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by Keyword: db

Chausse, V, Iglesias, C, Bou-Petit, E, Ginebra, MP, Pegueroles, M, (2023). Chemical vs thermal accelerated hydrolytic degradation of 3D-printed PLLA/PLCL bioresorbable stents: Characterization and influence of sterilization Polymer Testing 117, 107817

Bioresorbable stents (BRS) are designed to provide initial sufficient mechanical support to prevent vessel recoil while being degraded until their complete resorption. Therefore, degradation rate of BRS plays a crucial role in successful stent performance. This work presents a complete study on the degradation of poly-llactic acid (PLLA) and poly(lactic-co-epsilon-caprolactone) (PLCL) stents fabricated by solvent-cast direct-writing (SC-DW) through two different accelerated assays: alkaline medium at 37 degrees C for 10 days and PBS at 50 degrees C for 4 months. On retrieval, degraded stents were characterized in terms of mass loss, molecular weight (Mw), thermal and mechanical properties. The results showed that under alkaline conditions, stents underwent surface erosion, whereas stents immersed in PBS at 50 degrees C experienced bulk degradation. M-n decrease was accurately described by the autocatalyzed kinetic model, with PLCL showing a degradation rate 1.5 times higher than PLLA. Additionally, stents were subjected to gamma-irradiation and ethylene oxide (EtO) sterilization. Whereas EtOsterilized stents remained structurally unaltered, gamma-irradiated stents presented severe deterioration as a result of extensive chain scission.

JTD Keywords: Acid, Behavior, Bioresorbable stents, Copolymer, Hydrolytic degradation, In-vitro degradation, Mechanical-properties, Molecular-weight, Poly(l-lactide), Poly-l-lactic acid, Poly-l-lactide, Scaffolds, Solvent-cast direct-writing, Sterilization


Hino N, Matsuda K, Jikko Y, Maryu G, Sakai K, Imamura R, Tsukiji S, Aoki K, Terai K, Hirashima T, Trepat X, Matsuda M, (2022). A feedback loop between lamellipodial extension and HGF-ERK signaling specifies leader cells during collective cell migration Developmental Cell 57, 2290-2304.e7

Upon the initiation of collective cell migration, the cells at the free edge are specified as leader cells; however, the mechanism underlying the leader cell specification remains elusive. Here, we show that lamellipodial extension after the release from mechanical confinement causes sustained extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation and underlies the leader cell specification. Live-imaging of Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells and mouse epidermis through the use of Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based biosensors showed that leader cells exhibit sustained ERK activation in a hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)-dependent manner. Meanwhile, follower cells exhibit oscillatory ERK activation waves in an epidermal growth factor (EGF) signaling-dependent manner. Lamellipodial extension at the free edge increases the cellular sensitivity to HGF. The HGF-dependent ERK activation, in turn, promotes lamellipodial extension, thereby forming a positive feedback loop between cell extension and ERK activation and specifying the cells at the free edge as the leader cells. Our findings show that the integration of physical and biochemical cues underlies the leader cell specification during collective cell migration.Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: Collective cell migration, Erk, Feedback regulation, Fret, Hgf, Lamellipodia, Leader cell specification, Signal transduction, Traction force, Wound healing


López-Soldado I, Guinovart JJ, Duran J, (2022). Hepatic overexpression of protein targeting to glycogen attenuates obesity and improves hyperglycemia in db/db mice Frontiers In Endocrinology 13, 969924

Increased liver glycogen content has been shown to reduce food intake, attenuate obesity, and improve glucose tolerance in a mouse model of high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity. Here we studied the contribution of liver glycogen to the regulation of obesity and glucose metabolism in a model of type 2 diabetes and obesity, namely the db/db mouse. To this end, we crossed db/db mice with animals overexpressing protein targeting to glycogen (PTG) in the liver to generate db/db mice with increased liver glycogen content (db/db-PTG). Hepatic PTG overexpression reduced food intake and fat weight and attenuated obesity and hyperglycemia in db/db mice. Db/db-PTG mice showed similar energy expenditure and physical activity to db/db mice. PTG overexpression reduced liver phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) protein levels and repressed hepatic glucose production in db/db mice. Moreover, increased liver glycogen elevated hepatic ATP content in these animals. However, lipid metabolism was not modified by PTG overexpression. In conclusion, increased liver glycogen content ameliorates the diabetic and obesity phenotype in db/db mice.Copyright © 2022 López-Soldado, Guinovart and Duran.

