Recognition of RNA duplexes by chemically modified triplex-forming oligonucleotides
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RNA duplex region is also often functionally important site for protein binding.
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#1 Jul 15, 2013
Recognition of RNA duplexes by chemically modified triplex-forming oligonucleotides
Yuan Zhou1, Elzbieta Kierzek2, Zi Ping Loo1, Meraldo Antonio1, Yin Hoe Yau3, York Wieo Chuah3, Susana Geifman-Shochat3, Ryszard Kierzek2,* and Gang Chen1,*
+ Author Affiliations
1Division of Chemistry and Biological Chemistry, School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, 21 Nanyang Link, Singapore 637371, 2Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences, Noskowskiego 12/14, 61-704 Poznan, Poland and 3Division of Structural Biology and Biochemistry, School of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, 60 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637551
↵*To whom correspondence should be addressed. Tel:+65 6592 2549; Fax:+65 6791 1961; Email: [email protected]
↵Correspondence may also be addressed to Ryszard Kierzek. Tel:+48 61 852 85 03; Fax:+48 61 852 05 32; Email: [email protected]
Received October 8, 2012.
Revision received April 10, 2013.
Accepted April 12, 2013.
Triplex is emerging as an important RNA tertiary structure motif, in which consecutive non-canonical base pairs form between a duplex and a third strand. RNA duplex region is also often functionally important site for protein binding. Thus, triplex-forming oligonucleotides (TFOs) may be developed to regulate various biological functions involving RNA, such as viral ribosomal frameshifting and reverse transcription. How chemical modification in TFOs affects RNA triplex stability, however, is not well understood. Here, we incorporated locked nucleic acid, 2-thio U- and 2′-O methyl-modified residues in a series of all pyrimidine RNA TFOs, and we studied the binding to two RNA hairpin structures. The 12-base-triple major-groove pyrimidinepurinepyrimidine triplex structures form between the duplex regions of RNA/DNA hairpins and the complementary RNA TFOs. Ultraviolet-absorbance-detecte d thermal melting studies reveal that the locked nucleic acid and 2-thio U modifications in TFOs strongly enhance triplex formation with both parental RNA and DNA duplex regions. In addition, we found that incorporation of 2′-O methyl-modified residues in a TFO destabilizes and stabilizes triplex formation with RNA and DNA duplex regions, respectively. The (de)stabilization of RNA triplex formation may be facilitated through modulation of van der Waals contact, base stacking, hydrogen bonding, backbone pre-organization, geometric compatibility and/or dehydration energy. Better understanding of the molecular determinants of RNA triplex structure stability lays the foundation for designing and discovering novel sequence-specific duplex-binding ligands as diagnostic and therapeutic agents targeting RNA.
#2 Jul 15, 2013
Asteroid will be named after a young researcher from Hrubieszów
10.06.2013 SPACE, INTERESTING FACTS
17-year-old King Panasiewicz from Hrubieszów won second prize in the field of medicine and health in prestigious science competition for young people Intel ISEF in the U.S. As a reward, her name will be given to one of the recently discovered asteroids.
Young Polish researchers also took places on the podium in the European computer scence competition Infomatrix in Romania. The victories of young scientists have been reported in the release sent to PAP by the representatives of E(x)plory Festival, which helps young Polish researchers start in the best research competitions.
Kings Panasiewicz won one of the second prizes in the field of medicine and health in the Intel ISEF competition, one of the most worlds important competitions of student research and engineering projects. The project of 17-year-old student from Hrubieszów concerned the impact of cerebral hemispheres synchronization on the brain. Kinga Panasiewicz won the prize of 1.5 thousand dollars. In addition, her name will be given to one of the asteroids discovered by the The Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) poroject of the Lincoln Laboratory, MIT.
"The human brain consists of two hemispheres, different in many respects. Im my project I focused on the phenomenon of linkage of certain mental functions with specific areas of the brain, as well as the issue of synchronization of the two hemispheres. I based my results on on behavioral laboratory experiments and clinical EEG tests. The data collected during the study showed that appropriate synchronization exercise program significantly affects the activity of the central nervous system - Kinga Panasiewicz described her study.
Kinga Panasiewicz not only conducted extensive research, but also found support for her conclusions in scientific authorities in the field of neurology and psychiatry at the Universities of Cambridge and Glasgow.
Young Polish scientists were also successful at Europe's largest computer science competition Infomatrix. Mateusz Stec, student of mechatronics technical school in Tarnów, designed and built precise industrial robots, which can replace humans in dangerous work, and find applications in many industries, such as welding bridges or drilling holes. According to the representatives of the E(x)plory Festival, innovation in his project is low cost of production and the ease of programming of robots. Even an inexperienced person can learn to operate them in just a few hours.
"I was driven by curiosity and a desire to find answers to questions that are a mystery - said Mateusz Stec.- Since childhood I have been doing everything possible to understand the world and the laws that govern it. Knowledge and experience gives me the ability to create devices that help people in their work. Such a great goal is the motivation in itself."
Robot built by the student was awarded gold medal in the "Hardware control" category. In the same category two other Polish teenagers won bronze: Michał Niewiadomski and Daniel Szczęsny from Wałbrzych. They built a sorting machine for various materials. It can be used both in industry and in environment protection.
Young Polish researchers took part in one of the most important scientific competitions for young people through the E(x)plory Festival. Young researchers can now submit their ideas for the next edition of the Young Scientists Competition - E(x)plory 2014. The competition is open to amateurs of science at the age of 14 to 20 years. For more information visit www.explory.pl
#3 Jul 15, 2013
Roadhogs won't fool the new speed gun from the Military University of Technology
21.06.2013 TECHNOLOGY, RECOMMENDED
Laser speed gun at the Military University of Technology in Warsaw will allow a police officer to measure the speed of an individual vehicle. Unlike other devices of this type, this laser will not be jammed by traffic offenders.
