ResearchPad - crystals https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[A Photonic crystal fiber with large effective refractive index separation and low dispersion]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14637 A photonic crystal fiber (PCF) structure with a ring-core and 5 well-ordered semiellipse air-holes has been creatively proposed. Through a comparison between the structures with a high refractive index (RI) ring-core and the structure without, it conclude that a PCF with a high RI ring-core can work better. Schott SF57 was elected as the substrate material of ring-core. This paper compares the effects of long-axis and short-axis changes on the PCF and selects the optimal solution. Especially TE0,1 mode’s dispersion is maintained between 0 and 3 ps / (nm · km) ranging from 1.45 μm to 1.65 μm. This property can be used to generate a supercontinuum with 200 μm long zero dispersion wavelength (ZDM). In addition, Δneff reaches up to 10−3, which enables the near -degeneracy of the eigenmodes to be almost neglected. The proposed PCF structure will have great application value in the field of optical communications.

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<![CDATA[Monolayer Two‐dimensional Molecular Crystals for an Ultrasensitive OFET‐based Chemical Sensor]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Naee50b40-239d-4706-91b5-911c941436d6

Abstract

The sensitivity of conventional thin‐film OFET‐based sensors is limited by the diffusion of analytes through bulk films and remains the central challenge in sensing technology. Now, for the first time, an ultrasensitive (sub‐ppb level) sensor is reported that exploits n‐type monolayer molecular crystals (MMCs) with porous two‐dimensional structures. Thanks to monolayer crystal structure of NDI3HU‐DTYM2 (NDI) and controlled formation of porous structure, a world‐record detection limit of NH3 (0.1 ppb) was achieved. Moreover, the MMC‐OFETs also enabled direct detection of solid analytes of biological amine derivatives, such as dopamine at an extremely low concentration of 500 ppb. The remarkably improved sensing performances of MMC‐OFETs opens up the possibility of engineering OFETs for ultrasensitive (bio)chemical sensing.

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<![CDATA[Synthesis, Thermal, and Optical Properties of Tris(5‐aryl‐1,3,4‐oxadiazol‐2‐yl)‐1,3,5‐triazines, New Star‐Shaped Fluorescent Discotic Liquid Crystals]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Na6d7128f-7c84-496b-b296-24ab28f27d29

Abstract

The synthesis of tris(aryloxadiazolyl)triazines (TOTs), C 3‐symmetrical star‐shaped mesogenes with a 1,3,5‐triazine center, 5‐phenyl‐1,3,4‐oxadiazole arms, and various peripheral alkoxy side chains is reported. Threefold Huisgen reaction on a central triazine tricarboxylic acid and suitable aryltetrazoles yields the title compounds. Selected analogues with a benzene center are included in this study and allow for an evaluation of the impact of the central unit on the physical properties. Thermal (differential scanning calorimetry, DSC; polarization optical microscopy, POM), optical (UV/Vis, fluorescence), electric (time of flight, TOF), and structural (single crystal; wide‐angle X‐ray scattering, WAXS) properties of these compounds were investigated. The modification of alkoxy chain length and substitution pattern allows for a tuning of the physical properties. TOTs emit blue to yellow light, depending on conjugation length, donor–acceptor substitution, and solvent polarity, whereas concentration quenches and aggregation enhances the emission. The width of the mesophases is typically around ΔT=100–150 K but can even exceed 220 K. Polarization optical microscopy and X‐ray diffraction on oriented filaments reveal that TOTs are highly ordered liquid crystals (LCs) with long‐range hexagonal columnar structure.

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<![CDATA[Field evaluation of a locally produced rapid diagnostic test for early detection of cholera in Bangladesh]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5ca2d4d5eed0c48441eb87

Background

Cholera remains a substantial health burden in Asia and Africa particularly in resource poor settings. The standard procedures to identify the etiological organism V. cholerae are isolation from microbiological culture from stool as well as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Both the processes are highly lab oriented, labor extensive, time consuming, and expensive. In an effort to control for outbreaks and epidemics; an effective, convenient, quick and relatively less expensive detection method is imperative, without compromising the sensitivity and specificity that exists at present. The objective of this component of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a locally produced rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for cholera diagnosis.