JTD Keywords: atp, db, dyslipidemia, food intake, glucose, homeostasis, liver, metabolism, mouse, receptor, Atp, Db/db, Food intake, Food-intake, Glucose, Glycogen, Liver


Zeinali, Reza, del Valle, Luis J., Franco, Lourdes, Yousef, Ibraheem, Rintjema, Jeroen, Alemán, Carlos, Bravo, Fernando, Kleij, Arjan W., Puiggalí, Jordi, (2022). Biobased Terpene Derivatives: Stiff and Biocompatible Compounds to Tune Biodegradability and Properties of Poly(butylene succinate) Polymers 14, 161

Different copolymers incorporating terpene oxide units (e.g., limonene oxide) have been evaluated considering thermal properties, degradability, and biocompatibility. Thus, polycarbonates and polyesters derived from aromatic, monocyclic and bicyclic anhydrides have been considered. Furthermore, ring substitution with myrcene terpene has been evaluated. All polymers were amorphous when evaluated directly from synthesis. However, spherulites could be observed after the slow evaporation of diluted chloroform solutions of polylimonene carbonate, with all isopropene units possessing an R configuration. This feature was surprising considering the reported information that suggested only the racemic polymer was able to crystallize. All polymers were thermally stable and showed a dependence of the maximum degradation rate temperature (from 242 °C to 342 °C) with the type of terpene oxide. The graduation of glass transition temperatures (from 44 °C to 172 °C) was also observed, being higher than those corresponding to the unsubstituted polymers. The chain stiffness of the studied polymers hindered both hydrolytic and enzymatic degradation while a higher rate was detected when an oxidative medium was assayed (e.g., weight losses around 12% after 21 days of exposure). All samples were biocompatible according to the adhesion and proliferation tests performed with fibroblast cells. Hydrophobic and mechanically consistent films (i.e., contact angles between 90° and 110°) were obtained after the evaporation of chloroform from the solutions, having different ratios of the studied biobased polyterpenes and poly(butylene succinate) (PBS). The blend films were comparable in tensile modulus and tensile strength with the pure PBS (e.g., values of 330 MPa and 7 MPa were determined for samples incorporating 30 wt.% of poly(PA-LO), the copolyester derived from limonene oxide and phthalic anhydride. Blends were degradable, biocompatible and appropriate to produce oriented-pore and random-pore scaffolds via a thermally-induced phase separation (TIPS) method and using 1,4-dioxane as solvent. The best results were attained with the blend composed of 70 wt.% PBS and 30 wt.% poly(PA-LO). In summary, the studied biobased terpene derivatives showed promising properties to be used in a blended form for biomedical applications such as scaffolds for tissue engineering.

JTD Keywords: alternating copolymerization, biobased materials, biodegradability, composites, crystallization, cyclohexene oxide, induced phase-separation, limonene oxide, mechanical-properties, polyesters, scaffolds, spherulites, terpene derivatives, thermal properties, thermally-induced phase separation, Acetone, Bio-based, Bio-based materials, Biobased materials, Biocompatibility, Biodegradability, Butenes, Cell culture, Chlorine compounds, Degradation, Evaporation, Glass transition, Limonene oxide, Monoterpenes, Phase separation, Poly (butylenes succinate), Polybutylene succinate, Property, Ring-opening copolymerization, Scaffolds, Spheru-lites, Tensile strength, Terpene derivatives, Thermal properties, Thermally induced phase separation, Thermally-induced phase separation, Thermally?induced phase separation, Thermodynamic properties, Thermogravimetric analysis


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,

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


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


Zañudo JGT, Mao P, Alcon C, Kowalski K, Johnson GN, Xu G, Baselga J, Scaltriti M, Letai A, Montero J, Albert R, Wagle N, (2021). Cell line-specific network models of er breast cancer identify potential pi3kainhibitor resistance mechanisms and drug combinations Cancer Research 81, 4603-4617

