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Hortelão, A. C., Patiño, T., Perez-Jiménez, A., Blanco, A., Sánchez, S., (2018). Enzyme-powered nanobots enhance anticancer drug delivery Advanced Functional Materials 28, 1705086

The use of enzyme catalysis to power micro- and nanomotors exploiting biocompatible fuels has opened new ventures for biomedical applications such as the active transport and delivery of specific drugs to the site of interest. Here, urease-powered nanomotors (nanobots) for doxorubicin (Dox) anticancer drug loading, release, and efficient delivery to cells are presented. These mesoporous silica-based core-shell nanobots are able to self-propel in ionic media, as confirmed by optical tracking and dynamic light scattering analysis. A four-fold increase in drug release is achieved by nanobots after 6 h compared to their passive counterparts. Furthermore, the use of Dox-loaded nanobots presents an enhanced anticancer efficiency toward HeLa cells, which arises from a synergistic effect of the enhanced drug release and the ammonia produced at high concentrations of urea substrate. A higher content of Dox inside HeLa cells is detected after 1, 4, 6, and 24 h incubation with active nanobots compared to passive Dox-loaded nanoparticles. The improvement in drug delivery efficiency achieved by enzyme-powered nanobots may hold potential toward their use in future biomedical applications such as the substrate-triggered release of drugs in target locations.

Keywords: Drug delivery, Enzymatic catalysis, Nanobots, Nanomachines, Nanomotors


Puigbò, J. Y., Maffei, G., Herreros, I., Ceresa, M., González Ballester, M. A., Verschure, P. F. M. J., (2018). Cholinergic behavior state-dependent mechanisms of neocortical gain control: A neurocomputational study Molecular Neurobiology 55, (1), 249-257

The embodied mammalian brain evolved to adapt to an only partially known and knowable world. The adaptive labeling of the world is critically dependent on the neocortex which in turn is modulated by a range of subcortical systems such as the thalamus, ventral striatum, and the amygdala. A particular case in point is the learning paradigm of classical conditioning where acquired representations of states of the world such as sounds and visual features are associated with predefined discrete behavioral responses such as eye blinks and freezing. Learning progresses in a very specific order, where the animal first identifies the features of the task that are predictive of a motivational state and then forms the association of the current sensory state with a particular action and shapes this action to the specific contingency. This adaptive feature selection has both attentional and memory components, i.e., a behaviorally relevant state must be detected while its representation must be stabilized to allow its interfacing to output systems. Here, we present a computational model of the neocortical systems that underlie this feature detection process and its state-dependent modulation mediated by the amygdala and its downstream target the nucleus basalis of Meynert. In particular, we analyze the role of different populations of inhibitory interneurons in the regulation of cortical activity and their state-dependent gating of sensory signals. In our model, we show that the neuromodulator acetylcholine (ACh), which is in turn under control of the amygdala, plays a distinct role in the dynamics of each population and their associated gating function serving the detection of novel sensory features not captured in the state of the network, facilitating the adjustment of cortical sensory representations and regulating the switching between modes of attention and learning.

Keywords: Acetylcholine, Inhibitory network, Neocortical circuits, Neuromodulation


Garcia-Esparcia, P., Koneti, A., Rodríguez-Oroz, M. C., Gago, B., del Rio, J. A., Ferrer, I., (2018). Mitochondrial activity in the frontal cortex area 8 and angular gyrus in Parkinson's disease and Parkinson's disease with dementia Brain Pathology 28, (1), 43-57

Altered mitochondrial function is characteristic in the substantia nigra in Parkinson's disease (PD). Information about mitochondria in other brain regions such as the cerebral cortex is conflicting mainly because most studies have not contemplated the possibility of variable involvement depending on the region, stage of disease progression and clinical symptoms such as the presence or absence of dementia. RT-qPCR of 18 nuclear mRNAs encoding subunits of mitochondrial complexes and 12 mRNAs encoding energy metabolism-related enzymes; western blotting of mitochondrial proteins; and analysis of enzymatic activities of complexes I, II, II, IV and V of the respiratory chain were assessed in frontal cortex area 8 and the angular gyrus of middle-aged individuals (MA), and those with incidental PD (iPD), long-lasting PD with parkinsonism without dementia (PD) and long-lasting PD with dementia (PDD). Up-regulation of several genes was found in frontal cortex area 8 in PD when compared with MA and in the angular gyrus in iPD when compared with MA. Marked down-regulation of genes encoding mitochondrial subunits and energy metabolism-related enzymes occurs in frontal cortex but only of genes coding for energy metabolism-related enzymes in the angular gyrus in PDD. Significant decrease in the protein expression levels of several mitochondrial subunits encoded by these genes occurs in frontal cortex area 8 and angular gyrus in PDD. Moreover, expression of MT-ND1 which is encoded by mitochondrial DNA is also reduced in PDD. Reduced enzymatic activity of complex III in frontal cortex area 8 and angular gyrus is observed in PD, but dramatic reduction in the activity of complexes I, II, II and IV in both regions characterizes PDD. Dementia in the context of PD is linked to region-specific deregulation of genomic genes encoding subunits of mitochondrial complexes and to marked reduction in the activity of mitochondrial complexes I, II, III and IV.

Keywords: Cerebral cortex, Dementia, Energy metabolism, Incidental PD, Mitochondria, Oxidative phosphorylation, Parkinson disease, PDD, Respiratory chain


Wang, Xu, Sridhar, Varun, Guo, Surong, Talebi, Nahid, Miguel-López, Albert, Hahn, Kersten, van Aken, Peter A., Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Fuel-free nanocap-like motors actuated under visible light Advanced Functional Materials 28, (25), 1705862

The motion of nanomotors triggered by light sources will provide new alternative routes to power nanoarchitectures without the need of chemical fuels. However, most light-driven nanomotors are triggered by UV-light, near infrared reflection, or laser sources. It is demonstrated that nanocap shaped Au/TiO2 nanomotors (175 nm in diameter) display increased Brownian motion in the presence of broad spectrum visible light. The motion results from the surface plasmon resonance effect leading to self-electrophoresis between the Au and TiO2 layers, a mechanism called plasmonic photocatalytic effect in the field of photocatalysis. This mechanism is experimentally characterized by electron energy loss spectroscopy, energy-filtered transmission electron microscopy, and optical video tracking. This mechanism is also studied in a more theoretical manner using numerical finite-difference time-domain simulations. The ability to power nanomaterials with visible light may result in entirely new applications for externally powered micro/nanomotors.

Keywords: Enhanced Brownian motion, Fuel-free nanomotors, Nanomachines, Self-electrophoresis, Visible light


Villa, Katherine, Parmar, Jemish, Vilela, Diana, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Metal-oxide-based microjets for the simultaneous removal of organic pollutants and heavy metals ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 10, (24), 20478-20486

Water contamination from industrial and anthropogenic activities is nowadays a major issue in many countries worldwide. To address this problem, efficient water treatment technologies are required. Recent efforts have focused on the development of self-propelled micromotors that provide enhanced micromixing and mass transfer by the transportation of reactive species, resulting in higher decontamination rates. However, a real application of these micromotors is still limited due to the high cost associated to their fabrication process. Here, we present Fe2O3-decorated SiO2/MnO2 microjets for the simultaneous removal of industrial organic pollutants and heavy metals present in wastewater. These microjets were synthesized by low-cost and scalable methods. They exhibit an average speed of 485 ± 32 μm s–1 (∼28 body length per s) at 7% H2O2, which is the highest reported for MnO2-based tubular micromotors. Furthermore, the photocatalytic and adsorbent properties of the microjets enable the efficient degradation of organic pollutants, such as tetracycline and rhodamine B under visible light irradiation, as well as the removal of heavy metal ions, such as Cd2+ and Pb2+.

Keywords: Micromotors, Photocatalytic, Water purification, Fenton, Magnetic control, Iron oxide, Manganese oxide


García-Díaz, María, Birch, Ditlev, Wan, Feng, Mørck Nielsen, Hanne, (2018). The role of mucus as an invisible cloak to transepithelial drug delivery by nanoparticles Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews In press,

Abstract Mucosal administration of drugs and drug delivery systems has gained increasing interest. However, nanoparticles intended to protect and deliver drugs to epithelial surfaces require transport through the surface-lining mucus. Translation from bench to bedside is particularly challenging for mucosal administration since a variety of parameters will influence the specific barrier properties of the mucus including the luminal fluids, the microbiota, the mucus composition and clearance rate, and the condition of the underlying epithelia. Besides, after administration, nanoparticles interact with the mucosal components, forming a biomolecular corona that modulates their behavior and fate after mucosal administration. These interactions are greatly influenced by the nanoparticle properties, and therefore different designs and surface-engineering strategies have been proposed. Overall, it is essential to evaluate these biomolecule-nanoparticle interactions by complementary techniques using complex and relevant mucus barrier matrices.

Keywords: Nanoparticle formulation strategies, Corona formation, Digestive tract, Respiratory tract, Luminal content, Methodologies, Analysis


Venkova, Tatiana, Juárez, Antonio, Espinosa, Manuel, (2017). Editorial: Modulating prokaryotic lifestyle by DNA-binding proteins: Learning from (apparently) simple systems Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences 3, Article 86

Within the research in Molecular Biology, one important field along the years has been the analyses on how prokaryotes regulate the expression of their genes and what the consequences of these activities are. Prokaryotes have attracted the interests of researchers not only because the processes taking place in their world are important to cells, but also because many of the effects often can be readily measured, both at the single cell level and in large populations. Contributing to the interest of the present topic is the fact that modulation of gene activity involves the sensing of intra- and inter-cellular conditions, DNA binding and DNA dynamics, and interaction with the replication/transcription machinery of the cell. All of these processes are fundamental to the operation of a biological entity and they condition its lifestyle. Further, the discoveries achieved in the bacterial world have been of ample use in eukaryotes. In addition to the fundamental interest of understanding modulation of prokaryotic lifestyle by DNA-binding proteins, there is an added interest from the healthcare point of view. As it is well-known the antibiotic-resistance strains of pathogenic bacteria are a major world problem, so that there is an urgent need of innovative approaches to tackle it. Human and animal infectious diseases impose staggering costs worldwide in terms of loss of human life and livestock, diminished productivity, and the heavy economic burden of disease. The global dimension of international trade, personal travel, and population migration expands at an ever-accelerating rate. This increasing mobility results in broader and quicker dissemination of bacterial pathogens and in rapid spread of antibiotic resistance. The majority of the newly acquired resistances are horizontally spread among bacteria of the same or different species by processes of lateral (horizontal) gene transfer, so that discovery of new antibiotics is not the definitive solution to fighting infectious diseases. There is an absolute need of finding novel alternatives to the “classical” approach to treat infections by bacterial pathogens, and these new ways must include the exploration and introduction of novel antibacterials, the development of alternative strategies, and the finding of novel bacterial targets. However, all these approaches will result in a stalemate if we, researchers, are not able to achieve a better understanding of the mechanistic processes underlying bacterial gene expression. It is, then, imperative to continue gaining insight into the basic mechanisms by which bacterial cells regulate the expression of their genes. That is why our Research Topic hosted by Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences was timely, and the output of it offers novel and up-to-date points of view to the “simple” bacterial world.

Keywords: DNA-protein interactions, Gene regulation in Prokaryotes, Replication control, Regulation of Bacterial Gene Expression, Global Regulatory Networks


Parmar, J., Villa, K., Vilela, D., Sánchez, S., (2017). Platinum-free cobalt ferrite based micromotors for antibiotic removal Applied Materials Today 9, 605-611

Self-propelled micromotors have previously shown to enhance pollutant removal compared to non-motile nano-micro particles. However, these systems are expensive, difficult to scale-up and require surfactant for efficient work. Efficient and inexpensive micromotors are desirable for their practical applications in water treatment technologies. We describe cobalt-ferrite based micromotors (CFO micromotors) fabricated by a facile and scalable synthesis, that produce hydroxyl radicals via Fenton-like reaction and take advantage of oxygen gas generated during this reaction for self-propulsion. Once the reaction is complete, the CFO micromotors can be easily separated and collected due to their magnetic nature. The CFO micromotors are demonstrated for highly efficient advanced oxidative removal of tetracycline antibiotic from the water. Furthermore, the effects of different concentrations of micromotors and hydrogen peroxide on the antibiotic degradation were studied, as well as the generation of the highly reactive hydroxyl radicals responsible for the oxidation reaction.

Keywords: Degradation, Fenton reaction, Microbots, Nanomotors, Self-propelled Micromotors, Water treatment


Stanton, Morgan M., Sánchez, Samuel, (2017). Pushing bacterial biohybrids to in vivo applications Trends in Biotechnology 35, (10), 910-913

Bacterial biohybrids use the energy of bacteria to manipulate synthetic materials with the goal of solving biomedical problems at the micro- and nanoscale. We explore current in vitro studies of bacterial biohybrids, the first attempts at in vivo biohybrid research, and problems to be addressed for the future.

Keywords: Bacteria, Biohybrid, Microswimmers, Micromotors, Drug delivery


Ojosnegros, Samuel, Cutrale, Francesco, Rodríguez, Daniel, Otterstrom, Jason J., Chiu, Chi Li, Hortigüela, Verónica, Tarantino, Carolina, Seriola, Anna, Mieruszynski, Stephen, Martínez, Elena, Lakadamyali, Melike, Raya, Angel, Fraser, Scott E., (2017). Eph-ephrin signaling modulated by polymerization and condensation of receptors Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, (50), 13188-13193

Eph receptor signaling plays key roles in vertebrate tissue boundary formation, axonal pathfinding, and stem cell regeneration by steering cells to positions defined by its ligand ephrin. Some of the key events in Eph-ephrin signaling are understood: ephrin binding triggers the clustering of the Eph receptor, fostering transphosphorylation and signal transduction into the cell. However, a quantitative and mechanistic understanding of how the signal is processed by the recipient cell into precise and proportional responses is largely lacking. Studying Eph activation kinetics requires spatiotemporal data on the number and distribution of receptor oligomers, which is beyond the quantitative power offered by prevalent imaging methods. Here we describe an enhanced fluorescence fluctuation imaging analysis, which employs statistical resampling to measure the Eph receptor aggregation distribution within each pixel of an image. By performing this analysis over time courses extending tens of minutes, the information-rich 4D space (x, y, oligomerization, time) results were coupled to straightforward biophysical models of protein aggregation. This analysis reveals that Eph clustering can be explained by the combined contribution of polymerization of receptors into clusters, followed by their condensation into far larger aggregates. The modeling reveals that these two competing oligomerization mechanisms play distinct roles: polymerization mediates the activation of the receptor by assembling monomers into 6- to 8-mer oligomers; condensation of the preassembled oligomers into large clusters containing hundreds of monomers dampens the signaling. We propose that the polymerization–condensation dynamics creates mechanistic explanation for how cells properly respond to variable ligand concentrations and gradients.

Keywords: Eph, Ephrin, Receptor tyrosine kinase, Gradients, Cell communication


Stanton, M. M., Park, B. W., Miguel-López, A., Ma, X., Sitti, M., Sánchez, S., (2017). Biohybrid microtube swimmers driven by single captured bacteria Small 13, (19), 1603679

Bacteria biohybrids employ the motility and power of swimming bacteria to carry and maneuver microscale particles. They have the potential to perform microdrug and cargo delivery in vivo, but have been limited by poor design, reduced swimming capabilities, and impeded functionality. To address these challenge, motile Escherichia coli are captured inside electropolymerized microtubes, exhibiting the first report of a bacteria microswimmer that does not utilize a spherical particle chassis. Single bacterium becomes partially trapped within the tube and becomes a bioengine to push the microtube though biological media. Microtubes are modified with "smart" material properties for motion control, including a bacteria-attractant polydopamine inner layer, addition of magnetic components for external guidance, and a biochemical kill trigger to cease bacterium swimming on demand. Swimming dynamics of the bacteria biohybrid are quantified by comparing "length of protrusion" of bacteria from the microtubes with respect to changes in angular autocorrelation and swimmer mean squared displacement. The multifunctional microtubular swimmers present a new generation of biocompatible micromotors toward future microbiorobots and minimally invasive medical applications.

Keywords: Biohybrids, E. coli, Micromotors, Microswimmers, Polydopamine


Matalonga, J., Glaria, E., Bresque, M., Escande, C., Carbó, J. M., Kiefer, K., Vicente, R., León, T. E., Beceiro, S., Pascual-García, M., Serret, J., Sanjurjo, L., Morón-Ros, S., Riera, A., Paytubi, S., Juarez, A., Sotillo, F., Lindbom, L., Caelles, C., Sarrias, M. R., Sancho, J., Castrillo, A., Chini, E. N., Valledor, A. F., (2017). The nuclear receptor LXR limits bacterial infection of host macrophages through a mechanism that impacts cellular NAD metabolism Cell Reports 18, (5), 1241-1255

Macrophages exert potent effector functions against invading microorganisms but constitute, paradoxically, a preferential niche for many bacterial strains to replicate. Using a model of infection by Salmonella Typhimurium, we have identified a molecular mechanism regulated by the nuclear receptor LXR that limits infection of host macrophages through transcriptional activation of the multifunctional enzyme CD38. LXR agonists reduced the intracellular levels of NAD+ in a CD38-dependent manner, counteracting pathogen-induced changes in macrophage morphology and the distribution of the F-actin cytoskeleton and reducing the capability of non-opsonized Salmonella to infect macrophages. Remarkably, pharmacological treatment with an LXR agonist ameliorated clinical signs associated with Salmonella infection in vivo, and these effects were dependent on CD38 expression in bone-marrow-derived cells. Altogether, this work reveals an unappreciated role for CD38 in bacterial-host cell interaction that can be pharmacologically exploited by activation of the LXR pathway.

Keywords: Bacterial infection, CD38, Cytoskeleton, LXR, Macrophage, NAD, Nuclear receptor


Vilela, D., Stanton, M. M., Parmar, J., Sánchez, S., (2017). Microbots decorated with silver nanoparticles kill bacteria in aqueous media ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 9, (27), 22093-22100

Water contamination is one of the most persistent problems of public health. Resistance of some pathogens to conventional disinfectants can require the combination of multiple disinfectants or increased disinfectant doses, which may produce harmful byproducts. Here, we describe an efficient method for disinfecting Escherichia coli and removing the bacteria from contaminated water using water self-propelled Janus microbots decorated with silver nanoparticles (AgNPs). The structure of a spherical Janus microbot consists of a magnesium (Mg) microparticle as a template that also functions as propulsion source by producing hydrogen bubbles when in contact with water, an inner iron (Fe) magnetic layer for their remote guidance and collection, and an outer AgNP-coated gold (Au) layer for bacterial adhesion and improving bactericidal properties. The active motion of microbots increases the chances of the contact of AgNPs on the microbot surface with bacteria, which provokes the selective Ag+ release in their cytoplasm, and the microbot self-propulsion increases the diffusion of the released Ag+ ions. In addition, the AgNP-coated Au cap of the microbots has a dual capability of capturing bacteria and then killing them. Thus, we have demonstrated that AgNP-coated Janus microbots are capable of efficiently killing more than 80% of E. coli compared with colloidal AgNPs that killed only less than 35% of E. coli in contaminated water solutions in 15 min. After capture and extermination of bacteria, magnetic properties of the cap allow collection of microbots from water along with the captured dead bacteria, leaving water with no biological contaminants. The presented biocompatible Janus microbots offer an encouraging method for rapid disinfection of water.

Keywords: Bactericidal, Magnetic control, Micromotors, Microswimmers, Self-propulsion, Silver nanoparticles


Grice, L. F., Gauthier, M. E. A., Roper, K. E., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Degnan, S. M., Degnan, B. M., (2017). Origin and evolution of the sponge aggregation factor gene family Molecular Biology and Evolution 34, (5), 1083-1099

Although discriminating self from nonself is a cardinal animal trait, metazoan allorecognition genes do not appear to be homologous. Here, we characterize the Aggregation Factor (AF) gene family, which encodes putative allorecognition factors in the demosponge Amphimedon queenslandica, and trace its evolution across 24 sponge (Porifera) species. The AF locus in Amphimedon is comprised of a cluster of five similar genes that encode Calx-beta and Von Willebrand domains and a newly defined Wreath domain, and are highly polymorphic. Further AF variance appears to be generated through individualistic patterns of RNA editing. The AF gene family varies between poriferans, with protein sequences and domains diagnostic of the AF family being present in Amphimedon and other demosponges, but absent from other sponge classes. Within the demosponges, AFs vary widely with no two species having the same AF repertoire or domain organization. The evolution of AFs suggests that their diversification occurs via high allelism, and the continual and rapid gain, loss and shuffling of domains over evolutionary time. Given the marked differences in metazoan allorecognition genes, we propose the rapid evolution of AFs in sponges provides a model for understanding the extensive diversification of self-nonself recognition systems in the animal kingdom.

Keywords: Aggregation factor, Allorecognition, Intron phase, Polymorphism, Porifera, RNA editing


Frau-Méndez, Margalida A., Fernández-Vega, Iván, Ansoleaga, Belén, Blanco, Rosa, Carmona, Margarita, Antonio del Rio, Jose, Zerr, Inga, Llorens, Franc, Zarranz, Juan José, Ferrer, Isidro, (2017). Fatal familial insomnia: Mitochondrial and protein synthesis machinery decline in the mediodorsal thalamus Brain Pathology 27, (1), 95-106

The expression of subunits of mitochondrial respiratory complexes and components of the protein synthesis machinery from the nucleolus to the ribosome was analyzed in the mediodorsal thalamus in seven cases of Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI) compared with age-matched controls. NDUFB8 (complex I subunit), SDHB (complex II subunit), UQCRC2 (complex III subunit), COX2 (complex IV subunit) and ATP50 (complex V subunit) expression levels, as revealed by western blotting, were reduced in FFI. Voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) and ATP5H were also reduced due to the marked depopulation of neurons. In contrast, a marked increase in superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2) was found in reactive astrocytes thus suggesting that astrocytes are key factors in oxidative stress responses. The histone-binding chaperones nucleolin and nucleoplasmin 3, and histone H3 di-methylated K9 were markedly reduced together with a decrease in the expression of protein transcription elongation factor eEF1A. These findings show severe impairment in the expression of crucial components of mitochondrial function and protein synthesis in parallel with neuron loss in mediodorsal thalamus at terminal stages of FFI. Therapeutic measures must be taken long before the appearance of clinical symptoms to prevent the devastating effects of FFI.

Keywords: Fatal familial insomnia, Mitochondria, Protein synthesis, Mitochondrial respiratory chain, Nucleolus, Ribosome


Maffei, Giovanni, Herreros, Ivan, Sanchez-Fibla, Marti, Friston, Karl J., Verschure, Paul F. M. J., (2017). The perceptual shaping of anticipatory actions Proceedings of the Royal Society B 284, (1869)

Humans display anticipatory motor responses to minimize the adverse effects of predictable perturbations. A widely accepted explanation for this behavior relies on the notion of an inverse model that, learning from motor errors, anticipates corrective responses. Here, we propose and validate the alternative hypothesis that anticipatory control can be realized through a cascade of purely sensory predictions that drive the motor system, reflecting the causal sequence of the perceptual events preceding the error. We compare both hypotheses in a simulated anticipatory postural adjustment task. We observe that adaptation in the sensory domain, but not in the motor one, supports the robust and generalizable anticipatory control characteristic of biological systems. Our proposal unites the neurobiology of the cerebellum with the theory of active inference and provides a concrete implementation of its core tenets with great relevance both to our understanding of biological control systems and, possibly, to their emulation in complex artefacts.

Keywords: Active inference, Cerebellum, Computational model, Motor control, Perceptual learning


Ma, Xing, Sánchez, Samuel, (2017). Self-propelling micro-nanorobots: challenges and future perspectives in nanomedicine Nanomedicine 12, (12), 1363-1367

Garcia-Esparcia, Paula, López-González, Irene, Grau-Rivera, Oriol, García-Garrido, María Francisca, Konetti, Anusha, Llorens, Franc, Zafar, Saima, Carmona, Margarita, del Rio, José Antonio, Zerr, Inga, Gelpi, Ellen, Ferrer, Isidro, (2017). Dementia with Lewy Bodies: Molecular pathology in the frontal cortex in typical and rapidly progressive forms Frontiers in Neurology 8, Article 89

Objectives: The goal of this study was to assess mitochondrial function, energy, and purine metabolism, protein synthesis machinery from the nucleolus to the ribosome, inflammation, and expression of newly identified ectopic olfactory receptors (ORs) and taste receptors (TASRs) in the frontal cortex of typical cases of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and cases with rapid clinical course (rpDLB: 2 years or less) compared with middle-aged non-affected individuals, in order to learn about the biochemical abnormalities underlying Lewy body pathology. Methods: Real-time quantitative PCR, mitochondrial enzymatic assays, and analysis of β-amyloid, tau, and synuclein species were used. Results: The main alterations in DLB and rpDLB, which are more marked in the rapidly progressive forms, include (i) deregulated expression of several mRNAs and proteins of mitochondrial subunits, and reduced activity of complexes I, II, III, and IV of the mitochondrial respiratory chain; (ii) reduced expression of selected molecules involved in energy metabolism and increased expression of enzymes involved in purine metabolism; (iii) abnormal expression of nucleolar proteins, rRNA18S, genes encoding ribosomal proteins, and initiation factors of the transcription at the ribosome; (iv) discrete inflammation; and (v) marked deregulation of brain ORs and TASRs, respectively. Severe mitochondrial dysfunction involving activity of four complexes, minimal inflammatory responses, and dramatic altered expression of ORs and TASRs discriminate DLB from Alzheimer’s disease. Altered solubility and aggregation of α-synuclein, increased β-amyloid bound to membranes, and absence of soluble tau oligomers are common in DLB and rpDLB. Low levels of soluble β-amyloid are found in DLB. However, increased soluble β-amyloid 1–40 and β-amyloid 1–42, and increased TNFα mRNA and protein expression, distinguish rpDLB. Conclusion: Molecular alterations in frontal cortex in DLB involve key biochemical pathways such as mitochondria and energy metabolism, protein synthesis, purine metabolism, among others and are accompanied by discrete innate inflammatory response.

Keywords: Dementia with Lewy bodies, Alzheimer’s disease, α-synuclein, Mitochondria, Protein synthesis, Inflammation, β-amyloid, Olfactory receptors


Estrada, L., Torres, A., Sarlabous, L., Jané, R., (2017). Onset and offset estimation of the neural inspiratory time in surface diaphragm electromyography: A pilot study in healthy subjects IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics 22, (1), 67-76

This study evaluates the onset and offset of neural inspiratory time estimated from surface diaphragm electromyographic (EMGdi) recordings. EMGdi and airflow signals were recorded in ten healthy subjects according to two respiratory protocols based on respiratory rate (RR) increments, from 15 to 40 breaths per minute (bpm), and fractional inspiratory time (Ti/Ttot) decrements, from 0.54 to 0.18. The analysis of diaphragm electromyographic (EMGdi) signal amplitude is an alternative approach for the quantification of neural respiratory drive (NRD). The EMGdi amplitude was estimated using the fixed sample entropy computed over a 250 ms moving window of the EMGdi signal (EMGdifse). The neural onset was detected through a dynamic threshold over the EMGdifse using the kernel density estimation method, while neural offset was detected by finding when the EMGdifse had decreased to 70 % of the peak value reached during inspiration. The Bland-Altman analysis between airflow and neural onsets showed a global bias of 46 ms in the RR protocol and 22 ms in the Ti/Ttot protocol. The Bland-Altman analysis between airflow and neural offsets reveals a global bias of 11 ms in the RR protocol and -2 ms in the Ti/Ttot protocol. The relationship between pairs of RR values (Pearson’s correlation coefficient of 0.99, Bland- Altman limits of -2.39 to 2.41 bpm, and mean bias of 0.01 bpm) and between pairs of Ti/Ttot values (Pearson’s correlation coefficient of 0.86, Bland-Altman limits of -0.11 to 0.10, and mean bias of -0.01) showed a good agreement. In conclusion, we propose a method for determining neural onset and neural offset based on non-invasive recordings of the electrical activity of the diaphragm that requires no filtering of cardiac muscle interference.

Keywords: Kernel density estimation (KDE),, Surface diaphragm electromyographic,, (EMGdi) signal,, Inspiratory time,, Neural respiratory drive (NRD),, Neural inspiratory time,, Fixed sample entropy (fSampEn)


Terni, Beatrice, Pacciolla, Paolo, Masanas, Helena, Gorostiza, Pau, Llobet, Artur, (2017). Tight temporal coupling between synaptic rewiring of olfactory glomeruli and the emergence of odor-guided behavior in Xenopus tadpoles Journal of Comparative Neurology 525, (17), 3769-3783

Olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) are chemoreceptors that establish excitatory synapses within glomeruli of the olfactory bulb. OSNs undergo continuous turnover throughout life, causing the constant replacement of their synaptic contacts. Using Xenopus tadpoles as an experimental system to investigate rewiring of glomerular connectivity, we show that novel OSN synapses can transfer information immediately after formation, mediating olfactory-guided behavior. Tadpoles recover the ability to detect amino acids 4 days after bilateral olfactory nerve transection. Restoration of olfactory-guided behavior depends on the efficient reinsertion of OSNs to the olfactory bulb. Presynaptic terminals of incipient synaptic contacts generate calcium transients in response to odors, triggering long lasting depolarization of olfactory glomeruli. The functionality of reconnected terminals relies on well-defined readily releasable and cytoplasmic vesicle pools. The continuous growth of non-compartmentalized axonal processes provides a vesicle reservoir to nascent release sites, which contrasts to the gradual development of cytoplasmic vesicle pools in conventional excitatory synapses. The immediate availability of fully functional synapses upon formation supports an age-independent contribution of OSNs to the generation of odor maps.

Keywords: Olfactory receptor neurons, Olfactory bulb, Presynaptic terminals, RRID:SCR_013731, RRID:SCR_007164, RRID: AB-887824, RRID: AB-221570, Synaptic vesicles


Ma, X., Sánchez, S., (2017). Bio-catalytic mesoporous Janus nano-motors powered by catalase enzyme Tetrahedron 73, (33), 4883-4886

Enzyme triggered bio-catalytic reactions convert chemical energy into mechanical force to power micro/nano-machines. Though there have been reports about enzymes powered micro/nano-motors, enzymatic Janus nano-motor smaller than 100 nm has not been reported yet. Here, we prepared an enzyme powered Janus nano-motor by half-capping a thin layer of silicon dioxide (4 nm SiO2) onto a mesoporous silica nanoparticle (MSNP) of 90 nm, enabling asymmetry to the nano-architecture. The nano-motors are chemically powered by the decomposition of H2O2 triggered by the enzyme catalase located at one face of the nanoparticles. The self-propulsion is characterized by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and optical microscopy. The apparent diffusion coefficient was enhanced by 150% compared to their Brownian motion at low H2O2 concentration (i.e. below 3 wt%). Mesoporous nano-motors might serve as active drug delivery nano-systems in future biomedical applications such as intracellular drug delivery.

