#UniversityOfPortsmoth; #AgriculturalWaste; #LaundryDetergentAddtive; #Biotechnology
New York, Feb 26 (Canadian-Media): An international team of researchers has developed an enzyme produced from agricultural waste that could be used as an important additive in laundry detergents, phys.org/news reports said.
Dr Pattanathu Rahman. Image Credit: University of Portsmouth
By using an enzyme produced from a by-product of mustard seeds, they hope to develop a low-cost naturally derived version of lipase, the second largest commercially produced enzyme, which is used in various industries for the production of fine chemicals, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and biodiesel including detergents.
Thousands of tons of lipase are used annually for the production of laundry detergents as an additive or to replace the chemical detergents because of its advantage of being eco-friendly and better ability to remove oil stains without harming the texture of the cloth.
Lipase is one of the most rapidly growing industrial enzymes in the market and is worth $590.5million. However, the cost of biotechnologically produced lipases has always been a challenge, mainly due to the high cost of feedstocks.
In this collaborative project, Dr. Pattanathu Rahman, a microbial biotechnologist from the Centre for Enzyme Innovation at the University of Portsmouth worked with Professor Subudhi and scientists from the Centre for Biotechnology at Siksha O Anusandhan University in Odisha, India, where Dr. Rahman is also a visiting Professor.
They examined a lipase produced from mustard oil cakes, which are the by-products of oil extraction from the mustard seeds. Oil cakes are a very good resource for growth of microbes to produce enzymes. They fermented the oil cakes with the bacteria Anoxybacillus sp. ARS-1, living in a tropical hot spring Taptapani, Odisha, India to produce the lipase enzyme.
Mustard are the third most produced oilseed crops in the world after soybean and palm oil seed. These seeds are produced in tropical countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Northern India. The mustard oil extracted from the seeds are used as cooking oils. Oil cakes that are the by-products of oil extraction contain relatively high amounts of protein with small amounts of anti-nutritional compounds like glucosinolates and their breakdown products, phenolics and phytates.
Dr. Rahman said: "We further investigated suitability of the lipase enzyme in detergent formulations. Anoxybacillus sp. ARS-1 produced lipase was found to be stable and resist almost all chemical detergents as well as common laundry detergent such as Ezee, Surf, Ariel and Ghadhi, proving it to be a prospective additive for incorporation in the new detergent formulations."
The study 'Parameter optimization for thermostable lipase production and performance evaluation as prospective detergent additive' is published in the journal Preparative Biochemistry & Biotechnology.
#California, #FossilFuels, #Diamond;
California (United States), Feb 25 (Canadian-Media): A new study from Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory reveals how, with careful tuning of heat and pressure, that recipe can produce diamonds from a type of hydrogen and carbon molecule found in crude oil and natural gas, phy.org/news reports said.
Yu Lin shows models of diamondoids with one, two and three cages, which can transform into the intricate, pure-carbon lattice of diamond – seen in the larger, blue model at right – when subjected to extreme heat and pressure. Image Credit: Andrew Brodhead
It sounds like alchemy: take a clump of white dust, squeeze it in a diamond-studded pressure chamber, then blast it with a laser. Open the chamber and find a new microscopic speck of pure diamond inside.
"What's exciting about this paper is it shows a way of cheating the thermodynamics of what's typically required for diamond formation," said Stanford geologist Rodney Ewing, a co-author on the paper, published Feb. 21 in the journal Science Advances.
Scientists have synthesized diamonds from other materials for more than 60 years, but the transformation typically requires inordinate amounts of energy, time or the addition of a catalyst—often a metal—that tends to diminish the quality of the final product. "We wanted to see just a clean system, in which a single substance transforms into pure diamond—without a catalyst," said the study's lead author, Sulgiye Park, a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth).
Understanding the mechanisms for this transformation will be important for applications beyond jewelry. Diamond's physical properties—extreme hardness, optical transparency, chemical stability, high thermal conductivity—make it a valuable material for medicine, industry, quantum computing technologies and biological sensing.
"If you can make even small amounts of this pure diamond, then you can dope it in controlled ways for specific applications," said study senior author Yu Lin, a staff scientist in the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES) at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.
