136 research outputs found

    Autonomous Sensing Nodes for IoT Applications

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    The present doctoral thesis fits into the energy harvesting framework, presenting the development of low-power nodes compliant with the energy autonomy requirement, and sharing common technologies and architectures, but based on different energy sources and sensing mechanisms. The adopted approach is aimed at evaluating multiple aspects of the system in its entirety (i.e., the energy harvesting mechanism, the choice of the harvester, the study of the sensing process, the selection of the electronic devices for processing, acquisition and measurement, the electronic design, the microcontroller unit (MCU) programming techniques), accounting for very challenging constraints as the low amounts of harvested power (i.e., [μW, mW] range), the careful management of the available energy, the coexistence of sensing and radio transmitting features with ultra-low power requirements. Commercial sensors are mainly used to meet the cost-effectiveness and the large-scale reproducibility requirements, however also customized sensors for a specific application (soil moisture measurement), together with appropriate characterization and reading circuits, are also presented. Two different strategies have been pursued which led to the development of two types of sensor nodes, which are referred to as 'sensor tags' and 'self-sufficient sensor nodes'. The first term refers to completely passive sensor nodes without an on-board battery as storage element and which operate only in the presence of the energy source, provisioning energy from it. In this thesis, an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) sensor tag for soil moisture monitoring powered by the impinging electromagnetic field is presented. The second term identifies sensor nodes equipped with a battery rechargeable through energy scavenging and working as a secondary reserve in case of absence of the primary energy source. In this thesis, quasi-real-time multi-purpose monitoring LoRaWAN nodes harvesting energy from thermoelectricity, diffused solar light, indoor white light, and artificial colored light are presented

    Autonomous IoT Monitoring Matching Spectral Artificial Light Manipulation for Horticulture

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    This paper aims at demonstrating the energy self-sufficiency of a LoRaWAN-based sensor node for monitoring environmental parameters exploiting energy harvesting directly coming from the artificial light used in indoor horticulture. A portable polycrystalline silicon module is used to charge a Li-Po battery, employed as the power reserve of a wireless sensor node able to accurately monitor, with a 1-h period, both the physical quantities most relevant for the application, i.e., humidity, temperature and pressure, and the chemical quantities, i.e., O(2) and CO(2) concentrations. To this aim, the node also hosts a power-hungry NDIR sensor. Two programmable light sources were used to emulate the actual lighting conditions of greenhouses, and to prove the effectiveness of the designed autonomous system: a LED-based custom designed solar simulator and a commercial LED light especially thought for plant cultivation purposes in greenhouses. Different lighting conditions used in indoor horticulture to enhance different plant growth phases, obtained as combinations of blue, red, far-red and white spectra, were tested by field tests of the sensor node. The energy self-sufficiency of the system was demonstrated by monitoring the charging/discharging trend of the Li-Po battery. Best results are obtained when white artificial light is mixed with the far-red component, closest to the polycrystalline silicon spectral response peak

    Factor Structure and Criterion Validity of an Enlarged Version of the Parental Bonding Instrument

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    Factorial structure and criterion validity of an enlarged version of the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI-E) were evaluated in a community sample of young adults. This enlarged version was obtained by adding parental favouritism (FAV) and put-down/shaming (PUT_D) to the original care and overprotection (OV) scales as recalled by the offspring. Factor analysis suggested a five factor model as the best solution, identifying CARE, FAV and PUT_D and splitting the overprotection items into two factors, denial of psychological autonomy (DPA) and discouragement of behavioural freedom, (DBF) with Cronbach's alphas ranging from .77 to .92. These five scales were correlated with depression and anxiety of the offspring, measured by BDI and STAI. Both of them correlated negatively with care and positively with the other parental scales, as expected by Parker's theory on the role of affectionless control for the psychopathological vulnerability of the children. A series of hierarchical regression analyses, including CARE, DPA and DBF at the first step and FAV and PUT_D at the second step, showed that the latter enhanced the predictive power of the instrument. Overall these findings: (1) suggest a five factor structure for the PBI-E and (2) confirm the criterion validity of the PBI scales in respect to children's depression and anxiety, providing also compelling evidence for the incremental validity of Gilbert's scales

    Molecular Diagnosis of Malaria Infection: A Survey in a Hospital in Central Italy

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    Malaria is a dramatic disease caused by the protozoan parasites Plasmodium. The diagnosis is mainly based on microscopy and rapid diagnostic tests (RDT). Molecular approaches based on PCR techniques may be an alternative tool particularly favourable in regions with declining prevalence. This work aimed to assess pros and cons of molecular diagnosis of malaria in a district of Central Italy were several tens of imported malaria cases are diagnosed every year. Thirty-three blood samples were analysed by microscopy, RDT and molecular techniques to monitor the relative efficiency in malaria diagnosis. Molecular analysis and microscopy diagnosed 32 out of 33 samples as positive for malaria, while RDT only 29. More differences concerned the diagnosis of mixed infections. Our findings remark the importance of the molecular approach in supporting and improving malaria diagnosis. In the cases here presented, the molecular analysis was particularly useful to unveil parasites presence in infections not detectable by blood smear analysis and to additionally solve real and/or presumed mixed infections

    Gonadal Function in Male Patients With Metastatic Renal Cell Cancer Treated With Sunitinib