Keywords: Enzyme catalysis, Janus particles, Mesoporous silica, Nano-motors, Nanomachine, Self-propulsion


Andrzejak, Ralph G., Ruzzene, G., Malvestio, I., (2017). Generalized synchronization between chimera states Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science 27, (5), 053114

Networks of coupled oscillators in chimera states are characterized by an intriguing interplay of synchronous and asynchronous motion. While chimera states were initially discovered in mathematical model systems, there is growing experimental and conceptual evidence that they manifest themselves also in natural and man-made networks. In real-world systems, however, synchronization and desynchronization are not only important within individual networks but also across different interacting networks. It is therefore essential to investigate if chimera states can be synchronized across networks. To address this open problem, we use the classical setting of ring networks of non-locally coupled identical phase oscillators. We apply diffusive drive-response couplings between pairs of such networks that individually show chimera states when there is no coupling between them. The drive and response networks are either identical or they differ by a variable mismatch in their phase lag parameters. In both cases, already for weak couplings, the coherent domain of the response network aligns its position to the one of the driver networks. For identical networks, a sufficiently strong coupling leads to identical synchronization between the drive and response. For non-identical networks, we use the auxiliary system approach to demonstrate that generalized synchronization is established instead. In this case, the response network continues to show a chimera dynamics which however remains distinct from the one of the driver. Hence, segregated synchronized and desynchronized domains in individual networks congregate in generalized synchronization across networks.

Keywords: Oscillators, Synchronisation


Garde, A., Sörnmo, L., Laguna, P., Jané, R., Benito, S., Bayés-Genís, A., Giraldo, B. F., (2017). Assessment of respiratory flow cycle morphology in patients with chronic heart failure Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 55, (2), 245-255

Breathing pattern as periodic breathing (PB) in chronic heart failure (CHF) is associated with poor prognosis and high mortality risk. This work investigates the significance of a number of time domain parameters for characterizing respiratory flow cycle morphology in patients with CHF. Thus, our primary goal is to detect PB pattern and identify patients at higher risk. In addition, differences in respiratory flow cycle morphology between CHF patients (with and without PB) and healthy subjects are studied. Differences between these parameters are assessed by investigating the following three classification issues: CHF patients with PB versus with non-periodic breathing (nPB), CHF patients (both PB and nPB) versus healthy subjects, and nPB patients versus healthy subjects. Twenty-six CHF patients (8/18 with PB/nPB) and 35 healthy subjects are studied. The results show that the maximal expiratory flow interval is shorter and with lower dispersion in CHF patients than in healthy subjects. The flow slopes are much steeper in CHF patients, especially for PB. Both inspiration and expiration durations are reduced in CHF patients, mostly for PB. Using the classification and regression tree technique, the most discriminant parameters are selected. For signals shorter than 1 min, the time domain parameters produce better results than the spectral parameters, with accuracies for each classification of 82/78, 89/85, and 91/89 %, respectively. It is concluded that morphologic analysis in the time domain is useful, especially when short signals are analyzed.

Keywords: Chronic heart failure, Ensemble average, Periodic and non-periodic breathing, Respiratory pattern


Estrada, L., Torres, A., Sarlabous, L., Jané, R., (2017). Influence of parameter selection in fixed sample entropy of surface diaphragm electromyography for estimating respiratory activity Entropy 19, (9), 460

Fixed sample entropy (fSampEn) is a robust technique that allows the evaluation of inspiratory effort in diaphragm electromyography (EMGdi) signals, and has potential utility in sleep studies. To appropriately estimate respiratory effort, fSampEn requires the adjustment of several parameters. The aims of the present study were to evaluate the influence of the embedding dimension m, the tolerance value r, the size of the moving window, and the sampling frequency, and to establish recommendations for estimating the respiratory activity when using the fSampEn on surface EMGdi recorded for different inspiratory efforts. Values of m equal to 1 and r ranging from 0.1 to 0.64, and m equal to 2 and r ranging from 0.13 to 0.45, were found to be suitable for evaluating respiratory activity. fSampEn was less affected by window size than classical amplitude parameters. Finally, variations in sampling frequency could influence fSampEn results. In conclusion, the findings suggest the potential utility of fSampEn for estimating muscle respiratory effort in further sleep studies.

Keywords: Fixed sample entropy (fSampEn), Non-invasive respiratory monitoring, Respiratory activity, Respiratory effort, Surface diaphragm electromyography


Rodríguez, J. C., Arizmendi, C. J., Forero, C. A., Lopez, S. K., Giraldo, B. F., (2017). Analysis of the respiratory flow signal for the diagnosis of patients with chronic heart failure using artificial intelligence techniques IFMBE Proceedings VII Latin American Congress on Biomedical Engineering (CLAIB 2016) , Springer (Santander, Colombia) 60, 46-49

Patients with Chronic Heart Failure (CHF) often develop oscillatory breathing patterns. This work proposes the characterization of respiratory pattern by Wavelet Transform (WT) technique to identify Periodic Breathing pattern (PB) and Non-Periodic Breathing pattern (nPB) through the respiratory flow signal. A total of 62 subjects were analyzed: 27 CHF patients and 35 healthy subjects. Respiratory time series were extracted, and statistical methods were applied to obtain the most relevant information to classify patients. Support Vector Machine (SVM) were applied using forward selection technique to discriminate patients, considering four kernel functions. Differences between these parameters are assessed by investigating the following four classification issues: healthy subjects versus CHF patients, PB versus nPB patients, PB patients versus healthy subjects, and nPB patients versus healthy subjects. The results are presented in terms of average accuracy for each kernel function, and comparison groups.

Keywords: Chronic heart failure, Forward selection, Non-periodic breathing, Periodic breathing, Support vector machine


Rodriguez, J., Voss, A., Caminal, P., Bayes-Genis, A., Giraldo, B. F., (2017). Characterization and classification of patients with different levels of cardiac death risk by using Poincaré plot analysis Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 39th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Seogwipo, South Korea) , 1332-1335

Cardiac death risk is still a big problem by an important part of the population, especially in elderly patients. In this study, we propose to characterize and analyze the cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory systems using the Poincaré plot. A total of 46 cardiomyopathy patients and 36 healthy subjets were analyzed. Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was used to stratify patients with low risk (LR: LVEF > 35%, 16 patients), and high risk (HR: LVEF ≤ 35%, 30 patients) of heart attack. RR, SBP and TTot time series were extracted from the ECG, blood pressure and respiratory flow signals, respectively. Parameters that describe the scatterplott of Poincaré method, related to short- and long-term variabilities, acceleration and deceleration of the dynamic system, and the complex correlation index were extracted. The linear discriminant analysis (LDA) and the support vector machines (SVM) classification methods were used to analyze the results of the extracted parameters. The results showed that cardiac parameters were the best to discriminate between HR and LR groups, especially the complex correlation index (p = 0.009). Analising the interaction, the best result was obtained with the relation between the difference of the standard deviation of the cardiac and respiratory system (p = 0.003). When comparing HR vs LR groups, the best classification was obtained applying SVM method, using an ANOVA kernel, with an accuracy of 98.12%. An accuracy of 97.01% was obtained by comparing patients versus healthy, with a SVM classifier and Laplacian kernel. The morphology of Poincaré plot introduces parameters that allow the characterization of the cardiorespiratory system dynamics.

Keywords: Time series analysis, Electrocardiography, Support vector machines, Kernel, Standards, Correlation, RF signals


Climent, A. M., Hernandez-Romero, I., Guillem, M. S., Montserrat, N., Fernandez, M. E., Atienza, F., Fernandez-Aviles, F., (2017). High resolution microscopic optical mapping of anatomical and functional reentries in human cardiac cell cultures IEEE Conference Publications Computing in Cardiology Conference (CinC), 2016 , IEEE (Vancouver, Canada) 43, 233-236

Anatomical and/or functional reentries have been proposed as one of the main mechanism of perpetuation of cardiac fibrillation processes. However, technical limitations have difficult the characterization of those reentries and are hampering the development of effective anti-arrhythmic treatments. The goal of this study is to present a novel technology to map with high resolution the center of fibrillation drivers in order to characterize the mechanisms of reentry. Cell cultures of human cardiac-like cells differentiated from pluripotent stem cells were analyzed with a novel microscopic optical mapping system. The pharmacological response to verapamil administration of each type of reentry was analyzed. In all analyzed cell cultures, a reentry was identified as the mechanism of maintenance of the arrhythmia. Interestingly, the administration of verapamil produced opposite effects on activation rate depending on the mechanisms of reentry (i.e. anatomical or functional). Microscopic optical mapping of reentries allows the identification of perpetuation mechanisms which has been demonstrated to be linked with different pharmacological response.

Keywords: Stem cells, Rotors, Microscopy, Optical filters, Calcium, Optical microscopy, Biomedical optical imaging


Camara, M. A., Castillo, Y., Blanco-Almazan, D., Estrada, L., Jane, R., (2017). MHealth tools for monitoring Obstructive Sleep Apnea patients at home: Proof-of-concept Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 39th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Seogwipo, South Korea) , 1555-1558

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that affects mainly the adult and elderly population. Due to the high percentage of patients who remain undiagnosed and untreated because of limitations of current diagnosis methods, the management of OSA is an important social, scientific and economic problem that will be difficult to be assumed by health systems. On the other hand, smartphone platforms (mHealth systems) are being considered as an innovative solution, thanks to the integration of the essential sensors to obtain clinically relevant parameters in the same device or in combination with wireless wearable devices.

Keywords: Sleep apnea, Microphones, Monitoring, Sensors, Accelerometers, Biomedical monitoring, Band-pass filters


Schulz, S., Legorburu Cladera, B., Giraldo, B., Bolz, M., Bar, K. J., Voss, A., (2017). Neuronal desynchronization as marker of an impaired brain network Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 39th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Seogwipo, South Korea) , 2251-2254

Synchronization is a central key feature of neural information processing and communication between different brain areas. Disturbance of oscillatory brain rhythms and decreased synchronization have been associated with different disorders including schizophrenia. The aim of this study was to investigate whether synchronization (in relaxed conditions with no stimuli) between different brain areas within the delta, theta, alpha (alpha1, alpha2), beta (beta1, beta2), and gamma bands is altered in patients with a neurological disorder in order to generate significant cortical enhancements. To achieve this, we investigated schizophrenic patients (SZO; N=17, 37.5±10.4 years, 15 males) and compared them to healthy subjects (CON; N=21, 36.7±13.4 years, 15 males) applying the phase locking value (PLV). We found significant differences between SZO and CON in different brain areas of the theta, alpha1, beta2 and gamma bands. These areas are related to the central and parietal lobes for the theta band, the parietal lobe for the alpha1, the parietal and frontal for the beta2 and the frontal-central for the gamma band. The gamma band revealed the most significant differences between CON and SZO. PLV were 61.7% higher on average in SZO in most of the clusters when compared to CON. The related brain areas are directly related to cognition skills which are proved to be impaired in SZO. The results of this study suggest that synchronization in SZO is also altered when the patients were not asked to perform a task that requires their cognitive skills (i.e., no stimuli are applied - in contrast to other findings).

Keywords: Synchronization, Electroencephalography, Electrodes, Brain, Time series analysis, Oscillators, Frequency synchronization


Trapero, J. I., Arizmendi, C. J., Gonzalez, H., Forero, C., Giraldo, B. F., (2017). Nonlinear dynamic analysis of the cardiorespiratory system in patients undergoing the weaning process Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 39th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Seogwipo, South Korea) , 3493-3496

In this work, the cardiorespiratory pattern of patients undergoing extubation process is studied. First, the respiratory and cardiac signals were resampled, next the Symbolic Dynamics (SD) technique was implemented, followed of a dimensionality reduction applying Forward Selection (FS) and Moving Window with Variance Analysis (MWVA) methods. Finally, the Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) and Support Vector Machines (SVM) classifiers were used. The study analyzed 153 patients undergoing weaning process, classified into 3 groups: Successful Group (SG: 94 patients), Failed Group (FG: 39 patients), and patients who had been successful during the extubation and had to be reintubated before 48 hours, Reintubated Group (RG: 21 patients). According to the results, the best classification present an accuracy higher than 88.98 ± 0.013% in all proposed combinations.

Keywords: Support vector machines, Standards, Time series analysis, Resonant frequency, Nonlinear dynamical systems, Ventilation


Quadri, M., Matera, C., Silnovi, Pismataro, M. C., Horenstein, N. A., Stokes, C., Papke, R. L., Dallanoce, C., (2017). Identification of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor silent agonists based on the spirocyclic quinuclidine-Δ2-isoxazoline scaffold: Synthesis and electrophysiological evaluation ChemMedChem XXIV National Meeting in Medicinal Chemistry (NMMC 2016) , Wiley Online Library (Perugia, Spain) 12, (16), 1335-1348

Compound 11 (3-(benzyloxy)-1′-methyl-1′-azonia-4H-1′-azaspiro[isoxazole-5,3′-bicyclo[2.2.2]octane] iodide) was selected from a previous set of nicotinic ligands as a suitable model compound for the design of new silent agonists of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Silent agonists evoke little or no channel activation but can induce the α7 desensitized Ds state, which is sensitive to a type II positive allosteric modulator, such as PNU-120596. Introduction of meta substituents into the benzyloxy moiety of 11 led to two sets of tertiary amines and quaternary ammonium salts based on the spirocyclic quinuclidinyl-Δ2-isoxazoline scaffold. Electrophysiological assays performed on Xenopus laevis oocytes expressing human α7 nAChRs highlighted four compounds that are endowed with a significant silent-agonism profile. Structure–activity relationships of this group of analogues provided evidence of the crucial role of the positive charge at the quaternary quinuclidine nitrogen atom. Moreover, the present study indicates that meta substituents, in particular halogens, on the benzyloxy substructure direct specific interactions that stabilize a desensitized conformational state of the receptor and induce silent activity

Keywords: Agonists, Cycloaddition, Nitrogen heterocycles, Receptors, Spiro compounds


Xia, Yun, Montserrat, Nuria, Campistol, Josep M., Izpisua Belmonte, Juan Carlos, Remuzzi, Giuseppe, Williams, David F., (2017). Lineage reprogramming toward kidney regeneration Kidney Transplantation, Bioengineering and Regeneration (ed. Orlando, G., Remuzzi, Giuseppe, Williams, David F.), Academic Press (London, UK) , 1167-1175

We have known for decades that it is possible to switch the phenotype of one somatic cell type into another. Such epigenetic rewiring processes can be artificially managed and even reversed by using a defined set of transcription factors. Lineage reprogramming is very often defined as a process of converting one cell type into another without going through a pluripotent state, providing great promise for regenerative medicine. However, the identification of key transcription factors for lineage reprogramming is limited, due to the exhaustive and expensive experimental processes. Accumulating knowledge of genetic and epigenetic regulatory networks that are critical for defining a specific lineage provides unprecedented opportunities to model and predict pioneering factors that may drive directional lineage reprogramming to obtain the desired cell type.

Keywords: Reprogramming, Pluripotency, Differentiation, Lineage specification, Epigenetic regulatory network, Regeneration


Solano-Collado, Virtu, Hüttener, Márrio, Espinosa, Manuel, Juárez, Antonio, Bravo, Alicia, (2016). MgaSpn and H-NS: Two unrelated global regulators with similar DNA-binding properties Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences 3, Article 60

Global regulators play an essential role in the adaptation of bacterial cells to specific niches. Bacterial pathogens thriving in the tissues and organs of their eukaryotic hosts are a well-studied example. Some of the proteins that recognize local DNA structures rather than specific nucleotide sequences act as global modulators in many bacteria, both Gram-negative and -positive. To this class of regulators belong the H-NS-like proteins, mainly identified in γ-Proteobacteria, and the MgaSpn-like proteins identified in Firmicutes. H-NS and MgaSpn from Escherichia coli and Streptococcus pneumoniae, respectively, neither have sequence similarity nor share structural domains. Nevertheless, they display common features in their interaction with DNA, namely: (i) they bind to DNA in a non-sequence-specific manner, (ii) they have a preference for intrinsically curved DNA regions, and (iii) they are able to form multimeric complexes on linear DNA. Using DNA fragments from the hemolysin operon regulatory region of the E. coli plasmid pHly152, we show in this work that MgaSpn is able to recognize particular regions on extended H-NS binding sites. Such regions are either located at or flanked by regions of potential bendability. Moreover, we show that the regulatory region of the pneumococcal P1623B promoter, which is recognized by MgaSpn, contains DNA motifs that are recognized by H-NS. These motifs are adjacent to regions of potential bendability. Our results suggest that both regulatory proteins recognize similar structural characteristics of DNA.

Keywords: Global transcriptional regulators, Nucleoid-associated proteins, Mga/AtxA family, Protein-DNA interactions, DNA bendability


Beun, L. H., Albertazzi, L., Van Der Zwaag, D., De Vries, R., Cohen Stuart, M. A., (2016). Unidirectional living growth of self-assembled protein nanofibrils revealed by super-resolution microscopy ACS Nano 10, (5), 4973-4980

Protein-based nanofibrils are emerging as a promising class of materials that provide unique properties for applications such as biomedical and food engineering. Here, we use atomic force microscopy and stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy imaging to elucidate the growth dynamics, exchange kinetics, and polymerization mechanism for fibrils composed of a de novo designed recombinant triblock protein polymer. This macromolecule features a silk-inspired self-assembling central block composed of GAGAGAGH repeats, which are known to fold into a β roll with turns at each histidine and, once folded, to stack, forming a long, ribbon-like structure. We find several properties that allow the growth of patterned protein nanofibrils: the self-assembly takes place on only one side of the growing fibrils by the essentially irreversible addition of protein polymer subunits, and these fibril ends remain reactive indefinitely in the absence of monomer ("living ends"). Exploiting these characteristics, we can grow stable diblock protein nanofibrils by the sequential addition of differently labeled proteins. We establish control over the block length ratio by simply varying monomer feed conditions. Our results demonstrate the use of engineered protein polymers in creating precisely patterned protein nanofibrils and open perspectives for the hierarchical self-assembly of functional biomaterials.

Keywords: Nanofibrils, Protein polymers, Self-assembly, STORM microscopy


Aragonès, A. C., Aravena, D., Cerdá, J. I., Acís-Castillo, Z., Li, H., Real, J. A., Sanz, F., Hihath, J., Ruiz, E., Díez-Pérez, I., (2016). Large conductance switching in a single-molecule device through room temperature spin-dependent transport Nano Letters 16, (1), 218-226

Controlling the spin of electrons in nanoscale electronic devices is one of the most promising topics aiming at developing devices with rapid and high density information storage capabilities. The interface magnetism or spinterface resulting from the interaction between a magnetic molecule and a metal surface, or vice versa, has become a key ingredient in creating nanoscale molecular devices with novel functionalities. Here, we present a single-molecule wire that displays large (>10000%) conductance switching by controlling the spin-dependent transport under ambient conditions (room temperature in a liquid cell). The molecular wire is built by trapping individual spin crossover FeII complexes between one Au electrode and one ferromagnetic Ni electrode in an organic liquid medium. Large changes in the single-molecule conductance (>100-fold) are measured when the electrons flow from the Au electrode to either an α-up or a β-down spin-polarized Ni electrode. Our calculations show that the current flowing through such an interface appears to be strongly spin-polarized, thus resulting in the observed switching of the single-molecule wire conductance. The observation of such a high spin-dependent conductance switching in a single-molecule wire opens up a new door for the design and control of spin-polarized transport in nanoscale molecular devices at room temperature.

Keywords: Density functional calculations, Magnetoresistance, Single-molecule junctions, Spin orbit coupling, Spin-crossover complexes, Spinterface, STM break-junction


Parmar, J., Vilela, D., Pellicer, E., Esqué-de los Ojos, D., Sort, J., Sánchez, S., (2016). Reusable and long-lasting active microcleaners for heterogeneous water remediation Advanced Functional Materials 26, (23), 4152-4161

Self-powered micromachines are promising tools for future environmental remediation technology. Waste-water treatment and water reuse is an essential part of environmental sustainability. Herein, we present reusable Fe/Pt multi-functional active microcleaners that are capable of degrading organic pollutants (malachite green and 4-nitrophenol) by generated hydroxyl radicals via a Fenton-like reaction. Various different properties of microcleaners, such as the effect of their size, short-term storage, long-term storage, reusability, continuous swimming capability, surface composition, and mechanical properties, are studied. It is found that these microcleaners can continuously swim for more than 24 hours and can be stored more than 5 weeks during multiple cleaning cycles. The produced microcleaners can also be reused, which reduces the cost of the process. During the reuse cycles the outer iron surface of the Fe/Pt microcleaners generates the in-situ, heterogeneous Fenton catalyst and releases a low concentration of iron into the treated water, while the mechanical properties also appear to be improved due to both its surface composition and structural changes. The microcleaners are characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), nanoindentation, and finite-element modeling (FEM).

Keywords: Catalysts, Heterogeneous catalysis, Microcleaners, Micromotors, Nanorobots, Wastewater treatment


Campillo, N., Jorba, I., Schaedel, L., Casals, B., Gozal, D., Farré, R., Almendros, I., Navajas, D., (2016). A novel chip for cyclic stretch and intermittent hypoxia cell exposures mimicking obstructive sleep apnea Frontiers in Physiology 7, Article 319

Intermittent hypoxia (IH), a hallmark of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of OSA-associated morbidities, especially in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Oxidative stress and inflammation induced by IH are suggested as main contributors of end-organ dysfunction in OSA patients and animal models. Since the molecular mechanisms underlying these in vivo pathological responses remain poorly understood, implementation of experimental in vitro cell-based systems capable of inducing high-frequency IH would be highly desirable. Here, we describe the design, fabrication, and validation of a versatile chip for subjecting cultured cells to fast changes in gas partial pressure and to cyclic stretch. The chip is fabricated with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and consists of a cylindrical well-covered by a thin membrane. Cells cultured on top of the membrane can be subjected to fast changes in oxygen concentration (equilibrium time ~6 s). Moreover, cells can be subjected to cyclic stretch at cardiac or respiratory frequencies independently or simultaneously. Rat bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) exposed to IH mimicking OSA and cyclic stretch at cardiac frequencies revealed that hypoxia-inducible factor 1a (HIF-1a) expression was increased in response to both stimuli. Thus, the chip provides a versatile tool for the study of cellular responses to cyclical hypoxia and stretch.

Keywords: Cell stretch, Hypoxia-inducible factor, Intermittent hypoxia, Lab-on-a-chip, Obstructive sleep apnea


Sanmartí-Espinal, M., Galve, R., Iavicoli, P., Persuy, M. A., Pajot-Augy, E., Marco, M. P., Samitier, J., (2016). Immunochemical strategy for quantification of G-coupled olfactory receptor proteins on natural nanovesicles Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 139, 269-276

Cell membrane proteins are involved in a variety of biochemical pathways and therefore constitute important targets for therapy and development of new drugs. Bioanalytical platforms and binding assays using these membrane protein receptors for drug screening or diagnostic require the construction of well-characterized liposome and lipid bilayer arrays that act as support to prevent protein denaturation during biochip processing. Quantification of the protein receptors in the lipid membrane arrays is a key issue in order to produce reproducible and well-characterized chips. Herein, we report a novel immunochemical analytical approach for the quantification of membrane proteins (i.e., G-protein-coupled receptor, GPCR) in nanovesicles (NVs). The procedure allows direct determination of tagged receptors (i.e., c-myc tag) without any previous protein purification or extraction steps. The immunochemical method is based on a microplate ELISA format and quantifies this tag on proteins embedded in NVs with detectability in the picomolar range, using protein bioconjugates as reference standards. The applicability of the method is demonstrated through the quantification of the c-myc-olfactory receptor (OR, c-myc-OR1740) in the cell membrane NVs. The reported method opens the possibility to develop well-characterized drug-screening platforms based on G-coupled proteins embedded on membranes.

Keywords: Bioelectronic nose, Competitive ELISA, G-protein-coupled receptors quantification, Natural vesicles, Olfactory receptors, Transmembrane proteins


Lozano-Garcia, M., Fiz, J. A., Jané, R., (2016). Automatic differentiation of normal and continuous adventitious respiratory sounds using ensemble empirical mode decomposition and instantaneous frequency IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics 20, (2), 486-497

Differentiating normal from adventitious respiratory sounds (RS) is a major challenge in the diagnosis of pulmonary diseases. Particularly, continuous adventitious sounds (CAS) are of clinical interest because they reflect the severity of certain diseases. This study presents a new classifier that automatically distinguishes normal sounds from CAS. It is based on the multi-scale analysis of instantaneous frequency (IF) and envelope (IE) calculated after ensemble empirical mode decomposition (EEMD). These techniques have two major advantages over previous techniques: high temporal resolution is achieved by calculating IF-IE and a priori knowledge of signal characteristics is not required for EEMD. The classifier is based on the fact that the IF dispersion of RS signals markedly decreases when CAS appear in respiratory cycles. Therefore, CAS were detected by using a moving window to calculate the dispersion of IF sequences. The study dataset contained 1494 RS segments extracted from 870 inspiratory cycles recorded from 30 patients with asthma. All cycles and their RS segments were previously classified as containing normal sounds or CAS by a highly experienced physician to obtain a gold standard classification. A support vector machine classifier was trained and tested using an iterative procedure in which the dataset was randomly divided into training (65%) and testing (35%) sets inside a loop. The SVM classifier was also tested on 4592 simulated CAS cycles. High total accuracy was obtained with both recorded (94.6% ± 0.3%) and simulated (92.8% ± 3.6%) signals. We conclude that the proposed method is promising for RS analysis and classification.

Keywords: Diseases, Dispersion, Empirical mode decomposition, Feature extraction, Informatics, Support vector machines


Estrada, L., Torres, A., Sarlabous, L., Jané, R., (2016). Improvement in neural respiratory drive estimation from diaphragm electromyographic signals using fixed sample entropy IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics 20, (2), 476-485

Diaphragm electromyography is a valuable technique for the recording of electrical activity of the diaphragm. The analysis of diaphragm electromyographic (EMGdi) signal amplitude is an alternative approach for the quantification of neural respiratory drive (NRD). The EMGdi signal is, however, corrupted by electrocardiographic (ECG) activity, and this presence of cardiac activity can make the EMGdi interpretation more difficult. Traditionally, the EMGdi amplitude has been estimated using the average rectified value (ARV) and the root mean square (RMS). In this work, surface EMGdi signals were analyzed using the fixed sample entropy (fSampEn) algorithm, and compared to traditional ARV and RMS methods. The fSampEn is calculated using a tolerance value fixed and independent of the standard deviation of the analysis window. Thus, this method quantifies the amplitude of the complex components of stochastic signals (such as EMGdi), and being less affected by changes in amplitude due to less complex components (such as ECG). The proposed method was tested in synthetic and recorded EMGdi signals. fSampEn was less sensitive to the effect of cardiac activity on EMGdi signals with different levels of NRD than ARV and RMS amplitude parameters. The mean and standard deviation of the Pearson’s correlation values between inspiratory mouth pressure (an indirect measure of the respiratory muscle activity) and fSampEn, ARV and RMS parameters, estimated in the recorded EMGdi signal at tidal volume (without inspiratory load), were 0.38???0.12, 0.27???0.11 and 0.11???0.13, respectively. Whereas at 33 cmH2O (maximum inspiratory load) were 0.83???0.02, 0.76???0.07 and 0.61???0.19, respectively. Our findings suggest that the proposed method may improve the evaluation of NRD.

Keywords: Electromyography, diaphragm muscle, neural respiratory drive


A. R. Dalton, J., Lans, I., Rovira, X., Malhaire, F., Gómez-Santacana, X., Pittolo, S., Gorostiza, P., Llebaria, A., Goudet, C., Pin, J-P., Giraldo, J., (2016). Shining light on an mGlu5 photoswitchable NAM: A theoretical perspective Current Neuropharmacology 14, (5), 441-454

Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) are important drug targets because of their involvement in several neurological diseases. Among mGluRs, mGlu5 is a particularly high-profile target because its positive or negative allosteric modulation can potentially treat schizophrenia or anxiety and chronic pain, respectively. Here, we computationally and experimentally probe the functional binding of a novel photoswitchable mGlu5 NAM, termed alloswitch-1, which loses its NAM functionality under violet light. We show alloswitch-1 binds deep in the allosteric pocket in a similar fashion to mavoglurant, the co-crystallized NAM in the mGlu5 transmembrane domain crystal structure. Alloswitch-1, like NAM 2-Methyl-6-(phenylethynyl)pyridine (MPEP), is significantly affected by P655M mutation deep in the allosteric pocket, eradicating its functionality. In MD simulations, we show alloswitch-1 and MPEP stabilize the co-crystallized water molecule located at the bottom of the allosteric site that is seemingly characteristic of the inactive receptor state. Furthermore, both NAMs form H-bonds with S809 on helix 7, which may constitute an important stabilizing interaction for NAM-induced mGlu5 inactivation. Alloswitch-1, through isomerization of its amide group from trans to cis is able to form an additional interaction with N747 on helix 5. This may be an important interaction for amide-containing mGlu5 NAMs, helping to stabilize their binding in a potentially unusual cis-amide state. Simulated conformational switching of alloswitch-1 in silico suggests photoisomerization of its azo group from trans to cis may be possible within the allosteric pocket. However, photoexcited alloswitch-1 binds in an unstable fashion, breaking H-bonds with the protein and destabilizing the co-crystallized water molecule. This suggests photoswitching may have destabilizing effects on mGlu5 binding and functionality.

Keywords: Allosteric modulation, Docking, Metabotropic glutamate receptor, Molecular dynamics, Mutation, Protein structure, Transmembrane domain


Farré, R., Navajas, D., (2016). Forced oscillation: A poorly exploited tool for simply assessing respiratory function in children Respirology 21, (6), 982-983

Lozano-Garcia, M., Fiz, J. A., Jané, R., (2016). Performance evaluation of the Hilbert–Huang transform for respiratory sound analysis and its application to continuous adventitious sound characterization Signal Processing 120, 99-116

Abstract The use of the Hilbert–Huang transform in the analysis of biomedical signals has increased during the past few years, but its use for respiratory sound (RS) analysis is still limited. The technique includes two steps: empirical mode decomposition (EMD) and instantaneous frequency (IF) estimation. Although the mode mixing (MM) problem of EMD has been widely discussed, this technique continues to be used in many RS analysis algorithms. In this study, we analyzed the MM effect in RS signals recorded from 30 asthmatic patients, and studied the performance of ensemble EMD (EEMD) and noise-assisted multivariate EMD (NA-MEMD) as means for preventing this effect. We propose quantitative parameters for measuring the size, reduction of MM, and residual noise level of each method. These parameters showed that EEMD is a good solution for MM, thus outperforming NA-MEMD. After testing different IF estimators, we propose Kay׳s method to calculate an EEMD-Kay-based Hilbert spectrum that offers high energy concentrations and high time and high frequency resolutions. We also propose an algorithm for the automatic characterization of continuous adventitious sounds (CAS). The tests performed showed that the proposed EEMD-Kay-based Hilbert spectrum makes it possible to determine CAS more precisely than other conventional time-frequency techniques.

Keywords: Hilbert–Huang transform, Ensemble empirical mode decomposition, Instantaneous frequency, Respiratory sounds, Continuous adventitious sounds


Huerta, R., Mosqueiro, T., Fonollosa, J., Rulkov, N.F., Rodríguez-Lujan, I., (2016). Online decorrelation of humidity and temperature in chemical sensors for continuous monitoring Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems 157, 169-176

A method for online decorrelation of chemical sensor signals from the effects of environmental humidity and temperature variations is proposed. The goal is to improve the accuracy of electronic nose measurements for continuous monitoring by processing data from simultaneous readings of environmental humidity and temperature. The electronic nose setup built for this study included eight metal-oxide sensors, temperature and humidity sensors with a wireless communication link to external computer. This wireless electronic nose was used to monitor the air for two years in the residence of one of the authors and it collected data continuously during 537 days with a sampling rate of 1 sample per second. To estimate the effects of variations in air humidity and temperature on the chemical sensors' signals, we used a standard energy band model for an n-type metal-oxide (MOX) gas sensor. The main assumption of the model is that variations in sensor conductivity can be expressed as a nonlinear function of changes in the semiconductor energy bands in the presence of external humidity and temperature variations. Fitting this model to the collected data, we confirmed that the most statistically significant factors are humidity changes and correlated changes of temperature and humidity. This simple model achieves excellent accuracy with a coefficient of determination R2 close to 1. To show how the humidity–temperature correction model works for gas discrimination, we constructed a model for online discrimination among banana, wine and baseline response. This shows that pattern recognition algorithms improve performance and reliability by including the filtered signal of the chemical sensors.

