Technique for early and rapid malaria diagnosis

29 09 2014

Low-cost field detection system can detect malaria infection within minutes with just a drop of blood


Red blood cells from a patient infected with Plasmodium falciparum.
Credit: Osaro Erhabor

 A team of Singapore scientists have invented a new technique to detect malaria within minutes and all that is required is a drop of blood.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne parasite which affects over 60 million people worldwide and could be fatal in serious cases. It is still a huge problem in developing countries because there is no vaccine for malaria while antimalarial drugs are losing their efficacy with increasing drug resistance on the rise.


The research entitled ‘Micromagnetic Resonance Relaxometry for rapid label-free malaria diagnosis’ was published online on 31 Aug 2014 in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Medicine. This innovative technique is developed by the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) [新加坡-麻省理工学院科研中心] in collaboration with Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

With this disruptive new technology, hospitals may soon have the ability to rapidly screen and monitor hundreds of patients at the point-of-care for malaria, at much lower cost per patient.

Despite technological advances, currently malaria infection is still detected via stained blood smear microscopy. Lab technician will need to spot the tiny parasitized red blood cells among millions of healthy uninfected red blood cells, especially in the case of early infection, which is like finding a needle in a haystack. It is not only time-consuming and labour-intensive but also often not conclusive as it is highly dependent on the subjective judgement of the microscopist. Therefore, a false-positive call is not unusual.

Other malaria diagnostic techniques such as the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) also have limitations as it is not field-deployable and can only provide semi-quantitative analysis.


SMART new technique

The solution developed by the SMART team since 2010, works by detecting the biomarker hemozoin crystallites, the metabolic waste product of malaria parasites during the intra-erythrocytic* cycle As the technique uses miniaturized Magnetic Resonance Relaxometry (MRR) system, a cousin of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), it is also more sensitive, accurate and faster than traditional methods.

The technique detects malaria infections at a very early stage, even when the amount of parasites in the blood is extremely low. It was successfully proven in mouse studies, where the presence of malaria parasites was detected at the very next day of infection. Moving forward the team is currently working on human study at clinical settings.

At the onset of malaria, the malaria parasites “eat up” large amount of haemoglobin^ and converts them into hemozoin crystallites. These crystallites are basically oxidized iron nanoparticles (Fe3+), making them way more “magnetic” than the healthy red blood cells, which can be easily picked up by the miniaturized MRR developed by SMART.


Professor Han Jongyoon, Principal Investigator from SMART’s BioSystems and Micromechanics (BioSyM) Interdisciplinary Research Group (IRG), said: “This system is more reliable and allows for rapid screening to be conducted. So, given the flux of people moving in and out of developed nations especially, this system has the potential to help prevent mass import of malaria by infected persons. For developing nations, this system, which does not require refrigeration or other extensive infrastructure, is portable enough to be deployed in rural areas, to help rapidly screen for malaria and hence stem the spread of this infectious disease.”

Professor Peter Preiser, SMART co-Investigator and Chair of NTU’s School of Biological Sciences said that the new test has the additional potential to rapidly detect parasites that are resistant to anti-malarial drugs particularly artemisinin thereby providing a valuable tool in trying to prevent the global spread of these resistant parasites.

“Importantly, rapid and accurate diagnosis will reduce the prescription of drugs to non-infected people – one factor that contributes to why we are seeing more malaria parasites developing resistance to anti-malarial drugs,” said Prof Preiser, a renowned expert in malaria.

“With a more accurate and sensitive detection system like the one we developed, doctors can better diagnose malaria infections in patients. We need to ensure that drug resistance is kept to the minimum because these drugs are really our last line of defence in helping malaria-stricken patients.”


SMART Research Scientist Dr Brian Peng Weng Kung and lead author of the paper, added: “The significant part of this research lies in the fact that this system is practically a “mini MRI” system that is much cheaper to produce than the million-dollar MRI machines used by hospitals. We built tiny radiofrequency (rf) coil which is used to apply rf-pulses and receive signal from a drop of blood, and the whole detection process happens in a few minutes. Furthermore, since this technique does not rely on immuno-assay# labelling that requires expensive chemical reagents, we are able to bring down the screening test cost to less than S$0.10 per test.”