Speed gun designed at the Military University of Technology - unlike radar speed guns commonly used by the police - measures vehicle speed using laser light that can be accurately aimed at an individual vehicle. Laser signals sent in the direction of the vehicle will create a code that cannot be copied by roadhogs in order to detect and block a speed reading.
Jacek Wojtanowski Institute of Optoelectronics, Military University of Technology, explained in an interview with PAP that a LiDAR speed gun sends a stream of pulses of light at the vehicle, and calculates the distance from the object on the basis of information about when the light is reflected from the object surface. The distance is measured several times per second, and on this basis the vehicle speed is determined.
Wojtanowski assured that even if traffic offenders would have laser jammers in their cars, it would not work on the Military University of Technology invention.
Speed gun from the Military University of Technology sends varying signals towards the car - pulses are modulated, sent at varying intervals, and create a unique code. The speed gun device searches for pulses that form the same code, so even additional flashes will not fool the device.
According to Wojtanowski, LiDAR speed guns are becoming increasingly popular and begin to replace the radar speed guns. The principle of operation is similar, but radar speed guns are much less accurate than laser devices.
Laser is easy to aim at a specific site - the laser beam emitted by the device has a very small diameter, even over long distances, so it is more certain that it measures the speed of a particular vehicle, and other vehicles around it.
The expert explained that even at a distance of 1 km a laser speed gun creates a spot that still fits within the dimensions of an average size vehicle. This means that all measurement time refers to a single vehicle. Meanwhile, in radar measurement the beam is more divergent, so at greater distances the measurement is much more difficult and burdened with the risk of taking the measurement of several vehicles.
Handheld LiDAR speed gun is already on the market, an external company took up its production and has already sold the first devices. Now, engineers at the Military University of Technology are working on improving the invention, and additionally equipping it with a camera that will record the measurement - take pictures or make a video when measuring vehicle speed.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland, Ludwika Tomala
#4 Jul 15, 2013
Polish innovations awarded in United States
03.07.2013 TECHNOLOGY, PRIZES & AWARDS, INNOVATION
Three gold medals with mentions, eight gold medals and five special awards were granted to Polish scientists during the 28th INPEX, the Invention & New Product Exposition, in Pennsylvania, United States on June 19-21.
INPEX, the Invention & New Product Exposition, is America's largest invention trade show. INPEX provides a forum for inventors to exhibit their inventions and attempt to make contacts with companies interested in licensing, marketing or manufacturing new products. This year scientists from 24 countries presented 550 inventions including 13 Polish.
Gold medals with mentions were granted in following categories: medicine, education, security - with the latter one honouring the Warsaw Stock Exchange for the technology of producing paper for passports. The technology also received a special prize:INNOVATOR CUP INPEX 2013.
Gold medal with the mention for education went to the Warsaw University of Technology for thermal analysis programme for composite materials TERMET CAE.
The third medal in the category of medicine went to dentist doctor Jacek Nocon, a Pole working in Germany for material imitating a bone which may be used as dentistry implant.
Other gold medal winners were POLTEGOR-INSTYTUT open pit mine institute, Road and Bridge Research Institute, Warsaw and Poznan Universities of Technology, VOICE LAB Ltd., Polish Academy of Sciences' Experimental and Clinical Medicine, "BioEnergia Malopolska Renewable energy sources centre.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
#5 Jul 15, 2013
Double victory of Polish rovers in the U.S. competition
10.06.2013 SPACE, TECHNOLOGY, PRIZES & AWARDS, COMPETITIONS
HYPERION Team. Source: Mars Society Polska
Mars rovers from Poland took the first two places in prestigious international competition University Rover Challenge in the United States. The winner was Hyperion built by the team of Białystok University of Technology, and Scorpio III from Wrocław University of Technology took the second place.
The team from Białystok also had the highest score in the history of the competition, 493 from 500 possible points, reported Mars Society Polska in the U.S. competition in a release sent to PAP.
The winners of the competition receive cash prizes, a trip to present at the annual International Mars Society Convention, and, according to the competition website, "a years worth of bragging rights".
This is the second Polish win in the history of the University Rover Challenge. In 2011, Magma2 rover also built in Białystok, took the highest place on the podium.
"Great success of Polish teams is the result of hard work of students, universities and organizers. Once again, we have proven that if start a project, we want to and can be the best" - believes Mateusz Józefowicz of Mars Society Polska.
Both teams are winners of the Minister of Science and Higher Education programme "Generation of the Future". Ministry of Science has supported their participation in the competition.
"Just three weeks ago together with Prime Minister Donald Tusk I handed grants to young inventors and researchers in the programme +Generation of the Future+. We did not have to wait long for the international success of the two winning teams from Białystok University of Technology and Wrocław University of Technology - emphasized Minister of Science and Higher Education, Prof. Barbara Kudrycka.- In Poland we have a really great talented young people, worth investing in. Not just the PLN 7,000,000 in the ministerial program, but also time and expertise of tutors and attention of us all. They really are worth it!".
This year 14 teams from the U.S., Canada, Poland and India have signed up for the competition. Poland was represented by three teams - from Białystok, Wrocław and Rzeszów.
The winning Hyperion is the rover of the team from Białystok University of Technology. The vehicle has six independently powered and controlled wheel, articulated manipulator, GPS and vision system. It is capable of moving in the desert, sandy and rocky terrain, and climbing elevations inclined even at an angle of 50 degrees.
Scorpio III was vuilt at Wrocław University of Technology"Each of the six wheels is driven by a separate motor. The structure is based on an aluminium frame, which should endure well the hardships of the desert competition" - emphasized Łukasz Leśniak, Wrocław University of Technology student and one of the designers of the machine before leaving for the competition.