Keywords: Electronic nose, Chemical sensors, Humidity, Temperature, Decorrelation, Wireless e-nose, MOX sensors, Energy band model, Home monitoring


Vélez, E. J., Lutfi, E., Azizi, S., Montserrat, N., Riera-Codina, M., Capilla, E., Navarro, I., Gutiérrez, J., (2016). Contribution of in vitro myocytes studies to understanding fish muscle physiology Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part - B: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 199, 67-73

Research on the regulation of fish muscle physiology and growth was addressed originally by classical in vivo approaches; however, systemic interactions resulted in many questions that could be better considered through in vitro myocyte studies. The first paper published by our group in this field was with Tom Moon on brown trout cardiomyocytes, where the insulin and IGF-I receptors were characterized and the down-regulatory effects of an excess of peptides demonstrated. We followed the research on cultured skeletal muscle cells through the collaboration with INRA focused on the characterization of IGF-I receptors and its signaling pathways through in vitro development. Later on, we showed the important metabolic role of IGFs, although these studies were only the first stage of a prolific area of work that has offered a useful tool to advance in our knowledge of the endocrine and nutritional regulation of fish growth and metabolism. Obviously, the findings obtained in vitro serve the purpose to propose the scenario that will need confirmation in vivo, but this technique has made possible many different, easy, fast and better controlled studies. In this review, we have summarized the main advances that the use of cultured muscle cells has permitted, focusing mainly in the role of IGFs regulating fish metabolism and growth. Although many articles have already appeared using this model system in salmonids, gilthead sea bream or zebrafish, it is reasonable to expect new studies with cultured cells using innovative approaches that will help to understand fish physiology and its regulation.

Keywords: Amino acids, IGFs, In vitro cultures, Insulin, Insulin and IGF-I receptors, Myogenesis, Myogenic factors, TOR


Estrada, L., Torres, A., Sarlabous, L., Jané, R., (2016). Evaluating respiratory muscle activity using a wireless sensor platform Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Orlando, USA) , 5769-5772

Wireless sensors are an emerging technology that allows to assist physicians in the monitoring of patients health status. This approach can be used for the non-invasive recording of the electrical respiratory muscle activity of the diaphragm (EMGdi). In this work, we acquired the EMGdi signal of a healthy subject performing an inspiratory load test. To this end, the EMGdi activity was captured from a single channel of electromyography using a wireless platform which was compared with the EMGdi and the inspiratory mouth pressure (Pmouth) recorded with a conventional lab equipment. From the EMGdi signal we were able to evaluate the neural respiratory drive, a biomarker used for assessing the respiratory muscle function. In addition, we evaluated the breathing movement and the cardiac activity, estimating two cardio-respiratory parameters: the respiratory rate and the heart rate. The correlation between the two EMGdi signals and the Pmouth improved with increasing the respiratory load (Pearson's correlation coefficient ranges from 0.33 to 0.85). The neural respiratory drive estimated from both EMGdi signals showed a positive trend with an increase of the inspiratory load and being higher in the conventional EMGdi recording. The respiratory rate comparison between measurements revealed similar values of around 16 breaths per minute. The heart rate comparison showed a root mean error of less than 0.2 beats per minute which increased when incrementing the inspiratory load. In summary, this preliminary work explores the use of wireless devices to record the muscle respiratory activity to derive several physiological parameters. Its use can be an alternative to conventional measuring systems with the advantage of being portable, lightweight, flexible and operating at low energy. This technology can be attractive for medical staff and may have a positive impact in the way healthcare is being delivered.

Keywords: Biomedical monitoring, Electrodes, Medical services, Monitoring, Muscles, Wireless communication, Wireless sensor networks


Argerich, S., Herrera, S., Benito, S., Giraldo, J., (2016). Evaluation of periodic breathing in respiratory flow signal of elderly patients using SVM and linear discriminant analysis Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Orlando, USA) , 4276-4279

Aging population is a major concern that is reflected in the increase of chronic diseases. Heart Failure (HF) is one of the most common chronic diseases of elderly people that is punctuated with acute episodes, which result in hospitalization. The periodic modulation of the amplitude of the breathing pattern is proved to be one of the multiple symptoms of an acute episode, and thus, the features extracted from its characterization contribute in the improvement of the first diagnosis of the clinical practice. The main objective of this study is to evaluate if the features extracted from the breathing pattern along with common clinical variables are reliable enough to detect Periodic Breathing (PB). A dataset of 44 elderly patients containing clinical information and a short record of electrocardiogram and respiratory flow signal was used to train two machine learning classification methods: Support Vector Machine (SVM) and Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA). All the available clinical parameters within the dataset along with the parameters characterizing the respiratory pattern were used to classify the observations into two groups. SVM classification was optimized and performed using a = -8 and C = 10.04 giving an accuracy of 88.2 % sensitivity of 90 % and specificity of 85.7 % Similar results were achieved with LDA classifying with an accuracy of 82.4 %, a sensitivity of 81.8% and specificity of 83.3 % PB has been accurately detected using both classifiers.

Keywords: Support vector machines, Feature extraction, Training, Senior citizens, Standards, Training data, Hospitals


Ma, X., Jannasch, A., Albrecht, U. R., Hahn, K., Miguel-López, A., Schäffer, E., Sánchez, S., (2015). Enzyme-powered hollow mesoporous Janus nanomotors Nano Letters 15, (10), 7043-7050

The development of synthetic nanomotors for technological applications in particular for life science and nanomedicine is a key focus of current basic research. However, it has been challenging to make active nanosystems based on biocompatible materials consuming nontoxic fuels for providing self-propulsion. Here, we fabricate self-propelled Janus nanomotors based on hollow mesoporous silica nanoparticles (HMSNPs), which are powered by biocatalytic reactions of three different enzymes: catalase, urease, and glucose oxidase (GOx). The active motion is characterized by a mean-square displacement (MSD) analysis of optical video recordings and confirmed by dynamic light scattering (DLS) measurements. We found that the apparent diffusion coefficient was enhanced by up to 83%. In addition, using optical tweezers, we directly measured a holding force of 64 ± 16 fN, which was necessary to counteract the effective self-propulsion force generated by a single nanomotor. The successful demonstration of biocompatible enzyme-powered active nanomotors using biologically benign fuels has a great potential for future biomedical applications.

Keywords: Enzyme, Hollow mesoporous silica nanoparticles, Hybrid motors, Janus particles, Nanomotors, Optical tweezers


Sánchez, S., Soler, L., Katuri, J., (2015). Chemically powered micro- and nanomotors Angewandte Chemie - International Edition 54, (4), 1414-1444

Chemically powered micro- and nanomotors are small devices that are self-propelled by catalytic reactions in fluids. Taking inspiration from biomotors, scientists are aiming to find the best architecture for self-propulsion, understand the mechanisms of motion, and develop accurate control over the motion. Remotely guided nanomotors can transport cargo to desired targets, drill into biomaterials, sense their environment, mix or pump fluids, and clean polluted water. This Review summarizes the major advances in the growing field of catalytic nanomotors, which started ten years ago.

Keywords: Catalysis, Micromotors, Nanomotors, Robots, Self-propulsion


Ma, X., Katuri, J., Zeng, Y., Zhao, Y., Sánchez, S., (2015). Surface conductive graphene-wrapped micromotors exhibiting enhanced motion Small 11, (38), 5023–5027

Surface-conductive Janus spherical motors are fabricated by wrapping silica particles with reduced graphene oxide capped with a thin Pt layer. These motors exhibit a 100% enhanced velocity as compared to standard SiO2–Pt motors. Furthermore, the versatility of graphene may open up possibilities for a diverse range of applications from active drug delivery systems to water remediation.

Keywords: Enhanced speed, Graphene wrapping, Janus micromotors, Janus particles, Micromotors, Surface conduction


Reginensi, Diego, Carulla, Patricia, Nocentini, Sara, Seira, Oscar, Serra-Picamal, Xavier, Torres-Espín, Abel, Matamoros-Angles, Andreu, Gavín, Rosalina, Moreno-Flores, María Teresa, Wandosell, Francisco, Samitier, Josep, Trepat, Xavier, Navarro, Xavier, del Río, José Antonio, (2015). Increased migration of olfactory ensheathing cells secreting the Nogo receptor ectodomain over inhibitory substrates and lesioned spinal cord Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 72, (14), 2719-2737

Olfactory ensheathing cell (OEC) transplantation emerged some years ago as a promising therapeutic strategy to repair injured spinal cord. However, inhibitory molecules are present for long periods of time in lesioned spinal cord, inhibiting both OEC migration and axonal regrowth. Two families of these molecules, chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (CSPG) and myelin-derived inhibitors (MAIs), are able to trigger inhibitory responses in lesioned axons. Mounting evidence suggests that OEC migration is inhibited by myelin. Here we demonstrate that OEC migration is largely inhibited by CSPGs and that inhibition can be overcome by the bacterial enzyme Chondroitinase ABC. In parallel, we have generated a stable OEC cell line overexpressing the Nogo receptor (NgR) ectodomain to reduce MAI-associated inhibition in vitro and in vivo. Results indicate that engineered cells migrate longer distances than unmodified OECs over myelin or oligodendrocyte-myelin glycoprotein (OMgp)-coated substrates. In addition, they also show improved migration in lesioned spinal cord. Our results provide new insights toward the improvement of the mechanisms of action and optimization of OEC-based cell therapy for spinal cord lesion.

Keywords: Olfactory ensheathing cells, Traction force microscopy, Chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans, Cell migration, Nogo receptor ectodomain


Perea-Gil, I., Uriarte, J. J., Prat-Vidal, C., Gálvez-Montón, C., Roura, S., Llucià-Valldeperas, A., Soler-Botija, C., Farré, R., Navajas, D., Bayes-Genis, A., (2015). In vitro comparative study of two decellularization protocols in search of an optimal myocardial scaffold for recellularization American Journal of Translational Research 7, (3), 558-573

Introduction. Selection of a biomaterial-based scaffold that mimics native myocardial extracellular matrix (ECM) architecture can facilitate functional cell attachment and differentiation. Although decellularized myocardial ECM accomplishes these premises, decellularization processes may variably distort or degrade ECM structure. Materials and methods. Two decellularization protocols (DP) were tested on porcine heart samples (epicardium, mid myocardium and endocardium). One protocol, DP1, was detergent-based (SDS and Triton X-100), followed by DNase I treatment. The other protocol, DP2, was focused in trypsin and acid with Triton X-100 treatments. Decellularized myocardial scaffolds were reseeded by embedding them in RAD16-I peptidic hydrogel with adipose tissue-derived progenitor cells (ATDPCs). Results. Both protocols yielded acellular myocardial scaffolds (~82% and ~94% DNA reduction for DP1 and DP2, respectively). Ultramicroscopic assessment of scaffolds was similar for both protocols and showed filamentous ECM with preserved fiber disposition and structure. DP1 resulted in more biodegradable scaffolds (P = 0.04). Atomic force microscopy revealed no substantial ECM stiffness changes post-decellularization compared to native tissue. The Young’s modulus did not differ between heart layers (P = 0.69) or decellularization protocols (P = 0.15). After one week, recellularized DP1 scaffolds contained higher cell density (236 ± 106 and 98 ± 56 cells/mm2 for recellularized DP1 and DP2 scaffolds, respectively; P = 0.04). ATDPCs in both DP1 and DP2 scaffolds expressed the endothelial marker isolectin B4, but only in the DP1 scaffold ATDPCs expressed the cardiac markers GATA4, connexin43 and cardiac troponin T. Conclusions. In our hands, DP1 produced myocardial scaffolds with higher cell repopulation and promotes ATDPCs expression of endothelial and cardiomyogenic markers.

Keywords: Acellular myocardial scaffold, Adipose tissue-derived progenitor cells, Decellularization protocols, Extracellular matrix, Myocardial infarction, Recellularization


Barniol-Xicota, M., Escandell, A., Valverde, E., Julián, E., Torrents, E., Vázquez, S., (2015). Antibacterial activity of novel benzopolycyclic amines Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry 23, (2), 290-296

Staphylococcus aureus, especially strains resistant to multiple antibiotics, is a major pathogen for humans and animals. In this paper we have synthesized and evaluated the antibacterial activity of a new series of benzopolycyclic amines. Some of them exhibited μM MIC values against Staphylococcus aureus and other bacteria, including methicillin-resistant S. aureus MRSA. Compound 8 that displayed a good selectivity index, showed to be active in eliminating bacterial cells forming a preexisting biofilm.

Keywords: Antibacterials, Minimal biofilm inhibitory concentration, Polycyclic compounds, Staphylococcus aureus


del Moral-Zamora, Beatriz, Punter-Villagrassa, Jaime, Oliva-Brañas, Ana M., Álvarez-Azpeitia, Juan Manuel, Colomer-Farrarons, Jordi, Samitier, Josep, Homs-Corbera, Antoni, Miribel-Català, Pere Ll, (2015). Combined dielectrophoretic and impedance system for on-chip controlled bacteria concentration: application to Escherichia coli Electrophoresis 36, (9-10), 1130-1141

The present paper reports a bacteria autonomous controlled concentrator prototype with a user-friendly interface for bench-top applications. It is based on a micro-fluidic lab-on-a-chip and its associated custom instrumentation, which consists in a dielectrophoretic actuator, to pre-concentrate the sample, and an impedance analyser, to measure concentrated bacteria levels. The system is composed by a single micro-fluidic chamber with interdigitated electrodes and a instrumentation with custom electronics. The prototype is supported by a real-time platform connected to a remote computer, which automatically controls the system and displays impedance data used to monitor the status of bacteria accumulation on-chip. The system automates the whole concentrating operation. Performance has been studied for controlled volumes of Escherichia coli (E. coli) samples injected into the micro-fluidic chip at constant flow rate of 10 μL/min. A media conductivity correcting protocol has been developed, as the preliminary results showed distortion of the impedance analyser measurement produced by bacterial media conductivity variations through time. With the correcting protocol, the measured impedance values were related to the quantity of bacteria concentrated with a correlation of 0.988 and a coefficient of variation of 3.1%. Feasibility of E. coli on-chip automated concentration, using the miniaturized system, has been demonstrated. Furthermore, the impedance monitoring protocol had been adjusted and optimized, to handle changes in the electrical properties of the bacteria media over time.

Keywords: Autonomous Device, Bacteria Concentrator, Dielectrophoresis, Escherichia coli, Impedance Analysis


del Moral Zamora, Beatriz, Manuel Álvarez Azpeitia, Juan, Brañas, Ana Ma Oliva, Colomer-Farrarons, Jordi, Castellarnau, Marc, Miribel-Català, Pere Ll, Homs-Corbera, Antoni, Juárez, Antonio, Samitier, Josep, (2015). Dielectrophoretic concentrator enhancement based on dielectric poles for continuously flowing samples Electrophoresis 36, (13), 1405-1413

We describe a novel continuous-flow cell concentrator micro-device based on dielectrophoresis (DEP), and its associated custom-made control unit. The performances of a classical interdigitated metal electrode-based DEP microfluidic device and this enhanced version, that includes insulator-based pole structures, were compared using the same setup. Escherichia coli (E. coli) samples were concentrated at several continuous flows and the device's trapping efficiencies were evaluated by exhaustive cell counts. Our results show that pole structures enhance the retention up to 12.6%, obtaining significant differences for flow rates up to 20 μl/min, when compared to an equivalent classical interdigitated electrodes setup. In addition, we performed a subsequent proteomic analysis to evaluate the viability of the biological samples after the long exposure to the actuating electrical field. No E. coli protein alteration in any of the two systems was observed.

Keywords: Concentrator, Dielectrophoresis, Escherichia coli, Lab- on- a- chip


Seo, K. D., Kwak, B. K., Sánchez, S., Kim, D. S., (2015). Microfluidic-assisted fabrication of flexible and location traceable organo-motor IEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience 14, (3), 298-304

In this paper, we fabricate a flexible and location traceable micromotor, called organo-motor, assisted by microfluidic devices and with high throughput. The organo-motors are composed of organic hydrogel material, poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA), which can provide the flexibility of their structure. For spatial and temporal traceability of the organo-motors under magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION; Fe3O4) were incorporated into the PEGDA microhydrogels. Furthermore, a thin layer of platinum (Pt) was deposited onto one side of the SPION-PEGDA microhydrogels providing geometrical asymmetry and catalytic propulsion in aqueous fluids containing hydrogen peroxide solution, H2O2. Furthermore, the motion of the organo-motor was controlled by a small external magnet enabled by the presence of SPION in the motor architecture.

Keywords: Flexible, Hydrogel, Magnetic resonance imaging, Microfluidics, Micromotor, Microparticle, Organo-motor, Poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate, Self-propulsion, Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles


Garde, A., Giraldo, B. F., Jané, R., Latshang, T. D., Turk, A. J., Hess, T., Bosch, M-.M., Barthelmes, D., Merz, T. M., Hefti, J. Pichler, Schoch, O. D., Bloch, K. E., (2015). Time-varying signal analysis to detect high-altitude periodic breathing in climbers ascending to extreme altitude Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing 53, (8), 699-712

This work investigates the performance of cardiorespiratory analysis detecting periodic breathing (PB) in chest wall recordings in mountaineers climbing to extreme altitude. The breathing patterns of 34 mountaineers were monitored unobtrusively by inductance plethysmography, ECG and pulse oximetry using a portable recorder during climbs at altitudes between 4497 and 7546 m on Mt. Muztagh Ata. The minute ventilation (VE) and heart rate (HR) signals were studied, to identify visually scored PB, applying time-varying spectral, coherence and entropy analysis. In 411 climbing periods, 30–120 min in duration, high values of mean power (MPVE) and slope (MSlopeVE) of the modulation frequency band of VE, accurately identified PB, with an area under the ROC curve of 88 and 89 %, respectively. Prolonged stay at altitude was associated with an increase in PB. During PB episodes, higher peak power of ventilatory (MPVE) and cardiac (MP LF HR ) oscillations and cardiorespiratory coherence (MP LF Coher ), but reduced ventilation entropy (SampEnVE), was observed. Therefore, the characterization of cardiorespiratory dynamics by the analysis of VE and HR signals accurately identifies PB and effects of altitude acclimatization, providing promising tools for investigating physiologic effects of environmental exposures and diseases.

Keywords: High-altitude periodic breathing, Cardiorespiratory characterization, Time-varying spectral analysis, Acclimatization, Hypoxia


Hernansanz, A., Casals, A., Amat, J., (2015). A multi-robot cooperation strategy for dexterous task oriented teleoperation Robotics and Autonomous Systems 68, 156-172

The use of multiple robots working cooperatively in a redundant way offers new possibilities in the execution of complex tasks in dynamic workspaces. The aim of this work is to increase the range of applicability of teleoperated systems by means of the automatic cooperation of multiple slave robots which, controlled by a human operator, act as if they were a unique robot: a Multi-Robot Cooperation Platform for Task-Oriented Teleoperation, MRCP. From the human operator commands, this robotic platform, the MRCP, dynamically selects the most suitable slave robot and manages, when necessary, a task transfer from one robot to another in order to achieve a smooth execution of teleoperated tasks. The result of the proposed methodology is an improved teleoperated system in terms of reachable workspace (volume, manoeuvrability and accessibility) and dexterity, thus widening its range of applicability. This approach allows human operators to focus their attention on the ongoing task more than on the teleoperated robots.

Keywords: Multi-robot cooperation, Single-operator-multiple-robot, Task-oriented teleoperation


Khalil, I. S. M., Magdanz, V., Sánchez, S., Schmidt, O. G., Misra, S., (2015). Precise localization and control of catalytic janus micromotors using weak magnetic fields International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems 12, (2), 1-7

We experimentally demonstrate the precise localization of spherical Pt-Silica Janus micromotors (diameter 5 μm) under the influence of controlled magnetic fields. First, we control the motion of the Janus micromotors in two-dimensional (2D) space. The control system achieves precise localization within an average region-of-convergence of 7 μm. Second, we show that these micromotors provide sufficient propulsion force, allowing them to overcome drag and gravitational forces and move both downwards and upwards. This propulsion is studied by moving the micromotors in three-dimensional (3D) space. The micromotors move downwards and upwards at average speeds of 19.1 μm/s and 9.8 μm/s, respectively. Moreover, our closed-loop control system achieves localization in 3D space within an average region-of-convergence of 6.3 μm in diameter. The precise motion control and localization of the Janus micromotors in 2D and 3D spaces provides broad possibilities for nanotechnology applications.

Keywords: 3D space, Localization, Magnetic control, Micromotors, Self-propulsion


Giraldo, B. F., Rodriguez, J., Caminal, P., Bayes-Genis, A., Voss, A., (2015). Cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular interactions in cardiomyopathy patients using joint symbolic dynamic analysis Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Milan, Italy) , 306-309

Cardiovascular diseases are the first cause of death in developed countries. Using electrocardiographic (ECG), blood pressure (BP) and respiratory flow signals, we obtained parameters for classifying cardiomyophaty patients. 42 patients with ischemic (ICM) and dilated (DCM) cardiomyophaties were studied. The left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was used to stratify patients with low risk (LR: LVEF>35%, 14 patients) and high risk (HR: LVEF≤ 35%, 28 patients) of heart attack. RR, SBP and TTot time series were extracted from the ECG, BP and respiratory flow signals, respectively. The time series were transformed to a binary space and then analyzed using Joint Symbolic Dynamic with a word length of three, characterizing them by the probability of occurrence of the words. Extracted parameters were then reduced using correlation and statistical analysis. Principal component analysis and support vector machines methods were applied to characterize the cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular interactions in ICM and DCM cardiomyopaties, obtaining an accuracy of 85.7%.

Keywords: Blood pressure, Electrocardiography, Joints, Kernel, Principal component analysis, Support vector machines, Time series analysis


Rajasekaran, V., Aranda, J., Casals, A., (2015). Compliant gait assistance triggered by user intention Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Milan, Italy) , 3885-3888

An automatic gait initialization strategy based on user intention sensing in the context of rehabilitation with a lower-limb wearable robot is proposed and evaluated. The proposed strategy involves monitoring the human-orthosis interaction torques and initial position deviation to determine the gait initiation instant and to modify orthosis operation for gait assistance, when needed. During gait, the compliant control algorithm relies on the adaptation of the joints' stiffness in function of their interaction torques and their deviation from the desired trajectories, while maintaining the dynamic stability. As a reference input, the average of a set of recorded gaits obtained from healthy subjects is used. The algorithm has been tested with five healthy subjects showing its efficient behavior in initiating the gait and maintaining the equilibrium while walking in presence of external forces. The work is performed as a preliminary study to assist patients suffering from incomplete Spinal cord injury and Stroke.

Keywords: Biomedical monitoring, Exoskeletons, Joints, Knee, Legged locomotion, Trajectory, Exoskeleton, adaptive control, gait assistance, gait initiation, rehabilitation, wearable robot


Vinagre, M., Aranda, J., Casals, A., Aranda, J., Casals, A., (2015). A new relational geometric feature for human action recognition Lecture Notes in Electrical Engineering (ed. Ferrier, J.L., Gusikhin, O., Madani, K., Sasiadek, J.), Springer (Lausanne, Switzerland) 325, 263-278

Pose-based features have demonstrated to outperform low-levelappearance features in human action recognition. New RGB-D cameras provide locations of human joints with which geometric correspondences can be easily calculated. In this article, a new geometric correspondence between joints called Trisarea feature is presented. It is defined as the area of the triangle formed by three joints. Relevant triangles describing human pose are identified and it is shown how the variation over time of the selected Trisarea features constitutes a descriptor of human action. Experimental results show a comparison with other methods and demonstrate how this Trisarea-based representation can be applied to human action recognition.

Keywords: Action descriptor, Action recognition, Pose-based feature


Palleja, T., Balsa, R., Tresanchez, M., Moreno, J., Teixido, M., Font, D., Marco, S., Pomareda, V., Palacin, J., (2014). Corridor gas-leak localization using a mobile Robot with a photo ionization detector sensor Sensor Letters 12, (6-7), 974-977

The use of an autonomous mobile robot to locate gas-leaks and air quality monitoring in indoor environments are promising tasks that will avoid risky human operations. However, these are challenging tasks due to the chaotic gas profile propagation originated by uncontrolled air flows. This paper proposes the localization of an acetone gas-leak in a 44 m-length indoor corridor with a mobile robot equipped with a PID sensor. This paper assesses the influence of the mobile robot velocity and the relative height of the PID sensor in the profile of the measurements. The results show weak influence of the robot velocity and strong influence of the relative height of the PID sensor. An estimate of the gas-leak location is also performed by computing the center of mass of the highest gas concentrations.

Keywords: Gas source detection, LIDAR sensor, Mobile robot, PID sensor, SLAM, Acetone, Air quality, Gases, Indoor air pollution, Mobile robots, Robots, Air quality monitoring, Autonomous Mobile Robot, Gas sources, Indoor environment, Leak localization, LIDAR sensors, Profile propagation, SLAM, Ionization of gases


del Moral Zamora, B., Azpeitia, J. M. Á, Farrarons, J. C., Català, P. L. M., Corbera, A. H., Juárez, A., Samitier, J., (2014). Towards point-of-use dielectrophoretic methods: A new portable multiphase generator for bacteria concentration Micro and Nanosystems 6, (2), 71-78

This manuscript presents a portable and low cost electronic system for specific point-of-use dielectrophoresis applications. The system is composed of two main modules: a) a multiphase generator based on a Class E amplifier, which provides 4 sinusoidal signals (0°, 90°, 180°, 270°) at 1 MHz with variable output voltage up to 10 Vpp (Vm) and an output driving current of 1 A; and b) a dielectrophoresis-based microfluidic chip containing two interdigitated electrodes. The system has been validated by concentrating Escherichia coli (E. coli) at 1 MHz while applying a continuous flow of 5 µL/min. The device functionalities were verified under different conditions, achieving an 83% trapping efficiency when counter-phased signals are used.

Keywords: Cell Concentrator, Class E amplifier, Dielectrophoresis, Electronics, Lab-on-a-chip (LOC), Low cost, Portable device


Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Toy kit against malaria: Magic bullets, LEGO, Trojan horses and Russian dolls Therapeutic Delivery 5, (10), 1049-1052

Artés, Juan M., López-Martínez, Montserrat, Díez-Pérez, Ismael, Sanz, Fausto, Gorostiza, Pau, (2014). Conductance switching in single wired redox proteins Small 10, (13), 2537-2541

Switching events in the current flowing through individual redox proteins, (azurin) spontaneously wired between two electrodes, are studied using an electrochemical scanning tunneling microscope (ECSTM). These switching events in the current–time trace are characterized using conductance histograms, and reflect the intrinsic redox thermodynamic dispersion in the azurin population. This conductance switching may pose limitations to miniaturizing redox protein-based devices.

Keywords: Bioelectronics, Protein transistors, Molecular junctions, Switches, STM


Castaño, O., Sachot, N., Xuriguera, E., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Park, J. H., Jin, G. Z., Kim, T. H., Kim, J. H., Kim, H. W., (2014). Angiogenesis in bone regeneration: Tailored calcium release in hybrid fibrous scaffolds ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 6, (10), 7512-7522

In bone regeneration, silicon-based calcium phosphate glasses (Bioglasses) have been widely used since the 1970s. However, they dissolve very slowly because of their high amount of Si (SiO2 > 45%). Recently, our group has found that calcium ions released by the degradation of glasses in which the job of silicon is done by just 5% of TiO2 are effective angiogenic promoters, because of their stimulation of a cell-membrane calcium sensing receptor (CaSR). Based on this, other focused tests on angiogenesis have found that Bioglasses also have the potential to be angiogenic promoters even with high contents of silicon (80%); however, their slow degradation is still a problem, as the levels of silicon cannot be decreased any lower than 45%. In this work, we propose a new generation of hybrid organically modified glasses, ormoglasses, that enable the levels of silicon to be reduced, therefore speeding up the degradation process. Using electrospinning as a faithful way to mimic the extracellular matrix (ECM), we successfully produced hybrid fibrous mats with three different contents of Si (40, 52, and 70%), and thus three different calcium ion release rates, using an ormoglass–polycaprolactone blend approach. These mats offered a good platform to evaluate different calcium release rates as osteogenic promoters in an in vivo subcutaneous environment. Complementary data were collected to complement Ca2+ release analysis, such as stiffness evaluation by AFM, ζ-potential, morphology evaluation by FESEM, proliferation and differentiation analysis, as well as in vivo subcutaneous implantations. Material and biological characterization suggested that compositions of organic/inorganic hybrid materials with a Si content equivalent to 40%, which were also those that released more calcium, were osteogenic. They also showed a greater ability to form blood vessels. These results suggest that Si-based ormoglasses can be considered an efficient tool for calcium release modulation, which could play a key role in the angiogenic promoting process.

Keywords: Biological materials, Blood vessels, Calcium, Electrospinning, Glass, Hybrid materials, Silicon oxides, Sol-gel process, Sol-gels, Angiogenesis, Biological characterization, Calcium phosphate glass, Calcium-sensing receptors, Degradation process, Extracellular matrices, Organic/inorganic hybrid materials, ormoglasses, Silicon


González-Vázquez, A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2014). Extracellular calcium and CaSR drive osteoinduction in mesenchymal stromal cells Acta Biomaterialia 10, (6), 2824–2833

Bone is the main store of calcium and progenitor cells in the body. During the resorption process, the local calcium concentration reaches 8-40 mM, and the surrounding cells are exposed to these fluctuations in calcium. This stimulus is a signal that is detected through the calcium sensing receptor (CaSR), which modulates chemotactic and proliferative G protein-dependent signaling pathways. The objective of the present work is to evaluate the roles of extracellular calcium ([Ca2+]o) and the CaSR in osteoinduction. Rat bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (rBMSCs) were stimulated with 10 mM of Ca2+. Several experiments were conducted to demonstrate the effect of [Ca2+]o on chemotaxis, proliferation and differentiation on the osteoblastic lineage. It was found that [Ca2+]o induces rBMSCs to migrate and proliferate in a concentration-dependent manner. Real-time polymerase chain reaction and immunofluorescence also revealed that 10 mM Ca2+ stimulates overexpression of osteogenic markers in rBMSCs, including alkaline phosphatase (ALP), bone sialoprotein, collagen Ia1 and osteocalcin. Functional assays determining ALP activity and mineralization tests both corroborate the increased expression of these markers in rBMSCs stimulated with Ca2+. Moreover, CaSR blockage inhibited the cellular response to stimulation with high concentrations of [Ca2+]o, revealing that the CaSR is a key modulator of these cellular responses.

Keywords: Calcium sensing receptor (CaSR), Extracellular calcium, Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), Osteoinduction, Regenerative medicine


Torrents, Eduard, (2014). Ribonucleotide reductases: Essential Enzymes for bacterial life Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 4, 1-9

Ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) is a key enzyme that mediates the synthesis of deoxyribonucleotides, the DNA precursors, for DNA synthesis in every living cell. This enzyme converts ribonucleotides to deoxyribonucleotides, the building blocks for DNA replication, and repair. Clearly, RNR enzymes have contributed to the appearance of genetic material that exists today, being essential for the evolution of all organisms on Earth. The strict control of RNR activity and dNTP pool sizes is important, as pool imbalances increase mutation rates, replication anomalies, and genome instability. Thus, RNR activity should be finely regulated allosterically and at the transcriptional level. In this review we examine the distribution, the evolution, and the genetic regulation of bacterial RNRs. Moreover, this enzyme can be considered an ideal target for anti-proliferative compounds designed to inhibit cell replication in eukaryotic cells (cancer cells), parasites, viruses, and bacteria.

