Year 2021

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Moya-Andérico, Laura, Admella, Joana, Torrents, Eduard, (2021). A clearing protocol for Galleria mellonella larvae: Visualization of internalized fluorescent nanoparticles New Biotechnology 60, 20-26

Light scattering is a challenge for imaging three-dimensional organisms. A number of new tissue clearing methodologies have been described in recent years, increasing the utilities of clearing techniques to obtain transparent samples. Here, we describe the optimization of a suitable and novel protocol for clearing Galleria mellonella larvae, an alternative infection animal model with a promising potential for the toxicological evaluation of different molecules and materials. This has allowed the visualization of internalised fluorescent nanoparticles using confocal microscopy, opening the door to a wide range of different applications.

Keywords: Nanotoxicology, Tissue clearance

Wiers, Reinout W., Verschure, Paul, (2021). Curing the broken brain model of addiction: Neurorehabilitation from a systems perspective Addictive Behaviors 112, 106602

The dominant biomedical perspective on addictions has been that they are chronic brain diseases. While we acknowledge that the brains of people with addictions differ from those without, we argue that the “broken brain” model of addiction has important limitations. We propose that a systems-level perspective more effectively captures the integrated architecture of the embodied and situated human mind and brain in relation to the development of addictions. This more dynamic conceptualization places addiction in the broader context of the addicted brain that drives behavior, where the addicted brain is the substrate of the addicted mind, that in turn is situated in a physical and socio-cultural environment. From this perspective, neurorehabilitation should shift from a “broken-brain” to a systems theoretical framework, which includes high-level concepts related to the physical and social environment, motivation, self-image, and the meaning of alternative activities, which in turn will dynamically influence subsequent brain adaptations. We call this integrated approach system-oriented neurorehabilitation. We illustrate our proposal by showing the link between addiction and the architecture of the embodied brain, including a systems-level perspective on classical conditioning, which has been successfully translated into neurorehabilitation. Central to this example is the notion that the human brain makes predictions on future states as well as expected (or counterfactual) errors, in the context of its goals. We advocate system-oriented neurorehabilitation of addiction where the patients' goals are central in targeted, personalized assessment and intervention.

Keywords: Addiction, Brain disease model, Neurorehabilitation, Systems approach

Selfa, Idoia Lucía, Gallo, Maria, Montserrat, Nuria, Garreta, Elena, (2021). Directed differentiation of human pluripotent stem sells for the generation of high-order kidney organoids Programmed Morphogenesis: Methods and Protocols (ed. Ebrahimkhani M.R., Hislop J.), Springer US (New York, NY) 2258, 171-192

Our understanding in the inherent properties of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have made possible the development of differentiation procedures to generate three-dimensional tissue-like cultures, so-called organoids. Here we detail a stepwise methodology to generate kidney organoids from hPSCs. This is achieved through direct differentiation of hPSCs in two-dimensional monolayer culture toward the posterior primitive streak fate, followed by induction of intermediate mesoderm-committed cells, which are further aggregated and cultured in three-dimensions to generate kidney organoids containing segmented nephron-like structures in a process that lasts 20 days. We also provide a concise description on how to assess renal commitment during the time course of kidney organoid generation. This includes the use of flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry analyses for the detection of specific renal differentiation markers.

Blancas, Maria, Valero, Cristina, Vouloutsi, Vasiliki, Mura, Anna, Verschure, P., (2021). Educational robotics: A journey, not a destination Handbook of Research on Using Educational Robotics to Facilitate Student Learning (ed. Papadakis, Stamatios, Kalogiannakis, Michail), IGI Global (Hershey, PA, USA) , 41-67

The aim of this work is two-fold. On the one hand, the authors wish to provide relevant information to educators willing to develop an educational robotics (ER) curriculum. They thus provide the current state of the art in the field of ER and the various approaches reported in the literature. They also provide examples of how computational thinking (CT) can be applied in ER and main theories behind ER: constructivism, constructionism, and inquiry-based learning. As ER requires problem-solving abilities, they discuss the link between CT and metacognition, which is considered one of the required educational improvements of the 21st century (also related to the role of gender in STEM methodologies). On the other hand, they wish to present their methodology to teach coding and ER (coding robots through exploring their affordances – CREA), how it was designed, and its main outcomes. It aims at teaching programming and robotics to children in primary school, focusing not on only the performance of the students, but also the cultivation of collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.