Publications

by Keyword: Ions


By year:[ 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 ]

Patino, Tania, Porchetta, Alessandro, Jannasch, Anita, Lladó, Anna, Stumpp, Tom, Schäffer, Erik, Ricci, Francesco, Sánchez, Samuel, (2019). Self-sensing enzyme-powered micromotors equipped with pH-responsive DNA nanoswitches Nano Letters 19, (6), 3440-3447

Biocatalytic micro- and nanomotors have emerged as a new class of active matter self-propelled through enzymatic reactions. The incorporation of functional nanotools could enable the rational design of multifunctional micromotors for simultaneous real-time monitoring of their environment and activity. Herein, we report the combination of DNA nanotechnology and urease-powered micromotors as multifunctional tools able to swim, simultaneously sense the pH of their surrounding environment, and monitor their intrinsic activity. With this purpose, a FRET-labeled triplex DNA nanoswitch for pH sensing was immobilized onto the surface of mesoporous silica-based micromotors. During self-propulsion, urea decomposition and the subsequent release of ammonia led to a fast pH increase, which was detected by real-time monitoring of the FRET efficiency through confocal laser scanning microscopy at different time points (i.e., 30 s, 2 and 10 min). Furthermore, the analysis of speed, enzymatic activity, and propulsive force displayed a similar exponential decay, matching the trend observed for the FRET efficiency. These results illustrate the potential of using specific DNA nanoswitches not only for sensing the micromotors’ surrounding microenvironment but also as an indicator of the micromotor activity status, which may aid to the understanding of their performance in different media and in different applications.

Keywords: Micromotors, DNA-nanoswitch, pH detection, Self-propulsion, Nanosensors, Nanomotors


Blithikioti, C., Miquel, L., Batalla, A., Rubio, B., Maffei, G., Herreros, I., Gual, A., Verschure, P., Balcells-Oliveró, M., (2019). Cerebellar alterations in cannabis users: A systematic review Addiction Biology Online Version of Record before inclusion in an issue

Cannabis is the most used illicit substance in the world. As many countries are moving towards decriminalization, it is crucial to determine whether and how cannabis use affects human brain and behavior. The role of the cerebellum in cognition, emotion, learning, and addiction is increasingly recognized. Because of its high density in CB1 receptors, it is expected to be highly affected by cannabis use. The aim of this systematic review is to investigate how cannabis use affects cerebellar structure and function, as well as cerebellar‐dependent behavioral tasks. Three databases were searched for peer‐reviewed literature published until March 2018. We included studies that focused on cannabis effects on cerebellar structure, function, or cerebellar‐dependent behavioral tasks. A total of 348 unique records were screened, and 40 studies were included in the qualitative synthesis. The most consistent findings include (1) increases in cerebellar gray matter volume after chronic cannabis use, (2) alteration of cerebellar resting state activity after acute or chronic use, and (3) deficits in memory, decision making, and associative learning. Age of onset and higher exposure to cannabis use were frequently associated with increased cannabis‐induced alterations. Chronic cannabis use is associated with alterations in cerebellar structure and function, as well as with deficits in behavioral paradigms that involve the cerebellum (eg, eyeblink conditioning, memory, and decision making). Future studies should consider tobacco as confounding factor and use standardized methods for assessing cannabis use. Paradigms exploring the functional activity of the cerebellum may prove useful as monitoring tools of cannabis‐induced impairment.

Keywords: Behavior, Cannabis use, Cerebellum, Cognitive function, Structure


Ballester, B. R., Maier, M., Duff, A., Cameirão, M., Bermúdez, S., Duarte, E., Cuxart, A., Rodríguez, S., San Segundo Mozo, R. M., Verschure, P., (2019). A critical time window for recovery extends beyond one-year post-stroke Journal of neurophysiology 122, (1), 350-357

The impact of rehabilitation on post-stroke motor recovery and its dependency on the patient's chronicity remain unclear. The field has widely accepted the notion of a proportional recovery rule with a "critical window for recovery" within the first 3-6 mo poststroke. This hypothesis justifies the general cessation of physical therapy at chronic stages. However, the limits of this critical window have, so far, been poorly defined. In this analysis, we address this question, and we further explore the temporal structure of motor recovery using individual patient data from a homogeneous sample of 219 individuals with mild to moderate upper-limb hemiparesis. We observed that improvement in body function and structure was possible even at late chronic stages. A bootstrapping analysis revealed a gradient of enhanced sensitivity to treatment that extended beyond 12 mo poststroke. Clinical guidelines for rehabilitation should be revised in the context of this temporal structure. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Previous studies in humans suggest that there is a 3- to 6-mo "critical window" of heightened neuroplasticity poststroke. We analyze the temporal structure of recovery in patients with hemiparesis and uncover a precise gradient of enhanced sensitivity to treatment that expands far beyond the limits of the so-called critical window. These findings highlight the need for providing therapy to patients at the chronic and late chronic stages.

Keywords: Motor recovery, Neuroplasticity, Neurorehabilitation, Stroke recovery, Virtual reality


Kechagia, Jenny Z., Ivaska, Johanna, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, (2019). Integrins as biomechanical sensors of the microenvironment Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology 20, (8), 457-473

Integrins, and integrin-mediated adhesions, have long been recognized to provide the main molecular link attaching cells to the extracellular matrix (ECM) and to serve as bidirectional hubs transmitting signals between cells and their environment. Recent evidence has shown that their combined biochemical and mechanical properties also allow integrins to sense, respond to and interact with ECM of differing properties with exquisite specificity. Here, we review this work first by providing an overview of how integrin function is regulated from both a biochemical and a mechanical perspective, affecting integrin cell-surface availability, binding properties, activation or clustering. Then, we address how this biomechanical regulation allows integrins to respond to different ECM physicochemical properties and signals, such as rigidity, composition and spatial distribution. Finally, we discuss the importance of this sensing for major cell functions by taking cell migration and cancer as examples.

Keywords: Cell migration, Extracellular matrix, Integrins, Mechanotransduction, Single-molecule biophysics


Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Vida, Yolanda, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Andrades, José A., Becerra, José, Samitier, Josep, (2019). Matrix nanopatterning regulates mesenchymal differentiation through focal adhesion size and distribution according to cell fate Biomimetics 4, (2), 43

Extracellular matrix remodeling plays a pivotal role during mesenchyme patterning into different lineages. Tension exerted from cell membrane receptors bound to extracellular matrix ligands is transmitted by the cytoskeleton to the cell nucleus inducing gene expression. Here, we used dendrimer-based arginine–glycine–aspartic acid (RGD) uneven nanopatterns, which allow the control of local surface adhesiveness at the nanoscale, to unveil the adhesive requirements of mesenchymal tenogenic and osteogenic commitments. Cell response was found to depend on the tension resulting from cell–substrate interactions, which affects nuclear morphology and is regulated by focal adhesion size and distribution.

Keywords: Arginine–glycine–aspartic acid (RGD), Nanopattern, Mesenchymal stem cells, Tenogenesis, Osteogenesis, Cell nuclei, Focal adhesions


Vouloutsi, V., Grechuta, K., Verschure, P., (2019). Evaluation of the facial expressions of a humanoid robot Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 8th International Conference, Living Machines 2019 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Nara, Japan) 11556, 365-368

Facial expressions are salient social features that crucial in communication, and humans are capable of reading the messages faces convey and the emotions they display. Robots that interact with humans will need to employ similar communication channels for successful interactions. Here, we focus on the readability of the facial expressions of a humanoid robot. We conducted an online survey where participants evaluated emotional stimuli and assessed the robot’s expressions. Results suggest that the robot’s facial expressions are correctly recognised and the appraisal of the robots expressive elements are consistent with the literature.

Keywords: Emotion recognition, Facial expressions, Human-robot interaction


Macedo, Maria Helena, Araújo, Francisca, Martínez, Elena, Barrias, Cristina, Sarmento, Bruno, (2018). iPSC-Derived enterocyte-like cells for drug absorption and metabolism studies Trends in Molecular Medicine 24, (8), 696-708

Intestinal cell models have been widely studied and used to evaluate absorption and metabolism of drugs in the small intestine, constituting valuable tools as a first approach to evaluate the behavior of new drugs. However, such cell models might not be able to fully predict the absorption mechanisms and metabolic pathways of the tested compounds. In recent years, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) differentiated into enterocyte-like cells have been proposed as more biorelevant intestinal models. In this review, we describe mechanisms underlying the differentiation of iPSCs into enterocyte-like cells, appraise the usefulness of these cells in tridimensional intestinal models, and discuss their suitability to be used in the future for drug screening.

Keywords: iPSCs, Enterocytes, Differentiation, Small intestine, Drug absorption, Intestinal models


Ferrer, Isidro, García, M. A., González, I. L., Lucena, D. D., Villalonga, A. R., Tech, M. C., Llorens, F., Garcia-Esparcia, P., Martinez-Maldonado, A., Mendez, M. F., Escribano, B. T., Serra, J. J. B., Sabido, E., de la Torre Gómez, C., del Rio, J. A., (2018). Aging-related tau astrogliopathy (ARTAG): Not only tau phosphorylation in astrocytes Brain Pathology 28, (6), 965–985

Aging-related tau astrogliopathy (ARTAG) is defined by the presence of two types of tau-bearing astrocytes: thorn-shaped astrocytes (TSAs) and granular/fuzzy astrocytes in the brain of old-aged individuals. The present study is focused on TSAs in rare forms of ARTAG with no neuronal tau pathology or restricted to entorhinal and transentorhinal cortices, to avoid bias from associated tauopathies. TSAs show 4Rtau phosphorylation at several specific sites and abnormal tau conformation, but they lack ubiquitin and they are not immunostained with tau-C3 antibodies which recognize truncated tau at Asp421. Astrocytes in ARTAG have atrophic processes, reduced glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and increased superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2) immunoreactivity. Gel electrophoresis and western blotting of sarkosyl-insoluble fractions reveal a pattern of phospho-tau in ARTAG characterized by two bands of 68 and 64 kDa, and several middle bands between 35 and 50 kDa which differ from what is seen in AD. Phosphoproteomics of dissected vulnerable regions identifies an increase of phosphorylation marks in a large number of proteins in ARTAG compared with controls. GFAP, aquaporin 4, several serine-threonine kinases, microtubule associated proteins and other neuronal proteins are among the differentially phosphorylated proteins in ARTAG thus suggesting a hyper-phosphorylation background that affects several molecules, including many kinases and proteins from several cell compartments and various cell types. Finally, present results show for the first time that tau seeding is produced in neurons of the hippocampal complex, astrocytes, oligodendroglia and along fibers of the corpus callosum, fimbria and fornix following inoculation into the hippocampus of wild type mice of sarkosyl-insoluble fractions enriched in hyper-phosphorylated tau from selected ARTAG cases. These findings show astrocytes as crucial players of tau seeding in tauopathies.

Keywords: ARTAG, Kinases, Phosphorylation, Seeding, Tau, Thorn-shaped astrocytes


Casanellas, Ignasi, García-Lizarribar, Andrea, Lagunas, Anna, Samitier, Josep, (2018). Producing 3D biomimetic nanomaterials for musculoskeletal system regeneration Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6, Article 128

The human musculoskeletal system is comprised mainly of connective tissues such as cartilage, tendon, ligaments, skeletal muscle and skeletal bone. These tissues support the structure of the body, hold and protect the organs, and are responsible of movement. Since it is subjected to continuous strain, the musculoskeletal system is prone to injury by excessive loading forces or aging, whereas currently available treatments are usually invasive and not always effective. Most of the musculoskeletal injuries require surgical intervention facing a limited post-surgery tissue regeneration, especially for widespread lesions. Therefore, many tissue engineering approaches have been developed tackling musculoskeletal tissue regeneration. Materials are designed to meet the chemical and mechanical requirements of the native tissue three-dimensional (3D) environment, thus facilitating implant integration while providing a good reabsorption rate. With biological systems operating at the nanoscale, nanoengineered materials have been developed to support and promote regeneration at the interprotein communication level. Such materials call for a great precision and architectural control in the production process fostering the development of new fabrication techniques. In this mini review, we would like to summarize the most recent advances in 3D nanoengineered biomaterials for musculoskeletal tissue regeneration, with especial emphasis on the different techniques used to produce them.

Keywords: Nanofiber, 3D printing, Musculoskeletal, Regeneration, Scaffold, Tissue Engineering, Stimuli-responsive


Fonollosa, Jordi, Solórzano, Ana, Marco, Santiago, (2018). Chemical sensor systems and associated algorithms for fire detection: A review Sensors 18, (2), 553

Indoor fire detection using gas chemical sensing has been a subject of investigation since the early nineties. This approach leverages the fact that, for certain types of fire, chemical volatiles appear before smoke particles do. Hence, systems based on chemical sensing can provide faster fire alarm responses than conventional smoke-based fire detectors. Moreover, since it is known that most casualties in fires are produced from toxic emissions rather than actual burns, gas-based fire detection could provide an additional level of safety to building occupants. In this line, since the 2000s, electrochemical cells for carbon monoxide sensing have been incorporated into fire detectors. Even systems relying exclusively on gas sensors have been explored as fire detectors. However, gas sensors respond to a large variety of volatiles beyond combustion products. As a result, chemical-based fire detectors require multivariate data processing techniques to ensure high sensitivity to fires and false alarm immunity. In this paper, we the survey toxic emissions produced in fires and defined standards for fire detection systems. We also review the state of the art of chemical sensor systems for fire detection and the associated signal and data processing algorithms. We also examine the experimental protocols used for the validation of the different approaches, as the complexity of the test measurements also impacts on reported sensitivity and specificity measures. All in all, further research and extensive test under different fire and nuisance scenarios are still required before gas-based fire detectors penetrate largely into the market. Nevertheless, the use of dynamic features and multivariate models that exploit sensor correlations seems imperative

Keywords: Fire detection, Gas sensor, Pattern recognition, Sensor fusion, Machine learning, Toxicants, Carbon monoxide, Hydrogen cyanide, Standard test fires, Transducers, Smoke


Santos-Pata, D., Verschure, P., (2018). Human vicarious trial and error is predictive of spatial navigation performance Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 12, Article 237

When learning new environments, rats often pause at decision points and look back and forth over their possible trajectories as if they were imagining the future outcome of their actions, a behavior termed “Vicarious trial and error” (VTE). As the animal learns the environmental configuration, rats change from deliberative to habitual behavior, and VTE tends to disappear, suggesting a functional relevance in the early stages of learning. Despite the extensive research on spatial navigation, learning and VTE in the rat model, fewer studies have focused on humans. Here, we tested whether head-scanning behaviors that humans typically exhibit during spatial navigation are as predictive of spatial learning as in the rat. Subjects performed a goal-oriented virtual navigation task in a symmetric environment. Spatial learning was assessed through the analysis of trajectories, timings, and head orientations, under habitual and deliberative spatial navigation conditions. As expected, we found that trajectory length and duration decreased with the trial number, implying that subjects learned the spatial configuration of the environment over trials. Interestingly, IdPhi (a standard metric of VTE) also decreased with the trial number, suggesting that humans benefit from the same head-orientation scanning behavior as rats at spatial decision-points. Moreover, IdPhi captured exclusively at the first decision-point of each trial, was correlated with trial trajectory duration and length. Our findings demonstrate that in VTE is a signature of the stage of spatial learning in humans, and can be used to predict performance in navigation tasks with high accuracy.

Keywords: Deliberation, Habitual, Hippocampus, Navigation, Spatial decision-making


Santos-Pata, D., Escuredo, A., Mathews, Z., Verschure, P., (2018). Insect behavioral evidence of spatial memories during environmental reconfiguration Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 7th International Conference, Living Machines 2018 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Paris, France) 10928, 415-427

Insects are great explorers, able to navigate through long-distance trajectories and successfully find their way back. Their navigational routes cross dynamic environments suggesting adaptation to novel configurations. Arthropods and vertebrates share neural organizational principles and it has been shown that rodents modulate their neural spatial representation accordingly with environmental changes. However, it is unclear whether insects reflexively adapt to environmental changes or retain memory traces of previously explored situations. We sought to disambiguate between insect behavior in environmental novel situations and reconfiguration conditions. An immersive mixed-reality multi-sensory setup was built to replicate multi-sensory cues. We have designed an experimental setup where female crickets Gryllus Bimaculatus were trained to move towards paired auditory and visual cues during primarily phonotactic driven behavior. We hypothesized that insects were capable of identifying sensory modifications in known environments. Our results show that, regardless of the animal’s history, novel situation conditions did not compromise the animals performance and navigational directionality towards a new target location. However, in trials where visual and auditory stimuli were spatially decoupled, the animals heading variability towards a previously known position significantly increased. Our findings showed that crickets can behaviorally manifest environmental reconfiguration, suggesting the encoding for spatial representation.

Keywords: Insect, Memory, Navigation, Spatial representation


Verschure, P., (2018). The architecture of mind and brain Living machines: A handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems (ed. Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P.), Oxford Scholarship (Oxford, UK) , 338-345

The components of a Living Machine must be integrated into a functioning whole, which requires a detailed understanding of the architecture of living machines. This chapter starts with a conceptual and historical analysis which from Plato brings us to nineteenth-century neuroscience and early concepts of the layered structure of nervous systems. These concepts were further captured in the cognitive behaviorism of Tolman and came to full fruition in the cognitive revolution of the second half of the twentieth century. Verschure subsequently describes the most relevant proposals of cognitive architectures followed by an overview of the few proposals stemming from modern neuroscience on the architecture of the brain. Subsequently, we will look at contemporary contenders that mediate between cognitive and brain architecture. An important challenge to any model of cognitive architectures is how to benchmark it. Verschure proposes the Unified Theories of Embodied Minds (UTEM) benchmark which advances from Newell’s classic Unified Theories of Cognition benchmark.

