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by Keyword: Human

Sharma, K, Uraji, J, Ammar, OF, Ali, ZE, Liperis, G, Modi, D, Ojosnegros, S, Shahbazi, MN, Fraire-Zamora, JJ, (2022). #ESHREjc report: renewing the old: novel stem cell research for unsolved ART problems Human Reproduction 37, 2224-2227

F Amil A, Rubio Ballester B, Maier M, FMJ Verschure P, (2022). Chronic use of cannabis might impair sensory error processing in the cerebellum through endocannabinoid dysregulation Addictive Behaviors 131, 107297

Chronic use of cannabis leads to both motor deficits and the downregulation of CB1 receptors (CB1R) in the cerebellum. In turn, cerebellar damage is often related to impairments in motor learning and control. Further, a recent motor learning task that measures cerebellar-dependent adaptation has been shown to distinguish well between healthy subjects and chronic cannabis users. Thus, the deteriorating effects of chronic cannabis use in motor performance point to cerebellar adaptation as a key process to explain such deficits. We review the literature relating chronic cannabis use, the endocannabinoid system in the cerebellum, and different forms of cerebellar-dependent motor learning, to suggest that CB1R downregulation leads to a generalized underestimation and misprocessing of the sensory errors driving synaptic updates in the cerebellar cortex. Further, we test our hypothesis with a computational model performing a motor adaptation task and reproduce the behavioral effect of decreased implicit adaptation that appears to be a sign of chronic cannabis use. Finally, we discuss the potential of our hypothesis to explain similar phenomena related to motor impairments following chronic alcohol dependency. © 2022

JTD Keywords: adaptation, addiction, alcohol-abuse, cerebellum, cognition, deficits, endocannabinoid system, error processing, explicit, modulation, motor learning, release, synaptic plasticity, Adaptation, Adaptation, physiological, Alcoholism, Article, Behavioral science, Cannabinoid 1 receptor, Cannabis, Cannabis addiction, Cerebellum, Cerebellum cortex, Cerebellum disease, Chronic cannabis use, Computer model, Down regulation, Endocannabinoid, Endocannabinoid system, Endocannabinoids, Error processing, Hallucinogens, Human, Humans, Motor dysfunction, Motor learning, Nerve cell plasticity, Nonhuman, Physiology, Psychedelic agent, Purkinje-cells, Regulatory mechanism, Sensation, Sensory dysfunction, Sensory error processing impairment, Synaptic transmission, Task performance


Engel, AK, Verschure, PFMJ, Kragic, D, Polani, D, Effenberg, AO, Konig, P, (2022). Editorial: Sensorimotor Foundations of Social Cognition Frontiers In Human Neuroscience 16, 971133

Chattopadhyay, P, Magdanz, V, Hernandez-Melia, M, Borchert, KBL, Schwarz, D, Simmchen, J, (2022). Size-Dependent Inhibition of Sperm Motility by Copper Particles as a Path toward Male Contraception Advanced Nanobiomed Research 2, 2100152

Effective inhibition of sperm motility using a spermicide can be a promising approach in developing non-invasive male contraceptive agents. Copper is known to have contraceptive properties and has been used clinically for decades as intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) for contraception in females. Beyond that, the spermicidal use of copper is not explored much further, even though its use can also subdue the harmful effects caused by the hormonal female contraceptive agents on the environment. Herein, the size, concentration, and time-dependent in vitro inhibition of bovine spermatozoa by copper microparticles are studied. The effectivity in inhibiting sperm motility is correlated with the amount of Cu2+ ions released by the particles during incubation. The copper particles cause direct suppression of sperm motility and viability upon incubation and thereby show potential as sperm-inhibiting, hormone-free candidate for male contraception. In addition, biocompatibility tests using a cervical cell line help optimizing the size and concentration of the copper particles for the best spermicidal action while avoiding toxicity to the surrounding tissue.

JTD Keywords: Bovine spermatozoa, Clinical-trial, Copper, Human-spermatozoa, Ions, Male contraception, Metallic copper, Microparticles, Progestins, Sperm motility, Sperm viability, Spermicide, Viability


Garreta E, Prado P, Stanifer ML, Monteil V, Marco A, Ullate-Agote A, Moya-Rull D, Vilas-Zornoza A, Tarantino C, Romero JP, Jonsson G, Oria R, Leopoldi A, Hagelkruys A, Gallo M, González F, Domingo-Pedrol P, Gavaldà A, Del Pozo CH, Hasan Ali O, Ventura-Aguiar P, Campistol JM, Prosper F, Mirazimi A, Boulant S, Penninger JM, Montserrat N, (2022). A diabetic milieu increases ACE2 expression and cellular susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infections in human kidney organoids and patient cells Cell Metabolism 34, 857-873

It is not well understood why diabetic individuals are more prone to develop severe COVID-19. To this, we here established a human kidney organoid model promoting early hallmarks of diabetic kidney disease development. Upon SARS-CoV-2 infection, diabetic-like kidney organoids exhibited higher viral loads compared with their control counterparts. Genetic deletion of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in kidney organoids under control or diabetic-like conditions prevented viral detection. Moreover, cells isolated from kidney biopsies from diabetic patients exhibited altered mitochondrial respiration and enhanced glycolysis, resulting in higher SARS-CoV-2 infections compared with non-diabetic cells. Conversely, the exposure of patient cells to dichloroacetate (DCA), an inhibitor of aerobic glycolysis, resulted in reduced SARS-CoV-2 infections. Our results provide insights into the identification of diabetic-induced metabolic programming in the kidney as a critical event increasing SARS-CoV-2 infection susceptibility, opening the door to the identification of new interventions in COVID-19 pathogenesis targeting energy metabolism.Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: complications, coronavirus, cultured-cells, disease, distal tubule, mouse, protein, reveals, spike, Ace2, Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, Angiotensin-converting enzyme-2, Covid-19, Diabetes 2, Human kidney organoids, Sars-cov-2


Martí D, Martín-Martínez E, Torras J, Betran O, Turon P, Alemán C, (2022). In silico study of substrate chemistry effect on the tethering of engineered antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 detection: Amorphous silica vs gold Colloids And Surfaces B-Biointerfaces 213, 112400

The influence of the properties of different solid substrates on the tethering of two antibodies, IgG1-CR3022 and IgG1-S309, which were specifically engineered for the detection of SARS-CoV-2, has been examined at the molecular level using conventional and accelerated Molecular Dynamics (cMD and aMD, respectively). Two surfaces with very different properties and widely used in immunosensors for diagnosis, amorphous silica and the most stable facet of the face-centered cubic gold structure, have been considered. The effects of such surfaces on the structure and orientation of the immobilized antibodies have been determined by quantifying the tilt and hinge angles that describe the orientation and shape of the antibody, respectively, and the dihedrals that measure the relative position of the antibody arms with respect to the surface. Results show that the interactions with amorphous silica, which are mainly electrostatic due to the charged nature of the surface, help to preserve the orientation and structure of the antibodies, especially of the IgG1-CR3022, indicating that the primary sequence of those antibodies also plays some role. Instead, short-range van der Waals interactions with the inert gold surface cause a higher degree tilting and fraying of the antibodies with respect to amorphous silica. The interactions between the antibodies and the surface also affect the correlation among the different angles and dihedrals, which increases with their strength. Overall, results explain why amorphous silica substrates are frequently used to immobilize antibodies in immunosensors. © 2022 The Authors

JTD Keywords: amorphous silica, enzyme, gol d, immobilization, immunosensor, molecu l a r dynamics, protein adsorption, sars-cov-2 immunosensor, simulations, spike protein, surface interactions, target, vaccine, Amorphous silica, Antibodies, Antibody engineering, Antibody immobilization, Antibody structure, Article, Chemical detection, Computer model, Controlled study, Dihedral angle, Gold, In-silico, Molecular dynamics, Molecular levels, Molecular-dynamics, Nonhuman, Property, Sars, Sars-cov-2 immunosensor, Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, Silica, Silico studies, Silicon dioxide, Solid substrates, Structure analysis, Substrate chemistry, Substrates, Van der waals forces, Virus detection


Marte L, Boronat S, Barrios R, Barcons-Simon A, Bolognesi B, Cabrera M, Ayté J, Hidalgo E, (2022). Expression of Huntingtin and TDP-43 Derivatives in Fission Yeast Can Cause Both Beneficial and Toxic Effects International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 3950

Many neurodegenerative disorders display protein aggregation as a hallmark, Huntingtin and TDP-43 aggregates being characteristic of Huntington disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, respectively. However, whether these aggregates cause the diseases, are secondary by-products, or even have protective effects, is a matter of debate. Mutations in both human proteins can modulate the structure, number and type of aggregates, as well as their toxicity. To study the role of protein aggregates in cellular fitness, we have expressed in a highly tractable unicellular model different variants of Huntingtin and TDP-43. They each display specific patterns of aggregation and toxicity, even though in both cases proteins have to be very highly expressed to affect cell fitness. The aggregation properties of Huntingtin, but not of TDP-43, are affected by chaperones such as Hsp104 and the Hsp40 couple Mas5, suggesting that the TDP-43, but not Huntingtin, derivatives have intrinsic aggregation propensity. Importantly, expression of the aggregating form of Huntingtin causes a significant extension of fission yeast lifespan, probably as a consequence of kidnapping chaperones required for maintaining stress responses off. Our study demonstrates that in general these prion-like proteins do not cause toxicity under normal conditions, and in fact they can protect cells through indirect mechanisms which up-regulate cellular defense pathways. © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

JTD Keywords: Chaperone, Chemistry, Dna binding protein, Dna-binding proteins, Fission yeast, Genetics, Human, Humans, Huntingtin, Metabolism, Molecular chaperones, Neurodegenerative diseases, Prion, Prions, Protein aggregate, Protein aggregates, Protein aggregation, Schizosaccharomyces, Tdp-43


Ballester BR, Winstein C, Schweighofer N, (2022). Virtuous and Vicious Cycles of Arm Use and Function Post-stroke Frontiers In Neurology 13,

Large doses of movement practice have been shown to restore upper extremities' motor function in a significant subset of individuals post-stroke. However, such large doses are both difficult to implement in the clinic and highly inefficient. In addition, an important reduction in upper extremity function and use is commonly seen following rehabilitation-induced gains, resulting in “rehabilitation in vain”. For those with mild to moderate sensorimotor impairment, the limited spontaneous use of the more affected limb during activities of daily living has been previously proposed to cause a decline of motor function, initiating a vicious cycle of recovery, in which non-use and poor performance reinforce each other. Here, we review computational, experimental, and clinical studies that support the view that if arm use is raised above an effective threshold, one enters a virtuous cycle in which arm use and function can reinforce each other via self-practice in the wild. If not, one enters a vicious cycle of declining arm use and function. In turn, and in line with best practice therapy recommendations, this virtuous/vicious cycle model advocates for a paradigm shift in neurorehabilitation whereby rehabilitation be embedded in activities of daily living such that self-practice with the aid of wearable technology that reminds and motivates can enhance paretic limb use of those who possess adequate residual sensorimotor capacity. Altogether, this model points to a user-centered approach to recovery post-stroke that is tailored to the participant's level of arm use and designed to motivate and engage in self-practice through progressive success in accomplishing meaningful activities in the wild. Copyright © 2022 Ballester, Winstein and Schweighofer.

JTD Keywords: Arm movement, Article, Cerebrovascular accident, Clinical decision making, Clinical practice, Clinical study, Compensatory movement, Computational neurorehabilitation, Computer model, Daily life activity, Decision-making, Experimental study, Human, Learned non-use, Musculoskeletal function, Neurorehabilitation, Paresis, Sensorimotor function, Stroke, Stroke rehabilitation, User-centered design, Vicious cycle, Virtuous cycle, Wearable sensors


Bonilla-Pons SÀ, Nakagawa S, Bahima EG, Fernández-Blanco Á, Pesaresi M, D'Antin JC, Sebastian-Perez R, Greco D, Domínguez-Sala E, Gómez-Riera R, Compte RIB, Dierssen M, Montserrat Pulido, N, Cosma MP, (2022). Müller glia fused with adult stem cells undergo neural differentiation in human retinal models Ebiomedicine 77, 103914

Visual impairments are a critical medical hurdle to be addressed in modern society. Müller glia (MG) have regenerative potential in the retina in lower vertebrates, but not in mammals. However, in mice, in vivo cell fusion between MG and adult stem cells forms hybrids that can partially regenerate ablated neurons.We used organotypic cultures of human retina and preparations of dissociated cells to test the hypothesis that cell fusion between human MG and adult stem cells can induce neuronal regeneration in human systems. Moreover, we established a microinjection system for transplanting human retinal organoids to demonstrate hybrid differentiation.We first found that cell fusion occurs between MG and adult stem cells, in organotypic cultures of human retina as well as in cell cultures. Next, we showed that the resulting hybrids can differentiate and acquire a proto-neural electrophysiology profile when the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway is activated in the adult stem cells prior fusion. Finally, we demonstrated the engraftment and differentiation of these hybrids into human retinal organoids.We show fusion between human MG and adult stem cells, and demonstrate that the resulting hybrid cells can differentiate towards neural fate in human model systems. Our results suggest that cell fusion-mediated therapy is a potential regenerative approach for treating human retinal dystrophies.This work was supported by La Caixa Health (HR17-00231), Velux Stiftung (976a) and the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, (BFU2017-86760-P) (AEI/FEDER, UE), AGAUR (2017 SGR 689, 2017 SGR 926).Published by Elsevier B.V.