SMART is now spinning off a company to commercialise this technology, which could also work for other types of blood disorders. Moving forward, the research team is also setting up field-tests in the South-East Asia region. They are testing if the system can be run on solar power, which will be useful in rural areas, where electricity is scarce. This research is funded by the Singapore National Research Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore under its Campus for Research Excellence And Technological Enterprise (CREATE) programme.

*Intra-erythrocytic: Occurring within the red blood cells^Haemoglobin: A protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen#Immunoassay: A test that uses antibody and antigen complexes as a means of generating a measurable result [en línea] Memphis, TN (USA):, 29 de septiembre de 2014 [REF. 02 de septiembre de 2014] Available on Internet:

First regulated by light drug aimed at the most common proteins

25 09 2014

Researchers from the Group of Nanosondas and Nanoconmutadores of the Institute for bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and its partners have announced the development of the first therapeutic agent controlled by light effects are specifically focused on the greater class of proteins that are target of drugs - the G protein-coupled receptors.


Alloswitch-1 es el primer modulador de luz alostérico controlado por un receptor acoblado a la proteína G. Es selectivo para el receptor de glutamato metabotrópico (mGlu5) y permite el control óptico de señalización mGlu5 in vivo.

Alloswitch-1 is the first modulator of light allosteric controlled by a receiver acoblado to G protein. It is selective for the metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGlu5) and optical control of signaling mGlu5 Vivo.

In the magazine Nature Chemical Biologyscientists bring up to Alloswitch-1, the latest advancement in its research on drugs photoswitchable (or regulated by light). The activity of a drug through the light means that therapeutic agents can be released accurately at a local level, This reduces its effect in other areas and consequently also the side effects are reduced, that, in turn, helps reduce the required dose.

Researchers, of the IBEC, IQAC-CSIC, UAB and IDIBELL in Barcelona and of the IGF-CNRS of Montpellier, France, who have developed a small therapeutic agent molecule by specifically binding in place enjoin, or allosteric site, protein target is capable of modulating their receptors. The allosteric modulators have numerous advantages compared to traditional drugs, They offer greater selectivity to bind to specific receptors, free form synchronized according to the activity of the protein and its potential toxicity is lower.

"To build a modulator fotocontrolable to a receiver attached to protein G have had to develop a new concept of chemical design in which the fotoconmutable is not connected to the drug but it is inserted in the Pharmacophore, that is the Group of atoms in a molecule of a drug which are responsible for their action,"explains Pau Gorostiza, the Nanosondas and Nanoconmutadores of the IBEC Group senior researcher. "We have also had a bit of luck because we have not only obtained a ligand fotoconmutable for these proteins", but it is also one of the allosteric modulators more potent and selective in its class".

The effects of this compound 'optofarmacologico' can be controlled remotely in space and in time in living organisms. This is an advantage compared to the manipulations optogeneticas requiring the overexpression of genes using viruses, for example.

Small molecule therapeutic agents such as Aloswitch-1, If you get to have them orally, they could offer a competitive advantage over traditional drugs that often affect organs and tissues not diana leading to undesirable consequences that may compromise its beneficial effects.


Reference article: Silvia Pittolo, Xavier Gomez-Santacana, Kay Eckelt, Xavier Rovira, James Dalton, Cyril Goudet, Jean-Philippe Pin, Artur Llobet, Jesus Giraldo, Amadeu Llebaria & Pau Gorostiza (2014). An allosteric modulator to control endogenous G protein-coupled receptors with light.. Nature Chemical Biology, Pub ahead of print


Ibecbarcelona.EU [en línea] Barcelona (ESP): ibecbarcelona.EU, 25 de septiembre de 2014 [REF. 03 de septiembre de 2014] Available on Internet: http://NOTICIAS-DE-INVESTIGACION/scientist-develop-first-light-operated-drug-for-most-common-target-proteins.html

Engineering new bone growth

22 09 2014

Coated tissue scaffolds help the body grow new bone to repair injuries or congenital defects.


MIT chemical engineers have devised a new implantable tissue scaffold coated with bone growth factors that are released slowly over a few weeks. When applied to bone injuries or defects, this coated scaffold induces the body to rapidly form new bone that looks and behaves just like the original tissue.