Keywords: Architecture, Mind, Brain, Organization, System, Virtualization, Abstraction layers


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


Neri, L., Lasa, M., Elosegui-Artola, A., D'Avola, D., Carte, B., Gazquez, C., Alve, S., Roca-Cusachs, P., Iñarrairaegui, M., Herrero, J., Prieto, J., Sangro, B., Aldabe, R., (2017). NatB-mediated protein N-α-terminal acetylation is a potential therapeutic target in hepatocellular carcinoma Oncotarget 8, (25), 40967-40981

The identification of new targets for systemic therapy of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an urgent medical need. Recently, we showed that hNatB catalyzes the N-α-terminal acetylation of 15% of the human proteome and that this action is necessary for proper actin cytoskeleton structure and function. In tumors, cytoskeletal changes influence motility, invasion, survival, cell growth and tumor progression, making the cytoskeleton a very attractive antitumor target. Here, we show that hNatB subunits are upregulated in in over 59% HCC tumors compared to non-tumor tissue and that this upregulation is associated with microscopic vascular invasion. We found that hNatB silencing blocks proliferation and tumor formation in HCC cell lines in association with hampered DNA synthesis and impaired progression through the S and the G2/M phases. Growth inhibition is mediated by the degradation of two hNatB substrates, tropomyosin and CDK2, which occurs when these proteins lack N-α-terminal acetylation. In addition, hNatB inhibition disrupts the actin cytoskeleton, focal adhesions and tight/adherens junctions, abrogating two proliferative signaling pathways, Hippo/YAP and ERK1/2. Therefore, inhibition of NatB activity represents an interesting new approach to treating HCC by blocking cell proliferation and disrupting actin cytoskeleton function.

Keywords: CDK2, Cell cycle arrest, Cell-cell junctions, Focal adhesions, Tropomyosin


Vilela, D., Stanton, M. M., Parmar, J., Sánchez, S., (2017). Microbots decorated with silver nanoparticles kill bacteria in aqueous media ACS Applied Materials & 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


Hoyos-Nogués, M., Velasco, F., Ginebra, M. P., Manero, J. M., Gil, F. J., Mas-Moruno, C., (2017). Regenerating bone via multifunctional coatings: The blending of cell integration and bacterial inhibition properties on the surface of biomaterials ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 9, (26), 21618-21630

In dentistry and orthopedics, it is well accepted that implant fixation is a major goal. However, an emerging concern is bacterial infection. Infection of metallic implants can be catastrophic and significantly reduce patient quality of life. Accordingly, in this work, we focus on multifunctional coatings to simultaneously address and mitigate both these problems. We have developed a tailor-made peptide-based chemical platform that integrates the well-known RGD cell adhesive sequence and the lactoferrin-derived LF1-11 antimicrobial peptide. The platform was covalently grafted on titanium via silanization and the functionalization process characterized by contact angle, XPS, and QCM-D. The presence of the platform statistically improved the adhesion, proliferation and mineralization of osteoblast-like cells compared to control surfaces. At the same time, colonization by representative bacterial strains was significantly reduced on the surfaces. Furthermore, the biological potency of the multifunctional platform was verified in a co-culture in vitro model. Our findings demonstrate that this multifunctional approach can be useful to functionalize biomaterials to both improve cell integration and reduce the risk of bacterial infection.

Keywords: Antimicrobial peptides, Cell adhesive peptides, Multifunctionality, Osseointegration, Surface functionalization


Castellanos, M. I., Mas-Moruno, C., Grau, A., Serra-Picamal, X., Trepat, X., Albericio, F., Joner, M., Gil, F. J., Ginebra, M. P., Manero, J. M., Pegueroles, M., (2017). Functionalization of CoCr surfaces with cell adhesive peptides to promote HUVECs adhesion and proliferation Applied Surface Science , 393, 82-92

Biomimetic surface modification with peptides that have specific cell-binding moieties is a promising approach to improve endothelialization of metal-based stents. In this study, we functionalized CoCr surfaces with RGDS, REDV, YIGSR peptides and their combinations to promote endothelial cells (ECs) adhesion and proliferation. An extensive characterization of the functionalized surfaces was performed by XPS analysis, surface charge and quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D), which demonstrated the successful immobilization of the peptides to the surface. Cell studies demonstrated that the covalent functionalization of CoCr surfaces with an equimolar combination of RGDS and YIGSR represents the most powerful strategy to enhance the early stages of ECs adhesion and proliferation, indicating a positive synergistic effect between the two peptide motifs. Although these peptide sequences slightly increased smooth muscle cells (SMCs) adhesion, these values were ten times lower than those observed for ECs. The combination of RGDS with the REDV sequence did not show synergistic effects in promoting the adhesion or proliferation of ECs. The strategy presented in this study holds great potential to overcome clinical limitations of current metal stents by enhancing their capacity to support surface endothelialization.

Keywords: Cell adhesive peptides, CoCr alloy, Endothelialization, HUVEC proliferation, SMCs adhesion, Surface functionalization


Diez-Escudero, A., Espanol, M., Montufar, E. B., Di Pompo, G., Ciapetti, G., Baldini, N., Ginebra, M. P., (2017). Focus ion beam/scanning electron microscopy characterization of osteoclastic resorption of calcium phosphate substrates Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods , 23, (2), 118-124

This article presents the application of dual focused ion beam/scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) imaging for preclinical testing of calcium phosphates with osteoclast precursor cells and how this high-resolution imaging technique is able to reveal microstructural changes at a level of detail previously not possible. Calcium phosphate substrates, having similar compositions but different microstructures, were produced using low-and high-Temperature processes (biomimetic calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite [CDHA] and stoichiometric sintered hydroxyapatite, respectively). Human osteoclast precursor cells were cultured for 21 days before evaluating their resorptive potential on varying microstructural features. Alternative to classical morphological evaluation of osteoclasts (OC), FIB-SEM was used to observe the subjacent microstructure by transversally sectioning cells and observing both the cells and the substrates. Resorption pits, indicating OC activity, were visible on the smoother surface of high-Temperature sintered hydroxyapatite. FIB-SEM analysis revealed signs of acidic degradation on the grain surface under the cells, as well as intergranular dissolution. No resorption pits were evident on the surface of the rough CDHA substrates. However, whereas no degradation was detected by FIB sections in the material underlying some of the cells, early stages of OC-mediated acidic degradation were observed under cells with more spread morphology. Collectively, these results highlight the potential of FIB to evaluate the resorptive activity of OC, even in rough, irregular, or coarse surfaces where degradation pits are otherwise difficult to visualize.

Keywords: Bone Regeneration, Calcium Phosphate, Focus Ion Beam, Osteoclast, Resorption, Scanning Electron Microscopy


Simmchen, Juliane, Baeza, Alejandro, Miguel-Lopez, Albert, Stanton, Morgan M., Vallet-Regi, Maria, Ruiz-Molina, Daniel, Sánchez, Samuel, (2017). Dynamics of novel photoactive AgCl microstars and their environmental applications ChemNanoMat , 3, (1), 65-71

In the field of micromotors many efforts are taken to find a substitute for peroxide as fuel. While most approaches turn towards other toxic high energy chemicals such as hydrazine, we introduce an energy source that is widely used in nature: light. Light is an ideal source of energy and some materials, such as AgCl, have the inherent property to transform light energy for chemical processes, which can be used to achieve propulsion. In the case of silver chloride, one observed process after light exposure is surface modification which leads to the release of ions generating chemo-osmotic gradients. Here we present endeavours to use those processes to propel uniquely shaped micro objects of micro star morphology with a high surface to volume ratio, study their dynamics and present approaches to go towards real environmental applications.

Keywords: Self-propellers, Silver chloride, Environmental applications, Photoactive colloids, Anti bacterial


Ballester, Rubio Belén, Nirme, Jens, Camacho, Irene, Duarte, Esther, Rodríguez, Susana, Cuxart, Ampar, Duff, Armin, Verschure, F. M. J. Paul, (2017). Domiciliary VR-based therapy for functional recovery and cortical reorganization: Randomized controlled trial in participants at the chronic stage post stroke JMIR Serious Games , 5, (3), e15

Background: Most stroke survivors continue to experience motor impairments even after hospital discharge. Virtual reality-based techniques have shown potential for rehabilitative training of these motor impairments. Here we assess the impact of at-home VR-based motor training on functional motor recovery, corticospinal excitability and cortical reorganization. Objective: The aim of this study was to identify the effects of home-based VR-based motor rehabilitation on (1) cortical reorganization, (2) corticospinal tract, and (3) functional recovery after stroke in comparison to home-based occupational therapy. Methods: We conducted a parallel-group, controlled trial to compare the effectiveness of domiciliary VR-based therapy with occupational therapy in inducing motor recovery of the upper extremities. A total of 35 participants with chronic stroke underwent 3 weeks of home-based treatment. A group of subjects was trained using a VR-based system for motor rehabilitation, while the control group followed a conventional therapy. Motor function was evaluated at baseline, after the intervention, and at 12-weeks follow-up. In a subgroup of subjects, we used Navigated Brain Stimulation (NBS) procedures to measure the effect of the interventions on corticospinal excitability and cortical reorganization. Results: Results from the system?s recordings and clinical evaluation showed significantly greater functional recovery for the experimental group when compared with the control group (1.53, SD 2.4 in Chedoke Arm and Hand Activity Inventory). However, functional improvements did not reach clinical significance. After the therapy, physiological measures obtained from a subgroup of subjects revealed an increased corticospinal excitability for distal muscles driven by the pathological hemisphere, that is, abductor pollicis brevis. We also observed a displacement of the centroid of the cortical map for each tested muscle in the damaged hemisphere, which strongly correlated with improvements in clinical scales. Conclusions: These findings suggest that, in chronic stages, remote delivery of customized VR-based motor training promotes functional gains that are accompanied by neuroplastic changes. Trial Registration: International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number NCT02699398 (Archived by ClinicalTrials.gov at https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02699398?term=NCT02699398&rank=1)

Keywords: Stroke, Movement disorder, Recovery of function, neuroplasticity, Transcranial magnetic stimulation, Physical therapy, Hemiparesis, Computer applications software


Planell, J. A., Navarro, M., Engel, E., (2017). Developing targeted biocomposites in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine Biomedical Composites (ed. Ambrosio, L.), Woodhead Publishing (Duxfor, UK) Biomaterials, 569-587

Regenerative medicine is a relatively new field with new requirements for smart materials, where composites will have a strong role to play. The new paradigm of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering requires biomaterials with high specificity, where physical and chemical properties are duly tailored and combined with appropriate mechanical and degradation features in order to trigger specific cell events and functions involved in the regenerative process. In this chapter, the chemical, physical, and biological elements that have to be targeted by biocomposites in regenerative medicine are described.

Keywords: Biocomposite, Regenerative medicine, Tissue engineering, Scaffolds, Cell/material interactions


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


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


Asadipour, N., Trepat, X., Muñoz, J. J., (2016). Porous-based rheological model for tissue fluidisation Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids , 96, 535-549

It has been experimentally observed that cells exhibit a fluidisation process when subjected to a transient stretch, with an eventual recovery of the mechanical properties upon removal of the applied deformation. This fluidisation process is characterised by a decrease of the storage modulus and an increase of the phase angle. We propose a rheological model which is able to reproduce this combined mechanical response. The model is described in the context of continua and adapted to a cell-centred particle system that simulates cell–cell interactions. Mechanical equilibrium is coupled with two evolution laws: (i) one for the reference configuration, and (ii) another for the porosity or polymer density. The first law depends on the actual strain of the tissue, while the second assumes different remodelling rates during porosity increase and decrease. The theory is implemented on a particle based model and tested on a stretching experiment. The numerical results agree with the experimental measurements for different stretching magnitudes.

Keywords: Cell remodelling, Cell rheology, Fluidisation, Softening, Viscoelasticity


Valero, C., Navarro, B., Navajas, D., García-Aznar, J. M., (2016). Finite element simulation for the mechanical characterization of soft biological materials by atomic force microscopy Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials , 62, 222-235

The characterization of the mechanical properties of soft materials has been traditionally performed through uniaxial tensile tests. Nevertheless, this method cannot be applied to certain extremely soft materials, such as biological tissues or cells that cannot be properly subjected to these tests. Alternative non-destructive tests have been designed in recent years to determine the mechanical properties of soft biological tissues. One of these techniques is based on the use of atomic force microscopy (AFM) to perform nanoindentation tests. In this work, we investigated the mechanical response of soft biological materials to nanoindentation with spherical indenters using finite element simulations. We studied the responses of three different material constitutive laws (elastic, isotropic hyperelastic and anisotropic hyperelastic) under the same process and analyzed the differences thereof. Whereas linear elastic and isotropic hyperelastic materials can be studied using an axisymmetric simplification, anisotropic hyperelastic materials require three-dimensional analyses. Moreover, we established the limiting sample size required to determine the mechanical properties of soft materials while avoiding boundary effects. Finally, we compared the results obtained by simulation with an estimate obtained from Hertz theory. Hertz theory does not distinguish between the different material constitutive laws, and thus, we proposed corrections to improve the quantitative measurement of specific material properties by nanoindentation experiments.

Keywords: AFM, Cell mechanics, FEM, Nanoindentation, Soft-tissue


Requena, J. R., Kristensson, K., Korth, C., Zurzolo, C., Simmons, M., Aguilar-Calvo, P., Aguzzi, A., Andreoletti, O., Benestad, S. L., Böhm, R., Brown, K., Calgua, B., del Río, J. A., Espinosa, J. C., Girones, R., Godsave, S., Hoelzle, L. E., Knittler, M. R., Kuhn, F., Legname, G., Laeven, P., Mabbott, N., Mitrova, E., Müller-Schiffmann, A., Nuvolone, M., Peters, P. J., Raeber, A., Roth, K., Schmitz, M., Schroeder, B., Sonati, T., Stitz, L., Taraboulos, A., Torres, J. M., Yan, Z. X., Zerr, I., (2016). The Priority position paper: Protecting Europe's food chain from prions Prion , 10, (3), 165-181

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) created a global European crisis in the 1980s and 90s, with very serious health and economic implications. Classical BSE now appears to be under control, to a great extent as a result of a global research effort that identified the sources of prions in meat and bone meal (MBM) and developed new animal-testing tools that guided policy. Priority (www.prionpriority.eu) was a European Union (EU) Framework Program 7 (FP7)-funded project through which 21 European research institutions and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) joined efforts between 2009 and 2014, to conduct coordinated basic and applied research on prions and prion diseases. At the end of the project, the Priority consortium drafted a position paper (www.prionpriority.eu/Priority position paper) with its main conclusions. In the present opinion paper, we summarize these conclusions. With respect to the issue of re-introducing ruminant protein into the feed-chain, our opinion is that sustaining an absolute ban on feeding ruminant protein to ruminants is essential. In particular, the spread and impact of non-classical forms of scrapie and BSE in ruminants is not fully understood and the risks cannot be estimated. Atypical prion agents will probably continue to represent the dominant form of prion diseases in the near future in Europe. Atypical L-type BSE has clear zoonotic potential, as demonstrated in experimental models. Similarly, there are now data indicating that the atypical scrapie agent can cross various species barriers. More epidemiological data from large cohorts are necessary to reach any conclusion on the impact of its transmissibility on public health. Re-evaluations of safety precautions may become necessary depending on the outcome of these studies. Intensified searching for molecular determinants of the species barrier is recommended, since this barrier is key for important policy areas and risk assessment. Understanding the structural basis for strains and the basis for adaptation of a strain to a new host will require continued fundamental research, also needed to understand mechanisms of prion transmission, replication and how they cause nervous system dysfunction and death. Early detection of prion infection, ideally at a preclinical stage, also remains crucial for development of effective treatment strategies.

Keywords: Atypical BSE, Atypical scrapie, BSE, CJD, Prion, Scrapie


Solà-Soler, J., Giraldo, B. F., Fiz, J. A., Jané, R., (2016). Study of phase estimation methods to analyse cardiorespiratory synchronization in OSA patients Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Orlando, USA) , 4280-4283

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder highly prevalent in the general population. Cardiorespiratory Phase Synchronization (CRPS) is a form of non-linear interaction between respiratory and cardiovascular systems that was found to be reduced in severe OSA patients. The Hilbert Transform (HT) method was the recommended choice for estimating the respiratory phase in CRPS studies. But we have noticed that HT provides a phase that is aligned to the transition between the exhalation and the inhalation parts of different breathing cycles, instead of being aligned to the breathing onsets. In this work we proposed a Realigned HT phase estimation method (RHT) and we compared it to the conventional HT and to the Linear Phase (LP) approximation for estimating CRPS in a database of 28 patients with different OSA severity levels. RHT provided similar synchronization percentages (%Sync) as HT, and it enhanced the significant differences in %Sync between mild and severe OSA patients. %Sync showed the highest negative correlation with the Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) when using RHT (rAHI=-0.692, p<;0.001), which only had an 10% extra computational cost. On the other hand, LP method significantly overestimated %Sync especially in the more severe patients, because it was unable to track the phase non-linearities that can be observed during sleep disordered breathing. Therefore, the newly proposed RHT can be the preferred alternative over the conventional HT or the LP approximation for estimating CRPS in OSA patients.

Keywords: Correlation, Databases, Electrocardiography, Phase estimation, Sleep apnea, Synchronization, Transforms


Coelho, N. M., Llopis-Hernández, V., Salmerón-Sánchez, M., Altankov, G., (2016). Dynamic reorganization and enzymatic remodeling of type IV collagen at cell–biomaterial interface Advances in Protein Chemistry and Structural Biology (ed. Christo, Z. Christov), Academic Press (San Diego, USA) 105, 81-104

Abstract Vascular basement membrane remodeling involves assembly and degradation of its main constituents, type IV collagen (Col IV) and laminin, which is critical during development, angiogenesis, and tissue repair. Remodeling can also occur at cell–biomaterials interface altering significantly the biocompatibility of implants. Here we describe the fate of adsorbed Col IV in contact with endothelial cells adhering on positively charged NH2 or hydrophobic CH3 substrata, both based on self-assembly monolayers (SAMs) and studied alone or mixed in different proportions. AFM studies revealed distinct pattern of adsorbed Col IV, varying from single molecular deposition on pure NH2 to network-like assembly on mixed SAMs, turning to big globular aggregates on bare CH3. Human umbilical endothelial cells (HUVECs) interact better with Col IV adsorbed as single molecules on NH2 surface and readily rearrange it in fibril-like pattern that coincide with secreted fibronectin fibrils. The cells show flattened morphology and well-developed focal adhesion complexes that are rich on phosphorylated FAK while expressing markedly low pericellular proteolytic activity. Conversely, on hydrophobic CH3 substrata HUVECs showed abrogated spreading and FAK phosphorylation, combined with less reorganization of the aggregated Col IV and significantly increased proteolytic activity. The later involves both MMP-2 and MMP-9, as measured by zymography and FITC-Col IV release. The mixed SAMs support intermediate remodeling activity. Taken together these results show that chemical functionalization combined with Col IV preadsorption provides a tool for guiding the endothelial cells behavior and pericellular proteolytic activity, events that strongly affect the fate of cardiovascular implants.

