918 research outputs found

    The cuttlefish Sepia officinalis (Sepiidae, Cephalopoda) constructs cuttlebone from a liquid-crystal precursor

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    Cuttlebone, the sophisticated buoyancy device of cuttlefish, is made of extensive superposed chambers that have a complex internal arrangement of calcified pillars and organic membranes. It has not been clear how this structure is assembled. We find that the membranes result from a myriad of minor membranes initially filling the whole chamber, made of nanofibres evenly oriented within each membrane and slightly rotated with respect to those of adjacent membranes, producing a helical arrangement. We propose that the organism secretes a chitin-protein complex, which self-organizes layer-by-layer as a cholesteric liquid crystal, whereas the pillars are made by viscous fingering. The liquid crystallization mechanism permits us to homologize the elements of the cuttlebone with those of other coleoids and with the nacreous septa and the shells of nautiloids. These results challenge our view of this ultra-light natural material possessing desirable mechanical, structural and biological properties, suggesting that two self-organizing physical principles suffice to understand its formation.Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovacion [CGL2010-20748-CO2-01, CGL2013-48247-P, FIS2013-48444-C2-2-P]; Andalusian Consejeria de Innovacion Ciencia y Tecnologia [RNM6433]; (Sepiatech, PROMAR program) of the Portuguese Ministerio da Agricultura e do Mar, Portugal [31.03.05.FEP.002]; Junta de Andalucia [RNM363]; FP7 COST Action of the European Community. [TD0903]info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersio

    Alloimmunisation to Donor Antigens and Immune Rejection Following Foetal Neural Grafts to the Brain in Patients with Huntington's Disease

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    BACKGROUND: The brain is deemed “immunologically privileged” due to sparse professional antigen-presenting cells and lymphatic drainage, and to the blood-brain barrier. Although the actual extent of this privilege is controversial, there is general consensus about the limited need in intracerebral neural grafts for immunosuppressive regimens comparable to those used in other cases of allotransplantation. This has led over the past fifteen years to the use of either short-term or even no immunosuppression in most clinical trials with foetal neural transplant in patients with Parkinson's and Huntington's disease. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We report biological demonstration of alloimmunisation without signs of rejection in four grafted patients out of 13 studied during the course of a clinical trial involving fetal neural transplantation in patients with Huntington's Disease. Biological, radiological and clinical demonstration of an ongoing rejection process was observed in a fifth transplanted patient. The rejection process was, however, fully reversible under immunosuppressive treatment and graft activity recovered within six months. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: There had been, up to date, no report of documented cases that could have cast a doubt on those procedures. Our results underline the need for a reconsideration of the extent of the so-called immune privilege of the brain and of the follow-up protocols of patients with intracerebral grafts. It also suggests that some of the results obtained in past studies with foetal neural transplants may have been biased by an unrecognized immune response to donor cells

    How to realize a robust practical Majorana chain in a quantum dot-superconductor linear array

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    Semiconducting nanowires in proximity to superconductors are promising experimental systems for Majorana fermions, which may ultimately be used as building blocks for topological quantum computers. A serious challenge in the experimental realization of the Majorana fermions is the supression of topological superconductivity by disorder. We show that Majorana fermions protected by a robust topological gap can occur at the ends of a chain of quantum dots connected by s-wave superconductors. In the appropriate parameter regime, we establish that the quantum dot/superconductor system is equivalent to a 1D Kitaev chain, which can be tuned to be in a robust topological phase with Majorana end modes even in the case where the quantum dots and superconductors are both strongly disordered. Such a spin-orbit coupled quantum dot - s-wave superconductor array provides an ideal experimental platform for the observation of non-Abelian Majorana modes.Comment: 8 pages; 3 figures; version 2: Supplementary material updated to include more general proof for localized Majorana fermion

    Systemic versus localized coagulation activation contributing to organ failure in critically ill patients

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    In the pathogenesis of sepsis, inflammation and coagulation play a pivotal role. Increasing evidence points to an extensive cross-talk between these two systems, whereby inflammation not only leads to activation of coagulation but coagulation also considerably affects inflammatory activity. The intricate relationship between inflammation and coagulation may not only be relevant for vascular atherothrombotic disease in general but has in certain clinical settings considerable consequences, for example in the pathogenesis of microvascular failure and subsequent multiple organ failure, as a result of severe infection and the associated systemic inflammatory response. Molecular pathways that contribute to inflammation-induced activation of coagulation have been precisely identified. Pro-inflammatory cytokines and other mediators are capable of activating the coagulation system and downregulating important physiological anticoagulant pathways. Activation of the coagulation system and ensuing thrombin generation is dependent on an interleukin-6-induced expression of tissue factor on activated mononuclear cells and endothelial cells and is insufficiently counteracted by physiological anticoagulant mechanisms and endogenous fibrinolysis. Interestingly, apart from the overall systemic responses, a differential local response in various vascular beds related to specific organs may occur

    Entanglement Dynamics after a Quench in Ising Field Theory: A Branch Point Twist Field Approach

