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

Craxi A.,University of Palermo
Journal of Hepatology | Year: 2010

Peginterferon alfa-2b or alfa-2a with ribavirin for treatment of hepatitis C infection. McHutchison JG, Lawitz EJ, Shiffman ML, Muir AJ, Galler GW, McCone J, Nyberg LM, Lee WM, Ghalib RH, Schiff ER, Galati JS, Bacon BR, Davis MN, Mukhopadhyay P, Koury K, Noviello S, Pedicone LD, Brass CA, Albrecht JK, Sulkowski MS; IDEAL Study Team. N Engl J Med 2009 Aug 6;361(6):580-93. Background: Treatment guidelines recommend the use of peginterferon alfa-2b or peginterferon alfa-2a in combination with ribavirin for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. However, these regimens have not been adequately compared. Methods: At 118 sites, patients who had HCV genotype 1 infection and who had not previously been treated were randomly assigned to undergo 48 weeks of treatment with one of three regimens: peginterferon alfa-2b at a standard dose of 1.5 microg per kilogram of body weight per week or a low dose of 1.0 microg per kilogram per week, plus ribavirin at a dose of 800 to 1400 mg per day, or peginterferon alfa-2a at a dose of 180 microg per week plus ribavirin at a dose of 1000 to 1200 mg per day. We compared the rate of sustained virologic response and the safety and adverse-event profiles between the peginterferon alfa-2b regimens and between the standard-dose peginterferon alfa-2b regimen and the peginterferon alfa-2a regimen. Results: Among 3070 patients, rates of sustained virologic response were similar among the regimens: 39.8% with standard-dose peginterferon alfa-2b, 38.0% with low-dose peginterferon alfa-2b, and 40.9% with peginterferon alfa-2a (P = 0.20 for standard-dose vs. low-dose peginterferon alfa-2b; P = 0.57 for standard-dose peginterferon alfa-2b vs. peginterferon alfa-2a). Estimated differences in response rates were 1.8% (95% confidence interval [CI, -2.3 to 6.0) between standard-dose and low-dose peginterferon alfa-2b and -1.1% (95% CI, -5.3 to 3.0) between standard-dose peginterferon alfa-2b and peginterferon alfa-2a. Relapse rates were 23.5% (95% CI, 19.9 to 27.2) for standard-dose peginterferon alfa-2b, 20.0% (95% CI, 16.4 to 23.6) for low-dose peginterferon alfa-2b, and 31.5% (95% CI, 27.9 to 35.2) for peginterferon alfa-2a. The safety profile was similar among the three groups; serious adverse events were observed in 8.6% to 11.7% of patients. Among the patients with undetectable HCV RNA levels at treatment weeks 4 and 12, a sustained virologic response was achieved in 86.2% and 78.7%, respectively. Conclusions: In patients infected with HCV genotype 1, the rates of sustained virologic response and tolerability did not differ significantly between the two available peginterferon-ribavirin regimens or between the two doses of peginterferon alfa-2b. ( No. NCT00081770) 2009 Massachusetts Medical Society. © 2009 European Association for the Study of the Liver.

Trapanese M.,University of Palermo
Journal of Applied Physics | Year: 2011

In this paper a procedure for the identification of the parameters of the Jiles-Atherton (JA) model is presented. The parameters of the JA model of a material are found by using a neural network trained by a collection of hysteresis curves, whose parameters are known. After a presentation of the Jiles-Atherton model, the neural network and the training procedure are described and the method is validated by using some numerical, as well as experimental, data. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.

Trapanese M.,University of Palermo
Journal of Applied Physics | Year: 2011

A dq axis theory of a thermomagnetic Curie motor is presented. This theory allows one to estimate the performances of a Curie motor from its geometrical, magnetic, and thermal properties. The proposed approach shows that the thermomagnetic Curie motor is equivalent from a magnetic point of view to a dc electric machine. The physical meaning of the parameters used in the dq theory of Curie motor is explicated. The theory is validated by using experimental data. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.

Basilone L.,University of Palermo
Italian Journal of Geosciences | Year: 2011

The geology of the Rocca Busambra-Corleone region, in centralwestern Sicily, is relevant to the understanding of the central sector of the Maghrebian-Sicilian fold-and-thrust belt. In the investigated area Mesozoic shallow- and deep-water carbonate deposits pertaining respectively to the Trapanese and the Sicanian successions, and a thick Oligo-Miocene numidian flysch body, crop out. Minor outcrops of Cretaceous-Palaeogene Sicilide complex and syn-orogenic deposits of the Late Serravallian-Early Messinian Castellana Sicula and Terravecchia formations are also present. A structural analysis reveals complex tectonic relationships between the Trapanese carbonate platform tectonic unit (the Rocca Busambra carbonate ridge) and the overthrusting Sicanian deepwater carbonate (Corleone-Barracù) and numidian flysch tectonic units, outcropping around the carbonate ridge. In this tectonic frame Rocca Busambra is a 15 km long, E-Wtrending large antiform, slightly rotated to the NW-SE on its eastern limb (Pizzo Marabito). The unit forms a southerly verging ramp structure; it is bound, to the south, by E-W and WNW-ESE striking major reverse faults and, to the north, by the E-W striking Busambra fault, that is a back-verging reverse fault characterized by right-handed strike-slip component of movement. The Busambra carbonate platform tectonic unit, that appears to have been thrust up to the surface, is reimbricated above the Sicanian deep-water carbonate and numidian flysch tectonic units; these, in turn, are redeformed. The latter tectonic event overprinted the original tectonic relationships and took place during the Late Pliocene, as evidenced in adjacent regions.