Pictured is a scanning electron micrograph of a porous, nanostructured poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) membrane. The membrane is coated with a polyelectrolyte (PEM) multilayer coating that releases growth factors to promote bone repair. Image courtesy of Nasim Hyder and Nisarg J. Shah

Pictured is a scanning electron micrograph of a porous, nanostructured poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) membrane. The membrane is coated with a polyelectrolyte (PEM) multilayer coating that releases growth factors to promote bone repair. Image courtesy of Nasim Hyder and Nisarg J. Shah

















This type of coated scaffold could offer a dramatic improvement over the current standard for treating bone injuries, which involves transplanting bone from another part of the patient’s body — a painful process that does not always supply enough bone. Patients with severe bone injuries, such as soldiers wounded in battle; people who suffer from congenital bone defects, such as craniomaxillofacial disorders; and patients in need of bone augmentation prior to insertion of dental implants could benefit from the new tissue scaffold, the researchers say.

“It’s been a truly challenging medical problem, and we have tried to provide one way to address that problem,” says Nisarg Shah, a recent PhD recipient and lead author of the paper, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

Paula Hammond, the David H. Koch Professor in Engineering and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Department of Chemical Engineering, is the paper’s senior author. Other authors are postdocs M. Nasim Hyder and Mohiuddin Quadir, graduate student Noémie-Manuelle Dorval Courchesne, Howard Seeherman of Restituo, Myron Nevins of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Myron Spector of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.


Stimulating bone growth

Two of the most important bone growth factors are platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2). As part of the natural wound-healing cascade, PDGF is one of the first factors released immediately following a bone injury, such as a fracture. After PDGF appears, other factors, including BMP-2, help to create the right environment for bone regeneration by recruiting cells that can produce bone and forming a supportive structure, including blood vessels.

Efforts to treat bone injury with these growth factors have been hindered by the inability to effectively deliver them in a controlled manner. When very large quantities of growth factors are delivered too quickly, they are rapidly cleared from the treatment site — so they have reduced impact on tissue repair, and can also induce unwanted side effects.

“You want the growth factor to be released very slowly and with nanogram or microgram quantities, not milligram quantities,” Hammond says. “You want to recruit these native adult stem cells we have in our bone marrow to go to the site of injury and then generate bone around the scaffold, and you want to generate a vascular system to go with it.”

This process takes time, so ideally the growth factors would be released slowly over several days or weeks. To achieve this, the MIT team created a very thin, porous scaffold sheet coated with layers of PDGF and BMP. Using a technique called layer-by-layer assembly, they first coated the sheet with about 40 layers of BMP-2; on top of that are another 40 layers of PDGF. This allowed PDGF to be released more quickly, along with a more sustained BMP-2 release, mimicking aspects of natural healing.

“This is a major advantage for tissue engineering for bones because the release of the signaling proteins has to be slow and it has to be scheduled,” says Nicholas Kotov, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Michigan who was not part of the research team.

The scaffold sheet is about 0.1 millimeter thick; once the growth-factor coatings are applied, scaffolds can be cut from the sheet on demand, and in the appropriate size for implantation into a bone injury or defect.


Effective repair

The researchers tested the scaffold in rats with a skull defect large enough — 8 millimeters in diameter — that it could not heal on its own. After the scaffold was implanted, growth factors were released at different rates. PDGF, released during the first few days after implantation, helped initiate the wound-healing cascade and mobilize different precursor cells to the site of the wound. These cells are responsible for forming new tissue, including blood vessels, supportive vascular structures, and bone.

BMP, released more slowly, then induced some of these immature cells to become osteoblasts, which produce bone. When both growth factors were used together, these cells generated a layer of bone, as soon as two weeks after surgery, that was indistinguishable from natural bone in its appearance and mechanical properties, the researchers say.

“Using this combination allows us to not only have accelerated proliferation first, but also facilitates laying down some vascular tissue, which provides a route for both the stem cells and the precursor osteoblasts and other players to get in and do their jobs. You end up with a very uniform healed system,” Hammond says.

Another advantage of this approach is that the scaffold is biodegradable and breaks down inside the body within a few weeks. The scaffold material, a polymer called PLGA, is widely used in medical treatment and can be tuned to disintegrate at a specific rate so the researchers can design it to last only as long as needed.