Durable control of invasive solid tumors necessitates identifying therapeutic resistance mechanisms and effective drug combinations. In this work, we used a network-based mathematical model to identify sensitivity regulators and drug combinations for the PI3Ka inhibitor alpelisib in estrogen receptor positive (ER) PIK3CAmutant breast cancer. The model-predicted efficacious combination of alpelisib and BH3 mimetics, for example, MCL1 inhibitors, was experimentally validated in ER breast cancer cell lines. Consistent with the model, FOXO3 downregulation reduced sensitivity to alpelisib, revealing a novel potential resistance mechanism. Cell line-specific sensitivity to combinations of alpelisib and BH3 mimetics depended on which BCL2 family members were highly expressed. On the basis of these results, newly developed cell line-specific network models were able to recapitulate the observed differential response to alpelisib and BH3 mimetics. This approach illustrates how network-based mathematical models can contribute to overcoming the challenge of cancer drug resistance.

JTD Keywords: activation, akt, feedback, foxo, leads, p27(kip1), phosphorylation, reveals, transcription factors, Dependent kinase inhibitor


Alcon C, Gómez Tejeda Zañudo J, Albert R, Wagle N, Scaltriti M, Letai A, Samitier J, Montero J, (2021). ER+ Breast Cancer Strongly Depends on MCL-1 and BCL-xL Anti-Apoptotic Proteins Cells 10,

Breast cancer is the most frequent type of cancer and the major cause of mortality in women. The rapid development of various therapeutic options has led to the improvement of treatment outcomes; nevertheless, one-third of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive patients relapse due to cancer cell acquired resistance. Here, we use dynamic BH3 profiling (DBP), a functional predictive assay that measures net changes in apoptotic priming, to find new effective treatments for ER+ breast cancer. We observed anti-apoptotic adaptations upon treatment that pointed to metronomic therapeutic combinations to enhance cytotoxicity and avoid resistance. Indeed, we found that the anti-apoptotic proteins BCL-xL and MCL-1 are crucial for ER+ breast cancer cells resistance to therapy, as they exert a dual inhibition of the pro-apoptotic protein BIM and compensate for each other. In addition, we identified the AKT inhibitor ipatasertib and two BH3 mimetics targeting these anti-apoptotic proteins, S63845 and A-1331852, as new potential therapies for this type of cancer. Therefore, we postulate the sequential inhibition of both proteins using BH3 mimetics as a new treatment option for refractory and relapsed ER+ breast cancer tumors.

JTD Keywords: apoptosis, bh3 mimetics, cell-line, chemotherapy, classification, dbp, death, er+ breast cancer, fulvestrant, her2, inhibitor, kinase, pik3ca, priming, resistance, targeted therapies, Apoptosis, Bh3 mimetics, Dbp, Endocrine therapy, Er plus breast cancer, Er+ breast cancer, Priming, Resistance, Targeted therapies


Jurado, M, Castano, O, Zorzano, A, (2021). Stochastic modulation evidences a transitory EGF-Ras-ERK MAPK activity induced by PRMT5 Computers In Biology And Medicine 133,

The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway involves a three-step cascade of kinases that transduce signals and promote processes such as cell growth, development, and apoptosis. An aberrant response of this pathway is related to the proliferation of cell diseases and tumors. By using simulation modeling, we document that the protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5) modulates the MAPK pathway and thus avoids an aberrant behavior. PRMT5 methylates the Raf kinase, reducing its catalytic activity and thereby, reducing the activation of ERK in time and amplitude. Two minimal computational models of the epidermal growth factor (EGF)-Ras-ERK MAPK pathway influenced by PRMT5 were proposed: a first model in which PRMT5 is activated by EGF and a second one in which PRMT5 is stimulated by the cascade response. The reported results show that PRMT5 reduces the time duration and the expression of the activated ERK in both cases, but only in the first model PRMT5 limits the EGF range that generates an ERK activation. Based on our data, we propose the protein PRMT5 as a regulatory factor to develop strategies to fight against an excessive activity of the MAPK pathway, which could be of use in chronic diseases and cancer.