Methods

In Bangladesh, nationwide cholera surveillance is ongoing in 22 hospitals covering all 8 divisions of the country since June, 2016. In the surveillance, stool samples have been collected from patients presenting to hospitals with acute watery diarrhea. Crystal VCTM (Span diagnostics, India) and Cholkit (locally produced RDT) have been used to detect V. cholerae from stool samples. Samples have also been sent to the main laboratory at icddr,b where the culture based isolation is routinely performed. All the tests were carried out for both direct and enriched stool samples. RDT sensitivity and specificity were calculated using stool culture as the gold standard.

Results

A total of 7720 samples were tested. Among these, 5865 samples were solely tested with Crystal VC and 1355 samples with Cholkit whereas 381 samples were tested with both the RDTs. In comparison with culture, direct testing with Crystal VC showed a sensitivity of 72% (95% CI: 50.6% to 87.9%) and specificity of 86.8% (95% CI: 82.8% to 90.1%). After enrichment the sensitivity and specificity was 68% (95% CI: 46.5% to 85.1%) and 97.5% (95% CI: 95.3% to 98.8%) respectively. The direct Cholkit test showed sensitivity of 76% (95% CI: 54.9% to 90.6%) and specificity of 90.2% (95% CI: 86.6% to 93.1%).

Conclusion

This evaluation has demonstrated that the sensitivity and specificity of Cholkit is similar to the commercially available test, Crystal VC when used in field settings for detecting V. cholerae from stool specimens. The findings from this study suggest that the Cholkit could be a possible alternative for cholera endemic regions where V. cholerae O1 is the major causative organism causing cholera.

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<![CDATA[Iron influence on dissolved color in lakes of the Upper Great Lakes States]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dc9b9d5eed0c48452a0ba

Colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM), a major component of the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) pool in many lakes, is an important controlling factor in lake ecosystem functioning. Absorption coefficients at 440 nm (a440, m-1), a common measure of CDOM, exhibited strong associations with dissolved iron (Fediss) and DOC in 280 lakes of the Upper Great Lakes States (UGLS: Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan), as has been found in Scandinavia and elsewhere. Linear regressions between the three variables on UGLS lake data typically yielded R2 values of 0.6–0.9, suggesting that some underlying common processes influence organic matter and Fediss. Statistical and experimental evidence, however, supports only a minor role for iron contributions to a440 in UGLS lakes. Although both DOC and Fediss were significant variables in linear and log-log regressions on a440, DOC was the stronger predictor; adding Fediss to the linear a440-DOC model improved the R2 only from 0.90 to 0.93. Furthermore, experimental additions of FeIII to colored lake waters had only small effects on a440 (average increase of 0.242 m-1 per 100 μg/L of added FeIII). For 136 visibly stained waters (with a440 > 3.0 m-1), where allochthonous DOM predominates, DOM accounted for 92.3 ± 5.0% of the measured a440 values, and Fediss accounted for the remainder. In 75% of the lakes, Fediss accounted for < 10% of a440, but contributions of 15–30% were observed for 7 river-influenced lakes. Contributions of Fediss in UGLS lakes to specific UV absorbance at 254 nm (SUVA254) generally were also low. Although Fediss accounted for 5–10% of measured SUVA254 in a few samples, on average, 98.1% of the SUVA254 signal was attributable to DOM and only 1.9% to Fediss. DOC predictions from measured a440 were nearly identical to those from a440 corrected to remove Fediss contributions. Overall, variations in Fediss in most UGLS lakes have very small effects on CDOM optical properties, such as a440 and SUVA254, and negligible effects on the accuracy of DOC estimated from a440, data for which can be obtained at broad regional scales by remote sensing methods.

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<![CDATA[Precise frequency synchronization detection method based on the group quantization stepping law]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c61e8e0d5eed0c48496f2f7

A precise frequency synchronization detection method is proposed based on the group quantization steeping law. Based on the different-frequency group quantization phase processing, high-precision frequency synchronization can be achieved by measuring phase comparison result quantization. If any repeated phase differences in the quantized phase comparison results are used as the starting and stopping signal of the counter gate, the time interval between identical phase differences is a group period as gate time. By measuring and analyzing the quantized phase comparison results, the ±1−word counting error is overcome in the traditional frequency synchronization detection method, and the system response time is significantly shortened. The experimental results show that the proposed frequency synchronization detection method is advanced and scientific. The measurement resolution is notably stable and the frequency stability better than the E-12/s level can be obtained. The method is superior to the traditional frequency synchronization detection method in many aspects, such as system reliability and stability, detection speed, development cost, power consumption and volume.