Keywords: Anaerobiosis, Transcription Factors, Evolution, Gene regulation, Ribonucleotide reductase, DNA Synthesis, NrdR,nrd


Uriarte, J. J., Nonaka, P. N., Campillo, N., Palma, R. K., Melo, E., de Oliveira, L. V. F., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2014). Mechanical properties of acellular mouse lungs after sterilization by gamma irradiation Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 40, 168-177

Lung bioengineering using decellularized organ scaffolds is a potential alternative for lung transplantation. Clinical application will require donor scaffold sterilization. As gamma-irradiation is a conventional method for sterilizing tissue preparations for clinical application, the aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of lung scaffold sterilization by gamma irradiation on the mechanical properties of the acellular lung when subjected to the artificial ventilation maneuvers typical within bioreactors. Twenty-six mouse lungs were decellularized by a sodium dodecyl sulfate detergent protocol. Eight lungs were used as controls and 18 of them were submitted to a 31kGy gamma irradiation sterilization process (9 kept frozen in dry ice and 9 at room temperature). Mechanical properties of acellular lungs were measured before and after irradiation. Lung resistance (RL) and elastance (EL) were computed by linear regression fitting of recorded signals during mechanical ventilation (tracheal pressure, flow and volume). Static (Est) and dynamic (Edyn) elastances were obtained by the end-inspiratory occlusion method. After irradiation lungs presented higher values of resistance and elastance than before irradiation: RL increased by 41.1% (room temperature irradiation) and 32.8% (frozen irradiation) and EL increased by 41.8% (room temperature irradiation) and 31.8% (frozen irradiation). Similar increases were induced by irradiation in Est and Edyn. Scanning electron microscopy showed slight structural changes after irradiation, particularly those kept frozen. Sterilization by gamma irradiation at a conventional dose to ensure sterilization modifies acellular lung mechanics, with potential implications for lung bioengineering.

Keywords: Gamma irradiation, Lung bioengineering, Lung decellularization, Organ scaffold, Pulmonary mechanics, Decellularization, Gamma irradiation, Mouse lung, Pulmonary mechanics, dodecyl sulfate sodium, animal tissue, Article, artificial ventilation, bioengineering, bioreactor, compliance (physical), controlled study, freezing, gamma irradiation, lung, lung mechanics, lung resistance, male, mouse, nonhuman, room temperature, scanning electron microscopy, tissue scaffold, trachea pressure


Bennetts, Victor, Schaffernicht, Erik, Pomareda, Victor, Lilienthal, Achim, Marco, Santiago, Trincavelli, Marco, (2014). Combining non selective gas sensors on a mobile robot for identification and mapping of multiple chemical compounds Sensors 14, (9), 17331-17352

In this paper, we address the task of gas distribution modeling in scenarios where multiple heterogeneous compounds are present. Gas distribution modeling is particularly useful in emission monitoring applications where spatial representations of the gaseous patches can be used to identify emission hot spots. In realistic environments, the presence of multiple chemicals is expected and therefore, gas discrimination has to be incorporated in the modeling process. The approach presented in this work addresses the task of gas distribution modeling by combining different non selective gas sensors. Gas discrimination is addressed with an open sampling system, composed by an array of metal oxide sensors and a probabilistic algorithm tailored to uncontrolled environments. For each of the identified compounds, the mapping algorithm generates a calibrated gas distribution model using the classification uncertainty and the concentration readings acquired with a photo ionization detector. The meta parameters of the proposed modeling algorithm are automatically learned from the data. The approach was validated with a gas sensitive robot patrolling outdoor and indoor scenarios, where two different chemicals were released simultaneously. The experimental results show that the generated multi compound maps can be used to accurately predict the location of emitting gas sources.

Keywords: Environmental monitoring, Gas discrimination, Gas distribution mapping, Service robots, Open sampling systems, PID, Metal oxide sensors


Tahirbegi, I. B., Alvira, M., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2014). Simple and fast method for fabrication of endoscopic implantable sensor arrays Sensors 14, (7), 11416-11426

Here we have developed a simple method for the fabrication of disposable implantable all-solid-state ion-selective electrodes (ISE) in an array format without using complex fabrication equipment or clean room facilities. The electrodes were designed in a needle shape instead of planar electrodes for a full contact with the tissue. The needle-shape platform comprises 12 metallic pins which were functionalized with conductive inks and ISE membranes. The modified microelectrodes were characterized with cyclic voltammetry, scanning electron microscope (SEM), and optical interferometry. The surface area and roughness factor of each microelectrode were determined and reproducible values were obtained for all the microelectrodes on the array. In this work, the microelectrodes were modified with membranes for the detection of pH and nitrate ions to prove the reliability of the fabricated sensor array platform adapted to an endoscope.

Keywords: Chemical sensors, Cyclic voltammetry, Electrochemistry, Endoscopy, Fabrication, Implants (surgical), Microelectrodes, Needles, Nitrates, Scanning electron microscopy, Biomedicine, Fabricated sensors, Fabrication equipment, Implantable devices, Implantable sensors, Optical interferometry, Planar electrode, Roughness factor, Ion selective electrodes


Álvarez, Z., Sena, E., Mattotti, M., Engel, E., Alcántara, S., (2014). An efficient and reproducible method to culture Bergmann and cortical radial glia using textured PMMA Journal of Neuroscience Methods 232, 93-101

Background: Radial glia cells comprise the principal population of neural stem cells (NSC) during development. Attempts to develop reproducible radial glia and NSC culture methods have met with variable results, yielding non-adherent cultures or requiring the addition of growth factors. Recent studies demonstrated that a 2-μm patterned poly-methyl methacrylate (ln2 PMMA) grooved scaffold, by mimicking the biophysical and microtopographic properties of the embryonic NSC niche, induces the de-differentiation of glial cells into functional radial glia cells. New method: Here we describe a method for obtaining cultures of adherent Bergmann radial glia (BRG) and cortical radial glia (CRG). The growth substrate is ln2 PMMA and the addition of growth factors is not required. Results: Postnatal glia obtained from mouse cerebellum or cerebral cortex and grown on ln2 PMMA adopted a BRG/CRG phenotype characterized by a bipolar shape, the up-regulation of progenitor markers such as nestin and Sox2, and the down-regulation of vimentin and GFAP. Neurons cultured over the BRG/CRG aligned their processes with those of the glial shafts, thus mimicking the behavior of migrating neuronal cells. Comparison with existing methods: The ln2 PMMA culture method offers an ideal system for analyzing both the biochemical factors controlling the neurogenic potential of BRG/CRG and neuronal migration. Conclusions: The ln2 PMMA method is a reproducible system to obtain immature BRG/CRG preparations in vitro. It can be used to study the properties of CNS progenitor cells as well as the interactions between radial glia and neurons, and supports cultured progenitors for use in different applications. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords: Astrocytes, Bergmann glia, Micro-patterning, Poly-methyl methacrylate (PMMA), Progenitors, Radial glia, Surface topography


Nonaka, P. N., Uriarte, J. J., Campillo, N., Melo, E., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Oliveira, L. V. F., (2014). Mechanical properties of mouse lungs along organ decellularization by sodium dodecyl sulfate Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 200, 1-5

Lung decellularization is based on the use of physical, chemical, or enzymatic methods to break down the integrity of the cells followed by a treatment to extract the cellular material from the lung scaffold. The aim of this study was to characterize the mechanical changes throughout the different steps of lung decellularization process. Four lungs from mice (C57BL/6) were decellularized by using a conventional protocol based on sodium dodecyl sulfate. Lungs resistance (RL) and elastance (EL) were measured along decellularization steps and were computed by linear regression fitting of tracheal pressure, flow, and volume during mechanical ventilation. Transients differences found were more distinct in an intermediate step after the lungs were rinsed with deionized water and treated with 1% SDS, whereupon the percentage of variation reached approximately 80% for resistance values and 30% for elastance values. In conclusion, although a variation in extracellular matrix stiffness was observed during the decellularization process, this variation can be considered negligible overall because the resistance and elastance returned to basal values at the final decellularization step.

Keywords: Lung bioengineering, Lung decellularization, Organ scaffold, dodecyl sulfate sodium, animal tissue, article, artificial ventilation, compliance (physical), controlled study, enzyme chemistry, extracellular matrix, female, flow, lung, lung decellularization, lung pressure, lung resistance, mouse, nonhuman, positive end expiratory pressure, priority journal, rigidity, tissue engineering, trachea pressure


Jané, R., (2014). Engineering Sleep Disorders: From classical CPAP devices toward new intelligent adaptive ventilatory therapy IEEE Pulse 5, (5), 29-32

Among the most common sleep disorders are those related to disruptions in airflow (apnea) or reductions in the breath amplitude (hypopnea) with or without obstruction of the upper airway (UA). One of the most important sleep disorders is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This sleep-disordered breathing, quantified by the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), can produce a significant reduction of oxygen saturation and an abnormal elevation of carbon dioxide levels in the blood. Apnea and hypopnea episodes are associated with arousals and sleep fragmentation during the night and compensatory response of the autonomic nervous system.

Keywords: Biomedical engineering, Biomedical measurements, Biomedical monitoring, Breathing disorders, Medical conditions, Medical treatment, Sleep, Sleep apnea


Correa, L.S., Giraldo, B., Correa, R., Arini, P.D., Laciar, E., (2014). Estudio de la pausa espiratoria en pacientes con enfermedades obstructivas en proceso de desconexión de la ventilación mecánica IFMBE Proceedings VI Latin American Congress on Biomedical Engineering (CLAIB 2014) , Springer (Paraná, Argentina) 49, 705-708

In this work, the flow signal Expiratory Pause (EP) temporal analysis is used in 18 patients with obstructive lung diseases going through spontaneous breathing trial at weaning process. The main objective was to identify the patients who were successfully disconnected (success group: 9 patients), and those who were not (failure and reintubated group: 9 patients). A variable selection stage was done by mean group comparison and step wise variable inclusion, leading to a 3 parameters set: EP time median; cycle time mean; and median absolute deviation of the EP maxima local number. Next, this set was used in a classifier based on linear discriminant analysis, which results in 17 patients (94.4%) correctly classified, with 88.9% of specificity (Sp) and 100% of sensitivity (Se). Finally, applying the leave-one-out cross validation method, results were 88.9% of correctly classified patients (Sp=77.8% and Se=100%). In conclusion, the proposed parameters showed a good performance and could be used to help therapists to wean patients with obstructive diseases.

Keywords: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Weaning, Mechanical ventilation, Expiratory pause


Chaparro, J. A., Giraldo, B. F., (2014). Power index of the inspiratory flow signal as a predictor of weaning in intensive care units Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 36th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Chicago, USA) , 78-81

Disconnection from mechanical ventilation, called the weaning process, is an additional difficulty in the management of patients in intensive care units (ICU). Unnecessary delays in the discontinuation process and a weaning trial that is undertaken too early are undesirable. In this study, we propose an extubation index based on the power of the respiratory flow signal (Pi). A total of 132 patients on weaning trials were studied: 94 patients with successful trials (group S) and 38 patients who failed to maintain spontaneous breathing and were reconnected (group F). The respiratory flow signals were processed considering the following three stages: a) zero crossing detection of the inspiratory phase, b) inflection point detection of the flow curve during the inspiratory phase, and c) calculation of the signal power on the time instant indicated by the inflection point. The zero crossing detection was performed using an algorithm based on thresholds. The inflection points were marked considering the zero crossing of the second derivative. Finally, the inspiratory power was calculated from the energy contained over the finite time interval (between the instant of zero crossing and the inflection point). The performance of this parameter was evaluated using the following classifiers: logistic regression, linear discriminant analysis, the classification and regression tree, Naive Bayes, and the support vector machine. The best results were obtained using the Bayesian classifier, which had an accuracy, sensitivity and specificity of 87%, 90% and 81% respectively.

Keywords: Bayes methods, Bayesian classifier, Indexes, Logistics, Niobium, Regression tree analysis, Support vector machines, Ventilation


Urra, O., Casals, A., Jané, R., (2014). Synergy analysis as a tool to design and assess an effective stroke rehabilitation Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 36th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Chicago, USA) , 3550-3553

The poor rehabilitation success rate, including the cases of ineffective and detrimental adaptations, make stroke a leading cause of disability. Thus, it is essential to recognize the mechanisms driving healthy motor recovery to improve such rate. Stroke alters the Synergy Architecture (SA), the modular muscle control system. So SA analysis may constitute a powerful tool to design and assess rehabilitation procedures. However, current impairment scales do not consider the patient's neuromuscular state. To gain insights into this hypothesis, we recorded multiple myoelectric signals from upper-limb muscles, in healthy subjects, while executing a set of common rehabilitation exercises. We found that SA reveals optimized motor control strategies and the positive effects of the use of visual feedback (VF) on motor control. Furthermore we demonstrate that the right and left arm's SA share the basic structure within the same subject, so we propose using the unaffected limb's SA as a reference motion pattern to be reached through rehabilitation.

Keywords: Bars, Electromyography, Motor drives, Neuromuscular, Vectors, Visualization


Lozano-Garcia, M., Fiz, J. A., Jané, R., (2014). Analysis of normal and continuous adventitious sounds for the assessment of asthma IFMBE Proceedings XIII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 2013 (ed. Roa Romero, Laura M.), Springer International Publishing (London, UK) 41, 981-984

Assessment of asthma is a difficult procedure which is based on the correlation of multiple factors. A major component in the diagnosis of asthma is the assessment of BD response, which is performed by traditional spirometry. In this context, the analysis of respiratory sounds (RS) provides relevant and complementary information about the function of the respiratory system. In particular, continuous adventitious sounds (CAS), such as wheezes, contribute to assess the severity of patients with obstructive diseases. On the other hand, the intensity of normal RS is dependent on airflow level and, therefore, it changes depending on the level of obstruction. This study proposes a new approach to RS analysis for the assessment of asthmatic patients, by combining the quantification of CAS and the analysis of the changes in the normal sound intensity-airflow relationship. According to results obtained from three patients with different characteristics, the proposed technique seems more sensitive and promising for the assessment of asthma.

Keywords: Asthma, Bronchodilator response, Continuous adventitious sound, Respiratory sound intensity, Wheezes


Rajasekaran, V., Aranda, J., Casals, A., (2014). Handling disturbances on planned trajectories in robotic rehabilitation therapies IFMBE Proceedings XIII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 2013 (ed. Roa Romero, Laura M.), Springer International Publishing (London, UK) 41, 85-88

Robotic rehabilitation therapies are an emerging tool in the field of Neurorehabilitation in order to achieve an effective therapeutic development in the patient. In this paper, the role of disturbances caused by muscle synergies or unpredictable effects of artificial stimulation in muscles during rehabilitation therapies is analyzed. In terms of gait assistance it is also important to maintain synchronized movements to ensure a dynamically stable gait. Although, disturbances affecting joints are corrected by a force control approach, we define two methods to ensure stability and synchronization of joint movements in the trajectory to be followed. The performance of the presented methods is evaluated in comparison with a preplanned trajectory to be followed by the patients.

Keywords: Exoskeleton, Force control, Gait assistance, Neurorobot, Trajectory planning


Casals, Alicia, Fedele, Pasquale, Marek, Tadeusz, Molfino, Rezia, Muscolo, GiovanniGerardo, Recchiuto, CarmineTommaso, (2014). A robotic suit controlled by the human brain for people suffering from quadriplegia Lecture Notes in Computer Science Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems (ed. Natraj, Ashutosh, Cameron, Stephen, Melhuish, Chris, Witkowski, Mark), Springer Berlin Heidelberg , 294-295

The authors present an introductory work for the implementation of an international cooperative project aimed at designing, developing and validating a new generation of ergonomic robotic suits, wearable by the users and controlled by the human brain. The aim of the proposers is to allow the motion of people affected by paralysis or with reduced motor abilities. Therefore, the project will focus on the fusion between neuroergonomics and robotics, also by means of brain-machine interfaces. Breakthrough solutions will compose the advanced robotic suit, endowed with soft structures to increment safety and human comfort, and with an advanced real-time control that takes into account the interaction with the human body.

Keywords: Neuroergonomics, Brain computer interfaces, Robotics, Robotic suits, Compliant actuators, Exoskeleton, EEG, Dynamic balance control


del Moral Zamora, B., Azpeitia, J. M. Á, Farrarons, J. C., Català, P. L. M., Corbera, A. H., Juárez, A., Samitier, J., (2014). Towards point-of-use dielectrophoretic methods: A new portable multiphase generator for bacteria concentration IFMBE Proceedings XIII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 2013 (ed. Roa Romero, Laura M.), Springer International Publishing (London, UK) 41, 856-859

This manuscript presents portable and low cost electronic system for specific point-of-use dielectrophoresis applications. The system is composed of two main modules: a) a multiphase generator based on a Class E amplifier, which provides 4 sinusoidal signals (0º, 90º, 180º, 270º) at 1 MHz with variable output voltage up to 10 Vpp (Vm) and an output driving current of 1 A; and b) a dielectrophoresis-based microfluidic chip containing two interdigitated electrodes. The system has been validated by concentrating Escherichia Coli at 1 MHz while applying a continuous flow of 5 μL/min. Device functionalities were verified under different conditions achieving a 83% trapping efficiency in the best case.

Keywords: Cell Concentrator, Class E amplifier, Dielectrophoresis, Electronics, Lab-on-a-chip (LOC), Low cost, Portable device


Gorostiza, Pau, Arosio, Daniele, Bregestovski, Piotr, (2013). Molecular probes and switches for functional analysis of receptors, ion channels and synaptic networks Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 6, (Article 48), 1-2

Álvarez, Zaida, Mateos-Timoneda, Miguel A., Hyrossová, Petra, Castaño, Oscar, Planell, Josep A., Perales, José C., Engel, Elisabeth, Alcántara, Soledad, (2013). The effect of the composition of PLA films and lactate release on glial and neuronal maturation and the maintenance of the neuronal progenitor niche Biomaterials 34, (9), 2221-2233

To develop tissue engineering strategies useful for repairing damage in the central nervous system (CNS) it is essential to design scaffolds that emulate the NSC niche and its tight control of neural cell genesis, growth, and differentiation. In this study we tested two types of poly l/dl lactic acid (PLA95/5 and PLA70/30), a biodegradable material permissive for neural cell adhesion and growth, as materials for nerve regeneration. Both PLA were slightly hydrophobic and negatively charged but differed in crystallinity, stiffness and degradation rate. PLA95/5 films were highly crystalline, stiff (GPa), and did not degrade significantly in the one-month period analyzed in culture. In contrast, PLA70/30 films were more amorphous, softer (MPa) and degraded faster, releasing significant amounts of lactate into the culture medium. PLA70/30 performs better than PLA95/5 for primary cortical neural cell adhesion, proliferation and differentiation, maintaining the pools of neuronal and glial progenitor cells in vitro. l-lactate in the medium recapitulated PLA70/30's maintenance of neuronal restricted progenitors but did not sustain bipotential or glial restricted progenitors in the cultures, as occurred when neural cells were grown on PLA70/30. Our results suggest that PLA70/30 may mimic some of the physical and biochemical characteristics of the NSC niche. Its mechanical and surface properties may act synergistically in the modulation of bipotential and glial restricted progenitor phenotypes, while it is l-lactate, either added to the medium or released by the film that drives the maintenance of neuronal restricted progenitor cell phenotypes.

Keywords: Polylactic acid, Degradation, Neurons, Progenitors, Lactate, Glial cells, NSC niche


Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2013). Amyloid fibrils in neurodegenerative diseases: villains or heroes? Future Medicinal Chemistry 5, (16), 1903-1906

Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2013). Heparin-functionalized nanocapsules: Enabling targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs Future Medicinal Chemistry 5, (7), 737-739

Izquierdo-Serra, Mercè, Trauner, Dirk, Llobet, Artur, Gorostiza, Pau, (2013). Optical control of calcium-regulated exocytosis Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects 1830, (3), 2853-2860

Background Neurons signal to each other and to non-neuronal cells as those in muscle or glands, by means of the secretion of neurotransmitters at chemical synapses. In order to dissect the molecular mechanisms of neurotransmission, new methods for directly and reversibly triggering neurosecretion at the presynaptic terminal are necessary. Here we exploit the calcium permeability of the light-gated channel LiGluR in order to reversibly manipulate cytosolic calcium concentration, thus controlling calcium-regulated exocytosis. Methods Bovine chromaffin cells expressing LiGluR were stimulated with light. Exocytic events were detected by amperometry or by whole-cell patch-clamp to quantify membrane capacitance and calcium influx. Results Amperometry reveals that optical stimulation consistently triggers exocytosis in chromaffin cells. Secretion of catecholamines can be adjusted between zero and several Hz by changing the wavelength of illumination. Differences in secretion efficacy are found between the activation of LiGluR and native voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs). Our results show that the distance between sites of calcium influx and vesicles ready to be released is longer when calcium influx is triggered by LiGluR instead of native VGCCs. Conclusion and general significance LiGluR activation directly and reversibly increases the intracellular calcium concentration. Light-gated calcium influx allows for the first time to control calcium-regulated exocytosis without the need of applying depolarizing solutions or voltage clamping in chromaffin cells. Thus, LiGluR is a useful tool to study the secretory mechanisms and their spatiotemporal patterns in neurotransmission, and opens a window to study other calcium-dependent processes such as muscular contraction or cell migration.

Keywords: Optical control, Calcium, Exocytosis, Light-gated glutamate receptor (LiGluR), Neurotransmission, Optogenetics


Morgenstern, C., Randerath, W. J., Schwaibold, M., Bolz, A., Jané, R., (2013). Feasibility of noninvasive single-channel automated differentiation of obstructive and central hypopneas with nasal airflow Respiration 85, (4), 312-318

Background: The identification of obstructive and central hypopneas is considered challenging in clinical practice. Presently, obstructive and central hypopneas are usually not differentiated or scores lack reliability due to the technical limitations of standard polysomnography. Esophageal pressure measurement is the gold-standard for identifying these events but its invasiveness deters its usage in daily practice. Objectives: To determine the feasibility and efficacy of an automatic noninvasive analysis method for the differentiation of obstructive and central hypopneas based solely on a single-channel nasal airflow signal. The obtained results are compared with gold-standard esophageal pressure scores. Methods: A total of 41 patients underwent full night polysomnography with systematic esophageal pressure recording. Two experts in sleep medicine independently differentiated hypopneas with the gold-standard esophageal pressure signal. Features were automatically extracted from the nasal airflow signal of each annotated hypopnea to train and test the automatic analysis method. Interscorer agreement between automatic and visual scorers was measured with Cohen's kappa statistic (κ). Results: A total of 1,237 hypopneas were visually differentiated. The automatic analysis achieved an interscorer agreement of κ = 0.37 and an accuracy of 69% for scorer A, κ = 0.40 and 70% for scorer B and κ = 0.41 and 71% for the agreed scores of scorers A and B. Conclusions: The promising results obtained in this pilot study demonstrate the feasibility of noninvasive single-channel hypopnea differentiation. Further development of this method may help improving initial diagnosis with home screening devices and offering a means of therapy selection and/or control.

Keywords: Central sleep hypopnea, Esophageal pressure, Home monitoring, Obstructive sleep hypopnea, Sleep disordered breathing


Riggio, C., Nocentini, S., Catalayud, M. P., Goya, G. F., Cuschieri, A., Raffa, V., del Río, J. A., (2013). Generation of magnetized olfactory ensheathing cells for regenerative studies in the central and peripheral nervous tissue International Journal of Molecular Sciences 14, (6), 10852-10868

As olfactory receptor axons grow from the peripheral to the central nervous system (CNS) aided by olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), the transplantation of OECs has been suggested as a plausible therapy for spinal cord lesions. The problem with this hypothesis is that OECs do not represent a single homogeneous entity, but, instead, a functionally heterogeneous population that exhibits a variety of responses, including adhesion and repulsion during cell-matrix interactions. Some studies report that the migratory properties of OECs are compromised by inhibitory molecules and potentiated by chemical gradients. In this paper, we report a system based on modified OECs carrying magnetic nanoparticles as a proof of concept experiment enabling specific studies aimed at exploring the potential of OECs in the treatment of spinal cord injuries. Our studies have confirmed that magnetized OECs (i) survive well without exhibiting stress-associated cellular responses; (ii) in vitro, their migration can be modulated by magnetic fields; and (iii) their transplantation in organotypic slices of spinal cord and peripheral nerve showed positive integration in the model. Altogether, these findings indicate the therapeutic potential of magnetized OECs for CNS injuries.

Keywords: Magnetic nanoparticle, Nerve regeneration, Olfactory ensheathing cell, Organotypic culture


Sarlabous, L., Torres, A., Fiz, J. A., Morera, J., Jané, R., (2013). Index for estimation of muscle force from mechanomyography based on the Lempel-Ziv algorithm Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 23, (3), 548-557

The study of the amplitude of respiratory muscle mechanomyographic (MMG) signals could be useful in clinical practice as an alternative non-invasive technique to assess respiratory muscle strength. The MMG signal is stochastic in nature, and its amplitude is usually estimated by means of the average rectified value (ARV) or the root mean square (RMS) of the signal. Both parameters can be used to estimate MMG activity, as they correlate well with muscle force. These estimations are, however, greatly affected by the presence of structured impulsive noise that overlaps in frequency with the MMG signal. In this paper, we present a method for assessing muscle activity based on the Lempel-Ziv algorithm: the Multistate Lempel-Ziv (MLZ) index. The behaviour of the MLZ index was tested with synthesised signals, with various amplitude distributions and degrees of complexity, and with recorded diaphragm MMG signals. We found that this index, like the ARV and RMS parameters, is positively correlated with changes in amplitude of the diaphragm MMG components, but is less affected by components that have non-random behaviour (like structured impulsive noise). Therefore, the MLZ index could provide more information to assess the MMG-force relationship.

Keywords: Diaphragm, Electromyography, Lempel-Ziv, Mechanomyography, Muscle force, Respiratory muscles


Garde, Ainara, Voss, Andreas, Caminal, Pere, Benito, Salvador, Giraldo, Beatriz F., (2013). SVM-based feature selection to optimize sensitivity-specificity balance applied to weaning Computers in Biology and Medicine 43, (5), 533-540

Classification algorithms with unbalanced datasets tend to produce high predictive accuracy over the majority class, but poor predictive accuracy over the minority class. This problem is very common in biomedical data mining. This paper introduces a Support Vector Machine (SVM)-based optimized feature selection method, to select the most relevant features and maintain an accurate and well-balanced sensitivity–specificity result between unbalanced groups. A new metric called the balance index (B) is defined to implement this optimization. The balance index measures the difference between the misclassified data within each class. The proposed optimized feature selection is applied to the classification of patients' weaning trials from mechanical ventilation: patients with successful trials who were able to maintain spontaneous breathing after 48 h and patients who failed to maintain spontaneous breathing and were reconnected to mechanical ventilation after 30 min. Patients are characterized through cardiac and respiratory signals, applying joint symbolic dynamic (JSD) analysis to cardiac interbeat and breath durations. First, the most suitable parameters (C+,C−,σ) are selected to define the appropriate SVM. Then, the feature selection process is carried out with this SVM, to maintain B lower than 40%. The best result is obtained using 6 features with an accuracy of 80%, a B of 18.64%, a sensitivity of 74.36% and a specificity of 82.42%.

Keywords: Support vector machines, Balance index, Sensitivity-specificity balance, Cardiorespiratory interaction, Joint symbolic dynamics, Feature selection, Weaning procedure


Giraldo, B. F., Tellez, J. P., Herrera, S., Benito, S., (2013). Analysis of heart rate variability in elderly patients with chronic heart failure during periodic breathing CinC 2013 Computing in Cardiology Conference (CinC) , IEEE (Zaragoza, Spain) , 991-994

Assessment of the dynamic interactions between cardiovascular signals can provide valuable information that improves the understanding of cardiovascular control. Heart rate variability (HRV) analysis is known to provide information about the autonomic heart rate modulation mechanism. Using the HRV signal, we aimed to obtain parameters for classifying patients with and without chronic heart failure (CHF), and with periodic breathing (PB), non-periodic breathing (nPB), and Cheyne-Stokes respiration (CSR) patterns. An electrocardiogram (ECG) and a respiratory flow signal were recorded in 36 elderly patients: 18 patients with CHF and 18 patients without CHF. According to the clinical criteria, the patients were classified into the follow groups: 19 patients with nPB pattern, 7 with PB pattern, 4 with Cheyne-Stokes respiration (CSR), and 6 non-classified patients (problems with respiratory signal). From the HRV signal, parameters in the time and frequency domain were calculated. Frequency domain parameters were the most discriminant in comparisons of patients with and without CHF: PTot (p = 0.02), PLF (p = 0.022) and fpHF (p = 0.021). For the comparison of the nPB vs. CSR patients groups, the best parameters were RMSSD (p = 0.028) and SDSD (p = 0.028). Therefore, the parameters appear to be suitable for enhanced diagnosis of decompensated CHF patients and the possibility of developed periodic breathing and a CSR pattern.

Keywords: cardiovascular system, diseases, electrocardiography, frequency-domain analysis, geriatrics, medical signal processing, patient diagnosis, pneumodynamics, signal classification, Cheyne-Stokes respiration patterns, ECG, autonomic heart rate modulation mechanism, cardiovascular control, cardiovascular signals, chronic heart failure, decompensated CHF patients, dynamic interaction assessment, elderly patients, electrocardiogram, enhanced diagnosis, frequency domain parameters, heart rate variability analysis, patient classification, periodic breathing, respiratory flow signal recording, Electrocardiography, Frequency modulation, Frequency-domain analysis, Heart rate variability, Senior citizens, Standards


Marco, S., Gutiérrez-Gálvez, A., Lansner, A., Martinez, D., Rospars, J. P., Beccherelli, R., Perera, A., Pearce, T., Vershure, P., Persaud, K., (2013). Biologically inspired large scale chemical sensor arrays and embedded data processing Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS VI , SPIE Digital Library (Grenoble, France) 8763, 1-15

Biological olfaction outperforms chemical instrumentation in specificity, response time, detection limit, coding capacity, time stability, robustness, size, power consumption, and portability. This biological function provides outstanding performance due, to a large extent, to the unique architecture of the olfactory pathway, which combines a high degree of redundancy, an efficient combinatorial coding along with unmatched chemical information processing mechanisms. The last decade has witnessed important advances in the understanding of the computational primitives underlying the functioning of the olfactory system. EU Funded Project NEUROCHEM (Bio-ICT-FET- 216916) has developed novel computing paradigms and biologically motivated artefacts for chemical sensing taking inspiration from the biological olfactory pathway. To demonstrate this approach, a biomimetic demonstrator has been built featuring a large scale sensor array (65K elements) in conducting polymer technology mimicking the olfactory receptor neuron layer, and abstracted biomimetic algorithms have been implemented in an embedded system that interfaces the chemical sensors. The embedded system integrates computational models of the main anatomic building blocks in the olfactory pathway: The olfactory bulb, and olfactory cortex in vertebrates (alternatively, antennal lobe and mushroom bodies in the insect). For implementation in the embedded processor an abstraction phase has been carried out in which their processing capabilities are captured by algorithmic solutions. Finally, the algorithmic models are tested with an odour robot with navigation capabilities in mixed chemical plumes.