Hammond’s team has filed a patent based on this work and now aims to begin testing the system in larger animals in hopes of eventually moving it into clinical trials.


This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

By Anne Trafton [en línea] Cambridge, MA (USA):, 22 de septiembre de 2014 [REF. 18 in August of 2014] Available on Internet:

New Glaucoma Cause Discovered

18 09 2014

Scientists are developing eye drops to treat molecular basis of the blindness

Northwestern Medicine® scientists have discovered a novel cause of glaucoma in an animal model, and related to their findings, are now developing an eye drop aimed at curing the disease. They believe their findings will be important to human glaucoma.

A cure for glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in the U.S., has been elusive because the basis of the disease is poorly understood.

In glaucoma, pressure builds from poor drainage of fluid from the anterior chamber of the eye, destroying retinal ganglion cells and eventually the optic nerve. The eye becomes like a bathtub that can’t drain because the pipe is clogged. The clogged or defective vessel, known as Schlemm’s canal, is part of the lymphatic system that is essential for drainage in the eye.

The new study for the first time identifies the molecular building blocks needed to make the ‘drainage’ vessels, providing the necessary chemical tools to repair the eye’s plumbing and restore normal drainage. Up until now, the molecular basis of the disease caused by an absent or defective canal was unknown.

The study was published Sept. 9 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

“This is a big step forward in understanding the cause of the disease that steals the eyesight from 60 million people worldwide,” said senior study author and Northwestern Medicine nephrologist Susan Quaggin, M.D. “This gives us a foothold to develop new treatments.”

Quaggin is director of the Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and chief of nephrology and hypertension at Feinberg and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

“Our goal now is to grow new ‘pipes’ or vessels to cure the glaucoma,” said Quaggin, also the Charles Mayo Chair of Medicine at Feinberg.

The findings are based on a new mouse model of glaucoma developed by Quaggin and Ph.D. student Ben Thomson, which is one of the first animal models of the disease. Quaggin expects the animal findings to be relevant in human glaucoma.

Quaggin is collaborating with Amani Fawzi, M.D., an associate professor of ophthalmology, and Xiaorong Liu, an assistant professor of ophthalmology, both at Feinberg, and Northwestern scientist Samuel Stupp to develop a nanofiber eye drop that activates regrowth of the clogged vessel.

“We are developing a highly potent peptide nanostructure that has the capacity to interact with many receptors at the same time,” Stupp said. “This will amplify the required signaling pathway for an effective therapy. The nanostructure is also being designed to have the necessary half-life to optimize efficacy.” He is the Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science and Engineering, and Medicine, and director of the Simpson Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology.

“Just imagine if we could grow a bigger Schlemm’s canal in anybody with glaucoma to lower the pressure in the eye,” Quaggin said. “That’s what we’re hoping for with this new eye drop.”


The Source of Bad Eye Plumbing

The Northwestern study identifies a critical chemical signaling pathway for the healthy functioning of the Schlemm’s canal and the substances necessary for its growth and development.

That pathway requires the chemical equivalent of a lock and key to open. The lock is a substance called Tie2 and the key is a growth factor called angiopoietin Northwestern scientists discovered if either the key (angiopoeitin) or the lock (Tie2) is missing in mice, they can’t make Schlemm’s canals and will develop glaucoma.

Both these substances are necessary to unlock the pathway to a cascade of events inside the cell that produce the canals.

“We really nailed that pathway as being critical,” Quaggin said. “Now we know these two substances are key factors in the development of glaucoma, which wasn’t known before.”

The lock and key are likely to be involved in human glaucoma, Quaggin noted. “The mouse model is so similar to what we see in patients with glaucoma,” she said.

The animal model of glaucoma now will enable scientists to study treatments as well as how glaucoma develops.

“Now we can understand how raised pressure leads to the damage of the neurons in the optic nerve,” Quaggin said.

Other Northwestern authors include Thomson, Asish Ghosh, Anees Fatima, Tuncer Onay, Tsutomu Kume, Shinji Yamaguchi, Fawzi, Liu and Hui Chen.