A natural recipe
Natural diamonds crystallize from carbon hundreds of miles beneath Earth's surface, where temperatures reach thousands of degrees Fahrenheit. Most natural diamonds unearthed to date rocketed upward in volcanic eruptions millions of years ago, carrying ancient minerals from Earth's deep interior with them.
As a result, diamonds can provide insight into the conditions and materials that exist in the planet's interior. "Diamonds are vessels for bringing back samples from the deepest parts of the Earth," said Stanford mineral physicist Wendy Mao, who leads the lab where Park performed most of the study's experiments.
After squeezing diamondoid samples and blasting them with a laser, the researchers used a second, cooler laser beam to help characterize the resulting diamond. Credit: Andrew BrodheadTo synthesize diamonds, the research team began with three types of powder refined from tankers full of petroleum. "It's a tiny amount," said Mao. "We use a needle to pick up a little bit to get it under a microscope for our experiments."
At a glance, the odorless, slightly sticky powders resemble rock salt. But a trained eye peering through a powerful microscope can distinguish atoms arranged in the same spatial pattern as the atoms that make up diamond crystal. It's as if the intricate lattice of diamond had been chopped up into smaller units composed of one, two or three cages.
Unlike diamond, which is pure carbon, the powders—known as diamondoids—also contain hydrogen. "Starting with these building blocks," Mao said, "you can make diamond more quickly and easily, and you can also learn about the process in a more complete, thoughtful way than if you just mimic the high pressure and high temperature found in the part of the Earth where diamond forms naturally."
Diamondoids under pressure
The researchers loaded the diamondoid samples into a plum-sized pressure chamber called a diamond anvil cell, which presses the powder between two polished diamonds. With just a simple hand turn of a screw, the device can create the kind of pressure you might find at the center of the Earth.
Next, they heated the samples with a laser, examined the results with a battery of tests, and ran computer models to help explain how the transformation had unfolded. "A fundamental question we tried to answer is whether the structure or number of cages affects how diamondoids transform into diamond," Lin said. They found that the three-cage diamondoid, called triamantane, can reorganize itself into diamond with surprisingly little energy.
At 900 Kelvin—which is roughly 1160 degrees Fahrenheit, or the temperature of red-hot lava—and 20 gigapascals, a pressure hundreds of thousands of times greater than Earth's atmosphere, triamantane's carbon atoms snap into alignment and its hydrogen scatters or falls away.
The transformation unfolds in the slimmest fractions of a second. It's also direct: the atoms do not pass through another form of carbon, such as graphite, on their way to making diamond.
The minute sample size inside a diamond anvil cell makes this approach impractical for synthesizing much more than the specks of diamond that the Stanford team produced in the lab, Mao said. "But now we know a little bit more about the keys to making pure diamonds."
#ResearchJunctionCollaboation; #UrbanIssues; #SaskatoonWasteWater
Saskatoon (S.K.), Feb 21 (Canadian-Media): New funding of $100,000 was awarded to the five projects through the Research Junction Development Grant program to the new Research Junction collaboration between the City of Saskatoon and the University of Saskatchewan, media reports said.
Research Junction Development Grant program is a jointly funded university-municipal research partnership announced in September of 2019.
One of these five projects would be devoted to the measurement pharmaceuticals in Saskatoon’s wastewater.
Saskatoon Wastewater. Image credit: Twitter
Markus Brinkmann, a researcher from the University of Saskatchewan’s Toxicology Centre and the College of Engineering will work on this project with Mike Sadowski, the operations manager of the City of Saskatoon’s wastewater treatment plant.
These grants would enable researchers to access to the City’s resources, data and expertise through these as well as the city staff to analyses and data resulting from the projects in informed decision-making process.
Projects funded through the initiative also create hands-on learning and research opportunities for USask students and post-doctoral fellows, helping them prepare for future careers.
“It is incredible to see City employees and university researchers come together to solve problems...helps us move forward as a community and shows how we can lead the country through collaboration to create the best results for our community and residents...can create real benefits and build a healthy, strong and sustainable future,” said Mayor Charlie Clark
They will undertake comprehensive measurements of pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics, pain killers, beta-blockers, and hormone-like substances in the wastewater treatment plant and downstream in the South Saskatchewan River. The researchers will also work to better understand and stay current with technology and new solutions to treat wastewater.
