University of the Basque Country

www.ehu.eus
Bilbao, Spain

The University of the Basque Country ; Spanish - Universidad del País Vasco ) is the only public university in the Basque Country , in Northern Spain. It has campuses over the three provinces of the autonomous community: Biscay Campus , Gipuzkoa Campus , and Álava Campus in Vitoria-Gasteiz. It is the main research institution in the Basque Country, carrying out 90% of the basic research made in that territory and taking advantage of the good industrial environment that the region constitutes. Wikipedia.

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News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.gizmag.com

As tomatoes ripen, they change in color from green to orange to red. Assessing when they're at peak ripeness is done with the naked eye, and is therefore somewhat subjective. Thanks to research being conducted at Spain's University of the Basque Country, however, producers may soon be using a laser device to take the guesswork out of the equation. Led by Josu Trebolazabala, the scientists experimented with utilizing a portable Raman spectrometer to gauge the ripeness of tomatoes. Putting it in fairly basic terms, a Raman spectrometer non-destructively determines the composition of an object by shining a laser on it, then analyzing the manner in which that object's molecules scatter the light. Although a larger lab-based Raman spectrometer provided more precise readings, the portable model was nonetheless found to be accurate enough for use in gauging ripeness in the field. "When the tomato is green, the main pigments are chlorophyll (hence its green colour) and the waxy cuticles, which are on the outside," says Trebolazabala. "Once the colour changes to orange-coloured, compounds of a different type are observed; the carotenoid compounds are activated. The tomato gradually acquires nutrients until it reaches its optimum point, in other words, when the lycopene (the red carotenoid) is at its maximum level. After that, the tomato begins to lose its carotenoid content, as shown by the analyses conducted on overripe tomatoes." The technology could reportedly also be used to assess other food plants that change color as they ripen, and has already been successfully tested on pumpkins. A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy.


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

The UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country is developing structures that can be used as scaffolding in the regeneration of bone defects and which also release growth factors Regenerative medicine is a discipline that is continually growing and encompasses a whole arsenal of therapeutic strategies, from recombinant proteins and stem cells right up to materials and matrices designed to release drugs and growth factors. The NanoBioCel group in the UPV/EHU's Faculty of Pharmacy has developed one of these scaffolds, or matrices, for cases of critical bone defects, like those that can generate themselves in situations such as burns, injuries or tumour extractions; these scaffolds are designed to temporarily replace the matrix of the bone and help to regenerate bone tissue. To make the material biodegradable and cut the risk of rejection, "we resorted to a by-product of collagen, a gelatin that is produced when collagen is processed, since it has been found to be less cytotoxic than the collagen itself, but retains the properties we were seeking," explained Pello Sánchez, a member of the NanoBioCel group. Furthermore, for the polymerisation of the proteins in the gelatin and the cohesion of the scaffolding, they used a molecule extracted from genepin, the fruit of the gardenia "because it is less toxic for cells". Beyond the capacity to sustain mesenchymal stem cells, the ones responsible for regenerating the bone matrix, the researchers set out to render the material capable of retaining and releasing growth factors in the way and amount needed at each moment. This is because "it is the proteins that are capable of signalling to the cells what they have to do, and this improves the regeneration process", explained the researcher. In their research, one of the most novel properties they were seeking was that "the scaffolding should have suitable release profiles in order to imitate what takes place in the body. We worked with two growth factors hugely important in bone regeneration, and we wanted there to be a release from one of them during the first two days following injury, and that the other should have a more sustained release". Once the scaffolding had been designed, they subjected it to a range of tests and processes to explore its properties, biocompatibility and possible cytotoxicity. "The results were satisfactory in all the tests. In one of the tests the cells responded even better than expected: we had a carpet of cells grown in a conventional medium, and we placed the scaffolding on top of it to see whether the contact caused toxicity or cell death. When we lifted the scaffolding we saw that a gap had been created across the whole surface that had been in contact with it. Initially, we thought that cell death might have taken place, but then we realised that what had happened was that the cells had migrated to the scaffolding and that they preferred the gelatin to the plastic in which they had been grown," said Sánchez. With respect to the growth factor release profiles, Sanchez said, "we saw that the aim of imitating what takes place in nature was also achieved. The growth factor that was supposed to be released during the first few days was in fact released during the first 24 hours. It is SHH, a protein that is expressed at very specific moments and in very specific places and in very small amounts. In the cases of bone fractures it is only expressed during the first two days, and its function is to activate various genes present in the adjacent cells and which encourage bone regeneration." The second growth factor, VEGF, was also released in accordance with the way that this happens in the body. "In this case, it is a protein that causes angiogenesis, in other words, it causes blood vessels to be produced, and also attracts the cells to assist in the production of bone tissue". This study is the first part in a project in which preclinical studies in animals have already been conducted "with promising results which are in the process of being published. We have even proposed a new model for carrying out these tests in animals. From now onwards, we will be able to gradually improve what we have achieved so far, such as inserting other elements like calcium or other growth factors that enhance regeneration," concluded the researcher. This project is part of a new line of research promoted by Dr Gorka Orive and Dr José Luis Pedraz, whose NanoBioCel research group at the UPV/EHU's Laboratory of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Technology is likewise a member of the CIBER-BBN platform (Biomedical Research Networking Centre in Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine). In the research, they had the collaboration of the company UCA (Arthroscopic Surgery Unit) and the work of the company AGRENVEC, which provided the growth factors. P. Sánchez, J.L. Pedraz, G. Orive. 2017. Biologically active and biomimetic dual gelatin scaffolds for tissue engineering. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 98: 486-494.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2015-ETN | Award Amount: 3.61M | Year: 2016