JTD Keywords: cell fusion, expression, fusion, ganglion-cells, in-vitro, mouse, müller glia, neural differentiation, organoids, regeneration, retina regeneration, stem cells, stromal cells, transplantation, 4',6 diamidino 2 phenylindole, 5' nucleotidase, Agarose, Alcohol, Arpe-19 cell line, Article, Beta catenin, Beta tubulin, Bone-marrow-cells, Bromophenol blue, Buffer, Calcium cell level, Calcium phosphate, Calretinin, Canonical wnt signaling, Cd34 antigen, Cell culture, Cell fusion, Cell viability, Coculture, Complementary dna, Confocal microscopy, Cornea transplantation, Cryopreservation, Cryoprotection, Crystal structure, Current clamp technique, Dimethyl sulfoxide, Dodecyl sulfate sodium, Edetic acid, Electrophysiology, Endoglin, Fetal bovine serum, Fibroblast growth factor 2, Flow cytometry, Fluorescence activated cell sorting, Fluorescence intensity, Glyceraldehyde 3 phosphate dehydrogenase, Glycerol, Glycine, Hoe 33342, Immunofluorescence, Immunohistochemistry, Incubation time, Interleukin 1beta, Lentivirus vector, Matrigel, Mercaptoethanol, Microinjection, Mueller cell, Müller glia, N methyl dextro aspartic acid, Nerve cell differentiation, Neural differentiation, Nitrogen, Nonhuman, Organoids, Paraffin, Paraffin embedding, Paraformaldehyde, Patch clamp technique, Penicillin derivative, Phenolsulfonphthalein, Phenotype, Phosphate buffered saline, Phosphoprotein phosphatase inhibitor, Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, Potassium chloride, Povidone iodine, Promoter region, Proteinase inhibitor, Real time polymerase chain reaction, Receptor type tyrosine protein phosphatase c, Restriction endonuclease, Retina, Retina dystrophy, Retina regeneration, Retinol, Rhodopsin, Rna extraction, Stem cell, Stem cells, Subcutaneous fat, Tunel assay, Visual impairment, Western blotting


Pérez-González, Carlos, Ceada, Gerardo, Matejcic, Marija, Trepat, Xavier, (2022). Digesting the mechanobiology of the intestinal epithelium Current Opinion In Genetics & Development 72, 82-90

The dizzying life of the homeostatic intestinal epithelium is governed by a complex interplay between fate, form, force and function. This interplay is beginning to be elucidated thanks to advances in intravital and ex vivo imaging, organoid culture, and biomechanical measurements. Recent discoveries have untangled the intricate organization of the forces that fold the monolayer into crypts and villi, compartmentalize cell types, direct cell migration, and regulate cell identity, proliferation and death. These findings revealed that the dynamic equilibrium of the healthy intestinal epithelium relies on its ability to precisely coordinate tractions and tensions in space and time. In this review, we discuss recent findings in intestinal mechanobiology, and highlight some of the many fascinating questions that remain to be addressed in this emerging field.Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: crypt fission, designer matrices, differentiation, growth, gut, migration, model, scaffold, tissue mechanics, Cell migration, Cell proliferation, Ex vivo study, Human tissue, Intestine epithelium, Monolayer culture, Organoid, Review, Stem-cell, Tension, Traction therapy


Beltrán G, Navajas D, García-Aznar JM, (2022). Mechanical modeling of lung alveoli: From macroscopic behaviour to cell mechano-sensing at microscopic level Journal Of The Mechanical Behavior Of Biomedical Materials 126, 105043

The mechanical signals sensed by the alveolar cells through the changes in the local matrix stiffness of the extracellular matrix (ECM) are determinant for regulating cellular functions. Therefore, the study of the mechanical response of lung tissue becomes a fundamental aspect in order to further understand the mechanosensing signals perceived by the cells in the alveoli. This study is focused on the development of a finite element (FE) model of a decellularized rat lung tissue strip, which reproduces accurately the mechanical behaviour observed in the experiments by means of a tensile test. For simulating the complex structure of the lung parenchyma, which consists of a heterogeneous and non-uniform network of thin-walled alveoli, a 3D model based on a Voronoi tessellation is developed. This Voronoi-based model is considered very suitable for recreating the geometry of cellular materials with randomly distributed polygons like in the lung tissue. The material model used in the mechanical simulations of the lung tissue was characterized experimentally by means of AFM tests in order to evaluate the lung tissue stiffness on the micro scale. Thus, in this study, the micro (AFM test) and the macro scale (tensile test) mechanical behaviour are linked through the mechanical simulation with the 3D FE model based on Voronoi tessellation. Finally, a micro-mechanical FE-based model is generated from the Voronoi diagram for studying the stiffness sensed by the alveolar cells in function of two independent factors: the stretch level of the lung tissue and the geometrical position of the cells on the extracellular matrix (ECM), distinguishing between pneumocyte type I and type II. We conclude that the position of the cells within the alveolus has a great influence on the local stiffness perceived by the cells. Alveolar cells located at the corners of the alveolus, mainly type II pneumocytes, perceive a much higher stiffness than those located in the flat areas of the alveoli, which correspond to type I pneumocytes. However, the high stiffness, due to the macroscopic lung tissue stretch, affects both cells in a very similar form, thus no significant differences between them have been observed. © 2021 The Authors

JTD Keywords: rat, scaffolds, stiffness, Afm, Animal cell, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Article, Biological organs, Cell function, Cells, Computational geometry, Cytology, Extracellular matrices, Extracellular matrix, Extracellular-matrix, Geometry, High stiffness, Human, Lung alveolus cell type 1, Lung alveolus cell type 2, Lung parenchyma, Lung tissue, Male, Mechanical behavior, Mechanical modeling, Mechanical simulations, Mechanosensing, Model-based opc, Nonhuman, Physical model, Rat, Rigidity, Stiffness, Stiffness matrix, Tensile testing, Thin walled structures, Three dimensional finite element analysis, Tissue, Type ii, Voronoi tessellations


Boda, SK, Aparicio, C, (2022). Dual keratinocyte-attachment and anti-inflammatory coatings for soft tissue sealing around transmucosal oral implants Biomaterials Science 10, 665-677

Unlike the attachment of soft epithelial skin tissue to penetrating solid natural structures like fingernails and teeth, sealing around percutaneous/permucosal devices such as dental implants is hindered by inflammation and epidermal down growth. Here, we employed a dual keratinocyte-adhesive peptide and anti-inflammatory biomolecule coating on titanium to promote oral epithelial tissue attachment. For minimizing inflammation-triggered epidermal down growth, we coated pristine and oxygen plasma pre-treated polished titanium (pTi) with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Further, in order to aid in soft tissue attachment via the formation of hemidesmosomes, adhesive structures by oral keratinocytes, we coated the anionic linoleic acid (LA) adsorbed titanium with cationic cell adhesive peptides (CAP), LamLG3, a peptide derived from Laminin 332, the major extracellular matrix component of the basement membrane in skin tissue and Net1, derived from Netrin-1, a neural chemoattractant capable of epithelial cell attachment via alpha 6 beta 4 integrins. The dual CLA-CAP coatings on pTi were characterized by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and dynamic water contact angle measurements. The proliferation of human oral keratinocytes (TERT-2/OKF6) was accelerated on the peptide coated titanium while also promoting the expression of Col XVII and beta-4 integrin, two markers for hemidesmosomes. Simultaneously, CLA coating suppressed the production of inducible nitric oxide synthase (anti-iNOS); a pro-inflammatory M1 marker expressed in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated murine macrophages (RAW 264.7) and elevated expression of anti-CD206, associated to an anti-inflammatory M2 macrophage phenotype. Taken together, the dual keratinocyte-adhesive peptide and anti-inflammatory biomolecule coating on titanium can help reduce inflammation and promote permucosal/peri-implant soft tissue sealing.

JTD Keywords: Adhesives, Animal, Animals, Anti-inflammatories, Anti-inflammatory agents, Antiinflammatory agent, Biomolecules, Bone, Cell adhesion, Cell-adhesives, Coatings, Conjugated linoleic acid, Conjugated linoleic-acid, Contact angle, Hemidesmosome, Hemidesmosomes, Human, Humans, Hydroxyapatite, Inflammation, Integrins, Keratinocyte, Keratinocytes, Linoleic acid, Macrophages, Mice, Mouse, Nitric oxide, Oral implants, Pathology, Peptides, Skin tissue, Soft tissue, Supplementation, Surface properties, Surface property, Tissue, Titania, Titanium, X ray photoelectron spectroscopy


Martí, Didac, Alemán, Carlos, Ainsley, Jon, Ahumada, Oscar, Torras, Juan, (2022). IgG1-b12–HIV-gp120 Interface in Solution: A Computational Study Journal Of Chemical Information And Modeling 62, 359-371

The use of broadly neutralizing antibodies against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has been shown to be a promising therapeutic modality in the prevention of HIV infection. Understanding the b12-gp120 binding mechanism under physiological conditions may assist the development of more broadly effective antibodies. In this work, the main conformations and interactions between the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of spike glycoprotein gp120 of HIV-1 and the IgG1-b12 mAb are studied. Accelerated molecular dynamics (aMD) and ab initio hybrid molecular dynamics have been combined to determine the most persistent interactions between the most populated conformations of the antibody-antigen complex under physiological conditions. The results show the most persistent receptor-binding mapping in the conformations of the antibody-antigen interface in solution. The binding-free-energy decomposition reveals a small enhancement in the contribution played by the CDR-H3 region to the b12-gp120 interface compared to the crystal structure.

JTD Keywords: antibody, complex, functionals, gp120 envelope glycoprotein, hiv, immunodeficiency-virus, noncovalent interactions, simulations, software integration, Ab initio, Accelerated molecular dynamics, Accelerated molecular-dynamics, Antibodies, Antigens, Binding energy, Binding mechanisms, Computational studies, Crystal structure, Diseases, Free energy, Hiv infection, Human immunodeficiency virus, Molecular dynamics, Neutralizing antibodies, Physiological condition, Physiology, Receptor-binding domains, Therapeutic modality, Viruses


Gawish R, Starkl P, Pimenov L, Hladik A, Lakovits K, Oberndorfer F, Cronin SJF, Ohradanova-Repic A, Wirnsberger G, Agerer B, Endler L, Capraz T, Perthold JW, Cikes D, Koglgruber R, Hagelkruys A, Montserrat N, Mirazimi A, Boon L, Stockinger H, Bergthaler A, Oostenbrink C, Penninger JM, Knapp S, (2022). ACE2 is the critical in vivo receptor for SARS-CoV-2 in a novel COVID-19 mouse model with TNF-and IFNy-driven immunopathology Elife 11, e74623

Despite tremendous progress in the understanding of COVID-19, mechanistic insight into immunological, disease-driving factors remains limited. We generated maVie16, a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2, by serial passaging of a human isolate. In silico modeling revealed how only three Spike mutations of maVie16 enhanced interaction with murine ACE2. maVie16 induced profound pathology in BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice, and the resulting mouse COVID-19 (mCOVID-19) replicated critical aspects of human disease, including early lymphopenia, pulmonary immune cell infiltration, pneumonia, and specific adaptive immunity. Inhibition of the proinflammatory cyto-kines IFN? and TNF substantially reduced immunopathology. Importantly, genetic ACE2-deficiency completely prevented mCOVID-19 development. Finally, inhalation therapy with recombinant ACE2 fully protected mice from mCOVID-19, revealing a novel and efficient treatment. Thus, we here present maVie16 as a new tool to model COVID-19 for the discovery of new therapies and show that disease severity is determined by cytokine-driven immunopathology and critically dependent on ACE2 in vivo. © Gawish et al.

JTD Keywords: covid-19 mouse model, covid-19 therapy, cytokine storm, mavie16, mouse, program, recombinant soluble ace2, tmprss2, Adaptive immunity, Angiotensin converting enzyme 2, Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, Animal, Animal cell, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Animals, Apoptosis, Article, Bagg albino mouse, Breathing rate, Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, C57bl mouse, Cell composition, Cell infiltration, Controlled study, Coronavirus disease 2019, Coronavirus spike glycoprotein, Covid-19, Cytokeratin 18, Cytokine production, Dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase, Disease model, Disease models, animal, Disease severity, Drosophila-melanogaster, Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay, Expression vector, Flow cytometry, Gamma interferon, Gene editing, Gene expression, Gene mutation, Genetic engineering, Genetics, Glycosylation, High mobility group b1 protein, Histology, Histopathology, Immune response, Immunocompetent cell, Immunology, Immunopathology, Interferon-gamma, Interleukin 2, Metabolism, Mice, inbred balb c, Mice, inbred c57bl, Mouse-adapted sars-cov-2, Myeloperoxidase, Neuropilin 1, Nonhuman, Nucleocapsid protein, Pathogenicity, Peptidyl-dipeptidase a, Pyroptosis, Renin angiotensin aldosterone system, Rna extraction, Rna isolation, Sars-cov-2, Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, Spike glycoprotein, coronavirus, T lymphocyte activation, Trabecular meshwork, Tumor necrosis factor, Virology, Virus load, Virus replication, Virus transmission, Virus virulence


Páscoa dos Santos F, Verschure PFMJ, (2022). Excitatory-Inhibitory Homeostasis and Diaschisis: Tying the Local and Global Scales in the Post-stroke Cortex Frontiers In Systems Neuroscience 15, 806544

Maintaining a balance between excitatory and inhibitory activity is an essential feature of neural networks of the neocortex. In the face of perturbations in the levels of excitation to cortical neurons, synapses adjust to maintain excitatory-inhibitory (EI) balance. In this review, we summarize research on this EI homeostasis in the neocortex, using stroke as our case study, and in particular the loss of excitation to distant cortical regions after focal lesions. Widespread changes following a localized lesion, a phenomenon known as diaschisis, are not only related to excitability, but also observed with respect to functional connectivity. Here, we highlight the main findings regarding the evolution of excitability and functional cortical networks during the process of post-stroke recovery, and how both are related to functional recovery. We show that cortical reorganization at a global scale can be explained from the perspective of EI homeostasis. Indeed, recovery of functional networks is paralleled by increases in excitability across the cortex. These adaptive changes likely result from plasticity mechanisms such as synaptic scaling and are linked to EI homeostasis, providing a possible target for future therapeutic strategies in the process of rehabilitation. In addition, we address the difficulty of simultaneously studying these multiscale processes by presenting recent advances in large-scale modeling of the human cortex in the contexts of stroke and EI homeostasis, suggesting computational modeling as a powerful tool to tie the meso- and macro-scale processes of recovery in stroke patients. Copyright © 2022 Páscoa dos Santos and Verschure.

JTD Keywords: Algorithm, Biological marker, Brain, Brain cell, Brain cortex, Brain function, Brain radiography, Cerebrovascular accident, Cortical reorganization, Diaschisis, Down regulation, Excitability, Excitatory-inhibitory balance, Fluorine magnetic resonance imaging, Functional networks, Homeostasis, Homeostatic plasticity, Human, Motor dysfunction, Neuromodulation, Plasticity, Pyramidal nerve cell, Review, Simulation, Stroke, Stroke patient, Visual cortex


McGill, Kris, Sackley, Catherine, Godwin, Jon, Gavaghan, David, Ali, Myzoon, Ballester, Belen Rubio, Brady, Marian C, Brady, M.C, Ali, M, Ashburn, A, Barer, D, Barzel, A, Bernhardt, J, Bowen, A, Drummond, A, Edmans, J, English, C, Gladman, J, Godecke, E, Hiekkala, S, Hoffman, T, Kalra, L, Kuys, S, Langhorne, P, Laska, A.C, Lees, K, Logan, P, Machner, B, Mead, G, Morris, J, Pandyan, A, Pollock, A, Pomeroy, V, Rodgers, H, Sackley, C, Shaw, L, Stott, D.J, Sunnerhagen, K.S, Tyson, S, van Vliet, P, Walker, M, Whiteley, W, (2022). Using the Barthel Index and modified Rankin Scale as Outcome Measures for Stroke Rehabilitation Trials; A Comparison of Minimum Sample Size Requirements Journal Of Stroke & Cerebrovascular Diseases 31, 106229

Underpowered trials risk inaccurate results. Recruitment to stroke rehabilitation randomised controlled trials (RCTs) is often a challenge. Statistical simulations offer an important opportunity to explore the adequacy of sample sizes in the context of specific outcome measures. We aimed to examine and compare the adequacy of stroke rehabilitation RCT sample sizes using the Barthel Index (BI) or modified Rankin Scale (mRS) as primary outcomes.We conducted computer simulations using typical experimental event rates (EER) and control event rates (CER) based on individual participant data (IPD) from stroke rehabilitation RCTs. Event rates are the proportion of participants who experienced clinically relevant improvements in the RCT experimental and control groups. We examined minimum sample size requirements and estimated the number of participants required to achieve a number needed to treat within clinically acceptable boundaries for the BI and mRS.We secured 2350 IPD (18 RCTs). For a 90% chance of statistical accuracy on the BI a rehabilitation RCT would require 273 participants per randomised group. Accurate interpretation of effect sizes would require 1000s of participants per group. Simulations for the mRS were not possible as a clinically relevant improvement was not detected when using this outcome measure.Stroke rehabilitation RCTs with large sample sizes are required for accurate interpretation of effect sizes based on the BI. The mRS lacked sensitivity to detect change and thus may be unsuitable as a primary outcome in stroke rehabilitation trials.Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: barthel index, randomised controlled trials, recruitment, sample size calculations, simulations, stroke rehabilitation, Adult, Article, Barthel index, Calculation, Computer simulation, Controlled study, Effect size, Female, Human, Human experiment, Major clinical study, Male, Modified rankin scale, Numbers needed to treat, Outcome assessment, Randomised controlled trials, Randomized controlled trial, Rankin scale, Recruitment, Rehabilitation, Sample size, Sample size calculations, Simulations, Stroke rehabilitation


Guallar-Garrido, Sandra, Almiñana-Rapún, Farners, Campo-Pérez, Víctor, Torrents, Eduard, Luquin, Marina, Julián, Esther, (2022). BCG Substrains Change Their Outermost Surface as a Function of Growth Media Vaccines 10, 40

Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) efficacy as an immunotherapy tool can be influenced by the genetic background or immune status of the treated population and by the BCG substrain used. BCG comprises several substrains with genetic differences that elicit diverse phenotypic characteristics. Moreover, modifications of phenotypic characteristics can be influenced by culture conditions. However, several culture media formulations are used worldwide to produce BCG. To elucidate the influence of growth conditions on BCG characteristics, five different substrains were grown on two culture media, and the lipidic profile and physico-chemical properties were evaluated. Our results show that each BCG substrain displays a variety of lipidic profiles on the outermost surface depending on the growth conditions. These modifications lead to a breadth of hydrophobicity patterns and a different ability to reduce neutral red dye within the same BCG substrain, suggesting the influence of BCG growth conditions on the interaction between BCG cells and host cells.