Keywords: Type IV collagen, Adsorption, Remodeling, Pericellular proteolysis, Reorganization, Substratum chemistry, CH3 and NH2 groups, Self-assembly monolayers


Ziyatdinov, Andrey, Fonollosa, Jordi, Fernández, Luis, Gutiérrez-Gálvez, Agustín, Marco, Santiago, Perera, Alexandre, (2015). Data set from gas sensor array under flow modulation Data in Brief , 3, 131-136

Abstract Recent studies in neuroscience suggest that sniffing, namely sampling odors actively, plays an important role in olfactory system, especially in certain scenarios such as novel odorant detection. While the computational advantages of high frequency sampling have not been yet elucidated, here, in order to motivate further investigation in active sampling strategies, we share the data from an artificial olfactory system made of 16 MOX gas sensors under gas flow modulation. The data were acquired on a custom set up featured by an external mechanical ventilator that emulates the biological respiration cycle. 58 samples were recorded in response to a relatively broad set of 12 gas classes, defined from different binary mixtures of acetone and ethanol in air. The acquired time series show two dominant frequency bands: the low-frequency signal corresponds to a conventional response curve of a sensor in response to a gas pulse, and the high-frequency signal has a clear principal harmonic at the respiration frequency. The data are related to the study in [1], and the data analysis results reported there should be considered as a reference point.

Keywords: Gas sensor array, MOX sensor, Flow modulation, Early detection, Biomimetics, Respiration, Sniffing


Moles, Ernest, Valle-Delgado, Juan José, Urbán, Patricia, Azcárate, Isabel G., Bautista, José M., Selva, Javier, Egea, Gustavo, Ventura, Salvador, Fernàndez-Busquets, Xavier, (2015). Possible roles of amyloids in malaria pathophysiology Future Science OA , 1, (2), FSO43

The main therapeutic and prophylactic tools against malaria have been locked for more than a century in the classical approaches of using drugs targeting metabolic processes of the causing agent, the protist Plasmodium spp., and of designing vaccines against chosen antigens found on the parasite’s surface. Given the extraordinary resources exhibited by Plasmodium to escape these traditional strategies, which have not been able to free humankind from the scourge of malaria despite much effort invested in them, new concepts have to be explored in order to advance toward eradication of the disease. In this context, amyloid-forming proteins and peptides found in the proteome of the pathogen should perhaps cease being regarded as mere anomalous molecules. Their likely functionality in the pathophysiology of Plasmodium calls for attention being paid to them as a possible Achilles’ heel of malaria. Here we will give an overview of Plasmodium-encoded amyloid-forming polypeptides as potential therapeutic targets and toxic elements, particularly in relation to cerebral malaria and the blood–brain barrier function. We will also discuss the recent finding that the genome of the parasite contains an astonishingly high proportion of prionogenic domains.

Keywords: Amyloids, Intrinsically unstructured proteins, Malaria, Prions


Pla-Vilanova, P., Aragonès, A. C., Ciampi, S., Sanz, F., Darwish, N., Diez-Perez, I., (2015). The spontaneous formation of single-molecule junctions via terminal alkynes Nanotechnology 26, 381001

Herein, we report the spontaneous formation of single-molecule junctions via terminal alkyne contact groups. Self-assembled monolayers that form spontaneously from diluted solutions of 1, 4-diethynylbenzene (DEB) were used to build single-molecule contacts and assessed using the scanning tunneling microscopy-break junction technique (STM-BJ). The STM-BJ technique in both its dynamic and static approaches was used to characterize the lifetime (stability) and the conductivity of a single-DEB wire. It is demonstrated that single-molecule junctions form spontaneously with terminal alkynes and require no electrochemical control or chemical deprotonation. The alkyne anchoring group was compared against typical contact groups exploited in single-molecule studies, i.e. amine (benzenediamine) and thiol (benzendithiol) contact groups. The alkyne contact showed a conductance magnitude comparable to that observed with amine and thiol groups. The lifetime of the junctions formed from alkynes were only slightly less than that of thiols and greater than that observed for amines. These findings are important as (a) they extend the repertoire of chemical contacts used in single-molecule measurements to 1-alkynes, which are synthetically accessible and stable and (b) alkynes have a remarkable affinity toward silicon surfaces, hence opening the door for the study of single-molecule transport on a semiconducting electronic platform.

Keywords: Ferrocene, Molecular electronics, Single-molecule electronics, Single-molecule junctions, Singlemolecule contacts, STM-break junction, Terminal alkyne


Martorell, L., Corrales, I., Ramirez, L., Parra, R., Raya, A., Barquinero, J., Vidal, F., (2015). Molecular characterization of ten F8 splicing mutations in RNA isolated from patient's leucocytes: Assessment of in silico prediction tools accuracy Haemophilia , 21, (2), 249-257

Summary: Although 8% of reported FVIII gene (F8) mutations responsible for haemophilia A (HA) affect mRNA processing, very few have been fully characterized at the mRNA level and/or systematically predicted their biological consequences by in silico analysis. This study is aimed to elucidate the effect of potential splice site mutations (PSSM) on the F8 mRNA processing, investigate its correlation with disease severity, and assess their concordance with in silico predictions. We studied the F8 mRNA from 10 HA patient's leucocytes with PSSM by RT-PCR and compared the experimental results with those predicted in silico. The mRNA analysis could explain all the phenotypes observed and demonstrated exon skipping in six cases (c.222G>A, c.601+1delG, c.602-11T>G, c.671-3C>G, c.6115+9C>G and c.6116-1G>A) and activation of cryptic splicing sites, both donor (c.1009+1G>A and c.1009+3A>C) and acceptor sites (c.266-3delC and c.5587-1G>A). In contrast, the in silico analysis was able to predict the score variation of most of the affected splice site, but the precise mechanism could only be correctly determined in two of the 10 mutations analysed. In addition, we have detected aberrant F8 transcripts, even in healthy controls, so this must be taken into account as they could mask the actual contribution of some PSSM. We conclude that F8 mRNA analysis using leucocytes still constitutes an excellent approach to investigate the transcriptional effects of the PSSM in HA, whereas prediction in silico is not always reliable for diagnostic decision-making.

Keywords: Haemophilia A, Leucocytes, RNA splicing, Splice site mutation, Synonymous mutation


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


Won, J. E., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Castaño, O., Planell, J. A., Seo, S. J., Lee, E. J., Han, C. M., Kim, H. W., (2015). Fibronectin immobilization on to robotic-dispensed nanobioactive glass/polycaprolactone scaffolds for bone tissue engineering Biotechnology Letters , 37, (4), 935-342

Bioactive nanocomposite scaffolds with cell-adhesive surface have excellent bone regeneration capacities. Fibronectin (FN)-immobilized nanobioactive glass (nBG)/polycaprolactone (PCL) (FN-nBG/PCL) scaffolds with an open pore architecture were generated by a robotic-dispensing technique. The surface immobilization level of FN was significantly higher on the nBG/PCL scaffolds than on the PCL scaffolds, mainly due to the incorporated nBG that provided hydrophilic chemical-linking sites. FN-nBG/PCL scaffolds significantly improved cell responses, including initial anchorage and subsequent cell proliferation. Although further in-depth studies on cell differentiation and the in vivo animal responses are required, bioactive nanocomposite scaffolds with cell-favoring surface are considered to provide promising three-dimensional substrate for bone regeneration.

Keywords: Bone scaffolds, Cell response, Fibronectin, Nanobioactive glass, Nanocomposites, Polycaprolactone, Bone, Cell proliferation, Cells, Cytology, Glass, Nanocomposites, Polycaprolactone, Robotics, Bone scaffolds, Bone tissue engineering, Cell response, Fibronectin, Fibronectin immobilizations, Nano bioactive glass, Nanocomposite scaffolds, Three-dimensional substrates, Scaffolds (biology)


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


Arvizu-Rodríguez, L. E., Palacios-Padrós, A., Chalé-Lara, F., Fernández-Muñoz, J. L., Díez-Pérez, I., Sanz, F., Espinosa-Faller, F. J., Sandoval, J., Caballero-Briones, F., (2015). Phase and surface modification by electrochemical post deposition treatments in ultrasonic-assisted CuInSe2/Cu electrodeposited films Chalcogenide Letters , 12, (10), 537-545

CuInSe2 films were prepared onto Cu-cladded substrates by ultrasonic-assisted electrodeposition using different bath compositions and a fixed deposition potential of E=-1500 mV vs Ag/AgCl. In situ electrochemical treatments named selenization and electrocrystallization, in a Se4+ electrolyte were applied to modify the morphology, film structure and the phase composition. Films were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy and photocurrent response. A Cu2-xSe layer develops as the electrode is introduced into the electrolyte. The presence of Cu-In, In-Se, Cu-Se, cubic, hexagonal and tetragonal CuInSe2 phases as well as elemental In and Se was observed. After selenization, partial phase dissolution and Se deposition is observed and after the electrocrystallization treatment the secondary phases such as Cu-Se, Cu-In, In and Se reduce substantially and the grain sizes increase, as well as the photocurrent response. Phase diagrams are constructed for each set of films and reaction mechanisms are proposed to explain the phase evolution.

Keywords: CuInSe2, Electrodeposition, In situ electrochemical treatments, Phase composition, Surface modification


Alsaleh, S. M., Aviles, A. I., Sobrevilla, P., Casals, A., Hahn, J. K., (2015). Automatic and robust single-camera specular highlight removal in cardiac images Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Milan, Italy) , 675-678

In computer-assisted beating heart surgeries, accurate tracking of the heart's motion is of huge importance and there is a continuous need to eliminate any source of error that might disturb the tracking process. One source of error is the specular reflection that appears on the glossy surface of the heart. In this paper, we propose a robust solution for the detection and removal of specular highlights. A hybrid color attributes and wavelet based edge projection approach is applied to accurately identify the affected regions. These regions are then recovered using a dynamic search-based inpainting with adaptive windowing. Experimental results demonstrate the precision and efficiency of the proposed method. Moreover, it has a real-time performance and can be generalized to various other applications.

Keywords: Heart, Image color analysis, Image edge detection, Surgery, Tracking, Wavelet transforms


Estrada, L., Torres, A., Sarlabous, L., Jané, R., (2015). Respiratory signal derived from the smartphone built-in accelerometer during a Respiratory Load Protocol Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Milan, Italy) , 6768-6771

The scope of our work focuses on investigating the potential use of the built-in accelerometer of the smartphones for the recording of the respiratory activity and deriving the respiratory rate. Five healthy subjects performed an inspiratory load protocol. The excursion of the right chest was recorded using the built-in triaxial accelerometer of a smartphone along the x, y and z axes and with an external uniaxial accelerometer. Simultaneously, the respiratory airflow and the inspiratory mouth pressure were recorded, as reference respiratory signals. The chest acceleration signal recorded in the z axis with the smartphone was denoised using a scheme based on the ensemble empirical mode decomposition, a noise data assisted method which decomposes nonstationary and nonlinear signals into intrinsic mode functions. To distinguish noisy oscillatory modes from the relevant modes we use the detrended fluctuation analysis. We reported a very strong correlation between the acceleration of the z axis of the smartphone and the reference accelerometer across the inspiratory load protocol (from 0.80 to 0.97). Furthermore, the evaluation of the respiratory rate showed a very strong correlation (0.98). A good agreement was observed between the respiratory rate estimated with the chest acceleration signal from the z axis of the smartphone and with the respiratory airflow signal: Bland-Altman limits of agreement between -1.44 and 1.46 breaths per minute with a mean bias of -0.01 breaths per minute. This preliminary study provides a valuable insight into the use of the smartphone and its built-in accelerometer for respiratory monitoring.

Keywords: Acceleration, Accelerometers, Correlation, Empirical mode decomposition, Fluctuations, Protocols, Time series analysis


Oller-Moreno, S., Singla-Buxarrais, G., Jiménez-Soto, J. M., Pardo, Antonio, Garrido-Delgado, R., Arce, L., Marco, Santiago, (2015). Sliding window multi-curve resolution: Application to gas chromatography - Ion Mobility Spectrometry Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 15th International Meeting on Chemical Sensors , Elsevier (Buenos Aires, Argentina) 217, 13-21

Abstract Blind Source Separation (BSS) techniques aim to extract a set of source signals from a measured mixture in an unsupervised manner. In the chemical instrumentation domain source signals typically refer to time-varying analyte concentrations, while the measured mixture is the set of observed spectra. Several techniques exist to perform BSS on Ion Mobility Spectrometry, being Simple-to-use interactive self-modeling mixture analysis (SIMPLISMA) and Multivariate Curve Resolution (MCR) the most commonly used. The addition of a multi-capillary gas chromatography column using the ion mobility spectrometer as detector has been proposed in the past to increase chemical resolution. Short chromatography times lead to high levels of co-elution, and ion mobility spectra are key to resolve them. For the first time, BSS techniques are used to deconvolve samples of the gas chromatography - ion mobility spectrometry tandem. We propose a method to extract spectra and concentration profiles based on the application of MCR in a sliding window. Our results provide clear concentration profiles and pure spectra, resolving peaks that were not detected by the conventional use of MCR. The proposed technique could also be applied to other hyphenated instruments with similar strong co-elutions.

Keywords: Blind Source Separation, Multivariate Curve Resolution, Ion Mobility Spectrometry, Gas Chromatography, Hyphenated instrumentation, SIMPLISMA, co-elution


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


Cuervo, A., Dans, P. D., Carrascosa, J. L., Orozco, M., Gomila, G., Fumagalli, L., (2014). Direct measurement of the dielectric polarization properties of DNA Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111, (35), E3624-E3630

The electric polarizability of DNA, represented by the dielectric constant, is a key intrinsic property that modulates DNA interaction with effector proteins. Surprisingly, it has so far remained unknown owing to the lack of experimental tools able to access it. Here, we experimentally resolved it by detecting the ultraweak polarization forces of DNA inside single T7 bacteriophages particles using electrostatic force microscopy. In contrast to the common assumption of low-polarizable behavior like proteins (εr ~ 2–4), we found that the DNA dielectric constant is ~ 8, considerably higher than the value of ~ 3 found for capsid proteins. State-of-the-art molecular dynamic simulations confirm the experimental findings, which result in sensibly decreased DNA interaction free energy than normally predicted by Poisson–Boltzmann methods. Our findings reveal a property at the basis of DNA structure and functions that is needed for realistic theoretical descriptions, and illustrate the synergetic power of scanning probe microscopy and theoretical computation techniques.

Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Atomistic simulations, DNA packaging, DNA-ligand binding, Poisson-Boltzmann equation, capsid protein, DNA, double stranded DNA, amino acid composition, article, atomic force microscopy, bacteriophage, bacteriophage T7, dielectric constant, dipole, DNA binding, DNA packaging, DNA structure, electron microscopy, ligand binding, nonhuman, polarization, priority journal, protein analysis, protein DNA interaction, scanning probe microscopy, static electricity, virion, virus capsid, virus particle, atomic force microscopy, atomistic simulations, DNA packaging, DNA-ligand binding, Poisson-Boltzmann equation, Bacteriophage T7, Capsid, Cations, Dielectric Spectroscopy, DNA, DNA, Viral, DNA-Binding Proteins, Electrochemical Techniques, Ligands, Microscopy, Atomic Force, Models, Chemical, Nuclear Proteins


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


Lagunas, A., Garcia, A., Artés, J. M., Vida, Y., Collado, D., Pérez-Inestrosa, E., Gorostiza, P., Claros, S., Andrades, J. A., Samitier, J., (2014). Large-scale dendrimer-based uneven nanopatterns for the study of local arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) density effects on cell adhesion Nano Research , 7, (3), 399-409

Cell adhesion processes are governed by the nanoscale arrangement of the extracellular matrix (ECM), being more affected by local rather than global concentrations of cell adhesive ligands. In many cell-based studies, grafting of dendrimers on surfaces has shown the benefits of the local increase in concentration provided by the dendritic configuration, although the lack of any reported surface characterization has limited any direct correlation between dendrimer disposition and cell response. In order to establish a proper correlation, some control over dendrimer surface deposition is desirable. Here, dendrimer nanopatterning has been employed to address arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) density effects on cell adhesion. Nanopatterned surfaces were fully characterized by atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), showing that tunable distributions of cell adhesive ligands on the surface are obtained as a function of the initial dendrimer bulk concentration. Cell experiments showed a clear correlation with dendrimer surface layout: Substrates presenting regions of high local ligand density resulted in a higher percentage of adhered cells and a higher degree of maturation of focal adhesions (FAs). Therefore, dendrimer nanopatterning is presented as a suitable and controlled approach to address the effect of local ligand density on cell response. Moreover, due to the easy modification of dendrimer peripheral groups, dendrimer nanopatterning can be further extended to other ECM ligands having density effects on cells.