Berneis K.,University of Zürich | Rizzo M.,University of Palermo | Berthold H.K.,The Interdisciplinary Center | Spinas G.A.,University of Zürich | And 2 more authors.
European Heart Journal | Year: 2010

Aims The predominance of small dense low-density lipoproteins (sdLDLs) has been associated with increased cardiovascular risk. The effect of ezetimibe on LDL subfraction distribution has not been fully elucidated. This study assessed by gradient gel electrophoresis the effects of ezetimibe alone, simvastatin alone, and their combination on sdLDL subfraction distribution. Methods and results A single-centre, randomized, parallel three-group open-label study was performed in 72 healthy men with a baseline LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) concentration of 111 ± 30 mg/dL (2.9 ± 0.8 mmol/L). They were treated with ezetimibe (10 mg/day, n = 24), simvastatin (40 mg/day, n = 24), or their combination (n = 24) for 14 days. Blood was drawn before and after the treatment period. Generalized estimating equations were used to assess the influence of drug therapy on LDL subfraction distribution, controlling for within-subject patterns (clustering). We adjusted for age, body mass index, and baseline concentrations of LDL-C and triglycerides. Ezetimibe alone changed LDL subfraction distribution towards a more atherogenic profile by significantly increasing sdLDL subfractions (LDL-IVA +14.2, P = 0.0216 and LDL-IVB +16.7, P = 0.039; fully adjusted Wald χ2 test). In contrast, simvastatin alone significantly decreased the LDL-IVB subfraction (-16.7, P = 0.002). This effect was offset when simvastatin was combined with ezetimibe (LDL-IVB +14.3, P = 0.44). All three treatments decreased the large, more buoyant LDL-I subfraction, the effects of ezetimibe being the most pronounced (ezetimibe-13.9, P < 0.0001; combination therapy-7.3, P = 0.0743; simvastatin-4.6, P < 0.0001). Conclusion In healthy men, treatment with ezetimibe alone is associated with the development of a pro-atherogenic LDL subfraction profile. Potentially atheroprotective effects of simvastatin are offset by ezetimibe.This study is registered with, identifier no. NCT00317993. Published on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved. © The Author 2010.

Corato G.,CNR Research Institute for Geo-hydrological Protection | Moramarco T.,CNR Research Institute for Geo-hydrological Protection | Tucciarelli T.,University of Palermo
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences | Year: 2011

A new procedure is proposed for estimating river discharge hydrographs during flood events, using only water level data at a single gauged site, as well as 1-D shallow water modelling and occasional maximum surface flow velocity measurements. One-dimensional diffusive hydraulic model is used for routing the recorded stage hydrograph in the channel reach considering zero-diffusion downstream boundary condition. Based on synthetic tests concerning a broad prismatic channel, the "suitable" reach length is chosen in order to minimize the effect of the approximated downstream boundary condition on the estimation of the upstream discharge hydrograph. The Manning's roughness coefficient is calibrated by using occasional instantaneous surface velocity measurements during the rising limb of flood that are used to estimate instantaneous discharges by adopting, in the flow area, a two-dimensional velocity distribution model. Several historical events recorded in three gauged sites along the upper Tiber River, wherein reliable rating curves are available, have been used for the validation. The outcomes of the analysis can be summarized as follows: (1) the criterion adopted for selecting the "suitable" channel length based on synthetic test studies has proved to be reliable for field applications to three gauged sites. Indeed, for each event a downstream reach length not more than 500 m is found to be sufficient, for a good performances of the hydraulic model, thereby enabling the drastic reduction of river cross-sections data; (2) the procedure for Manning's roughness coefficient calibration allowed for high performance in discharge estimation just considering the observed water levels and occasional measurements of maximum surface flow velocity during the rising limb of flood. Indeed, errors in the peak discharge magnitude, for the optimal calibration, were found not exceeding 5% for all events observed in the three investigated gauged sections, while the Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency was, on average, greater than 0.95. Therefore, the proposed procedure well lend itself to be applied for: (1) the extrapolation of rating curve over the field of velocity measurements (2) discharge estimations in different cross sections during the same flood event using occasional surface flow velocity measures carried out, for instance, by hand-held radar sensors. © Author(s) 2011.

Carroccio A.,University of Palermo | Mansueto P.,University of Palermo | D'Alcamo A.,University of Palermo | Iacono G.,Di Cristina Childrens Hospital
American Journal of Gastroenterology | Year: 2013

Objectives:Non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS) is a newly described clinical entity characterized by symptoms, which can involve the gastrointestinal tract, the nervous system, the skin, and other organs. There is little data on the pathogenesis of NCWS and it is probable that different pathogenic mechanisms are involved in the different clinical manifestations of the disease. The only common denominator of NCWS "syndrome" is wheat consumption: the symptoms disappear on exclusion of wheat from the diet, and reappear on wheat consumption. The objective of this study was to review our prior data regarding NCWS and to review relevant medical literature regarding NCWS, with particular attention to the hypothesis that NCWS patients could suffer from non-immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated wheat allergy.Methods:We reviewed our data on 276 patients diagnosed with NCWS by means of double-blind placebo-controlled (DBPC) wheat challenge. The data indicating a possible wheat allergy diagnosis were examined and other data in the literature were reviewed; we review the role of serum immunoglobulin G antibodies and the basophil activation assay in food allergy, and the histology findings in the food allergy diagnosis.Results:The comparison between patients suffering from NCWS and presenting with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and controls with IBS not due to NCWS showed that NCWS was characterized by: a personal history of food allergy in the pediatric age (0.01), coexistent atopic diseases (0.0001), positive serum anti-gliadin (0.0001) and anti-betalactoglobulin (0.001) antibodies, positive cytofluorimetric assay revealing in vitro basophil activation by food antigens (0.0001), and a presence of eosinophils in the intestinal mucosa biopsies (0.0001).Conclusions:Patients with NCWS and multiple food sensitivity show several clinical, laboratory, and histological characteristics that suggest they might be suffering from non-IgE-mediated food allergy. However, other pathogenic mechanisms need to be considered. © 2013 by the American College of Gastroenterology.