The research was supported by grant R01EY019034 from the National Eye Institute/National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Terry Fox Foundation. [en línea] Evanston, IL (USA):, 18 de septiembre de 2014 [REF. 10 de septiembre de 2014] Available on Internet:

Prostate mapping: New diagnostic technique in Prostate Cancer

15 09 2014

TheDr. Fernando Gómez Sancha,Director of the Institute of advanced urological surgery (ICUA), presented for the first time in Spain, next to theDRA. Estefania Romero, in the clinical center of Madrid, the most advanced technology for the detection of theprostate cancer.

This type of cancer is more frequent in men and in the majority of cases there are no symptoms until it is in very advanced stages, It is vital the early diagnosis for your healing. For this reason, trying to always find excellence,  ICUAfacilities of the Clinic Centermakes available to their patients, from the month of June, a new and revolutionary technique for the diagnosis of prostate cancer,in order to offer their patients the best care and medical services.

This pioneering technique of transperineal biopsy, It is the latest in diagnostic imaging, combining nuclear magnetic resonance 3tesla with ultrasound images.  With this fusion of diagnostic imaging, biopsy yield is increased, improving and refining the diagnosis of tumors. One of the problems of early detection is discriminating against cancers that can be problematic for those that are not to be. Found that up to the 40% tumors that were detected and treated they had never bothered the patient from having ceased to evolve.

In addition,do a screening of prostate cancer implies, If the results are altered, conduct repeated biopsies, chemically castrating the patient, local radiotherapy or remove the prostate, the risk that these measures have produce urinary incontinence, or impotence, or generate a local infection or sepsis or other operative complications that can be fatal.

Traditionally before an increase in PSA (Prostate-specific antigen) in blood or suspected rectal, a transrectal prostate biopsy was performed to determine if there was a cancer in the prostate, but entailed two major problems:

Low detection rate:Yes of 10 men who undergo a biopsy 5 they have a tumor, transrectal biopsy detects only 2. For this reason, It was very common that patients, It experienced progressive increases in PSA, they had to undergo new biopsies. This system caused a false peace in patients who delayed their diagnosis, decreasing your chances of cure.

- Risk of infections:To be biopsied through the rectum, needle biopsy could drag fecal bacteria into the prostate and trigger a picture of prostate infection (prostatitis) or even pictures ofsevere sepsis.




This diagnostic program is based on two technologies: theMultiparametric magnetic resonance 3 Tesla, It displays suspicious lesions of cancer of prostate with high sensitivity and safely, (without radiation to the patient) and with a very high negative predictive value, in many cases allowing to avoid performing an unnecessary biopsy;and theBIOPSEE image fusion systemNMR-ECHO carried out via transperineal prostate mapping (through the skin, not through the rectum) on an outpatient basis to projecting the location of the tumor found in the NMR in three dimensions on the image of three-dimensional ultrasonography allowing direct biopsy needle exactly to the site of injury.


The main advantages offered by this system are:

▪ carrying out via transperineal biopsy (through the skin, not through the rectum) reduces the rate of prostate infection or sepsis of the 3% to the 0,01%.

Yes of 10 patients 5 they had a tumor, We detectaríamos 4.5,What is a rate more than double that of the transrectal biopsy detection.

It detects tumors located above in the prostate (25% tumors), very difficult to detect with transrectal biopsy.

▪ The patient also gets theresult of the biopsy the next day, which reduces the stress associated with waiting for results, that is typically one week to 10 days.

▪ Theimprovement in the accuracy of the diagnosisobtained by this program is essential, Since it lets decisions about treatment to follow much more suited to the type of tumor from the patient.

The probability of selecting the choice of treatment for each patient is much greater.


This is a diagnostic strategy supported by multiple publications in scientific journals that already applies in leading centers ofGermany, United Kingdom and United States.UU. [en línea] Madrid (ESP):, 15 de septiembre de 2014 [REF. 11 de septiembre de 2014] Available on Internet: http://articles-doctors/nueva-tecnica /


Researchers at IBEC's discovery of a new mechanism of wound healing

11 09 2014

The ’ study of the ’ Institute for bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) — garden created by the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) and the University of Barcelona — means a big step forward in understanding the mystery of repairing wounds and may help to develop treatments to accelerate healing, as they optimize the tissue repair is a major need for the treatment of acute and chronic diseases. The discovery of the basic mechanism demonstrated in this study, posted on 3 August, a Nature Physics, It is also an important step to achieve a effective regeneration of organs.