Keywords: Arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, Atomic force microscopy, Cell adhesion, Dendrimer, Focal adhesions, Scanning tunneling microscopy


Pérez-Madrigal, M. M., Giannotti, M. I., Del Valle, L. J., Franco, L., Armelin, E., Puiggalí, J., Sanz, F., Alemán, C., (2014). Thermoplastic polyurethane:polythiophene nanomembranes for biomedical and biotechnological applications ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 6, (12), 9719-9732

Nanomembranes have been prepared by spin-coating mixtures of a polythiophene (P3TMA) derivative and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) using 20:80, 40:60, and 60:40 TPU:P3TMA weight ratios. After structural, topographical, electrochemical, and thermal characterization, properties typically related with biomedical applications have been investigated: swelling, resistance to both hydrolytic and enzymatic degradation, biocompatibility, and adsorption of type I collagen, which is an extra cellular matrix protein that binds fibronectin favoring cell adhesion processes. The swelling ability and the hydrolytic and enzymatic degradability of TPU:P3TMA membranes increases with the concentration of P3TMA. Moreover, the degradation of the blends is considerably promoted by the presence of enzymes in the hydrolytic medium, TPU:P3TMA blends behaving as biodegradable materials. On the other hand, TPU:P3TMA nanomembranes behave as bioactive platforms stimulating cell adhesion and, especially, cell viability. Type I collagen adsorption largely depends on the substrate employed to support the nanomembrane, whereas it is practically independent of the chemical nature of the polymeric material used to fabricate the nanomembrane. However, detailed microscopy study of the morphology and topography of adsorbed collagen evidence the formation of different organizations, which range from fibrils to pseudoregular honeycomb networks depending on the composition of the nanomembrane that is in contact with the protein. Scaffolds made of electroactive TPU:P3TMA nanomembranes are potential candidates for tissue engineering biomedical applications.

Keywords: Bioactive platform, Biodegradable blend, Collaged adsorption, Scaffolds, Tissue engineering, Ultrathin films


Tahirbegi, I. B., Mir, M., Schostek, S., Schurr, M., Samitier, J., (2014). In vivo ischemia monitoring array for endoscopic surgery Biosensors and Bioelectronics 61, 124-130

An array with all-solid-state, potentiometric, miniaturized sensors for pH and potassium was developed to be introduced into the stomach or other sectors of the digestive tract by means of flexible endoscopy. These sensors perform continuous and simultaneous measurement of extracellular pH and potassium. This detection seeks to sense ischemia in the gastric mucosa inside the stomach, an event indicative of local microvascular perfusion and tissue oxygenation status. Our array is proposed as a medical tool to identify the occurrence of the ischemia after gastrointestinal or gastroesophageal anastomosis. The stability and feasibility of the miniaturized working and reference electrodes integrated in the array were studied under in vitro conditions, and the behavior of the potassium and pH ion-selective membranes were optimized to work under acidic gastric conditions with high concentrations of HCl. The array was tested in vivo in pigs to measure the ischemia produced by clamping the blood flow into the stomach. Our results indicate that ischemic and reperfusion states can be sensed in vivo and that information on tissue damage can be collected by this sensor array. The device described here provides a miniaturized, inexpensive, and mass producible sensor array for detecting local ischemia caused by unfavorable anastomotic perfusion and will thus contribute to preventing anastomotic leakage and failure caused by tissue necrosis.

Keywords: Endoscopy, Surgery, Tissue, Gastric anastomosis, Gastric conditions, Ion selective sensors, Ischemia, pH detection, Reference electrodes, Simultaneous measurement, Tissue oxygenation, Sensors


Gomila, G., Gramse, G., Fumagalli, L., (2014). Finite-size effects and analytical modeling of electrostatic force microscopy applied to dielectric films Nanotechnology 25, (25), 255702 (11)

A numerical analysis of the polarization force between a sharp conducting probe and a dielectric film of finite lateral dimensions on a metallic substrate is presented with the double objective of (i) determining the conditions under which the film can be approximated by a laterally infinite film and (ii) proposing an analytical model valid in this limit. We show that, for a given dielectric film, the critical diameter above which the film can be modeled as laterally infinite depends not only on the probe geometry, as expected, but mainly on the film thickness. In particular, for films with intermediate to large thicknesses (>100 nm), the critical diameter is nearly independent from the probe geometry and essentially depends on the film thickness and dielectric constant following a relatively simple phenomenological expression. For films that can be considered as laterally infinite, we propose a generalized analytical model valid in the thin-ultrathin limit (<20-50 nm) that reproduces the numerical calculations and the experimental data. Present results provide a general framework under which accurate quantification of electrostatic force microscopy measurements on dielectric films on metallic substrates can be achieved.

Keywords: Dielectric constant, Dielectric films, Electrostatic force microscopy, Quantification, Analytical models, Electric force microscopy, Electrostatic force, Film thickness, Permittivity, Probes, Substrates, Ultrathin films, Accurate quantifications, Electrostatic force microscopy, Finite size effect, Lateral dimension, Metallic substrate, Numerical calculation, Polarization forces, Quantification, Dielectric films


Malandrino, A., Noailly, J., Lacroix, D., (2014). Numerical exploration of the combined effect of nutrient supply, tissue condition and deformation in the intervertebral disc Journal of Biomechanics 47, (6), 1520-1525

Novel strategies to heal discogenic low back pain could highly benefit from comprehensive biophysical studies that consider both mechanical and biological factors involved in intervertebral disc degeneration. A decrease in nutrient availability at the bone-disc interface has been indicated as a relevant risk factor and as a possible initiator of cell death processes. Mechanical behaviour of both healthy and degenerated discs could highly interact with cell death in these compromised situations. In the present study, a mechano-transport finite element model was used to investigate the nature of mechanical effects on cell death processes via load-induced metabolic transport variations. Cycles of static sustained compression were chosen to simulate daily human activity. Healthy and degenerated cases were simulated as well as a reduced supply of solutes and an increase in solute exchange area at the bone-disc interface. Results showed that a reduction in metabolite concentrations at the bone-disc boundaries induced cell death, even when the increased exchange area was simulated. Slight local mechanical enhancements of glucose in the disc centre were capable of decelerating cell death but occurred only with healthy mechanical properties. However, mechanical deformations were responsible for a worsening in terms of cell death in the inner annulus, a disadvantaged zone far from the boundary supply with both an increased cell demand and a strain-dependent decrease of diffusivity. Such adverse mechanical effects were more accentuated when degenerative properties were simulated. Overall, this study paves the way for the use of biophysical models for a more integrated understanding of intervertebral disc pathophysiology.

Keywords: Boundary conditions, Cell nutrition, Cell viability, Computational analysis, Intervertebraldisc, Softtissuebiomechanics


Mir, M., Lugo, R., Tahirbegi, I. B., Samitier, J., (2014). Miniaturizable ion-selective arrays based on highly stable polymer membranes for biomedical applications Sensors 14, (7), 11844-11854

Poly(vinylchloride) (PVC) is the most common polymer matrix used in the fabrication of ion-selective electrodes (ISEs). However, the surfaces of PVC-based sensors have been reported to show membrane instability. In an attempt to overcome this limitation, here we developed two alternative methods for the preparation of highly stable and robust ion-selective sensors. These platforms are based on the selective electropolymerization of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), where the sulfur atoms contained in the polymer covalently interact with the gold electrode, also permitting controlled selective attachment on a miniaturized electrode in an array format. This platform sensor was improved with the crosslinking of the membrane compounds with poly(ethyleneglycol) diglycidyl ether (PEG), thus also increasing the biocompatibility of the sensor. The resulting ISE membranes showed faster signal stabilization of the sensor response compared with that of the PVC matrix and also better reproducibility and stability, thus making these platforms highly suitable candidates for the manufacture of robust implantable sensors.

Keywords: Biomedicine, Electrochemistry, Endoscope, Implantable device, Ion-selective electrode (ISE) sensor, Ischemia, pH detection, Biocompatibility, Chemical sensors, Electrochemistry, Electrodes, Electropolymerization, Endoscopy, Functional polymers, Implants (surgical), Ion selective electrodes, Medical applications, Polyvinyl chlorides, Stabilization, Biomedical applications, Biomedicine, Implantable devices, Ion selective sensors, Ischemia, Membrane instability, pH detection, Poly(3 ,4 ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), Ion selective membranes


Sánchez Egea, Antonio J., Valera, Marius, Parraga Quiroga, Juan Manuel, Proubasta, Ignasi, Noailly, J., Lacroix, Damien, (2014). Impact of hip anatomical variations on the cartilage stress: A finite element analysis towards the biomechanical exploration of the factors that may explain primary hip arthritis in morphologically normal subjects Clinical Biomechanics , 29, (4), 444-450

AbstractBackground Hip arthritis is a pathology linked to hip-cartilage degeneration. Although the aetiology of this disease is not well defined, it is known that age is a determinant risk factor. However, hip arthritis in young patients could be largely promoted by biomechanical factors. The objective of this paper is to analyze the impact of some normal anatomical variations on the cartilage stress distributions numerically predicted at the hip joint during walking. Methods A three-dimensional finite element model of the femur and the pelvis with the most relevant axial components of muscle forces was used to simulate normal walking activity. The hip anatomical condition was defined by: neck shaft angle, femoral anteversion angle, and acetabular anteversion angle with a range of 110-130º, 0-20º, and 0-20º, respectively. The direct boundary method was used to simulate the hip contact. Findings The hydrostatic stress found at the cartilage and labrum showed that a ± 10º variation with respect to the reference brings significant differences between the anatomic models. Acetabular anteversion angle of 0º and femoral anteversion angle of 0º were the most affected anatomical conditions with values of hydrostatic stress in the cartilage near 5 MPa under compression. Interpretation Cartilage stresses and contact areas were equivalent to the results found in literature and the most critical anatomical regions in terms of tissue loads were in a good accordance with clinical evidence. Altogether, results showed that decreasing femoral or acetabular anteversion angles isolately causes a dramatic increase in cartilage loads.

Keywords: Hip arthritis, Neck shaft angle, Femoral and acetabular anteversions, Cartilage load, Hip joint contact, Finite element analysis


Redondo-Morata, L., Giannotti, M. I., Sanz, F., (2014). Structural impact of cations on lipid bilayer models: Nanomechanical properties by AFM-force spectroscopy Molecular Membrane Biology , 31, (1), 17-28

Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) has become an invaluable tool for studying the micro-and nanoworlds. As a stand-alone, high-resolution imaging technique and force transducer, it defies most other surface instrumentation in ease of use, sensitivity and versatility. The main strength of AFM relies on the possibility to operate in an aqueous environment on a wide variety of biological samples, from single molecules-DNA or proteins-to macromolecular assemblies like biological membranes. Understanding the effect of mechanical stress on membranes is of primary importance in biophysics, since cells are known to perform their function under a complex combination of forces. In the later years, AFM-based Force-Spectroscopy (AFM-FS) has provided a new vista on membrane mechanics in a confined area within the nanometer realm, where most of the specific molecular interactions take place. Lipid membranes are electrostatically charged entities that physiologically coexist with electrolyte solutions. Thus, specific interactions with ions are a matter of considerable interest. The distribution of ions in the solution and their interaction with the membranes are factors that substantially modify the structure and dynamics of the cell membranes. Furthermore, signaling processes are modified by the membrane capability of retaining ions. Supported Lipid Bilayers (SLBs) are a versatile tool to investigate phospholipid membranes mimicking biological surfaces. In the present contribution, we review selected experiments on the mechanical stability of SLBs as models of lipid membranes by means of AFM-FS, with special focus on the effect of cations and ionic strength in the overall nanomechanical stability.

Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Cations, Force spectroscopy, Lipid bilayer, Mechanical stability


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


Tellez, J. P., Herrera, S., Benito, S., Giraldo, B. F., (2014). Analysis of the breathing pattern in elderly patients using the hurst exponent applied to the respiratory flow signal Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 36th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Chicago, USA) , 3422-3425

Due to the increasing elderly population and the extensive number of comorbidities that affect them, studies are required to determine future increments in admission to emergency departments. Some of these studies could focus on the relation between chronic diseases and breathing pattern in elderly patients. Variations in the fractal properties of respiratory signals can be associated with several diseases. To determine the relationship between these variations and breathing patterns, and to quantify the fractal properties of respiratory flow signals, we estimated the Hurst exponent (H). Detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA) and discrete wavelet transform-based estimation (DWTE) methods were applied. The estimation methods were analyzed using simulated data series generated by fractional Gaussian noise. 43 elderly patients (19 patients with a non-periodic breathing pattern - nPB, and 24 patients with a periodic breathing pattern - PB) were studied. The results were evaluated according to the length of data and the number of averaged data series used to obtain a good estimation. The DWTE method estimated the respiratory flow signals better than the DFA method, and obtained Hurst values clustered by group. We found significant differences in the H exponent (p = 0.002) between PB and nPB patients, which showed different behavior in the fractal properties.

Keywords: Discrete wavelet transforms, Diseases, Estimation, Fractals, Modulation, Senior citizens, Time series analysis


Estrada, L., Torres, A., Garcia-Casado, J., Prats-Boluda, G., Yiyao, Ye-Lin, Jané, R., (2014). Evaluation of Laplacian diaphragm electromyographic recording in a dynamic inspiratory maneuver Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 36th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Chicago, USA) , 2201-2204

The analysis of the electromyographic signal of the diaphragm muscle (EMGdi) can provide important information for evaluating the respiratory muscular function. The EMGdi can be recorded using surface Ag/AgCl disc electrodes in monopolar or bipolar configuration. However, these non-invasive EMGdi recordings are usually contaminated by the electrocardiographic (ECG) signal. EMGdi signal can also be noninvasively recorded using concentric ring electrodes in bipolar configuration (CRE) that estimate Laplacian surface potential. Laplacian recordings increase spatial resolution and attenuate distant bioelectric interferences, such as the ECG. Thus, the objective of this work is to compare and to evaluate CRE and traditional bipolar EMGdi recordings in a healthy subject during a dynamic inspiratory maneuver with incremental inspiratory loads. In the conducted study, it was calculated the cumulative percentage of power spectrum of EMGdi recordings to determine the signal bandwidth, and the power ratio between the EMGdi signal segments with and without cardiac activity. The results of this study suggest that EMGdi acquired with CRE electrodes is less affected by the ECG interference, achieves a wider bandwidth and a higher power ratio between segments without cardiac activity and with cardiac activity.

Keywords: Bandwidth, Electric potential, Electrocardiography, Electrodes, Interference, Laplace equations, Muscles


Pérez-Amodio, Soledad, Engel, Elisabeth, (2014). Bone biology and Regeneration Bio-Ceramics with Clinical Applications (ed. Vallet-Regí, M.), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (Chichester, UK) , 315-342

Each bone of the skeleton constantly undergoes modeling during life to help it to adapt to changing biomechanical forces as well as remodeling to remove old bone and replace it with new, mechanically stronger bone to help preserve bone strength. Bone remodeling involves the removal of mineralized bone by osteoclasts, followed by the formation of bone matrix through the osteoblasts that subsequently become mineralized. All these assets make bone a suitable model for regeneration. Bone tissue can be grossly divided into inorganic mineral material (mostly HA), and organic material from cells and the extracellular matrix. This chapter outlines some of the bone diseases such as osteoporosis and Paget's disease. Bone can be considered as a biphasic composite material, with two phases: one the mineral and the other collagen. This combination confers better mechanical properties on the tissue than each component itself.

Keywords: Bone biology, Bone cells, Bone diseases, Bone extracellular matrix, Bone mechanics, Bone remodeling, Bone tissue regeneration, Skeleton


Urra, O., Casals, A., Jané, R., (2014). Evaluating spatial characteristics of upper-limb movements from EMG signals IFMBE Proceedings XIII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 2013 (ed. Roa Romero, Laura M.), Springer International Publishing (London, UK) 41, 1795-1798

Stroke is a major cause of disability, usually causing hemiplegic damage on the motor abilities of the patient. Stroke rehabilitation seeks restoring normal motion on the affected limb. However, normality’ of movements is usually assessed by clinical and functional tests, without considering how the motor system responds to therapy. We hypothesized that electromyographic (EMG) recordings could provide useful information for evaluating the outcome of rehabilitation from a neuromuscular perspective. Four healthy subjects were asked to perform 14 different functional movements simulating the action of reaching over a table. Each movement was defined according to the starting and target positions that the subject had to connect using linear trajectories. Bipolar recordings of EMG signals were taken from biceps and triceps muscles, and spectral and temporal characteristics were extracted for each movement. Using pattern recognition techniques we found that only two EMG channels were sufficient to accurately determine the spatial characteristics of motor activity: movement direction, length and execution zone. Our results suggest that muscles may fire in a patterned way depending on the specific characteristics of the movement and that EMG signals may codify such detailed information. These findings may be of great value to quantitatively assess post-stroke rehabilitation and to compare the neuromuscular activity of the affected and unaffected limbs, from a physiological perspective. Furthermore, disturbed movements could be characterized in terms of the muscle function to identify, which is the spatial characteristic that fails, e.g. movement direction, and guide personalized rehabilitation to enhance the training of such characteristic.

Keywords: EMG, Movement spatial characteristics, Pattern recognition, Stroke rehabilitation, Upper-limb


Aviles, A. I., Casals, A., (2014). Interpolation based deformation model for minimally invasive beating heart surgery IFMBE Proceedings XIII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 2013 (ed. Roa Romero, Laura M.), Springer International Publishing (London, UK) 41, 372-375

Heart motion compensation is a key issue in medical robotics due to the benefits that minimally invasive beating heart surgery offers over traditional cardiac surgery. Although different proposals have been presented, nowadays, there is not yet a suitable solution working in real clinical environments due to the lack of robustness of existing methods. The process of heart motion estimation required to produce the compensation actions can be tackled as a process of three iterative steps. The first based on generating a deformation model from the processing of a video sequence of the beating heart. The selection of a deformation model is crucial in the sense that it has to offer both valuable information and good computational performance. These characteristics are required when the reaction time has a significant repercussion over the system behavior, as in this case. This paper, presents a computational analysis of deformation model based on interpolation methods. In particular, wavelet and thin-plate splines are evaluated. The significance of this study relies on the fact that it is a reference starting point of reference for creating both a common framework and a robust solution. In addition, the obtained results will contribute to increase the robustness from the initial stage of the solution.