JTD Keywords: cell wall, efficacy, glycerol, hydrophobicity, lipid, neutral red, pdim, pgl, protein, strains, viability, virulence, Acylglycerol, Albumin, Article, Asparagine, Bacterial cell wall, Bacterial gene, Bacterium culture, Bcg vaccine, Catalase, Cell wall, Chloroform, Controlled study, Escherichia coli, Gene expression, Genomic dna, Glycerol, Glycerol monomycolate, Hexadecane, Housekeeping gene, Hydrophobicity, Immune response, Immunogenicity, Immunotherapy, Lipid, Lipid fingerprinting, Magnesium sulfate, Mercaptoethanol, Methanol, Methylglyoxal, Molybdatophosphoric acid, Mycobacterium bovis bcg, Neutral red, Nonhuman, Pdim, Petroleum ether, Pgl, Phenotype, Physical chemistry, Real time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, Rna 16s, Rna extraction, Rv0577, Staining, Thin layer chromatography, Unclassified drug


Ballester, BR, Antenucci, F, Maier, M, Coolen, ACC, Verschure, PFMJ, (2021). Estimating upper-extremity function from kinematics in stroke patients following goal-oriented computer-based training Journal Of Neuroengineering And Rehabilitation 18, 186

Introduction: After a stroke, a wide range of deficits can occur with varying onset latencies. As a result, assessing impairment and recovery are enormous challenges in neurorehabilitation. Although several clinical scales are generally accepted, they are time-consuming, show high inter-rater variability, have low ecological validity, and are vulnerable to biases introduced by compensatory movements and action modifications. Alternative methods need to be developed for efficient and objective assessment. In this study, we explore the potential of computer-based body tracking systems and classification tools to estimate the motor impairment of the more affected arm in stroke patients. Methods: We present a method for estimating clinical scores from movement parameters that are extracted from kinematic data recorded during unsupervised computer-based rehabilitation sessions. We identify a number of kinematic descriptors that characterise the patients' hemiparesis (e.g., movement smoothness, work area), we implement a double-noise model and perform a multivariate regression using clinical data from 98 stroke patients who completed a total of 191 sessions with RGS. Results: Our results reveal a new digital biomarker of arm function, the Total Goal-Directed Movement (TGDM), which relates to the patients work area during the execution of goal-oriented reaching movements. The model's performance to estimate FM-UE scores reaches an accuracy of R-2: 0.38 with an error (sigma: 12.8). Next, we evaluate its reliability (r = 0.89 for test-retest), longitudinal external validity (95% true positive rate), sensitivity, and generalisation to other tasks that involve planar reaching movements (R-2: 0.39). The model achieves comparable accuracy also for the Chedoke Arm and Hand Activity Inventory (R-2: 0.40) and Barthel Index (R-2: 0.35). Conclusions: Our results highlight the clinical value of kinematic data collected during unsupervised goal-oriented motor training with the RGS combined with data science techniques, and provide new insight into factors underlying recovery and its biomarkers.

JTD Keywords: interactive feedback, motion classification, motion sensing, multivariate regression, posture monitoring, rehabilitation, stroke, Adult, Aged, Analytic method, Arm movement, Article, Barthel index, Brain hemorrhage, Cerebrovascular accident, Chedoke arm and hand activity inventory, Clinical protocol, Cognitive defect, Computer analysis, Controlled study, Convergent validity, Correlation coefficient, Disease severity, External validity, Female, Fugl meyer assessment for the upper extremity, Functional assessment, Functional status assessment, General health status assessment, Hemiparesis, Human, Interactive feedback, Ischemic stroke, Kinematics, Major clinical study, Male, Mini mental state examination, Motion classification, Motion sensing, Motor analog scale, Movement, Multivariate regression, Muscle function, Posture monitoring, Probability, Recovery, Rehabilitation, Reliability, Retrospective study, Stroke, Stroke patient, Test retest reliability, Therapy, Total goal directed movement, Upper extremities, Upper limb, Upper-limb, Wolf motor function test


Dulay, S, Rivas, L, Pla, L, Berdun, S, Eixarch, E, Gratacos, E, Illa, M, Mir, M, Samitier, J, (2021). Fetal ischemia monitoring with in vivo implanted electrochemical multiparametric microsensors Journal Of Biological Engineering 15, 28

Under intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), abnormal attainment of the nutrients and oxygen by the fetus restricts the normal evolution of the prenatal causing in many cases high morbidity being one of the top-ten causes of neonatal death. The current gold standards in hospitals to detect this relevant problem is the clinical observation by echography, cardiotocography and Doppler. These qualitative techniques are not conclusive and requires risky invasive fetal scalp blood testing and/or amniocentesis. We developed micro-implantable multiparametric electrochemical sensors for measuring ischemia in real time in fetal tissue and vascular. This implantable technology is designed to continuous monitoring for an early detection of ischemia to avoid potential fetal injury. Two miniaturized electrochemical sensors were developed based on oxygen and pH detection. The sensors were optimized in vitro under controlled concentration, to assess the selectivity and sensitivity required. The sensors were then validated in vivo in the ewe fetus model, by means of their insertion in the muscle leg and inside the iliac artery of the fetus. Ischemia was achieved by gradually obstructing the umbilical cord to regulate the amount of blood reaching the fetus. An important challenge in fetal monitoring is the detection of low levels of oxygen and pH changes under ischemic conditions, requiring high sensitivity sensors. Significant differences were observed in both; pH and pO(2) sensors under changes from normoxia to hypoxia states in the fetus tissue and vascular with both sensors. Herein, we demonstrate the feasibility of the developed sensors for future fetal monitoring in medical applications.

JTD Keywords: electrochemical biosensor, implantable sensor, in vivo validation, ischemia detection, tissue and vascular monitoring, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Article, Blood-gases, Brain, Classification, Controlled study, Diagnosis, Doppler, Early diagnosis, Electrochemical analysis, Electrochemical biosensor, Ewe, Feasibility study, Female, Fetus, Fetus disease, Fetus monitoring, Gestational age, Hypoxemia, Iliac artery, Implantable sensor, In vivo validation, Intrauterine growth restriction, Intrauterine growth retardation, Ischemia detection, Leg muscle, Management, Nonhuman, Oxygen consumption, Ph, Ph and oxygen detection, Ph measurement, Process optimization, Sheep, Tissue and vascular monitoring, Umbilical-cord occlusion


Rodriguez J, Schulz S, Voss A, Giraldo BF, (2021). Classification of ischemic and dilated cardiomyopathy patients based on the analysis of the pulse transit time Conference Proceedings : ... Annual International Conference Of The Ieee Engineering In Medicine And Biology Society. Ieee Engineering In Medicine And Biology Society. Conference , 5527-5530

Cardiomyopathies diseases affects a great number of the elderly population. An adequate identification of the etiology of a cardiomyopathy patient is still a challenge. The aim of this study was to classify patients by their etiology in function of indexes extracted from the characterization of the pulse transit time (PTT). This time series represents the time taken by the pulse pressure to propagate through the length of the arterial tree and corresponding to the time between R peak of ECG and the mid-point of the diastolic to systolic slope in the blood pressure signal. For each patient, the PTT time series was extracted. Thirty cardiomyopathy patients (CMP) classified as ischemic (ICM - 15 patients) and dilated (DCM - 15 patients) were analyzed. Forty-three healthy subjects (CON) were used as a reference. The PTT time series was characterized through statistical descriptive indices and the joint symbolic dynamics method. The best indices were used to build support vector machine models. The optimal model to classify ICM versus DCM patients achieved 89.6% accuracy, 78.5% sensitivity, and 100% specificity. When comparing CMP patients and CON subjects, the best model achieved 91.3% accuracy, 91.3% sensitivity, and 88.3% specificity. Our results suggests a significantly lower pulse transit time in ischemic patients.Clinical relevance - This study analyzed the suitability of the pulse transit time for the classification of ICM and DCM patients. © 2021 IEEE.

JTD Keywords: Aged, Blood pressure, Cardiomyopathies, Cardiomyopathy, Cardiomyopathy, dilated, Congestive cardiomyopathy, Human, Humans, Pulse wave, Pulse wave analysis, Support vector machine


Arboleda A, Amado L, Rodriguez J, Naranjo F, Giraldo BF, (2021). A new protocol to compare successful versus failed patients using the electromyographic diaphragm signal in extubation process Conference Proceedings : ... Annual International Conference Of The Ieee Engineering In Medicine And Biology Society. Ieee Engineering In Medicine And Biology Society. Conference , 5646-5649

In clinical practice, when a patient is undergoing mechanical ventilation, it is important to identify the optimal moment for extubation, minimizing the risk of failure. However, this prediction remains a challenge in the clinical process. In this work, we propose a new protocol to study the extubation process, including the electromyographic diaphragm signal (diaEMG) recorded through 5-channels with surface electrodes around the diaphragm muscle. First channel corresponds to the electrode on the right. A total of 40 patients in process of withdrawal of mechanical ventilation, undergoing spontaneous breathing tests (SBT), were studied. According to the outcome of the SBT, the patients were classified into two groups: successful (SG: 19 patients) and failure (FG: 21 patients) groups. Parameters extracted from the envelope of each channel of diaEMG in time and frequency domain were studied. After analyzing all channels, the second presented maximum differences when comparing the two groups of patients, with parameters related to root mean square (p = 0.005), moving average (p = 0.001), and upward slope (p = 0.017). The third channel also presented maximum differences in parameters as the time between maximum peak (p = 0.004), and the skewness (p = 0.027). These results suggest that diaphragm EMG signal could contribute to increase the knowledge of the behaviour of respiratory system in these patients and improve the extubation process.Clinical Relevance - This establishes the characterization of success and failure patients in the extubation process. © 2021 IEEE.

JTD Keywords: Airway extubation, Artificial ventilation, Clinical practices, Clinical process, Diaphragm, Diaphragm muscle, Diaphragms, Electrodes, Electromyographic, Extubation, Frequency domain analysis, Human, Humans, Maximum differences, Mechanical ventilation, New protocol, Respiration, artificial, Respiratory system, Risk of failure, Spontaneous breathing, Surface electrode, Thorax, Ventilation, Ventilator weaning


Garreta, E, Nauryzgaliyeva, Z, Montserrat, N, (2021). Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived kidney organoids toward clinical implementations Curr Opin Biomed Eng 20, 100346

The generation of kidney organoids from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) has represented a relevant scientific achievement in the organoid field. Importantly, hPSC-derived kidney organoids contain multiple nephron-like structures that exhibit some renal functional characteristics and have the capacity to respond to nephrotoxic agents. In this review, we first discuss how bioengineering approaches can help overcome current kidney organoid challenges. Next, we focus on recent works exploiting kidney organoids for drug screening and disease modeling applications. Finally, we provide a state of the art on current research toward the potential application of kidney organoids and renal cells derived from hPSCs for future renal replacement therapies.

JTD Keywords: Bioengineering, Converting enzyme-ii, Crispr/cas9 gene editing, Disease, Disease modeling, Extracellular-matrix, Generation, Human pluripotent stem cells, Kidney organoids, Kidney regeneration, Model, Mouse, Reveals, Scaffold, Transplantation


Brennan M, Monahan DS, Brulin B, Gallinetti S, Humbert P, Tringides C, Canal C, Ginebra MP, Layrolle P, (2021). Biomimetic versus sintered macroporous calcium phosphate scaffolds enhanced bone regeneration and human mesenchymal stromal cell engraftment in calvarial defects Acta Biomaterialia 135, 689-704

In contrast to sintered calcium phosphates (CaPs) commonly employed as scaffolds to deliver mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) targeting bone repair, low temperature setting conditions of calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) yield biomimetic topology with high specific surface area. In this study, the healing capacity of CDHA administering MSCs to bone defects is evaluated for the first time and compared with sintered beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) constructs sharing the same interconnected macroporosity. Xeno-free expanded human bone marrow MSCs attached to the surface of the hydrophobic β-TCP constructs, while infiltrating the pores of the hydrophilic CDHA. Implantation of MSCs on CaPs for 8 weeks in calvaria defects of nude mice exhibited complete healing, with bone formation aligned along the periphery of β-TCP, and conversely distributed within the pores of CDHA. Human monocyte-osteoclast differentiation was inhibited in vitro by direct culture on CDHA compared to β-TCP biomaterials and indirectly by administration of MSC-conditioned media generated on CDHA, while MSCs increased osteoclastogenesis in both CaPs in vivo. MSC engraftment was significantly higher in CDHA constructs, and also correlated positively with bone in-growth in scaffolds. These findings demonstrate that biomimetic CDHA are favorable carriers for MSC therapies and should be explored further towards clinical bone regeneration strategies. Statement of significance: Delivery of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) on calcium phosphate (CaP) biomaterials enhances reconstruction of bone defects. Traditional CaPs are produced at high temperature, but calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) prepared at room temperature yields a surface structure more similar to native bone mineral. The objective of this study was to compare the capacity of biomimetic CDHA scaffolds with sintered β-TCP scaffolds for bone repair mediated by MSCs for the first time. In vitro, greater cell infiltration occurred in CDHA scaffolds and following 8 weeks in vivo, MSC engraftment was higher in CDHA compared to β-TCP, as was bone in-growth. These findings demonstrate the impact of material features such as surface structure, and highlight that CDHA should be explored towards clinical bone regeneration strategies.

JTD Keywords: beta-tricalcium phosphate, bone regeneration, calcium deficient hydroxyapatite, differentiation, engraftment, human bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells, hydroxyapatite scaffolds, in-vitro, inhibition, osteogenesis, osteoinduction, stem-cells, surface-topography, tissue, Beta-tricalcium phosphate, Bone regeneration, Calcium deficient hydroxyapatite, Engraftment, Human bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells


Grechuta, K, Costa, JD, Ballester, BR, Verschure, P, (2021). Challenging the Boundaries of the Physical Self: Distal Cues Impact Body Ownership Frontiers In Human Neuroscience 15, 704414

The unique ability to identify one's own body and experience it as one's own is fundamental in goal-oriented behavior and survival. However, the mechanisms underlying the so-called body ownership are yet not fully understood. Evidence based on Rubber Hand Illusion (RHI) paradigms has demonstrated that body ownership is a product of reception and integration of self and externally generated multisensory information, feedforward and feedback processing of sensorimotor signals, and prior knowledge about the body. Crucially, however, these designs commonly involve the processing of proximal modalities while the contribution of distal sensory signals to the experience of ownership remains elusive. Here we propose that, like any robust percept, body ownership depends on the integration and prediction across all sensory modalities, including distal sensory signals pertaining to the environment. To test our hypothesis, we created an embodied goal-oriented Virtual Air Hockey Task, in which participants were to hit a virtual puck into a goal. In two conditions, we manipulated the congruency of distal multisensory cues (auditory and visual) while preserving proximal and action-driven signals entirely predictable. Compared to a fully congruent condition, our results revealed a significant decrease on three dimensions of ownership evaluation when distal signals were incongruent, including the subjective report as well as physiological and kinematic responses to an unexpected threat. Together, these findings support the notion that the way we represent our body is contingent upon all the sensory stimuli, including distal and action-independent signals. The present data extend the current framework of body ownership and may also find applications in rehabilitation scenarios.