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    We extend the branch point twist field approach for the calculation of entanglement entropies to time-dependent problems in 1+1-dimensional massive quantum field theories. We focus on the simplest example: a mass quench in the Ising field theory from initial mass m0 to final mass m. The main analytical results are obtained from a perturbative expansion of the twist field one-point function in the post-quench quasi-particle basis. The expected linear growth of the Rényi entropies at large times mt ≫ 1 emerges from a perturbative calculation at second order. We also show that the Rényi and von Neumann entropies, in infinite volume, contain subleading oscillatory contributions of frequency 2m and amplitude proportional to (mt)−3/2. The oscillatory terms are correctly predicted by an alternative perturbation series, in the pre-quench quasi-particle basis, which we also discuss. A comparison to lattice numerical calculations carried out on an Ising chain in the scaling limit shows very good agreement with the quantum field theory predictions. We also find evidence of clustering of twist field correlators which implies that the entanglement entropies are proportional to the number of subsystem boundary points

    Technologies for the global energy transition

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    The availability of reliable, affordable and mature technologies is at the basis of an effective decarbonization strategy, that should be in turn supported by timely and accurate policies. Due to the large differences across sectors and countries, there is no silver bullet to support decarbonization, but a combination of multiple technologies will be required to reach the challenging goal of decarbonizing the energy sector. This chapter presents a focus on the current technological solutions that are available in four main sectors: power generation, industry, transport and buildings. The aim of this work is to highlight the main strengths and weaknesses of the current technologies, to help the reader in understanding which are the main opportunities and challenges related to the development and deployment of each of them, as well as their potential contribution to the decarbonization targets. The chapter also provides strategies and policy recommendations from a technology point of view on how to decarbonize the global energy systems by mid-century and of the necessity to take a systems approach

    Thrombocytopenia in the experimental leptospirosis of guinea pig is not related to disseminated intravascular coagulation

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    BACKGROUND: Thrombocytopenia is commonly observed in severe leptospirosis. However, previous studies on coagulation alterations during leptospirosis resulted in inconsistent conclusions. Some findings showed that the prominent levels of thrombocytopenia observed in severe leptospirosis did not reflect the occurrence of disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) syndrome, while the others reached the conclusion that the hemorrhages observed in leptospirosis were due to DIC. The aim of this study is to elucidate whether DIC is an important feature of leptospirosis. METHODS: The leptospirosis model of guinea pig was established by intraperitoneal inoculation of Leptospira interrogans strain Lai. Hematoxylin and eosin (HE) staining, electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry staining were used to detect the pathologic changes. Platelet thrombus or fibrin thrombus was detected by HE, Martius Scarlet Blue (MSB) staining and electron microscopy. Hemostatic molecular markers such as 11-dehydrogenate thromboxane B2 (11-DH-TXB2), thrombomodulin (TM), thrombin-antithrombin III complex (TAT), D-Dimer and fibrin (ogen) degradation products (FDPs) in the plasma were examined by quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to evaluate the hematological coagulative alterations in leptospirosis models. RESULTS: Pulmonary hemorrhage appeared in the model guinea pig 24 hours after leptospires intraperitoneal inoculation, progressing to a peak at 96 hours after the infection. Leptospires were detected 24 hours post-inoculation in the liver, 48 hours in the lung and 72 hours in the kidney by immunohistochemistry staining. Spiral form of the bacteria was initially observed in the liver, lung and kidney suggestive of intact leptospires, granular form of leptospires was seen as the severity increased. Platelet aggregation in hepatic sinusoid as well as phagocytosis of erythrocytes and platelets by Kupffer cells were both observed. Neither platelet thrombus nor fibrin thrombus was found in the liver, lung or kidney via morphological observation. Thrombocytopenia was observed in all infected guinea pigs of our experimental leptospirosis study. Analysis of hematologic molecular markers showed that 11-DH-TXB2 and TM in the plasma were elevated significantly. TAT that reflects the thrombin activation had a trend of decline after infection. Although D-dimer and FDPs increased statistically, the increasing may not bear clinical significance. CONCLUSION: Pathologic and hematological studies for experimental leptospirosis of guinea pig indicated that the thrombocytopenia found in guinea pigs did not correlate with the occurrence of DIC. The platelet aggregation and Kupffer cells phagocytosis might be the potential causes of thrombocytopenia in severe leptospirosis

    On the use of simulation as a Big Data semantic validator for supply chain management

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    Simulation stands out as an appropriate method for the Supply Chain Management (SCM) field. Nevertheless, to produce accurate simulations of Supply Chains (SCs), several business processes must be considered. Thus, when using real data in these simulation models, Big Data concepts and technologies become necessary, as the involved data sources generate data at increasing volume, velocity and variety, in what is known as a Big Data context. While developing such solution, several data issues were found, with simulation proving to be more efficient than traditional data profiling techniques in identifying them. Thus, this paper proposes the use of simulation as a semantic validator of the data, proposed a classification for such issues and quantified their impact in the volume of data used in the final achieved solution. This paper concluded that, while SC simulations using Big Data concepts and technologies are within the grasp of organizations, their data models still require considerable improvements, in order to produce perfect mimics of their SCs. In fact, it was also found that simulation can help in identifying and bypassing some of these issues.This work has been supported by FCT (Fundacao para a Ciencia e Tecnologia) within the Project Scope: UID/CEC/00319/2019 and by the Doctoral scholarship PDE/BDE/114566/2016 funded by FCT, the Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, through national funds, and co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the Operational Programme for Human Capital (POCH)