Keywords: Deformation model, Wavelets, Computer performance, Radial basis functions, Interpolation methods


Urra, O., Jané, R., (2014). New sleep transition indexes for describing altered sleep in SAHS IFMBE Proceedings XIII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 2013 (ed. Roa Romero, Laura M.), Springer International Publishing (London, UK) 41, 1017-1020

Traditional Sleep Structure Indexes (TSSIs) are insufficient to identify patterns of altered sleep. TSSIs mainly account for absolute time measures, but different levels of state instability may lead to similar absolute time distribution. Therefore, sleep stability remains beyond the scope of TSSIs. However, recent studies suggest that sleep disorders may be rather influenced by a breakdown in the sleep-stage switching mechanisms. In this study, we propose a set of 11 Sleep Transition Indexes (STIs) that characterize sleep fragmentation and account for the state-stability governed by the ultradian, homeostatic and circadian rhythms. We demonstrate that most of the proposed STIs are potential markers of SAHS severity, while TSSIs are not. In addition, we provide a new framework to analyze sleep disorders from the direct perspective of sleep regulatory mechanisms. In particular, our results indicate that SAHS may be influenced by a dysregulation of homeostatic rhythms but not of ultradian or circadian rhythms.

Keywords: SAHS, Sleep Transitions, Sleep Structure, Polysomnography, Hypnogram


Aviles, AngelicaI, Casals, Alicia, (2014). On genetic algorithms optimization for heart motion compensation Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing ROBOT2013: First Iberian Robotics Conference (ed. Armada, Manuel A., Sanfeliu, Alberto, Ferre, Manuel), Springer International Publishing 252, 237-244

Heart motion compensation is a challenging problem within medical robotics and it is still considered an open research area due to the lack of robustness. As it can be formulated as an energy minimization problem, an optimization technique is needed. The selection of an adequate method has a significant impact over the global solution. For this reason, a new methodology is presented here for solving heart motion compensation in which the central topic is oriented to increase robustness with the goal of achieving a balance between efficiency and efficacy. Particularly, genetic algorithms are used as optimization technique since they can be adapted to any real application, complex and oriented to work in real-time problems.

Keywords: Genetic Algorithms, Deformation, Stochastic Optimization, Beating Heart Surgery, Robotic Assisted Surgery


Nevola, L., Martín-Quirós, A., Eckelt, K., Camarero, N., Tosi, S., Llobet, A., Giralt, E., Gorostiza, P., (2013). Light-regulated stapled peptides to inhibit protein-protein interactions involved in clathrin-mediated endocytosis Angewandte Chemie - International Edition , 52, (30), 7704-7708

Control of membrane traffic: Photoswitchable inhibitors of protein-protein interactions were applied to photoregulate clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) in living cells. Traffic light (TL) peptides acting as "stop" and "go" signals for membrane traffic can be used to dissect the role of CME in receptor internalization and in cell growth, division, and differentiation.

Keywords: Clathrin-mediated endocytosis, Optopharmacology, Peptides, Photoswitches, Protein-protein interactions


Mendes, A. C., Smith, K. H., Tejeda-Montes, E., Engel, E., Reis, R. L., Azevedo, H. S., Mata, Alvaro, (2013). Co-assembled and microfabricated bioactive membranes Advanced Functional Materials 23, (4), 430-438

The fabrication of hierarchical and bioactive self-supporting membranes, which integrate physical and biomolecular elements, using a single-step process that combines molecular self-assembly with soft lithography is reported. A positively charged multidomain peptide (with or without the cell-adhesive sequence arginine-glycine-aspartic acid-serine (RGDS)) self-assembles with hyaluronic acid (HA), an anionic biopolymer. Optimization of the assembling conditions enables the realization of membranes with well-controlled and easily tunable features at multiple size scales including peptide sequence, building-block co-assembly, membrane thickness, bioactive epitope availability, and topographical pattern morphology. Membrane structure, morphology, and bioactivity are investigated according to temperature, assembly time, and variations in the experimental setup. Furthermore, to evaluate the physical and biomolecular signaling of the self-assembled microfabricated membranes, rat mesenchymal stem cells are cultured on membranes exhibiting various densities of RGDS and different topographical patterns. Cell adhesion, spreading, and morphology are significantly affected by the surface topographical patterns and the different concentrations of RGDS. The versatility of the combined bottom-up and top-down fabrication processes described may permit the development of hierarchical macrostructures with precise biomolecular and physical properties and the opportunity to fine tune them with spatiotemporal control.

Keywords: Membrane scaffolds, Mesenchymal stem cells, Microfabrication, Self-assembly, Topography


Ordoñez-Gutiérrez, L., Torres, J. M., Gavín, R., Antón, M., Arroba-Espinosa, A. I., Espinosa, J. C., Vergara, C., del Río, J. A., Wandosell, F., (2013). Cellular prion protein modulates β-amyloid deposition in aged APP/PS1 transgenic mice Neurobiology of Aging , 34, (12), 2793-2804

Alzheimer's disease and prion diseases are neuropathological disorders that are caused by abnormal processing and aggregation of amyloid and prion proteins. Interactions between amyloid precursor protein (APP) and PrPc proteins have been described at the neuron level. Accordingly to this putative interaction, we investigated whether β-amyloid accumulation may affect prion infectivity and, conversely, whether different amounts of PrP may affect β-amyloid accumulation. For this purpose, we used the APPswe/PS1dE9 mouse line, a common model of Alzheimer's disease, crossed with mice that either overexpress (Tga20) or that lack prion protein (knock-out) to generate mice that express varying amounts of prion protein and deposit β-amyloid. On these mouse lines, we investigated the influence of each protein on the evolution of both diseases. Our results indicated that although the presence of APP/PS1 and β-amyloid accumulation had no effect on prion infectivity, the accumulation of β-amyloid deposits was dependent on PrPc, whereby increasing levels of prion protein were accompanied by a significant increase in β-amyloid aggregation associated with aging.

Keywords: Aging, Amyloid, Neurodegeneration, Prion, Signaling


Gustavsson, J., Planell, J., Engel, E., (2013). Ion-selective electrodes to monitor osteoblast-like cellular influence on the extracellular concentration of calcium Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine , 7, (8), 609-620

In bone tissue engineering, the composition of the ionic extracellular environment (IEE) can determine both cellular fate and a biomaterial's development and performance. Therefore, precise control of the IEE and a perfect understanding of the dynamic changes that it can be subject to due to cellular activity is highly desired. To achieve this, we initially monitored how two standard osteoblast-like cell models that expressed either high or low alkaline phosphatase activity - SAOS-2 and MG63 cells, respectively - affected the extracellular concentrations of calcium and phosphate during long-term cultures. It was observed that cellular influence on the IEE varied greatly between the two models and could be linked to the capacity of cells to deposit calcium in the extracellular matrix. Miniaturized ion-selective electrodes that could allow for real-time monitoring of calcium in a minimally invasive way were then constructed. The electrodes were characterized in standard in vitro cell culture environments, prior to being successfully applied for periods of 24h, to record the dynamics of cell-induced deposition of calcium in the extracellular matrix, while using osteogenic media of either high or low concentrations of phosphate. As a result, this study provides the background and technological means for the non-destructive evaluation of the IEE in vitro and allows for the optimization and development of better models of bone tissue construction.

Keywords: Extracellular ions, Ion-selective electrode, MG63, Mineralization, Osteoblasts, Saos-2, Sensor, Tissue engineering


Ziyatdinov, A., Diaz, E. Fernández, Chaudry, A., Marco, S., Persaud, K., Perera, A., (2013). A software tool for large-scale synthetic experiments based on polymeric sensor arrays Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 177, 596-604

This manuscript introduces a software tool that allows for the design of synthetic experiments in machine olfaction. The proposed software package includes both, a virtual sensor array that reproduces the diversity and response of a polymer array and tools for data generation. The synthetic array of sensors allows for the generation of chemosensor data with a variety of characteristics: unlimited number of sensors, support of multicomponent gas mixtures and full parametric control of the noise in the system. The artificial sensor array is inspired from a reference database of seventeen polymeric sensors with concentration profiles for three analytes. The main features in the sensor data, like sensitivity, diversity, drift and sensor noise, are captured by a set of models under simplified assumptions. The generator of sensor signals can be used in applications related to test and benchmarking of signal processing methods, neuromorphic simulations in machine olfaction and educational tools. The software is implemented in R language and can be freely accessed.

Keywords: Gas Sensor Array, Conducting Polymers, Electronic Nose, Sensor Simulation, Synthetic Dataset, Benchmark, Educational Tool


Arcentales, A., Voss, A., Caminal, P., Bayes-Genis, A., Domingo, M. T., Giraldo, B. F., (2013). Characterization of patients with different ventricular ejection fractions using blood pressure signal analysis CinC 2013 Computing in Cardiology Conference (CinC) , IEEE (Zaragoza, Spain) , 795-798

Ischemic and dilated cardiomyopathy are associated with disorders of myocardium. Using the blood pressure (BP) signal and the values of the ventricular ejection fraction, we obtained parameters for stratifying cardiomyopathy patients as low- and high-risk. We studied 48 cardiomyopathy patients characterized by NYHA ≥2: 19 patients with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and 29 patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy (ICM). The left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) percentage was used to classify patients in low risk (LR: LVEF > 35%, 17 patients) and high risk (HR: LVEF ≤ 35%, 31 patients) groups. From the BP signal, we extracted the upward systolic slope (BPsl), the difference between systolic and diastolic BP (BPA), and systolic time intervals (STI). When we compared the LR and HR groups in the time domain analysis, the best parameters were standard deviation (SD) of 1=STI, kurtosis (K) of BPsl, and K of BPA. In the frequency domain analysis, very low frequency (VLF) and high frequency (HF) bands showed statistically significant differences in comaprisons of LR and HR groups. The area under the curve of power spectral density was the best parameter in all classifications, and particularly in the very-low-and high- frequency bands (p <; 0.001). These parameters could help to improve the risk stratification of cardiomyopathy patients.

Keywords: blood pressure measurement, cardiovascular system, diseases, medical disorders, medical signal processing, statistical analysis, time-domain analysis, BP signal, HR groups, LR groups, blood pressure signal analysis, cardiomyopathy patients, diastolic BP, dilated cardiomyopathy, frequency domain analysis, high-frequency bands, ischemic cardiomyopathy, left ventricular ejection fraction, low-frequency bands, myocardium disorders, patient characterization, power spectral density curve, standard deviation, statistical significant differences, systolic BP, systolic slope, systolic time intervals, time domain analysis, ventricular ejection fraction, Abstracts, Databases, Parameter extraction, Telecommunication standards, Time-frequency analysis


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


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


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


Guo, S., Artés, J. M., Díez-Pérez, I., (2013). Electrochemically-gated single-molecule electrical devices Electrochimica Acta 63rd Annual Meeting of the International Society of Electrochemistry , Elsevier (Prague, Czech Republic) 110, 741-753

In the last decade, single-molecule electrical contacts have emerged as a new experimental platform that allows exploring charge transport phenomena in individual molecular blocks. This novel tool has evolved into an essential element within the Molecular Electronics field to understand charge transport processes in hybrid (bio)molecule/electrode interfaces at the nanoscale, and prospect the implementation of active molecular components into functional nanoscale optoelectronic devices. Within this area, three-terminal single-molecule devices have been sought, provided that they are highly desired to achieve full functionality in logic electronic circuits. Despite the latest experimental developments offer consistent methods to bridge a molecule between two electrodes (source and drain in a transistor notation), placing a third electrode (gate) close to the single-molecule electrical contact is still technically challenging. In this vein, electrochemically-gated single-molecule devices have emerged as an experimentally affordable alternative to overcome these technical limitations. In this review, the operating principle of an electrochemically-gated single-molecule device is presented together with the latest experimental methodologies to built them and characterize their charge transport characteristics. Then, an up-to-date comprehensive overview of the most prominent examples will be given, emphasizing on the relationship between the molecular structure and the final device electrical behaviour.

Keywords: Electrochemical gate, Electrochemical switches, NDR, Single-molecule junctions, Unipolar/ambipolar FETs


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


Penon, O., Novo, S., Duran, S., Ibanez, E., Nogues, C., Samitier, J., Duch, M., Plaza, J. A., Perez-Garcia, L., (2012). Efficient biofunctionalization of polysilicon barcodes for adhesion to the zona pellucida of mouse embryos Bioconjugate Chemistry , 23, (12), 2392-2402

Cell tracking is an emergent area in nano-biotechnology, promising the study of individual cells or the identification of populations of cultured cells. In our approach, microtools designed for extracellular tagging are prepared, because using biofunctionalized polysilicon barcodes to tag cell membranes externally avoids the inconveniences of cell internalization. The crucial covalent biofunctionalization process determining the ultimate functionality was studied in order to find the optimum conditions to link a biomolecule to a polysilicon barcode surface using a self-assembled monolayer (SAM) as the connector. Specifically, a lectin (wheat germ agglutinin, WGA) was used because of its capacity to recognize some specific carbohydrates present on the surface of most mammalian cells. Self-assembled monolayers were prepared on polysilicon surfaces including aldehyde groups as terminal functions to study the suitability of their covalent chemical bonding to WGA. Some parameters, such as the polysilicon surface roughness or the concentration of WGA, proved to be crucial for successful biofunctionalization and bioactivity. The SAMs were characterized by contact angle measurements, time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS), laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LDI-TOF MS), and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The biofunctionalization step was also characterized by fluorescence microscopy and, in the case of barcodes, by adhesion experiments to the zona pellucida of mouse embryos. These experiments showed high barcode retention rates after 96 h of culture as well as high embryo viability to the blastocyst stage, indicating the robustness of the biofunctionalization and, therefore, the potential of these new microtools to be used for cell tagging.

Keywords: Self-assembled monolayers, Wheat-germ-agglutinin, Protein immobilization strategies, Mass-spectrometry, Cell-surface, Petide, Binding, Identifications, Nanoparticles, Recognition


Caballero, D., Martinez, E., Bausells, J., Errachid, A., Samitier, J., (2012). Impedimetric immunosensor for human serum albumin detection on a direct aldehyde-functionalized silicon nitride surface Analytica Chimica Acta 720, 43-48

In this work we report the fabrication and characterization of a label-free impedimetric immunosensor based on a silicon nitride (Si 3N 4) surface for the specific detection of human serum albumin (HSA) proteins. Silicon nitride provides several advantages compared with other materials commonly used, such as gold, and in particular in solid-state physics for electronic-based biosensors. However, few Si 3N 4-based biosensors have been developed; the lack of an efficient and direct protocol for the integration of biological elements with silicon-based substrates is still one of its the main drawbacks. Here, we use a direct functionalization method for the direct covalent binding of monoclonal anti-HSA antibodies on an aldehyde-functionalized Si-p/SiO 2/Si 3N 4 structure. This methodology, in contrast with most of the protocols reported in literature, requires less chemical reagents, it is less time-consuming and it does not need any chemical activation. The detection capability of the immunosensor was tested by performing non-faradaic electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) measurements for the specific detection of HSA proteins. Protein concentrations within the linear range of 10 -13-10 -7M were detected, showing a sensitivity of 0.128ΩμM -1 and a limit of detection of 10 -14M. The specificity of the sensor was also addressed by studying the interferences with a similar protein, bovine serum albumin. The results obtained show that the antibodies were efficiently immobilized and the proteins detected specifically, thus, establishing the basis and the potential applicability of the developed silicon nitride-based immunosensor for the detection of proteins in real and more complex samples.

Keywords: Aldehyde, Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, Human serum albumin, Immunosensor, Silicon nitride, Bovine serum albumins, Chemical reagents, Complex samples, Covalent binding, Detection capability, Electrochemical impedance, Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy measurements, Functionalizations, Human serum albumins, Impedimetric immunosensors, Label free, Limit of detection, Linear range, Protein concentrations, Silicon-based, Specific detection, Aldehydes


Redondo-Morata, L., Giannotti, M. I., Sanz, F., (2012). AFM-based force-clamp monitors lipid bilayer failure kinetics Langmuir , 28, (15), 6403-6410

The lipid bilayer rupture phenomenon is here explored by means of atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based force clamp, for the first time to our knowledge, to evaluate how lipid membranes respond when compressed under an external constant force, in the range of nanonewtons. Using this method, we were able to directly quantify the kinetics of the membrane rupture event and the associated energy barriers, for both single supported bilayers and multibilayers, in contradistinction to the classic studies performed at constant velocity. Moreover, the affected area of the membrane during the rupture process was calculated using an elastic deformation model. The elucidated information not only contributes to a better understanding of such relevant process, but also proves the suitability of AFM-based force clamp to study model structures as lipid bilayers. These findings on the kinetics of lipid bilayers rupture could be extended and applied to the study of other molecular thin films. Furthermore, systems of higher complexity such as models mimicking cell membranes could be studied by means of AFM-based force-clamp technique.

Keywords: Chain-Length, Spectroscopy, Nanomechanics, Microscopy, Elasticity, Stability, Membranes, Reveals, Fusion, Ions


Valle-Delgado, J. J., Liepina, I., Lapidus, D., Sabaté, R., Ventura, S., Samitier, J., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2012). Self-assembly of human amylin-derived peptides studied by atomic force microscopy and single molecule force spectroscopy Soft Matter , 8, (4), 1234-1242

The self-assembly of peptides and proteins into amyloid fibrils of nanometric thickness and up to several micrometres in length, a phenomenon widely observed in biological systems, has recently aroused a growing interest in nanotechnology and nanomedicine. Here we have applied atomic force microscopy and single molecule force spectroscopy to study the amyloidogenesis of a peptide derived from human amylin and of its reverse sequence. The spontaneous formation of protofibrils and their orientation along well-defined directions on graphite and DMSO-coated graphite substrates make the studied peptides interesting candidates for nanotechnological applications. The measured binding forces between peptides correlate with the number of hydrogen bonds between individual peptides inside the fibril structure according to molecular dynamics simulations.