JTD Keywords: active perception, body ownership, distal sensory cues, embodied cognition, forward model, Active perception, Adult, Article, Body ownership, Brain, Cortex, Distal sensory cues, Embodied cognition, Feel, Female, Forward model, Hockey, Human, Human experiment, Integration, Male, Models, Neurons, Perception, Peripersonal space, Prediction, Rehabilitation, Rubber hand illusion, Sensory prediction error, Touch


Mestre R, García N, Patiño T, Guix M, Fuentes J, Valerio-Santiago M, Almiñana N, Sánchez S, (2021). 3D-bioengineered model of human skeletal muscle tissue with phenotypic features of aging for drug testing purposes Biofabrication 13, 45011

Three-dimensional engineering of skeletal muscle is becoming increasingly relevant for tissue engineering, disease modeling and bio-hybrid robotics, where flexible, versatile and multidisciplinary approaches for the evaluation of tissue differentiation, functionality and force measurement are required. This works presents a 3D-printed platform of bioengineered human skeletal muscle which can efficiently model the three-dimensional structure of native tissue, while providing information about force generation and contraction profiles. Proper differentiation and maturation of myocytes is demonstrated by the expression of key myo-proteins using immunocytochemistry and analyzed by confocal microscopy, and the functionality assessed via electrical stimulation and analysis of contraction kinetics. To validate the flexibility of this platform for complex tissue modeling, the bioengineered muscle is treated with tumor necrosis factor α to mimic the conditions of aging, which is supported by morphological and functional changes. Moreover, as a proof of concept, the effects of Argireline® Amplified peptide, a cosmetic ingredient that causes muscle relaxation, are evaluated in both healthy and aged tissue models. Therefore, the results demonstrate that this 3D-bioengineered human muscle platform could be used to assess morphological and functional changes in the aging process of muscular tissue with potential applications in biomedicine, cosmetics and bio-hybrid robotics.

JTD Keywords: 3d bioprinting, bio-actuator, drug testing, human skeletal muscle, muscle ageing, platform, tnf-alpha, 3d bioprinting, Bio-actuator, Drug testing, Human skeletal muscle, Muscle ageing, Necrosis-factor-alpha


Illa M, Pla L, Berdún S, Mir M, Rivas L, Dulay S, Picard-Hagen N, Samitier J, Gratacós E, Eixarch E, (2021). Miniaturized electrochemical sensors to monitor fetal hypoxia and acidosis in a pregnant sheep model Biomedicines 9,

Perinatal asphyxia is a major cause of severe brain damage and death. For its prenatal identification, Doppler ultrasound has been used as a surrogate marker of fetal hypoxia. However, Doppler evaluation cannot be performed continuously. We have evaluated the performance of a miniaturized multiparametric sensor aiming to evaluate tissular oxygen and pH changes continuously in an umbilical cord occlusion (UCO) sheep model. The electrochemical sensors were inserted in fetal hindlimb skeletal muscle and electrochemical signals were recorded. Fetal hemodynamic changes and metabolic status were also monitored during the experiment. Additionally, histological assessment of the tissue surrounding the sensors was performed. Both electrochemical sensors detected the pO2 and pH changes induced by the UCO and these changes were correlated with hemodynamic parameters as well as with pH and oxygen content in the blood. Finally, histological assessment revealed no signs of alteration on the same day of insertion. This study provides the first evidence showing the application of miniaturized multiparametric electrochemical sensors detecting changes in oxygen and pH in skeletal muscular tissue in a fetal sheep model.

JTD Keywords: continuous monitoring of acid-base status, diagnosis, doppler, electrochemical sensors, growth restriction, high-risk pregnancies, human-fetus, management, responses, tissue ph, Continuous monitoring of acid-base status, Electrochemical sensors, High-risk pregnancies, Umbilical cord occlusion, Umbilical-cord occlusion


Nyga, Agata, Muñoz, Jose J., Dercksen, Suze, Fornabaio, Giulia, Uroz, Marina, Trepat, Xavier, Baum, Buzz, Matthews, Helen K., Conte, Vito, (2021). Oncogenic RAS instructs morphological transformation of human epithelia via differential tissue mechanics Science Advances 7, eabg6467

Villasante A, Robinson ST, Cohen AR, Lock R, Guo XE, Vunjak-Novakovic G, (2021). Human Serum Enhances Biomimicry of Engineered Tissue Models of Bone and Cancer Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 9, 658472

For decades, fetal bovine serum (FBS) has been used routinely for culturing many cell types, based on its empirically demonstrated effects on cell growth, and the lack of suitable non-xenogeneic alternatives. The FBS-based culture media do not represent the human physiological conditions, and can compromise biomimicry of preclinical models. To recapitulate in vitro the features of human bone and bone cancer, we investigated the effects of human serum and human platelet lysate on modeling osteogenesis, osteoclastogenesis, and bone cancer in two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) settings. For monitoring tumor growth within tissue-engineered bone in a non-destructive fashion, we generated cancer cell lines expressing and secreting luciferase. Culture media containing human serum enhanced osteogenesis and osteoclasts differentiation, and provided a more realistic in vitro mimic of human cancer cell proliferation. When human serum was used for building 3D engineered bone, the tissue recapitulated bone homeostasis and response to bisphosphonates observed in native bone. We found disparities in cell behavior and drug responses between the metastatic and primary cancer cells cultured in the bone niche, with the effectiveness of bisphosphonates observed only in metastatic models. Overall, these data support the utility of human serum for bioengineering of bone and bone cancers.

JTD Keywords: 3d cancer models, 3rs, alpha tnf-alpha, culture, cypridina luciferase, ewings-sarcoma, ewing’s sarcoma, human platelet lysate, human serum, human tumor, in-vitro, osteogenic differentiation, stem-cells, zoledronic acid, 3d cancer models, 3rs, Cypridina luciferase, Ewing's sarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, Fetal bovine serum, Human serum


Santos-Pata D, Amil AF, Raikov IG, Rennó-Costa C, Mura A, Soltesz I, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). Epistemic Autonomy: Self-supervised Learning in the Mammalian Hippocampus Trends In Cognitive Sciences 25, 582-595

Biological cognition is based on the ability to autonomously acquire knowledge, or epistemic autonomy. Such self-supervision is largely absent in artificial neural networks (ANN) because they depend on externally set learning criteria. Yet training ANN using error backpropagation has created the current revolution in artificial intelligence, raising the question of whether the epistemic autonomy displayed in biological cognition can be achieved with error backpropagation-based learning. We present evidence suggesting that the entorhinal–hippocampal complex combines epistemic autonomy with error backpropagation. Specifically, we propose that the hippocampus minimizes the error between its input and output signals through a modulatory counter-current inhibitory network. We further discuss the computational emulation of this principle and analyze it in the context of autonomous cognitive systems. © 2021 Elsevier Ltd

JTD Keywords: computational model, dentate gyrus, error backpropagation, granule cells, grid cells, hippocampus, inhibition, input, neural-networks, neurons, transformation, Artificial intelligence, Artificial neural network, Back propagation, Backpropagation, Brain, Cognitive systems, Counter current, Error back-propagation, Error backpropagation, Errors, Expressing interneurons, Hippocampal complex, Hippocampus, Human experiment, Input and outputs, Learning, Mammal, Mammalian hippocampus, Mammals, Neural networks, Nonhuman, Review, Self-supervised learning


Cereta, AD, Oliveira, VR, Costa, IP, Guimaraes, LL, Afonso, JPR, Fonseca, AL, de Sousa, ART, Silva, GAM, Mello, DACPG, de Oliveira, LVF, da Palma, RK, (2021). Early Life Microbial Exposure and Immunity Training Effects on Asthma Development and Progression Frontiers Of Medicine 8, 662262

Asthma is the most common inflammatory disease affecting the lungs, which can be caused by intrauterine or postnatal insults depending on the exposure to environmental factors. During early life, the exposure to different risk factors can influence the microbiome leading to undesired changes to the immune system. The modulations of the immunity, caused by dysbiosis during development, can increase the susceptibility to allergic diseases. On the other hand, immune training approaches during pregnancy can prevent allergic inflammatory diseases of the airways. In this review, we focus on evidence of risk factors in early life that can alter the development of lung immunity associated with dysbiosis, that leads to asthma and affect childhood and adult life. Furthermore, we discuss new ideas for potential prevention strategies that can be applied during pregnancy and postnatal period.

JTD Keywords: asthma, dysbiosis, early life immunity, lung microbiome, Adulthood, Antibiotic exposure, Asthma, Childhood, Disease, Disease exacerbation, Dysbiosis, Early life immunity, Gut microbiome, Human, Immunity, Intestine flora, Lung development, Lung microbiome, Lung microbiota, Nonhuman, Perinatal period, Pregnancy, Prevention, Prevention strategies, Review, Risk, Risk factor, Sensitization, Supplementation, Vitamin-d, Wheeze


Lovell-Badge R, Anthony E, Barker RA, Bubela T, Brivanlou AH, Carpenter M, Charo RA, Clark A, Clayton E, Cong Y, Daley GQ, Fu J, Fujita M, Greenfield A, Goldman SA, Hill L, Hyun I, Isasi R, Kahn J, Kato K, Kim JS, Kimmelman J, Knoblich JA, Mathews D, Montserrat N, Mosher J, Munsie M, Nakauchi H, Naldini L, Naughton G, Niakan K, Ogbogu U, Pedersen R, Rivron N, Rooke H, Rossant J, Round J, Saitou M, Sipp D, Steffann J, Sugarman J, Surani A, Takahashi J, Tang F, Turner L, Zettler PJ, Zhai X, (2021). ISSCR Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation: The 2021 update Stem Cell Reports 16, 1398-1408

The International Society for Stem Cell Research has updated its Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation in order to address advances in stem cell science and other relevant fields, together with the associated ethical, social, and policy issues that have arisen since the last update in 2016. While growing to encompass the evolving science, clinical applications of stem cells, and the increasingly complex implications of stem cell research for society, the basic principles underlying the Guidelines remain unchanged, and they will continue to serve as the standard for the field and as a resource for scientists, regulators, funders, physicians, and members of the public, including patients. A summary of the key updates and issues is presented here.

JTD Keywords: self-organization, Human embryo research


Blanco-Fernandez, B, Castano, O, Mateos-Timoneda, MA, Engel, E, Perez-Amodio, S, (2021). Nanotechnology Approaches in Chronic Wound Healing Advances In Wound Care 10, 234-256

Significance: The incidence of chronic wounds is increasing due to our aging population and the augment of people afflicted with diabetes. With the extended knowledge on the biological mechanisms underlying these diseases, there is a novel influx of medical technologies into the conventional wound care market. Recent Advances: Several nanotechnologies have been developed demonstrating unique characteristics that address specific problems related to wound repair mechanisms. In this review, we focus on the most recently developed nanotechnology-based therapeutic agents and evaluate the efficacy of each treatment in in vivo diabetic models of chronic wound healing. Critical Issues: Despite the development of potential biomaterials and nanotechnology-based applications for wound healing, this scientific knowledge is not translated into an increase of commercially available wound healing products containing nanomaterials. Future Directions: Further studies are critical to provide insights into how scientific evidences from nanotechnology-based therapies can be applied in the clinical setting.

JTD Keywords: chronic, diabetes, liposomes, nanofibers, nanoparticles, Chronic, Chronic wound, Diabetes, Diabetic wound, Diabetic-rats, Dressings, Drug mechanism, Extracellular-matrix, Growth-factor, Human, In-vitro, Liposome, Liposomes, Mesenchymal stem-cells, Metal nanoparticle, Nanofiber, Nanofibers, Nanofibrous scaffolds, Nanoparticles, Nanotechnology, Nonhuman, Polyester, Polymer, Polysaccharide, Priority journal, Protein, Review, Self assembled protein nanoparticle, Silk fibroin, Skin wounds, Wound healing, Wound healing promoting agent


Ortega MA, Rodríguez-Comas J, Yavas O, Velasco-Mallorquí F, Balaguer-Trias J, Parra V, Novials A, Servitja JM, Quidant R, Ramón-Azcón J, (2021). In Situ LSPR Sensing of Secreted Insulin in Organ-on-Chip Biosensors 11, 138

Organ-on-a-chip (OOC) devices offer new approaches for metabolic disease modeling and drug discovery by providing biologically relevant models of tissues and organs in vitro with a high degree of control over experimental variables for high-content screening applications. Yet, to fully exploit the potential of these platforms, there is a need to interface them with integrated non-labeled sensing modules, capable of monitoring, in situ, their biochemical response to external stimuli, such as stress or drugs. In order to meet this need, we aim here to develop an integrated technology based on coupling a localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) sensing module to an OOC device to monitor the insulin in situ secretion in pancreatic islets, a key physiological event that is usually perturbed in metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes (T2D). As a proof of concept, we developed a biomimetic islet-on-a-chip (IOC) device composed of mouse pancreatic islets hosted in a cellulose-based scaffold as a novel approach. The IOC was interfaced with a state-of-the-art on-chip LSPR sensing platform to monitor the in situ insulin secretion. The developed platform offers a powerful tool to enable the in situ response study of microtissues to external stimuli for applications such as a drug-screening platform for human models, bypassing animal testing.

JTD Keywords: biosensor, cytoarchitecture, dna hybridization, gelatin, in situ insulin monitoring, langerhans, lspr sensors, microfluidic device, organ-on-a-chip, parallel, platform, scaffold, Human pancreatic-islets, In situ insulin monitoring, Lspr sensors, Organ-on-a-chip


Mateu-Sanz, M, Tornin, J, Ginebra, MP, Canal, C, (2021). Cold Atmospheric Plasma: A New Strategy Based Primarily on Oxidative Stress for Osteosarcoma Therapy Journal Of Clinical Medicine 10, 893

Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor, and its first line of treatment presents a high failure rate. The 5-year survival for children and teenagers with osteosarcoma is 70% (if diagnosed before it has metastasized) or 20% (if spread at the time of diagnosis), stressing the need for novel therapies. Recently, cold atmospheric plasmas (ionized gases consisting of UV-Vis radiation, electromagnetic fields and a great variety of reactive species) and plasma-treated liquids have been shown to have the potential to selectively eliminate cancer cells in different tumors through an oxidative stress-dependent mechanism. In this work, we review the current state of the art in cold plasma therapy for osteosarcoma. Specifically, we emphasize the mechanisms unveiled thus far regarding the action of plasmas on osteosarcoma. Finally, we review current and potential future approaches, emphasizing the most critical challenges for the development of osteosarcoma therapies based on this emerging technique.