JTD Keywords: cancer, cell response modulation, computational model, egf-ras-erk signaling route, mapk pathway, methylation, Arginine methyltransferase 5, Cancer, Cell response modulation, Colorectal-cancer, Computational model, Egf-ras-erk signaling route, Epidermal-growth-factor, Factor receptor, Histone h3, Kinase cascade, Mapk pathway, Methylation, Negative-feedback, Pc12 cells, Prmt5, Protein, Signal-transduction


Hino, N., Rossetti, L., Marín-Llauradó, A., Aoki, K., Trepat, X., Matsuda, M., Hirashima, T., (2020). ERK-mediated mechanochemical waves direct collective cell polarization Developmental Cell 53, (6), 646-660.e8

During collective migration of epithelial cells, the migration direction is aligned over a tissue-scale expanse. Although the collective cell migration is known to be directed by mechanical forces transmitted via cell-cell junctions, it remains elusive how the intercellular force transmission is coordinated with intracellular biochemical signaling to achieve collective movements. Here, we show that intercellular coupling of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-mediated mechanochemical feedback yields long-distance transmission of guidance cues. Mechanical stretch activates ERK through epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) activation, and ERK activation triggers cell contraction. The contraction of the activated cell pulls neighboring cells, evoking another round of ERK activation and contraction in the neighbors. Furthermore, anisotropic contraction based on front-rear polarization guarantees unidirectional propagation of ERK activation, and in turn, the ERK activation waves direct multicellular alignment of the polarity, leading to long-range ordered migration. Our findings reveal that mechanical forces mediate intercellular signaling underlying sustained transmission of guidance cues for collective cell migration.

JTD Keywords: Collective cell migration, EGFR, ERK/MAPK, FRET, Front-rear polarity, Intercellular signal transfer, Mathematical model, Mechanochemical feedback, Mechanotransduction, wave propagation


Diaz-Lucena, Daniela, Escaramis, G., Villar-Piqué, Anna, Hermann, Peter, Schmitz, Matthias, Varges, Daniela, Santana, Isabel, del Rio, José Antonio, Martí, E., Ferrer, Isidre, Baldeiras, I., Zerr, Inga, Llorens, Franc, (2020). A new tetra-plex fluorimetric assay for the quantification of cerebrospinal fluid β-amyloid42, total-tau, phospho-tau and α-synuclein in the differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative dementia Journal of Neurology 267, (9), 2567-2581

Background: Differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative dementia is currently supported by biomarkers including cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tests. Among them, CSF total-tau (t-tau), phosphorylated tau (p-tau) and β-amyloid42 (Aβ42) are considered core biomarkers of neurodegeneration. In the present work, we hypothesize that simultaneous assessment of these biomarkers together with CSF α-synuclein (α-syn) will significantly improve the differential diagnostic of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. To that aim, we characterized the analytical and clinical performance of a new tetra-plex immunoassay that simultaneously quantifies CSF Aβ42, t-tau, p-tau and α-syn in the differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative dementia. Methods: Biomarkers' concentrations were measured in neurological controls (n = 38), Alzheimer's disease (n = 35), Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (n = 37), vascular dementia (n = 28), dementia with Lewy bodies/Parkinson's disease dementia (n = 27) and frontotemporal dementia (n = 34) using the new tetra-plex assay and established single-plex assays. Biomarker's performance was evaluated and diagnostic accuracy in the discrimination of diagnostic groups was determined using partial least squares discriminant analysis. Results: The tetra-plex assay presented accuracies similar to individual single-plex assays with acceptable analytical performance. Significant correlations were observed between tetra-plex and single-plex assays. Using partial least squares discriminant analysis, Alzheimer's disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease were well differentiated, reaching high accuracies in the discrimination from the rest of diagnostic groups. Conclusions: The new tetra-plex assay coupled with multivariate analytical approaches becomes a valuable asset for the differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative dementia and related applications.

JTD Keywords: Neurodegenerative dementia, Cerebrospinal fluid, Biomarker, Amyloid beta, Total-tau, Phospho-tau, α-Synuclein, Multiplexing


Vukomanovic, M., Torrents, E., (2019). High time resolution and high signal-to-noise monitoring of the bacterial growth kinetics in the presence of plasmonic nanoparticles Journal of Nanobiotechnology 17, (1), 21