Keywords: Amyloid fibril, Amyloidogenesis, Binding forces, Fibril structure, Graphite substrate, Molecular dynamics simulations, Nanometrics, Protofibrils, Single molecule force spectroscopy, Spontaneous formation, Atomic force microscopy, Atomic spectroscopy, Graphite, Hydrogen bonds, Medical nanotechnology, Molecular dynamics, Molecular physics, Self assembly, Thickness measurement, Peptides


Gramse, G., Gomila, G., Fumagalli, L., (2012). Quantifying the dielectric constant of thick insulators by electrostatic force microscopy: effects of the microscopic parts of the probe Nanotechnology 23, (20), 205703

We present a systematic analysis of the effects that the microscopic parts of electrostatic force microscopy probes (the cone and cantilever) have on the electrostatic interaction between the tip apex and thick insulating substrates (thickness>100mum). We discuss how these effects can influence the measurement and quantification of the local dielectric constant of the substrates. We propose and experimentally validate a general methodology that takes into account the influence of the cone and the cantilever, thus enabling us to obtain very accurate values of the dielectric constants of thick insulators.

Keywords: Polarization, Samples


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


Veeregowda, D. H., van der Mei, H. C., de Vries, J., Rutland, M. W., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Sharma, P. K., Busscher, H. J., (2012). Boundary lubrication by brushed salivary conditioning films and their degree of glycosylation Clinical Oral Investigations , 16, (5), 1499-1506

Objectives: Toothbrushing, though aimed at biofilm removal, also affects the lubricative function of adsorbed salivary conditioning films (SCFs). Different modes of brushing (manual, powered, rotary-oscillatory or sonically driven) influence the SCF in different ways. Our objectives were to compare boundary lubrication of SCFs after different modes of brushing and to explain their lubrication on the basis of their roughness, dehydrated layer thickness, and degree of glycosylation. A pilot study was performed to relate in vitro lubrication with mouthfeel in human volunteers. Materials and methods: Coefficient of friction (COF) on 16-h-old SCFs after manual, rotary-oscillatory, and sonically driven brushing was measured using colloidal probe atomic force microscopy (AFM). AFM was also used to assess the roughness of SCFs prior to and after brushing. Dehydrated layer thicknesses and glycosylation of the SCFs were determined using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Mouthfeel after manual and both modes of powered brushing were evaluated employing a split-mouth design. Results: Compared with unbrushed and manually or sonically driven brushed SCFs, powered rotary-oscillatory brushing leads to deglycosylation of the SCF, loss of thickness, and a rougher film. Concurrently, the COF of a powered rotary-oscillatory brushed SCF increased. Volunteers reported a slightly preferred mouthfeel after sonic brushing as compared to powered rotating-oscillating brushing. Conclusion: Deglycosylation and roughness increase the COF on SCFs. Clinical relevance: Powered rotary-oscillatory brushing can deglycosylate a SCF, leading to a rougher film surface as compared with manual and sonic brushing, decreasing the lubricative function of the SCF. This is consistent with clinical mouthfeel evaluation after different modes of brushing.

Keywords: AFM, Friction, Glycosylation, Salivary conditioning film, Toothbrushing, XPS


Solà, J., Fiz, J. A., Morera, J., Jané, R., (2012). Multiclass classification of subjects with sleep apnoea-hypopnoea syndrome through snoring analysis Medical Engineering and Physics , 34, (9), 1213-1220

The gold standard for diagnosing sleep apnoea-hypopnoea syndrome (SAHS) is polysomnography (PSG), an expensive, labour-intensive and time-consuming procedure. Accordingly, it would be very useful to have a screening method to allow early assessment of the severity of a subject, prior to his/her referral for PSG. Several differences have been reported between simple snorers and SAHS patients in the acoustic characteristics of snoring and its variability. In this paper, snores are fully characterised in the time domain, by their sound intensity and pitch, and in the frequency domain, by their formant frequencies and several shape and energy ratio measurements. We show that accurate multiclass classification of snoring subjects, with three levels of SAHS, can be achieved on the basis of acoustic analysis of snoring alone, without any requiring information on the duration or the number of apnoeas. Several classification methods are examined. The best of the approaches assessed is a Bayes model using a kernel density estimation method, although good results can also be obtained by a suitable combination of two binary logistic regression models. Multiclass snore-based classification allows early stratification of subjects according to their severity. This could be the basis of a single channel, snore-based screening procedure for SAHS.

Keywords: Bayes classifier, Kernel density estimation, Sleep apnoea, Snoring


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


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


Serra, T., Navarro, M., Planell, J. A., (2012). Fabrication and characterization of biodegradable composite scaffolds for tissue engineering Innovative Developments in Virtual and Physical Prototyping 5th International Conference on Advanced Research and Rapid Prototyping (ed. Margarida, T., Ferreira, D.), Taylor & Francis (Leiria, Portugal) VR@P, 67-72

In this study, polylactic acid (PLA) and polyethylene glycol (PEG) were combined with soluble CaP glass particles and processed by rapid prototyping to obtain fully biodegradable structures for Tissue Engineering applications. The obtained 3D biodegradable structures were characterized in terms of their architecture and mechanical properties. The scaffold morphology, internal micro-architecture and mechanical properties were evaluated using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and mechanical testing, respectively. Well defined structures with pore size of 350-400μm (in the axial view), struts width of approximately 70-80μm, and a porosity ranging between 60-65% were obtained. The combination RP and PLA/PEG/CaP glass turned into promising fully degradable, mechanically stable, bioactive and biocompatible composite scaffolds for TE.

Keywords: Axial view, Biodegradable composites, Composite scaffolds, Glass particles, Mechanically stable, Micro architectures, Micro computed tomography (micro-CT), Poly lactic acid, Scaffold morphology, Tissue engineering applications, Well-defined structures, Bioactive glass, Mechanical properties, Mechanical testing, Polyethylene glycols, Polymer blends, Rapid prototyping, Scaffolds (biology), Scanning electron microscopy, Computerized tomography


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


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


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, 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


Valle-Delgado, J. J., Molina-Bolívar, J. A., Galisteo-González, F., Gálvez-Ruiz, M. J., (2011). Evidence of hydration forces between proteins Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science , 16, (6), 572-578

Proteins are fundamental molecules in biology that are also involved in a wide range of industrial and biotechnological processes. Consequently, many works in the literature have been devoted to the study of protein-protein and protein-surface interactions in aqueous solutions. The results have been usually interpreted within the frame of the classical Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory for colloidal systems. However, against the DLVO predictions, striking evidence of repulsive forces between proteins at high salt concentrations has been observed in different works based on the analysis of the second virial coefficient or on the direct measurement of protein interaction with an atomic force microscope. Hydration forces due to the adsorption of hydrated cations onto the negatively charged protein surfaces have been invoked to rationalize this anomalous repulsion. The hydration forces between proteins provide protein-covered particles with a non-DLVO colloidal stability at high salt concentrations, as different studies in the literature has proven. This review summarizes the most relevant results published so far on the presence of hydration forces between proteins and protein-coated colloidal particles.

Keywords: Colloidal particles, Colloidal stability, Hydrated ions, Hydration forces, Proteins


Malandrino, Andrea, Noailly, Jerome, Lacroix, Damien, (2011). The effect of sustained compression on oxygen metabolic transport in the intervertebral disc decreases with degenerative changes PLoS Computational Biology Plos Computational Biology , 7, (8), 1-12

Intervertebral disc metabolic transport is essential to the functional spine and provides the cells with the nutrients necessary to tissue maintenance. Disc degenerative changes alter the tissue mechanics, but interactions between mechanical loading and disc transport are still an open issue. A poromechanical finite element model of the human disc was coupled with oxygen and lactate transport models. Deformations and fluid flow were linked to transport predictions by including strain-dependent diffusion and advection. The two solute transport models were also coupled to account for cell metabolism. With this approach, the relevance of metabolic and mechano-transport couplings were assessed in the healthy disc under loading-recovery daily compression. Disc height, cell density and material degenerative changes were parametrically simulated to study their influence on the calculated solute concentrations. The effects of load frequency and amplitude were also studied in the healthy disc by considering short periods of cyclic compression. Results indicate that external loads influence the oxygen and lactate regional distributions within the disc when large volume changes modify diffusion distances and diffusivities, especially when healthy disc properties are simulated. Advection was negligible under both sustained and cyclic compression. Simulating degeneration, mechanical changes inhibited the mechanical effect on transport while disc height, fluid content, nucleus pressure and overall cell density reductions affected significantly transport predictions. For the healthy disc, nutrient concentration patterns depended mostly on the time of sustained compression and recovery. The relevant effect of cell density on the metabolic transport indicates the disturbance of cell number as a possible onset for disc degeneration via alteration of the metabolic balance. Results also suggest that healthy disc properties have a positive effect of loading on metabolic transport. Such relation, relevant to the maintenance of the tissue functional composition, would therefore link disc function with disc nutrition.

Keywords: Bovine nucleus pulposus, Human anulus fibrosus, Finite-element, Fluid-flow, Hydraulic permeability, Confined compression, Coupled diffusion, Solute transport, Water-content, Lumbar spine


Gugutkov, Dencho, Gonzalez-Garcia, Cristina, Altankov, George, Salmeron-Sanchez, Manuel, (2011). Fibrinogen organization at the cell-material interface directs endothelial cell behavior Journal of Bioactive and Compatible Polymers , 26, (4), 375-387

Fibrinogen (FG) adsorption on surfaces with controlled fraction of -OH groups was investigated with AFM and correlated to the initial interaction of primary endothelial cells (HUVEC). The -OH content was tailored making use of a family of copolymers consisting of ethyl acrylate (EA) and hydroxyl ethyl acrylate (HEA) in different ratios. The supramolecular distribution of FG changed from an organized network-like structure on the most hydrophobic surface (-OH(0)) to dispersed molecular aggregate one as the fraction of -OH groups increases, indicating a different conformation by the adsorbed protein. The best cellular interaction was observed on the most hydrophobic (-OH(0)) surface where FG assembled in a fibrin-like appearance in the absence of any thrombin. Likewise, focal adhesion formation and actin cytoskeleton development was poorer as the fraction of hydroxy groups on the surface was increased. The biological activity of the surface-induced FG network to provide 3D cues in a potential tissue engineered scaffold, making use of electrospun PEA fibers (-OH(0)), seeded with human umbilical vein endothelial cells was investigated. The FG assembled on the polymer fibers gave rise to a biologically active network able to direct cell orientation along the fibers (random or aligned), promote cytoskeleton organization and focal adhesion formation.

Keywords: Fibrinogen, Cell-material interactions, HUVEC, Electrospun fibers, Fibrinogen organization, Cell-material interface, Endothelial cell behavior, Ethyl acrylate, Hydroxyl ethyl acrylate


Byrne, Damien P., Lacroix, Damien, Prendergast, Patrick J., (2011). Simulation of fracture healing in the tibia: Mechanoregulation of cell activity using a lattice modeling approach Journal of Orthopaedic Research , 29, (10), 1496-1503

In this study, a three-dimensional (3D) computational simulation of bone regeneration was performed in a human tibia under realistic muscle loading. The simulation was achieved using a discrete lattice modeling approach combined with a mechanoregulation algorithm to describe the cellular processes involved in the healing process namely proliferation, migration, apoptosis, and differentiation of cells. The main phases of fracture healing were predicted by the simulation, including the bone resorption phase, and there was a qualitative agreement between the temporal changes in interfragmentary strain and bending stiffness by comparison to experimental data and clinical results. Bone healing was simulated beyond the reparative phase by modeling the transition of woven bone into lamellar bone. Because the simulation has been shown to work with realistic anatomical 3D geometry and muscle loading, it demonstrates the potential of simulation tools for patient-specific pre-operative treatment planning.

Keywords: Tissue differentiation, Computational analysis, Mechanical conditions, Bone regeneration, Weight-bearing, Proliferation, Osteoblast, Stiffness, Ingrowth, Scaffold


Lacroix, Damien, Ramirez Patino, Juan Fernando, (2011). Finite Element Analysis of Donning Procedure of a Prosthetic Transfemoral Socket Annals of Biomedical Engineering , 39, (12), 2972-2983

Lower limb amputation is a severe psychological and physical event in a patient. A prosthetic solution can be provided but should respond to a patient-specific need to accommodate for the geometrical and biomechanical specificities. A new approach to calculate the stress-strain state at the interaction between the socket and the stump of five transfemoral amputees is presented. In this study the socket donning procedure is modeled using an explicit finite element method based on the patient-specific geometry obtained from CT and laser scan data. Over stumps the mean maximum pressure is 4 kPa (SD 1.7) and the mean maximum shear stresses are 1.4 kPa (SD 0.6) and 0.6 kPa (SD 0.3) in longitudinal and circumferential directions, respectively. Locations of the maximum values are according to pressure zones at the sockets. The stress-strain states obtained in this study can be considered more reliable than others, since there are normal and tangential stresses associated to the socket donning procedure.

Keywords: Trans-tibial prosthesis, Knee residual limb, Pressure distribution, Transtibial amputees, Stump/socket interface, Mechanical conditions, Load-transfer, Soft-tissues, Stresses, Contact


Roa, J. J., Oncins, G., Diaz, J., Capdevila, X. G., Sanz, F., Segarra, M., (2011). Study of the friction, adhesion and mechanical properties of single crystals, ceramics and ceramic coatings by AFM Journal of the European Ceramic Society , 31, (4), 429-449

This paper reviews commonly used methods of analyzing and interpreting friction, adhesion and nanoindentation with an AFM tip test data, with a particular emphasis of the testing of single crystals, metals, ceramics and ceramic coatings. Experimental results are reported on the friction, mechanical and adhesion properties of these materials. The popularity of AFM testing is evidenced by the large quantity of papers that report such measurements in the last decade. Unfortunately, a lot of information about these topics is scare in the literature. The present paper is aimed to present the basic physical modelling employed and also some examples using each technique.

Keywords: Mechanical properties, Plasticity, Biomedical applications, Engine components


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


Ziyatdinov, Andrey, Fernandez-Diaz, Eduard, Chaudry, A., Marco, Santiago, Persaud, Krishna, Perera, Alexandre, (2011). A large scale virtual gas sensor array Olfaction and Electronic Nose: Proceedings of the 14th International Symposium on Olfaction and Electronic Nose AIP Conference Proceedings (ed. Perena Gouma, SUNY Stony Brook), AIP (New York City, USA) 1362, (1), 151-152

This paper depicts a virtual sensor array that allows the user to generate gas sensor synthetic data while controlling a wide variety of the characteristics of the sensor array response: arbitrary number of sensors, support for multi-component gas mixtures and full control of the noise in the system such as sensor drift or sensor aging. The artificial sensor array response is inspired on the response of 17 polymeric sensors for three analytes during 7 month. The main trends in the synthetic gas sensor array, such as sensitivity, diversity, drift and sensor noise, are user controlled. Sensor sensitivity is modeled by an optionally linear or nonlinear method (spline based). The toolbox on data generation is implemented in open source R language for statistical computing and can be freely accessed as an educational resource or benchmarking reference. The software package permits the design of scenarios with a very large number of sensors (over 10000 sensels), which are employed in the test and benchmarking of neuromorphic models in the Bio-ICT European project NEUROCHEM.

Keywords: Data analysis, Circuit noise, Data acquisition, Signal processing


Gutierrez-Galvez, Agustin, Fernandez, Luis, Marco, Santiago, (2011). Study of sensory diversity and redundancy to encode for chemical mixtures Olfaction and Electronic Nose: Proceedings of the 14th International Symposium on Olfaction and Electronic Nose AIP Conference Proceedings (ed. Perena Gouma, SUNY Stony Brook), AIP (New York City, USA) 1362, (1), 147-148

Inspired by sensory diversity and redundancy at the olfactory epithelium, we have built a large chemical sensor array based on commercial MOX sensors. Different sensor families along with temperature modulation accounts for sensory diversity, whereas sensors of the same family combined with different load resistors provide redundancy to the system. To study the encoding of odor mixtures, a data collection consisting on the response of the array to 3 binary mixtures of ethanol, acetone, and butanone with 18 different concentration ratios is obtained.

Keywords: Chemioception, Sensors, Data acquisition, Temperature measurement


Garcia-Manyes, S., Redondo-Morata, L., Oncins, G., Sanz, F., (2010). Nanomechanics of lipid bilayers: Heads or tails? Journal of the American Chemical Society American Chemical Society 132, (37), 12874-12886

Understanding the effect of mechanical stress on membranes is of primary importance in biophysics. Here we use force spectroscopy AFM to quantitatively characterize the nanomechanical stability of supported lipid bilayers as a function of their chemical composition. The onset of plastic deformation reveals itself as a repetitive jump in the approaching force curve, which represents a molecular fingerprint for the bilayer mechanical stability. By systematically probing a set of chemically distinct supported lipid bilayers (SLBs), we first show that both the headgroup and tail have a decisive effect on their mechanical properties. While the mechanical stability of the probed SLBs linearly increases by 3.3 nN upon the introduction of each additional -CH2- in the chain, it exhibits a significant dependence on the phospholipid headgroup, ranging from 3 nN for DPPA to 66 nN for DPPG. Furthermore, we also quantify the reduction of the membrane mechanical stability as a function of the number of unsaturations and molecular branching in the chemical structure of the apolar tails. Finally, we demonstrate that, upon introduction of cholesterol and ergosterol, contrary to previous belief the mechanical stability of membranes not only increases linearly in the liquid phase (DLPC) but also for phospholipids present in the gel phase (DPPC). Our results are discussed in the framework of the continuum nucleation model. This work highlights the compelling effect of subtle variations in the chemical structure of phospholipid molecules on the membrane response when exposed to mechanical forces, a mechanism of common occurrence in nature.