JTD Keywords: cancer stem cells, cold atmospheric plasma, osteosarcoma, oxidative stress, plasma treated liquids, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, Antineoplastic activity, Antineoplastic agent, Cancer chemotherapy, Cancer stem cell, Cancer stem cells, Cancer surgery, Cancer survival, Cell therapy, Cold atmospheric plasma, Cold atmospheric plasma therapy, Electromagnetism, Human, In vitro study, Intracellular signaling, Oncogene, Osteosarcoma, Oxidative stress, Plasma treated liquids, Reactive nitrogen species, Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, Reactive oxygen metabolite, Review, Tumor microenvironment


Soriente A, Amodio SP, Fasolino I, Raucci MG, Demitri C, Engel E, Ambrosio L, (2021). Chitosan/PEGDA based scaffolds as bioinspired materials to control in vitro angiogenesis Materials Science & Engineering C-Materials For Biological Applications 118, 111420

© 2020 Elsevier B.V. In the current work, our purpose was based on the assessment of bioactive chitosan (CS)/Poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) based scaffolds ability to stimulate in vitro angiogenesis process. The bioactivation of the scaffolds was accomplished by using organic (BMP-2 peptide) and inorganic (hydroxyapatite nanoparticles) cues. In particular, the properties of the materials in terms of biological response promotion on human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were studied by using in vitro angiogenesis tests based on cell growth and proliferation. Furthermore, our interest was to examine the scaffolds capability to modulate two important steps involved in angiogenesis process: migration and tube formation of cells. Our data underlined that bioactive signals on CS/PEGDA scaffolds surface induce a desirable effect on angiogenic response concerning angiogenic marker expression (CD-31) and endothelial tissue formation (tube formation). Taken together, the results emphasized the concept that bioactive CS/PEGDA scaffolds may be novel implants for stimulating neovascularization of tissue-engineered constructs in regenerative medicine field.

JTD Keywords: angiogenesis, bmp-2 peptide, chitosan/pegda based scaffolds, human umbilical vein endothelial cells huvecs, Angiogenesis, Bmp-2 peptide, Chitosan/pegda based scaffolds, Human umbilical vein endothelial cells huvecs, Osteogenesis


Selfa IL, Gallo M, Montserrat N, Garreta E, (2021). Directed Differentiation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells for the Generation of High-Order Kidney Organoids Methods In Molecular Biology 2258, 171-192

© 2021, The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. 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.

JTD Keywords: 2d monolayer, 3d organotypic culture, differentiation, flow cytometry, human pluripotent stem cells, immunocytochemistry, intermediate mesoderm, kidney organoid, nephron progenitor cells, nephrons, primitive streak, 2d monolayer, 3d organotypic culture, Differentiation, Flow cytometry, Human pluripotent stem cells, Immunocytochemistry, Intermediate mesoderm, Kidney organoid, Nephron progenitor cells, Nephrons, Primitive streak, Tissue


Watt, AC, Cejas, P, DeCristo, MJ, Metzger, O, Lam, EYN, Qiu, XT, BrinJones, H, Kesten, N, Coulson, R, Font-Tello, A, Lim, K, Vadhi, R, Daniels, VW, Montero, J, Taing, L, Meyer, CA, Gilan, O, Bell, CC, Korthauer, KD, Giambartolomei, C, Pasaniuc, B, Seo, JH, Freedman, ML, Ma, CT, Ellis, MJ, Krop, I, Winer, E, Letai, A, Brown, M, Dawson, MA, Long, HW, Zhao, JJ, Goel, S, (2021). CDK4/6 inhibition reprograms the breast cancer enhancer landscape by stimulating AP-1 transcriptional activity Nature Cancer 2, 34-48

Goel and colleagues show that CDK4/6 inhibition induces global chromatin changes mediated by AP-1 factors, which mediate key biological and clinical effects in breast cancer. Pharmacologic inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6 (CDK4/6) were designed to induce cancer cell cycle arrest. Recent studies have suggested that these agents also exert other effects, influencing cancer cell immunogenicity, apoptotic responses and differentiation. Using cell-based and mouse models of breast cancer together with clinical specimens, we show that CDK4/6 inhibitors induce remodeling of cancer cell chromatin characterized by widespread enhancer activation, and that this explains many of these effects. The newly activated enhancers include classical super-enhancers that drive luminal differentiation and apoptotic evasion, as well as a set of enhancers overlying endogenous retroviral elements that are enriched for proximity to interferon-driven genes. Mechanistically, CDK4/6 inhibition increases the level of several activator protein-1 transcription factor proteins, which are in turn implicated in the activity of many of the new enhancers. Our findings offer insights into CDK4/6 pathway biology and should inform the future development of CDK4/6 inhibitors.

JTD Keywords: Abemaciclib, Androgen receptor, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Apoptosis, Article, Breast cancer, C-jun, Cancer cell, Carcinoembryonic antigen related cell adhesion molecule 1, Caspase 3, Cell cycle arrest, Cells, Chromatin, Chromatin immunoprecipitation, Controlled study, Cyclin dependent kinase 4, Cyclin dependent kinase 6, Dna damage, Epidermal growth factor receptor 2, Estrogen receptor, Female, Flow cytometry, Fulvestrant, Hla drb1 antigen, Human, Human cell, Immunoblotting, Immunogenicity, Immunoprecipitation, Interferon, Luciferase assay, Mcf-7 cell line, Mda-mb-231 cell line, Microarray analysis, Morphogenesis, Mouse, Nonhuman, Palbociclib, Protein, Protein expression, Rb, Resistance, Rna polymerase ii, Rna sequence, Selective-inhibition, Senescence, Short tandem repeat, Signal transduction, Tamoxifen, Transcription elongation, Transcription factor, Transcription factor ap 1, Transcriptome, Tumor biopsy, Tumor differentiation, Tumor spheroid, Tumor xenograft, Vinculin, Whole exome sequencing


Vouloutsi V, Chesson A, Blancas M, Guerrero O, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). The use of social sensorimotor contingencies in humanoid robots Lecture Notes In Computer Science 12413 LNAI, 378-389

This pilot study investigates the role of social sensorimotor contingencies as exhibited from a humanoid robot to allow mutual understanding and social entrainment in a group social activity. The goal is to evaluate whether sensorimotor contingencies can lead to transparent and understandable interactions while we explore the dimension of personality. We propose the task of taking a selfie with a robot and a group of humans as the benchmark to evaluate the social sensorimotor contingencies displayed. We have constructed two models of interaction with an introverted and extroverted robot. We also seek to address the gap in research in context and personality of social sensorimotor contingencies in HRI and contribute to the field of personality in social robotics by determining what type of behaviour of the robot attracts certain personalities in humans in group settings. Although the sample size was small, and there were no significant differences between conditions, results suggest that the expression of sensorimotor contingencies can lead to successful coupling and interactions.

JTD Keywords: Human-robot interaction, Personality, Social robots, Social sensorimotor contingencies


Freire IT, Urikh D, Arsiwalla XD, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). Machine morality: From harm-avoidance to human-robot cooperation Lecture Notes In Computer Science 12413 LNAI, 116-127

We present a new computational framework for modeling moral decision-making in artificial agents based on the notion of ‘Machine Morality as Cooperation’. This framework integrates recent advances from cross-disciplinary moral decision-making literature into a single architecture. We build upon previous work outlining cognitive elements that an artificial agent would need for exhibiting latent morality, and we extend it by providing a computational realization of the cognitive architecture of such an agent. Our work has implications for cognitive and social robotics. Recent studies in human neuroimaging have pointed to three different decision-making processes, Pavlovian, model-free and model-based, that are defined by distinct neural substrates in the brain. Here, we describe how computational models of these three cognitive processes can be implemented in a single cognitive architecture by using the distributed and hierarchical organization proposed by the DAC theoretical framework. Moreover, we propose that a pro-social drive to cooperate exists at the Pavlovian level that can also bias the rest of the decision system, thus extending current state-of-the-art descriptive models based on harm-aversion.

JTD Keywords: Cognitive architectures, Cognitive robotics, Computational models, Human-robot interaction, Moral decision-making, Morality


Monteil, Vanessa, Kwon, Hyesoo, Prado, Patricia, Hagelkrüys, Astrid, Wimmer, Reiner A., Stahl, Martin, Leopoldi, Alexandra, Garreta, Elena, Hurtado Del Pozo, Carmen, Prosper, Felipe, Romero, Juan Pablo, Wirnsberger, Gerald, Zhang, Haibo, Slutsky, Arthur S., Conder, Ryan, Montserrat, Nuria, Mirazimi, Ali, Penninger, Josef M., (2020). Inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 infections in engineered human tissues using clinical-grade soluble human ACE2 Cell 181, (4), 905-913.e7

We have previously provided the first genetic evidence that angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is the critical receptor for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), and ACE2 protects the lung from injury, providing a molecular explanation for the severe lung failure and death due to SARS-CoV infections. ACE2 has now also been identified as a key receptor for SARS-CoV-2 infections, and it has been proposed that inhibiting this interaction might be used in treating patients with COVID-19. However, it is not known whether human recombinant soluble ACE2 (hrsACE2) blocks growth of SARS-CoV-2. Here, we show that clinical grade hrsACE2 reduced SARS-CoV-2 recovery from Vero cells by a factor of 1,000-5,000. An equivalent mouse rsACE2 had no effect. We also show that SARS-CoV-2 can directly infect engineered human blood vessel organoids and human kidney organoids, which can be inhibited by hrsACE2. These data demonstrate that hrsACE2 can significantly block early stages of SARS-CoV-2 infections.

JTD Keywords: COVID-19, Angiotensin converting enzyme 2, Blood vessels, Human organoids, Kidney, Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, Spike glycoproteins, Treatment


Guerrero, O., Verschure, P., (2020). Distributed adaptive control: An ideal cognitive architecture candidate for managing a robotic recycling plant Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 9th International Conference, Living Machines 2020 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Freiburg, Germany) 12413, 153-164

In the past decade, society has experienced notable growth in a variety of technological areas. However, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has not been embraced yet. Industry 4.0 imposes several challenges which include the necessity of new architectural models to tackle the uncertainty that open environments represent to cyber-physical systems (CPS). Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) recycling plants stand for one of such open environments. Here, CPSs must work harmoniously in a changing environment, interacting with similar and not so similar CPSs, and adaptively collaborating with human workers. In this paper, we support the Distributed Adaptive Control (DAC) theory as a suitable Cognitive Architecture for managing a recycling plant. Specifically, a recursive implementation of DAC (between both single-agent and large-scale levels) is proposed to meet the expected demands of the European Project HR-Recycler. Additionally, with the aim of having a realistic benchmark for future implementations of the recursive DAC, a micro-recycling plant prototype is presented.

JTD Keywords: Cognitive architecture, Distributed Adaptive Control, Recycling plant, Navigation, Motor control, Human-Robot Interaction


Freire, Ismael T., Urikh, D., Arsiwalla, X. D., Verschure, P., (2020). Machine morality: From harm-avoidance to human-robot cooperation Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 9th International Conference, Living Machines 2020 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Freiburg, Germany) 12413, 116-127

We present a new computational framework for modeling moral decision-making in artificial agents based on the notion of ‘Machine Morality as Cooperation’. This framework integrates recent advances from cross-disciplinary moral decision-making literature into a single architecture. We build upon previous work outlining cognitive elements that an artificial agent would need for exhibiting latent morality, and we extend it by providing a computational realization of the cognitive architecture of such an agent. Our work has implications for cognitive and social robotics. Recent studies in human neuroimaging have pointed to three different decision-making processes, Pavlovian, model-free and model-based, that are defined by distinct neural substrates in the brain. Here, we describe how computational models of these three cognitive processes can be implemented in a single cognitive architecture by using the distributed and hierarchical organization proposed by the DAC theoretical framework. Moreover, we propose that a pro-social drive to cooperate exists at the Pavlovian level that can also bias the rest of the decision system, thus extending current state-of-the-art descriptive models based on harm-aversion.

JTD Keywords: Morality, Moral decision-making, Computational models, Cognitive architectures, Cognitive robotics, Human-robot interaction


Vouloutsi, V., Chesson, A., Blancas, M., Guerrero, O., Verschure, P., (2020). The use of social sensorimotor contingencies in humanoid robots Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 9th International Conference, Living Machines 2020 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Freiburg, Germany) 12413, 378-389

This pilot study investigates the role of social sensorimotor contingencies as exhibited from a humanoid robot to allow mutual understanding and social entrainment in a group social activity. The goal is to evaluate whether sensorimotor contingencies can lead to transparent and understandable interactions while we explore the dimension of personality. We propose the task of taking a selfie with a robot and a group of humans as the benchmark to evaluate the social sensorimotor contingencies displayed. We have constructed two models of interaction with an introverted and extroverted robot. We also seek to address the gap in research in context and personality of social sensorimotor contingencies in HRI and contribute to the field of personality in social robotics by determining what type of behaviour of the robot attracts certain personalities in humans in group settings. Although the sample size was small, and there were no significant differences between conditions, results suggest that the expression of sensorimotor contingencies can lead to successful coupling and interactions.

JTD Keywords: Human-robot interaction, Personality, Social robots, Social sensorimotor contingencies


Vouloutsi, Vasiliki, Mura, Anna, Tauber, F., Speck, T., Prescott, T. J., Verschure, P., (2020). Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 9th International Conference, Living Machines 2020, Freiburg, Germany, July 28–30, 2020, Proceedings , Springer, Cham (Lausanne, Switzerland) 12413, 1-428

This book constitutes the proceedings of the )th International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems, Living Machines 2020, held in Freiburg, Germany, in July 2020. Due to COVID-19 pandemic the conference was held virtually. The 32 full and 7 short papers presented in this volume were carefully reviewed and selected from 45 submissions. They deal with research on novel life-like technologies inspired by the scientific investigation of biological systems, biomimetics, and research that seeks to interface biological and artificial systems to create biohybrid systems.

JTD Keywords: Artificial intelligence, Soft robotics, Biomimetics, Insect navigation, Synthetic nervous system, Computer vision, Bio-inspired materials, Visual homing, Locomotion+, Image processing, Intelligent robots, Human-robot interaction, Machine learning, Snake robot, Mobile robots, Robotic systems, Drosophila, Robots, Sensors, Signal processing


Valls-Margarit, M., Iglesias-García, O., Di Guglielmo, C., Sarlabous, L., Tadevosyan, K., Paoli, R., Comelles, J., Blanco-Almazán, D., Jiménez-Delgado, S., Castillo-Fernández, O., Samitier, J., Jané, R., Martínez, Elena, Raya, Á., (2019). Engineered macroscale cardiac constructs elicit human myocardial tissue-like functionality Stem Cell Reports 13, (1), 207-220

In vitro surrogate models of human cardiac tissue hold great promise in disease modeling, cardiotoxicity testing, and future applications in regenerative medicine. However, the generation of engineered human cardiac constructs with tissue-like functionality is currently thwarted by difficulties in achieving efficient maturation at the cellular and/or tissular level. Here, we report on the design and implementation of a platform for the production of engineered cardiac macrotissues from human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), which we term “CardioSlice.” PSC-derived cardiomyocytes, together with human fibroblasts, are seeded into large 3D porous scaffolds and cultured using a parallelized perfusion bioreactor with custom-made culture chambers. Continuous electrical stimulation for 2 weeks promotes cardiomyocyte alignment and synchronization, and the emergence of cardiac tissue-like properties. These include electrocardiogram-like signals that can be readily measured on the surface of CardioSlice constructs, and a response to proarrhythmic drugs that is predictive of their effect in human patients.

JTD Keywords: Cardiac tissue engineering, CardioSlice, ECG-like signals, Electrical stimulation, Heart physiology, Human induced pluripotent stem cells, Perfusion bioreactor, Tissue-like properties


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.