Background: Emerging concepts for designing innovative drugs (i.e., novel generations of antimicrobials) frequently include nanostructures, new materials, and nanoparticles (NPs). Along with numerous advantages, NPs bring limitations, partly because they can limit the analytical techniques used for their biological and in vivo validation. From that standpoint, designing innovative drug delivery systems requires advancements in the methods used for their testing and investigations. Considering the well-known ability of resazurin-based methods for rapid detection of bacterial metabolisms with very high sensitivity, in this work we report a novel optimization for tracking bacterial growth kinetics in the presence of NPs with specific characteristics, such as specific optical properties. Results: Arginine-functionalized gold composite (HAp/Au/arginine) NPs, used as the NP model for validation of the method, possess plasmonic properties and are characterized by intensive absorption in the UV/vis region with a surface plasmon resonance maximum at 540 nm. Due to the specific optical properties, the NP absorption intensively interferes with the light absorption measured during the evaluation of bacterial growth (optical density; OD600). The results confirm substantial nonspecific interference by NPs in the signal detected during a regular turbidity study used for tracking bacterial growth. Instead, during application of a resazurin-based method (Presto Blue), when a combination of absorption and fluorescence detection is applied, a substantial increase in the signal-to-noise ratio is obtained that leads to the improvement of the accuracy of the measurements as verified in three bacterial strains tested with different growth rates (E. coli, P. aeruginosa, and S. aureus). Conclusions: Here, we described a novel procedure that enables the kinetics of bacterial growth in the presence of NPs to be followed with high time resolution, high sensitivity, and without sampling during the kinetic study. We showed the applicability of the Presto Blue method for the case of HAp/Au/arginine NPs, which can be extended to various types of metallic NPs with similar characteristics. The method is a very easy, economical, and reliable option for testing NPs designed as novel antimicrobials.

JTD Keywords: Antimicrobial nanoparticles, Arginine-functionalized gold, Bacterial growth kinetics, Plasmonic nanoparticles, Presto Blue


de Goede, Michiel, Chang, Lantian, Mu, Jinfeng, Dijkstra, Meindert, Obregón, Raquel, Martínez, Elena, Padilla, Laura, Mitjans, Francesc, Garcia-Blanco, Sonia M., (2019). Al2O3:Yb3+ integrated microdisk laser label-free biosensor Optics Letters 44, (24), 5937-5940

Whispering gallery mode resonator lasers hold the promise of an ultralow intrinsic limit of detection. However, the widespread use of these devices for biosensing applications has been hindered by the complexity and lack of robustness of the proposed configurations. In this work, we demonstrate biosensing with an integrated microdisk laser. Al2O3doped with Yb3+ was utilized because of its low optical losses as well as its emission in the range 1020–1050 nm, outside the absorption band of water. Single-mode laser emission was obtained at a wavelength of 1024 nm with a linewidth of 250 kHz while the microdisk cavity was submerged in water. A limit of detection of 300 pM (3.6 ng/ml) of the protein rhS100A4 in urine was experimentally demonstrated, showing the potential of the proposed devices for biosensing.

JTD Keywords: Distributed feedback lasers, Fiber lasers, Laser modes, Microdisk lasers, Single mode lasers, Tunable lasers


de Goede, M., Dijkstra, M., Obregón, R., Ramón-Azcón, J., Martínez, Elena, Padilla, L., Mitjans, F., Garcia-Blanco, S. M., (2019). Al2O3 microring resonators for the detection of a cancer biomarker in undiluted urine Optics Express 27, (13), 18508-18521

Concentrations down to 3 nM of the rhS100A4 protein, associated with human tumor development, have been detected in undiluted urine using an integrated sensor based on microring resonators in the emerging Al2O3 photonic platform. The fabricated microrings were designed for operation in the C-band (λ = 1565 nm) and exhibited a high-quality factor in air of 3.2 × 105. The bulk refractive index sensitivity of the devices was ~100 nm/RIU (for TM polarization) with a limit of detection of ~10−6 RIU. A surface functionalization protocol was developed to allow for the selective binding of the monoclonal antibodies designed to capture the target biomarker to the surface of the Al2O3 microrings. The detection of rhS100A4 proteins at clinically relevant concentrations in urine is a big milestone towards the use of biosensors for the screening and early diagnosis of different cancers. Biosensors based on this microring technology can lead to portable, multiplexed and easy-to-use point of care devices.