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<![CDATA[Potent, multi-target serine protease inhibition achieved by a simplified β-sheet motif]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c50c48fd5eed0c4845e88ff

Engagement of an extended β-sheet is a common substrate/inhibitor interaction at the active site of serine proteases and is an important feature of Laskowski mechanism inhibitors that present a substrate-like loop to a target protease. This loop is cleaved but subsequently relegated forming a stable inhibitor/protease complex. Laskowski inhibitors are ubiquitous in nature and are used extensively in serine protease inhibitor design. However, most studies concentrate on introducing new sidechain interactions rather than the direct contributions of the substrate-like β-sheet to enzyme inhibition. Here we report the crystal structure of an simplified β-sheet inhibitory motif within the Sunflower Trypsin Inhibitor (SFTI) in complex with trypsin. We show that the intramolecular hydrogen bond network of this SFTI variant (SFTI-TCTR) engages the inhibitor sidechains that would normally interact with a target protease, giving mainchain interactions a more prominent role in complex formation. Despite having reduced sidechain interactions, this SFTI variant is remarkably potent and inhibits a diverse range of serine proteases. Crystal structural analysis and molecular modelling of SFTI-TCTR complexes again indicates an interface dominated by β–sheet interactions, highlighting the importance of this motif and the adaptability of SFTI as a scaffold for inhibitor design.

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<![CDATA[Structural insight into substrate and product binding in an archaeal mevalonate kinase]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c12cf8ed5eed0c484914932

Mevalonate kinase (MK) is a key enzyme of the mevalonate pathway, which produces the biosynthetic precursors for steroids, including cholesterol, and isoprenoids, the largest class of natural products. Currently available crystal structures of MK from different organisms depict the enzyme in its unbound, substrate-bound, and inhibitor-bound forms; however, until now no structure has yet been determined of MK bound to its product, 5-phosphomevalonate. Here, we present crystal structures of mevalonate-bound and 5-phosphomevalonate-bound MK from Methanosarcina mazei (MmMK), a methanogenic archaeon. In contrast to the prior structure of a eukaryotic MK bound with mevalonate, we find a striking lack of direct interactions between this archaeal MK and its substrate. Further, these two MmMK structures join the prior structure of the apoenzyme to complete the first suite of structural snapshots that depict unbound, substrate-bound, and product-bound forms of the same MK. With this collection of structures, we now provide additional insight into the catalytic mechanism of this biologically essential enzyme.

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<![CDATA[Biotransformation of a potent anabolic steroid, mibolerone, with Cunninghamella blakesleeana, C. echinulata, and Macrophomina phaseolina, and biological activity evaluation of its metabolites]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdbeab

Seven metabolites were obtained from the microbial transformation of anabolic-androgenic steroid mibolerone (1) with Cunninghamella blakesleeana, C. echinulata, and Macrophomina phaseolina. Their structures were determined as 10β,17β-dihydroxy-7α,17α-dimethylestr-4-en-3-one (2), 6β,17β-dihydroxy-7α,17α-dimethylestr-4-en-3-one (3), 6β,10β,17β-trihydroxy-7α,17α-dimethylestr-4-en-3-one (4), 11β,17β-dihydroxy-(20-hydroxymethyl)-7α,17α-dimethylestr-4-en-3-one (5), 1α,17β-dihydroxy-7α,17α-dimethylestr-4-en-3-one (6), 1α,11β,17β-trihydroxy-7α,17α-dimethylestr-4-en-3-one (7), and 11β,17β-dihydroxy-7α,17α-dimethylestr-4-en-3-one (8), on the basis of spectroscopic studies. All metabolites, except 8, were identified as new compounds. This study indicates that C. blakesleeana, and C. echinulata are able to catalyze hydroxylation at allylic positions, while M. phaseolina can catalyze hydroxylation of CH2 and CH3 groups of substrate 1. Mibolerone (1) was found to be a moderate inhibitor of β-glucuronidase enzyme (IC50 = 42.98 ± 1.24 μM) during random biological screening, while its metabolites 24, and 8 were found to be inactive. Mibolerone (1) was also found to be significantly active against Leishmania major promastigotes (IC50 = 29.64 ± 0.88 μM). Its transformed products 3 (IC50 = 79.09 ± 0.06 μM), and 8 (IC50 = 70.09 ± 0.05 μM) showed a weak leishmanicidal activity, while 2 and 4 were found to be inactive. In addition, substrate 1 (IC50 = 35.7 ± 4.46 μM), and its metabolite 8 (IC50 = 34.16 ± 5.3 μM) exhibited potent cytotoxicity against HeLa cancer cell line (human cervical carcinoma). Metabolite 2 (IC50 = 46.5 ± 5.4 μM) also showed a significant cytotoxicity, while 3 (IC50 = 107.8 ± 4.0 μM) and 4 (IC50 = 152.5 ± 2.15 μM) showed weak cytotoxicity against HeLa cancer cell line. Compound 1 (IC50 = 46.3 ± 11.7 μM), and its transformed products 2 (IC50 = 43.3 ± 7.7 μM), 3 (IC50 = 65.6 ± 2.5 μM), and 4 (IC50 = 89.4 ± 2.7 μM) were also found to be moderately toxic to 3T3 cell line (mouse fibroblast). Interestingly, metabolite 8 showed no cytotoxicity against 3T3 cell line. Compounds 14, and 8 were also evaluated for inhibition of tyrosinase, carbonic anhydrase, and α-glucosidase enzymes, and all were found to be inactive.

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<![CDATA[A Rare Glimpse of Paleoarchean Life: Geobiology of an Exceptionally Preserved Microbial Mat Facies from the 3.4 Ga Strelley Pool Formation, Western Australia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dae5ab0ee8fa60bbd59b

Paleoarchean rocks from the Pilbara Craton of Western Australia provide a variety of clues to the existence of early life on Earth, such as stromatolites, putative microfossils and geochemical signatures of microbial activity. However, some of these features have also been explained by non-biological processes. Further lines of evidence are therefore required to convincingly argue for the presence of microbial life. Here we describe a new type of microbial mat facies from the 3.4 Ga Strelley Pool Formation, which directly overlies well known stromatolitic carbonates from the same formation. This microbial mat facies consists of laminated, very fine-grained black cherts with discontinuous white quartz layers and lenses, and contains small domical stromatolites and wind-blown crescentic ripples. Light- and cathodoluminescence microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and time of flight—secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) reveal a spatial association of carbonates, organic material, and highly abundant framboidal pyrite within the black cherts. Nano secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) confirmed the presence of distinct spheroidal carbonate bodies up to several tens of μm that are surrounded by organic material and pyrite. These aggregates are interpreted as biogenic. Comparison with Phanerozoic analogues indicates that the facies represents microbial mats formed in a shallow marine environment. Carbonate precipitation and silicification by hydrothermal fluids occurred during sedimentation and earliest diagenesis. The deciphered environment, as well as the δ13C signature of bulk organic matter (-35.3‰), are in accord with the presence of photoautotrophs. At the same time, highly abundant framboidal pyrite exhibits a sulfur isotopic signature (δ34S = +3.05‰; Δ33S = 0.268‰; and Δ36S = -0.282‰) that is consistent with microbial sulfate reduction. Taken together, our results strongly support a microbial mat origin of the black chert facies, thus providing another line of evidence for life in the 3.4 Ga Strelley Pool Formation.