Keywords: Atomic-force microscopy, Molecular-dynamics simulation, Aqueous-electrolyte solutions, Supported planar membranes, Phospholipid-bilayers, Biological-membranes, Physical-properties, Fluid membranes, Model membranes, Chain-length


Valente, T., Gella, A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Unzeta, M., Durany, N., (2010). Immunohistochemical analysis of human brain suggests pathological synergism of Alzheimer's disease and diabetes mellitus Neurobiology of Disease , 37, (1), 67-76

It has been extensively reported that diabetes mellitus (DM) patients have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). but a mechanistic connection between both pathologies has not been provided so far Carbohydrate-derived advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) have been implicated in the chronic complications of DM and have been reported to play an important role in the pathogenesis of AD. The earliest histopathological manifestation of AD is the apparition of extracellular aggregates of the amyloid beta peptide (A beta). To investigate possible correlations between AGEs and A beta aggregates with both pathologies. we have performed an immuhistochemical study in human post-mortem samples of AD, AD with diabetes (ADD). diabetic and nondemented controls ADD brains showed increased number of A beta dense plaques and receptor for AGEs (RACE)-positive and Tau-positive cells, higher AGEs levels and major microglial activation, compared to AD brain. Our results indicate that ADD patients present a significant increase of cell damage through a RAGE-dependent mechanism, suggesting that AGEs may promote the generation of an oxidative stress vicious cycle, which can explain the severe progression of patients with both pathologies.

Keywords: Abeta, Alzheimer's disease, Rage, Ages, Diabetes, Immunohistochemistry, Advanced glycation endproducts, Beta-amyloid peptide, End-products, Oxidative stress, Advanced glycosylation, Synaptic dysfunction, Cross-linking


Estevez, M., Fernandez-Ulibarri, I., Martinez, E., Egea, G., Samitier, J., (2010). Changes in the internal organization of the cell by microstructured substrates Soft Matter , 6, (3), 582-590

Surface features at the micro and nanometre scale have been shown to influence and even determine cell behaviour and cytoskeleton organization through direct mechanotransductive pathways. Much less is known about the function and internal distribution of organelles of cells grown on topographically modified surfaces. In this study, the nanoimprint lithography technique was used to manufacture poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) sheets with a variety of features in the micrometre size range. Normal rat kidney (NRK) fibroblasts were cultured on these substrates and immunofluorescence staining assays were performed to visualize cell adhesion, the organization of the cytoskeleton and the morphology and subcellular positioning of the Golgi complex. The results show that different topographic features at the micrometric scale induce different rearrangements of the cell cytoskeleton, which in turn alter the positioning and morphology of the Golgi complex. Microposts and microholes alter the mechanical stability of the Golgi complex by modifying the actin cytoskeleton organization leading to the compaction of the organelle. These findings prove that physically modified surfaces are a valuable tool with which to study the dynamics of cell cytoskeleton organization and its subsequent repercussion on internal cell organization and associated function.

Keywords: Actin stress fibers, Golgi-complex, Focal adhesions, Cytoskeletal organization, Osteoblast adhesion, Mammalian-cells, Micron-scale, Nanoscale, Dynamics, Rho


Toromanov, Georgi, González-García, Cristina, Altankov, George, Salmerón-Sánchez, Manuel, (2010). Vitronectin activity on polymer substrates with controlled -OH density Polymer , 51, (11), 2329-2336

Vitronectin (VN) adsorption on a family of model substrates consisting of copolymers of ethyl acrylate and hydroxyl ethylacrylate in different ratios (to obtain a controlled surface density of -OH groups) was investigated by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). It is shown that the fraction of the substrate covered by the protein depends strongly on the amount of hydroxyl groups in the sample and it monotonically decreases as the -OH density increases. Isolated globular-like VN molecules are observed on the surfaces with the higher OH density. As the fraction of hydroxyl groups decreases, aggregates of 3-5 VN molecules are observed on the sample. Overall cell morphology, focal adhesion formation and actin cytoskeleton development are investigated to assess the biological activity of the adsorbed VN on the different surfaces. Dermal fibroblast cells show excellent material interaction on the more hydrophobic samples (OH contents lower than 0.5), which reveals enhanced VN activity on this family of substrates as compared with other extracellular matrix proteins (e.g., fibronectin and fibrinogen).

Keywords: Copolymers, Vitronectin, AFM, Self-assembled monolayers, Cell-adhesion, Thermal transitions, Protein adsorption, Surfaces, Fibronectin, Biomaterials, Attachment, Fibrinogen


Rajzer, I., Castano, O., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., (2010). Injectable and fast resorbable calcium phosphate cement for body-setting bone grafts Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine , 21, (7), 2049-2056

In this work a calcium phosphate (CPC)/polymer blend was developed with the advantage of being moldable and capable of in situ setting to form calcium deficient hydroxyapatite under physiological conditions in an aqueous environment at body temperature. The CPC paste consists in a mix of R cement, glycerol as a liquid phase carrier and a biodegradable hydrogel such as Polyvinyl alcohol, which acts as a binder. Microstructure and mechanical analysis shows that the CPC blend can be used as an injectable implant for low loaded applications and fast adsorption requirements. The storage for commercial distribution was also evaluated and the properties of the materials obtained do not significantly change during storage at -18A degrees C.

Keywords: Clinical-applications, Composites, Regeneration, Behavior, Scaffold, Repair


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


Fiz, J. A., Jané, R., Solà, J., Abad, J., Garcia, M. A., Morera, J., (2010). Continuous analysis and monitoring of snores and their relationship to the apnea-hypopnea index Laryngoscope , 120, (4), 854-862

Objectives/Hypothesis: We used a new automatic snoring detection and analysis system to monitor snoring during full-night polysomnography to assess whether the acoustic characteristics of snores differ in relation to the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) and to classify subjects according to their AHI Study Design: Individual Case-Control Study. Methods: Thirty-seven snorers (12 females and 25 males, ages 40-65 years; body mass index (BMI), 29.65 +/- 4.7 kg/m(2)) participated Subjects were divided into three groups: G1 (AHI <5), G2 (AHI >= 5, <15) and G3 (AHI >= 15) Snore and breathing sounds were : recorded with a tracheal microphone throughout 6 hours of nighttime polysomnography The snoring episodes identified were automatically and continuously analyzed with a previously trained 2-layer feed-forward neural network. Snore number, average intensity, and power spectral density parameters were computed for every subject and compared among AHI groups. Subjects were classified using different AHI thresholds by means of a logistic regression model. Results: There were significant differences in supine position between G1 and G3 in sound intensity, number of snores; standard deviation of the spectrum, power ratio in bands 0-500, 100-500, and 0-800 Hz, and the symmetry coefficient (P < .03); Patients were classified with thresholds AHI = 5 and AHI = 15 with a sensitivity (specificity) of 87% (71%) and 80% (90%), respectively. Conclusions: A new system for automatic monitoring and analysis of snores during the night is presented. Sound intensity and several snore frequency parameters allow differentiation of snorers according to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome severity (OSAS). Automatic snore intensity and frequency monitoring and analysis could be a promising tool for screening OSAS patients, significantly improving the managing of this pathology.

Keywords: Breathing sounds, Signal interpretation, Sleep apnea syndromes, Snoring


Caballero, D., Villanueva, G., Plaza, J. A., Mills, C. A., Samitier, J., Errachid, A., (2010). Sharp high-aspect-ratio AFM tips fabricated by a combination of deep reactive ion etching and focused ion beam techniques Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology , 10, (1), 497-501

The shape and dimensions of an atomic force microscope tip are crucial factors to obtain high resolution images at the nanoscale. When measuring samples with narrow trenches, inclined sidewalls near 90 or nanoscaled structures, standard silicon atomic force microscopy (AFM) tips do not provide satisfactory results. We have combined deep reactive ion etching (DRIE) and focused ion beam (FIB) lithography techniques in order to produce probes with sharp rocket-shaped silicon AFM tips for high resolution imaging. The cantilevers were shaped and the bulk micromachining was performed using the same DRIE equipment. To improve the tip aspect ratio we used FIB nanolithography technique. The tips were tested on narrow silicon trenches and over biological samples showing a better resolution when compared with standard AFM tips, which enables nanocharacterization and nanometrology of high-aspect-ratio structures and nanoscaled biological elements to be completed, and provides an alternative to commercial high aspect ratio AFM tips.

Keywords: Atomic-Force Microscope, Carbon nanotube tips, Probes, Roughness, Cells, Microfabrication, Calibration, Surfaces


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


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


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


Casamitjana, M., Pérez, M. C., Aranda, J., Montseny, E., Martin, E. X., (2010). Reliable 3D reconstruction extending pixel-level certainty measures IEEE International Conference on Fuzzy 2010 IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence , IEEE (Barcelona, Spain) , 1-7

A new method for obtaining a three-dimensional volumetric reconstruction from a set of views improving the classical Shape from Silhouette method (SFS) is presented. SFS approaches can be easily accelerated through hardware and software techniques but they are very sensible to errors arising during calibration and segmentation processes so they present difficulties when dealing with real images. This paper proposes a new algorithm which uses the information about pixel segmentation uncertainty contained in each view in order to get a reliable 3D reconstruction of the scene. Aggregation of the projected uncertainties permits to classify scene's voxels by means of a decision rule but also makes it possible to create a three-dimensional confidence map of the scene. As a consequence, the regions where more information is needed can be foreseen. Sample reconstructions from real image sets are presented and evaluated.

Keywords: Calibration, Image classification, Image reconstruction, Image segmentation, 3D reconstruction, Calibration process, Decision rule, Hardware technique, Pixel segmentation, Pixel-level certainty measures, Scene voxel classification, Segmentation process, Shape from silhouette method, Software technique, Three-dimensional confidence map, Three-dimensional volumetric reconstruction


Andonovski, B., Ponsa, P., Casals, A., (2010). Towards the development of a haptics guideline in human-robot systems 3rd International Conference on Human System Interactions (HSI) 3rd International Conference on Human System Interactions (HSI) (ed. Pardela, T.), IEEE (Rzeszow, Poland) , 380-387

The main goal of this work is to propose a haptics guideline in human-robot systems focused on the relationship between the human and robot task, the use of a physical interface and the object to manipulate. With this aim, this guideline presents two main parts: a set of heuristic indicators and a qualitative evaluation. In order to assess its ergonomic validation, an application over a well known haptics interface is presented. The final goal of this work is the study of possible applications in regular laboratory conditions in order to improve the design and use of human-robot haptic interfaces in telerobotics applications.

Keywords: Haptic interface design, Human-robot interaction, Surgical applications, Teleoperation


Trepat, X., Wasserman, M. R., Angelini, T. E., Millet, E., Weitz, D. A., Butler, J. P., Fredberg, J. J., (2009). Physical forces during collective cell migration Nature Physics 5, (6), 426-430

Fundamental biological processes including morphogenesis, tissue repair and tumour metastasis require collective cell motions(1-3), and to drive these motions cells exert traction forces on their surroundings(4). Current understanding emphasizes that these traction forces arise mainly in 'leader cells' at the front edge of the advancing cell sheet(5-9). Our data are contrary to that assumption and show for the first time by direct measurement that traction forces driving collective cell migration arise predominately many cell rows behind the leading front edge and extend across enormous distances. Traction fluctuations are anomalous, moreover, exhibiting broad non-Gaussian distributions characterized by exponential tails(10-12). Taken together, these unexpected findings demonstrate that although the leader cell may have a pivotal role in local cell guidance, physical forces that it generates are but a small part of a global tug-of-war involving cells well back from the leading edge.

Keywords: Focal adhesions, Granular matter, Bead packs, Morphogenesis, Sheets, Actin, Fluctuations, Fibroblasts, Microscopy, Diversity


Zhou, E. H., Trepat, X., Park, C. Y., Lenormand, G., Oliver, M. N., Mijailovich, S. M., Hardin, C., Weitz, D. A., Butler, J. P., Fredberg, J. J., (2009). Universal behavior of the osmotically compressed cell and its analogy to the colloidal glass transition Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106, (26), 10632-10637

Mechanical robustness of the cell under different modes of stress and deformation is essential to its survival and function. Under tension, mechanical rigidity is provided by the cytoskeletal network; with increasing stress, this network stiffens, providing increased resistance to deformation. However, a cell must also resist compression, which will inevitably occur whenever cell volume is decreased during such biologically important processes as anhydrobiosis and apoptosis. Under compression, individual filaments can buckle, thereby reducing the stiffness and weakening the cytoskeletal network. However, the intracellular space is crowded with macromolecules and organelles that can resist compression. A simple picture describing their behavior is that of colloidal particles; colloids exhibit a sharp increase in viscosity with increasing volume fraction, ultimately undergoing a glass transition and becoming a solid. We investigate the consequences of these 2 competing effects and show that as a cell is compressed by hyperosmotic stress it becomes progressively more rigid. Although this stiffening behavior depends somewhat on cell type, starting conditions, molecular motors, and cytoskeletal contributions, its dependence on solid volume fraction is exponential in every instance. This universal behavior suggests that compression-induced weakening of the network is overwhelmed by crowding-induced stiffening of the cytoplasm. We also show that compression dramatically slows intracellular relaxation processes. The increase in stiffness, combined with the slowing of relaxation processes, is reminiscent of a glass transition of colloidal suspensions, but only when comprised of deformable particles. Our work provides a means to probe the physical nature of the cytoplasm under compression, and leads to results that are universal across cell type.

Keywords: Compression, Cytoplasm, Cytoskeleton, Mechanotransduction, Stiffness


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


Hosta, L., Pla, M., Arbiol, J., Lopez-Iglesias, C., Samitier, J., Cruz, L. J., Kogan, M. J., Albericio, F., (2009). Conjugation of Kahalalide F with gold nanoparticles to enhance in vitro antitumoral activity Bioconjugate Chemistry , 20, (1), 138-146

Two Cys-containing analogues of the anticancer drug Kahalalide F are synthesized and conjugated to 20 and 40 nm gold nanoparticles (GNPs). The resulting complexes are characterized by different analytical techniques to confirm the attachment of peptide to the GNPs. The self-assembly capacity of a peptide dramatically influences the final ratio number of molecules per nanoparticle, saturating the nanoparticle surface and prompting multilayered capping on the surface. In such way, the nanoparticle could act as a concentrator for the delivery of drugs, thereby increasing bioactivity. The GNP sizes and the conjugation have influence on the biological activities. Kahalalide F analogues conjugated with GNPs are located subcellularly at lysosome-like bodies, which may be related to the action mechanism of Kahalalide F. The results suggest that the selective delivery and activity of Kahalalide F analogues can be improved by conjugating the peptides to GNPs.

Keywords: Electrical detection, Cellular uptake, Drug-delivery, Cancer-cells, Peptide, Size, Surface, Absorption, Scattering, Therapy


Gugutkov, Dencho, Gonzalez-Garcia, Cristina, Rodriguez Hernandez, Jose Carlos, Altankov, George, Salmeron-Sanchez, Manuel, (2009). Biological activity of the substrate-induced fibronectin network: insight into the third dimension through electrospun fibers Langmuir , 25, (18), 10893-10900

Fibronectin (FN) fibrillogenesis is a cell-mediated process involving integrin activation that results in conformational changes of FN molecules and the organization of actin cytoskeleton. A similar process can be induced by some chemistries in the absence of cells, e.g., poly(ethyl acrylate) (PEA), which enhance FN-FN interactions leading to the formation of a biologically active network. Atomic force microscopy images of single FN molecules, at the early stages of adsorption on plane PEA, allow one to rationalize the process. Further, the role of the spatial organization of the FN network on the cellular response is investigated through its adsorption on electrospun fibers. Randomly oriented and aligned PEA fibers were prepared to mimic the three-dimensional organization of the extracellular matrix. The formation of the FN network on the PEA fibers but not on the supporting coverglass was confirmed. Fibroblasts aligned with oriented fibers, displayed extended morphology, developed linearly organized focal adhesion complexes, and matured actin filaments. Conversely, on random PEA fibers, cells acquired polygonal morphology with altered actin cytoskeleton but well-developed focal adhesions. Late FN matrix formation was also influenced: spatially organized FN matrix fibrils along the oriented PEA fibers and an altered arrangement on random ones.

Keywords: AFM, Cell-adhesion, Dependent conformations, Hydrophobic surfaces, Extracellular-matrix, Bound fibronectin, Polymer surfaces, Integrin binding, Biocompatibility, Adsorption


Lundin, Daniel, Torrents, Eduard, Poole, Anthony, Sjoberg, Britt-Marie, (2009). RNRdb, a curated database of the universal enzyme family ribonucleotide reductase, reveals a high level of misannotation in sequences deposited to Genbank BMC Genomics , 10, (1), 589

BACKGROUND:Ribonucleotide reductases (RNRs) catalyse the only known de novo pathway for deoxyribonucleotide synthesis, and are therefore essential to DNA-based life. While ribonucleotide reduction has a single evolutionary origin, significant differences between RNRs nevertheless exist, notably in cofactor requirements, subunit composition and allosteric regulation. These differences result in distinct operational constraints (anaerobicity, iron/oxygen dependence and cobalamin dependence), and form the basis for the classification of RNRs into three classes.DESCRIPTION:In RNRdb (Ribonucleotide Reductase database), we have collated and curated all known RNR protein sequences with the aim of providing a resource for exploration of RNR diversity and distribution. By comparing expert manual annotations with annotations stored in Genbank, we find that significant inaccuracies exist in larger databases. To our surprise, only 23% of protein sequences included in RNRdb are correctly annotated across the key attributes of class, role and function, with 17% being incorrectly annotated across all three categories. This illustrates the utility of specialist databases for applications where a high degree of annotation accuracy may be important. The database houses information on annotation, distribution and diversity of RNRs, and links to solved RNR structures, and can be searched through a BLAST interface. RNRdb is accessible through a public web interface at http://rnrdb.molbio.su.se.CONCLUSION:RNRdb is a specialist database that provides a reliable annotation and classification resource for RNR proteins, as well as a tool to explore distribution patterns of RNR classes. The recent expansion in available genome sequence data have provided us with a picture of RNR distribution that is more complex than believed only a few years ago; our database indicates that RNRs of all three classes are found across all three cellular domains. Moreover, we find a number of organisms that encode all three classes.