Keywords: Antennal lobes, Artificial olfaction, Computational neuroscience, Olfactory bulbs, Plume tracking, Abstracting, Actuators, Algorithms, Biomimetic processes, Chemical sensors, Conducting polymers, Data processing, Flavors, Odors, Robots, Smart sensors, Embedded systems


Giraldo, B. F., Chaparro, J. A., Caminal, P., Benito, S., (2013). Characterization of the respiratory pattern variability of patients with different pressure support levels Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 35th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Osaka, Japan) , 3849-3852

One of the most challenging problems in intensive care is still the process of discontinuing mechanical ventilation, called weaning process. Both an unnecessary delay in the discontinuation process and a weaning trial that is undertaken too early are undesirable. In this study, we analyzed respiratory pattern variability using the respiratory volume signal of patients submitted to two different levels of pressure support ventilation (PSV), prior to withdrawal of the mechanical ventilation. In order to characterize the respiratory pattern, we analyzed the following time series: inspiratory time, expiratory time, breath duration, tidal volume, fractional inspiratory time, mean inspiratory flow and rapid shallow breathing. Several autoregressive modeling techniques were considered: autoregressive models (AR), autoregressive moving average models (ARMA), and autoregressive models with exogenous input (ARX). The following classification methods were used: logistic regression (LR), linear discriminant analysis (LDA) and support vector machines (SVM). 20 patients on weaning trials from mechanical ventilation were analyzed. The patients, submitted to two different levels of PSV, were classified as low PSV and high PSV. The variability of the respiratory patterns of these patients were analyzed. The most relevant parameters were extracted using the classifiers methods. The best results were obtained with the interquartile range and the final prediction errors of AR, ARMA and ARX models. An accuracy of 95% (93% sensitivity and 90% specificity) was obtained when the interquartile range of the expiratory time and the breath duration time series were used a LDA model. All classifiers showed a good compromise between sensitivity and specificity.

Keywords: autoregressive moving average processes, feature extraction, medical signal processing, patient care, pneumodynamics, signal classification, support vector machines, time series, ARX, autoregressive modeling techniques, autoregressive models with exogenous input, autoregressive moving average model, breath duration time series, classification method, classifier method, discontinuing mechanical ventilation, expiratory time, feature extraction, final prediction errors, fractional inspiratory time, intensive care, interquartile range, linear discriminant analysis, logistic regression analysis, mean inspiratory flow, patient respiratory volume signal, pressure support level, pressure support ventilation, rapid shallow breathing, respiratory pattern variability characterization, support vector machines, tidal volume, weaning trial, Analytical models, Autoregressive processes, Biological system modeling, Estimation, Support vector machines, Time series analysis, Ventilation


Santano-Martínez, R., Leiva-González, R., Avazbeigi, M., Gutiérrez-Gálvez, A., Marco, S., (2013). Identification of molecular properties coding areas in rat's olfactory bulb by rank products Proceedings of the International Conference on Bio-Inspired Systems and Signal Processing BIOSIGNALS 2013 , SciTePress (Barcelona, Spain) , 383-387

Neural coding of chemical information is still under strong debate. It is clear that, in vertebrates, neural representation in the olfactory bulb is a key for understanding a putative odour code. To explore this code, in this work we have studied a public dataset of radio images of 2-Deoxyglucose uptake (2-DG) in the olfactory bulb of rats in response to diverse odorants using univariate pixel selection algorithms: rank-products and Mann-Whitney U (MWU) test. Initial results indicate that some chemical properties of odorants preferentially activate certain areas of the rat olfactory bulb. While non-parametric test (MWU) has difficulties to detect these regions, rank-product provides a higher power of detection.

Keywords: 2-Deoxyglucose uptake, Chemotopy, Feature selection, Odour coding, Olfaction, Olfactory bulb


Hernando, D., Alcaine, A., Pueyo, E., Laguna, P., Orini, M., Arcentales, A., Giraldo, B., Voss, A., Bayes-Genis, A., Bailon, R., (2013). Influence of respiration in the very low frequency modulation of QRS slopes and heart rate variability in cardiomyopathy patients CinC 2013 Computing in Cardiology Conference (CinC) , IEEE (Zaragoza, Spain) , 117-120

This work investigates the very low frequency (VLF) modulation of QRS slopes and heart rate variability (HRV). Electrocardiogram (ECG) and respiratory flow signal were acquired from patients with dilated cardiomyopathy and ischemic cardiomyopathy. HRV as well as the upward QRS slope (IUS) and downward QRS slope (IDS) were extracted from the ECG. The relation between HRV and QRS slopes in the VLF band was measured using ordinary coherence in 5-minute segments. Partial coherence was then used to remove the influence that respiration simultaneously exerts on HRV and QRS slopes. A statistical threshold was determined, below which coherence values were considered not to represent a linear relation. 7 out of 276 segments belonging to 5 out of 29 patients for IUS and 10 segments belonging to 5 patients for IDS presented a VLF modulation in QRS slopes, HRV and respiration. In these segments spectral coherence was statistically significant, while partial coherence decreased, indicating that the coupling HRV and QRS slopes was related to respiration. 4 segments had a partial coherence value below the threshold for IUS, 3 segments for IDS. The rest of the segments also presented a notable decrease in partial coherence, but still above the threshold, which means that other non-linearly effects may also affect this modulation.

Keywords: diseases, electrocardiography, feature extraction, medical signal processing, pneumodynamics, statistical analysis, ECG, QRS slopes, cardiomyopathy patients, dilated cardiomyopathy, electrocardiogram, feature extraction, heart rate variability, ischemic cardiomyopathy, ordinary coherence, partial coherence value, respiration, respiratory flow signal acquisition, spectral coherence, statistical threshold, time 5 min, very low frequency modulation, Coherence, Educational institutions, Electrocardiography, Frequency modulation, Heart rate variability


Gonzalez, H., Acevedo, H., Arizmendi, C., Giraldo, B. F., (2013). Methodology for determine the moment of disconnection of patients of the mechanical ventilation using discrete wavelet transform Complex Medical Engineering (CME) 2013 ICME International Conference , IEEE (Beijing, China) , 483-486

The process of weaning from mechanical ventilation is one of the challenges in intensive care units. 66 patients under extubation process (T-tube test) were studied: 33 patients with successful trials and 33 patients who failed to maintain spontaneous breathing and were reconnected. Each patient was characterized using 7 time series from respiratory signals, and for each serie was evaluated the discrete wavelet transform. It trains a neural network for discriminating between patients from the two groups.

Keywords: discrete wavelet transforms, neural nets, patient treatment, pneumodynamics, time series, ventilation, T-tube test, discrete wavelet transform, extubation process, intensive care units, mechanical ventilation, moment of disconnection, neural network, patients, respiratory signals, spontaneous breathing, time series, weaning, Mechanical Ventilation, Neural Networks, Time series from respiratory signals, Wavelet Transform


Jané, R., Lazaro, J., Ruiz, P., Gil, E., Navajas, D., Farre, R., Laguna, P., (2013). Obstructive Sleep Apnea in a rat model: Effects of anesthesia on autonomic evaluation from heart rate variability measures CinC 2013 Computing in Cardiology Conference (CinC) , IEEE (Zaragoza, Spain) , 1011-1014

Rat model of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a realistic approach for studying physiological mechanisms involved in sleep. Rats are usually anesthetized and autonomic nervous system (ANS) could be blocked. This study aimed to assess the effect of anesthesia on ANS activity during OSA episodes. Seven male Sprague-Dawley rats were anesthetized intraperitoneally with urethane (1g/kg). The experiments were conducted applying airway obstructions, simulating 15s-apnea episodes for 15 minutes. Five signals were acquired: respiratory pressure and flow, SaO2, ECG and photoplethysmography (PPG). In total, 210 apnea episodes were studied. Normalized power spectrum of Pulse Rate Variability (PRV) was analyzed in the Low Frequency (LF) and High Frequency (HF) bands, for each episode in consecutive 15s intervals (before, during and after the apnea). All episodes showed changes in respiratory flow and SaO2 signal. Conversely, decreases in the amplitude fluctuations of PPG (DAP) were not observed. Normalized LF presented extremely low values during breathing (median=7,67%), suggesting inhibition of sympathetic system due to anesthetic effect. Subtle increases of LF were observed during apnea. HRV and PPG analysis during apnea could be an indirect tool to assess the effect and deep of anesthesia.

Keywords: electrocardiography, fluctuations, medical disorders, medical signal detection, medical signal processing, neurophysiology, photoplethysmography, pneumodynamics, sleep, ECG, SaO2 flow, SaO2 signal, airway obstructions, amplitude fluctuations, anesthesia effects, anesthetized nervous system, autonomic evaluation, autonomic nervous system, breathing, heart rate variability, high-frequency bands, low-frequency bands, male Sprague-Dawley rats, normalized power spectrum, obstructive sleep apnea, photoplethysmography, physiological mechanisms, pulse rate variability, rat model, respiratory flow, respiratory pressure, signal acquisition, sympathetic system inhibition, time 15 min, time 15 s, Abstracts, Atmospheric modeling, Computational modeling, Electrocardiography, Rats, Resonant frequency


Giraldo, B. F., Tellez, J. P., Herrera, S., Benito, S., (2013). Study of the oscillatory breathing pattern in elderly patients Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 35th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Osaka, Japan) , 5228-5231

Some of the most common clinical problems in elderly patients are related to diseases of the cardiac and respiratory systems. Elderly patients often have altered breathing patterns, such as periodic breathing (PB) and Cheyne-Stokes respiration (CSR), which may coincide with chronic heart failure. In this study, we used the envelope of the respiratory flow signal to characterize respiratory patterns in elderly patients. To study different breathing patterns in the same patient, the signals were segmented into windows of 5 min. In oscillatory breathing patterns, frequency and time-frequency parameters that characterize the discriminant band were evaluated to identify periodic and non-periodic breathing (PB and nPB). In order to evaluate the accuracy of this characterization, we used a feature selection process, followed by linear discriminant analysis. 22 elderly patients (7 patients with PB and 15 with nPB pattern) were studied. The following classification problems were analyzed: patients with either PB (with and without apnea) or nPB patterns, and patients with CSR versus PB, CSR versus nPB and PB versus nPB patterns. The results showed 81.8% accuracy in the comparisons of nPB and PB patients, using the power of the modulation peak. For the segmented signal, the power of the modulation peak, the frequency variability and the interquartile ranges provided the best results with 84.8% accuracy, for classifying nPB and PB patients.

Keywords: cardiovascular system, diseases, feature extraction, geriatrics, medical signal processing, oscillations, pneumodynamics, signal classification, time-frequency analysis, Cheyne-Stokes respiration, apnea, cardiac systems, chronic heart failure, classification problems, discriminant band, diseases, elderly patients, feature selection process, frequency variability, interquartile ranges, linear discriminant analysis, nonperiodic breathing, oscillatory breathing pattern, periodic breathing, respiratory How signal, respiratory systems, signal segmentation, time 5 min, time-frequency parameters, Accuracy, Aging, Frequency modulation, Heart, Senior citizens, Time-frequency analysis


Govoni, Leonardo, Dellaca, Raffaele L., Penuelas, Oscar, Bellani, Giacomo, Artigas, Antonio, Ferrer, Miquel, Navajas, Daniel, Pedotti, Antonio, Farre, Ramon, (2012). Actual performance of mechanical ventilators in ICU: a multicentric quality control study Medical Devices: Evidence and Research 5, 111-119

Even if the performance of a given ventilator has been evaluated in the laboratory under very well controlled conditions, inappropriate maintenance and lack of long-term stability and accuracy of the ventilator sensors may lead to ventilation errors in actual clinical practice. The aim of this study was to evaluate the actual performances of ventilators during clinical routines. A resistance (7.69 cmH(2)O/L/s) - elastance (100 mL/cmH(2)O) test lung equipped with pressure, flow, and oxygen concentration sensors was connected to the Y-piece of all the mechanical ventilators available for patients in four intensive care units (ICUs; n = 66). Ventilators were set to volume-controlled ventilation with tidal volume = 600 mL, respiratory rate = 20 breaths/minute, positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) = 8 cmH(2)O, and oxygen fraction = 0.5. The signals from the sensors were recorded to compute the ventilation parameters. The average standard deviation and range (min-max) of the ventilatory parameters were the following: inspired tidal volume = 607 36 (530-723) mL, expired tidal volume = 608 36 (530-728) mL, peak pressure = 20.8 2.3 (17.2-25.9) cmH(2)O, respiratory rate = 20.09 0.35 (19.5-21.6) breaths/minute, PEEP = 8.43 0.57 (7.26-10.8) cmH(2)O, oxygen fraction = 0.49 0.014 (0.41-0.53). The more error-prone parameters were the ones related to the measure of flow. In several cases, the actual delivered mechanical ventilation was considerably different from the set one, suggesting the need for improving quality control procedures for these machines.

Keywords: Equipment and supplies, Medical devices, Intravenous, Quality assurance, Health care quality assessment, Ventilator accuracy, Ventilation error


Almendros, Isaac, Carreras, Alba, Montserrat, Josep M., Gozal, David, Navajas, Daniel, Farre, Ramon, (2012). Potential role of adult stem cells in obstructive sleep apnea Frontiers in Neurology 3, 1-6

Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can be mobilized from the bone marrow or other organs, home into injured tissues and differentiate into different cell phenotypes to serve in a repairing capacity. Furthermore, these cells can respond to inflammation and oxidative stress by exhibiting immunomodulatory properties. The protective and reparative roles of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs) and endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) have primarily been examined and characterized in auto-immune and cardiovascular diseases. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a very prevalent disease (4-5% of adult population and 2-3% of children) characterized by an abnormal increase in upper airway collapsibility. Recurrent airway obstructions elicit arterial oxygen desaturations, increased inspiratory efforts and sleep fragmentation, which have been associated with important long-term neurocognitive, metabolic, and cardiovascular consequences. Since inflammation, oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction are key factors in the development of the morbid consequences of OSA, bone marrow-derived stem cells could be important modulators of the morbid phenotype by affording a protective role. This mini-review is focused on the recent data available on EPCs, VSELs and MSCs in both animal models and patients with OSA.

Keywords: Mesenchymal Stem Cells, Sleep Apnea, Endothelial progenitor cells, Very Small-like Embryonic Stem Cells, Adult bone-marrow derived stem cells


Ginebra, M. P., Canal, C., Espanol, M., Pastorino, D., Montufar, E. B., (2012). Calcium phosphate cements as drug delivery materials Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 64, (12), 1090-1110

Calcium phosphate cements are used as synthetic bone grafts, with several advantages, such as their osteoconductivity and injectability. Moreover, their low-temperature setting reaction and intrinsic porosity allow for the incorporation of drugs and active principles in the material. It is the aim of the present work to: a) provide an overview of the different approaches taken in the application of calcium phosphate cements for drug delivery in the skeletal system, and b) identify the most significant achievements. The drugs or active principles associated to calcium phosphate cements are classified in three groups, i) low molecular weight drugs; ii) high molecular weight biomolecules; and iii) ions.

Keywords: Antibiotic, Bioceramic, Biomaterial, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate cement, Ceramic matrix, Growth factor, Hydroxyapatite, Ions, Protein


Almendros, I., Montserrat, J. M., Ramírez, J., Torres, M., Duran-Cantolla, J., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2012). Intermittent hypoxia enhances cancer progression in a mouse model of sleep apnoea European Respiratory Journal 39, (1), 215-217

Nocentini, S., Reginensi, D., Garcia, S., Carulla, P., Moreno-Flores, Wandosell, F., Trepat, X., Bribian, A., Del Rí, (2012). Myelin-associated proteins block the migration of olfactory ensheathing cells: an in vitro study using single-cell tracking and traction force microscopy Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 69, (10), 1689-1703

Newly generated olfactory receptor axons grow from the peripheral to the central nervous system aided by olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs). Thus, OEC transplantation has emerged as a promising therapy for spinal cord injuries and for other neural diseases. However, these cells do not present a uniform population, but instead a functionally heterogeneous population that exhibits a variety of responses including adhesion, repulsion, and crossover during cell–cell and cell–matrix interactions. Some studies report that the migratory properties of OECs are compromised by inhibitory molecules and potentiated by chemical gradients. Here, we demonstrated that rodent OECs express all the components of the Nogo receptor complex and that their migration is blocked by myelin. Next, we used cell tracking and traction force microscopy to analyze OEC migration and its mechanical properties over myelin. Our data relate the decrease of traction force of OEC with lower migratory capacity over myelin, which correlates with changes in the F-actin cytoskeleton and focal adhesion distribution. Lastly, OEC traction force and migratory capacity is enhanced after cell incubation with the Nogo receptor inhibitor NEP1-40.

Keywords: Ensheathing glia, Traction force, microscopy, Migration, Myelin-associated inhibitors


Aguirre, A., Gonzalez, A., Navarro, M., Castano, O., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2012). Control of microenvironmental cues with a smart biomaterial composite promotes endothelial progenitor cell angiogenesis European Cells & Materials 24, 90-106

Smart biomaterials play a key role when aiming at successful tissue repair by means of regenerative medicine approaches, and are expected to contain chemical as well as mechanical cues that will guide the regenerative process. Recent advances in the understanding of stem cell biology and mechanosensing have shed new light onto the importance of the local microenvironment in determining cell fate. Herein we report the biological properties of a bioactive, biodegradable calcium phosphate glass/polylactic acid composite biomaterial that promotes bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) mobilisation, differentiation and angiogenesis through the creation of a controlled bone healing-like microenvironment. The angiogenic response is triggered by biochemical and mechanical cues provided by the composite, which activate two synergistic cell signalling pathways: a biochemical one mediated by the calcium-sensing receptor and a mechanosensitive one regulated by non-muscle myosin II contraction. Together, these signals promote a synergistic response by activating EPCs-mediated VEGF and VEGFR-2 synthesis, which in turn promote progenitor cell homing, differentiation and tubulogenesis. These findings highlight the importance of controlling microenvironmental cues for stem/progenitor cell tissue engineering and offer exciting new therapeutical opportunities for biomaterialbased vascularisation approaches and clinical applications.

Keywords: Calcium phosphate glass composite, Smart biomaterial, Endothelial progenitor cell, Angiogenesis, Mechanosensing, Calcium-sensing receptor


Urban, P., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Moles, E., Marques, J., Diez, C., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2012). Nanotools for the delivery of antimicrobial peptides Current Drug Targets 13, (9), 1158-1172

Antimicrobial peptide drugs are increasingly attractive therapeutic agents as their roles in physiopathological processes are being unraveled and because the development of recombinant DNA technology has made them economically affordable in large amounts and high purity. However, due to lack of specificity regarding the target cells, difficulty in attaining them, or reduced half-lives, most current administration methods require high doses. On the other hand, reduced specificity of toxic drugs demands low concentrations to minimize undesirable side-effects, thus incurring the risk of having sublethal amounts which favour the appearance of resistant microbial strains. In this scenario, targeted delivery can fulfill the objective of achieving the intake of total quantities sufficiently low to be innocuous for the patient but that locally are high enough to be lethal for the infectious agent. One of the major advances in recent years has been the size reduction of drug carriers that have dimensions in the nanometer scale and thus are much smaller than -and capable of being internalized by- many types of cells. Among the different types of potential antimicrobial peptide-encapsulating structures reviewed here are liposomes, dendritic polymers, solid core nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, and DNA cages. These nanoparticulate systems can be functionalized with a plethora of biomolecules providing specificity of binding to particular cell types or locations; as examples of these targeting elements we will present antibodies, DNA aptamers, cell-penetrating peptides, and carbohydrates. Multifunctional Trojan horse-like nanovessels can be engineered by choosing the adequate peptide content, encapsulating structure, and targeting moiety for each particular application.

Keywords: Antibodies, Aptamers, Dendrimers, Liposomes, Nanomedicine, Nanoparticles, Nanovectors, Targeting


Juanola-Feliu, E., Colomer-Farrarons, J., Miribel-Català , P., Samitier, J., Valls-Pasola, J., (2012). Market challenges facing academic research in commercializing nano-enabled implantable devices for in-vivo biomedical analysis Technovation 32, (3-4), 193-204

This article reports on the research and development of a cutting-edge biomedical device for continuous in-vivo glucose monitoring. This entirely public-funded process of technological innovation has been conducted at the University of Barcelona within a context of converging technologies involving the fields of medicine, physics, chemistry, biology, telecommunications, electronics and energy. The authors examine the value chain and the market challenges faced by in-vivo implantable biomedical devices based on nanotechnologies. In so doing, they trace the process from the point of applied research to the final integration and commercialization of the product, when the social rate of return from academic research can be estimated. Using a case-study approach, the paper also examines the high-tech activities involved in the development of this nano-enabled device and describes the technology and innovation management process within the value chain conducted in a University-Hospital-Industry-Administration-Citizens framework. Here, nanotechnology is seen to represent a new industrial revolution, boosting the biomedical devices market. Nanosensors may well provide the tools required for investigating biological processes at the cellular level in vivo when embedded into medical devices of small dimensions, using biocompatible materials, and requiring reliable and targeted biosensors, high speed data transfer, safely stored data, and even energy autonomy.

Keywords: Biomedical device, Diabetes, Innovation management, Nanobiosensor, Nanotechnology, Research commercialization, Technology transfer, Academic research, Applied research, Barcelona, Biocompatible materials, Biological process, Biomedical analysis, Biomedical devices, Cellular levels, Converging technologies, Glucose monitoring, High-speed data transfer, Implantable biomedical devices, Implantable devices, In-vivo, Industrial revolutions, Innovation management, Medical Devices, Nanobiosensor, Rate of return, Research and development, Technological innovation, Value chains, Biological materials, Biomedical engineering, Biosensors, Commerce, Data transfer, Earnings, Engineering education, Glucose, Implants (surgical), Industrial research, Innovation, Medical problems, Nanosensors, Nanotechnology, Technology transfer, Equipment


Llorens, F., Del Rio, J. A., (2012). Unraveling the neuroprotective mechanisms of PrPC in excitotoxicity Prion 6, (3), 245-251

Knowledge of the natural roles of cellular prion protein (PrPC) is essential to an understanding of the molecular basis of prion pathologies. This GPIanchored protein has been described in synaptic contacts, and loss of its synaptic function in complex systems may contribute to the synaptic loss and neuronal degeneration observed in prionopathy. In addition, Prnp knockout mice show enhanced susceptibility to several excitotoxic insults, GABAA receptor-mediated fast inhibition was weakened, LTP was modified and cellular stress increased. Although little is known about how PrPC exerts its function at the synapse or the downstream events leading to PrPCmediated neuroprotection against excitotoxic insults, PrPC has recently been reported to interact with two glutamate receptor subunits (NR2D and GluR6/7). In both cases the presence of PrPC blocks the neurotoxicity induced by NMDA and Kainate respectively. Furthermore, signals for seizure and neuronal cell death in response to Kainate in Prnp knockout mouse are associated with JNK3 activity, through enhancing the interaction of GluR6 with PSD-95. In combination with previous data, these results shed light on the molecular mechanisms behind the role of PrPC in excitotoxicity. Future experimental approaches are suggested and discussed.

Keywords: Prion protein, Excitotoxicity, Neuroprotection, Glutamate receptors, Synapse, prionopathy


Pegueroles, M., Tonda-Turo, C., Planell, J. A., Gil, F. J., Aparicio, C., (2012). Adsorption of fibronectin, fibrinogen, and albumin on TiO2: Time-resolved kinetics, structural changes, and competition study Biointerphases 7, (48), 13

An understanding of protein adsorption process is crucial for designing biomaterial surfaces. In this work, with the use of a quartz-crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring, we researched the following: (a) the kinetics of adsorption on TiO2 surfaces of three extensively described proteins that are relevant for metallic implant integration [i.e., albumin (BSA), fibrinogen (Fbg), and fibronectin (Fn)]; and (b) the competition of those proteins for adsorbing on TiO2 in a two-step experiment consisted of sequentially exposing the surfaces to different monoprotein solutions. Each protein showed a different process of adsorption and properties of the adlayer-calculated using the Voigt model. The competition experiments showed that BSA displaced larger proteins such as Fn and Fbg when BSA was introduced as the second protein in the system, whereas the larger proteins laid on top of BSA forming an adsorbed protein bi-layer when those were introduced secondly in the system.

Keywords: QCM, Human plasma fibronectin, Induced conformational-changes, Von-willebrand-factor, BSA, Protein adsortion, Polymer surfaces, Solid-surfaces, Viscoelastic properties, Globular-proteins


Giraldo, B.F., Gaspar, B.W., Caminal, P., Benito, S., (2012). Analysis of roots in ARMA model for the classification of patients on weaning trials Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (San Diego, USA) , 698-701

One objective of mechanical ventilation is the recovery of spontaneous breathing as soon as possible. Remove the mechanical ventilation is sometimes more difficult that maintain it. This paper proposes the study of respiratory flow signal of patients on weaning trials process by autoregressive moving average model (ARMA), through the location of poles and zeros of the model. A total of 151 patients under extubation process (T-tube test) were analyzed: 91 patients with successful weaning (GS), 39 patients that failed to maintain spontaneous breathing and were reconnected (GF), and 21 patients extubated after the test but before 48 hours were reintubated (GR). The optimal model was obtained with order 8, and statistical significant differences were obtained considering the values of angles of the first four poles and the first zero. The best classification was obtained between GF and GR, with an accuracy of 75.3% on the mean value of the angle of the first pole.

Keywords: Analytical models, Biological system modeling, Computational modeling, Estimation, Hospitals, Poles and zeros, Ventilation, Autoregressive moving average processes, Patient care, Patient monitoring, Pneumodynamics, Poles and zeros, Ventilation, ARMA model, T-tube test, Autoregressive moving average model, Extubation process, Mechanical ventilation, Optimal model, Patient classification, Respiratory flow signal, Roots, Spontaneous breathing, Weaning trials


Hernansanz, A., Zerbato, D., Gasperotti, L., Scandola, M., Casals, A., Fiorini, P., (2012). Assessment of virtual fixtures for the development of basic skills in robotic surgery International Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery CARS 2012 Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery , Springer (Pisa, Italy) 7 (Supplement 1) - Surgical Modelling, Simulation and Education, S186-S188

Teleoperation, by adequately adapting computer interfaces, can benefit from the knowledge on human factors and psychomotor models in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency in the execution of a task. While scaling is one of the performances frequently used in teleoperation tasks that require high precision, such as surgery, this article presents a scaling method that considers the system dynamics as well. The proposed dynamic scaling factor depends on the apparent position and velocity of the robot and targets. Such scaling improves the performance of teleoperation interfaces, thereby reducing user's workload.

Keywords: Human-robot interaction, Throughput, Scaling functions, Motor control performance


Antelis, J.M., Montesano, L., Giralt, X., Casals, A., Minguez, J., (2012). Detection of movements with attention or distraction to the motor task during robot-assisted passive movements of the upper limb Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (San Diego, USA) , 6410-6413

Robot-assisted rehabilitation therapies usually focus on physical aspects rather than on cognitive factors. However, cognitive aspects such as attention, motivation, and engagement play a critical role in motor learning and thus influence the long-term success of rehabilitation programs. This paper studies motor-related EEG activity during the execution of robot-assisted passive movements of the upper limb, while participants either: i) focused attention exclusively on the task; or ii) simultaneously performed another task. Six healthy subjects participated in the study and results showed lower desynchronization during passive movements with another task simultaneously being carried out (compared to passive movements with exclusive attention on the task). In addition, it was proved the feasibility to distinguish between the two conditions.

Keywords: Electrodes, Electroencephalography, Induction motors, Medical treatment, Robot sensing systems, Time frequency analysis, Biomechanics, Cognition, Electroencephalography, Medical robotics, Medical signal detection, Medical signal processing, Patient rehabilitation, Attention, Cognitive aspects, Desynchronization, Engagement, Motivation, Motor learning, Motor task, Motor-related EEG activity, Physical aspects, Robot-assisted passive movement detection, Robot-assisted rehabilitation therapies, Upper limb


Muñoz, L. M., Casals, A., (2012). Dynamic scaling interface for assisted teleoperation IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) , IEEE (Minnesota, USA) , 4288-4293

Teleoperation, by adequately adapting computer interfaces, can benefit from the knowledge on human factors and psychomotor models in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency in the execution of a task. While scaling is one of the performances frequently used in teleoperation tasks that require high precision, such as surgery, this article presents a scaling method that considers the system dynamics as well. The proposed dynamic scaling factor depends on the apparent position and velocity of the robot and targets. Such scaling improves the performance of teleoperation interfaces, thereby reducing user's workload.

Keywords: Human-robot interaction, Motor control performance, Scaling functions, Throughput


Sarlabous, L., Torres, A., Fiz, J. A., Morera, J., Jané, R., (2012). Evaluation and adaptive attenuation of the cardiac vibration interference in mechanomyographic signals Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (San Diego, USA) , 3400-3403

The study of the mechanomyographic signal of the diaphragm muscle (MMGdi) is a promising technique in order to evaluate the respiratory muscles effort. The relationship between amplitude and frequency parameters of this signal with the respiratory effort performed during respiration is of great interest for researchers and physicians due to its diagnostic potentials. However, MMGdi signals are frequently contaminated by a cardiac vibration or mechanocardiographic (MCG) signal. An adaptive noise cancellation (ANC) can be used to reduce the MCG interference in the recorded MMGdi activity. In this paper, it is evaluated the proposed ANC scheme by means of a synthetic MMGdi signal with a controlled MCG interference. The Pearson's correlation coefficient (PCC) between both root mean square (RMS) and mean frequency (fm) of the synthetic MMGdi signal are considerably reduced with the presence of cardiac vibration noise (from 0.95 to 0.87, and from 0.97 to 0.76, respectively). With the ANC algorithm proposed the effect of the MCG noise on the amplitude and frequency of MMG parameters is reduced considerably (PCC of 0.93 and 0.97 for the RMS and fm, respectively). The ANC method proposed in this work is an interesting technique to attenuate the cardiac interference in respiratory MMG signals. Further investigation should be carried out to evaluate the performance of the ANC algorithm in real MMGdi signals.

Keywords: Adaptive filters, Frequency modulation, Interference, Muscles, Noise cancellation, Vibrations, Cardiology, Medical signal processing, Muscle, Signal denoising, ANC algorithm, MCG interference, Pearson correlation coefficient, Adaptive noise cancellation, Cardiac vibration interference, Cardiac vibration noise, Diaphragm muscle, Mechanocardiographic signal, Mechanomyographic signals, Respiratory muscles effort


Chaparro, J.A., Giraldo, B.F., Caminal, P., Benito, S., (2012). Performance of respiratory pattern parameters in classifiers for predict weaning process Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (San Diego, USA) , 4349-4352

Weaning trials process of patients in intensive care units is a complex clinical procedure. 153 patients under extubation process (T-tube test) were studied: 94 patients with successful trials (group S), 38 patients who failed to maintain spontaneous breathing and were reconnected (group F), and 21 patients with successful test but that had to be reintubated before 48 hours (group R). The respiratory pattern of each patient was characterized through the following time series: inspiratory time (TI), expiratory time (TE), breathing cycle duration (TTot), tidal volume (VT), inspiratory fraction (TI/TTot), half inspired flow (VT/TI), and rapid shallow index (f/VT), where f is respiratory rate. Using techniques as autoregressive models (AR), autoregressive moving average models (ARMA) and autoregressive models with exogenous input (ARX), the most relevant parameters of the respiratory pattern were obtained. We proposed the evaluation of these parameters using classifiers as logistic regression (LR), linear discriminant analysis (LDA), support vector machines (SVM) and classification and regression tree (CART) to discriminate between patients from groups S, F and R. An accuracy of 93% (98% sensitivity and 82% specificity) has been obtained using CART classification.