Lo Nigro G.,University of Palermo | Perrone G.,University of Palermo | Chiapparrone S.,University of Palermo
International Journal of Production Economics | Year: 2012

Since the first theoretical papers on Transaction Cost Economy, several studies have addressed the problem of designing governance forms in inter-firm relationship. Scholars have deeply investigated the problem and several theories have been proposed to face with it. The biopharmaceutical industry is one of the most interesting testbeds for understanding dynamics and rationality of governance forms in IFRs; indeed, in this industry the advent of the biotechnology has not been disruptive as in other industries, so that the newcomers, the biotech companies, and the incumbents, the pharmaceutical ones, have incurred in several types of IFRs such as licensing agreements, non-equity alliances, equity alliances and mergers and acquisitions. Thus, several papers have tried to investigate what kind of drivers influence the choice of the governance form in this industry, but most of them have focused on general characteristics of inter-firm agreements, such as the investment specificity, the number of prior ties, the technology distance and so forth. Differently from other researches, in this paper, we focus on specific characteristics of IFRs in the biopharma industry and we build a theoretical framework consisting of 13 drivers that are able to influence the governance mode of IFRs in this industry. We test our theoretical framework through an explorative empirical analysis. Even if more confirmative empirical analysis is needed, the empirical results evidence the validity of the theoretical framework proposed in this paper and provide some interesting managerial implications. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Francipane M.G.,University of Palermo | Lagasse E.,McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology | Year: 2015

The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is aberrantly activated in many cancer types. As the intricate network of regulatory mechanisms controlling mTOR activity is uncovered, more refined drugs are designed and tested in clinical trials. While first generation mTOR inhibitors have failed to show clinical efficacy due partly to the feedback relief of oncogenetic circuits, newly developed inhibitors show greater promise as anti-cancer agents. An effective drug must defeat the cancer stem cells (CSCs) while sparing the normal stem cells. Due to its opposing role on normal and malignant stem cells, mTOR lends itself very well as a therapeutic target. Indeed, a preferential inhibitory effect on CSCs has already been shown for some mTOR inhibitors. These results provide a compelling rationale for the clinical development of mTOR-targeted therapies. © 2015 The British Pharmacological Society.

Ferro L.,University of Palermo | Scialdone O.,University of Palermo | Galia A.,University of Palermo
Journal of Supercritical Fluids | Year: 2012

Free radical grafting of acrylic acid (AA) on poly(vinilydenefluoride) (PVDF) porous membranes was studied at 65°C using supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO 2) as a solvent and delivery agent. The process was initiated by the thermal decomposition of benzoylperoxide (BPO). Spectroscopic analyses confirmed the presence of poly(AA) chains linked to treated membranes. The mass fraction of grafted AA increased with grafting time and BPO concentration while it decreased when the density of the fluid phase was enhanced. A not-monotonic trend was obtained when the effect of the initial AA concentration was studied. The grafting process was accompanied by a reduction of the crystallinity of the PVDF matrix. Flow measurements and caffeine release experiments performed using PVDF membranes with proper grafting degree exhibited a pH dependent behaviour. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

Aiello G.,University of Palermo | Enea M.,University of Palermo | Muriana C.,University of Palermo
European Journal of Operational Research | Year: 2015

Recent regulations on agri-food traceability prescribe traceability throughout the entire supply chain, in order to ensure consumers' safety and product quality. This has led producers and retailers to consider the opportunity to improve the firm's reputation and consumer confidence through the implementation of traceability systems designed not only to satisfy the legal requirements, but also to track the quality of the products through the supply chain for optimization purposes. However the actual implementation of such systems depends on the possibility of gathering specific information related to the product quality. Nowadays, innovative and non invasive technologies such as the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) allow the automatic real time collection of data, thus enabling the development of effective traceability systems. In such context the expected value of traceability is a fundamental issue concerning the economic analysis of costs involved in such an investment and the optimal granularity level of implementation. This paper aims at evaluating the expected value of the implementation of traceability systems for perishable products like fruits and vegetables, and its profit. The study presents a mathematical stochastic approach for optimizing the supply chain profit and establishing the optimal granularity level (namely the Economic Traceability Lot) when a RFID solution is adopted. In particular, the supply chain profit in the presence of RFID traceability system has been calculated and compared with the expected profit in absence of such a system, and the results confirm the importance of the specific characteristics of the supply chain in determining the optimal configuration of the traceability system. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Sorge F.,University of Palermo
Meccanica | Year: 2015

The mechanical response of pneumatic artificial muscles is analyzed in transient and periodic conditions, assuming the inextensibility of the sheathing fibres and considering the influence of the texture geometry, of the dissipation due to the mutual sliding between the braids and of the stress field inside the bladder thickness, where the constituent elastomer is regarded as a two-parameter Mooney–Rivlin material. The polytropic exponent of the thermodynamic air evolution inside the muscle during the charging and discharging phases may be properly chosen depending on the working frequency. The muscle end shape is taken into account profiling the meridian section by a simple m-degree parabolic law. The estimate of the mechanical and geometrical parameters of each individual muscle permits simulating its response in several unsteady operations and identifying its hysteretic behaviour under periodic pressure excitation. The comparison with several experimental results present in the literature shows a very acceptable agreement. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Accomando S.,University of Palermo
Frontiers in bioscience (Scholar edition) | Year: 2010

Celiac Disease is a worldwide spread condition affecting 1:100-1:200 individuals. It is a permanent food intolerance to ingested gluten in genetically predisposed subjects. In this review we analyze the biochemical markers of the disease going from laboratory findings to histology passing through genetics. Gluten intolerance is a unique model of autoimmune disease in which we can recognize the main environmental factor (gluten) and the more complex genetic background. In additional way, serological markers for monitoring the disease and a safe and effective therapy (gluten free diet) are also available. In deed the environmental factor such as gluten intake is necessary to trigger the disease but genetics also matter. HLA genes are the most studied but in recent times also not HLA related genes are giving proof of additional relative risk to disease if present. From histological point of view intra epithelial cell infiltration by several lymphocyte subsets is becoming more and more important also for understanding pathogenesis of the disease.