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    Background/aim: Single-agent tyrosine kinase inhibitors are still prescribed as first-line treatment to a relevant subgroup of patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). These agents are known to cause disfunction of many endocrine glands (e.g., thyroid). In this two-step trial, we aimed to assess gonadal function among male patients with mRCC treated with sunitinib. Patients and methods: We enrolled a first cross-sectional cohort of pre-treated (>6 months) patients and a subsequent cohort of treatment-naïve patients who were prospectively followed-up. All patients were screened for hypogonadism and received a Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy - General (FACT-G) questionnaire at study entry and after 6 months of therapy. Patients who were candidates for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) also received a FACT-G questionnaire at baseline and 3 months after supplementation. Results: Among the 30 enrolled patients, the prevalence of hypogonadism was found to be higher in those receiving sunitinib for a longer period (27.3% at baseline, 41.7% in the first 6 months, and 68.4% after 9 months of therapy). The testosterone level of patients correlated with quality of life (R=0.32). A total of six patients received TRT, with a significant improvement in their global quality of life after the first 3 months of treatment. Conclusion: An increasing prevalence of hypogonadism was seen among male patients who received long-term treatment with sunitinib. TRT was associated with relevant improvements in quality of life. These findings corroborate similar published observations and encourage the assessment of gonadal function in male patients with mRCC under treatment with sunitinib

    A yeast strain associated to Anopheles mosquitoes produces a toxin able to kill malaria parasites

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    BACKGROUND: Malaria control strategies are focusing on new approaches, such as the symbiotic control, which consists in the use of microbial symbionts to prevent parasite development in the mosquito gut and to block the transmission of the infection to humans. Several microbes, bacteria and fungi, have been proposed for malaria or other mosquito-borne diseases control strategies. Among these, the yeast Wickerhamomyces anomalus has been recently isolated from the gut of Anopheles mosquitoes, where it releases a natural antimicrobial toxin. Interestingly, many environmental strains of W. anomalus exert a wide anti-bacterial/fungal activity and some of these 'killer' yeasts are already used in industrial applications as food and feed bio-preservation agents. Since a few studies showed that W. anomalus killer strains have antimicrobial effects also against protozoan parasites, the possible anti-plasmodial activity of the yeast was investigated. METHODS: A yeast killer toxin (KT), purified through combined chromatographic techniques from a W. anomalus strain isolated from the malaria vector Anopheles stephensi, was tested as an effector molecule to target the sporogonic stages of the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei, in vitro. Giemsa staining was used to detect morphological damages in zygotes/ookinetes after treatment with the KT. Furthermore, the possible mechanism of action of the KT was investigated pre-incubating the protein with castanospermine, an inhibitor of β-glucanase activity. RESULTS: A strong anti-plasmodial effect was observed when the P. berghei sporogonic stages were treated with KT, obtaining an inhibition percentage up to around 90 %. Microscopy analysis revealed several ookinete alterations at morphological and structural level, suggesting the direct implication of the KT-enzymatic activity. Moreover, evidences of the reduction of KT activity upon treatment with castanospermine propose a β-glucanase-mediated activity. CONCLUSION: The results showed the in vitro killing efficacy of a protein produced by a mosquito strain of W. anomalus against malaria parasites. Further studies are required to test the KT activity against the sporogonic stages in vivo, nevertheless this work opens new perspectives for the possible use of killer strains in innovative strategies to impede the development of the malaria parasite in mosquito vectors by the means of microbial symbionts

    Recombinant adeno associated viral (AAV) vector type 9 delivery of Ex1-Q138-mutant huntingtin in the rat striatum as a short-time model for in vivo studies in drug discovery

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    Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder characterized by dyskinesia, cognitive impairment and emotional disturbances, presenting progressive neurodegeneration in the striatum and intracellular mutant Huntingtin (mHTT) aggregates in various areas of the brain. Recombinant Adeno Associated Viral (rAAV) vectors have been successfully used to transfer foreign genes to the brain of adult animals. In the present study we report a novel in vivo rat HD model obtained by stereotaxic injection of rAAV serotype2/9 containing Exon1-Q138 mHTT (Q138) and Exon1-Q17 wild type HTT (Q17; control), respectively in the right and in the left striatum, and expressed as C-terminal GFP fusions to facilitate detection of infected cells and aggregate production. Immunohistochemical analysis of brain slices from animals sacrificed twenty-one days after viral infection showed that Q138 injection resulted in robust formation of GFP-positive aggregates in the striatum, increased GFAP and microglial activation and neurodegeneration, with little evidence of any of these events in contralateral tissue infected with wild type (Q17) expressing construct. Differences in the relative metabolite concentrations (N-Acetyl Aspartate/Creatine and Myo-Inositol/Creatine) were observed by H1 MR Spectroscopy. By quantitative RT-PCR we also demonstrated that mHTT induced changes in the expression of genes previously shown to be altered in other rodent HD models. Importantly, administration of reference compounds previously shown to ameliorate the aggregation and neurodegeneration phenotypes in preclinical HD models was demonstrated to revert the mutant HTT-dependent effects in our model. In conclusion, the AAV2/9-Q138/Q17 exon 1 HTT stereotaxic injection represents a useful first-line in vivo preclinical model for studying the biology of mutant HTT exon 1 in the striatum and to provide early evidence of efficacy of therapeutic approaches
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