Keywords: Accuracy, Indexes, Logistics, Regression tree analysis, Support vector machines, Time series analysis, Autoregressive moving average processes, Medical signal processing, Pattern classification, Pneumodynamics, Regression analysis, Sensitivity, Signal classification, Support vector machines, Time series, SVM, T-tube testing, Autoregressive models-with-exogenous input, Autoregressive moving average models, Breathing cycle duration, Classification-and-regression tree, Expiratory time, Extubation process, Half inspired flow, Inspiratory fraction, Inspiratory time, Intensive care units, Linear discriminant analysis, Logistic regression, Rapid shallow index, Respiratory pattern parameter performance, Sensitivity, Spontaneous breathing, Support vector machines, Tidal volume, Time 48 hr, Time series, Weaning process classifiers


Garde, A., Giraldo, B.F., Jané, R., Latshang, T.D., Turk, A.J., Hess, T., Bosch, M-.M., Barthelmes, D., Hefti, J.P., Maggiorini, M., Hefti, U., Merz, T.M., Schoch, O.D., Bloch, K.E., (2012). Periodic breathing during ascent to extreme altitude quantified by spectral analysis of the respiratory volume signal Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (San Diego, USA) , 707-710

High altitude periodic breathing (PB) shares some common pathophysiologic aspects with sleep apnea, Cheyne-Stokes respiration and PB in heart failure patients. Methods that allow quantifying instabilities of respiratory control provide valuable insights in physiologic mechanisms and help to identify therapeutic targets. Under the hypothesis that high altitude PB appears even during physical activity and can be identified in comparison to visual analysis in conditions of low SNR, this study aims to identify PB by characterizing the respiratory pattern through the respiratory volume signal. A number of spectral parameters are extracted from the power spectral density (PSD) of the volume signal, derived from respiratory inductive plethysmography and evaluated through a linear discriminant analysis. A dataset of 34 healthy mountaineers ascending to Mt. Muztagh Ata, China (7,546 m) visually labeled as PB and non periodic breathing (nPB) is analyzed. All climbing periods within all the ascents are considered (total climbing periods: 371 nPB and 40 PB). The best crossvalidated result classifying PB and nPB is obtained with Pm (power of the modulation frequency band) and R (ratio between modulation and respiration power) with an accuracy of 80.3% and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 84.5%. Comparing the subjects from 1st and 2nd ascents (at the same altitudes but the latter more acclimatized) the effect of acclimatization is evaluated. SaO2 and periodic breathing cycles significantly increased with acclimatization (p-value <; 0.05). Higher Pm and higher respiratory frequencies are observed at lower SaO2, through a significant negative correlation (p-value <; 0.01). Higher Pm is observed at climbing periods visually labeled as PB with >; 5 periodic breathing cycles through a significant positive correlation (p-value <; 0.01). Our data demonstrate that quantification of the respiratory volum- signal using spectral analysis is suitable to identify effects of hypobaric hypoxia on control of breathing.

Keywords: Frequency domain analysis, Frequency modulation, Heart, Sleep apnea, Ventilation, Visualization, Cardiology, Medical disorders, Medical signal processing, Plethysmography, Pneumodynamics, Sensitivity analysis, Sleep, Spectral analysis, Cheyne-Stokes respiration, Climbing periods, Dataset, Heart failure patients, High altitude PB, High altitude periodic breathing, Hypobaric hypoxia, Linear discriminant analysis, Pathophysiologic aspects, Physical activity, Physiologic mechanisms, Power spectral density, Receiver operating characteristic curve, Respiratory control, Respiratory frequency, Respiratory inductive plethysmography, Respiratory pattern, Respiratory volume signal, Sleep apnea, Spectral analysis, Spectral parameters


Mesquita, J., Poree, F., Carrault, G., Fiz, J. A., Abad, J., Jané, R., (2012). Respiratory and spontaneous arousals in patients with Sleep Apnea Hypopnea Syndrome Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (San Diego, USA) , 6337-6340

Sleep in patients with Sleep Apnea-Hypopnea Syndrome (SAHS) is frequently interrupted with arousals. Increased amounts of arousals result in shortening total sleep time and repeated sleep-arousal change can result in sleep fragmentation. According to the American Sleep Disorders Association (ASDA) an arousal is a marker of sleep disruption representing a detrimental and harmful feature for sleep. The nature of arousals and its role on the regulation of the sleep process raises controversy and has sparked the debate in the last years. In this work, we analyzed and compared the EEG spectral content of respiratory and spontaneous arousals on a database of 45 SAHS subjects. A total of 3980 arousals (1996 respiratory and 1984 spontaneous) were analyzed. The results showed no differences between the spectral content of the two kinds of arousals. Our findings raise doubt as to whether these two kinds of arousals are truly triggered by different organic mechanisms. Furthermore, they may also challenge the current beliefs regarding the underestimation of the importance of spontaneous arousals and their contribution to sleep fragmentation in patients suffering from SAHS.

Keywords: Adaptive filters, Correlation, Databases, Electroencephalography, Hospitals, Sleep apnea, Electroencephalography, Medical signal processing, Pneumodynamics, Sleep, EEG spectral content, Organic mechanism, Respiratory, Sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome, Sleep fragmentation, Spectral content, Spontaneous arousal


Hernansanz, A., Amat, J., Casals, A., (2012). Virtual Robot: A new teleoperation paradigm for minimally invasive robotic surgery IEEE Conference Publications 4th IEEE RAS & EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob) , IEEE (Roma, Italy) , 749-754

This paper presents a novel teleoperation paradigm, the Virtual Robot (VR), focused on facilitating the surgeon tasks in minimally invasive robotic surgery. The VR has been conceived to increase the range of applicability of traditional master slave teleoperation architectures by means of an automatic cooperative behavior that assigns the execution of the ongoing task to the most suitable robot. From the user's point of view, the VR internal operation must be automatic and transparent. A set of evaluation indexes have been developed to obtain the suitability of each robot as well as an algorithm to determine the optimal instant of time to execute a task transfer. Several experiments demonstrate the usefulness of the VR, as well as indicates the next steps of the research.

Keywords: Cameras, Collision avoidance, Indexes, Joints, Robots, Surgery, Trajectory, Medical robotics, Surgery, Telerobotics, VR internal operation, Automatic cooperative behavior, Evaluation indexes, Master slave teleoperation architectures, Minimally invasive robotic surgery, Task transfer, Virtual robot


van Zanten, T. S., Garcia-Parajo, M. F., (2012). Super-resolution near-field optical microscopy Comprehensive Biophysics (ed. Egelman, E. H.), Elsevier (Desdren, Germany) Volume 2: Biophysical Techniques for Characterization of Cells, 144-164

Near-field optical microscopy is a technique not limited by the laws of diffraction that enables simultaneous high-resolution fluorescence and topographic measurements at the nanometer scale. This chapter highlights the intrinsic advantages of near-field optics in the study of cellular structures. The first part of the chapter lays the foundations of the near-field concept and technical implementation of near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM), whereas the second part of the chapter focuses on applications of NSOM to the study of model membranes and cellular structures on the plasma membrane. The last part of the chapter discusses further directions of near-field optics, including optical antennas and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy approaches in the near-field regime.

Keywords: Biological membranes, Cell membrane nanoscale compartmentalization, Cellular nanodomains, Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy in reduced volumes, Immunoreceptor imaging, Lipid rafts, Near-field scanning optical microscopy, Optical nano-antennas, Shear force imaging, Single molecule detection, Super-resolution microscopy


Auffarth, Benjamin, Gutierrez-Galvez, Agustín, Marco, Santiago, (2011). Continuous spatial representations in the olfactory bulb may reflect perceptual categories Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 5, (82), 1-8

In sensory processing of odors, the olfactory bulb is an important relay station, where odor representations are noise-filtered, sharpened, and possibly re-organized. An organization by perceptual qualities has been found previously in the piriform cortex, however several recent studies indicate that the olfactory bulb code reflects behaviorally relevant dimensions spatially as well as at the population level. We apply a statistical analysis on 2-deoxyglucose images, taken over the entire bulb of glomerular layer of the rat, in order to see how the recognition of odors in the nose is translated into a map of odor quality in the brain. We first confirm previous studies that the first principal component could be related to pleasantness, however the next higher principal components are not directly clear. We then find mostly continuous spatial representations for perceptual categories. We compare the space spanned by spatial and population codes to human reports of perceptual similarity between odors and our results suggest that perceptual categories could be already embedded in glomerular activations and that spatial representations give a better match than population codes. This suggests that human and rat perceptual dimensions of odorant coding are related and indicates that perceptual qualities could be represented as continuous spatial codes of the olfactory bulb glomerulus population.

Keywords: Glomeruli, Memory organization, Odor quality, Olfaction, Olfactory bulb, Perceptual categories, Population coding, Spatial coding


Auffarth, Benjamin, Gutierrez, Agustin, Marco, Santiago, (2011). Statistical analysis of coding for molecular properties in the olfactory bulb Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 5, (62), 1-8

The relationship between molecular properties of odorants and neural activities is arguably one of the most important issues in olfaction and the rules governing this relationship are still not clear. In the olfactory bulb (OB), glomeruli relay olfactory information to second-order neurons which in turn project to cortical areas. We investigate relevance of odorant properties, spatial localization of glomerular coding sites, and size of coding zones in a dataset of 2-deoxyglucose images of glomeruli over the entire OB of the rat. We relate molecular properties to activation of glomeruli in the OB using a nonparametric statistical test and a support-vector machine classification study. Our method permits to systematically map the topographic representation of various classes of odorants in the OB. Our results suggest many localized coding sites for particular molecular properties and some molecular properties that could form the basis for a spatial map of olfactory information. We found that alkynes, alkanes, alkenes, and amines affect activation maps very strongly as compared to other properties and that amines, sulfur-containing compounds, and alkynes have small zones and high relevance to activation changes, while aromatics, alkanes, and carboxylics acid recruit very big zones in the dataset. Results suggest a local spatial encoding for molecular properties.

Keywords: Molecular-receptive range, Odor, Olfactory bulb, Olfactory coding, Property-activity relationship, Structure-odor relationship


Cordeiro, T. N., Schmidt, H., Madrid, C., Juarez, A., Bernado, P., Griesinger, C., Garcia, J., Pons, M., (2011). Indirect DNA readout by an H-NS related protein: Structure of the DNA complex of the C-terminal domain of Ler Plos Pathogens 7, (11), 12

Ler, a member of the H-NS protein family, is the master regulator of the LEE pathogenicity island in virulent Escherichia coli strains. Here, we determined the structure of a complex between the DNA-binding domain of Ler (CT-Ler) and a 15-mer DNA duplex. CT-Ler recognizes a preexisting structural pattern in the DNA minor groove formed by two consecutive regions which are narrower and wider, respectively, compared with standard B-DNA. The compressed region, associated with an AT-tract, is sensed by the side chain of Arg90, whose mutation abolishes the capacity of Ler to bind DNA. The expanded groove allows the approach of the loop in which Arg90 is located. This is the first report of an experimental structure of a DNA complex that includes a protein belonging to the H-NS family. The indirect readout mechanism not only explains the capacity of H-NS and other H-NS family members to modulate the expression of a large number of genes but also the origin of the specificity displayed by Ler. Our results point to a general mechanism by which horizontally acquired genes may be specifically recognized by members of the H-NS family.

Keywords: Enteropathogenic escherichia-coli, Nucleoid-associated protein, Nmr structure determination, Encoded regulator ler, Controls expression, Binding domain


Woods, N. B., Parker, A. S., Moraghebi, R., Lutz, M. K., Firth, A. L., Brennand, K. J., Berggren, W. T., Raya, A., Belmonte, J. C. I., Gage, F. H., Verma, I. M., (2011). Brief report: Efficient generation of hematopoietic precursors and progenitors from human pluripotent stem cell lines Stem Cells 29, (7), 1158-1164

By mimicking embryonic development of the hematopoietic system, we have developed an optimized in vitro differentiation protocol for the generation of precursors of hematopoietic lineages and primitive hematopoietic cells from human embryonic stem cells (ESC) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Factors such as cytokines, extra cellular matrix components, and small molecules as well as the temporal association and concentration of these factors were tested on seven different human ESC and iPSC lines. We report the differentiation of up to 84% human CD45+ cells (average 41% +/- 16%, from seven pluripotent lines) from the differentiation culture, including significant numbers of primitive CD45+/CD34+ and CD45+/CD34+/CD38- hematopoietic progenitors. Moreover, the numbers of hematopoietic progenitor cells generated, as measured by colony forming unit assays, were comparable to numbers obtained from fresh umbilical cord blood mononuclear cell isolates on a per CD45+ cell basis. Our approach demonstrates highly efficient generation of multipotent hematopoietic progenitors with among the highest efficiencies reported to date (CD45+/CD34+) using a single standardized differentiation protocol on several human ESC and iPSC lines. Our data add to the cumulating evidence for the existence of an in vitro derived precursor to the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) with limited engrafting ability in transplanted mice but with multipotent hematopoietic potential. Because this protocol efficiently expands the preblood precursors and hematopoietic progenitors, it is ideal for testing novel factors for the generation and expansion of definitive HSCs with long-term repopulating ability.

Keywords: Differentiation, Hematopoiesis, Hematopoietic progenitors, Pluripotent stem cells


Crona, Mikael, Torrents, Eduard, Rohr, Asmund K., Hofer, Anders, Furrer, Ernst, Tomter, Ane B., Andersson, K. Kristoffer, Sahlin, Margareta, Sjoberg, Britt-Marie, (2011). NrdH-redoxin protein mediates high enzyme activity in manganese-reconstituted ribonucleotide reductase from bacillus anthracis Journal of Biological Chemistry 286, (38), 33053-33060

Bacillus anthracis is a severe mammalian pathogen encoding a class Ib ribonucleotide reductase (RNR). RNR is a universal enzyme that provides the four essential deoxyribonucleotides needed for DNA replication and repair. Almost all Bacillus spp. encode both class Ib and class III RNR operons, but the B. anthracis class III operon was reported to encode a pseudogene, and conceivably class Ib RNR is necessary for spore germination and proliferation of B. anthracis upon infection. The class Ib RNR operon in B. anthracis encodes genes for the catalytic NrdE protein, the tyrosyl radical metalloprotein NrdF, and the flavodoxin protein NrdI. The tyrosyl radical in NrdF is stabilized by an adjacent Mn(2)(III) site (Mn-NrdF) formed by the action of the NrdI protein or by a Fe(2)(III) site (Fe-NrdF) formed spontaneously from Fe(2+) and O(2). In this study, we show that the properties of B. anthracis Mn-NrdF and Fe-NrdF are in general similar for interaction with NrdE and NrdI. Intriguingly, the enzyme activity of Mn-NrdF was approximately an order of magnitude higher than that of Fe-NrdF in the presence of the class Ib-specific physiological reductant NrdH, strongly suggesting that the Mn-NrdF form is important in the life cycle of B. anthracis. Whether the Fe-NrdF form only exists in vitro or whether the NrdF protein in B. anthracis is a true cambialistic enzyme that can work with either manganese or iron remains to be established.

Keywords: Escherichia-coli, Corynebacterium-ammoniagenes, Crystal-structure, Cofactor, Cubunit, Growth, Genes


Sjoberg, B. M., Torrents, E., (2011). Shift in ribonucleotide reductase gene expression in pseudomonas aeruginosa during infection Infection and Immunity 79, (7), 2663-2669

The roles of different ribonucleotide reductases (RNRs) in bacterial pathogenesis have not been studied systematically. In this work we analyzed the importance of the different Pseudomonas aeruginosa RNRs in pathogenesis using the Drosophila melanogaster host-pathogen interaction model. P. aeruginosa codes for three different RNRs with different environmental requirements. Class II and III RNR chromosomal mutants exhibited reduced virulence in this model. Translational reporter fusions of RNR gene nrdA, nrdJ, or nrdD to the green fluorescent protein were constructed to measure the expression of each class during the infection process. Analysis of the P. aeruginosa infection by flow cytometry revealed increased expression of nrdJ and nrdD and decreased nrdA expression during the infection process. Expression of each RNR class fits with the pathogenicities of the chromosomal deletion mutants. An extended understanding of the pathogenicity and physiology of P. aeruginosa will be important for the development of novel drugs against infections in cystic fibrosis patients.

Keywords: Broad-host-range, Anaerobic growth, Drosophila-melanogaster, Bacterial biofilms, Escherichia-coli, Cystic-fibrosis, Model host, Virulence, Promoter, Vectors


Urban, Patricia, Estelrich, Joan, Adeva, Alberto, Cortes, Alfred, Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2011). Study of the efficacy of antimalarial drugs delivered inside targeted immunoliposomal nanovectors Nanoscale Research Letters 6, (1), 620

Paul Ehrlich's dream of a 'magic bullet' that would specifically destroy invading microbes is now a major aspect of clinical medicine. However, a century later, the implementation of this medical holy grail continues being a challenge in three main fronts: identifying the right molecular or cellular targets for a particular disease, having a drug that is effective against it, and finding a strategy for the efficient delivery of sufficient amounts of the drug in an active state exclusively to the selected targets. In a previous work, we engineered an immunoliposomal nanovector for the targeted delivery of its contents exclusively to Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells [pRBCs]. In preliminary assays, the antimalarial drug chloroquine showed improved efficacy when delivered inside immunoliposomes targeted with the pRBC-specific monoclonal antibody BM1234. Because difficulties in determining the exact concentration of the drug due to its low amounts prevented an accurate estimation of the nanovector performance, here, we have developed an HPLC-based method for the precise determination of the concentrations in the liposomal preparations of chloroquine and of a second antimalarial drug, fosmidomycin. The results obtained indicate that immunoliposome encapsulation of chloroquine and fosmidomycin improves by tenfold the efficacy of antimalarial drugs. The targeting antibody used binds preferentially to pRBCs containing late maturation stages of the parasite. In accordance with this observation, the best performing immunoliposomes are those added to Plasmodium cultures having a larger number of late form-containing pRBCs. An average of five antibody molecules per liposome significantly improves in cell cultures the performance of immunoliposomes over non-functionalized liposomes as drug delivery vessels. Increasing the number of antibodies on the liposome surface correspondingly increases performance, with a reduction of 50% parasitemia achieved with immunoliposomes encapsulating 4 nM chloroquine and bearing an estimated 250 BM1234 units. The nanovector prototype described here can be a valuable platform amenable to modification and improvement with the objective of designing a nanostructure adequate to enter the preclinical pipeline as a new antimalarial therapy.

Keywords: Plasmodium falciparum, Antimalarial drug, Nanovector, Immuno-liposomes


Cagido, Viviane Ramos, Zin, Walter Araujo, Ramirez, Jose, Navajas, Daniel, Farre, Ramon, (2011). Alternating ventilation in a rat model of increased abdominal pressure Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 175, (3), 310-315

During alternating ventilation (AV) one lung is inflating while the other is deflating. Considering the possible respiratory and hemodynamic advantages of AV, we investigated its effects during increased intra-abdominal pressure (IAP = 10 mmHg). In Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 6, 270–375 g) the main bronchi were independently cannulated, and respiratory mechanics determined while animals underwent different ventilatory patterns: synchronic ventilation without increased IAP (SV-0), elevated IAP during SV (SV-10), and AV with elevated IAP (AV-10). Thirty-three other animals (SV-0, n = 10; SV-10, n = 11 and AV-10, n = 12) were ventilated during 3 h. Mean arterial pressure (MAP), and lung histology were assessed. Increased IAP resulted in significantly higher elastances (p < 0.001), being AV-10 lower than SV-10 (p < 0.020). SV-10 showed higher central venous pressure (p < 0.003) than S-0; no change was observed in AV-10. Wet/dry lung weight ratio was lower in AV-10 than SV-10 (p = 0.009). Application of AV reduced hemodynamic and lung impairments induced by increased IAP during SV.

Keywords: Alternating ventilation, Respiratory mechanics, Intra-abdominal pressure, Hemodynamic, Mechanical ventilation, Animal model


Carreras, Alba, Wang, Yang, Gozal, David, Montserrat, Josep M., Navajas, Daniel, Farre, Ramon, (2011). Non-invasive system for applying airway obstructions to model obstructive sleep apnea in mice Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 175, (1), 164-168

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by recurrent upper airway obstructions during sleep. The most common animal model of OSA is based on subjecting rodents to intermittent hypoxic exposures and does not mimic important OSA features, such as recurrent hypercapnia and increased inspiratory efforts. To circumvent some of these issues, a novel murine model involving non-invasive application of recurrent airway obstructions was developed. An electronically controlled airbag system is placed in front of the mouse's snout, whereby inflating the airbag leads to obstructed breathing and spontaneous breathing occurs with the airbag deflated. The device was tested on 29 anesthetized mice by measuring inspiratory effort and arterial oxygen saturation (SaO(2)). Application of recurrent obstructive apneas (6s each, 120/h) for 6h resulted in SaO(2) oscillations to values reaching 84.4 +/- 2.5% nadir, with swings mimicking OSA patients. This novel system, capable of applying controlled recurrent airway obstructions in mice, is an easy-to-use tool for investigating pertinent aspects of OSA.

Keywords: Animal model, Upper airway Obstruction, Mouse model, Non-invasive system, Model sleep apnea, Respiratory disease


Tahirbegi, I. B., Mir, M., (2011). Slit-wave model for band structures in solid state physics Modern Physics Letters B 25, (3), 151-161

The reason behind the entire development in silicon technology was band models in solid state physics. However, the theories postulated in order to give response to this phenomenon do not explain all kinds of materials. In a bid to overcome this limitation, we approach the problem from another point of view. In this work, the wave properties of the electrons from the external orbitals of the atoms and its diffraction patterns through the lattice structure of the material have been used to explain the band structure of metals, semiconductor and insulators. In order to probe this hypothesis, a simulation has been used and according to the relation between the lattice constant and the atomic diameter, the splitting of the bands have been observed for different kind of materials, showing a strong correlation between the simulation and the experimental results.

Keywords: Electrical band structure, Band gap, Fraunhofer diffraction, Semiconductor, Insulator


Amigo, L. E., Casals, A., Amat, J., (2011). Design of a 3-DoF joint system with dynamic servo-adaptation in orthotic applications Proceedings 2011 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) , IEEE (Shanghai, China) , 3700-3705

Most exoskeleton designs rely on structures and mechanical joints that do not guarantee the right match between the orthosis and the user. This paper proposes a virtual joint model based on three active degrees of freedom aimed to emulate a human joint. This joint is capable of performing a dynamic servo-adaptation in real-time to avoid misalignments and to provide a flexible adjustment to different users' sizes in order to avoid undesirable interaction forces.

Keywords: Actuators, Elbow, Exoskeletons, Joints, Knee, Medical treatment


Gorostiza, P., Isacoff, E.Y., (2011). Photoswitchable ligand-gated ion channels Photosensitive molecules for controlling biological function (ed. Chambers, J. J. , Kramer, R. H.), Springer (Saskatoon, Canada) 55, 267-285

Ligand-activated proteins can be controlled with light by means of synthetic photoisomerizable tethered ligands (PTLs). The application of PTLs to ligand-gated ion channels, including the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor and ionotropic glutamate receptors, is reviewed with emphasis on rational photoswitch design and the mechanisms of optical switching. Recently reported molecular dynamic methods allow simulation with high reliability of novel PTLs for any ligand-activated protein whose structure is known.

Keywords: Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, Kainate receptor, Glutamate receptor, Photoisomerizable tether ligand (PTL), Optical switch, Nanotoggle, Azobenzene, Neurobiology,, Nanoengineering, Nanomedicine


Santoro, R., Olivares, A. L., Brans, G., Wirz, D., Longinotti, C., Lacroix, D., Martin, I., Wendt, D., (2010). Bioreactor based engineering of large-scale human cartilage grafts for joint resurfacing Biomaterials 31, (34), 8946-8952

Apart from partial or total joint replacement, no surgical procedure is currently available to treat large and deep cartilage defects associated with advanced diseases such as osteoarthritis. In this work, we developed a perfusion bioreactor system to engineer human cartilage grafts in a size with clinical relevance for unicompartmental resurfacing of human knee joints (50 mm diameter x 3 mm thick). Computational fluid dynamics models were developed to optimize the flow profile when designing the perfusion chamber. Using the developed system, human chondrocytes could be seeded throughout large 50 mm diameter scaffolds with a uniform distribution. Following two weeks culture, tissues grown in the bioreactor were viable and homogeneously cartilaginous, with biomechanical properties approaching those of native cartilage. In contrast, tissues generated by conventional manual production procedures were highly inhomogeneous and contained large necrotic regions. The unprecedented engineering of human cartilage tissues in this large-scale opens the practical perspective of grafting functional biological substitutes for the clinical treatment for extensive cartilage defects, possibly in combination with surgical or pharmacological therapies to support durability of the implant. Ongoing efforts are aimed at integrating the up-scaled bioreactor based processes within a fully automated and closed manufacturing system for safe, standardized, and GMP compliant production of large-scale cartilage grafts.

Keywords: Bioreactor, Cartilage repair, Computational fluid dynamics, Scale-up, Regenerative medicine, Tissue engineering


van Zanten, Thomas S., Lopez-Bosque, M. J . , Garcia-Parajo, M. F., (2010). Imaging individual proteins and nanodomains on intact cell membranes with a probe-based optical antenna Small 6, (2), 270-275

Optical antennas that confine and enhance electromagnetic fields in a nanometric region hold great potential for nanobioimaging and biosensing. Probe-based monopole optical antennas are fabricated to enhance fields localized to <30 nm near the antenna apex in aqueous conditions. These probes are used under appropriate excitation antenna conditions to image individual antibodies with an unprecedented resolution of 26 ± 4 nm and virtually no surrounding background. On intact cell membranes in physiological conditions, the obtained resolution is 30 ± 6 nm. Importantly, the method allows individual proteins to be distinguished from nanodomains and the degree of clustering to be quantified by directly measuring physical size and intensity of individual fluorescent spots. Improved antenna geometries should lead to true live cell imaging below 10-nm resolution with position accuracy in the subnanometric range.

Keywords: Cell membranes, Cell receptors, Focused ion beam milling, Nanodomains, Optical antennas


Valle-Delgado, J. J., Alfonso-Prieto, M., de Groot, N. S., Ventura, S., Samitier, J., Rovira, C., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2010). Modulation of A beta(42) fibrillogenesis by glycosaminoglycan structure FASEB Journal 24, (11), 4250-4261

The role of amyloid beta (A beta) peptide in the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease is linked to the presence of soluble A beta species. Sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) promote A beta fibrillogenesis and reduce the toxicity of the peptide in neuronal cell cultures, but a satisfactory rationale to explain these effects at the molecular level has not been provided yet. We have used circular dichroism, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, fluorescence microscopy and spectroscopy, protease digestion, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and molecular dynamics simulations to characterize the association of the 42-residue fragment A beta(42) with sulfated GAGs, hyaluronan, chitosan, and poly(vinyl sulfate) (PVS). Our results indicate that the formation of stable A beta(42) fibrils is promoted by polymeric GAGs with negative charges placed in-frame with the 4.8-angstrom separating A beta(42) monomers within protofibrillar beta-sheets. Incubation of A beta(42) with excess sulfated GAGs and hyaluronan increased amyloid fibril content and resistance to proteolysis 2- to 5-fold, whereas in the presence of the cationic polysaccharide chitosan, A beta(42) fibrillar species were reduced by 25% and sensitivity to protease degradation increased similar to 3-fold. Fibrils of intermediate stability were obtained in the presence of PVS, an anionic polymer with more tightly packed charges than GAGs. Important structural differences between A beta(42) fibrils induced by PVS and A beta(42) fibrils obtained in the presence of GAGs and hyaluronan were observed by AFM, whereas mainly precursor protofibrillar forms were detected after incubation with chitosan. Computed binding energies per peptide from -11.2 to -13.5 kcal/mol were calculated for GAGs and PVS, whereas a significantly lower value of -7.4 kcal/mol was obtained for chitosan. Taken together, our data suggest a simple and straightforward mechanism to explain the role of GAGs as enhancers of the formation of insoluble A beta(42) fibrils trapping soluble toxic forms.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease, Amyloid fibril structure, Fibrillogenesis enhancers and inhibitors, Polysaccharides


Kodippili, G. C., Spector, J., Kang, G. E., Liu, H., Wickrema, A., Ritchie, K., Low, P. S., (2010). Analysis of the kinetics of band 3 diffusion in human erythroblasts during assembly of the erythrocyte membrane skeleton British Journal of Haematology 150, (5), 592-600

Summary During definitive erythropoiesis, erythroid precursors undergo differentiation through multiple nucleated states to an enucleated reticulocyte, which loses its residual RNA/organelles to become a mature erythrocyte. Over the course of these transformations, continuous changes in membrane proteins occur, including shifts in protein abundance, rates of expression, isoform prominence, states of phosphorylation, and stability. In an effort to understand when assembly of membrane proteins into an architecture characteristic of the mature erythrocyte occurs, we quantitated the lateral diffusion of the most abundant membrane protein, band 3 (AE1), during each stage of erythropoiesis using single particle tracking. Analysis of the lateral trajectories of individual band 3 molecules revealed a gradual reduction in mobility of the anion transporter as erythroblasts differentiated. Evidence for this progressive immobilization included a gradual decline in diffusion coefficients as determined at a video acquisition rate of 120 frames/s and a decrease in the percentage of compartment sizes >100 nm. Because complete acquisition of the properties of band 3 seen in mature erythrocytes is not observed until circulating erythrocytes are formed, we suggest that membrane maturation involves a gradual and cooperative assembly process that is not triggered by the synthesis of any single protein.

Keywords: Band 3 diffusion, Erythrocyte, Progenitor cells, Single particle tracking, Streptavidin quantum dot


Seira, O., Gavin, R., Gil, V., Llorens, F., Rangel, A., Soriano, E., del Rio, J. A., (2010). Neurites regrowth of cortical neurons by GSK3 beta inhibition independently of Nogo receptor 1 Journal of Neurochemistry 113, (6), 1644-1658

P>Lesioned axons do not regenerate in the adult mammalian CNS, owing to the over-expression of inhibitory molecules such as myelin-derived proteins or chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans. In order to overcome axon inhibition, strategies based on extrinsic and intrinsic treatments have been developed. For myelin-associated inhibition, blockage with NEP1-40, receptor bodies or IN-1 antibodies has been used. In addition, endogenous blockage of cell signalling mechanisms induced by myelin-associated proteins is a potential tool for overcoming axon inhibitory signals. We examined the participation of glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK3 beta) and extracellular-related kinase (ERK) 1/2 in axon regeneration failure in lesioned cortical neurons. We also investigated whether pharmacological blockage of GSK3 beta and ERK1/2 activities facilitates regeneration after myelin-directed inhibition in two models: (i) cerebellar granule cells and (ii) lesioned entorhino-hippocampal pathway in slice cultures, and whether the regenerative effects are mediated by Nogo Receptor 1 (NgR1). We demonstrate that, in contrast to ERK1/2 inhibition, the pharmacological treatment of GSK3 beta inhibition strongly facilitated regrowth of cerebellar granule neurons over myelin independently of NgR1. Finally, these regenerative effects were corroborated in the lesioned entorhino-hippocampal pathway in NgR1-/- mutant mice. These results provide new findings for the development of new assays and strategies to enhance axon regeneration in injured cortical connections.

