Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 18

Search results for: Stefania Patera

18 Competitive DNA Calibrators as Quality Reference Standards (QRS™) for Germline and Somatic Copy Number Variations/Variant Allelic Frequencies Analyses

Authors: Eirini Konstanta, Cedric Gouedard, Aggeliki Delimitsou, Stefania Patera, Samuel Murray

Abstract:

Introduction: Quality reference DNA standards (QRS) for molecular testing by next-generation sequencing (NGS) are essential for accurate quantitation of copy number variations (CNV) for germline and variant allelic frequencies (VAF) for somatic analyses. Objectives: Presently, several molecular analytics for oncology patients are reliant upon quantitative metrics. Test validation and standardisation are also reliant upon the availability of surrogate control materials allowing for understanding test LOD (limit of detection), sensitivity, specificity. We have developed a dual calibration platform allowing for QRS pairs to be included in analysed DNA samples, allowing for accurate quantitation of CNV and VAF metrics within and between patient samples. Methods: QRS™ blocks up to 500nt were designed for common NGS panel targets incorporating ≥ 2 identification tags (IDTDNA.com). These were analysed upon spiking into gDNA, somatic, and ctDNA using a proprietary CalSuite™ platform adaptable to common LIMS. Results: We demonstrate QRS™ calibration reproducibility spiked to 5–25% at ± 2.5% in gDNA and ctDNA. Furthermore, we demonstrate CNV and VAF within and between samples (gDNA and ctDNA) with the same reproducibility (± 2.5%) in a clinical sample of lung cancer and HBOC (EGFR and BRCA1, respectively). CNV analytics was performed with similar accuracy using a single pair of QRS calibrators when using multiple single targeted sequencing controls. Conclusion: Dual paired QRS™ calibrators allow for accurate and reproducible quantitative analyses of CNV, VAF, intrinsic sample allele measurement, inter and intra-sample measure not only simplifying NGS analytics but allowing for monitoring clinically relevant biomarker VAF across patient ctDNA samples with improved accuracy.

Keywords: calibrator, CNV, gene copy number, VAF

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17 MONDO Neutron Tracker Characterisation by Means of Proton Therapeutical Beams and MonteCarlo Simulation Studies

Authors: G. Traini, V. Giacometti, R. Mirabelli, V. Patera, D. Pinci, A. Sarti, A. Sciubba, M. Marafini

Abstract:

The MONDO (MOnitor for Neutron Dose in hadrOntherapy) project aims a precise characterisation of the secondary fast and ultrafast neutrons produced in particle therapy treatments. The detector is composed of a matrix of scintillating fibres (250 um) readout by CMOS Digital-SPAD based sensors. Recoil protons from n-p elastic scattering are detected and used to track neutrons. A prototype was tested with proton beams (Trento Proton Therapy Centre): efficiency, light yield, and track-reconstruction capability were studied. The results of a MonteCarlo FLUKA simulation used to evaluated double scattering efficiency and expected backgrounds will be presented.

Keywords: secondary neutrons, particle therapy, tracking, elastic scattering

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16 Make Up Flash: Web Application for the Improvement of Physical Appearance in Images Based on Recognition Methods

Authors: Stefania Arguelles Reyes, Octavio José Salcedo Parra, Alberto Acosta López

Abstract:

This paper presents a web application for the improvement of images through recognition. The web application is based on the analysis of picture-based recognition methods that allow an improvement on the physical appearance of people posting in social networks. The basis relies on the study of tools that can correct or improve some features of the face, with the help of a wide collection of user images taken as reference to build a facial profile. Automatic facial profiling can be achieved with a deeper study of the Object Detection Library. It was possible to improve the initial images with the help of MATLAB and its filtering functions. The user can have a direct interaction with the program and manually adjust his preferences.

Keywords: Matlab, make up, recognition methods, web application

Procedia PDF Downloads 41
15 Outcomes from a Qualitative Research: Ethnic Prejudice and Identity Difficulties in Experiences of Young People of Foreign Origin Adopted in Italy

Authors: Stefania Lorenzini

Abstract:

Italy is a country where the phenomenon of international adoption is very considerable: indeed, it is second in the world only to the United States. This contribution deals with issues related to the development of children's identities in international and interethnic adoption. Process of identity construction can be complex in adopted children born and, often, lived for some years of their young life, in geographical, human, social and cultural contexts very different from those they live after adoption. The results of a qualitative research conducted by interviewing young people adopted in Italy make it possible to grasp the different facets of discrimination episodes related to somatic traits, and in particular to the color of the skin, that refer to these young people foreign origin. Outcomes from the research show difficulties in identy construction but also highlight how that evolution of an "intercultural identity" during international and interethnic adoption is possible.