The rover is doing very well in the field thanks to its joint design that enables it to turn better and climb high obstacles. Another improvement are very lightweight grid design wheels. One pair of wheels, however, is made of soft and durable material (Cordura), filled with powdery granules. This prevents transferring vibrations to rest of the structure even while riding on a very uneven surface.
Third Polish team in the competition was SKNL Rover Team of Rzeszów University of Technology with the Legendary Rover. The device drives on six wheels, has independent suspension and electric power source. The rover is equipped with two interchangeable keypads for different tasks, it also has four cargo platform for astronauts. Vision system, GPS, and reliable communications module allow smooth and precise vehicle operation in the difficult desert terrain.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
#6 Jul 15, 2013
Gdansk drug test for smartphones in the finals of the Imagine Cup
24.06.2013 TECHNOLOGY, COMPETITIONS
Gdańsk University of Technology students have developed an application for smartphones that allows to test if a person is under the influence of drugs. Modern Drug Test will be presented at the global finals of the technology competition Imagine Cup in St. Petersburg.
WeRule team will be one of three Polish teams that will compete part in the world finals of Imagine Cup. The finals will be held on 8-11 July in St. Petersburg.
"The test is based on an analysis of the eye, and then detecting the anomalies caused by the taking of drugs. The application is extremely easy to use. All you need to perform the measurement is the mobile phone with our application, which must be placed near the eye. The entire process takes few seconds, which is a very good result compared with current drug tests. The application can be used several times" - described Karol Stosik, representative of the team from Gdańsk University of Technology.
The application also analyses the color of the white of the eye and assess pupil size, taking into account ambient factors, including the response to light stimulus. "We are also working on further methods of verification" - emphasized the innovators.
"We feel honored and happy that we can represent our country in the international arena" - said members of the WeRule team.
According to the Gdańsk University of Technology press office release sent to PAP, Karol Stosik, Paweł Nowakowski and Mateusz Nowak, members of WeRule, study at the Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics. Last year, Stosik took second place in the Imagine Cup in Australia with ZZ Braille Reader application that allows blind people to use smatphones to read e-books, notes, and all kinds of texts. Young engineer competed individually.
TapBoarders team from Poznań secured the place in the finals already in April. However, due to the changes in this year's Imagine Cup regulations, two other Polish teams qualified to the finals: WeRule and FRONT from the Military University of Technology in Warsaw.
According to the organizers, this year's edition of Imagine Cup has enjoyed the greatest interest of students in history. 70-percent increase in the number of participants compared to the previous year has been recorded. In St. Petersburg, 305 young innovators will compete for prizes from the highest pool in the history of the competition, 300 thousand dollars.
Polish students won places on the podium in the World Finals as many as 21 times, winning 7 first places, 8 second places and 6 third places. Every year, the finals are held at a different location, so far they have been held in Spain, Japan, India, Australia, and in 2000 in Poland.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
#7 Jul 15, 2013
Polish mobile app will increase the safety of epileptics
14.06.2013 HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY, RECOMMENDED
It will tell bystanders how to help a person in an epileptic seizure and notifies the persons family of the location. The application, which will increase the safety of epileptics, has been developed by scientists and students of the Military University of Technology. This is the first such solution in the world.
SENSE application that can be installed on any smartphone that allows a person suffering from epilepsy to monitor health has been developed by scientists from the Faculty of Cybernetics, Military University of Technology in Warsaw, led by Major Dr. Mariusz Chmielewski.
Part of the application is a sensor EMG that monitors muscle activity. Sensor can be attached to any muscle group, such as thighs, chest, back or shoulders. Its size is similar to a cell phone battery. The system detects so-called tonic-clonic seizures, usually manifested by convulsions and loss of consciousness.
"Our sensor will transmit information of such muscular activity wirelessly to a cell phone, which will analyse the signal and decide on further action" - said Dr. Mariusz Chmielewski in an interview with PAP.
After the application starts, the patient has 15 seconds to cancel the alert. "If the user fails to cancel it by touching the screen during that time, it can be concluded that he is not able to do so, and something happened to him" - described the scientist.
In this case, the application takes further measures. First, it sends a notification of the location of the patient and ongoing seizure to all contacts in the system. This information, at the patient's request, ca also be published on Facebook and Twitter, but it will be available only to trusted people.
After detecting a seizure, smartphone also alerts people nearby, by sounding an alarm signal and reading instructions for people who accidentally find themselves in the place of the incident. "Phone loudly instructs:+I am having an epileptic seizure, help me, put something under my head, move dangerous objects away+. Application also displays the patient's data: drugs that the patient takes, blood type is additional diseases that have been diagnosed" - explained the project leader.
What happens if the person simply exercises, and the sensor detects the muscle activity? Dr. Chmielewski pointed out that muscle contractions that accompany epileptic seizures are usually very specific: short and very strong. A person is normally unable to make such contractions.
"We are building algorithms that learn muscle activity patterns typical of tonic-clonic seizures. This allows our algorithm to +know+ how to distinguish between dangerous situations and false alarms"- he explained. In addition, the system learns the characteristics of false alarms (i.e., the one that the patient himself turns off after 15 seconds) to avoid repeating it.
"We get a lot of calls from people who want buy our application, but for now we can not sell it for procedural reasons. Medical device market is very different from general consumer solutions. We want to avoid a situation in which the solution is inaccurate, therefore we need research and clinical trials that cost a lot" - said the scientist.
Polish scientists do not have any competition, because there are no such devices that assist people with epilepsy on the market.
#8 Jul 15, 2013
10 gold medals for Polish researchers in Malaysia
27.05.2013 TECHNOLOGY, PRIZES & AWARDS, INNOVATION
Polish inventors won 18 medals, including 10 gold medals at the 24th International Invention Innovation & Technology Exhibition ITEX 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. One of the Polish solutions received the "ITEX 2013 Best Invention" award in the overseas category.