Morreale M.,Kore University of Enna | Dintcheva N.T.,University of Palermo | La Mantia F.P.,University of Palermo
Express Polymer Letters | Year: 2013

Polymer nanocomposites are currently a topic of great interest. The increasing importance they are gaining also in the standpoint of industrial applications, is giving concerns regarding their environmental stability and, in general, their behaviour in outdoor applications, under direct solar irradiation. Papers available in the literature have highlighted the different influences of different nanosized fillers, in particular clay-based nanofillers; however, few data are available regarding other nanosized fillers. Furthermore, the research on polymer nanocomposites has clearly pointed out that the use of compatibilizers is required to improve the mechanical performance and the dispersion of polar fillers inside apolar polymer matrices, especially when complex mechanisms such as intercalation and exfoliation, typical of clay-filled nanocomposites, are involved. In this work, the photo-oxidation behaviour of polypropylene/clay and polypropylene/calcium carbonate nanocomposites containing different amounts of maleic anhydride grafted polypropylene (PPgMA) and subjected to accelerated weathering, was investigated. The results showed significant differences between the two nanofillers and different degradation behaviours in presence of the compatibilizer. In particular, PPgMA modified the dispersion of the nanofillers but, on the other hand, higher amounts proved to lead to the formation of some heterogeneities. Furthermore, PPgMA proved to positively affect the photo-oxidation behaviour by decreasing the rate of formation of the degradation products. © BME-PT.

Giancarlo R.,University of Palermo | Rombo S.E.,University of Palermo | Utro F.,IBM
Briefings in Bioinformatics | Year: 2014

High-throughput sequencing technologies produce large collections of data, mainly DNA sequences with additional information, requiring the design of efficient and effective methodologies for both their compression and storage. In this context, we first provide a classification of the main techniques that have been proposed, according to three specific research directions that have emerged from the literature and, for each, we provide an overview of the current techniques. Finally, to make this review useful to researchers and technicians applying the existing software and tools, we include a synopsis of the main characteristics of the described approaches, including details on their implementation and availability. Performance of the various methods is also highlighted, although the state of the art does not lend itself to a consistent and coherent comparison among all the methods presented here. © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press.

Cavaleri L.,University of Palermo | Di Trapani F.,University of Palermo
Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering | Year: 2015

Infill masonry walls in framed structures make a significant contribution to the response under seismic actions. With special regard to reinforced concrete (RC) structures, it is known that internal forces modifications caused by the frame–infill interaction may be not supported by the surrounding frame because of the additional shear forces arising at the ends of beams and columns. Such additional forces may lead to the activation of brittle collapse mechanisms and hence their prediction is basic in capacity assessment, especially for structures that disregard the details for seismic zones. In this paper a parametric study is carried out addressed to the prediction of the shear forces mentioned before. The results of this study can be used as a support when the simplified model is adopted consisting in the substitution of infill with an equivalent pin jointed concentric strut, because in this case the structural analysis fails in the prediction of the shear forces in question. Through the paper, in which existing RC infilled frames designed only for vertical loads are discussed, analytical laws, depending on the level of the axial force arising in a concentric strut equivalent to infill, are proposed, the above analytical law allowing to correct the local shear forces in the frame critical sections, which are not predictable in the case of substitution of infill with an equivalent concentric strut. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Sanseverino E.R.,University of Palermo | Di Silvestre M.L.,University of Palermo | Ippolito M.G.,University of Palermo | De Paola A.,University of Palermo | Lo Re G.,University of Palermo
Energy | Year: 2011

This work develops a new approach for optimal energy management of electrical distribution 'smart-grids'. Optimality aims at improving sustainability through the minimization of carbon emissions and at reducing production costs and maximizing quality. Input data are the forecasted loads and productions from renewable generation units, output data are a set of control actions for the actuators. The considered electrical distribution system includes storage units that must be considered over a 24 h time interval, to consider an entire charge and discharge cycle. The objectives for the optimal management of distributed (renewables and not) generation are technical, economical and environmental. It is thus required to solve a multi-objective optimization problem over a 24 h time interval considering the uncertainty associated to weather conditions and loads profiles. The novelty of the proposed approach resides in considering the optimal scheduling of generation units an automatic planning process in a dynamic, non-deterministic and not fully observable environment, as it is, getting closer to actual conditions. The system proposed here is a planning and execution scheduler which allows the central controller to monitor the execution of a scheduling plan, interrupt the monitoring to input new information and repair the plan under execution every time interval. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Messineo A.,University of Palermo | Panno G.,University of Palermo
Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering | Year: 2011

It is known how the complete gasification of liquefied natural gas (LNG) can return about 230 kWh/t of energy. Nevertheless out of fifty-one gasification plants in the world, only thirty-one of them are equipped with systems for the partial recovery of the available energy. At the moment most of these plants mainly produce electric energy; however the employment of the cold energy results very interesting, in fact, it can be recovered for agro-food transformation and conservation as well as for some loops in the cold chain. Cold energy at low temperatures requires high amounts of mechanical energy and it unavoidably increases as the required temperature diminishes. Cold energy recovery from LNG gasification would allow considerable energy and economic savings to these applications, as well as environmental benefits due to the reduction of climate-changing gas emissions. The task of this work is to assess the possibility to create around a gasification plant an industrial site for firms working on the transformation and conservation of agro-food products locally grown. The cold energy recovered from gasification would be distributed to those firms through an opportune liquid carbon dioxide network distribution capable of supplying " the cold" to the different facilities. A LNG gasification plant in a highly agricultural zone in Sicily would increase the worth of the agro-food production, lower transformation and conservation costs when compared to the traditional systems and bring economic and environmental benefits to the interested areas. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