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<![CDATA[Two Independent Functions of Collier/Early B Cell Factor in the Control of Drosophila Blood Cell Homeostasis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db1bab0ee8fa60bce173

Blood cell production in the Drosophila hematopoietic organ, the lymph gland, is controlled by intrinsic factors and extrinsic signals. Initial analysis of Collier/Early B Cell Factor function in the lymph gland revealed the role of the Posterior Signaling Center (PSC) in mounting a dedicated cellular immune response to wasp parasitism. Further, premature blood cell differentiation when PSC specification or signaling was impaired, led to assigning the PSC a role equivalent to the vertebrate hematopoietic niche. We report here that Collier is expressed in a core population of lymph gland progenitors and cell autonomously maintains this population. The PSC contributes to lymph gland homeostasis by regulating blood cell differentiation, rather than by maintaining core progenitors. In addition to PSC signaling, switching off Collier expression in progenitors is required for efficient immune response to parasitism. Our data show that two independent sites of Collier/Early B Cell Factor expression, hematopoietic progenitors and the PSC, achieve control of hematopoiesis.

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<![CDATA[Biochemistry and Crystal Structure of Ectoine Synthase: A Metal-Containing Member of the Cupin Superfamily]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9e3ab0ee8fa60b6a4fd

Ectoine is a compatible solute and chemical chaperone widely used by members of the Bacteria and a few Archaea to fend-off the detrimental effects of high external osmolarity on cellular physiology and growth. Ectoine synthase (EctC) catalyzes the last step in ectoine production and mediates the ring closure of the substrate N-gamma-acetyl-L-2,4-diaminobutyric acid through a water elimination reaction. However, the crystal structure of ectoine synthase is not known and a clear understanding of how its fold contributes to enzyme activity is thus lacking. Using the ectoine synthase from the cold-adapted marine bacterium Sphingopyxis alaskensis (Sa), we report here both a detailed biochemical characterization of the EctC enzyme and the high-resolution crystal structure of its apo-form. Structural analysis classified the (Sa)EctC protein as a member of the cupin superfamily. EctC forms a dimer with a head-to-tail arrangement, both in solution and in the crystal structure. The interface of the dimer assembly is shaped through backbone-contacts and weak hydrophobic interactions mediated by two beta-sheets within each monomer. We show for the first time that ectoine synthase harbors a catalytically important metal co-factor; metal depletion and reconstitution experiments suggest that EctC is probably an iron-dependent enzyme. We found that EctC not only effectively converts its natural substrate N-gamma-acetyl-L-2,4-diaminobutyric acid into ectoine through a cyclocondensation reaction, but that it can also use the isomer N-alpha-acetyl-L-2,4-diaminobutyric acid as its substrate, albeit with substantially reduced catalytic efficiency. Structure-guided site-directed mutagenesis experiments targeting amino acid residues that are evolutionarily highly conserved among the extended EctC protein family, including those forming the presumptive iron-binding site, were conducted to functionally analyze the properties of the resulting EctC variants. An assessment of enzyme activity and iron content of these mutants give important clues for understanding the architecture of the active site positioned within the core of the EctC cupin barrel.

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<![CDATA[The renal phenotype of allopurinol-treated HPRT-deficient mouse]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdbe31

Excess of uric acid is mainly treated with xanthine oxidase (XO) inhibitors, also called uricostatics because they block the conversion of hypoxanthine and xanthine into urate. Normally, accumulation of upstream metabolites is prevented by the hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) enzyme. The recycling pathway, however, is impaired in the presence of HPRT deficiency, as observed in Lesch-Nyhan disease. To gain insights into the consequences of purine accumulation with HPRT deficiency, we investigated the effects of the XO inhibitor allopurinol in Hprt-lacking (HPRT-/-) mice. Allopurinol was administered in the drinking water of E12-E14 pregnant mothers at dosages of 150 or 75 μg/ml, and mice sacrificed after weaning. The drug was well tolerated by wild-type animals and heterozygous HPRT+/- mice. Instead, a profound alteration of the renal function was observed in the HPRT-/- model. Increased hypoxanthine and xanthine concentrations were found in the blood. The kidneys showed a yellowish appearance, diffuse interstitial nephritis, with dilated tubules, inflammatory and fibrotic changes of the interstitium. There were numerous xanthine tubular crystals, as determined by HPLC analysis. Oil red O staining demonstrated lipid accumulation in the same location of xanthine deposits. mRNA analysis showed increased expression of adipogenesis-related molecules as well as profibrotic and proinflammatory pathways. Immunostaining showed numerous monocyte-macrophages and overexpression of alpha-smooth muscle actin in the tubulointerstitium. In vitro, addition of xanthine to tubular cells caused diffuse oil red O positivity and modification of the cell phenotype, with loss of epithelial features and appearance of mesenchymal characteristics, similarly to what was observed in vivo. Our results indicate that in the absence of HPRT, blockade of XO by allopurinol causes rapidly developing renal failure due to xanthine deposition within the mouse kidney. Xanthine seems to be directly involved in promoting lipid accumulation and subsequent phenotype changes of tubular cells, with activation of inflammation and fibrosis.