Projects funded through the initiative also create hands-on learning and research opportunities for University of Saskatchewan students and post-doctoral fellows.
“Through the power of research, these collaborative projects will address some tough challenges in our community,” said University of Saskatchewan President Peter Stoicheff. “It is exciting to see from this list of approved projects the first concrete ways in which this strategic partnership will help build a better Saskatoon.”
#UofT; #Research; Handheld3DSkinPrinter; #HealLargeBurnWounds; #GameChanger
Toronto, Feb 20 (Canadian-Media): Researchers at the University of Toronto (U of T) and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC) developed a handheld 3D skin printer which can deposit sheets of skin to cover large burn wounds, media reports said.
Handheld 3D skin printer. Image credit: Twitter
The bio ink dispensed by the roller of the handheld 3D skin printer is composed of mesenchymal stroma cells (MSCs) which can can accelerate the healing process, promotes skin regeneration and reduces scarring,
Created by a team from U of T’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, the device covers wounds with a uniform sheet of biomaterial, stripe by stripe. is composed MSC material .
Richard Cheng, the leader of the project and a PhD candidate in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering under the supervision of Axel Guenther, an associate professor in the department of mechanical and industrial engineering.
Axel Guenther (left) and Richard Cheng (right). Image credit: Twitter
Close collaboration of this project was provided by Marc Jeschke, director of the Ross Tilley Burn Centre and a professor in U of T’s Faculty of Medicine, and his team at Sunnybrook.
Their successful in-vivo trials on full-thickness wounds are reported in the journal Biofabrication.
Unveiling of the first prototype of the skin printer in 2018 by this research is a major step forward for the team. The capacity of the device to deposit and set in place in two minutes or less was believed to be the first of its kind to form tissue in situ.
“Previously, we proved that we could deposit cells onto a burn, but there wasn’t any proof that there were any wound-healing benefits – now we’ve demonstrated that,” Guenther says.
The method of care for burns used currently is autologous skin grafting, which requires transplantation of healthy skin from other parts of the body onto the wound.
But large, full-body burns or full-thickness burns are challenging as in these cases the both the outermost and innermost layers of the skin are destroyed and these burns often cover a significant portion of the body.
“With big burns, you don’t have sufficient healthy skin available, which could lead to patient deaths,” says Jeschke.
The current prototype includes a single-use microfluidic printhead which ensures sterilization and a soft wheel that follows the track of the printhead, allowing for better control for wider wounds.
The team, says Cheng, is aiming to “further reduce the amount of scarring, on top of helping with wound healing. Our main focus moving forward will be on the in-vivo side.”
The handheld skin printer, believes Jeschke could be seen in a clinical setting within the next five years and added that once it is used in an operating room, this printer will be a game changer in saving lives. and change the entirety of how burn and trauma care are practiced.
#WHOCoronavirusStudyTeam; #COVID-19; #WHO'sEmergencyPreparednesProgram
China, Feb 12 (Canadian-Media: Due to increase of the number of deaths and infections in China and elsewhere, Dr. Bruce Aylward, renowned Canadian epidemiologist, was on his way to China Feb 11 to lead a team of WHO experts to study the origin of the virus and its severity, media reports said.
It was reported by World Health Organization (WHO) Tuesday that 1,017 people had died from Coronavirus in China, and there were 42,708 infected cases.
Dr. Bruce Aylward. Image credit: Facebook
Aylward was responsible for previously leading reforms of WHO's emergency preparedness program.
A group of WHO' s virologists, in charge of naming infectious diseases has dubbed the illness Coronavirus as COVID-19.
The new name did not create stigma by referring to a geographical location, an animal or group of people, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday.
Canada has agreed to provide $2 million to the World Health Organization to help vulnerable countries prepare for a potential coronavirus outbreak beyond China.
Additionally, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has put out a call for proposals to scientists interested in launching quick studies of the coronavirus if it breaks out here in Canada.