Speech is a hugely efficient means of communication: a reduced capacity in listening or speaking creates a significant barrier to social inclusion at all points through the lifespan, in education, work and at home. Hearing aids and speech synthesis can help address this reduced capacity but their use imposes greater listener effort. The fundamental objective of the ETN Enriched communication across the lifespan (ENRICH) is to modify or augment speech with additional information to make it easier to process. Enrichment aims to reduce the listening burden by minimising cognitive load, while maintaining or improving intelligibility. ENRICH will investigate the relationship between cognitive effort and different forms of natural and synthetic speech. Non-intrusive metrics for listening effort will be developed and used to design modification techniques which result in low-burden speech. The value of various enrichment approaches will be evaluated with individuals and cohorts with typically sub-optimal communication ability, e.g., children, hearing-impaired adults, non-native listeners and individuals engaged in simultaneous tasks. The ENRICH consortium consists of 8 beneficiaries and 7 partners from academia, industry and clinical practice in 9 countries, who collectively provide diverse infrastructure for investigating spoken communication and for applying innovations to end-user populations. ENRICH will address the unmet need for multi-skilled practitioners and engineers in this rapidly growing sector currently facing a serious workforce shortage. Through a comprehensive training programme driven by the needs of industry and clinical practice, it will equip fellows with not just the necessary cross-disciplinary knowledge and research techniques, but also with experience of entrepreneurship and technology transfer so they can translate research findings into meaningful products and services that will facilitate spoken language communication in the coming decades.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | 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.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: IA | Phase: ICT-15-2016-2017 | Award Amount: 16.19M | Year: 2017