Keywords: Enzymology (Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics), Computer Applications (Computational Biology)


Gimenez-Oya, V., Villacanas, O., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Rubio-Martinez, J., Imperial, S., (2009). Mimicking direct protein-protein and solvent-mediated interactions in the CDP-methylerythritol kinase homodimer: a pharmacophore-directed virtual screening approach Journal of Molecular Modeling , 15, (8), 997-1007

The 2C-methylerythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway for the biosynthesis of isopentenyl pyrophosphate and its isomer dimethylallyl pyrophosphate, which are the precursors of isoprenoids, is present in plants, in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and in most eubacteria, including pathogenic agents. However, the MEP pathway is absent from fungi and animals, which have exclusively the mevalonic acid pathway. Given the characteristics of the MEP pathway, its enzymes represent potential targets for the generation of selective antibacterial, antimalarial and herbicidal molecules. We have focussed on the enzyme 4-(cytidine 5'-diphospho)-2-C-methyl-D: -erythritol kinase (CMK), which catalyses the fourth reaction step of the MEP pathway. A molecular dynamics simulation was carried out on the CMK dimer complex, and protein-protein interactions analysed, considering also water-mediated interactions between monomers. In order to find small molecules that bind to CMK and disrupt dimer formation, interactions observed in the dynamics trajectory were used to model a pharmacophore used in database searches. Using an intensity-fading matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry approach, one compound was found to interact with CMK. The data presented here indicate that a virtual screening approach can be used to identify candidate molecules that disrupt the CMK-CMK complex. This strategy can contribute to speeding up the discovery of new antimalarial, antibacterial, and herbicidal compounds.

Keywords: Solvent-mediated interactions, Protein-protein interactions, Molecular dynamics, Drug design, Intensisty-fading MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry


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


Merolli, A., Rocchi, L., Catalano, F., Planell, J., Engel, E., Martinez, E., Sbernardori, M. C., Marceddu, S., Leali, P. T., (2009). In vivo regeneration of rat sciatic nerve in a double-halved stitch-less guide: a pilot-study Microsurgery , 29, (4), 310-318

It is about 20 years that tubular nerve guides have been introduced into clinical practice as a reliable alternative to autograft, in gaps not-longer-than 20 mm, bringing the advantage of avoiding donor site sacrifice and morbidity. There are limitations in the application of tubular guides. First, tubular structure in itself makes surgical implantation difficult; second, stitch sutures required to secure the guide may represent a site of unfavorable fibroblastic reaction; third, maximum length and diameter of the guide correlate with the occurrence of a poorer central vascularization of regenerated nerve. We report on the in vivo testing of a new concept of nerve-guide (named NeuroBox) which is double-halved, not-degradable, rigid, and does not require any stitch to be held in place, employing acrylate glue instead. Five male Wistar rats had the new guide implanted in a 4-mm sciatic nerve defect; two guides incorporated a surface constituted of microtrenches aligned longitudinally. Further five rats had the 4-mm gap left without repair. Contralateral intact nerves were used as controls. After 2 months, nerve regeneration occurred in all animals treated by the NeuroBox; fine blood vessels were well represented. There was no regeneration in the un-treated animals. Even if the limited number of animals does not allow to draw definitive conclusions, some result can be highlighted: an easy surgical technique was associated with the box-shaped guide and acrylate glue was easily applied; an adequate intraneural vascularization was found concurrently with the regeneration of the nerve and no adverse fibroblastic proliferation was present.

Keywords: Peripheral-nerve, Polyglycolic acid, Guidance cues, Collagen tube, Median nerve, Repair, Growth, Cyanoacrylate, Complications, Anastomosis


Casals, A., Frigola, M., Amat, J., (2009). Robotics, a valuable tool in surgery Revista Iberoamericana de Automatica e Informatica Industrial , 6, (1), 5-19

Continuous advances on diagnostic techniques based on medical images, as well as the incorporation of new techniques in surgical instruments are progressively changing the new surgical procedures. Also, new minimally invasive techniques, which are currently highly consolidated, have produced significant advances, both from the technological and from the surgical treatment perspectives. The limitations that the manual realization of surgical interventions implies, in what refers to precision and accessibility, can be tackled with the help of robotics. In the same way, sensor based robot control techniques are opening new possibilities for the introduction of more improvements in these procedures, either relying on teleoperation, in which the surgeon and the robot establish their best synergy to get the optimal results, or by means of the automation of some specific actions or tasks. In this article the effect of robotics in the evolution of surgical techniques is described. Starting with a review of the robotics application fields, the article continues analyzing the methods and technologies involved in the process of robotizing surgical procedures, as well as the surgeon-robot interaction systems.

Keywords: Robotics, Medical Applications, Teleoperation, Biomedical Systems, Computer Aided Surgery, Human-Machine Interaction


Montoliu, I., Pomareda, V., Kalms, A., Pardo, A., Gobel, J., Kessler, M., Muller, G., Marco, S., (2009). Resolution of ion mobility spectra for the detection of hazardous substances in real sampling conditions 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, 576-578

This work presents the possibilities offered by a blind source separation method such Multivariate Curve Resolution- Alternating Least Squares (MCR-ALS) in the analysis of Ion Mobility Spectra (IMS). Two security applications are analyzed in this context: the detection of TNT both in synthetic and real samples. Results obtained show the possibilities offered by the direct analysis of the drift time spectra when an appropriate resolution method is used.

Keywords: Ion Mobility Spectrometry, Multivariate Curve Resolution, Security, LIMS, MCR-ALS


Planell, J. A., Navarro, M., (2009). Challenges in bone repair Bone repair biomaterials (ed. Planell, J. A., Lacroix, D., Best, S., Merolli, A.), Woodhead (Cambridge, UK) , 3-24

A fundamental aspect of the rapidly expanding medical care sector, bone repair continues to benefit from emerging technological developments. This text provides researchers and students with a comprehensive review of the materials science and engineering principles behind these developments. The first part reviews the fundamentals of bone repair and regeneration. Further chapters discuss the science and properties of biomaterials used in bone repair, including both metals and biocomposites. Final chapters analyze device considerations such as implant lifetime and failure, and discuss potential applications, as well as the ethical issues that continually confront researchers and clinicians.

Keywords: Social impact of musculoskeletal disease, Economic burden of musculoskeletal disease, Social aspects of dental and maxillofacial conditions, Some clinical challenges of bone repair, Conclusions and future trends, Sources of further information and advice


Gutierrez, A., Marco, S., (2009). Biologically inspired signal processing for chemical sensing Studies in Computational Intelligence GOSPEL Workshop on Bio-inspired Signal Processing (ed. Gutierrez, A., Marco, S.), Springer (Barcelona, Spain) -----, (188), -----

This 167-page book is volume 188 in the series 'Studies in computational intelligence.' This volume contain 9 extensive chapters written in English. This volume presents a collection of research advances in biologically inspired signal processing for chemical sensing. The olfactory system, and the gustatory system to a minor extent, has been taken in the last decades as a source of inspiration to develop artificial sensing systems. The recognition of odors by the olfactory system entails a number of signal processing functions such as preprocessing, dimensionality reduction, contrast enhancement, and classification. Using mathematical models to mimic the architecture of the olfactory system, these processing functions can be applied to chemical sensor signals. This book provides background on the olfactory system including a review on information processing in the insect olfactory system along with a proposed signal processing architecture based on the mammalian cortex. It also provides some bio-inspired approaches to process chemical sensor signals such as an olfactory mucosa to improve odor separation and a model of olfactory receptor neuron convergence to correlated sensor responses to an odor and his organoleptic properties. This book will useful to those working or studying in the areas of sensory reception and computational biology.

Keywords: Nervous System (Neural Coordination), Computer Applications (Computational Biology), Sense Organs (Sensory Reception)


Olmedo, Ivonne, Araya, Eyleen, Sanz, Fausto, Medina, Elias, Arbiol, Jordi, Toledo, Pedro, Àlvarez-Lueje, Alejandro, Giralt, Ernest, Kogan, Marcelo J., (2008). How changes in the sequence of the peptide CLPFFD-NH2 can modify the conjugation and stability of gold nanoparticles and their affinity for beta-amyloid fibrils Bioconjugate Chemistry , 19, (6), 1154-1163

In a previous work, we studied the interaction of β-amyloid fibrils (Aβ) with gold nanoparticles (AuNP) conjugated with the peptide CLPFFD-NH2. Here, we studied the effect of changing the residue sequence of the peptide CLPFFD-NH2 on the efficiency of conjugation to AuNP, the stability of the conjugates, and the affinity of the conjugates to the Aβ fibrils. We conjugated the AuNP with CLPFFD-NH2 isomeric peptides (CDLPFF-NH2 and CLPDFF-NH2) and characterized the resulting conjugates with different techniques including UV−Vis, TEM, EELS, XPS, analysis of amino acids, agarose gel electrophoresis, and CD. In addition, we determined the proportion of AuNP bonded to the Aβ fibrils by ICP-MS. AuNP-CLPFFD-NH2 was the most stable of the conjugates and presented more affinity for Aβ fibrils with respect to the other conjugates and bare AuNP. These findings help to better understand the way peptide sequences affect conjugation and stability of AuNP and their interaction with Aβ fibrils. The peptide sequence, the steric effects, and the charge and disposition of hydrophilic and hydrophobic residues are crucial parameters when considering the design of AuNP peptide conjugates for biomedical applications.

Keywords: Self-assembled monolayers, Aggregation, Dispersions, Adsorption, Particles, Design, Size


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


Sanzana, E. S., Navarro, M., Macule, F., Suso, S., Planell, J. A., Ginebra, M. P., (2008). Of the in vivo behavior of calcium phosphate cements and glasses as bone substitutes Acta Biomaterialia 4, (6), 1924-1933

The use of injectable self-setting calcium phosphate cements or soluble glass granules represent two different strategies for bone regeneration, each with distinct advantages and potential applications. This study compares the in vivo behavior of two calcium phosphate cements and two phosphate glasses with different composition, microstructure and solubility, using autologous bone as a control, in a rabbit model. The implanted materials were alpha-tricalcium phosphate cement (cement H), calcium sodium potassium phosphate cement (cement R), and two phosphate glasses in the P2O5-CaO-Na2O and P2O5-CaO-Na2O-TiO2 systems. The four materials were osteoconductive, biocompatible and biodegradable. Radiological and histological studies demonstrated correct osteointegration and substitution of the implants by new bone. The reactivity of the different materials, which depends on their solubility, porosity and specific surface area, affected the resorption rate and bone formation mainly during the early stages of implantation, although this effect was weak. Thus, at 4 weeks the degradation was slightly higher in cements than in glasses, especially for cement R. However, after 12 weeks of implantation all materials showed a similar degradation degree and promoted bone neoformation equivalent to that of the control group.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Calcium phosphate cements, Phosphate glasses, Bone grafts, Bone regenerations


Banos, R. C., Pons, J. I., Madrid, C., Juarez, A., (2008). A global modulatory role for the Yersinia enterocolitica H-NS protein Microbiology , 154, (5), 1281-1289

The H-NS protein plays a significant role in the modulation of gene expression in Gram-negative bacteria. Whereas isolation and characterization of hns mutants in Escherichia coli, Salmonella and Shigella represented critical steps to gain insight into the modulatory role of H-NS, it has hitherto not been possible to isolate hns mutants in Yersinia. The hns mutation is considered to be deleterious in this genus. To study the modulatory role of H-NS in Yersinia we circumvented hns lethality by expressing in Y. enterocolitica a truncated H-NS protein known to exhibit anti-H-NS activity in E. coli (H-NST(EPEC)). Y. enterocolitica cells expressing H-NST(EPEC) showed an altered growth rate and several differences in the protein expression pattern, including the ProV protein, which is modulated by H-NS in other enteric bacteria. To further confirm that H-NST(EPEC) expression in Yersinia can be used to demonstrate H-NS-dependent regulation in this genus, we used this approach to show that H-NS modulates expression of the YmoA protein.

Keywords: Bacterial Proteins/biosynthesis/genetics/ physiology, DNA-Binding Proteins/biosynthesis/genetics/ physiology, Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial, Genes, Essential, Proteome/analysis, RNA, Bacterial/biosynthesis, RNA, Messenger/biosynthesis, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Sequence Deletion, Yersinia enterocolitica/chemistry/genetics/growth & development/ physiology


Fernandez, Javier G., Mills, C. A., Martinez, E., Lopez-Bosque, M. J., Sisquella, X., Errachid, A., Samitier, J., (2008). Micro- and nanostructuring of freestanding, biodegradable, thin sheets of chitosan via soft lithography Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A , 85A, (1), 242-247

A technique for imparting micro- and nano-structured topography into the surface of freestanding thin sheets of chitosan is described. Both micro- and nanometric surface structures have been produced using soft lithography. The soft lithography method, based on solvent evaporation, has allowed structures similar to 60 nm tall and similar to 500 X 500 nm(2) to be produced on freestanding similar to 0.5 mm thick sheets of the polymer when cured at 293 K, and structures similar to 400 nm tall and 5 X 5 mu m(2) to be produced when cured at 283 K. Nonstructured chitosan thin sheets (similar to 200 mu m thick) show excellent optical transmission properties in the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The structured sheets can be used for applications where optical microscopic analysis is required, such as cell interaction experiments and tissue engineering.

Keywords: Chitin/chitosan, Microstructure, Nanotopography, Polymerization, Soft lithography


Mills, C. A., Fernandez, Javier G., Errachid, A., Samitier, J., (2008). The use of high glass temperature polymers in the production of transparent, structured surfaces using nanoimprint lithography Microelectronic Engineering , 85, (9), 1897-1901

Polymers with high glass transition temperatures, fluorinated ethylene propylene copolymer (FEP) and poly(ethylene naphthalate) (PEN), have been used in imprint lithography as a protective support layer and as a secondary mould, to imprint superficial structures into a polymer with a lower glass transition temperature, namely poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA). As a support layer, FEP replaces fragile silicon based supports for the production of freestanding, structured sheets of PMMA, useful, for example, in biomedical applications where transmittance optical microscopy is required. Secondary PEN moulds, produced by imprinting using silicon-based primary moulds, have been used to transfer sub-micrometer tall structures to a freestanding PMMA sheet. Similarly, hole structures, with different dimensions, have been embossed in both sides of a PMMA sheet simultaneously.

Keywords: Polymer engineering, Embossing, Nanoimprint lithography, Biomedical applications


Garde, A., Giraldo, B. F., Jané, R., Diaz, I., Herrera, S., Benito, S., Domingo, M., Bayes-Genis, A., (2008). Characterization of periodic and non-periodic breathing pattern in chronic heart failure patients 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, 3227-3230

Periodic breathing (PB) has a high prevalence in chronic heart failure (CHF) patients with mild to moderate symptoms and poor ventricular function. This work proposes the analysis and characterization of the respiratory pattern to identify periodic breathing pattern (PB) and non-periodic breathing pattern (nPB) through the respiratory flow signal. The respiratory pattern analysis is based on the extraction and the study of the flow envelope signal. The flow envelope signal is modelled by an autoregressive model (AR) whose coefficients would characterize the respiratory pattern of each group. The goodness of the characterization is evaluated through a linear and non linear classifier applied to the AR coefficients. An adaptive feature selection is used before the linear and non linear classification, employing leave-one-out cross validation technique. With linear classification the percentage of well classified patients (8 PB and 18 nPB patients) is 84.6% using the statistically significant coefficients whereas with non linear classification, the percentage of well classified patients increase to more than 92% applying the best subset of coefficients extracted by a forward selection algorithm.

Keywords: Clinical-implications, Sleep


Hernando, Jordi, Hoogenboom, Jacob, van Dijk, Erik, Garcia-Parajo, Maria, van Hulst, Niek F., (2008). Ultrafast single-molecule photonics: Excited state dynamics in coherently coupled complexes Journal of Luminescence 16th International Conference on Dynamical Processes in Excited States of Solids (ed. -----), Elsevier Science BV (Segovia, Spain) 128, (5-6), 1050-1052

We present a single-molecule study on femtosecond dynamics in multichromophoric systems, combining fs pump-probe, emission-spectra and fluorescence-lifetime analysis. The ultrafast fs approach gives direct information on the initial exciton dynamics after excitation. The lifetime data show superradiance, a direct measure for the extent of the coherent coupling and static disorder. The spectra finally reveal the role of exciton-phonon coupling. At the single-molecule level a wide range of exciton delocalization lengths and energy redistribution times is revealed.

Keywords: Single-molecule detection, Pump-probe, Exciton delocalization, Superradiance, Exciton-phonon coupling


Pla, M., Fernandez, Javier G., Mills, C. A., Martinez, E., Samitier, J., (2007). Micro/nanopatterning of proteins via contact printing using high aspect ratio PMMA stamps and NanoImprint apparatus Langmuir , 23, (16), 8614-8618

Micro- and nanoscale protein patterns have been produced via a new contact printing method using a nanoimprint lithography apparatus. The main novelty of the technique is the use of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) instead of the commonly used poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) stamps. This avoids printing problems due to roof collapse, which limits the usable aspect ratio in microcontact printing to 10:1. The rigidity of the PMMA allows protein patterning using stamps with very high aspect ratios, up to 300 in this case. Conformal contact between the stamp and the substrate is achieved because of the homogeneous pressure applied via the nanoimprint lithography instrument, and it has allowed us to print lines of protein similar to 150 nm wide, at a 400 nm period. This technique, therefore, provides an excellent method for the direct printing of high-density sub-micrometer scale patterns, or, alternatively, micro-/nanopatterns spaced at large distances. The controlled production of these protein patterns is a key factor in biomedical applications such as cell-surface interaction experiments and tissue engineering.

Keywords: Soft lithography, Cell-adhesion, Microstructures, Fabrication, Stability, Patterns


Mills, C. A., Pla, M., Martin, C., Lee, M., Kuphal, M., Sisquella, X., Martinez, E., Errachid, A., Samitier, J., (2007). Structured thin organic active layers and their use in electrochemical biosensors Measurement & Control , 40, (3), 88-91

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