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


Martinez-Hernandez, Uriel, Vouloutsi, Vasiliki, Mura, Anna, Mangan, Michael, Asada, Minoru, Prescott, T. J., Verschure, P., (2019). Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 8th International Conference, Living Machines 2019, Nara, Japan, July 9–12, 2019, Proceedings , Springer, Cham (Lausanne, Switzerland) 11556, 1-384

This book constitutes the proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems, Living Machines 2019, held in Nara, Japan, in July 2019. The 26 full and 16 short papers presented in this volume were carefully reviewed and selected from 45 submissions. They deal with research on novel life-like technologies inspired by the scientific investigation of biological systems, biomimetics, and research that seeks to interface biological and artificial systems to create biohybrid systems.

JTD Keywords: Artificial intelligence, Biomimetics, Computer architecture, Human robot interaction, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Humanoid robot, Image processing, Learning algorithms, Mobile robots, Multipurpose robots, Neural networks, Quadruped robots, Reinforcement learning, Robot learning, Robotics, Robots, Sensor, Sensors, Swarm robotics, User interfaces


Fischer, Tobias, Puigbò, Jordi-Ysard, Camilleri, Daniel, Nguyen, Phuong D. H., Moulin-Frier, Clément, Lallée, Stéphane, Metta, Giorgio, Prescott, Tony J., Demiris, Yiannis, Verschure, P., (2018). iCub-HRI: A software framework for complex human-robot interaction scenarios on the iCub humanoid robot Frontiers in Robotics and AI , 5, (22), Article 22

Generating complex, human-like behaviour in a humanoid robot like the iCub requires the integration of a wide range of open source components and a scalable cognitive architecture. Hence, we present the iCub-HRI library which provides convenience wrappers for components related to perception (object recognition, agent tracking, speech recognition, touch detection), object manipulation (basic and complex motor actions) and social interaction (speech synthesis, joint attention) exposed as a C++ library with bindings for Java (allowing to use iCub-HRI within Matlab) and Python. In addition to previously integrated components, the library allows for simple extension to new components and rapid prototyping by adapting to changes in interfaces between components. We also provide a set of modules which make use of the library, such as a high-level knowledge acquisition module and an action recognition module. The proposed architecture has been successfully employed for a complex human-robot interaction scenario involving the acquisition of language capabilities, execution of goal-oriented behaviour and expression of a verbal narrative of the robot's experience in the world. Accompanying this paper is a tutorial which allows a subset of this interaction to be reproduced. The architecture is aimed at researchers familiarising themselves with the iCub ecosystem, as well as expert users, and we expect the library to be widely used in the iCub community.

JTD Keywords: Robotics, iCub Humanoid, YARP, Software architecture, C++, Python, Java, Human-robot interaction


Caddeo, Carla, Pucci, Laura, Gabriele, Morena, Carbone, Claudia, Fernàndez-Busquets, Xavier, Valenti, Donatella, Pons, Ramon, Vassallo, Antonio, Fadda, Anna Maria, Manconi, Maria, (2018). Stability, biocompatibility and antioxidant activity of PEG-modified liposomes containing resveratrol International Journal of Pharmaceutics 538, (1), 40-47

The present investigation reports the development of PEG-modified liposomes for the delivery of naturally occurring resveratrol. PEG-modified liposomes were prepared by direct sonication of the phospholipid aqueous dispersion, in the presence of two PEG-surfactants. Small, spherical, unilamellar vesicles were produced, as demonstrated by light scattering, cryo-TEM, and SAXS. The aging of the vesicles was assessed by using the Turbiscan® technology, and their physical stability was evaluated in vitro in simulated body fluids, results showing that the key features of the liposomes were preserved. The biocompatibility of the formulations was demonstrated in an ex vivo model of hemolysis in human erythrocytes. Further, the incorporation of resveratrol in PEG-modified liposomes did not affect its intrinsic antioxidant activity, as DPPH radical was almost completely inhibited, and the vesicles were also able to ensure an optimal protection against oxidative stress in an ex vivo human erythrocytes-based model. Therefore, the proposed PEG-modified liposomes, which were prepared by a simple and reliable method, represent an interesting approach to safely deliver resveratrol, ensuring the preservation of the carrier structural integrity in the biological fluids, and the antioxidant efficacy of the polyphenol to be exploited against oxidative stress associated with cancer.

JTD Keywords: Resveratrol, Antioxidant, PEG-surfactants, PEG-modified liposomes, Human erythrocytes


Moulin-Frier, C., Fischer, T., Petit, M., Pointeau, G., Puigbo, J., Pattacini, U., Low, S. C., Camilleri, D., Nguyen, P., Hoffmann, M., Chang, H. J., Zambelli, M., Mealier, A., Damianou, A., Metta, G., Prescott, T. J., Demiris, Y., Dominey, P. F., Verschure, P. F. M. J., (2018). DAC-h3: A proactive robot cognitive architecture to acquire and express knowledge about the world and the self IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems 10, (4), 1005-1022

This paper introduces a cognitive architecture for a humanoid robot to engage in a proactive, mixed-initiative exploration and manipulation of its environment, where the initiative can originate from both the human and the robot. The framework, based on a biologically-grounded theory of the brain and mind, integrates a reactive interaction engine, a number of state-of-the art perceptual and motor learning algorithms, as well as planning abilities and an autobiographical memory. The architecture as a whole drives the robot behavior to solve the symbol grounding problem, acquire language capabilities, execute goal-oriented behavior, and express a verbal narrative of its own experience in the world. We validate our approach in human-robot interaction experiments with the iCub humanoid robot, showing that the proposed cognitive architecture can be applied in real time within a realistic scenario and that it can be used with naive users.

JTD Keywords: Autobiographical Memory., Biology, Cognition, Cognitive Robotics, Computer architecture, Distributed Adaptive Control, Grounding, Human-Robot Interaction, Humanoid robots, Robot sensing systems, Symbol Grounding


Garreta, E., González, F., Montserrat, N., (2018). Studying kidney disease using tissue and genome engineering in human pluripotent stem cells Nephron 138, 48-59

Kidney morphogenesis and patterning have been extensively studied in animal models such as the mouse and zebrafish. These seminal studies have been key to define the molecular mechanisms underlying this complex multistep process. Based on this knowledge, the last 3 years have witnessed the development of a cohort of protocols allowing efficient differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) towards defined kidney progenitor populations using two-dimensional (2D) culture systems or through generating organoids. Kidney organoids are three-dimensional (3D) kidney-like tissues, which are able to partially recapitulate kidney structure and function in vitro. The current possibility to combine state-of-the art tissue engineering with clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated systems 9 (Cas9)-mediated genome engineering provides an unprecedented opportunity for studying kidney disease with hPSCs. Recently, hPSCs with genetic mutations introduced through CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome engineering have shown to produce kidney organoids able to recapitulate phenotypes of polycystic kidney disease and glomerulopathies. This mini review provides an overview of the most recent advances in differentiation of hPSCs into kidney lineages, and the latest implementation of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology in the organoid setting, as promising platforms to study human kidney development and disease.

JTD Keywords: Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated systems 9, Disease modeling, Gene editing, Human pluripotent stem cells, Kidney genetics, Tissue engineering


Vouloutsi, Vasiliki, Verschure, P., (2018). Emotions and self-regulation Living Machines: A Handbook of Research in Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems (ed. Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P.), Oxford Scholarship (Oxford, UK) , 327-337

This chapter takes the view that emotions of living machines can be seen from the perspective of self-regulation and appraisal. We will first look at the pragmatic needs to endow machines with emotions and subsequently describe some of the historical background of the science of emotions and its different interpretations and links to affective neuroscience. Subsequently, we argue that emotions can be cast in terms of self-regulation where they provide for a descriptor of the state of the homeostatic processes that maintain the relationship between the agent and its internal and external environment. We augment the notion of homeostasis with that of allostasis which signifies a change from stability through a fixed equilibrium to stability through continuous change. The chapter shows how this view can be used to create complex living machines where emotions are anchored in the need fulfillment of the agent, in this case considering both utilitarian and epistemic needs.

JTD Keywords: Emotion, Motivation, Needs, Appraisal, Self-regulation, Homeostasis, Allostasis, Human–robot interaction, James–Lange theory


Mohammadi, M. H., Obregón, R., Ahadian, S., Ramón-Azcón, J., Radisic, M., (2017). Engineered muscle tissues for disease modeling and drug screening applications Current Pharmaceutical Design , 23, (20), 2991-3004

Animal models have been the main resources for drug discovery and prediction of drugs’ pharmacokinetic responses in the body. However, noticeable drawbacks associated with animal models include high cost, low reproducibility, low physiological similarity to humans, and ethical problems. Engineered tissue models have recently emerged as an alternative or substitute for animal models in drug discovery and testing and disease modeling. In this review, we focus on skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle tissues by first describing their characterization and physiology. Major fabrication technologies (i.e., electrospinning, bioprinting, dielectrophoresis, textile technology, and microfluidics) to make functional muscle tissues are then described. Finally, currently used muscle tissue models in drug screening are reviewed and discussed.

JTD Keywords: Cardiac muscle, Drug screening, Engineering muscle, Human pharmacological response, Physiological similarity, Skeletal muscle


Eguizabal, C., Herrera, L., De Oñate, L., Montserrat, N., Hajkova, P., Izpisua Belmonte, J. C., (2016). Characterization of the epigenetic changes during human gonadal primordial germ cells reprogramming Stem Cells , 34, (9), 2418-2428

Abstract: Epigenetic reprogramming is a central process during mammalian germline development. Genome-wide DNA demethylation in primordial germ cells (PGCs) is a prerequisite for the erasure of epigenetic memory, preventing the transmission of epimutations to the next generation. Apart from DNA demethylation, germline reprogramming has been shown to entail reprogramming of histone marks and chromatin remodelling. Contrary to other animal models, there is limited information about the epigenetic dynamics during early germ cell development in humans. Here, we provide further characterization of the epigenetic configuration of the early human gonadal PGCs. We show that early gonadal human PGCs are DNA hypomethylated and their chromatin is characterized by low H3K9me2 and high H3K27me3 marks. Similarly to previous observations in mice, human gonadal PGCs undergo dynamic chromatin changes concomitant with the erasure of genomic imprints. Interestingly, and contrary to mouse early germ cells, expression of BLIMP1/PRDM1 persists in through all gestational stages in human gonadal PGCs and is associated with nuclear lysine-specific demethylase-1. Our work provides important additional information regarding the chromatin changes associated with human PGCs development between 6 and 13 weeks of gestation in male and female gonads.

JTD Keywords: Epigenetic, Human primordial germ cells, Reprograming


Przybyla, L., Lakins, J. N., Sunyer, R., Trepat, X., Weaver, V. M., (2016). Monitoring developmental force distributions in reconstituted embryonic epithelia Methods , 94, 101-113

The way cells are organized within a tissue dictates how they sense and respond to extracellular signals, as cues are received and interpreted based on expression and organization of receptors, downstream signaling proteins, and transcription factors. Part of this microenvironmental context is the result of forces acting on the cell, including forces from other cells or from the cellular substrate or basement membrane. However, measuring forces exerted on and by cells is difficult, particularly in an in vivo context, and interpreting how forces affect downstream cellular processes poses an even greater challenge. Here, we present a simple method for monitoring and analyzing forces generated from cell collectives. We demonstrate the ability to generate traction force data from human embryonic stem cells grown in large organized epithelial sheets to determine the magnitude and organization of cell-ECM and cell-cell forces within a self-renewing colony. We show that this method can be used to measure forces in a dynamic hESC system and demonstrate the ability to map intracolony protein localization to force organization.

JTD Keywords: Epiblast, Human embryonic stem cells, Mechanotransduction, Monolayer stress microscopy, Self-organization, Traction force


González, F., (2016). CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing in human pluripotent stem cells: Harnessing human genetics in a dish Developmental Dynamics , 245, (7), 788-806

Abstract: Because of their extraordinary differentiation potential, human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) can differentiate into virtually any cell type of the human body, providing a powerful platform not only for generating relevant cell types useful for cell replacement therapies, but also for modeling human development and disease. Expanding this potential, structures resembling human organs, termed organoids, have been recently obtained from hPSCs through tissue engineering. Organoids exhibit multiple cell types self-organizing into structures recapitulating in part the physiology and the cellular interactions observed in the organ in vivo, offering unprecedented opportunities for human disease modeling. To fulfill this promise, tissue engineering in hPSCs needs to be supported by robust and scalable genome editing technologies. With the advent of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology, manipulating the genome of hPSCs has now become an easy task, allowing modifying their genome with superior precision, speed, and throughput. Here we review current and potential applications of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology in hPSCs and how they contribute to establish hPSCs as a model of choice for studying human genetics.

JTD Keywords: CRISPR/Cas9, Disease modeling, Human genetics, Human pluripotent stem cells, Tissue and genome engineering


Keremidarska, M., Gugutkov, D., Altankov, G., Krasteva, N., (2015). Impact of electrospun nanofibres orientation on mesenchymal stem cell adhesion and morphology Comptes Rendus de L'Academie Bulgare des Sciences , 68, (10), 1271-1276

Electrospun nanofibrous materials mimicking the architecture of native extracellular matrix (ECM) hold great promise as scaffolds in tissue engineering. In order to optimize the properties of nanofibrous scaffolds it is important to understand the impact of fibres’ organization on cell behaviour. Herein, we investigated the effect of nanofibres (NFs) alignment on human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hAD-MSCs) adhesion and morphology. Electrospun composite fibrinogen/poly-lactic acid (FNG/PLA) NF scaffolds with same composition and comparable fibre size were fabricated into randomly oriented and aligned configuration and stem cells adhesion was characterized by the meaning of overall cell morphology, actin cytoskeleton organization and expression of molecules, involved in the development of focal adhesion complexes. We found that hAD-MSCs altered their morphology, actin cytoskeleton and cell attachment in accordance with nanofibre orientation while cell spreading, focal adhesions and expression of β1 and αNintegrin receptors were not influenced significantly by fibre orientation. These results confirmed that fibre alignment of scaffold guide cellular arrangement and could be beneficial for stem differentiation and therefore for the successful scaffolds development if its contact guidance coincided with the cell shape and cytoskeletal tension.

JTD Keywords: Electrospinning, Fibrinogen/polylactic acid hybrid nanofibres, Human adipose-derived stem cells


Mur, O., Frigola, M., Casals, A., (2015). Modelling daily actions through hand-based spatio-temporal features ICAR 2015 International Conference on Advanced Robotics , IEEE (Istanbul, Turkey) , 478-483

In this paper, we propose a new approach to domestic action recognition based on a set of features which describe the relation between poses and movements of both hands. These features represent a set of basic actions in a kitchen in terms of the mimics of the hand movements, without needing information of the objects present in the scene. They address specifically the intra-class dissimilarity problem, which occurs when the same action is performed in different ways. The goal is to create a generic methodology that enables a robotic assistant system to recognize actions related to daily life activities and then, be endowed with a proactive behavior. The proposed system uses depth and color data acquired from a Kinect-style sensor and a hand tracking system. We analyze the relevance of the proposed hand-based features using a state-space search approach. Finally, we show the effectiveness of our action recognition approach using our own dataset.

JTD Keywords: Histograms, Joints, Robot sensing systems, Thumb, Tracking, Human activity recognition, Disable and elderly assistance


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

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.