The data intensive target sector selected for the DataBio project is the Data-Driven Bioeconomy, focusing in production of best possible raw materials from agriculture, forestry and fishery/aquaculture for the bioeconomy industry to produce food, energy and biomaterials taking into account also various responsibility and sustainability issues. DataBio proposes to deploy a state of the art, big data platform on top of the existing partners infrastructure and solutions - the Big DATABIO Platform.The work will be continuous cooperation of experts from end user and technology provider companies, from bioeconomy and technology research institutes, and of other partners. In the pilots also associated partners and other stakeholders will be actively involved. The selected pilots and concepts will be transformed to pilot implementations utilizing co-innovative methods and tools where the bioeconomy sector end user experts and other stakeholders will give input to the user and sector domain understanding for the requirements specifications for ICT, Big Data and Earth Observation experts and for other solution providers in the consortium. Based on the preparation and requirement specifications work the pilots are implemented utilizing and selecting the best suitable market ready or almost market ready Big Data and Earth Observation methods, technologies, tools and services to be integrated to the common Big DATABIO Platform. During the pilots the close cooperation continues and feedback from the bioeconomy sector user companies will be utilized in the technical and methodological upgrades to pilot implementations. Based on the pilot results and the new solutions also new business opportunities are expected. In addition during the pilots the end user utilizers are participating trainings to learn how to use the solutions and developers also outside the consortium will be activated in the Hackathons to design and develop new tools, services and application for the platform.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: INSO-5-2015 | Award Amount: 2.99M | Year: 2016

Developing an enabling environment for social innovation that links actions across the whole field and supports the full exploitation of their potential is vital to addressing societal challenges both in Europe and globally. While there is increasing interest for social innovation as a means of addressing societal challenges, there is also considerable variation in the extent to which different countries and regions have embraced social innovation. There are many research and policy projects and incubation and acceleration programmes with valuable outcomes but these are still largely disconnected. Thus, the overarching aim of this project is to create a network of networks of social innovation actors. This Social Innovation Community (SIC) will identify, engage and connect actors including researchers, social innovators, citizens, policy-makers, as well as intermediaries, businesses, civil society organisations and public sector employees. Through our cross-cutting Work Packages, we will deliver engagement, research, experimentation, learning and policy activities that engage with and support each of the networks. We will ensure that our cross-cutting activities are complementary and build on each others work, rather than operating in silos. As such, this SIC aims to deepen and strengthen existing networks, forge new connections between networks, and create new links to actors and networks which hitherto have not been included in the field of social innovation. The aims of such a community are to generate new social innovations, develop and scale up successful ideas to share and spread knowledge more effectively in order to improve research, practice and policy-making. By creating an enabling environment for social innovation, the project will improve the overall framework conditions for social innovation in Europe. This in turn will support the creation of opportunities for growth and for overcoming the current social and economic crisis affecting much of Europe.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-RISE | Phase: MSCA-RISE-2016 | Award Amount: 846.00K | Year: 2017

MAGNAMED designs, fabricates, and assesses novel magnetic nanostructures (MNS) with unique spin configurations for innovative diagnostics and therapy techniques. An early stage detection and an effective treatment are keystones to reduce cancer mortality. Current clinical procedures fail to detect small concentration of tumoral biomarkers. Magnetic nanoparticles (MNP), like beads, have attracted much attention for their capability to improve cancer detection limits and treatment technologies. However, there are several limitations to the use of MNP. As an emerging alternative, MNS are being explored. Unlike MNP, MNS (e.g. nanodisks) present a planar shape with novel properties for diagnosis: high magnetic moment and large size, which can significantly improve the sensor sensitivity, and for therapy: due to their planar shape, alternate magnetic fields provoke a magneto-mechanical action on the cell membrane that triggers cell death. The efficiency of MNS in these two medical applications has not been investigated yet for MNS at the nanometer scale. The challenge of this project is to produce MNS with nanometer dimensions suitable for medical applications. Several lithography techniques will be used to fabricate MNS in vortex and antiferromagnetic spin configurations covering a broad size range (40 to 4000 nm). After functionalization, MNS will be exploited in: (i) Diagnostics, using giant magnetoresistance (GMR) sensors for the detection of tumoral biomarkers (dermcidin and carcinoembryonic antigen), and (ii) Therapy, effectiveness of tumoral cell annihilation by the magneto-mechanical action of MNS will be evaluated in vitro assays of melanoma and colorectal cancer cells. MAGNAMED is a cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary project involving Physics, Chemistry and Medicine. Findings will have a medium-term impact on the European strategy for early stage detection of cancer and a long-term impact on the development of novel and groundbreaking therapeutics techniques.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: BG-07-2015 | Award Amount: 5.51M | Year: 2016