Keywords: discrimination, identity, intercultural education, international adoption

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14 Secondary Charged Fragments Tracking for On-Line Beam Range Monitoring in Particle Therapy

Authors: G. Traini, G. Battistoni, F. Collamati, E. De Lucia, R. Faccini, C. Mancini-Terracciano, M. Marafini, I. Mattei, S. Muraro, A. Sarti, A. Sciubba, E. Solfaroli Camillocci, M. Toppi, S. M. Valle, C. Voena, V. Patera

Abstract:

In Particle Therapy (PT) treatments a large amount of secondary particles, whose emission point is correlated to the dose released in the crossed tissues, is produced. The measurement of the secondary charged fragments component could represent a valid technique to monitor the beam range during the PT treatments, that is a still missing item in the clinical practice. A sub-millimetrical precision on the beam range measurement is required to significantly optimise the technique and to improve the treatment quality. In this contribution, a detector, named Dose Profiler (DP), is presented. It is specifically planned to monitor on-line the beam range exploiting the secondary charged particles produced in PT Carbon ions treatment. In particular, the DP is designed to track the secondary fragments emitted at large angles with respect to the beam direction (mainly protons), with the aim to reconstruct the spatial coordinates of the fragment emission point extrapolating the measured track toward the beam axis. The DP is currently under development within of the INSIDE collaboration (Innovative Solutions for In-beam Dosimetry in hadrontherapy). The tracker is made by six layers (20 × 20 cm²) of BCF-12 square scintillating fibres (500 μm) coupled to Silicon Photo-Multipliers, followed by two plastic scintillator layers of 6 mm thickness. A system of front-end boards based on FPGAs arranged around the detector provides the data acquisition. The detector characterization with cosmic rays is currently undergoing, and a data taking campaign with protons will take place in May 2017. The DP design and the performances measured with using MIPs and protons beam will be reviewed.

Keywords: fragmentation, monitoring, particle therapy, tracking

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13 An Optimization Algorithm for Reducing the Liquid Oscillation in the Moving Containers

Authors: Reza Babajanivalashedi, Stefania Lo Feudo, Jean-Luc Dion

Abstract:

Liquid sloshing is a crucial problem for the dynamic of moving containers in the packaging industries. Sloshing issues have been so far mainly modeled within the framework of fluid dynamics or by using equivalent mechanical models with different kinds of movements and shapes of containers. Nevertheless, these approaches do not allow to determinate the shape of the free surface of the liquid in case of the irregular shape of the moving containers, so that experimental measurements may be required. If there is too much slosh in the moving tank, the liquid can be splashed out on the packages. So, the free surface oscillation must be controlled/reduced to eliminate the splashing. The purpose of this research is to propose an optimization algorithm for finding an optimum command law to reduce surface elevation. In the first step, the free surface of the liquid is simulated based on the separation variable and weak formulation models. Then Genetic and Gradient algorithms are developed for finding the optimum command law. The optimum command law is compared with existing command laws, and the results show that there is a significant difference in surface oscillation between optimum and existing command laws. This algorithm is applicable for different varieties of bottles in case of using the camera for detecting the liquid elevation, and it can produce new command laws for different kinds of tanks to reduce the surface oscillation and remove the splashing phenomenon.