JTD Keywords: Distributed feedback lasers, Effective refractive index, Laser coupling, Polarization maintaining fibers, Refractive index, Scanning electron microscopy


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

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

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


Herreros, I., (2018). Learning and control Living machines: A handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems (ed. Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P.), Oxford Scholarship (Oxford, UK) , 239-255

This chapter discusses basic concepts from control theory and machine learning to facilitate a formal understanding of animal learning and motor control. It first distinguishes between feedback and feed-forward control strategies, and later introduces the classification of machine learning applications into supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement learning problems. Next, it links these concepts with their counterparts in the domain of the psychology of animal learning, highlighting the analogies between supervised learning and classical conditioning, reinforcement learning and operant conditioning, and between unsupervised and perceptual learning. Additionally, it interprets innate and acquired actions from the standpoint of feedback vs anticipatory and adaptive control. Finally, it argues how this framework of translating knowledge between formal and biological disciplines can serve us to not only structure and advance our understanding of brain function but also enrich engineering solutions at the level of robot learning and control with insights coming from biology.

JTD Keywords: Feedback control, Feed-forward control, Supervised learning, Unsupervised learning, Reinforcement, Learning, Classical conditioning, Operant conditioning, Reflex, Anticipatory reflex


Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P., Prescott, T. J., (2018). A roadmap for Living Machines research Living machines: A handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems (ed. Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P.), Oxford Scholarship (Oxford, UK) , 26-50

This roadmap identifies current trends in biomimetic and biohybrid systems together with their implications for future research and innovation. Important questions include the scale at which these systems are defined, the types of biological systems addressed, the kind of principles sought, the differences between biologically based and biologically inspired approaches, the role in the understanding of living systems, relevant application domains, common benchmarks, the relation to other fields, and developments on the horizon. We interviewed and collated answers from experts who have been involved a series of events organized by the Convergent Science Network. These answers were then collated into themes of research. Overall, we see a field rapidly expanding in influence and impact. As such, this report will provide information to researchers and scientific policy makers on contemporary biomimetics and its future, together with pointers to further reading on relevant topics within this handbook.

JTD Keywords: Biomimetics, Biohybrid, Bio-inspiration, Biologically inspired, Roadmap, Living machines, policy


Marbán, Arturo, Casals, Alicia, Fernández, Josep, Amat, Josep, (2014). Haptic feedback in surgical robotics: Still a challenge Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing ROBOT2013: First Iberian Robotics Conference (ed. Armada, Manuel A., Sanfeliu, Alberto, Ferre, Manuel), Springer International Publishing 252, 245-253

Endowing current surgical robotic systems with haptic feedback to perform minimally invasive surgery (MIS), such as laparoscopy, is still a challenge. Haptic is a feature lost in surgical teleoperated systems limiting surgeons capabilities and ability. The availability of haptics would provide important advantages to the surgeon: Improved tissue manipulation, reducing the breaking of sutures and increase the feeling of telepresence, among others. To design and develop a haptic system, the measurement of forces can be implemented based on two approaches: Direct and indirect force sensing. MIS performed with surgical robots, imposes many technical constraints to measure forces, such as: Miniaturization, need of sterilization or materials compatibility, making it necessary to rely on indirect force sensing. Based on mathematical models of the components involved in an intervention and indirect force sensing techniques, a global perspective on how to address the problem of measurement of tool-tissue interaction forces is presented.

JTD Keywords: Surgical robotics, Haptic feedback, Indirect force sensing, Machine learning, Data fusion, Mathematical models


Serra, T., Planell, J. A., Navarro, M., (2013). High-resolution PLA-based composite scaffolds via 3-D printing technology Acta Biomaterialia 9, (3), 5521-5530

Fabrication of new biodegradable scaffolds that guide and stimulate tissue regeneration is still a major issue in tissue engineering approaches. Scaffolds that possess adequate biodegradability, pore size, interconnectivity, bioactivity and mechanical properties in accordance with the injured tissue are required. This work aimed to develop and characterize three-dimensional (3-D) scaffolds that fulfill the aforementioned requirements. For this, a nozzle-based rapid prototyping system was used to combine polylactic acid and a bioactive CaP glass to fabricate 3-D biodegradable scaffolds with two patterns (orthogonal and displaced double layer). Scanning electron microscopy and micro-computer tomography showed that 3-D scaffolds had completely interconnected porosity, uniform distribution of the glass particles, and a controlled and repetitive architecture. Surface properties were also assessed, showing that the incorporation of glass particles increased both the roughness and the hydrophilicity of the scaffolds. Mechanical tests indicated that compression strength is dependent on the scaffold geometry and the presence of glass. Preliminary cell response was studied with primary mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and revealed that CaP glass improved cell adhesion. Overall, the results showed the suitability of the technique/materials combination to develop 3-D porous scaffolds and their initial biocompatibility, both being valuable characteristics for tissue engineering applications.