The success of the Polish inventors at the renowned innovation and technology trade exhibition in the southern Asia, was reported by representatives of the Association of Polish Inventors and Rationalizers, which presented solutions of Polish inventors from research units as the exclusive Polish representative.
The jury of international experts awarded 18 medals to Polish solutions, including 10 gold medals. Representatives of the Association of Polish Inventors and Rationalizers informed PAP that of all Polish solutions, the solution "Family of modular special vehicles for reconnaissance and mine sweeping codenamed SHIBA" developed at the Military University of Technology received the most prestigious award.
This invention received the "ITEX 2013 Best Invention" award in the overseas category. The creators of the solutions are: Dr. Wiesław Barnat, Prof. Tadeusz Niezgoda, Tomasz Wróbel and Dr. Marcin Szczepaniak. The Polish invention has been selected from among more than a thousand solutions from 20 countries.
24th International Invention Innovation & Technology Exhibition ITEX 2013 was held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, where it was watched by about 12,000 visitors.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
#9 Jul 15, 2013
Prizes for Polish inventors at Geneva Inventions 2013
29.04.2013 TECHNOLOGY, UNIVERSITIES
Polish inventions - USB port, into a flash drive can be inserted either side up, and an innovative sintered stainless steel production method received gold medals with distinction at the 41st International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva.
Geneva Inventions 2013 exhibition ended in mid-April. More than 700 exhibitors from 45 countries presented over a thousand inventions. The jury awarded 18 medals to Polish inventions, including two gold medals with distinction, only a few of which were awarded during the exhibition.
Andrzej Kisiel from the Association of Polish Inventors and Rationalizers told PAP about Polish medal achievements in Geneva.
Gold medal with distinction was awarded to the "Double-sided A-type USB port" developed by Jędrzej Blaut from AGH University of Science and Technology. The device would solve the problem of inserting flash drives into the port wrong side up. The computer USB would be modified to accept plugs either side up. This modification allows to keep the standard port size and it is compatible with all generations of USB port. The change in port construction could take place together with the introduction of new USB standard. The ultimate place of application of the invention would be new series of computers, laptops and USB hubs. The creator of this innovative idea is one of the winners of "Student-Inventor 2012/2013" competition organized by Kielce University of Technology.
The second awarded invention was the solution "Sintered stainless steels with improved mechanical properties and corrosion resistance obtained by laser surface alloying with HPDL laser" developed by Prof. Leszek A. Dobrzański from Silesian University of Technology. At the award ceremony, the invention also received a special award.
Also awarded at the ceremony was the "Anti-decubitus Bed" from Textile Research Institute in Łódź, which received a special statuette from the Malaysian delegation.
In addition, the exhibition medals - gold, silver and bronze - have been awarded to solutions include from Łódź University of Technology, Silesian University of Technology, Lublin University of Technology, Oil and Gas Institute, the Institute of Ceramics and Building Materials, Institute for Sustainable Technologies, Textile Research Institute, Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements and the West Pomeranian University of Technology in Szczecin.
Poland was represented at the exhibition by the Association of Polish Inventors and Rationalizers, which presented solutions of Polish inventors and scientists.
The exhibition "Geneva Inventions 2013" was visited by tens of thousands of people, including representatives of industrial companies. Several other winners of the "Student-Inventor" competition also presented their solutions in Geneva.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
#10 Jul 15, 2013
Polish triumph in European robotic competition
08.04.2013 TECHNOLOGY, COMPETITIONS
Polish engineers won ten medals in major European robotic competition RobotChallenge, which took place in Vienna. For the third time in a row, they won the overall victory in the competition.
In Vienna competition, considered as the largest and most prestigious in Europe, start mobile, independent, hand-built robots. Polish engineers presented 60 designs in the tenth edition of the competition. Players could compete in 15 different events.
Polish designers have won as many as ten medals: four gold, three silver and three bronze. The biggest success and set of medals has been won in the Mini Sumo category. The Humanoid Sumo competition was also a successfully, with Polish players taking first and second place. In addition, Polish designers have won gold and a bronze medal in the Line Follower category, gold medal in the Autonomous Air Race competition, silver in the Freestyle category and bronze in Puck Collect.
Russians took the second place in the standings with six medals, followed by Latvians, who managed to win five medals.
RobotChallenge has been held since 2004. Over a thousand robots from 31 countries have already competed. This year's edition was attended by several hundred participants from 20 countries.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
#11 Jul 15, 2013
esearchers from Wrocław "improved" the chicken egg
17.04.2013 HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY
A new generation of eggs, enhanced with vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids, have been developed by researchers from Wrocław. After testing, preparations derived from these eggs could be used as dietary supplements, for example in the treatment of hypertension.
"The egg contains all the ingredients necessary to produce life. It is such a great product that with appropriate treatment it can be used to obtain the necessary substances for the prevention of lifestyle diseases" - said the project coordinator Prof. Tadeusz Trziszka from the University of Environmental and Life Sciences in Wrocław.
Over 230 people have been working since 2009 on the development of eggs perfect as a raw material for the manufacture of dietary supplements, and technology of obtaining valuable ingredients. The project called "Ovocura", worth 25 million zł, is ending in the first quarter of 2013.
Chicken and quails laying perfect eggs were fed substances derived from algae. They also had to have appropriate environmental conditions. "There could be no mistake in the production, because each mistake could affect the quality of the eggs" - said Prof. Trziszka.
New eggs, compared to those already on the market, have been enriched with bioactive substances, including vitamins and polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially DHA, which contributes to the proper functioning of the brain, heart and the circulatory system.
What have the researchers obtained from enriched eggs? "Various types of preparations, including phospholipids that affect the functioning of the heart and brain. These substances can then be used in dietary supplements" - said Prof. Trziszka.