Keywords: sloshing phenomenon, separation variables, weak formulation, optimization algorithm, command law

Procedia PDF Downloads 37
12 Electricity Load Modeling: An Application to Italian Market

Authors: Giovanni Masala, Stefania Marica

Abstract:

Forecasting electricity load plays a crucial role regards decision making and planning for economical purposes. Besides, in the light of the recent privatization and deregulation of the power industry, the forecasting of future electricity load turned out to be a very challenging problem. Empirical data about electricity load highlights a clear seasonal behavior (higher load during the winter season), which is partly due to climatic effects. We also emphasize the presence of load periodicity at a weekly basis (electricity load is usually lower on weekends or holidays) and at daily basis (electricity load is clearly influenced by the hour). Finally, a long-term trend may depend on the general economic situation (for example, industrial production affects electricity load). All these features must be captured by the model. The purpose of this paper is then to build an hourly electricity load model. The deterministic component of the model requires non-linear regression and Fourier series while we will investigate the stochastic component through econometrical tools. The calibration of the parameters’ model will be performed by using data coming from the Italian market in a 6 year period (2007- 2012). Then, we will perform a Monte Carlo simulation in order to compare the simulated data respect to the real data (both in-sample and out-of-sample inspection). The reliability of the model will be deduced thanks to standard tests which highlight a good fitting of the simulated values.

Keywords: ARMA-GARCH process, electricity load, fitting tests, Fourier series, Monte Carlo simulation, non-linear regression

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11 A Framework on Data and Remote Sensing for Humanitarian Logistics

Authors: Vishnu Nagendra, Marten Van Der Veen, Stefania Giodini

Abstract:

Effective humanitarian logistics operations are a cornerstone in the success of disaster relief operations. However, for effectiveness, they need to be demand driven and supported by adequate data for prioritization. Without this data operations are carried out in an ad hoc manner and eventually become chaotic. The current availability of geospatial data helps in creating models for predictive damage and vulnerability assessment, which can be of great advantage to logisticians to gain an understanding on the nature and extent of the disaster damage. This translates into actionable information on the demand for relief goods, the state of the transport infrastructure and subsequently the priority areas for relief delivery. However, due to the unpredictable nature of disasters, the accuracy in the models need improvement which can be done using remote sensing data from UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or satellite imagery, which again come with certain limitations. This research addresses the need for a framework to combine data from different sources to support humanitarian logistic operations and prediction models. The focus is on developing a workflow to combine data from satellites and UAVs post a disaster strike. A three-step approach is followed: first, the data requirements for logistics activities are made explicit, which is done by carrying out semi-structured interviews with on field logistics workers. Second, the limitations in current data collection tools are analyzed to develop workaround solutions by following a systems design approach. Third, the data requirements and the developed workaround solutions are fit together towards a coherent workflow. The outcome of this research will provide a new method for logisticians to have immediately accurate and reliable data to support data-driven decision making.

Keywords: unmanned aerial vehicles, damage prediction models, remote sensing, data driven decision making

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10 Low-Density Lipoproteins Mediated Delivery of Paclitaxel and MRI Imaging Probes for Personalized Medicine Applications

Authors: Sahar Rakhshan, Simonetta Geninatti Crich, Diego Alberti, Rachele Stefania

Abstract:

The combination of imaging and therapeutic agents in the same smart nanoparticle is a promising option to perform a minimally invasive imaging guided therapy. In this study, Low density lipoproteins (LDL), one of the most attractive biodegradable and biocompatible nanoparticles, were used for the simultaneous delivery of Paclitaxel (PTX), a hydrophobic antitumour drug and an amphiphilic contrast agent, Gd-AAZTA-C17, in B16-F10 melanoma cell line. These cells overexpress LDL receptors, as assessed by Flow cytometry analysis. PTX and Gd-AAZTA-C17 loaded LDLs (LDL-PTX-Gd) have been prepared, characterized and their stability was assessed under 72 h incubation at 37 ◦C and compared to LDL loaded with Gd-AAZTA-C17 (LDL-Gd) and LDL-PTX. The cytotoxic effect of LDL-PTX-Gd was evaluated by MTT assay. The anti-tumour drug loaded into LDLs showed a significantly higher toxicity on B16-F10 cells with respect to the commercially available formulation Paclitaxel Kabi (PTX Kabi) used in clinical applications. It was possible to demonstrate a high uptake of LDL-Gd in B16-F10 cells. As a consequence of the high cell uptake, melanoma cells showed significantly high cytotoxic effect when incubated in the presence of PTX (LDL-PTX-Gd). Furthermore, B16-F10 have been used to perform Magnetic Resonance Imaging. By the analysis of the image signal intensity, it was possible to extrapolate the amount of internalized PTX indirectly by the decrease of relaxation times caused by Gd, proportional to its concentration. Finally, the treatment with PTX loaded LDL on B16-F10 tumour bearing mice resulted in a marked reduction of tumour growth compared to the administration of PTX Kabi alone. In conclusion, LDLs are selectively taken-up by tumour cells and can be successfully exploited for the selective delivery of Paclitaxel and imaging agents.