JTD Keywords: Rapid prototyping, Scaffold, Polylactic acid, Biodegradable, Composite


Vila, Olaia F., Bagó, Juli R., Navarro, Melba, Alieva, Maria, Aguilar, Elisabeth, Engel, Elisabeth, Planell, Josep, Rubio, Nuria, Blanco, Jerónimo, (2013). Calcium phosphate glass improves angiogenesis capacity of poly(lactic acid) scaffolds and stimulates differentiation of adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stromal cells to the endothelial lineage Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A , 101A, (4), 932-941

The angiogenic capacity of a new biomaterial composite of poly(lactic acid) and calcium phosphate glass (PLA/CaP) was analyzed by noninvasive bioluminescence imaging (BLI) and histological procedures. Human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stromal cells expressing cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter regulated Photinus pyralis luciferase (hAMSC-PLuc) grew up to 30 times the initial cell load, in vitro, when seeded in PLA/CaP scaffolds, but suffered an initial growth crisis followed by recovery when the scaffolds were subcutaneously implanted in SCID mice. To analyze changes in gene expression, hAMSC-PLuc cells were double labeled with a CMV promoter regulated Renilla reniformis luciferase and a Photinus pyralis luciferase reporter regulated by either the PECAM promoter or a hypoxia response element (HRE) artificial promoter and seeded in PLA/CaP and PLA scaffolds implanted in SCID mice. Analysis by BLI showed that hAMSCs in scaffolds were induced to differentiate to the endothelial lineage and did this faster in PLA/CaP than in PLA scaffolds. Endothelial differentiation correlated with a decrease in the activity of HRE regulated luciferase expression, indicative of a reduction of hypoxia. Histological analysis showed that PLA/CaP scaffolds were colonized by a functional host vascular system. Moreover, colonization by isolectin B4 positive host cells was more effective in PLA/CaP than in PLA scaffolds, corroborating BLI results.

JTD Keywords: Scaffold, Bioluminescence imaging, Cell differentiation, Angiogenesis, Mesenchymal stromal cells


Acerbi, I., Luque, T., Giménez, A., Puig, M., Reguart, N., Farré, R., Navajas, D., Alcaraz, J., (2012). Integrin-specific mechanoresponses to compression and extension probed by cylindrical flat-ended afm tips in lung cells PLoS ONE 7, (2), e32261

Cells from lung and other tissues are subjected to forces of opposing directions that are largely transmitted through integrin-mediated adhesions. How cells respond to force bidirectionality remains ill defined. To address this question, we nanofabricated flat-ended cylindrical Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) tips with ~1 μm 2 cross-section area. Tips were uncoated or coated with either integrin-specific (RGD) or non-specific (RGE/BSA) molecules, brought into contact with lung epithelial cells or fibroblasts for 30 s to form focal adhesion precursors, and used to probe cell resistance to deformation in compression and extension. We found that cell resistance to compression was globally higher than to extension regardless of the tip coating. In contrast, both tip-cell adhesion strength and resistance to compression and extension were the highest when probed at integrin-specific adhesions. These integrin-specific mechanoresponses required an intact actin cytoskeleton, and were dependent on tyrosine phosphatases and Ca 2+ signaling. Cell asymmetric mechanoresponse to compression and extension remained after 5 minutes of tip-cell adhesion, revealing that asymmetric resistance to force directionality is an intrinsic property of lung cells, as in most soft tissues. Our findings provide new insights on how lung cells probe the mechanochemical properties of the microenvironment, an important process for migration, repair and tissue homeostasis.

JTD Keywords: Arginylglycylaspartic acid, Arginylglycylglutamic acid, Bovine serum albumin, Calcium ion, Integrin, Protein tyrosine phosphatase, Unclassified drug