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<![CDATA[Structure determination of a major facilitator peptide transporter: Inward facing PepTSt from Streptococcus thermophilus crystallized in space group P3121]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdbdc2

Major facilitator superfamily (MFS) peptide transporters (typically referred to as PepT, POT or PTR transporters) mediate the uptake of di- and tripeptides, and so play an important dietary role in many organisms. In recent years, a better understanding of the molecular basis for this process has emerged, which is in large part due to a steep increase in structural information. Yet, the conformational transitions underlying the transport mechanism are still not fully understood, and additional data is therefore needed. Here we report in detail the detergent screening, crystallization, experimental MIRAS phasing, and refinement of the peptide transporter PepTSt from Streptococcus thermophilus. The space group is P3121, and the protein is crystallized in a monomeric inward facing form. The binding site is likely to be somewhat occluded, as the lobe encompassing transmembrane helices 10 and 11 is markedly bent towards the central pore of the protein, but the extent of this potential occlusion could not be determined due to disorder at the apex of the lobe. Based on structural comparisons with the seven previously determined P212121 and C2221 structures of inward facing PepTSt, the structural flexibility as well as the conformational changes mediating transition between the inward open and inward facing occluded states are discussed. In conclusion, this report improves our understanding of the structure and conformational cycle of PepTSt, and can furthermore serve as a case study, which may aid in supporting future structure determinations of additional MFS transporters or other integral membrane proteins.

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<![CDATA[Living Life on a Magnet]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db39ab0ee8fa60bd44b4 ]]> <![CDATA[Preformulation Studies on Piperlongumine]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daf8ab0ee8fa60bc3ab4

Piperlongumine is a natural alkaloid extracted from piper plants which has been used traditionally for the treatment of certain diseases. This compound shows interesting in vitro pharmacological activity such as selective anticancer activity and higher cytotoxicity than methotrexate, cyclophosphamide and adriamycin on breast, colon, and osteosarcoma cancers, respectively. However, the physicochemical properties for this compound have not been well characterized. In this research, preformulation studies for piperlongumine have been performed to determine factors which influence solubility and stability which, in turn, can be used to assist future formulation development. The solubility of piperlongumine in water was found to be approximately 26 μg/ml. Using 10% polysorbate 80 as a surfactant resulted in a 27 fold increase in solubility. Cosolvents and cyclodextrins afforded concentrations of 1 mg/ml and higher. The pH degradation rate profile for piperlongumine at various temperatures shows significant instability of the drug at pH values ≥ 7 and 3, and maximum stability around pH 4. It was estimated that it would take approximately 17 weeks for piperlongumine to degrade by 10% at 25°C, pH 4. Additionally, piperlongumine showed marked photo-degradation upon exposure to an ultraviolet light source, especially in aqueous media.

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<![CDATA[Could Google Trends Be Used to Predict Methamphetamine-Related Crime? An Analysis of Search Volume Data in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9e5ab0ee8fa60b6b0a5

Objective

To compare the time trends of Google search interest in methamphetamine and criminal offences related to this drug.

Methods

Google Trends data for the search term "meth" was compared to methamphetamine-related crime statistics (incl. use, possession, and dealing) in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria for the years 2004–2016. Google data was availably monthly. Crime data was available yearly, and monthly values were imputed.

Results

On the country level, internet search trends for "meth" roughly paralleled relevant criminal activity. State-level data, which was available for Austria, showed more heterogeneity. Cross-correlations for yearly data almost always peaked at a lag time of 0 and coefficients were mostly between 0.7 and 1.0 on the country level, and between 0.5 to 1.0 on the state level. Monthly cross-correlations based on imputed values were substantially lower, ranging from 0 to 0.6.