Keywords: low density lipoprotein, melanoma cell lines, MRI, paclitaxel, personalized medicine application, theragnostic System

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9 Dose Profiler: A Tracking Device for Online Range Monitoring in Particle Therapy

Authors: G. Battistoni, F. Collamati, E. De Lucia, R. Faccini, C. Mancini-Terracciano, M. Marafini, I. Mattei, S. Muraro, V. Patera, A. Sarti, A. Sciubba, E. Solfaroli Camillocci, M. Toppi, G. Traini, S. M. Valle, C. Voena

Abstract:

Accelerated charged particles, mainly protons and carbon ions, are presently used in Particle Therapy (PT) to treat solid tumors. The precision of PT exploiting the charged particle high localized dose deposition in tissues and biological effectiveness in killing cancer cells demands for an online dose monitoring technique, crucial to improve the quality assurance of treatments: possible patient mis-positionings and biological changes with respect to the CT scan could negatively affect the therapy outcome. In PT the beam range confined in the irradiated target can be monitored thanks to the secondary radiation produced by the interaction of the projectiles with the patient tissue. The Dose Profiler (DP) is a novel device designed to track charged secondary particles and reconstruct their longitudinal emission distribution, correlated to the Bragg peak position. The feasibility of this approach has been demonstrated by dedicated experimental measurements. The DP has been developed in the framework of the INSIDE project, MIUR, INFN and Centro Fermi, Museo Storico della Fisica e Centro Studi e Ricerche 'E. Fermi', Roma, Italy and will be tested at the Proton Therapy center of Trento (Italy) within the end of 2017. The DP combines a tracker, made of six layers of two-view scintillating fibers with square cross section (0.5 x 0.5 mm2) with two layers of two-view scintillating bars (section 12.0 x 0.6 mm2). The electronic readout is performed by silicon photomultipliers. The sensitive area of the tracking planes is 20 x 20 cm2. To optimize the detector layout, a Monte Carlo (MC) simulation based on the FLUKA code has been developed. The complete DP geometry and the track reconstruction code have been fully implemented in the MC. In this contribution, the DP hardware will be described. The expected detector performance computed using a dedicated simulation of a 220 MeV/u carbon ion beam impinging on a PMMA target will be presented, and the result will be discussed in the standard clinical application framework. A possible procedure for real-time beam range monitoring is proposed, following the expectations in actual clinical operation.

Keywords: online range monitoring, particle therapy, quality assurance, tracking detector

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8 Rapid Identification of Thermophilic Campylobacter Species from Retail Poultry Meat Using Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization-Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry

Authors: Graziella Ziino, Filippo Giarratana, Stefania Maria Marotta, Alessandro Giuffrida, Antonio Panebianco

Abstract:

In Europe, North America and Japan, campylobacteriosis is one of the leading food-borne bacterial illnesses, often related to the consumption of poultry meats and/or by-products. The aim of this study was the evaluation of Campylobacter contamination of poultry meats marketed in Sicily (Italy) using both traditional methods and Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization-Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS). MALDI-TOF MS is considered a promising rapid (less than 1 hour) identification method for food borne pathogens bacteria. One hundred chicken and turkey meat preparations (no. 68 hamburgers, no. 21 raw sausages, no. 4 meatballs and no. 7 meat rolls) were taken from different butcher’s shops and large scale retailers and submitted to detection/enumeration of Campylobacter spp. according to EN ISO 10272-1:2006 and EN ISO 10272-2:2006. Campylobacter spp. was detected with general low counts in 44 samples (44%), of which 30 from large scale retailers and 14 from butcher’s shops. Chicken meats were significantly more contaminated than turkey meats. Among the preparations, Campylobacter spp. was found in 85.71% of meat rolls, 50% of meatballs, 44.12% of hamburgers and 28.57% of raw sausages. A total of 100 strains, 2-3 from each positive samples, were isolated for the identification by phenotypic, biomolecular and MALDI-TOF MS methods. C. jejuni was the predominant strains (63%), followed by C. coli (33%) and C. lari (4%). MALDI-TOF MS correctly identified 98% of the strains at the species level, only 1% of the tested strains were not identified. In the last 1%, a mixture of two different species was mixed in the same sample and MALDI-TOF MS correctly identified at least one of the strains. Considering the importance of rapid identification of pathogens in the food matrix, this method is highly recommended for the identification of suspected colonies of Campylobacteria.