JTD 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


Marques, J., Moles, E., Urbán, P., Prohens, R., Busquets, M. A., Sevrin, C., Grandfils, C., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Application of heparin as a dual agent with antimalarial and liposome targeting activities toward Plasmodium-infected red blood cells Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine 10, (8), 1719-1728

Heparin had been demonstrated to have antimalarial activity and specific binding affinity for Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs) vs. non-infected erythrocytes. Here we have explored if both properties could be joined into a drug delivery strategy where heparin would have a dual role as antimalarial and as a targeting element of drug-loaded nanoparticles. Confocal fluorescence and transmission electron microscopy data show that after 30. min of being added to living pRBCs fluorescein-labeled heparin colocalizes with the intracellular parasites. Heparin electrostatically adsorbed onto positively charged liposomes containing the cationic lipid 1,2-dioleoyl-3-trimethylammonium-propane and loaded with the antimalarial drug primaquine was capable of increasing three-fold the activity of encapsulated drug in Plasmodium falciparum cultures. At concentrations below those inducing anticoagulation of mouse blood in vivo, parasiticidal activity was found to be the additive result of the separate activities of free heparin as antimalarial and of liposome-bound heparin as targeting element for encapsulated primaquine. From the Clinical Editor: Malaria remains an enormous global public health concern. In this study, a novel functionalized heparin formulation used as drug delivery agent for primaquine was demonstrated to result in threefold increased drug activity in cell cultures, and in a murine model it was able to provide these benefits in concentrations below what would be required for anticoagulation. Further studies are needed determine if this approach is applicable in the human disease as well.

JTD Keywords: Heparin, Liposomes, Malaria, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery, Heparin, Malaria, Plasmodium, Red blood cell, Targeted drug delivery, Liposomes, 1,2 dioleoyl 3 trimethylammoniopropane, fluorescein, heparin, liposome, nanoparticle, primaquine, adsorption, animal experiment, anticoagulation, antimalarial activity, Article, binding affinity, confocal microscopy, controlled study, drug targeting, encapsulation, erythrocyte, female, fluorescence microscopy, human, human cell, in vivo study, liposomal delivery, mouse, nonhuman, Plasmodium falciparum, transmission electron microscopy


Dalmases, M., Torres, M., Márquez-Kisinousky, L., Almendros, I., Planas, A. M., Embid, C., Martínez-Garcia, M. A., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Montserrat, J. M., (2014). Brain tissue hypoxia and oxidative stress induced by obstructive apneas is different in young and aged rats Sleep , 37, (7), 1249-1256

Study Objectives: To test the hypotheses that brain oxygen partial pressure (PtO2) in response to obstructive apneas changes with age and that it might lead to different levels of cerebral tissue oxidative stress. Design: Prospective controlled animal study. Setting: University laboratory. Participants: Sixty-four male Wistar rats: 32 young (3 mo old) and 32 aged (18 mo). Interventions: Protocol 1: Twenty-four animals were subjected to obstructive apneas (50 apneas/h, lasting 15 sec each) or to sham procedure for 50 min. Protocol 2: Forty rats were subjected to obstructive apneas or sham procedure for 4 h. Measurements and Results: Protocol 1: Real-time PtO2 measurements were performed using a fast-response oxygen microelectrode. During successive apneas cerebral cortex PtO2 presented a different pattern in the two age groups; there was a fast increase in young rats, whereas it remained without significant changes between the beginning and the end of the protocol in the aged group. Protocol 2: Brain oxidative stress assessed by lipid peroxidation increased after apneas in young rats (1.34 ± 0.17 nmol/mg of protein) compared to old ones (0.63 ± 0.03 nmol/mg), where a higher expression of antioxidant enzymes was observed. Conclusions: The results suggest that brain oxidative stress in aged rats is lower than in young rats in response to recurrent apneas, mimicking obstructive sleep apnea. This could be due to the different PtO2 response observed between age groups and the increased antioxidant expression in aged rats.

JTD Keywords: Aging, Animal model, Obstructive apnea, Oxidative stress, Tissue oxygenation, antioxidant, glutathione disulfide, aged, animal experiment, animal model, animal tissue, apnea, arterial oxygen saturation, article, brain cortex, brain oxygen tension, brain tissue, controlled study, groups by age, hypoxia, lipid peroxidation, male, nonhuman, oxidative stress, pressure, priority journal, rat


Melo, E., Cárdenes, N., Garreta, E., Luque, T., Rojas, M., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2014). Inhomogeneity of local stiffness in the extracellular matrix scaffold of fibrotic mouse lungs Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials , 37, 186-195

Lung disease models are useful to study how cell engraftment, proliferation and differentiation are modulated in lung bioengineering. The aim of this work was to characterize the local stiffness of decellularized lungs in aged and fibrotic mice. Mice (2- and 24-month old; 14 of each) with lung fibrosis (N=20) and healthy controls (N=8) were euthanized after 11 days of intratracheal bleomycin (fibrosis) or saline (controls) infusion. The lungs were excised, decellularized by a conventional detergent-based (sodium-dodecyl sulfate) procedure and slices of the acellular lungs were prepared to measure the local stiffness by means of atomic force microscopy. The local stiffness of the different sites in acellular fibrotic lungs was very inhomogeneous within the lung and increased according to the degree of the structural fibrotic lesion. Local stiffness of the acellular lungs did not show statistically significant differences caused by age. The group of mice most affected by fibrosis exhibited local stiffness that were ~2-fold higher than in the control mice: from 27.2±1.64 to 64.8±7.1. kPa in the alveolar septa, from 56.6±4.6 to 99.9±11.7. kPa in the visceral pleura, from 41.1±8.0 to 105.2±13.6. kPa in the tunica adventitia, and from 79.3±7.2 to 146.6±28.8. kPa in the tunica intima. Since acellular lungs from mice with bleomycin-induced fibrosis present considerable micromechanical inhomogeneity, this model can be a useful tool to better investigate how different degrees of extracellular matrix lesion modulate cell fate in the process of organ bioengineering from decellularized lungs.

JTD Keywords: Ageing, Atomic force microscopy, Decellularization, Lung fibrosis, Tissue engineering, Atomic force microscopy, Biological organs, Peptides, Sodium dodecyl sulfate, Sodium sulfate, Tissue engineering, Ageing, Decellularization, Extracellular matrices, Healthy controls, Inhomogeneities, Lung fibrosis, Micro-mechanical, Statistically significant difference, Mammals, bleomycin, adventitia, animal experiment, animal model, article, atomic force microscopy, bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, cell fate, controlled study, extracellular matrix, female, intima, lung alveolus, lung fibrosis, lung mechanics, mechanical probe, microenvironment, mouse, nonhuman, pleura, priority journal, rigidity, tissue engineering


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

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

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


Martinez, Dani, Teixidó, Mercè, Font, Davinia, Moreno, Javier, Tresanchez, Marcel, Marco, Santiago, Palacín, Jordi, (2014). Ambient intelligence application based on environmental measurements performed with an assistant mobile robot Sensors 14, (4), 6045-6055

This paper proposes the use of an autonomous assistant mobile robot in order to monitor the environmental conditions of a large indoor area and develop an ambient intelligence application. The mobile robot uses single high performance embedded sensors in order to collect and geo-reference environmental information such as ambient temperature, air velocity and orientation and gas concentration. The data collected with the assistant mobile robot is analyzed in order to detect unusual measurements or discrepancies and develop focused corrective ambient actions. This paper shows an example of the measurements performed in a research facility which have enabled the detection and location of an uncomfortable temperature profile inside an office of the research facility. The ambient intelligent application has been developed by performing some localized ambient measurements that have been analyzed in order to propose some ambient actuations to correct the uncomfortable temperature profile.

JTD Keywords: Ambient intelligence, Human thermal comfort, Robotic exploration


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

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

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


Vinagre, M., Aranda, J., Casals, A., (2014). An interactive robotic system for human assistance in domestic environments Computers Helping People with Special Needs (ed. Miesenberger, K., Fels, D., Archambault, D., Pe, Zagler), Springer International Publishing 8548, 152-155

This work introduces an interactive robotic system for assistance, conceived to tackle some of the challenges that domestic environments impose. The system is organized into a network of heterogeneous components that share both physical and logical functions to perform complex tasks. It consists of several robots for object manipulation, an advanced vision system that supplies in-formation about objects in the scene and human activity, and a spatial augmented reality interface that constitutes a comfortable means for interacting with the system. A first analysis based on users' experiences confirms the importance of having a friendly user interface. The inclusion of context awareness from visual perception enriches this interface allowing the robotic system to become a flexible and proactive assistant.

JTD Keywords: Accessibility, Activity Recognition, Ambient Intelligence, Human-Robot Interaction, Robot Assistance, Augmented reality, Complex networks, Computer vision, User interfaces, Accessibility, Activity recognition, Ambient intelligence, Domestic environments, Heterogeneous component, Interactive robotics, Robot assistance, Spatial augmented realities, Human assistance, Robotics


Sánchez-Danes, A., Benzoni, P., Memo, M., Dell'Era, P., Raya, A., Consiglio, A., (2013). Induced pluripotent stem cell-based studies of Parkinson's disease: Challenges and promises CNS and Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets , 12, (8), 1114-1127

A critical step in the development of effective therapeutics to treat Parkinson's disease (PD) is the identification of molecular pathogenic mechanisms underlying this chronically progressive neurodegenerative disease. However, while animal models have provided valuable information about the molecular basis of PD, the lack of faithful cellular and animal models that recapitulate human pathophysiology is delaying the development of new therapeutics. The reprogramming of somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) using delivery of defined combinations of transcription factors is a groundbreaking discovery that opens great opportunities for modeling human diseases, including PD, since iPSC can be generated from patients and differentiated into disease-relevant cell types, which would capture the patients' genetic complexity. Furthermore, human iPSC-derived neuronal models offer unprecedented access to early stages of the disease, allowing the investigation of the events that initiate the pathologic process in PD. Recently, human iPSC-derived neurons from patients with familial and sporadic PD have been generated and importantly they recapitulate some PD-related cell phenotypes, including abnormal α-synuclein accumulation in vitro, and alterations in the autophagy machinery. This review highlights the current PD iPSC-based models and discusses the potential future research directions of this field.

JTD Keywords: Human cellular model, Induced pluripotent stem cells, Neurodegenerative disease, Parkinson's disease


Peñuelas, O., Melo, E., Sánchez, C., Sánchez, I., Quinn, K., Ferruelo, A., Pérez-Vizcaíno, F., Esteban, A., Navajas, D., Nin, N., Lorente, J. A., Farré, R., (2013). Antioxidant effect of human adult adipose-derived stromal stem cells in alveolar epithelial cells undergoing stretch Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology , 188, (1), 1-8

Introduction: Alveolar epithelial cells undergo stretching during mechanical ventilation. Stretch can modify the oxidative balance in the alveolar epithelium. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the antioxidant role of human adult adipose tissue-derived stromal cells (hADSCs) when human alveolar epithelial cells were subjected to injurious cyclic overstretching. Methods: A549 cells were subjected to biaxial stretch (0-15% change in surface area for 24. h, 0.2. Hz) with and without hADSCs. At the end of the experiments, oxidative stress was measured as superoxide generation using positive nuclear dihydroethidium (DHE) staining, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity in cell lysates, 8-isoprostane concentrations in supernatant, and 3-nitrotyrosine by indirect immunofluorescence in fixed cells. Results: Cyclically stretching of AECs induced a significant decrease in SOD activity, and an increase in 8-isoprostane concentrations, DHE staining and 3-nitrotyrosine staining compared with non-stretched cells. Treatment with hADSCs significantly attenuated stretch-induced changes in SOD activity, 8-isoprostane concentrations, DHE and 3-nitrotyrosine staining. Conclusion: These data suggest that hADSCs have an anti-oxidative effect in human alveolar epithelial cells undergoing cyclic stretch.

JTD Keywords: Acute lung injury, Cyclic stretch, Human adipose-derived stromal stem cells, Oxidative stress


Bianconi, E., Piovesan, A., Facchin, F., Beraudi, A., Casadei, R., Frabetti, F., Vitale, L., Pelleri, M. C., Tassani, S., Piva, F., Perez-Amodio, S., Strippoli, P., Canaider, S., (2013). An estimation of the number of cells in the human body Annals of Human Biology , 40, (6), 463-471

Background: All living organisms are made of individual and identifiable cells, whose number, together with their size and type, ultimately defines the structure and functions of an organism. While the total cell number of lower organisms is often known, it has not yet been defined in higher organisms. In particular, the reported total cell number of a human being ranges between 1012 and 1016 and it is widely mentioned without a proper reference. Aim: To study and discuss the theoretical issue of the total number of cells that compose the standard human adult organism. Subjects and methods: A systematic calculation of the total cell number of the whole human body and of the single organs was carried out using bibliographical and/or mathematical approaches. Results: A current estimation of human total cell number calculated for a variety of organs and cell types is presented. These partial data correspond to a total number of 3.72×1013. Conclusions: Knowing the total cell number of the human body as well as of individual organs is important from a cultural, biological, medical and comparative modelling point of view. The presented cell count could be a starting point for a common effort to complete the total calculation.

JTD Keywords: Cell size, Human cell number, Organ, Theoretical issue, Total cell count


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.

JTD 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


Malandrino, A., Fritsch, A., Lahayne, O., Kropik, K., Redl, H., Noailly, J., Lacroix, D., Hellmich, C., (2012). Anisotropic tissue elasticity in human lumbar vertebra, by means of a coupled ultrasound-micromechanics approach Materials Letters , 78, 154-158

The extremely fine structure of vertebral cortex challenges reliable determination of the tissue's anisotropic elasticity, which is important for the spine's load carrying patterns often causing pain in patients. As a potential remedy, we here propose a combined experimental (ultrasonic) and modeling (micromechanics) approach. Longitudinal acoustic waves are sent in longitudinal (superior-inferior, axial) as well as transverse (circumferential) direction through millimeter-sized samples containing this vertebral cortex, and corresponding wave velocities agree very well with recently identified 'universal' compositional and acoustic characteristics (J Theor Biol 287:115, 2011), which are valid for a large data base comprising different bones from different species and different organs. This provides evidence that the 'universal' organization patterns inherent to all the bone tissues of the aforementioned data base also hold for vertebral bone. Consequently, an experimentally validated model covering the mechanical effects of this organization patterns (J Theor Biol 244:597, 2007, J Theor Biol 260:230, 2009) gives access to the complete elasticity tensor of human lumbar vertebral bone tissue, as a valuable input for structural analyses aiming at patient-specific fracture risk assessment, e.g. based on the Finite Element Method.

JTD Keywords: Human vertebra, Micromechanics, Tissue elasticity, Ultrasonics


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

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

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


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.

JTD 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.

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


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.

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


Krishnan, Ramaswamy, Klumpers, Darinka D., Park, Chan Y., Rajendran, Kavitha, Trepat, Xavier, van Bezu, Jan, van Hinsbergh, Victor W. M., Carman, Christopher V., Brain, Joseph D., Fredberg, Jeffrey J., Butler, James P., van Nieuw Amerongen, Geerten P., (2011). Substrate stiffening promotes endothelial monolayer disruption through enhanced physical forces American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology , 300, (1), C146-C154

A hallmark of many, sometimes life-threatening, inflammatory diseases and disorders is vascular leakage. The extent and severity of vascular leakage is broadly mediated by the integrity of the endothelial cell (EC) monolayer, which is in turn governed by three major interactions: cell-cell and cell-substrate contacts, soluble mediators, and biomechanical forces. A potentially critical but essentially uninvestigated component mediating these interactions is the stiffness of the substrate to which the endothelial monolayer is adherent. Accordingly, we investigated the extent to which substrate stiffening influences endothelial monolayer disruption and the role of cell-cell and cell-substrate contacts, soluble mediators, and physical forces in that process. Traction force microscopy showed that forces between cell and cell and between cell and substrate were greater on stiffer substrates. On stiffer substrates, these forces were substantially enhanced by a hyperpermeability stimulus (thrombin, 1 U/ml), and gaps formed between cells. On softer substrates, by contrast, these forces were increased far less by thrombin, and gaps did not form between cells. This stiffness-dependent force enhancement was associated with increased Rho kinase activity, whereas inhibition of Rho kinase attenuated baseline forces and lessened thrombin-induced inter-EC gap formation. Our findings demonstrate a central role of physical forces in EC gap formation and highlight a novel physiological mechanism. Integrity of the endothelial monolayer is governed by its physical microenvironment, which in normal circumstances is compliant but during pathology becomes stiffer.