Studies have shown that they have a positive impact on the regeneration process of the body and have a preventive effect. They can be used in the treatment of hypertension, diseases of the central nervous system, including Alzheimer's disease, as well as depression, atherosclerosis and osteoporosis.
A separate group of biomedical preparations are substances intended for further clinical research and applications in the production of drugs against cancer, periodontitis, and dermatological diseases.
How are the new supplements different from others? Until now, there was no formulation containing phospholipids of animal origin. "Commercially available supplements are usually derived from plants. We want to extend this market, enriching it with products of animal origin" - said Prof. Trziszka.
"According to our research, the effect of zoonotic phospholipids is more favorable in the treatment of various diseases" - said Prof. Andrzej Szuba of Wrocław Medical University during a recent press conference.
Prof. Trziszka noted that eggs contain a large number of components that can be used as natural ingredients in food supplements. "They are not found in such quantities in any plant or herb" - he added.
In addition, he noted, although you can already find bee products such as royal jelly and honey extracts, until now on the market there were no nutritional supplements made from eggs.
The preparations must undergo a series of tests. "Human studies are necessary. Tests on animals returned promising results with regard to, for example, treatment of hypertension" - said Prof. Szuba. He reminded that the market approval procedure for dietary supplements takes at least two years, and for drugs - up to 10 years.
Starting in April, preparations containing phospholipids will be manufactured on a special production line in Wrocław Technology Park.
The research, co-funded by the European Union, has carried out by the consortium of the University of Environmental and Life Sciences in Wrocław and Wrocław Medical University.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
#12 Jul 15, 2013
AGH students success in international competitions
29.05.2013 TECHNOLOGY, COMPETITIONS
AGH Kraków student Mateusz Ilba took first place in the international Bentley Student Design Competition 2013. In his category, he beat more than forty participants from several countries.
Mateusz Ilba, student at the Faculty of Mining Surveying and Environmental Engineering and member of the Scientific Club "GK Geoinformatyka", started in the category "Innovation in Rendering using MicroStation".
For his winning project "Church in Trinidad Bay" he received two thousand dollars and a trophy. His faculty will also receive ten one year software licenses for Bentley Select.
The subject of the winners animation was the combination of an invented church interior with the area of the Trinidad Head peninsula in Trindad Bay, California. The author used 16 computers that worked for about 23-24 hours a day. In total, he created more than 10 thousand video frames.
The competition, organized by the U.S.-based company Bentley Systems, is addressed to students who use the companys software to create projects in five different categories related to infrastructure, bridges and roads. The winning animation can be viewed at: www.youtube.com/watch... .
Izabela Płokita of AGH and Anna Mendak from the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław advanced to the best two in the prestigious competition Ericsson Application Awards 2013 in the "Student" category.
The idea behind the competition is to show ICTs that are change the way we function, especially in the cities. The competition participants are about 200 teams from around the world (including the U.S., Canada, Finland, Brazil, China, Austria, South Korea and Spain).
Student of interior design at the Academy of Fine Arts and her friend from Applied Computer Science at AGH created a functional mobile application called "Neighbourhood Watch". According to their idea, the person who sees a dangerous incident or suspicious behaviour, reports it using the application. Then the neighbours can react before the police arrives, especially to minor but troublesome issues.
Their application will fight for victory at the final gala on May 22 in Stockholm. The students will battle the team from Portugal, who designed the application "Sun Monitor". It allows to cheaply and safely manage and monitor the production of energy in home solar panels.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
#13 Jul 15, 2013
Polish students among the winners of Shell EcoMarathon
27.05.2013 TECHNOLOGY, UNIVERSITIES, PRIZES & AWARDS, COMPETITIONS
Shell Eco - Marathon 2013. SKAP Team, PAKS vehicle
334.2 kilometers on one litre of gasoline is the result of the vehicle built by the Student Vehicle Aerodynamics Club SKAP at Warsaw University of Technology. It was the best gasoline vehicle in the Urban Concept category of the competition Shell Eco-Marathon 2013 in Rotterdam (the Netherlands).
224 teams formed by three thousand students from 24 countries competed in this year's 29th edition of Shell Eco-Marathon. Teams competed in two categories: futuristic Prototype and conventional UrbanConcept for vehicles with appearance and functionality of a city car. Teams tried to travel the longest possible route to one litre of fuel or its equivalent. Cars drove a fixed number of laps around the track at a set speed, and the organizers calculated the energy efficiency of each vehicle and selected winners in each category and for each energy source.
In the Urban Concept category, vehicles competed in various sub-categories depending on the power source: ethanol, gasoline, diesel, hydrogen and electric batteries.
The car from Warsaw University of Technology - called PAKS - took first place among the gasoline-powered vehicles. The competition representatives told PAP that the battle for victory was fought to the last moment between SKAP team and the French Lycee Louis Delage team. The third place winner, University of Mons vehicle, drove over 150 km shorter distance than the Polish car.
PAKS was designed as a car that could be used as individual transport of the future. The project was created from scratch, but the designers used the experience gained in the design and performance of its predecessor, the vehicle Mikrus. The vehicle debuted in Shell Eco-Marathon 2012, when it took the second place in the "Safety" category and the third place in class E 95 gasoline vehicles with the result of 300 km on one litre of fuel. Polish students received funding for improving the car from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education programme "Generation of the Future".
Shell Eco-Marathon is open to teams from high schools and universities from around the world, challenged to design, build and test the most energy-efficient vehicles. The winner is the team that covers the longest distance using the least energy.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
#14 Jul 15, 2013
Home and communal "power plants" are coming
Communes and individuals could in the future sell the energy produced from biomass and waste to energy companies, believes Prof. Jan Kiciński, who works on energy technologies in one of the Polands largest research projects.