Lo Brano V.,University of Palermo | Orioli A.,University of Palermo | Ciulla G.,University of Palermo | Culotta S.,University of Palermo
Renewable Energy | Year: 2011

This study investigates the wind speed characteristics recorded in the urban area of Palermo, in the south of Italy, by a monitoring network composed by four weather stations. This article has two main objectives: the first one, to describe with clarity and simplicity the numerical procedures adopted to perform a preliminary statistical analysis of wind speed data, providing at the same time, the necessary mathematical tools useful to perform this analysis also without special software. The second objective is to verify if there are more suitable probability distributions able to better represent the original data respect the traditional ones. After a preliminary statistical analysis, in which the wind speed time series are split and analysed for each month and season, seven probability density functions are employed to describe wind speed frequency distributions: Weibull, Rayleigh, Lognormal, Gamma, Inverse Gaussian, Pearson type V and Burr. Shape and scale parameters for each weather station, period and distribution are provided. Their estimation is performed using the maximum likelihood method and the maximum likelihood estimators for each probability density function are provided. The quality of the data-fit is assessed by the classic statistical test Kolmogorov-Smirnov. The statistical test is used to rank the selected distributions in order to identify the distribution better fitting with the wind speed data measured in the urban area of Palermo. The Burr probability density function seems to be the most reliable statistical distribution. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Ingarao G.,University of Palermo | Di Lorenzo R.,University of Palermo | Micari F.,University of Palermo
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2011

Environmental sustainability in manufacturing is nowadays an urgent and remarkable issue and the main concerns are related to more efficient use of materials and energy. In sheet metal forming processes there is still a lack of knowledge in this field mainly due to the need of a proper modelling of sustainability issues and factors to be taken into account. The aim of this paper is mainly to underline the state of the art from a forming point of view about the sustainability contributions offered in any phase of a product life cycle. Actually, a lack in terms of comprehensive contributions is present in the technical literature, thus, the authors try to give a sort of holistic vision aimed to provide basic guidelines in order to help in identifying the possible solutions with regard to all the phases of a forming product life cycle. The main attention was paid to sheet metal forming technologies. The paper gives an overview of the main topics concerning sheet metal forming problems related to energy and resource efficiency with the aim to stress the principal contributions which may derive from such processes to environmental performances of manufacturing. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Piacentino A.,University of Palermo
Applied Thermal Engineering | Year: 2011

Pinch analysis offers a rational framework for identifying energy saving targets and designing efficient heat recovery networks, especially in process industry. Several scientists have contributed to improve and automate the original pinch method over the last decades, increasing its capability to deal with a number of specific issues; the expertise of the analyst, however, remains determinant in achieving optimal results. In this paper a procedure for retrofit of existing networks is proposed, based on an integrate use of several techniques (either existing or innovative). The diagnosis of the existing network and of a "Minimum Energy Requirement" configuration emerges as a useful preliminary instrument for the retrofit study. Then, an innovative spider-type diagram is presented to identify a hierarchic order among a set of retrofit topologies and the most promising relaxation paths for each network topology. The procedure is aimed at offering a conceptual-interpretative approach to energy analysts, to identify preferential routes in networks' retrofit (and exclude the least promising improvement directions of the existing network); it should be therefore conceived as alternative to algorithms for automatic optimization of heat exchanger networks. The focus is mainly put on the energetic performance of the different schemes (evaluated by thermal analysis of the involved heat exchangers), but the methodology finally enables the energy analyst to identify solutions achieving near-minimum total costs. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Manachini B.,University of Palermo | Schillaci D.,University of Palermo | Arizza V.,University of Palermo
Journal of Economic Entomology | Year: 2013

Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Olivier 1790) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) is becoming a serious problem in Mediterranean areas where it is well-adapted, and now is present even in the United States (California). The infestations are primarily in urban areas where chemical control is not advisable and million of Euros are spent to control it. The effects of the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae (Nematoda: Steinernematidae) on mortality, growth, as well as the immune activity of R. ferrugineus larvae, were investigated. R. ferrugineus mortality exhibited a positive trend with the dosage and duration of exposure to S. carpocapsae. The median lethal dose and median lethal time, important to optimize the treatments, were calculated. S. carpocapsae also had a detrimental effect on R. ferrugineus weight. In vivo and in vitro effects of S. carpocapsae on the phagocytic responses of R. ferrugineus hemocytes also were recorded. S. carpocapsae was not encapsulated by R. ferrugineus hemocytes. After 24 h, the number of hemocytes recorded in treated larvae was reduced. To investigate the defensive abilities of R. ferrugineus humoral and cellular immune systems, specifically against the bacterium Xenorhabdus nematophila (Enterobacteraceae), the minimum inhibitory concentration that inhibits bacterial growth was measured. This is the first time that this technique is applied to entomopathogenic bacteria. © 2013 Entomological Society of America.