Conclusions

These results encourage the further evaluation by law enforcement authorities of Google search activity as a possible predictor of methamphetamine-related crime. However, several limitations, in particular the crude temporal resolution of available crime data, precluded a detailed assessment of the relationship between internet search trends and the development of methamphetamine-related crime in central Europe.

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<![CDATA[The effect of Fe2O3 crystal phases on CO2 hydrogenation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5aafc07a463d7e7cbd9135ab

The effect of Fe2O3 crystal phases on their performance in CO2 hydrogenation was studied. α-Fe2O3 crystal was prepared by precipitation method from Fe(NO3)3·9H2O and (NH4)2CO3, and γ-Fe2O3 was prepared by grinding Fe(NO3)3·9H2O and L(+)-Tartaric acid in agate mortar completely. The crystal phases of Fe2O3 influence the distribution of promoter Zn, K and Cu on catalysts. The dispersity of K on γ-Fe2O3 surface is higher than α-Fe2O3. On the contrary, Cu and Zn are more dispersive on α-Fe2O3 surface than γ-Fe2O3. The catalyst in γ-Fe2O3 phase is easily reduced relative to the catalyst in α-Fe2O3 phase. The former presents higher CO2 conversion and C2+ hydrocarbon selectivity than the latter in CO2 hydrogenation.

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<![CDATA[Modeling of Mechanical Stress Exerted by Cholesterol Crystallization on Atherosclerotic Plaques]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db45ab0ee8fa60bd82fd

Plaque rupture is the critical cause of cardiovascular thrombosis, but the detailed mechanisms are not fully understood. Recent studies have found abundant cholesterol crystals in ruptured plaques, and it has been proposed that the rapid expansion of cholesterol crystals in a limited space during crystallization may contribute to plaque rupture. To evaluate the effect of cholesterol crystal growth on atherosclerotic plaques, we modeled the expansion of cholesterol crystals during the crystallization process in the necrotic core and estimated the stress on the thin cap with different arrangements of cholesterol crystals. We developed a two-dimensional finite element method model of atherosclerotic plaques containing expanding cholesterol crystals and investigated the effect of the magnitude and distribution of crystallization on the peak circumferential stress born by the cap. Using micro-optical coherence tomography (μOCT), we extracted the cross-sectional geometric information of cholesterol crystals in human atherosclerotic aorta tissue ex vivo and applied the information to the model. The results demonstrate that (1) the peak circumference stress is proportionally dependent on the cholesterol crystal growth; (2) cholesterol crystals at the cap shoulder impose the highest peak circumference stress; and (3) spatial distributions of cholesterol crystals have a significant impact on the peak circumference stress: evenly distributed cholesterol crystals exert less peak circumferential stress on the cap than concentrated crystals.

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<![CDATA[Non-Invasive Evaluation of Heart Function with Four-Dimensional Echocardiography]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db3bab0ee8fa60bd4e6d

Background

The aim of this study is to assess the accuracy and feasibility of left ventricular systolic function determined by four-dimensional echocardiography (4DE).

Methods

Latex balloons were sewn into the left ventricle (LV) of 20 freshly harvested pig hearts which were then passively driven by a pulsatile pump apparatus. Global longitudinal strain (GLS), global circumferential strain (GCS), global area strain (GAS) and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) derived from 4DEand two-dimensional echocardiography (2DE)-derived LVEF were quantified at different stroke volumes (SV) 30–70 ml and correlated with sonomicrometry data.

Results

In all comparisons, GLS, GCS, GAS, 2DE-LVEF, and 4DE-LVEF demonstrated strong correlations with sonomicrometry data (r = 0.77, r = 0.89, r = 0.79, r = 0.93, r = 0.96, all P <0.001). Bland-Altman analyses showed slight overestimations of echo-derived GLS, GCS, 2DE-LVEF and 3DE-LVEF over sonomicrometry values (bias = 2.88, bias = 3.99, bias = 3.37, bias = 2.78, respectively). Furthermore, there is better agreement between GCS, 4D LVEF and sonomicrometry values compared with GLS and 2D LVEF.

Conclusion

Four-dimensional echocardiography accurately assesses LV function. GCS derived by 4DE is a potential alternative parameter to quantify LV systolic function.

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