The budget of the project "Development of integrated technology of fuel and energy production from biomass, agricultural and other wastes" is more than PLN 110 million. The project is being carried out by a consortium, which includes the Institute of Fluid-Flow Machinery PAS in Gdańsk and Energa SA, as well as several cooperating research teams from universities and research institutes. "It is the largest research project in Poland" - said project leader, Prof. Jan Kiciński of the Institute of Fluid-Flow Machinery PAS. In May, the team received the Prime Minister's award for achievements in science and technology.
"We want to build a modern cogeneration installations, i.e. those that produce both heat and electricity for communes. Today, the communes have old boiler facilities which produce only heat, and usually ared turned off for the summer. And we want to transform them into new installations, so-called co-generators, ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle) modules, which operate all year round and in addition to heat also generate electricity" - explained Prof. Kiciński in an interview with PAP.
An experimental installation is already being built in Żychlin near Łódź. "We want to transform the old heating plant into a modern cogeneration unit. The area has timber industry, and begs for coming up with a way to utilise chips and sawdust" - commented the project manager.
He explained that wood waste would be incinerated in a special furnace, and the heat would be used to heat up the so-called low boiling agent. The researcher explained that the low-boiling agents were used, for example, in refrigerators and in deodorants. It is a liquid that boils at a much lower temperature than water. Rapidly evaporating substance drives the blades of microturbines and generates electricity. "And electricity is much more expensive than heat" added Prof. Kiciński.
According to the researcher, in the world similar technologies are still in development. One of the problems is the low boiling agent, whose properties are not optimal: it damages turbines and is harmful to the environment. Another challenge for researchers is adjusting modules to the individual system - to produce a sufficiently large amounts of power or combust certain materials.
Prof. Kiciński assured the his teams solution would be much more environmentally friendly than coal combustion. Waste such as wood chips or sawdust have been burned to produce heat. Polish research will allow to use such wastes to obtain heat and electricity.
The researcher explained that the work of his team addressed the needs of communes, which could become the Energy Autonomous Regions. "The idea is that communes are energy self-sufficient and capable of using their wastes and renewable resources (such as biomass and energy crops). They would no longer depend on the grid electricity, which is obtained from coal" - said Prof. Kiciński.
Development of the Energy Autonomous Regions is a part of energy policy aimed at distributed electricity generation, in small local plants, not only in large power plants.
Ludwika Tomala (PAP)
#15 Jul 15, 2013
NASA awarded Warsaw University of Technology students for ... perseverence
05.06.2013 SPACE, TECHNOLOGY, PRIZES & AWARDS
NASA awarded the "Perseverence Award" to students of Warsaw University of Technology, who participated in the competitionm for designers of lunar robotic miners. Their robot Husar was lost in transport to the competition, so they had to prepare a new robot.
The Lunabotics Mining Competition organised by NASA is a competition for students of technical universities. The task is to build a lunar robotic miner that will excavate and carry to the designated place a minimum of 10 kilograms of lunar soil within 10 minutes.
In this year's edition, grand prize, the Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence went to the team LunaCY fropm Iowa State University (U.S.). The team of students from Warsaw University of Technology, the only team from Europe that qualified for the competition which the robot Husar, received the "Perseverence Award ".
All because their robot Husar did not make it to the competition. It travelled to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in two parcels. Unfortunately, the courier company lost one of the parcels. Students were left only with the digging system and equipment brought from Poland in their luggage.
They decided to stay in the competition and build a new robot to compete with other vehicles. The entire electronic system, however, had to be built from scratch. They also organized a competition for the name of the new robot for other teams participating in the competition. Finally, the robot was named "White Eagle".
Hastily constructed robot successfully passed the test with the judges and entered the arena. However, after the start of the run, problems with the power supply started. Ultimately, it failed to complete to run.
However, the competition judges noted a week of hard work, and awarded the special prize. "During the ceremony we had a huge ovation. Everyone congratulated us on being able to start and building a robot from scratch, during the competition" - wrote students on their Facebook page.
After packing the "White Eagle", part of the team returns to Poland. Several members of the team remain in the United States and search for the missing package with Husar.
In addition to the U.S. teams, competitors included students from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, India, Mexico and Tunisia. The competition took place at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, in the building that simulates lunar surface.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
#16 Jul 15, 2013
Modern, cheap positron tomograph developed at the Jagiellonian University
26.06.2013 TECHNOLOGY, UNIVERSITIES
Positron tomograph, which will reduce the cost of research, is being developed at the Jagiellonian University. The work includes simulations of particle flow at Świerk Computing Centre.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanners now on the market use expensive inorganic crystals in radiation detection. In the device built by researchers at Jagiellonian University they have been replaced by much cheaper organic polymers, which can significantly reduce the cost of both the scanner, and the test.
The development has been reported to PAP by Robert Papliński, representative of Świerk Computing Centre at the National Centre for Nuclear Research.
"The model in development will be twice cheaper than currently used PET scanners. Combined with image resolution improved by at least ten to twenty percent and the possibility of easy expansion of device chamber we will be able to offer completely new conditions for diagnostic tests" - emphasised inventor and chief research coordinator Prof. Paweł Moskal, Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Applied Computer Science, Jagiellonian University.
According to the release, positron emission tomography allows to image physiological processes in the body. It is commonly used in medical diagnostics and monitoring the effects of therapy in oncology, cardiology, neurology, psychiatry and gastroenterology. The test consists in determining the spatial distribution of the concentration of selected substances in the body, and the changes of their concentrations over time.
The patient is administered a radioligand that diseased cells absorb much faster than healthy tissue of the body. Knowing the time in which different types of tissues absorb the preparation allows to identify clusters of diseased cells with high accuracy even before morphological changes detectable by other methods appear. This is useful even in the early diagnosis and identification of metastases.
Simulations conducted in Świerk computer cluster will help design the parts of this new type of CT scanner. "We expect that by involving experts and infrastructure of Świerk Computing Centre at the National Centre for Nuclear Research in the design work we can significantly accelerate calculations and simulations needed to work on a functional demonstrator of this technology" - added Prof. Moskal.