Ciresi A.,University of Palermo | Amato M.C.,University of Palermo | Pizzolanti G.,University of Palermo | Giordano Galluzzo C.,University of Palermo
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism | Year: 2012

Context: The visceral adiposity index (VAI) has proved to be a marker of visceral adipose dysfunction, strongly associated with insulin sensitivity in both the general and specific populations of patients at metabolic risk. Objective: The objective of the study was to test VAI as a useful tool to assess early metabolic risk in acromegaly. Patients: Twenty-four newly diagnosed acromegalic patients (11 women and 13 men, aged 54.9 ± 13.6 yr) were grouped into those with normal (group A, n = 13, 54.2%) and those with high VAI (group B, n = 11, 45.8%). Outcome Measures: Glucose, hemoglobin A1c, nadir and area under the curve (AUC) of GH (AUCGH) during the oral glucose tolerance test, AUCCpeptide during a mixed-meal tolerance test, M value during euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp, oral dispositional index (DIo), each component of the metabolic syndrome, leptin, adiponectin, TNF-α, and IL-6. Results: The VAI value was positively correlated with the age of patients (ρ = 0.408; P = 0.048), tumor volume (ρ = 0.638; P = 0.001), basal GH (ρ = 0.622; P = 0.001), nadir GH (ρ = 0.534; P = 0.007), AUC GH (ρ = 0.603; P = 0.002), IGF-I (ρ = 0.618; P = 0.001), TNF-α (ρ = 0.512; P = 0.010), and AUCCpeptide (ρ = 0.715; p<0.001) and negatively with adiponectin (ρ = -0.766; P<0.001), M value (< = -0.818; P<0.001), and DIo (< = -0.512; P = 0.011). Patients with high VAI showed significantly higher basal GH levels (P = 0.018), AUCGH (P = 0.047), IGF-I (P = 0.047), AUCCpeptide (P = 0.018), lower M value (P < 0.001), DIo (P = 0.006), and adiponectin levels (P < 0.001), despite the absence of a significantly higher prevalence in the overt metabolic syndrome and glucose tolerance abnormalities. AUCGH proved to be the main independent factor influencing VAI. Conclusions: In acromegaly, VAI appears to be associated with disease activity, adiponectin levels, and insulin sensitivity and secretion and is influenced independently by GH levels. VAI could therefore be used as an easy and useful new tool in daily clinical practice for the assessment of early metabolic risk associated with active acromegaly. Copyright © 2012 by The Endocrine Society.

Amodio E.,University of Palermo | Dino C.,Local Health Unit of Parma
Journal of Infection and Public Health | Year: 2014

Hospital cleanliness tends to be considered by patients and the public as an important indicator of the general quality of healthcare. Tests for detecting the presence of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as a proxy of microbial contamination are increasing in popularity, and several studies have been conducted on this topic in the last few decades. The aim of the present study was to review the published literature on this topic and summarize and discuss the available results. The review focused on relevant English-language articles that were identified through searches of two databases [PubMed and Scopus (1990-2012)] by using the keywords "ATP", "bioluminescence", "hospital", and "surfaces". Twelve articles were included and analyzed. ATP measurements showed a wide variation, with values ranging from 0 to >500,000 relative light units (RLU)/s before cleaning and from 3 to 500,000. RLU/s after cleaning. ATP benchmarks used by authors ranged from 100 to 500. RLU/s. The percentage of surfaces exceeding the chosen cut-off limit showed a failure rate varying from 21.2% to 93.1% before cleaning and from 5.3% to 96.5% after cleaning. Although the use of ATP bioluminescence can be considered a quick and objective method for assessing hospital cleanliness, it appears to be still poorly standardized at both the national and international level. © 2013 King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences.

Cytokines may be involved in the pathogenesis of Peyronie's disease (PD). In this case, biological drugs, acting on specific cytokines, could be adopted in the pharmacological treatment of the disease. Twenty PD patients and 8 patients affected by congenital recurvatum penis (control group) who underwent corporoplasty were enrolled in the study. Histological examination and measurement by Real Time PCR of the expression of the encoding genes for IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-13, TGF-β, TNF-α and IFN-γ were performed on the removed tunica albuginea (TA). For the normalization of data GAPDH (glucerldehyde-3fosfatehydrogenase) and GUSB (β-glucuronidase), housekeeping genes were used. The analysis of the data was performed using the comparative method of ΔCt. The results were reported with the Fold of induction (FOI) method. The histological exams of TA showed only fibrous tissue without cavernous tissue. The analysis of gene expression of IL-6, IL-10, IFN-γ and TGF-β1 showed in all samples very low levels. The levels were lower in PD patients although the differences were not statistically significant. An exception was represented by TGF-β that showed a higher level in PD patients, although not statistically significant. The expression of IL-4, IL-13 and TNF-α was undetectable. The expressions of cytokines in TA of PD patients compared to those of the controls do not show any significant difference. A bias of our study is that the groups were not age-matched. This is a bias already present in similar experiences and due to the different pathogenesis of the diseases. Cytokines promoting inflammation resulted undetectable and do not seem to be involved in PD pathogenesis. The higher level of TGF-β, a pro-fibrotic cytokine, detected in PD could explain the presence of fibrotic tissue. Presently, there is no data suggesting a possible role of biological drugs in PD.

Gebbia V.,University of Palermo | Boussen H.,Salah Aziz Institute | Valerio M.R.,University of Palermo
Anticancer Research | Year: 2012