Keywords: Axon inhibition, Nogo Receptor complex, Organotypic slice cultures, Pharmacological treatment


Lagunas, A., Comelles, J., Martinez, E., Samitier, J., (2010). Universal chemical gradient platforms using poly(methyl methacrylate) based on the biotin streptavidin interaction for biological applications Langmuir 26, (17), 14154-14161

This article describes a simple method for the construction of a universal surface chemical gradient platform based on the biotin streptavidin model. In this approach, surface chemical gradients were prepared in poly(methyl methacrylate) (PM MA), a biocompatible polymer, by a controlled hydrolysis procedure. The physicochemical properties of the resulting modified surfaces were extensively characterized. Chemical analysis carried out via time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToRSIMS) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) showed the formation of a smooth, highly controllable carboxylic acid gradient of increasing concentration along the sample surface. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) and contact angle (CA) results indicate that, in contrast with most of the chemical gradient methods published in the literature, the chemical modification of the polymer surface barely affects its physical properties. The introduction of carboxylic acid functionality along the surface was then used for biomolecule anchoring. For this purpose, the surface was activated and derivatized first with biotin and finally with streptavidin (SA V) in a directed orientation fashion. The SAV gradient was qualitatively assessed by fluorescence microscopy analysis and quantified by surface plasmon resonance (SPR) in order to establish a quantitative relationship between SAV surface densities and the surface location. The usefulness of the fabrication method described for biological applications was tested by immobilizing biotinylated bradykinin onto the SAV gradient. This proof-of-concept application shows the effectiveness of the concentration range of the gradient because the effects of bradykinin on cell morphology were observed to increase gradually with increasing drug concentrations. The intrinsic characteristics of the fabricated gradient platform (absence of physicochemical modifications other than those due to the biomolecules included) allow us to attribute cell behavior unequivocally to the biomolecule surface density changes.

Keywords: Wettability gradient, Polyethylene surface, Combinatorial, Immobilization, Biomaterials, Fabrication, Deposition, Bradykinin, Monolayers, Discharge


Perera, A., Pardo, A., Barrettino, D., Hierlermann, A., Marco, S., (2010). Evaluation of fish spoilage by means of a single metal oxide sensor under temperature modulation Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 146, (2), 477-482

In this paper the feasibility of using metal oxide gas sensor technology for evaluating spoilage process for sea bream (Sparus aurata) is explored. It is shown that a single sensor under temperature modulation is able to find a correlation with the fish spoilage process. Results are obtained in real frigorific storage conditions: that is, at low measurement temperatures with variations of relative humidity.

Keywords: Gas sensors, Electronic nose, Spoilage process, Temperature modulation, Bream sparus-aurata, Electronic nose, Freshness, Quality, Sardines, Storage


Koch, M. A., Vrij, E. J., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Lacroix, D., (2010). Perfusion cell seeding on large porous PLA/calcium phosphate composite scaffolds in a perfusion bioreactor system under varying perfusion parameters Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A 95A, (4), 1011-1018

A promising approach to bone tissue engineering lies in the use of perfusion bioreactors where cells are seeded and cultured on scaffolds under conditions of enhanced nutrient supply and removal of metabolic products. Fluid flow alterations can stimulate cell activity, making the engineering of tissue more efficient. Most bioreactor systems are used to culture cells on thin scaffold discs. In clinical use, however, bone substitutes of large dimensions are needed. In this study, MG63 osteoblast-like cells were seeded on large porous PLA/glass scaffolds with a custom developed perfusion bioreactor system. Cells were seeded by oscillating perfusion of cell suspension through the scaffolds. Applicable perfusion parameters for successful cell seeding were determined by varying fluid flow velocity and perfusion cycle number. After perfusion, cell seeding, the cell distribution, and cell seeding efficiency were determined. A fluid flow velocity of 5 mm/s had to be exceeded to achieve a uniform cell distribution throughout the scaffold interior. Cell seeding efficiencies of up to 50% were achieved. Results suggested that perfusion cycle number influenced cell seeding efficiency rather than fluid flow velocities. The cell seeding conducted is a promising basis for further long term cell culture studies in large porous scaffolds.

Keywords: Bioreactor, Bone tissue engineering, Scaffolds, In vitro


Aguirre, A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2010). Dynamics of bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cell/mesenchymal stem cell interaction in co-culture and its implications in angiogenesis Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 400, (2), 284-291

Tissue engineering aims to regenerate tissues and organs by using cell and biomaterial-based approaches. One of the current challenges in the field is to promote proper vascularization in the implant to prevent cell death and promote host integration. Bone marrow endothelial progenitor cells (BM-EPCs) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are bone marrow resident stem cells widely employed for proangiogenic applications. In vivo, they are likely to interact frequently both in the bone marrow and at sites of injury. In this study, the physical and biochemical interactions between BM-EPCs and MSCs in an in vitro co-culture system were investigated to further clarify their roles in vascularization. BM-EPC/MSC co-cultures established close cell-cell contacts soon after seeding and self-assembled to form elongated structures at 3 days. Besides direct contact, cells also exhibited vesicle transport phenomena. When co-cultured in Matrigel, tube formation was greatly enhanced even in serum-starved, growth factor free medium. Both MSCs and BM-EPCs contributed to these tubes. However, cell proliferation was greatly reduced in co-culture and morphological differences were observed. Gene expression and cluster analysis for wide panel of angiogenesis-related transcripts demonstrated up-regulation of angiogenic markers but down-regulation of many other cytokines. These data suggest that cross-talk occurs in between BM-EPCs and MSCs through paracrine and direct cell contact mechanisms leading to modulation of the angiogenic response.

Keywords: Bone marrow, Endothelial progenitor cell, Co-culture, Mesenchymal stem cell, Angiogenesis


Aguirre, A., Gonzalez, A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2010). Extracellular calcium modulates in vitro bone marrow-derived Flk-1(+) CD34(+) progenitor cell chemotaxis and differentiation through a calcium-sensing receptor Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 393, (1), 156-161

Angiogenesis is a complex process regulated by many cell types and a large variety of biochemical signals such as growth factors, transcription factors, oxygen and nutrient diffusion among others. In the present study, we found out that Flk-1(+) CD34(+) progenitor cells (bone marrow resident cells with an important role in angiogenesis) were responsive to changes in extracellular calcium concentration through a membrane bound, G-protein-coupled receptor sensitive to calcium ions related to the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR). Calcium was able to induce progenitor cell migration in Boyden chamber experiments and tubulogenesis in Matrigel assays. Addition of anti-CaSR antibodies completely blocked the effect, while CaSR agonist Mg2+ produced a similar response to that of calcium. Real time RT-PCR for a wide array of angiogenesis-related genes showed increased expression of endothelial markers and signaling pathways involved in angiogenesis. These results suggest calcium could be a physiological modulator of the bone marrow progenitor cell-mediated angiogenic response.

Keywords: Endothelial progenitor cell, Calcium-sensing receptor, Angiogenesis, Chemotaxis, Calcium, Bone marrow


Garde, A., Sörnmo, L., Jané, R., Giraldo, B., (2010). Breathing pattern characterization in chronic heart failure patients using the respiratory flow signal Annals of Biomedical Engineering 38, (12), 3572-3580

This study proposes a method for the characterization of respiratory patterns in chronic heart failure (CHF) patients with periodic breathing (PB) and nonperiodic breathing (nPB), using the flow signal. Autoregressive modeling of the envelope of the respiratory flow signal is the starting point for the pattern characterization. Spectral parameters extracted from the discriminant frequency band (DB) are used to characterize the respiratory patterns. For each classification problem, the most discriminant parameter subset is selected using the leave-one-out cross-validation technique. The power in the right DB provides an accuracy of 84.6% when classifying PB vs. nPB patterns in CHF patients, whereas the power of the DB provides an accuracy of 85.5% when classifying the whole group of CHF patients vs. healthy subjects, and 85.2% when classifying nPB patients vs. healthy subjects.

Keywords: Chronic heart failure, AR modeling, Respiratory pattern, Discriminant band, Periodic and nonperiodic breathing


Caminal, P., Giraldo, B. F., Vallverdu, M., Benito, S., Schroeder, R., Voss, A., (2010). Symbolic dynamic analysis of relations between cardiac and breathing cycles in patients on weaning trials Annals of Biomedical Engineering 38, (8), 2542-52

Traditional time-domain techniques of data analysis are often not sufficient to characterize the complex dynamics of the cardiorespiratory interdependencies during the weaning trials. In this paper, the interactions between the heart rate (HR) and the breathing rate (BR) were studied using joint symbolic dynamic analysis. A total of 133 patients on weaning trials from mechanical ventilation were analyzed: 94 patients with successful weaning (group S) and 39 patients that failed to maintain spontaneous breathing (group F). The word distribution matrix enabled a coarse-grained quantitative assessment of short-term nonlinear analysis of the cardiorespiratory interactions. The histogram of the occurrence probability of the cardiorespiratory words presented a higher homogeneity in group F than in group S, measured with a higher number of forbidden words in group S as well as a higher number of words whose probability of occurrence is higher than a probability threshold in group S. The discriminant analysis revealed the best results when applying symbolic dynamic variables. Therefore, we hypothesize that joint symbolic dynamic analysis provides enhanced information about different interactions between HR and BR, when comparing patients with successful weaning and patients that failed to maintain spontaneous breathing in the weaning procedure.

Keywords: Dynamical nonlinearities analysis, Cardiorespiratory interdependencies, Joint symbolic dynamic, Weaning procedure


Padilla, M., Perera, A., Montoliu, I., Chaudry, A., Persaud, K., Marco, S., (2010). Drift compensation of gas sensor array data by orthogonal signal correction Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems 100, (1), 28-35

Drift is an important issue that impairs the reliability of gas sensing systems. Sensor aging, memory effects and environmental disturbances produce shifts in sensor responses that make initial statistical models for gas or odor recognition useless after a relatively short period (typically few weeks). Frequent recalibrations are needed to preserve system accuracy. However, when recalibrations involve numerous samples they become expensive and laborious. An interesting and lower cost alternative is drift counteraction by signal processing techniques. Orthogonal Signal Correction (OSC) is proposed for drift compensation in chemical sensor arrays. The performance of OSC is also compared with Component Correction (CC). A simple classification algorithm has been employed for assessing the performance of the algorithms on a dataset composed by measurements of three analytes using an array of seventeen conductive polymer gas sensors over a ten month period.

Keywords: Gas sensor array, Drift, Orthogonal signal correction, Component correction, Cross-validation, Electronic nose, Data shift


Pomareda, V., Calvo, D., Pardo, A., Marco, S., (2010). Hard modeling multivariate curve resolution using LASSO: Application to ion mobility spectra Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems 104, (2), 318-332

Multivariate Curve Resolution (MCR) aims to blindly recover the concentration profile and the source spectra without any prior supervised calibration step. It is well known that imposing additional constraints like positiveness, closure and others may improve the quality of the solution. When a physico-chemical model of the process is known, this can be also introduced constraining even more the solution. In this paper, we apply MCR to Ion Mobility Spectra. Since instrumental models suggest that peaks are of Gaussian shape with a width depending on the instrument resolution, we introduce that each source is characterized by a linear superposition of Gaussian peaks of fixed spread. We also prove that this model is able to fit wider peaks departing from pure Gaussian shape. Instead of introducing a non-linear Gaussian peak fitting, we use a very dense model and rely on a least square solver with L1-norm regularization to obtain a sparse solution. This is accomplished via Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (LASSO). Results provide nicely resolved concentration profiles and spectra improving the results of the basic MCR solution.

Keywords: Blind source separation, Ion mobility spectrometry, Multivariate curve resolution, Sparse solution, Non negative matrix factorization


Garde, A., Sörnmo, L., Jané, R., Giraldo, B. F., (2010). Correntropy-based spectral characterization of respiratory patterns in patients with chronic heart failure IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering 57, (8), 1964-1972

A correntropy-based technique is proposed for the characterization and classification of respiratory flow signals in chronic heart failure (CHF) patients with periodic or nonperiodic breathing (PB or nPB, respectively) and healthy subjects. The correntropy is a recently introduced, generalized correlation measure whose properties lend themselves to the definition of a correntropy-based spectral density (CSD). Using this technique, both respiratory and modulation frequencies can be reliably detected at their original positions in the spectrum without prior demodulation of the flow signal. Single-parameter classification of respiratory patterns is investigated for three different parameters extracted from the respiratory and modulation frequency bands of the CSD, and one parameter defined by the correntropy mean. The results show that the ratio between the powers in the modulation and respiratory frequency bands provides the best result when classifying CHF patients with either PB or nPB, yielding an accuracy of 88.9%. The correntropy mean offers excellent performance when classifying CHF patients versus healthy subjects, yielding an accuracy of 95.2% and discriminating nPB patients from healthy subjects with an accuracy of 94.4%.

Keywords: Autoregressive (AR) modeling, Chronic heart failure (CHF), Correntropy spectral density (CSD), Linear classification, Periodic breathing (PB)


Morgenstern, C., Schwaibold, M., Randerath, W. J., Bolz, A., Jané, R., (2010). An invasive and a noninvasive approach for the automatic differentiation of obstructive and central hypopneas IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering 57, (8), 1927-1936

The automatic differentiation of obstructive and central respiratory events is a major challenge in the diagnosis of sleep-disordered breathing. Esophageal pressure (Pes) measurement is the gold-standard method to identify these events. This study presents a new classifier that automatically differentiates obstructive and central hypopneas with the Pes signal and a new approach for an automatic noninvasive classifier with nasal airflow. An overall of 28 patients underwent night polysomnography with Pes recording, and a total of 769 hypopneas were manually scored by human experts to create a gold-standard annotation set. Features were automatically extracted from the Pes signal to train and test the classifiers (discriminant analysis, support vector machines, and adaboost). After a significantly (p < 0.01) higher incidence of inspiratory flow limitation episodes in obstructive hypopneas was objectively, invasively assessed compared to central hypopneas, the feasibility of an automatic noninvasive classifier with features extracted from the airflow signal was demonstrated. The automatic invasive classifier achieved a mean sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of 0.90 after a 100-fold cross validation. The automatic noninvasive feasibility study obtained similar hypopnea differentiation results as a manual noninvasive classification algorithm. Hence, both systems seem promising for the automatic differentiation of obstructive and central hypopneas.

Keywords: Automatic differentiation, Central hypopnea, Esophageal pressure (Pes), Inspiratory flow limitation (IFL), Noninvasive classification, Obstructive hypopnea


Garde, A., Schroeder, R., Voss, A., Caminal, P., Benito, S., Giraldo, B., (2010). Patients on weaning trials classified with support vector machines Physiological Measurement 31, (7), 979-993

The process of discontinuing mechanical ventilation is called weaning and is one of the most challenging problems in intensive care. An unnecessary delay in the discontinuation process and an early weaning trial are undesirable. This study aims to characterize the respiratory pattern through features that permit the identification of patients' conditions in weaning trials. Three groups of patients have been considered: 94 patients with successful weaning trials, who could maintain spontaneous breathing after 48 h ( GSucc ); 39 patients who failed the weaning trial ( GFail ) and 21 patients who had successful weaning trials, but required reintubation in less than 48 h ( GRein ). Patients are characterized by their cardiorespiratory interactions, which are described by joint symbolic dynamics (JSD) applied to the cardiac interbeat and breath durations. The most discriminating features in the classification of the different groups of patients ( GSucc , GFail and GRein ) are identified by support vector machines (SVMs). The SVM-based feature selection algorithm has an accuracy of 81% in classifying GSucc versus the rest of the patients, 83% in classifying GRein versus GSucc patients and 81% in classifying GRein versus the rest of the patients. Moreover, a good balance between sensitivity and specificity is achieved in all classifications.

Keywords: Mechanical ventilation, Weaning, Support vector machines, Joint symbolic dynamics


Correa, R., Laciar, E., Arini, P., Jané, R., (2010). Analysis of QRS loop in the Vectorcardiogram of patients with Chagas' disease Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) , 2561-2564

In the present work, we have studied the QRS loop in the Vectorcardiogram (VCG) of 95 chronic chagasic patients classified in different groups (I, II and III) according to their degree of myocardial damage. For comparison, the VCGs of 11 healthy subjects used as control group (Group O) were also examined. The QRS loop was obtained for each patient from the XYZ orthogonal leads of their High-Resolution Electrocardiogram (HRECG) records. In order to analyze the variations of QRS loop in each detected beat, it has been proposed in this study the following vectorcardiographic parameters a) Maximum magnitude of the cardiac depolarization vector, b) Volume, c) Area of QRS loop, d) Ratio between the Area and Perimeter, e) Ratio between the major and minor axes of the QRS loop and f) QRS loop Energy. It has been found that one or more indexes exhibited statistical differences (p<0.05) between groups 0-II, O-III, I-II, I-III and II-III. We concluded that the proposed method could be use as complementary diagnosis technique to evaluate the degree of myocardial damage in chronic chagasic patients.

Keywords: Practical, Experimental/ bioelectric phenomena, Diseases, Electrocardiography, Medical signal, Processing/ QRS loop, Vectorcardiogram, Cardiac depolarization vector, Myocardial damage, Chagas disease, Complementary diagnosis technique, High-resolution electrocardiogram


Morgenstern, C., Schwaibold, M., Randerath, W., Bolz, A., Jané, R., (2010). Automatic non-invasive differentiation of obstructive and central hypopneas with nasal airflow compared to esophageal pressure Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) , 6142-6145

The differentiation of obstructive and central respiratory events is a major challenge in the diagnosis of sleep disordered breathing. Esophageal pressure (Pes) measurement is the gold-standard method to identify these events but its invasiveness deters its usage in clinical routine. Flattening patterns appear in the airflow signal during episodes of inspiratory flow limitation (IFL) and have been shown with invasive techniques to be useful to differentiate between central and obstructive hypopneas. In this study we present a new method for the automatic non-invasive differentiation of obstructive and central hypopneas solely with nasal airflow. An overall of 36 patients underwent full night polysomnography with systematic Pes recording and a total of 1069 hypopneas were manually scored by human experts to create a gold-standard annotation set. Features were automatically extracted from the nasal airflow signal to train and test our automatic classifier (Discriminant Analysis). Flattening patterns were non-invasively assessed in the airflow signal using spectral and time analysis. The automatic non-invasive classifier obtained a sensitivity of 0.71 and an accuracy of 0.69, similar to the results obtained with a manual non-invasive classification algorithm. Hence, flattening airflow patterns seem promising for the non-invasive differentiation of obstructive and central hypopneas.

Keywords: Practical, Experimental/ biomedical measurement, Feature extraction, Flow measurement, Medical disorders, Medical signal processing, Patient diagnosis, Pneumodynamics, Pressure measurement, Signal classification, Sleep, Spectral analysis/ automatic noninvasive differentiation, Obstructive hypopnea, Central hypopnea, Inspiratory flow limitation, Nasal airflow, Esophageal pressure, Polysomnography, Feature extraction, Discriminant analysis, Spectral analysis


Tarzan-Lorente, M., Gutierrez-Galvez, A., Martinez, D., Marco, S., (2010). A biologically inspired associative memory for artificial olfaction Practica 2010 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN 2010) , IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA (Barcelona, Spain) , 6 pp.

In this paper, we propose a biologically inspired architecture for a Hopfield-like associative memory applied to artificial olfaction. The proposed algorithm captures the projection between two neural layers of the insect olfactory system (Antennal Lobe and Mushroom Body) with a kernel based projection. We have tested its classification performance as a function of the size of the training set and the time elapsed since training and compared it with that obtained with a Support Vector Machine.

Keywords: Biocomputing, Chemioception, Content-addressable storage, Hopfield neural nets, Support vector machines


Garde, A., Sörnmo, L., Jané, R., Giraldo, B. F., (2010). Correntropy-based nonlinearity test applied to patients with chronic heart failure Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) , 2399-2402

In this study we propose the correntropy function as a discriminative measure for detecting nonlinearities in the respiratory pattern of chronic heart failure (CHF) patients with periodic or nonperiodic breathing pattern (PB or nPB, respectively). The complexity seems to be reduced in CHF patients with higher risk level. Correntropy reflects information on both, statistical distribution and temporal structure of the underlying dataset. It is a suitable measure due to its capability to preserve nonlinear information. The null hypothesis considered is that the analyzed data is generated by a Gaussian linear stochastic process. Correntropy is used in a statistical test to reject the null hypothesis through surrogate data methods. Various parameters, derived from the correntropy and correntropy spectral density (CSD) to characterize the respiratory pattern, presented no significant differences when extracted from the iteratively refined amplitude adjusted Fourier transform (IAAFT) surrogate data. The ratio between the powers in the modulation and respiratory frequency bands R was significantly different in nPB patients, but not in PB patients, which reflects a higher presence of nonlinearities in nPB patients than in PB patients.

Keywords: Practical, Theoretical or Mathematical, Experimental/cardiology diseases, Fourier transforms, Medical signal processing, Pattern classification, Pneumodynamics, Spectral analysis, Statistical analysis, Stochastic processes/ correntropy based nonlinearity test, Chronic heart failure, Correntropy function, Respiratory pattern nonlinearities, CHF patients, Nonperiodic breathing pattern, Dataset statistical distribution, Dataset temporal structure, Nonlinear information, Null hypothesis, Gaussian linear stochastic process, Statistical test, Correntropy spectral density, Iteratively refined amplitude adjusted Fourier transform, Surrogate data, Periodic breathing pattern


Sanmarti, M., Iavicoli, P., Pajot-Augy, E., Gomila, G., Samitier, J., (2010). Human olfactory receptors immobilization on a mixed self assembled monolayer for the development of a bioelectronic nose Procedia Engineering (EUROSENSOR XXIV CONFERENCE) 24th Eurosensor Conference (ed. Jakoby, B., Vellekoop, M.J.), Elsevier Science (Linz, Austria) 5, 786-789

The present work focuses on the development of an immunosensing surface to build a portable olfactory system for the detection of complex mixture of odorants. Homogeneous cell derived vesicles expressing the olfactory receptors were produced and immobilized with efficiency onto a gold substrate through an optimized surface functionalization method.

Keywords: Bioelectronic noses, Biosensors, Nanoproteoliposomes, Nanosomes, Olfactory receptors, SAMs


Sarlabous, L., Torres, A., Fiz, J. A., Gea, J., Marti nez-Llorens, J. M., Morera, J., Jané, R., (2010). Interpretation of the approximate entropy using fixed tolerance values as a measure of amplitude variations in biomedical signals Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) , 5967-5970

A new method for the quantification of amplitude variations in biomedical signals through moving approximate entropy is presented. Unlike the usual method to calculate the approximate entropy (ApEn), in which the tolerance value (r) varies based on the standard deviation of each moving window, in this work ApEn has been computed using a fixed value of r. We called this method, moving approximate entropy with fixed tolerance values: ApEn/sub f/. The obtained results indicate that ApEn/sub f/ allows determining amplitude variations in biomedical data series. These amplitude variations are better determined when intermediate values of tolerance are used. The study performed in diaphragmatic mechanomyographic signals shows that the ApEn/sub f/ curve is more correlated with the respiratory effort than the standard RMS amplitude parameter. Furthermore, it has been observed that the ApEn/sub f/ parameter is less affected by the existence of impulsive, sinusoidal, constant and Gaussian noises in comparison with the RMS amplitude parameter.

Keywords: Practical, Theoretical or Mathematical/ biomechanics, Entropy, Gaussian noise, Medical signal processing, Muscle, Random processes/ approximate entropy interpretation, Fixed tolerance values, Diaphragmatic mechanomyographic signals, ApEnf curve, Respiratory effort, Gaussian noises


Correa, L. S., Laciar, E., Mut, V., Giraldo, B. F., Torres, A., (2010). Multi-parameter analysis of ECG and Respiratory Flow signals to identify success of patients on weaning trials Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) -----, 6070-6073

Statistical analysis, power spectral density, and Lempel Ziv complexity, are used in a multi-parameter approach to analyze four temporal series obtained from the Electrocardiographic and Respiratory Flow signals of 126 patients on weaning trials. In which, 88 patients belong to successful group (SG), and 38 patients belong to failure group (FG), i.e. failed to maintain spontaneous breathing during trial. It was found that mean values of cardiac inter-beat and breath durations give higher values for SG than for FG; Kurtosis coefficient of the spectrum of the rapid shallow breathing index is higher for FG; also Lempel Ziv complexity mean values associated with the respiratory flow signal are bigger for FG. Patients were then classified with a pattern recognition neural network, obtaining 80% of correct classifications (81.6% for FG and 79.5% for SG).

Keywords: Electrocardiography, Medical signal processing, Neural nets, Pattern recognition, Pneumodynamics, Signal classification, Statistical analysis, ECG, Kurtosis coefficient, Lempel Ziv complexity, Breath durations, Cardiac interbeat durations, Electrocardiography, Multiparameter analysis, Pattern recognition neural network, Power spectral density, Respiratory flow signals, Signal classification, Spontaneous breathing, Statistical analysis, Weaning trials


Leder, R. S., Schlotthauer, G., Penzel, T., Jané, R., (2010). The natural history of the sleep and respiratory engineering track at EMBC 1988 to 2010 Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) , 288-291

Sleep science and respiratory engineering as medical subspecialties and research areas grew up side-by-side with biomedical engineering. The formation of EMBS in the 1950's and the discovery of REM sleep in the 1950's led to parallel development and interaction of sleep and biomedical engineering in diagnostics and therapeutics.

Keywords: Practical/ biomedical equipment, Biomedical measurement, Patient diagnosis, Patient monitoring, Patient treatment, Pneumodynamics, Sleep/ sleep engineering, Respiratory engineering, Automatic sleep analysis, Automatic sleep interpretation systems, Breathing, Biomedical, Engineering, Diagnostics, Therapeutics, REM sleep, Portable, Measurement, Ambulatory measurement, Monitoring


Amigo, L.E., Casals, A., Amat, J., (2010). Polyarticulated architecture for the emulation of an isocentric joint in orthetic applications BioRob 2010 3rd IEEE RAS & EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics , IEEE (Tokyo, Japan) , 825-830

The design of orthotic devices that tries to fit to the anthropomorphic structure of human limbs faces the problem of achieving the highest approximation to the anatomical kinematics. This paper studies the main characteristics and performances of orthotic devices, mainly focusing on the upper limbs, and proposes a solution to the problem of the superposition of rotation and displacement of some joints, as the shoulder, elbow or knee. A 3 DoF virtual joint is proposed to emulate a human joint, solving the isocentricity and size adaptation of most current orthosis.

Keywords: Prosthetics and other practical applications, Prosthetics and orthotics, Prosthetic and orthotic control systems, Robotics, Biomechanics (mechanical engineering), Robot and manipulator mechanics


Auffarth, B., Gutierrez-Galvez, A., Marco, S., (2010). Relevance and LOCI of odorant features in the rat olfactory bulb: Statistical methods for understanding olfactory codes in glomerular images BIOSIGNALS 2010 - Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Bio-inpsired Systems and Signal Processing, Proceedings 3rd International Conference on Bio-inspired Systems and Signal Processing, BIOSIGNALS 2010 (ed. Fred, A., Filipe, J., Gamboa, H.), Springer-Verlag (Valencia, Spain) , 37-44

The relationship between physicochemical properties of odor molecules and perceived odor quality is arguably one of the most important issues in olfaction and the rules governing this relationship remain unknown. Any given odor molecule will stimulate more than one type of receptor in the nose, perhaps hundreds, and this stimulation reflects itself in the neural code of the olfactory nervous system. We present a method to investigate neural coding at the glomerular level of the olfactory bulb, the first relay for olfactory processing in the brain. Our results give insights into localization of coding sites, relevance of odorant properties for information processing, and the size of coding zones.

Keywords: Classification, Glomeruli, Non-parametric statistics, Odorants, Olfactory bulb, Olfactory coding, Property-activity relationship


Arcentales, A., Giraldo, B. F., Caminal, P., Diaz, I., Benito, S., (2010). Spectral analysis of the RR series and the respiratory flow signal on patients in weaning process Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) , 2485-2488

A considerable number of patients in weaning process have problems to keep spontaneous breathing during the trial and after it. This study proposes to extract characteristic parameters of the RR series and respiratory flow signal according to the patients' condition in weaning test. Three groups of patients have been considered: 93 patients with successful trials (group S), 40 patients that failed to maintain spontaneous breathing (group F), and 21 patients who had successful weaning trials, but that had to be reintubated before 48 hours (group R). The characterization was performed using spectral analysis of the signals, through the power spectral density, cross power spectral density and Coherence method. The parameters were extracted on the three frequency bands (VLF, LF and HF), and the principal statistical differences between groups were obtained in bands of VLF and HF. The results show an accuracy of 76.9% in the classification of the groups S and F.

Keywords: Biomedical measurement, Electrocardiography, Medical signal processing, Pneumodynamics, Spectral analysis, RR series, Coherence method, Cross power spectral density, Electrocardiography, Principal statistical differences, Respiratory flow signal, Spectral analysis, Spontaneous breathing, Weaning test


Pairo, E., Marco, S., Perera, A., (2010). A subspace method for the detection of transcription factor binding sites BIOINFORMATICS 2010. Proceedings of the First International Conference on Bioinformatics BIOINFORMATICS 2010. First International Conference on Bioinformatics (ed. Fred, A., Filipe, J., Gamboa, H.), INSTICC Press (Valencia, Spain) , 102-107

Transcription Factor binding sites are short and degenerate sequences, located mostly at the promoter of the gene, where some proteins bind in order to regulate transcription. Locating these sequences is an important issue, and many experimental and computational methods have been developed. Algorithms to search binding sites are usually based on Position Specific Scoring Matrices (PSSM), where each position is treated independently. Mapping symbolical DNA to numerical sequences, a detector has been built with a Principal Component Analysis of the numerical sequences, taking into account covariances between positions. When a treatment of missing values is incorporated the Q-residuals detector, based on PCA, performs better than a PSSM algorithm. The performance on the detector depends on the estimation of missing values and the percentage of missing values considered in the model.

Keywords: Binding sites, BPCA, Missing values, Numerical DNA, Principal components analysis, Transcription factors


Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2009). Quality control: A necessary, but sometimes overlooked, tool for improving respiratory medicine European Respiratory Journal 33, (4), 722-723

The importance of quality control in both general and respiratory medicine has increased in parallel with the complexity of healthcare provision. Only a few decades ago, the respiratory physician and/or scientist had a very limited number of diagnostic and therapeutic tools available and, moreover, medical practice was based almost exclusively on the personal interaction between doctor and patient. Consequently, at that time the quality of the respiratory healthcare depended entirely on the professional competence of the doctor. Although nowadays the relationship between physician and patient undoubtedly still lies at the heart of respiratory medical practice, the quality of the medical service received by the patient also depends on many other participants in a complex healthcare network: various medical specialists, lung function technicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers and administrative staff. Accordingly, several quality control programmes are applied in order to avoid, or at least to reduce, errors in diagnosis, improper performance of procedures, errors in medication, and failure to supervise or monitor care or recognise complications associated with treatment

Keywords: Airway pressure devices, Clinical-trial, Standardization, Spirometry, Lung, Home, Ventilators, Publication, Performance, Technology


Rangel, A., Madroñal, N., Gruart i Massó, A., Gavin,, Llorens, Sumoy, Torres, Delgado-Gar, Del Rio, J. A., (2009). Regulation of GABA(A) and glutamate receptor expression, synaptic facilitation and long-term potentiation in the hippocampus of prion mutant mice PLoS ONE 4, (10), e7592 (1-14)

Background: Prionopathies are characterized by spongiform brain degeneration, myoclonia, dementia, and periodic electroencephalographic (EEG) disturbances. The hallmark of prioniopathies is the presence of an abnormal conformational isoform (PrPsc) of the natural cellular prion protein (PrPc) encoded by the Prnp gene. Although several roles have been attributed to PrPc, its putative functions in neuronal excitability are unknown. Although early studies of the behavior of Prnp knockout mice described minor changes, later studies report altered behavior. To date, most functional PrPc studies on synaptic plasticity have been performed in vitro. To our knowledge, only one electrophysiological study has been performed in vivo in anesthetized mice, by Curtis and coworkers. They reported no significant differences in paired-pulse facilitation or LTP in the CA1 region after Schaffer collateral/commissural pathway stimulation. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here we explore the role of PrPc expression in neurotransmission and neural excitability using wild-type, Prnp 2/2 and PrPc-overexpressing mice (Tg20 strain). By correlating histopathology with electrophysiology in living behaving mice, we demonstrate that both Prnp 2/2 mice but, more relevantly Tg20 mice show increased susceptibility to KA, leading to significant cell death in the hippocampus. This finding correlates with enhanced synaptic facilitation in paired-pulse experiments and hippocampal LTP in living behaving mutant mice. Gene expression profiling using IlluminaTM microarrays and Ingenuity pathways analysis showed that 129 genes involved in canonical pathways such as Ubiquitination or Neurotransmission were co-regulated in Prnp 2/2 and Tg20 mice. Lastly, RT-qPCR of neurotransmission-related genes indicated that subunits of GABAA and AMPA-kainate receptors are co-regulated in both Prnp 2/2 and Tg20 mice. Conclusions/Significance: Present results demonstrate that PrPc is necessary for the proper homeostatic functioning of hippocampal circuits, because of its relationships with GABAA and AMPA-Kainate neurotransmission. New PrPc functions have recently been described, which point to PrPc as a target for putative therapies in Alzheimer’s disease. However, our results indicate that a ‘‘gain of function’’ strategy in Alzheimer’s disease, or a ‘‘loss of function’’ in prionopathies, may impair PrPc function, with devastating effects. In conclusion, we believe that present data should be taken into account in the development of future therapies.