#HumanTextiles, #RepairBloodVessels; #WHO; #CardiovascularDisease
France (Italy), Feb 11 (Canadian-Media): As the leading cause of mortality worldwide, cardiovascular diseases claim over 17 million lives each year, according to World Health Organization estimates. To open up new research avenues into this serious public health problem, Inserm researchers are developing ''human textiles'' from collagen in order to repair damaged blood vessels, ScienceDaily News release of Feb 10 reported.
Human textiles to repair blood vessels. Image credit: Twitter
What if we could replace a patient's damaged blood vessels with brand new ones produced in a laboratory? This is the challenge set by Inserm researcher Nicolas L'Heureux, who is working on the human extracellular matrix -- the structural support of human tissues that is found around practically all of the body's cells.
In a study published in Acta Biomaterialia, L'Heureux and his colleagues at the Tissue Bioengineering unit (Inserm/Université de Bordeaux) describe how they have cultivated human cells in the laboratory to obtain extracellular matrix deposits high in collagen -- a structural protein that constitutes the mechanical scaffold of the human extracellular matrix. "We have obtained thin but highly robust extracellular matrix sheets that can be used as a construction material to replace blood vessels," L'Heureux explains.
The researchers then cut these sheets to form yarn -- a bit like that used to make fabric for clothing. "The resulting yarn can be woven, knitted or braided into various forms. Our main objective is to use this yarn to make assemblies which can replace the damaged blood vessels," adds L'Heureux.
Made entirely from biological material, these blood vessels would also have the advantage of being well-tolerated by all patients. Given that collagen does not vary from individual to individual, it is not expected that the body will consider these vessels as foreign bodies that need to be rejected.
The researchers would now like to refine their techniques used to produce these "human textiles" before moving on to animal testing, in order to validate this last hypothesis. If these are conclusive, this could lead to clinical trials.
Story Source: Materials provided by INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale).
London (U.K.), Feb 7 (Canadian-Media): Researchers have identified a new protein linked to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that could offer new hope for the diagnosis and treatment of the disease, which affects over 1.5 million people in the UK alone, https://medicalxpress.com/news reported today.
Credit: CC0 Public Domain
The research team, made up of scientists from Queen Mary University of London, the University of Manchester, Cardiff University, and Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, found significantly higher levels of a protein called factor H-related protein 4 (FHR-4) in the blood of AMD patients.
Further investigation, using eye tissue donated for medical research, showed the presence of the FHR-4 protein within the macula—the specific region of the eye affected by the disease.
The results of this study open up new routes for early diagnosis, by measuring FHR-4 levels in the blood, and suggests therapies targeting this protein could provide promising future treatment options for the disease.
FHR-4 regulates the complement system, part of the immune system, which plays a critical role in inflammation and the body's defence against infection.
Previous studies have linked the complement system to AMD showing that genetically inherited faults in key complement proteins are strong risk factors for the condition.
In this study, the researchers used a genetic technique, known as a genome-wide association study, to identify specific changes in the genome related to the increased levels of FHR-4 found in AMD patients.
They found higher blood FHR-4 levels were associated with changes to genes that code for proteins belonging to the factor H family, which clustered together within a specific region of the genome. The identified genetic changes also overlapped with genetic variants first found to increase the risk of AMD over 20 years ago.
Together, the findings suggest that inherited genetic changes can lead to higher blood FHR-4 levels, which results in uncontrolled activation of the complement system within the eye and drives disease.
Blood levels of FHR-4 were measured in 484 patients and 522 age-matched control samples using two independent, established collections of AMD patient data. These were the Cambridge AMD study, led by Professor Anthony Moore from Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology (now at the University of California San Francisco) and Professor John Yates from Cambridge University, and the European Genetic Database (EUGENDA), led by Professor Anneke den Hollander and Professor Carel Hoyng from Radboud University Medical Center.
There are two main types of AMD - 'wet' AMD and 'dry' AMD. Whilst some treatment options exist for 'wet' AMD, there is currently no available treatment for 'dry' AMD.