JTD Keywords: Contraction, Human umbilical vein endothelial cells, Permeability, Traction force, Cell-cell contact, Cell-substrate contact, Substrate stiffness, Rho kinase, Vascular endothelial cadherin, Thrombin


Aranda, J., Vinagre, M., Marti n, E. X., Casamitjana, M., Casals, A., (2010). Friendly human-machine interaction in an adapted robotized kitchen Computers Helping People with Special Needs 12th International Conference, ICCHP 2010 (ed. Miesenberger, K., Klaus, J., Zagler, W., Karshmer, A.), Springer (Vienna, Austria) 1, 312-319

The concept and design of a friendly human-machine interaction system for an adapted robotized kitchen is presented. The kitchen is conceived in a modular way in order to be adaptable to a great diversity in level and type of assistance needs. An interaction manager has been developed which assist the user to control the system actions dynamically according to the given orders and the present state of the environment. Real time enhanced perception of the scenario is achieved by means of a 3D computer vision system. The main goal of the present project is to provide this kitchen with the necessary intelligent behavior to be able to actuate efficiently by interpreting the users' will.

JTD Keywords: Human computer interaction, Intelligent robots, Robot vision


Casals, A., (2010). Human – Robot cooperation techniques in surgery ICINCO 2010 7th International conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics , Springer (Madeira, Portugal) , 1-4

The growth of robotics in the surgical field is consequence of the progress in all its related areas, as: perception, instrumentation, actuators, materials, computers, and so. However, the lack of intelligence of current robots makes teleoperation an essential means for robotizing the Operating Room (OR), helping in the improvement of surgical procedures and making the best of the human-robot couple, as it already happens in other robotic application fields. The assistance a teleoperated system can provide is the result of the control strategies that can combine the high performance of computers with the surgeon knowledge, expertise and will. In this lecture, an overview of teleoperation techniques and operating modes suitable in the OR is presented, considering different cooperation levels. A special emphasis will be put on the selection of the most adequate interfaces currently available, able to operate in such quite special environments.

JTD Keywords: Medical Robotics, Human Robot Interaction, Human Machine Interfaces, Surgical Robots


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.

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


Fernandez, Javier G., Mills, C. A., Samitier, J., (2009). Complex microstructured 3D surfaces using chitosan biopolymer Small 5, (5), 614-620

A technique for producing micrometer-scale structures over large, nonplanar chitosan surfaces is described. The technique makes use of the rheological characteristics (deformability) of the chitosan to create freestanding, three-dimensional scaffolds with controlled shapes, incorporating defined microtopography. The results of an investigation into the technical limits of molding different combinations of shapes and microtopographies are presented, highlighting the versatility of the technique when used irrespectively with inorganic or delicate organic moulds. The final, replicated scaffolds presented here are patterned with arrays of one-micrometer-tall microstructures over large areas. Structural integrity is characterized by the measurement of structural degradation. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells cultured on a tubular scaffold show that early cell growth is conditioned by the microtopography and indicate possible uses for the structures in biomedical applications. For those applications requiring improved chemical and mechanical resistance, the structures can be replicated in poly(dimethyl siloxane).

JTD Keywords: Biocompatible Materials/ chemistry, Cell Adhesion, Cell Culture Techniques/ methods, Cell Proliferation, Cells, Cultured, Chitosan/ chemistry, Crystallization/methods, Endothelial Cells/ cytology/ physiology, Humans, Materials Testing, Nanostructures/ chemistry/ ultrastructure, Nanotechnology/methods, Particle Size, Surface Properties, Tissue Engineering/methods


Caballero, D., Samitier, J., Bausells, J., Errachid, A., (2009). Direct patterning of anti-human serum albumin antibodies on aldehyde-terminated silicon nitride surfaces for HSA protein detection Small 5, (13), 1531-1534

Silicon nitride surfaces are modified with a triethoxysilane aldehyde self-assembled monolayer for the direct immobilization of monoclonal antibodies and the detection of human serum albumin proteins, without any activation requirements. Surface modification and the specific recognition interaction between the HSA protein and its associated antibody are studied by fluorescence microscopy and atomic force microscopy.

JTD Keywords: Aldehyde, Human serum albumin, Immunosensors, Microcontact printing, Silicon nitride


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

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

JTD Keywords: Human factors, Human-robot interaction, Teleoperation


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.

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


Engel, E., Michiardi, A., Navarro, M., Lacroix, D., Planell, J. A., (2008). Nanotechnology in regenerative medicine: the materials side Trends in Biotechnology , 26, (1), 39-47

Regenerative medicine is an emerging multidisciplinary field that aims to restore, maintain or enhance tissues and hence organ functions. Regeneration of tissues can be achieved by the combination of living cells, which will provide biological functionality, and materials, which act as scaffolds to support cell proliferation. Mammalian cells behave in vivo in response to the biological signals they receive from the surrounding environment, which is structured by nanometre-scaled components. Therefore, materials used in repairing the human body have to reproduce the correct signals that guide the cells towards a desirable behaviour. Nanotechnology is not only an excellent tool to produce material structures that mimic the biological ones but also holds the promise of providing efficient delivery systems. The application of nanotechnology to regenerative medicine is a wide issue and this short review will only focus on aspects of nanotechnology relevant to biomaterials science. Specifically, the fabrication of materials, such as nanoparticles and scaffolds for tissue engineering, and the nanopatterning of surfaces aimed at eliciting specific biological responses from the host tissue will be addressed.

JTD Keywords: Animals, Biocompatible Materials/ metabolism, Humans, Nanoparticles, Nanotechnology/ methods, Regenerative Medicine/ methods, Tissue Scaffolds


Engel, E., Del Valle, S., Aparicio, C., Altankov, G., Asin, L., Planell, J. A., Ginebra, M. P., (2008). Discerning the role of topography and ion exchange in cell response of bioactive tissue engineering scaffolds Tissue Engineering Part A , 14, (8), 1341-1351

Surface topography is known to have an influence on osteoblast activity. However, in the case of bioactive materials, topographical changes can affect also ion exchange properties. This makes the problem more complex, since it is often difficult to separate the strictly topographical effects from the effects of ionic fluctuations in the medium. The scope of this paper is to analyze the simultaneous effect of topography and topography-mediated ion exchange on the initial cellular behavior of osteoblastic-like cells cultured on bioactive tissue engineering substrates. Two apatitic substrates with identical chemical composition but different micro/nanostructural features were obtained by low-temperature setting of a calcium phosphate cement. MG63 osteoblastic-like cells were cultured either in direct contact with the substrates or with their extracts. A strong and permanent decrease of calcium concentration in the culture medium, dependent on substrate topography, was detected. A major effect of the substrate microstructure on cell proliferation was observed, explained in part by the topography-mediated ion exchange, but not specifically by the ionic Ca(2+) fluctuations. Cell differentiation was strongly enhanced when cells were cultured on the finer substrate. This effect was not explained by the chemical modification of the medium, but rather suggested a strictly topographical effect.

JTD Keywords: Alkaline Phosphatase/metabolism, Bone Cements/pharmacology, Calcium/metabolism, Calcium Phosphates/pharmacology, Cell Adhesion/drug effects, Cell Differentiation/drug effects, Cell Proliferation/drug effects, Cell Shape/drug effects, Cells, Cultured, Culture Media, Durapatite/pharmacology, Humans, Interferometry, Ion Exchange, Materials Testing, Osteoblasts/ cytology/drug effects/enzymology/ultrastructure, Phosphorus/metabolism, Powders, Tissue Engineering, Tissue Scaffolds


Gavara, N., Roca-Cusachs, P., Sunyer, R., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2008). Mapping cell-matrix stresses during stretch reveals inelastic reorganization of the cytoskeleton Biophysical Journal , 95, (1), 464-471

The mechanical properties of the living cell are intimately related to cell signaling biology through cytoskeletal tension. The tension borne by the cytoskeleton (CSK) is in part generated internally by the actomyosin machinery and externally by stretch. Here we studied how cytoskeletal tension is modified during stretch and the tensional changes undergone by the sites of cell-matrix interaction. To this end we developed a novel technique to map cell-matrix stresses during application of stretch. We found that cell-matrix stresses increased with imposition of stretch but dropped below baseline levels on stretch release. Inhibition of the actomyosin machinery resulted in a larger relative increase in CSK tension with stretch and in a smaller drop in tension after stretch release. Cell-matrix stress maps showed that the loci of cell adhesion initially bearing greater stress also exhibited larger drops in traction forces after stretch removal. Our results suggest that stretch partially disrupts the actin-myosin apparatus and the cytoskeletal structures that support the largest CSK tension. These findings indicate that cells use the mechanical energy injected by stretch to rapidly reorganize their structure and redistribute tension.

JTD Keywords: Cell Line, Computer Simulation, Cytoskeleton/ physiology, Elasticity, Epithelial Cells/ physiology, Extracellular Matrix/ physiology, Humans, Mechanotransduction, Cellular/ physiology, Models, Biological, Stress, Mechanical


Roca-Cusachs, P., Alcaraz, J., Sunyer, R., Samitier, J., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2008). Micropatterning of single endothelial cell shape reveals a tight coupling between nuclear volume in G1 and proliferation Biophysical Journal , 94, (12), 4984-4995

Shape-dependent local differentials in cell proliferation are considered to be a major driving mechanism of structuring processes in vivo, such as embryogenesis, wound healing, and angiogenesis. However, the specific biophysical signaling by which changes in cell shape contribute to cell cycle regulation remains poorly understood. Here, we describe our study of the roles of nuclear volume and cytoskeletal mechanics in mediating shape control of proliferation in single endothelial cells. Micropatterned adhesive islands were used to independently control cell spreading and elongation. We show that, irrespective of elongation, nuclear volume and apparent chromatin decondensation of cells in G1 systematically increased with cell spreading and highly correlated with DNA synthesis (percent of cells in the S phase). In contrast, cell elongation dramatically affected the organization of the actin cytoskeleton, markedly reduced both cytoskeletal stiffness (measured dorsally with atomic force microscopy) and contractility (measured ventrally with traction microscopy), and increased mechanical anisotropy, without affecting either DNA synthesis or nuclear volume. Our results reveal that the nuclear volume in G1 is predictive of the proliferative status of single endothelial cells within a population, whereas cell stiffness and contractility are not. These findings show that the effects of cell mechanics in shape control of proliferation are far more complex than a linear or straightforward relationship. Our data are consistent with a mechanism by which spreading of cells in G1 partially enhances proliferation by inducing nuclear swelling and decreasing chromatin condensation, thereby rendering DNA more accessible to the replication machinery.

JTD Keywords: Cell Line, Cell Nucleus/ physiology, Cell Proliferation, Cell Size, Computer Simulation, Endothelial Cells/ cytology/ physiology, G1 Phase/ physiology, Humans, Mechanotransduction, Cellular/ physiology, Models, Biological, Statistics as Topic


Charles-Harris, M., Koch, M. A., Navarro, M., Lacroix, D., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., (2008). A PLA/calcium phosphate degradable composite material for bone tissue engineering: an in vitro study Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine , 19, (4), 1503-1513

Biodegradable polymers reinforced with an inorganic phase such as calcium phosphate glasses may be a promising approach to fulfil the challenging requirements presented by 3D porous scaffolds for tissue engineering. Scaffolds' success depends mainly on their biological behaviour. This work is aimed to the in vitro study of polylactic acid (PLA)/CaP glass 3D porous constructs for bone regeneration. The scaffolds were elaborated using two different techniques, namely solvent-casting and phase-separation. The effect of scaffolds' micro and macrostructure on the biological response of these scaffolds was assayed. Cell proliferation, differentiation and morphology within the scaffolds were studied. Furthermore, polymer/glass scaffolds were seeded under dynamic conditions in a custom-made perfusion bioreactor. Results indicate that the final architecture of the solvent-cast or phase separated scaffolds have a significant effect on cells' behaviour. Solvent-cast scaffolds seem to be the best candidates for bone tissue engineering. Besides, dynamic seeding yielded a higher seeding efficiency in comparison with the static method.

JTD Keywords: Biocompatible Materials/ chemistry, Bone and Bones/ metabolism, Calcium Phosphates/ chemistry, Cell Differentiation, Cell Proliferation, Humans, Lactic Acid/ chemistry, Microscopy, Confocal, Microscopy, Electron, Scanning, Osteoblasts/metabolism, Permeability, Polymers/ chemistry, Porosity, Solvents/chemistry, Tissue Engineering/ methods


Gustavsson, J., Altankov, G., Errachid, A., Samitier, J., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2008). Surface modifications of silicon nitride for cellular biosensor applications Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine , 19, (4), 1839-1850

Thin films of silicon nitride (Si3N4) can be used in several kinds of micro-sized biosensors as a material to monitor fine environmental changes related to the process of bone formation in vitro. We found however that Si3N4 does not provide optimal conditions for osseointegration as osteoblast-like MG-63 cells tend to detach from the surface when cultured over confluence. Therefore Si3N4 was modified with self-assembled monolayers bearing functional end groups of primary amine (NH2) and carboxyl (COOH) respectively. Both these modifications enhanced the interaction with confluent cell layers and thus improve osseointegration over Si3N4. Furthermore it was observed that the NH2 functionality increased the adsorption of fibronectin (FN), promoted cell proliferation, but delayed the differentiation. We also studied the fate of pre-adsorbed and secreted FN from cells to learn more about the impact of above functionalities for the development of provisional extracellular matrix on materials interface. Taken together our data supports that Si3N4 has low tissue integration but good cellular biocompatibility and thus is appropriate in cellular biosensor applications such as the ion-sensitive field effect transistor (ISFET). COOH and NH2 chemistries generally improve the interfacial tissue interaction with the sensor and they are therefore suitable substrates for monitoring cellular growth or matrix deposition using electrical impedance spectroscopy.

JTD Keywords: Adsorption, Amines/chemistry, Biocompatible Materials/ chemistry, Biosensing Techniques, Cell Differentiation, Cell Line, Cell Proliferation, Electric Impedance, Extracellular Matrix/metabolism, Fibronectins/chemistry, Humans, Materials Testing, Osteoblasts/ cytology, Silicon Compounds/ chemistry, Surface Properties


Diez, Pablo F., Laciar, Eric, Mut, Vicente, Avila, Enrique, Torres, Abel, (2008). A comparative study of the performance of different spectral estimation methods for classification of mental tasks 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, 1155-1158

In this paper we compare three different spectral estimation techniques for the classification of mental tasks. These techniques are the standard periodogram, the Welch periodogram and the Burg method, applied to electroencephalographic (EEG) signals. For each one of these methods we compute two parameters: the mean power and the root mean square (RMS), in various frequency bands. The classification of the mental tasks was conducted with a linear discriminate analysis. The Welch periodogram and the Burg method performed better than the standard periodogram. The use of the RMS allows better classification accuracy than the obtained with the power of EEG signals.

JTD Keywords: Adult, Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, Cognition, Electroencephalography, Female, Humans, Male, Pattern Recognition, Automated, Reproducibility of Results, Sensitivity and Specificity, Task Performance and Analysis, User-Computer Interface


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

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

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