Keywords: Prions, Prionopathies, Natural cellular prion protein (PrPc), Hippocampus, GABA (A) receptor, Glutamate Receptor


Sellares, J., Acerbi, I., Loureiro, H., Dellaca, R. L., Ferrer, M., Torres, A., Navajas, D., Farre, R., (2009). Respiratory impedance during weaning from mechanical ventilation in a mixed population of critically ill patients British Journal of Anaesthesia 103, (6), 828-832

Worsening of respiratory mechanics during a spontaneous breathing trial (SBT) has been traditionally associated with weaning failure, although this finding is based on studies with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients only. The aim of our study was to assess the course of respiratory impedance non-invasively measured by forced oscillation technique (FOT) during a successful and failed SBT in a mixed population. Thirty-four weaning trials were reported in 29 consecutive mechanically ventilated patients with different causes of initiation of ventilation. During the SBT, the patient was breathing through a conventional T-piece connected to the tracheal tube. FOT (5 Hz, +/- 1 cm H2O, 30 s) was applied at 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 min. Respiratory resistance (Rrs) and reactance (Xrs) were computed from pressure and flow measurements. The frequency to tidal volume ratio f/V-t was obtained from the flow signal. At the end of the trial, patients were divided into two groups: SBT success and failure. Mixed model analysis showed no significant differences in Rrs and Xrs over the course of the SBT, or between the success (n=16) and the failure (n=18) groups. In contrast, f/V-t was significantly (P < 0.001) higher in the failure group. Worsening of respiratory impedance measured by FOT is not a common finding during a failed SBT in a typically heterogeneous intensive care unit population of mechanically ventilated patients.

Keywords: Ventilation, High frequency oscillation, Ventilation, Mechanical, Ventilation, Respiratory impedance


Fonollosa, J., Halford, B., Fonseca, L., Santander, J., Udina, S., Moreno, M., Hildenbrand, J., Wöllenstein, J., Marco, S., (2009). Ethylene optical spectrometer for apple ripening monitoring in controlled atmosphere store-houses Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 136, (2), 546-554

In today's store-houses the ripening of fruit is controlled by managing the ethylene concentration in the ambient atmosphere. Precise and continuous ethylene monitoring is very advantageous since low ethylene concentrations are produced by the fruit itself and are indicative of its ripeness, and on other occasions, ethylene is externally added when ripeness or degreening of the product must be promoted. In this work, a multichannel mid-infrared spectrometer for ethylene measurement is built and characterized. The instrument contains additional channels to reject potential cross-interferences like ammonia and ethanol. Additionally, these channels are useful for monitoring a potential malfunction of the cooling system and possible fouling of the fruit, respectively. The complete spectrometer contains a silicon-based macroporous infrared (IR) emitter, a miniaturized long path cell (white cell), a four-channel detector module, low-noise analog amplification and filtering, and a microcontroller-based lock-in amplifier. The new inner architecture of the detector module features a fourfold thermopile array with narrow band optical filters attached by flip-chip technology, and a Fresnel lens array attached on the lid of the package. Laboratory tests show that the system is able to distinguish between ammonia and ethylene, featuring a detection limit of 30 ppm and 160 ppm (95% confidence) for ethylene and ammonia, respectively. Field tests show that the spectrometer is suitable as an ethylene alarm to detect fruit ripening and prevent fruit to decline into senescence. Simulation results show that system selectivity could be improved by setting ammonia channel to another absorption wavelength.

Keywords: IR spectrometer, Ethylene, Fruit storage, Fresnel lens, White cell, Lock-in amplifier


Mir, M., Homs, A., Samitier, J., (2009). Integrated electrochemical DNA biosensors for lab-on-a-chip devices Electrophoresis 30, (19), 3386-3397

Analytical devices able to perform accurate and fast automatic DNA detection or sequencing procedures have many potential benefits in the biomedical and environmental fields. The conversion of biological or biochemical responses into quantifiable optical, mechanical or electronic signals is achieved by means of biosensors. Most of these transducing elements can be miniaturized and incorporated into lab-on-a-chip devices, also known as Micro Total Analysis Systems. The use of multiple DNA biosensors integrated in these miniaturized laboratories, which perform several analytical operations at the microscale, has many cost and efficiency advantages. Tiny amounts of reagents and samples are needed and highly sensitive, fast and parallel assays can be done at low cost. A particular type of DNA biosensors are the ones used based on electrochemical principles. These sensors offer several advantages over the popular fluorescence-based detection schemes. The resulting signal is electrical and can be processed by conventional electronics in a very cheap and fast manner. Furthermore, the integration and miniaturization of electrochemical transducers in a microsystem makes easier its fabrication in front of the most common currently used detection method. In this review, different electrochemical DNA biosensors integrated in analytical microfluidic devices are discussed and some early stage commercial products based on this strategy are presented.

Keywords: DNA, Electrochemical DNA biosensors, Electrochemistry, Lab-on-a-chip, Micro Total Analysis systems, Field-effect transistors, Sequence-specific detection, Chemical-analysis systems, Solid-state nanopores, Carbon nanotubes, Microfluidic device, Electrical detection, Hybridization, Molecules, Sensor


Malandrino, A., Planell, J. A., Lacroix, D., (2009). Statistical factorial analysis on the poroelastic material properties sensitivity of the lumbar intervertebral disc under compression, flexion and axial rotation Journal of Biomechanics 42, (16), 2780-2788

A statistical factorial analysis approach was conducted on a poroelastic finite element model of a lumbar intervertebral disc to analyse the influence of six material parameters (permeabilities of annulus, nucleus, trabecular vertebral bone, cartilage endplate and Young's moduli of annulus and nucleus) on the displacement, fluid pore pressure and velocity fields. Three different loading modes were investigated: compression, flexion and axial rotation. Parameters were varied considering low and high levels in agreement with values found in the literature for both healthy and degenerated lumbar discs. Results indicated that annulus stiffness and cartilage endplate permeability have a strong effect on the overall fluid- and solid-phase responses in all loading conditions studied. Nucleus stiffness showed its main relevance in compression while annulus permeability influenced mainly the annular pressure field. This study confirms the permeability's central role in biphasic modelling and highlights for the lumbar disc which experiments of material property characterization should be performed. Moreover, such sensitivity study gives important guidelines in poroelastic material modelling and finite element disc validation.

Keywords: Intervertebral disc, Permeability, Fractional factorial design, Design of experiments, Finite element analysis


Morgenstern, C., Schwaibold, M., Randerath, W. J., Bolz, A., Jané, R., (2009). Assessment of changes in upper airway obstruction by automatic identification of inspiratory flow limitation during sleep IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering 56, (8), 2006-2015

New techniques for automatic invasive and noninvasive identification of inspiratory flow limitation (IFL) are presented. Data were collected from 11 patients with full nocturnal polysomnography and gold-standard esophageal pressure (Pes) measurement. A total of 38,782 breaths were extracted and automatically analyzed. An exponential model is proposed to reproduce the relationship between Pes and airflow of an inspiration and achieve an objective assessment of changes in upper airway obstruction. The characterization performance of the model is appraised with three evaluation parameters: mean-squared error when estimating resistance at peak pressure, coefficient of determination, and assessment of IFL episodes. The model's results are compared to the two best-performing models in the literature. The obtained gold-standard IFL annotations were then employed to train, test, and validate a new noninvasive automatic IFL classification system. Discriminant analysis, support vector machines, and Adaboost algorithms were employed to objectively classify breaths noninvasively with features extracted from the time and frequency domains of the breaths' flowpatterns. The results indicated that the exponential model characterizes IFL and subtle relative changes in upper airway obstruction with the highest accuracy and objectivity. The new noninvasive automatic classification system also succeeded in identifying IFL episodes, achieving a sensitivity of 0.87 and a specificity of 0.85.

Keywords: Esophageal pressure, Exponential model, Inspiratory flow limitation, Noninvasive, Classification, Upper airway obstruction


Munoz, L. M., Casals, A., (2009). Improving the human-robot interface through adaptive multispace transformation IEEE Transactions on Robotics 25, (5), 1208-1213

Teleoperation is essential for applications in which, despite the availability of a precise geometrical definition of the working area, a task cannot be explicitly programmed. This paper describes a method of assisted teleoperation that improves the execution of such tasks in terms of ergonomics, precision, and reduction of execution time. The relationships between the operating spaces corresponding to the human-robot interface triangle are analyzed. The proposed teleoperation aid is based on applying adaptive transformations between these spaces.

Keywords: Human factors, Human-robot interaction, Teleoperation


Rodriguez-Segui, S. A., Pla, M., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Martinez, E., Samitier, J., (2009). Influence of fabrication parameters in cellular microarrays for stem cell studies Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine 20, (7), 1525-1533

Lately there has been an increasing interest in the development of tools that enable the high throughput analysis of combinations of surface-immobilized signaling factors and which examine their effect on stem cell biology and differentiation. These surface-immobilized factors function as artificial microenvironments that can be ordered in a microarray format. These microarrays could be useful for applications such as the study of stem cell biology to get a deeper understanding of their differentiation process. Here, the evaluation of several key process parameters affecting the cellular microarray fabrication is reported in terms of its effects on the mesenchymal stem cell culture time on these microarrays. Substrate and protein solution requirements, passivation strategies and cell culture conditions are investigated. The results described in this article serve as a basis for the future development of cellular microarrays aiming to provide a deeper understanding of the stem cell differentiation process.

Keywords: Bone-marrow, Protein microarrays, Progenitor cells, Differentiation, Surfaces, Growth, Biomaterials, Commitment, Pathways, Culture media


Puig, F., Gavara, N., Sunyer, R., Carreras, A., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2009). Stiffening and contraction induced by dexamethasone in alveolar epithelial cells Experimental Mechanics 49, (1), 47-55

The structural integrity of the alveolar monolayer, which is compromised during lung inflammation, is determined by the balance between cell-cell and cell-matrix tethering forces and the centripetal forces owing to cell viscoelasticity and contraction. Dexamethasone is an anti-inflammatory glucocorticoid with protective effects in lung injury. To determine the effects of Dexamethasone on the stiffness and contractility of alveolar epithelial cells. Cell stiffness (G') and average traction exerted by the cell (T) were measured by magnetic twisting cytometry and by traction microscopy, respectively. A549 cells were treated 24 h with Dexamethasone (1 mu M) or vehicle (control). G' and T were measured before and 5 min after challenge with the inflammatory mediator Thrombin (0.5 U/ml). Changes induced by Dexamethasone in actin cytoskeleton polymerization were assessed by the fluorescent ratio between F-actin and G-actin obtained by staining cells with phalloidin and DNase I. Dexamethasone significantly increased G' and T by 56% (n = 11; p < 0.01) and by 80% (n = 17; p < 0.05), respectively. Dexamethasone also increased F/G-actin ratio from 2.68 +/- 0.07 to 2.96 +/- 0.09 (n = 10; p < 0.05). The relative increase in stiffness and contraction induced by Thrombin in control cells was significantly (p < 0.05) reduced by Dexamethasone treatment: from 190 to 98% in G' and from 318 to 105% in T. The cytoskeleton remodelling and the increase in cell stiffness and contraction induced by Dexamethasone could account for its protective effect in the alveolar epithelium when subjected to inflammatory challenge.

Keywords: Cell mechanics, Cytoskeleton, Magnetic twisting cytometry, Traction microscopy, Respiratory diseases


Marco, S., Pomareda, V., Pardo, A., Kessler, M., Goebel, J., Mueller, G., (2009). Blind source separation for ion mobility spectra Olfaction and Electronic Nose: Proceedings of the 13th International Symposium on Olfaction and Electronic Nose 13th International Symposium on Olfaction and the Electronic Nose (ed. Pardo, M., Sberveglieri, G.), Amer Inst Physics (Brescia, Italy) 1137, 551-553

Miniaturization is a powerful trend for smart chemical instrumentation in a diversity of applications.. It is know that miniaturization in IMS leads to a degradation of the system characteristics. For the present work, we are interested in signal processing solutions to mitigate limitations introduced by limited drift tube length that basically involve a loss of chemical selectivity. While blind source separation techniques (BSS) are popular in other domains, their application for smart chemical instrumentation is limited. However, in some conditions, basically linearity, BSS may fully recover the concentration time evolution and the pure spectra with few underlying hypothesis. This is extremely helpful in conditions where non-expected chemical interferents may appear, or unwanted perturbations may pollute the spectra. SIMPLISMA has been advocated by Harrington et al. in several papers. However, more modem methods of BSS for bilinear decomposition with the restriction of positiveness have appeared in the last decade. In order to explore and compare the performances of those methods a series of experiments were performed.

Keywords: Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS), Blind Source Separation (BSS), Multivariate Analysis, SIMPLISMA, MCR, Non-Negative Matrix Factorization (NMF)


Falasconi, M., Gutierrez, A., Auffarth, B., Sberveglieri, G., Marco, S., (2009). Cluster analysis of the rat olfactory bulb activity in response to different odorants Olfaction and Electronic Nose: Proceedings of the 13th International Symposium on Olfaction and Electronic Nose 13th International Symposium on Olfaction and the Electronic Nose (ed. Pardo, M., Sberveglieri, G.), Amer Inst Physics (Brescia, Italy) 1137, 169-172

With the goal of deepen in the understanding of coding of chemical information in the olfactory system, a large data set consisting of rat's olfactory bulb activity values in response to several different volatile compounds has been analyzed by fuzzy c-means clustering methods. Clustering should help to discover groups of glomeruli that are similary activated according to their response profiles across the odorants. To investigate the significance of the achieved fuzzy partitions we developed and applied a novel validity approach based on cluster stability. Our results show certain level of glomerular clustering in the olfactory bulb and indicate that exist a main chemo-topic subdivision of the glomerular layer in few macro-area which are rather specific to particular functional groups of the volatile molecules.

Keywords: Olfactory bulb, 2-deoxyglucose mapping, Olfactory coding, Cluster analysis, Cluster validity


Hernansanz, A., Amat, J., Casals, A., (2009). Optimization criterion for safety task transfer in cooperative robotics 14th International Conference on Advanced Robotics (ICAR) , IEEE (Munich, Germany) , 254-259

This paper presents a strategy for a cooperative multirobot system, constituting a virtual robot. The virtual robot is composed of a set of robotic arms acting as only one, transferring the execution of a teleoperated task from one to another when necessary. To decide which of the robots is the most suitable to execute the task at every instant, a multiparametric decision function has been defined. This function is based on a set of intrinsic and extrinsic evaluation indexes of the robot. Since the internal operation of the virtual robot must be transparent to the user, a control architecture has been developed.

Keywords: Control engineering computing, Manipulators, Multi-robot systems, Optimsation, Telerobotics, Virtual reality


Pairo, E., Marco, S., Perera, A., (2009). A preliminary study on the detection of transcription factor binding sites Biosignals 2009: Proceedings of the International Conference on Bio-Inspired Systems and Signal Processing 2nd International Conference on Bio-Inspired Systems and Signal Processing (ed. Encarnacao, P., Veloso, A.), Insticc-Inst Syst Technologies Information Control & Communication (Oporto, Portugal) , 506-509

Transcription starts when multiple proteins, known as transcription factors recognize and bind to transcription start site in DNA sequences. Since mutation in transcription factor binding sites are known to underlie diseases it remains a major challenge to identify these binding sites. Conversion from symbolic DNA to numerical sequences and genome data make it possible to construct a detector based on a numerical analysis of DNA binding sites. A subspace model for the TFBS is built. TFBS will show a very small distance to this particular subspace. Using this distance binding sites are distinguished from random sequences and from genome data.

Keywords: Transcription factors, Binding sites, Principal components analysis


Zazoua, A., Kherrat, R., Caballero, D., Errachid, A., Jaffrezic-Renault, N., Bessueille, F., Leonard, D., (2009). Characterisation of a Cr(VI) sensitive polysiloxane membrane by x-ray photoelectron spectrometry and atomic force microscopy Sensor Letters 6th Maghreb-Europe Meeting on Materials and Their Applications for Devices and Physical, Chemical and Biological Sensors , AMER SCIENTIFIC PUBLISHERS (Rabat, Morocco) 7, (5), 995-1000

Cr(VI) sensitive polysiloxane membranes containing tributylphosphate (TBP) or trioctylphosphine oxide (TOPO) were characterized in this study. TBP and TOPO as carriers, have a high selectivity for Cr(VI). The Potentiometric response of EMIS (Electrolyte/Membrane/Insulator/Semiconductor) sensors presents a quasi-nernstian response for Cr2O2-7 exchange. The ion exchange is shown by X-ray photoelectron spectrometry (XPS), the binding energy of the Cr 2p1/2 peak corresponding to Cr(VI) and the atomic composition after exposure to Cr(VI) shows a factor 1.7 higher for silopreneTBP membrane. The conformational topography of both polymeric membranes was characterized by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), the exchange of Cr(VI) leading to a heterogeneous topographic state. Adhesion force measurements are also performed to study the properties of adhesion of both selective membranes with a non-functionalized Si AFM tip and with an OTS functionalized one to study the interactions between the tip and the membrane, in liquid before and after the exposure of the membrane to ion chromium. The presence of the ionophores does not practically change the adhesion force compared to pure polysiloxane, showing a good solubility of the ionophore and the orientation of the alkyl chains towards the polysiloxane surface. After the exchange with Cr(VI), the adhesion force decreases drastically due to the hydrophilic character of the surface, complex of Cr(VI) with the P-O groups of both ionophore being oriented towards the surface.

Keywords: AFM, Electrolyte/membrane/insulator/semiconductor structures, Polysiloxane membrane, Xps


Seeck, A., Garde, A., Schuepbach, M., Giraldo, B., Sanz, E., Huebner, T., Caminal, P., Voss, A., (2009). Diagnosis of ischemic heart disease with cardiogoniometry - linear discriminant analysis versus support vector machines IFMBE Proceedings 4th European Conference of the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering (ed. Vander Sloten, Jos, Verdonck, Pascal, Nyssen, Marc, Haueisen, Jens), Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin, Germany) 22, 389-392

The Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) is characterized by an insufficient supply with blood of the myocardium usually caused by an artherosclerotic disease of the coronary arteries (coronary artery disease CAD). The IHD and its consequences have become a leading problem in the industrialized nations. The aim of this study was to evaluate a new diagnosing method, the cardiogoniometry, using two different classifying techniques: the method of linear discriminant function analysis (LDA) and the method of Support Vector Machines (SVM). Data of a group of 109 female subjects (62 healthy, 47 with IHD) were analyzed on the basis of extracted parameters from the three-dimensional vector loops of the heart. The LDA achieved an accuracy of 83,5% (Sensitivity 78,7%, Specificity 87,1%), whereas the SVM achieved an accuracy of 86% (Sensitivity 80,5%, Specificity 89,8%). It could be shown that cardiogoniometry, an electrophysiological diagnostic method performed at rest, detects variables that are helpful in identifying ischemic heart disease. As it is easy to apply, non-invasive, and provides an automated interpretation it may become an inexpensive addition to the cardiologic diagnostic armamentarium, possibly useful for early diagnosis of IHD or CAD, as well as in patients who do not tolerate exercise testing. It was also proven that by applying Support Vector Machines an increased diagnostic precision in comparison to the conventional discriminant function analysis can be achieved.

Keywords: Cardiogoniometry, Support Vector Machines, Nonlinear classifier, Linear discriminant analysis, Vector loop


Gorostiza, P., Isacoff, E. Y., (2008). Optical switches for remote and noninvasive control of cell signaling Science 322, (5900), 395-399

Although the identity and interactions of signaling proteins have been studied in great detail, the complexity of signaling networks cannot be fully understood without elucidating the timing and location of activity of individual proteins. To do this, one needs a means for detecting and controlling specific signaling events. An attractive approach is to use light, both to report on and control signaling proteins in cells, because light can probe cells in real time with minimal damage. Although optical detection of signaling events has been successful for some time, the development of the means for optical control has accelerated only recently. Of particular interest is the development of chemically engineered proteins that are directly sensitive to light.

Keywords: Ion channels, Acetylcholine receptor, Glutamate-receptor, Potassium channel, K+ channel, Light, Neurons, Channelrhodopsin-2, Manipulation, Activation


de Bakker, Barbel I., Bodnar, Andrea, van Dijk, Erik M. H. P., Vamosi, Gyorgy, Damjanovich, Sandor, Waldmann, Thomas A., van Hulst, Niek F., Jenei, Attila, Garcia-Parajo, M. F., (2008). Nanometer-scale organization of the alpha subunits of the receptors for IL2 and IL15 in human T lymphoma cells Journal of Cell Science 121, (5), 627-633

Interleukin 2 and interleukin 15 (IL2 and IL15, respectively) provide quite distinct contributions to T-cell-mediated immunity, despite having similar receptor composition and signaling machinery. As most of the proposed mechanisms underlying this apparent paradox attribute key significance to the individual {alpha}-chains of IL2 and IL15 receptors, we investigated the spatial organization of the receptors IL2R{alpha} and IL15R{alpha} at the nanometer scale expressed on a human CD4+ leukemia T cell line using single-molecule-sensitive near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM). In agreement with previous findings, we here confirm clustering of IL2R{alpha} and IL15R{alpha} at the submicron scale. In addition to clustering, our single-molecule data reveal that a non-negligible percentage of the receptors are organized as monomers. Only a minor fraction of IL2R{alpha} molecules reside outside the clustered domains, whereas [~]30% of IL15R{alpha} molecules organize as monomers or small clusters, excluded from the main domain regions. Interestingly, we also found that the packing densities per unit area of both IL2R{alpha} and IL15R{alpha} domains remained constant, suggesting a `building block' type of assembly involving repeated structures and composition. Finally, dual-color NSOM demonstrated co-clustering of the two {alpha}-chains. Our results should aid understanding the action of the IL2R-IL15R system in T cell function and also might contribute to the more rationale design of IL2R- or IL15R-targeted immunotherapy agents for treating human leukemia.

Keywords: Near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM), Interleukin receptors IL2R, IL15R, Single-molecule detection, Nanometer-scale membrane organization


Crespo, C., Gallego, J., Cot, A., Falcón, C., Bullich, S., Pareto, D., Aguiar, P., Sempau, J., Lomeña, F., Calviño, F., Pavía, J., Ros, D., (2008). Quantification of dopaminergic neurotransmission SPECT studies with 123I-labelled radioligands. A comparison between different imaging systems and data acquisition protocols using Monte Carlo simulation European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging 35, (7), 1334-1342

Purpose: 123I-labelled radioligands are commonly used for single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging of the dopaminergic system to study the dopamine transporter binding. The aim of this work was to compare the quantitative capabilities of two different SPECT systems through Monte Carlo (MC) simulation. Methods: The SimSET MC code was employed to generate simulated projections of a numerical phantom for two gamma cameras equipped with a parallel and a fan-beam collimator, respectively. A fully 3D iterative reconstruction algorithm was used to compensate for attenuation, the spatially variant point spread function (PSF) and scatter. A post-reconstruction partial volume effect (PVE) compensation was also developed. Results: For both systems, the correction for all degradations and PVE compensation resulted in recovery factors of the theoretical specific uptake ratio (SUR) close to 100%. For a SUR value of 4, the recovered SUR for the parallel imaging system was 33% for a reconstruction without corrections (OSEM), 45% for a reconstruction with attenuation correction (OSEM-A), 56% for a 3D reconstruction with attenuation and PSF corrections (OSEM-AP), 68% for OSEM-AP with scatter correction (OSEM-APS) and 97% for OSEM-APS plus PVE compensation (OSEM-APSV). For the fan-beam imaging system, the recovered SUR was 41% without corrections, 55% for OSEM-A, 65% for OSEM-AP, 75% for OSEM-APS and 102% for OSEM-APSV. Conclusion: Our findings indicate that the correction for degradations increases the quantification accuracy, with PVE compensation playing a major role in the SUR quantification. The proposed methodology allows us to reach similar SUR values for different SPECT systems, thereby allowing a reliable standardisation in multicentric studies.

Keywords: Brain SPECT, Monte Carlo methods, Receptor imaging, Reconstruction quantification, SPECT instrumentation and algorithms


Farre, R., Montserrat, J. M., Navajas, D., (2008). Assessment of upper airway mechanics during sleep Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 163, (1-3), 74-81

Obstructive sleep apnea, which is the most prevalent sleep breathing disorder, is characterized by recurrent episodes of upper airway collapse and reopening. However, the mechanical properties of the upper airway are not directly measured in routine polysomnography because only qualitative sensors (thermistors for flow and thoraco-abdominal bands for pressure) are used. This review focuses on two techniques that quantify upper airway obstruction during sleep. A Starling model of collapsible conduit allows us to interpret the mechanics of the upper airway by means of two parameters: the critical pressure (Pcrit) and the upstream resistance (Rup). A simple technique to measure Pcrit and Rup involves the application of different levels of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) during sleep. The forced oscillation technique is another non-invasive procedure for quantifying upper airway impedance during the breathing cycle in sleep studies. The latest developments in these two methods allow them to be easily applied on a routine basis in order to more fully characterize upper airway mechanics in patients with sleep breathing disorders.

Keywords: Obstructive sleep apnea, Upper airway, Airway resistance, Critical pressure, Respiratory impedance


Orini, Michele, Giraldo, Beatriz F., Bailon, Raquel, Vallverdu, Montserrat, Mainardi, Luca, Benito, Salvador, Diaz, Ivan, Caminal, Pere, (2008). Time-frequency analysis of cardiac and respiratory parameters for the prediction of ventilator weaning IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Conference Proceedings 30th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (ed. IEEE), IEEE (Vancouver, Canada) 1-8, 2793-2796

Mechanical ventilators are used to provide life support in patients with respiratory failure. Assessing autonomic control during the ventilator weaning provides information about physiopathological imbalances. Autonomic parameters can be derived and used to predict success in discontinuing from the mechanical support. Time-frequency analysis is used to derive cardiac and respiratory parameters, as well as their evolution in time, during ventilator weaning in 130 patients. Statistically significant differences have been observed in autonomic parameters between patients who are considered ready for spontaneous breathing and patients who are not. A classification based on respiratory frequency, heart rate and heart rate variability spectral components has been proposed and has been able to correctly classify more than 80% of the cases.

Keywords: Automatic Data Processing, Databases, Factual, Electrocardiography, Humans, Models, Statistical, Respiration, Respiration, Artificial, Respiratory Insufficiency, Respiratory Mechanics, Respiratory Muscles, Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted, Time Factors, Ventilator Weaning, Ventilators, Mechanical, Work of Breathing


Koch, M. A., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Lacroix, D., (2008). Cell seeding and characterisation of PLA/glass composite scaffolds for bone tissue engineering Journal of Biomechanics 16th Congress, European Society of Biomechanics , Elsevier (Lucerne, Switzerland) 41, (Supplement 1), S162

In this study polymer-glass composite scaffolds were characterized by permeability and porosity, two important properties for the use in perfusion bioreactors. These scaffolds were seeded with osteoblast-like cells to assess the efficiency of the used bioreactor. The used PLA/glass composite scaffolds are adequate for the perfusion culture. The high porosity and pore interconnectivity allow an even cell distribution and incorporation of a high cell number. For optimisation of the perfusion bioreactor system, further research has to be dedicated to the cell seeding and culture.

Keywords: Biomedical materials, Bioreactors, Bone, Cellular biophysics, Composite materials, Orthopaedics, Permeability, Polymers, Porosity, Porous materials, Tissue engineering


De Bakker, B. I., De Lange, F., Cambi, A., Korterik, J. P., Van Dijk, E. M. H. P., Van Hulst, N. F., Figdor, C. G., Garcia-Parajo, M. F., (2007). Nanoscale organization of the pathogen receptor DC-SIGN mapped by single-molecule high-resolution fluorescence microscopy ChemPhysChem 8, (10), 1473-1480

DC-SIGN, a C-type lectin exclusively expressed on dendritic cells (DCs), plays an important role in pathogen recognition by binding with high affinity to a large variety of microorganisms. Recent experimental evidence points to a direct relation between the function of DC-SIGN as a viral receptor and its spatial arrangement on the plasma membrane. We have investigated the nanoscale organization of fluorescently labeled DC-SIGN on intact isolated DCs by means of near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) combined with single-molecule detection. Fluorescence spots of different intensity and size have been directly visualized by optical means with a spatial resolution of less than 100 nm. Intensity- and size-distribution histograms of the DC-SIGN fluorescent spots confirm that approximately 80% of the receptors are organized in nanosized domains randomly distributed on the cell membrane. Intensity-size correlation analysis revealed remarkable heterogeneity in the molecular packing density of the domains. Furthermore, we have mapped the intermolecular organization within a dense cluster by means of sequential NSOM imaging combined with discrete single-molecule photobleaching. In this way we have determined the spatial coordinates of 13 different individual dyes, with a localization accuracy of 6 nm. Our experimental observations are all consistent with an arrangement of DC-SIGN designed to maximize its chances of binding to a wide range of microorganisms. Our data also illustrate the potential of NSOM as an ultrasensitive, high-resolution technique to probe nanometer-scale organization of molecules on the cell membrane.

Keywords: High-resolution optical microscopy, Lectins, Membranes, Receptors, Single-molecule studies


Díez-Pérez, Ismael, Vericat, Carolina, Gorostiza, Pau, Sanz, Fausto, (2006). The iron passive film breakdown in chloride media may be mediated by transient chloride-induced surface states located within the band gap Electrochemistry Communications 8, (4), 627-632

Despite its tremendous scientific and economic impact, the mechanism that triggers metal passive film breakdown in the presence of aggressive ions remains under discussion. We have studied the iron passive film in chloride media using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and electrochemical tunneling spectroscopy (ECTS). Ex situ XPS reveal that the film consists exclusively of an Fe(III) oxide without chloride content. In situ ECTS has been used to build up conductance maps of the Fe electrode during its electrochemical oxidation in a borate buffer solution and its breakdown when the film is grown in the presence of chloride. This conductograms provide direct and in situ experimental evidence of chloride-induced surface states within the band gap of the oxide film (~3.3eV). These states enable new charge exchange pathways that allow hole capture at the surface of the n-type Fe(III) oxide. The blocking of VB processes that occurs in the iron passive film is no longer present in chloride media, and electrode corrosion can proceed through these new states. We propose a simple 3-step mechanism for the process, in which chloride anions form an oxidizing Fe(II) surface intermediate but do not participate directly in the reaction.

Keywords: Electrochemical tunneling spectroscopy, Electronic band structure, Fe passive film, Aqueous chloride corrosion, Semiconductor decomposition, Interface states