Dr. Valentina Cipriani, who jointly led the statistical data analysis with Dr. Laura Lorés-Motta from the Radboud University Medical Center and is an expert in ophthalmic statistical genetics at Queen Mary University of London, and member of the International AMD Genomics Consortium (IAMDGC), said: "By unveiling FHR-4 as a novel, key molecular player for AMD, our study was able to dissect further the genetic disease predisposition at the factor H region. This is one of the most established genetic associations in the field of complex genetics. We hope our findings will accelerate interest from the wider research community in the involvement of the complement system in AMD, with the ultimate goal of uncovering the role of the whole 'complementome' in the disease."
Professor Simon Clark, a specialist in the regulation of the complement system in health and disease at the University of Manchester, said: "This study really is a step-change in our understanding of how complement activation drives this major blinding disease. Up until now, the role played by FHR proteins in disease has only ever been inferred. But now we show a direct link and, more excitingly, become a tangible step closer to identifying a group of potential therapeutic targets to treat this debilitating disease."
Professor Paul Bishop, an ophthalmologist and AMD expert at the University of Manchester, said: "The combined protein and genetic findings provide compelling evidence that FHR-4 is a critical controller of that part of the immune system which affects the eyes. Apart from improving understanding of how AMD is caused, this work also provides a way of predicting risk of the disease by simply measuring blood levels of FHR-4 and also provides a new route to treatment by reducing the blood levels of FHR-4 to restore immune system function in the eyes."
Professor Paul Morgan, an expert in complement biology at Cardiff University, and leader in the development of the antibodies and assays that underpinned this work said: "The collaboration between experts in complement biology, eye disease and genetics across Europe has enabled the accumulation of a robust body of evidence that genetically dictated FHR-4 levels in plasma are an important predictor of risk of developing AMD. The unique antibodies and assays we have developed have potential not only for contributing to risk prediction but also to new ways of treating this common and devastating disease."
#Methanol; #CO2; #GreehHouseGas;
New York, Feb 7 (Canadian-Media): Methanol is a versatile and efficient chemical used as fuel in the production of countless products. Carbon dioxide (CO2), on the other hand, is a greenhouse gas that is the unwanted byproduct of many industrial processes, https://phys.org/news release reported Thursday.
Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain
Converting CO2 to methanol is one way to put CO2 to good use. In research published today in Science, chemical engineers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute demonstrated how to make that conversion process from CO2 to methanol more efficient by using a highly effective separation membrane they produced. This breakthrough, the researchers said, could improve a number of industry processes that depend on chemical reactions where water is a byproduct.
For example, the chemical reaction responsible for the transformation of CO2 into methanol also produces water, which severely restricts the continued reaction. The Rensselaer team set out to find a way to filter out the water as the reaction is happening, without losing other essential gas molecules.
The researchers assembled a membrane made up of sodium ions and zeolite crystals that was able to carefully and quickly permeate water through small pores—known as water-conduction nanochannels—without losing gas molecules.
"The sodium can actually regulate, or tune, gas permeation," said Miao Yu, an endowed chair professor of chemical and biological engineering and a member of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) at Rensselaer, who led this research. "It's like the sodium ions are standing at the gate and only allow water to go through. When the inert gas comes in, the ions will block the gas."
In the past, Yu said, this type of membrane was susceptible to defects that would allow other gas molecules to leak out. His team developed a new strategy to optimize the assembly of the crystals, which eliminated those defects.
When water was effectively removed from the process, Yu said, the team found that the chemical reaction was able to happen very quickly.
"When we can remove the water, the equilibrium shifts, which means more CO2 will be converted and more methanol will be produced," said Huazheng Li, a postdoctoral researcher at Rensselaer and first author on the paper.
"This research is a prime example of the significant contributions Professor Yu and his team are making to address interdisciplinary challenges in the area of water, energy, and the environment," said Deepak Vashishth, director of CBIS. "Development and deployment of such tailored membranes by Professor Yu's group promise to be highly effective and practical."
The team is now working to develop a scalable process and a startup company that would allow this membrane to be used commercially to produce high purity methanol.
Yu said this membrane could also be used to improve a number of other reactions.
"In industry there are so many reactions limited by water," Yu said. "This is the only membrane that can work highly efficiently under the harsh reaction conditions."