Objectives: 1) to improve the observation and predictions of oil spreading in the sea using novel on-line sensors on-board vessels, fixed structures or gliders, and smart data transfer into operational awareness systems; 2) to examine the true environmental impacts and benefits of a suite of marine oil spill response methods (mechanical collection in water and below ice, in situ burning, use of chemical dispersants, bioremediation, electro-kinetics, and combinations of these) in cold climate and ice-infested areas; 3) to assess the impacts on biota of naturally and chemically dispersed oil, in situ burning residues and non-collected oil using biomarker methods and to develop specific methods for the rapid detection of the effects of oil pollution; 4) to develop a strategic Net Environmental Benefit Analysis tool (sNEBA) for oil spill response strategy decision making. A true trans-disciplinary consortium will carry out the project. Oil sensors will be applied to novel platforms such as ferry-boxes, smart buoys, and gliders. The environmental impacts of the oil spill response methods will be assessed by performing pilot tests and field experiments in the coastal waters of Greenland, as well as laboratory tests in Svalbard and the Baltic Sea with the main focus on dispersed oil, in situ burning residues and non-collected oil. The sNEBA tool will be developed to include and overarch the biological and technical knowledge obtained in the project, as well as integrate with operational assessments being based on expertise on coastal protection and shoreline response. This can be used in establishing cross-border and trans-boundary cooperation and agreements. The proposal addresses novel observation technology and integrated response methods at extreme cold temperatures and in ice. It also addresses the environmental impacts and includes a partner from Canada. The results are vital for the off-shore industry and will enhance the business of oil spill response services.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-EJD | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2016 | Award Amount: 1.57M | Year: 2017

CATMEC is a multi-partner European Joint Doctorate (EJD) Programme offering research training in state-of-the-art sustainable chemical synthesis, catalysis, computational chemistry and bioactive molecule design on both traditional and non-traditional (eg flow) platforms. This Doctoral Training Programme integrates complementary, interdisciplinary and intersectoral training and together with enhanced European mobility through planned secondments of researchers, will contribute to EU policy objectives in scientific training and degree assessment. The researchers will be supervised and mentored by internationally recognised experts and have access to state-of-the-art equipment. Hands-on training will be supplemented by formal training courses in relevant and related fields, and a wide variety of complementary training courses, workshops and seminars. The training of researchers will benefit from secondments to industrial partners, gaining exposure to commercial and complementary environments. Overall, it is anticipated that the CATMEC project will provide Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) with an outstanding training experience, through extensive technical and complementary skills development.


The overall objective of PARADDISE project is to rationalize, to structure and to make available to the stakeholders of manufacturing value chain the knowledge and the tools for combining two antithetical processes: Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) and Machining (milling and turning). The project will develop expert CAx technologies, smart components and monitoring and control systems tailored for the hybrid process in a cost-effective way and with structured knowledge about LMD process. The PARADDISE solution will offer a synergetic combination among: i) the high flexibility for the designs and for the materials to be used, the high material efficiency and the high savings in material resources and its associated costs of the LMD operations; and ii) the high accuracy, the high robustness and the high productivity of subtractive operations. The solution will be integrated in the ZVH45/1600 Add\Process hybrid machine from IBARMIA manufacturer (PARADDISE partner), which is already available in the market as well as at TECNALIAs facilities (PARADDISE coordinator). Thus, the PARADDISE project will conceive a process-machine-tools solution. By means of this combined manufacturing process, large scale manufacturers of value-added metallic components will be able to achieve high quality and high productivity with a minimum use of material and energy resources when manufacturing those parts, which will lead to a reduction in manufacturing costs. In that way, the PARADDISE project intends to boost and to spread the use of Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) technology along the life cycle of value-adding metal components.

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