According to the release, in the construction of positron tomography scanner it is crucial to accurately design dimensions and other physical properties of the so-called scintillators, which are key components of radiation detectors.
"In view of the fact that there is a number of these parameters and they can be freely modified, it is very difficult to determine their optimum values - explained Paweł Kowalski from Świerk Computing Centre.- With the resources of our cluster we can (...) carry out studies to determine a most desirable shape and dimensions of the scintillators. Such an approach is, of course, incomparably faster and cheaper than building and testing several versions of the device."
The device developed jointly by researchers from Kraków and Świerk differs from currently available scanners not only due to the type of material from which scintillators are made, its most important components are of different design.
"In previous solutions, detectors are placed perpendicular to the scanner axis, and we want to arrange them in parallel" - said Kowalski. "Ultimately, this will allow for the construction of devices that can simultaneously examine larger areas of the patient's body, but at the stage of research and development, this solution is an additional challenge that we must face" - he admitted.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
#17 Jul 15, 2013
Polish idea for buried mine disposal
There are millions of mines buried in the ground in the world, threatening local populations and soldiers. Scientists around the world are working on their disposal methods. One of the non-metal mine destruction systems has been developed at Warsaw University of Technology.
We have all seen the image of bomb disposal experts looking for mines buried in the ground with a special device from the movies and photos. This device is basically a metal detector, because in the past mine housings used to be made of metal. "At some point, to make mine detection more difficult, arms manufacturers started making mines in non-metallic housings that are not detected by sensors" - told PAP lead researcher Dr. Robert Głębocki of Warsaw University of Technology.
Currently, mine housings are made of PVC or ceramic materials. These mines are undetectable with previously used devices.
"After the end of the conflict in European countries, mines are found and destroyed. However, in countries to which our soldiers go on peacekeeping missions, such as Chad, African or Asian countries, many mines remain even after the conflict has ended. Even if the wounded soldiers and civilians do not die, they will be crippled" - said the researcher.
He added that there were millions of buried mines in the world and no one really knew what to do with them. Research on how to deal with this problem is being carried out by scientists around the world. Different methods are used, but so far none has led to the construction of a device manufactured on a large scale.
In Poland, the system for detection and destruction of non-metallic mines has been developed by the team led by Dr. Robert Głębocki of Warsaw University of Technology.
Devices to detect and dispose of mines have been placed in a small vehicle. This way, engineers can avoid being directly involved in the work. "First, ultrasound head checks whether an object with shape similar to a mine is present in the ground" - described Dr. Głębocki.
If the system detects anything that might resemble a mine, it covers the spot with a special "hood" and performs scent analysis. The analysis is carried out using the so-called artificial nose, device that responds to scents and indicates the composition of specific compounds in the air. The measurement is carried out by two sets of devices.
The first nose checks the air around the vehicle, and the other directly on the ground, a spot directly over a potential mine. "We do not search for the scent of the explosive, which is enclosed in a housing, but for the housing itself, because it does have a scent. If it is made of PVC, it releases chlorine" - explained the project leader.
The mine disposal vehicle will have a small pyrotechnic cannon firing gel or sand. Before firing, the vehicle will retreat in its own tracks. Mine will explode under the influence of cannon shot. "This vehicle is not designed to search large areas, rather a road on which people or military units could walk" - said the researcher. The vehicle can be pre-programmed, search route and area stored in its memory.
Four faculties of Warsaw University of Technology and the Warsaw Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements have been involved in the development of the system. Each unit designed a different part of the device. "At the moment it is disassembled and individual engineers refine and further develop their solutions" - said Dr. Głębocki.
Each component can be used in other industries, not necessarily related to the defence. Artificial nose can be used by the military, police, customs to analyse odours. Is used to detect contraband such as cigarettes or drugs, check the freshness of food.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland, Ewelina Krajczyńska
#18 Jul 15, 2013
Medical diagnosis and weapons detection with terahertz
29.05.2013 HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY
Terahertz radiation can be used to detect concealed weapons and image changes in the deeper layers of the skin. Polish-French group of physicists has developed a new source of such radiation, which may prove to be a breakthrough in the application of this method.
Terahertz radiation (order of 10 ^ 12 Hz), also known as electromagnetic radiation in the far infrared range, is suppressed in electrically conductive substances such as metals, and in water and electrolytes, and very poorly suppressed in so-called dielectrics, e.g. fats, plastics, dentin, bone, paper, clothes - according to the Institute of Physics PAS in Warsaw release sent to PAP.
Terahertz radiation is also safe for living organisms. It can therefore be used, for example, in dermatology for non-invasive imaging of changes in the deeper layers of the human skin (such as burns and suspected lesions), and in dentistry, replacing radioscopy that affects health. Terahertz radiation is also used for quality control of packaged foods, to detect weapons hidden under clothing, and in chemical analysis of sealed envelopes.
As explained in the release, the main problem in the wader application of methods based on terahertz radiation have been difficulties in obtaining adequate sources of radiation and inexpensive, sensitive detectors. Meanwhile, a group of researchers from the Institute of Physics PAS together with two groups of scientists from Paris (Laboratoire Pierre Aigrain, Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Institut des Nanosciences de Paris) have developed a new, adjustable semiconductor terahertz radiation source.
Their results have been published in the prestigious journal "Physical Review Letters". Physicists expect that this could be a milestone on the road to wide applications of terahertz radiation.
Authors have shown that "modulating doped quantum wells made of diluted magnetic semiconductors" can be an effective sources of far infrared electromagnetic radiation. The advantage of the solution is that the energy of the emitted radiation can be adjusted.