Background: Oral metronomic chemotherapy is a therapeutic option which is particularly attractive due to its ease of administration and low toxic burden. Its mechanism of action probably involves antiangiogenetic effect rather than a classical antiproliferative effect like standard maximally tolerated dose-based regimens. Patients and Methods: A retrospective analysis of 61 patients with advanced breast carcinoma was carried out with the aim of reporting activity in terms of response rate, control of tumor-related symptoms, outcome, and toxicity. All patients had hormonal therapy-resistant metastatic disease and had previously received two lines of chemotherapy. The first cohort of 22 patients received oral cyclophosphamide at 50 mg/day without interruption until re-evaluation or progressive disease, while the second cohort of 39 patients had oral cyclophosphamide at the above dose plus oral low-dose methotrexate at 2.5 mg orally twice a week. Results: Overall, a partial response with a median duration of 6 months (range 4-9 months) according to the RECIST criteria was recorded in 18% of patients (95% confidence intervals, CI=8%-28%), and stable disease with a median duration of 5 months (range 3-8 months) was recorded in 35% of cases (95% CI=22%-49%) for a tumor growth control rate of 52%. Symptom control was achieved in 54% of cases. Toxicity was very mild and easily manageable. No cases of extrahematological grade 3 toxicity were observed. Grade 3 nonfebrile neutropenia were recorded in 3% of cases. Liver toxicity was represented by elevation of transaminases in 20 cases (33%), mainly in the cohort of patients receiving cyclophosphamide plus methotrexate. Conclusion: Although retrospectively recorded, the data presented in this study support the use of oral metronomic chemotherapy for patients with metastatic breast cancer. Significant clinical activity was seen in heavily pretreated patients without severe grade 3-4 side-effects. Further studies are warranted to optimise the treatment schedule and to select patients who may benefit from such an approach.

Viola F.,University of Palermo | Liuzzo L.,University of Palermo | Noto L.V.,University of Palermo | Lo Conti F.,University of Palermo | La Loggia G.,University of Palermo
International Journal of Climatology | Year: 2014

Climate change resulting from the enhanced greenhouse effect is expected to have great impacts on hydrological cycle and consequently on ecosystems. The effects of climate variability have direct implications on water management, as water availability is related to changes in temperature and precipitation regimes. At the same time, this kind of alterations drives ecological impacts on flora and fauna. For these reasons, many studies have been carried out to investigate the existence of some tendency in temperature and/or precipitation series in different geographic domains. In order to verify the hypothesis of temperature increase in Sicily (Italy), temperature data from about 80 spatially distributed weather stations have been deeply analysed. In this study, trend of annual, seasonal and monthly temperature time series have been examined for the period 1924-2006 to investigate possible evidences of climate changes in this region. In addition, also a long series (more than 200years) has been analysed in order to individuate possible anomalies in the 20th century and to verify the presence, in the last decades, of a temperature increase larger than in the past. The Mann-Kendall non-parametric statistical test has been used to identify trends in temperature time series data. The test has been applied at local and regional scale for three different confidence level, considering the influence of serial correlation as well. The field significance of the regional results has been evaluated using a bootstrap technique of resampling that allows to eliminate the influence of data spatial correlation on Mann-Kendall test. The application of Mann-Kendall test on temperature data provides the evidence of a general warming in Sicily during the analysed period. The analysis of the long series demonstrates that the temperature trend is mainly due to the strong rising observed in the last years of the past century. In order to determine the spatial patterns of temperature trends and identify areas with a similar temperature evolution, the detected trends have been first subjected to the spatial auto correlation analysis and then interpolated using spatial analysis techniques in a GIS framework. Temperature trend maps have allowed to argue on the risk of aridity increase, in particular in the central and western part of the island. © 2013 Royal Meteorological Society.

Carmina E.,University of Palermo | Oberfield S.E.,Columbia University | Lobo R.A.,Columbia University
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology | Year: 2010

In women, the definition of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) has become broad and includes several possible phenotypes. Because several features of PCOS may be in evolution in adolescents, we suggest that only firm criteria should be used to make a diagnosis of PCOS during adolescence. Hyperandrogenism, oligomenorrhea, and ovarian morphology change during adolescence and are discussed individually. Adolescents with incomplete criteria for a firm diagnosis of PCOS should be followed up carefully and may be diagnosed at a later time. © 2010 Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

Bares M.M.,University of Palermo
International Journal of Architectural Heritage | Year: 2016

Built in the first half of the 13th century on behalf of the Emperor Frederick II, the Maniace Castle of Siracusa focuses its enigma in the hypostyle hall (which was composed of 25 quadripartite rib vaults) and the design criteria adopted for its implementation. Recent research and a careful rereading of the documentary “restoration project” after the earthquake of 1693 have offered new tools to understand the construction techniques and building procedures for the entire organism. It has been possible to demonstrate that the different material (white limestone and volcanic stone) used for the vaults is, in fact, a product of reconstruction. The constructive node, which historiography has taken for granted, is now crucial—the documentary evidence of the restoration after the earthquake compared with the materials found in situ provide interpretive keys to decode genesis and procedures of the huge structure built five centuries before. © 2016 Taylor & Francis

Marci G.,University of Palermo | Garcia-Lopez E.I.,University of Palermo | Palmisano L.,University of Palermo
European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry | Year: 2014

Heteropolyacids (HPAs) that are often used as heteropolyanions are cheap and stable compounds that have been extensively used as acid and oxidation catalysts as a result of their strong Brønsted acidity and ability to undergo multielectron-transfer reactions. HPAs, which are very soluble in water and polar solvents, have been also used as homogeneous photocatalysts for the oxidation of organic substrates in the presence of oxygen, but their use in heterogeneous systems is by far desirable. Dispersing HPAs onto solid supports with high surface area is useful to increase their specific surface area and hence (photo)catalytic activity. Moreover, owing to the high energy gap between the HOMO and LUMO positions of the HPAs, these compounds are activated only by UV light. Consequently, only less than 5 % of the solar light can be used in photocatalytic reactions, which restricts the practical application of HPAs. This microreview is oriented to describe the reported literature on the use of HPA-based materials as heterogeneous photocatalysts for environmental purposes, that is, for the complete or partial oxidation or reduction of organic molecules. Copyright © 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Bellomonte G.,University of Palermo
Springer Proceedings in Physics | Year: 2016

Riesz-like bases for a triplet of Hilbert spaces are investigated, in connection with an analogous study for more general rigged Hilbert spaces performed in a previous paper. It is shown, in particular, that every ω-independent, complete (total) Bessel sequence is a (strict) Riesz-like basis in a convenient triplet of Hilbert spaces. An application to non self-adjoint Schrödinger-type operators is considered. Moreover, some of the simplest operators we can define by them and their dual bases are studied. © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016.