When we think about the healing of wounds, usually we think of the wounds of our skin, but there are wounds in all tissues and organs in the inside of our body that can be related to chronic diseases, such as diabetes or asthma. Internal wounds can also favour the progression of cancer, since they provide a physical and chemical environment that promotes cell invasion·malignant cells.


For a long time it is known that there are two different mechanisms that contribute to the healing of wounds. In the first mechanism is a contractile protein ring at the edge of the wound and the contraction of this ring the fence in the same way that makes a bag when you stretch the cords. In the other method, that is called ' cell migration·cellular ', the same stem·cells extend a micromètrics arms ', known as ' lamelipodis ', that allow them to crawl up to close the wound. In some wounds both devices can run simultaneously, While in others only uses one of the two.


The IBEC group, in·partnership with the Institute of biomedical research (IRB), the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC), the University of Barcelona (UB), the University of Paris-Diderot, the Mechanobiology Institute of Singapore and the University of Waterloo in Canada, He has developed for the first time, a technique to measure the nano-scale forces that exist in the back of the healing process of wounds, and doing this, have discovered that the two mechanisms currently accepted are not enough to explain the phenomenon. Unexpectedly found a new mechanism in which the stem·cells generate contractile bows supracel·phones that compress the tissue under the wound. Combining experiments and computational models, the authors have shown that contractions arising from these arches allow the healing of wounds in a way faster and more resistant.


"For a long time we knew that the healing of the wounds could not be understood fully without a direct measure of the forces that drive the movement of the cell·cells ", explains Xavier Trepat, principal investigator of the Integrative cell Dynamics Group·cells and tissues of the IBEC and ICREA research professor. "We are the first researchers to develop technology to make these measures, but did not expect stumbled upon a mechanism so that integrative cell·neighboring cells coordinessin your physical work with such precision ".



About IBEC


THEInstitute for bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) It is an interdisciplinary research centre dedicated to the Bioengineering and nanomedicine and with headquarters in Barcelona. Funded by the Generalitat de Catalunya, the UPC and the Universitat de Barcelona (UB), its mission is to carry out high-quality research that, at the same time that creates knowledge, contributes to a better quality of life, improve health and create wealth. The IBEC's activity is organized in 6 research programmes: Biotechnology the sky·lular,Nanobiotechnology, Biomechanics and cell Biophysicscellularr, Biomaterials, implants and tissue engineering, Signals and medical instrumentation and robotics and biomedical images.



Reference Article:

Augustine Brugués, Ester Anon, Vito Story, Jim H. Veldhuis, Mukund Gupta, Julien Colombelli, José J.. Muñoz, G. Wayne Brodland, Benoit Ladoux, Xavier Trepat (2014). "Forces driving epithelial wound healing", Nature Physics. [en línea] Barcelona (ESP):, 11 de septiembre de 2014 [REF. 04 in August of 2014] Available on Internet: =

A blood test for suicide?

8 09 2014

Alterations to a single gene could predict risk of suicide attempt

Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered a chemical alteration in a single human gene linked to stress reactions that, if confirmed in larger studies, could give doctors a simple blood test to reliably predict a person’s risk of attempting suicide.

The discovery, described online in ¬The American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that changes in a gene involved in the function of the brain’s response to stress hormones plays a significant role in turning what might otherwise be an unremarkable reaction to the strain of everyday life into suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

“Suicide is a major preventable public health problem, but we have been stymied in our prevention efforts because we have no consistent way to predict those who are at increased risk of killing themselves,” says study leader Zachary Kaminsky, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “With a test like ours, we may be able to stem suicide rates by identifying those people and intervening early enough to head off a catastrophe.”

For his series of experiments, Kaminsky and his colleagues focused on a genetic mutation in a gene known as SKA2. By looking at brain samples from mentally ill and healthy people, the researchers found that in samples from people who had died by suicide, levels of SKA2 were significantly reduced.

Within this common mutation, they then found in some subjects an epigenetic modification that altered the way the SKA2 gene functioned without changing the gene’s underlying DNA sequence. The modification added chemicals called methyl groups to the gene. Higher levels of methylation were then found in the same study subjects who had killed themselves. The higher levels of methylation among suicide decedents were then replicated in two independent brain cohorts.