Researchers from the Institute of Physics PAS not only participated in the development of terahertz radiation sources, but also studied the methods of detection of such radiation. "Both of these discoveries pave the way to potential applications of such nanostructures of diluted magnetic semiconductors in the terahertz area, particularly in biology and medicine" - commented the Institute representatives.
Research at the Institute of Physics PAS was partly financed the project "Quantum semiconductor nanostructures for applications in biology and medicine" under the Operational Programme Innovative Economy.(PAP)
#19 Jul 15, 2013
Polish analyzer tests the environment around the ISS
17.05.2013 SPACE, TECHNOLOGY
The moment of unfolding the radio frequency analyser RFA antenna outside the International Space Station on February 19, 2013. The device was built at the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. Photo: CBK PAN
Analyzer from the Space Research Centre PAS began operation outside the International Space Station. It will help determine how the changing magnetic field affects the station, its personnel and experiments. It will also simplify the diagnosis of space weather.
The International Space Station (ISS) has launched starting procedure of equipment of the Obstanovka (Environment)experiment. "One of the instruments that started to gather scientific data, is the radio frequency analyzer RFA, built at the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw" - the Space Research Centre reported in the release sent to PAP.
The device will monitor the electromagnetic properties of the space environment in the immediate vicinity of the station. It will also allow to describe the changes in Earth's immediate environment caused by variable solar activity.
"The International Space Station is great, largely metal object that moves in the terrestrial plasma and disrupts it. We want to know how these disruptions affect the very structure of the station, its instruments and the results of experiments carried out there. These are the first measurements of this type" - explained Prof. Hanna Rothkaehl of the Space Research Centre PAS.
The team conducting the experiment Obstanovka is composed of researchers from Bulgaria, Poland, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom and Ukraine. Polish contribution to the wave-plasma part of the experiment is a radio frequency analyser RFA, built with grants from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
The experiment was carried out by researchers at the Space Research Centre PAS will allow to discover the mechanisms responsible for the development of space weather and its impact on the station.
"The environment around the station is in fact strongly modified by the phenomena, in which the interaction between the magnetic fields of the Earth and the Sun play the main part" - reads the release sent to PAP.
Measurements will also allow to obtain more detailed information about electromagnetic interference from the surface of the planet. Noise generated by power lines, radio and television broadcasting stations, are slowly becoming a problem as important as space debris.
Over the last year, the RFA analyser underwent tests at the Space Research Institute in Moscow. In February this year, the Progress shuttle delivered the instrument to the International Space Station. During spacewalk, cosmonaut Roman Romanenko unfolded outside the station the antenna system built at the Space Research Centre PAS. Subsequent tests confirmed the correct operation of the instrument, and allowed to start collecting scientific data.
"Due to the transmission limitations in the Russian module of the station, only a small part of the data recorded by the RFA is sent to Earth immediately. The complete set of results is stored on removable drives, which will be transported from orbit every few months by astronauts returning from the station" - explained Prof. Rothkaehl.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
#20 Jul 15, 2013
Lip print will expose the criminal as quickly as a fingerprint
22.05.2013 SOCIETY, TECHNOLOGY, RECOMMENDED
Photo: PAP/ Andrzej Grygiel 14.02.2013.
Lip print is like a fingerprint: left on the edge of a glass or a cigarette butt it may expose the perpetrator. This is possible due to the grooves that cover the lips and form a unique system of lines, which does not change throughout our lives.
"Each of us is born with a defined lip print. On our lips we have cavities - grooves which form a system of interconnected lines. If we press lips against the glass, juice carton, and even cigarette filter, we leave a unique print" - told PAP said Łukasz Smacki, PhD student at the University of Silesia.
This image does not change throughout life, it may only suffer small deformations. Our face changes with age, but the grooves remain the same. "They may just be less visible, the distance between them can change. But the lines we had as children, remain with us into old age" - said the scientist from the University of Silesia.
Research conducted by scientists already in the 1970s have shown that a person can be identified based on the lip print. The number of characteristic features depend on genes. It ranges from about 900 to 1200, and the larger the mouth, the more of these features. Only nine identical features on the trail from the crime scene and the comparison print gives 100 percent certainty that both prints belong to the same person.
Lip prints belong to the so-called niche traces. Apart from them, traces analysed at crime scenes include prints of the ear, face, skin, gloves. Niche traces are used much less frequently than, for example, fingerprints. In Poland, lip prints are used in only about 10 cases a year.
The identification procedure for such prints is long and laborious. "Lip print is secured at the crime scene, then several suspects are selected in an investigation. 5 to 10 comparison prints are collected. Results are sent by mail to the Department of Fingerprint Processing of the Central Police Forensic Laboratory in Warsaw. Cheiloscopy experts task is to match the print from the crime scene to the comparison prints" - explained the scientist.
A separate database of suspects is created for each case. Because of the rarity of this type of evidence, there is no chance to create a national or global database, similar to the method for collecting fingerprints. However, a European system for niche trace analysis (including lip prints) can be created. As part of his doctoral thesis, Łukasz Smacki develops a method that will be the basis for the creation of the system of crime scene evidence analysis.
"I focus on lip print analysis, because these traces are the most difficult to analyse. Lips are flexible and each time they leave a slightly different print. Some lines are stretched, some are not visible, they may be blurry, often several prints cover one spot. I believe that if I can create a system for the analysis of such prints, adjusting it to analyse ear prints will be only a formality" - described Smacki.
In order to develop a method, the scientist had to collect test material - database of lip prints, which he could use to test his program. He could not obtain data from the police because of the secret of investigations. Smacki asked his family, friends and students for help and managed to collect 200 lip prints from 50 people and create his own database.
Smacki explained that some countries do not have adequate procedures and do not collect lip prints from crime scenes. "In Europe, Poland is the leader in this field. We sometimes get prints for the analysis from Norway and from Germany "- said Smacki.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland, Ewelina Krajczyńska
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