D'Anna F.,University of Palermo | Noto R.,University of Palermo
European Journal of Organic Chemistry | Year: 2014

During recent years growing interest has been devoted to the synthesis and applications of polycationic organic salts. Among them, di- and tricationic organic salts can be considered the natural evolution of monocationic ones. These last have given rise to the large class of ionic liquids. In the cases of di- and tricationic organic salts, the potential to change their structural features simply by varying the properties either of the charged heads or of the spacers separating them provides the opportunity to obtain materials suitable for different applications. This review article highlights recent progress in the study of the properties of di- and tricationic organic salts, as well as in some of their uses as solvent systems, receptors for anion recognition, ionic liquid crystals, low-molecular-weight gelators, additives for dye-sensitized solar cells, and so on. Di- and tricationic organic salts combine the properties of corresponding monocationic salts with individual features due to the presence of different charged heads on the cation structures. This allows their use in different fields of application such as ionic liquid crystals and gel phases. Copyright © 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Palmisano G.,University of Palermo | Garcia-Lopez E.,University of Palermo | Marci G.,University of Palermo | Loddo V.,University of Palermo | And 3 more authors.
Chemical Communications | Year: 2010

Selective photocatalytic conversions are offering an alternative green route for replacing environmentally hazardous processes with safe and energy efficient routes. This paper reports the most recent advances in the application of heterogeneous photocatalysis to synthesize valuable compounds by selective oxidation and reduction. © 2010 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Lo Presti L.,University of Palermo | La Cascia M.,University of Palermo
Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics) | Year: 2015

In this paper, a face emotion is considered as the result of the composition of multiple concurrent signals, each corresponding to the movements of a specific facial muscle. These concurrent signals are represented by means of a set of multi-scale appearance features that might be correlated with one or more concurrent signals. The extraction of these appearance features from a sequence of face images yields to a set of time series. This paper proposes to use the dynamics regulating each appearance feature time series to recognize among different face emotions. To this purpose, an ensemble of Hankel matrices corresponding to the extracted time series is used for emotion classification within a framework that combines nearest neighbor and a majority vote schema. Experimental results on a public available dataset show that the adopted representation is promising and yields state-of-the-art accuracy in emotion classification. © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015.

Galluzzo M.,University of Palermo | Cosenza B.,University of Palermo
Information Sciences | Year: 2011

A control system that uses type-2 fuzzy logic controllers (FLC) is proposed for the control of a non-isothermal continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR), where a first order irreversible reaction occurs and that is characterized by the presence of bifurcations. Bifurcations due to parameter variations can bring the reactor to instability or create new working conditions which although stable are unacceptable. An extensive analysis of the uncontrolled CSTR dynamics was carried out and used for the choice of the control configuration and the development of controllers. In addition to a feedback controller, the introduction of a feedforward control loop was required to maintain effective control in the presence of disturbances. Simulation results confirmed the effectiveness and the robustness of the type-2 FLC which outperforms its type-1 counterpart particularly when system uncertainties are present. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Messina F.,University of Palermo | Vella E.,University of Palermo | Cannas M.,University of Palermo | Boscaino R.,University of Palermo
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2010

We studied the temperature dependence of the absorption coefficient of amorphous SiO2 in the range from 8 to 17.5 eV obtained by Kramers-Kronig dispersion analysis of reflectivity spectra. We demonstrate the main excitonic resonance at 10.4 eV to feature a close Lorentzian shape redshifting with increasing temperature. This provides a strong evidence of excitons being delocalized notwithstanding the structural disorder intrinsic to amorphous SiO2. Excitons turn out to be coupled to an average phonon mode of 83 meV energy. © 2010 The American Physical Society.

Napoli G.,University of Palermo
Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics) | Year: 2015

The urban transformation projects are very complex and have to be examined from several points of view (socio-cultural, environmental, infrastructural, administrative, and economic-financial) to determine their sustainability. This study aims to test the financial analysis as a tool for outlining the morphogenesis of the project’s characteristics and exploring the frontiers of the financial feasibility especially when the urban projects, according to Italian laws, involve Public Private Partnerships (PPPs). A financial model is applied to a case study (the transformation of an abandoned railway area) in which the absence of an adequate returns on investment, because of the crisis of the real estate market, requires one to iteratively modify the project’s characteristics and define various alternative scenarios for obtaining the project’s form that achieves the financial feasibility. © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015.

Martines F.,University of Palermo | Martines E.,University of Palermo | Ballacchino A.,University of Palermo | Salvago P.,University of Palermo
International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology | Year: 2013

Objectives: To describe audiometric characteristics and speech perception performances of prelingually deaf Sicilian children after cochlear implantation; to identify the influence of cochlear implant (CI) user and family's characteristics on speech recognition and intelligibility outcomes. Methods: Twenty-eight infants with a congenital or acquired hearing impairment and implanted before the 3rd year of life were studied; all children suffered from bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) with evidence of lack of hearing aids benefit and no evidence of intellectual disability. The study of the main characteristics associated with CI user and family's profile was performed with a clinical assessment including pre-implant and post-implant (1, 3, 6, 12 and 18 months) behavioural audiometry (evaluating average threshold for the frequencies 0.5, 1, 2 and 4. KHz) and speech recognition tests (IT-MAIS, MUSS, CAP and SIR). Results: Our cohort was characterized by an early diagnosis of SNHL (5.77 and 12.17 months for congenital and acquired HL respectively), a short length of deafness (average=6.78 months) and an implantation before the 3rd year of life (mean=24.25 months; range from 10 to 36). Analysis of audiometric threshold revealed a significant