In another part of the study, the researchers tested three different sets of blood samples, the largest one involving 325 participants in the Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention Research Study found similar methylation increases at SKA2 in individuals with suicidal thoughts or attempts. They then designed a model analysis that predicted which of the participants were experiencing suicidal thoughts or had attempted suicide with 80 percent certainty. Those with more severe risk of suicide were predicted with 90 percent accuracy. In the youngest data set, they were able to identify with 96 percent accuracy whether or not a participant had attempted suicide, based on blood test results.

The SKA2 gene is expressed in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is involved in inhibiting negative thoughts and controlling impulsive behavior. SKA2 is specifically responsible for chaperoning stress hormone receptors into cells’ nuclei so they can do their job. If there isn’t enough SKA2, or it is altered in some way, the stress hormone receptor is unable to suppress the release of cortisol throughout the brain. Previous research has shown that such cortisol release is abnormal in people who attempt or die by suicide.

Kaminsky says a test based on these findings might best be used to predict future suicide attempts in those who are ill, to restrict lethal means or methods among those a risk, or to make decisions regarding the intensity of intervention approaches.

He says that it might make sense for use in the military to test whether members have the gene mutation that makes them more vulnerable. Those at risk could be more closely monitored when they returned home after deployment. A test could also be useful in a psychiatric emergency room, he says, as part of a suicide risk assessment when doctors try to assess level of suicide risk. The test could be used in all sorts of safety assessment decisions like the need for hospitalization and closeness of monitoring. Kaminsky says another possible use that needs more study could be to inform treatment decisions, such as whether or not to give certain medications that have been linked with suicidal thoughts.

“We have found a gene that we think could be really important for consistently identifying a range of behaviors from suicidal thoughts to attempts to completions,” Kaminsky says. “We need to study this in a larger sample but we believe that we might be able to monitor the blood to identify those at risk of suicide.”

Along with Kaminsky, other Johns Hopkins researchers involved in the study include Jerry Guintivano; Tori Brown; Alison Newcomer, M.Sc.; Marcus Jones; Olivia Cox; Brion Maher, Ph.D.; William Eaton, Ph.D.; Jennifer Payne, M.D.; and Holly Wilcox, Ph.D.

The research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health, the Center for Mental Health Initiatives, The James Wah Award for Mood Disorders, and The Solomon R. and Rebecca D. Baker Foundation.


By Lauren Nelson and Helen Jones [en línea] Baltimore, MD (USA):, 08 de septiembre de 2014 [REF. 29 in July of 2014] Available on Internet:

New protocol network for emergency and rescue situations

4 09 2014

Research of the UPM and the University of Loja in Ecuador developed a model that optimizes the mobile networks routing protocol 'ad hoc' in situations of emergency and rescue.

The proposed solution is based on a clustering algorithm improvement and the creation of a new routing protocol that allow any user to easily find an area of evacuation in an emergency or rescue scenario. The model has been developed by researchers of the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) and of the University of Loja and it has been simulated in this city of Ecuador. Evaluation of its performance has shown improvements involving the model proposed both mathematical and real level.

A mobile ad hoc network (Mobile Ad Hoc Network, MANET) It is a collection of mobile nodes that can dynamically create a network without the need of having a fixed infrastructure or a central administration. MANET networks technology can be integrated into current mobile phones (smartphones), providing a flexible and dynamic network that can be used in emergency situations. This network would be formed by links formed by upcoming mobile terminals together.

The nature dynamic and without infrastructure of these networks requires a new set of algorithms and strategies to provide a reliable communication service end-to-end. In the context of mobile networks ad hoc, Routing emerges as one of the most interesting areas to transmit information from a source to a destination, with end-to-end service quality. Due to the restrictions inherent in mobile networks, traditional routing models on which are based the fixed networks are not applicable to mobile networks ad hoc. This study precisely shows a solution. The proposal is based on a model that involves the optimization of a protocol for routing supported in a grouping mechanism.

The improved algorithm, named GMWCA (Group Management Weighted Clustering Algorithm) and based on the WCA (Weighted Clustering Algorithm), It allows to calculate the best number and size of groups in the network. This enhancement avoids constant regroupings and heads of group (cluster) have more time to life intra-cluster and, Therefore, stability in the communication inter-cluster.

The routing protocol ad hoc proposed, called QoS Group Cluster Based Routing Protocol (QoSG-CBRP), used as a strategy the use of cluster and hierarchies supported in clustering algorithm. Each cluster has a head (JC), manages the routing information and sends it to the destination when you are out of your coverage area.

To prevent constant of regroups and calls to the clustering algorithm, a head of cluster support has been added (JCS), It assumes the functions of the JC, When this is broken the link with other common nodes cluster for reasons of remoteness or wear battery. mathematically and algorithm improvements of the proposed model have been shown, which has involved the improvement level algorithm of Clustering and the routing protocol. The system has been simulated in the area of the city of Loja and evaluated its performance. The figure below shows the model of mobility applied to an emergency situation. The network reconfigures automatically in such a way that the heads of cluster have the information of the evacuation zones that allows any node (any user) find an evacuation zone through the associated cluster manager.


ENCISO QUISPE, L; MENGUAL GALAN, LUIS MENGUAL. "Behavior of Ad Hoc routing protocols", analyzed for emergency and rescue scenarios, on a real urban area". Expert Systems with Applications 41 (5): 2565-2573. DOI: 10.1016/j.eswa.2013.10.004. April 2014.

Enlaces de interés: itd/ncs/focus/manet wahn_mahn.shtml [en línea] Madrid (ESP):, 04 de septiembre de 2014 [REF. 05 in May of 2014] Available on Internet: http://institutional/UPM/CanalUPM/news/1f98bd12efca5410VgnVCM10000009c7648aRCRD

New scale that predicts the risk of postoperative respiratory complications

1 09 2014

Such complications are the most frequent and the leading cause of death after surgery

The scale consists of 7 items easy to calculate that they allow to classify the patient as 3 risk groups

Refine more risk means to improve measures taken before, during and after the operation

The study is published this month of August in the paper of the prestigious scientific journal Edition Anesthesiology, It devotes the editorial


foto: Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol (Can Ruti)

Photo: Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol (Can Ruti)

Professionals in the service of Anesthesiology and resuscitation of the Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol have been validated, in a study with 63 centers of 21 European countries, a scale that predicts the risk of patients operated with respiratory complications. Almost a 8% persons operated in Europe suffer complications such, above all materialize in respiratory failure or lung infection, and are the main cause of postoperative death. Know your risk is necessary to act in advance and reduce its incidence.

Germans Trias created and valid the scale in Catalunya (under the name of project ARISCAT) in 2010, and this year has ratified its validity at European level (PERISCOPE project). So the magazine to publish itnesthesiology August, What today is already available online and he also devotes the editorial, Since the study is the first internationally validating a scale of these features.

The scale, Anesthesiologists can be applied easily in the pre-anesthetic consultation with patients, consists of measuring 7 items: the age, the presence of anemia in recent analysis, the type of intervention, its duration, the urgency of the procedure, previous respiratory infections and arterial oxygen saturation. The latter is the only item that requires a small test in the same query, by placing a device in the finger. More than 5.000 European patients agreed to be included in the study, that it has confirmed that the scale works, Once registered if they suffered or no postoperative respiratory complications and how they evolved..


50% depends on the intervention, 50% the State of the patient

The PERISCOPE project, that classifies patients in 3 groups based on the risk of complications, It has ratified this risk depends on a 50% the State of health of the patient before the operation. The other 50% It refers to the characteristics of the surgical intervention. Also, has detected differences between the risk of postoperative respiratory complications depending on the area of Europe to which they belong, but we need to study this matter further to determine its causes.

The next step is to specify, based on the experience, What are the most appropriate measures to be adopted before, during and after surgery to minimize the risk that PERISCOPE helps tune. The study was funded by the European society of Anaesthesiology, While the work preceding it, ARISCAT, It could be done thanks to la Marató de TV3. [en línea] Badalona (ESP):, 01 de septiembre de 2014 [REF. 31 in July of 2014] Available on Internet: ics/germanstrias/arxius_imatges/2014/notesdepremsa/2014_07_31estudianesthesiologycas.pdf