Keywords: campylobacter spp., Food Microbiology, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry, rapid microbial identification

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7 The Monitor for Neutron Dose in Hadrontherapy Project: Secondary Neutron Measurement in Particle Therapy

Authors: V. Giacometti, R. Mirabelli, V. Patera, D. Pinci, A. Sarti, A. Sciubba, G. Traini, M. Marafini

Abstract:

The particle therapy (PT) is a very modern technique of non invasive radiotherapy mainly devoted to the treatment of tumours untreatable with surgery or conventional radiotherapy, because localised closely to organ at risk (OaR). Nowadays, PT is available in about 55 centres in the word and only the 20\% of them are able to treat with carbon ion beam. However, the efficiency of the ion-beam treatments is so impressive that many new centres are in construction. The interest in this powerful technology lies to the main characteristic of PT: the high irradiation precision and conformity of the dose released to the tumour with the simultaneous preservation of the adjacent healthy tissue. However, the beam interactions with the patient produce a large component of secondary particles whose additional dose has to be taken into account during the definition of the treatment planning. Despite, the largest fraction of the dose is released to the tumour volume, a non-negligible amount is deposed in other body regions, mainly due to the scattering and nuclear interactions of the neutrons within the patient body. One of the main concerns in PT treatments is the possible occurrence of secondary malignant neoplasm (SMN). While SMNs can be developed up to decades after the treatments, their incidence impacts directly life quality of the cancer survivors, in particular in pediatric patients. Dedicated Treatment Planning Systems (TPS) are used to predict the normal tissue toxicity including the risk of late complications induced by the additional dose released by secondary neutrons. However, no precise measurement of secondary neutrons flux is available, as well as their energy and angular distributions: an accurate characterization is needed in order to improve TPS and reduce safety margins. The project MONDO (MOnitor for Neutron Dose in hadrOntherapy) is devoted to the construction of a secondary neutron tracker tailored to the characterization of that secondary neutron component. The detector, based on the tracking of the recoil protons produced in double-elastic scattering interactions, is a matrix of thin scintillating fibres, arranged in layer x-y oriented. The final size of the object is 10 x 10 x 20 cm3 (squared 250µm scint. fibres, double cladding). The readout of the fibres is carried out with a dedicated SPAD Array Sensor (SBAM) realised in CMOS technology by FBK (Fondazione Bruno Kessler). The detector is under development as well as the SBAM sensor and it is expected to be fully constructed for the end of the year. MONDO will make data tacking campaigns at the TIFPA Proton Therapy Center of Trento, at the CNAO (Pavia) and at HIT (Heidelberg) with carbon ion in order to characterize the neutron component and predict the additional dose delivered on the patients with much more precision and to drastically reduce the actual safety margins. Preliminary measurements with charged particles beams and MonteCarlo FLUKA simulation will be presented.

Keywords: secondary neutrons, particle therapy, tracking detector, elastic scattering

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6 Modeling, Topology Optimization and Experimental Validation of Glass-Transition-Based 4D-Printed Polymeric Structures

Authors: Sara A. Pakvis, Giulia Scalet, Stefania Marconi, Ferdinando Auricchio, Matthijs Langelaar

Abstract:

In recent developments in the field of multi-material additive manufacturing, differences in material properties are exploited to create printed shape-memory structures, which are referred to as 4D-printed structures. New printing techniques allow for the deliberate introduction of prestresses in the specimen during manufacturing, and, in combination with the right design, this enables new functionalities. This research focuses on bi-polymer 4D-printed structures, where the transformation process is based on a heat-induced glass transition in one material lowering its Young’s modulus, combined with an initial prestress in the other material. Upon the decrease in stiffness, the prestress is released, which results in the realization of an essentially pre-programmed deformation. As the design of such functional multi-material structures is crucial but far from trivial, a systematic methodology to find the design of 4D-printed structures is developed, where a finite element model is combined with a density-based topology optimization method to describe the material layout. This modeling approach is verified by a convergence analysis and validated by comparing its numerical results to analytical and published data. Specific aspects that are addressed include the interplay between the definition of the prestress and the material interpolation function used in the density-based topology description, the inclusion of a temperature-dependent stiffness relationship to simulate the glass transition effect, and the importance of the consideration of geometric nonlinearity in the finite element modeling. The efficacy of topology optimization to design 4D-printed structures is explored by applying the methodology to a variety of design problems, both in 2D and 3D settings. Bi-layer designs composed of thermoplastic polymers are printed by means of the fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) polymer undergoes the glass transition transformation, while polyurethane (TPU) polymer is prestressed by means of the 3D-printing process itself. Tests inducing shape transformation in the printed samples through heating are performed to calibrate the prestress and validate the modeling approach by comparing the numerical results to the experimental findings. Using the experimentally obtained prestress values, more complex designs have been generated through topology optimization, and samples have been printed and tested to evaluate their performance. This study demonstrates that by combining topology optimization and 4D-printing concepts, stimuli-responsive structures with specific properties can be designed and realized.

Keywords: 4D-printing, glass transition, shape memory polymer, topology optimization

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5 The M Health Paradigm for the Chronic Care Management of Obesity: New Opportunities in Clinical Psychology and Medicine

Authors: Gianluca Castelnuovo, Gian Mauro Manzoni, Giada Pietrabissa, Stefania Corti, Emanuele Giusti, Roberto Cattivelli, Enrico Molinari, Susan Simpson

Abstract:

Obesity is currently an important public health problem of epidemic proportions (globesity). Moreover Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is typically connected with obesity, even if not occurring exclusively in conjunction with overweight conditions. Typically obesity with BED requires a longer term treatment in comparison with simple obesity. Rehabilitation interventions that aim at improving weight-loss, reducing obesity-related complications and changing dysfunctional behaviors, should ideally be carried out in a multidisciplinary context with a clinical team composed of psychologists, dieticians, psychiatrists, endocrinologists, nutritionists, physiotherapists, etc. Long-term outpatient multidisciplinary treatments are likely to constitute an essential aspect of rehabilitation, due to the growing costs of a limited inpatient approach. Internet-based technologies can improve long-term obesity rehabilitation within a collaborative approach. The new m health (m-health, mobile health) paradigm, defined as clinical practices supported by up to date mobile communication devices, could increase compliance- engagement and contribute to a significant cost reduction in BED and obesity rehabilitation. Five psychological components need to be considered for successful m Health-based obesity rehabilitation in order to facilitate weight-loss.1) Self-monitoring. Portable body monitors, pedometers and smartphones are mobile and, therefore, can be easily used, resulting in continuous self-monitoring. 2) Counselor feedback and communication. A functional approach is to provide online weight-loss interventions with brief weekly or monthly counselor or psychologist visits. 3) Social support. A group treatment format is typically preferred for behavioral weight-loss interventions. 4) Structured program. Technology-based weight-loss programs incorporate principles of behavior therapy and change with structured weekly protocolos including nutrition, exercise, stimulus control, self-regulation strategies, goal-setting. 5) Individually tailored program. Interventions specifically designed around individual’s goals typically record higher rates of adherence and weight loss. Opportunities and limitations of m health approach in clinical psychology for obesity and BED are discussed, taking into account future research directions in this promising area.

Keywords: obesity, rehabilitation, out-patient, new technologies, tele medicine, tele care, m health, clinical psychology, psychotherapy, chronic care management

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4 Applying Miniaturized near Infrared Technology for Commingled and Microplastic Waste Analysis

Authors: Monika Rani, Claudio Marchesi, Stefania Federici, Laura E. Depero

Abstract:

Degradation of the aquatic environment by plastic litter, especially microplastics (MPs), i.e., any water-insoluble solid plastic particle with the longest dimension in the range 1µm and 1000 µm (=1 mm) size, is an unfortunate indication of the advancement of the Anthropocene age on Earth. Microplastics formed due to natural weathering processes are termed as secondary microplastics, while when these are synthesized in industries, they are called primary microplastics. Their presence from the highest peaks to the deepest points in oceans explored and their resistance to biological and chemical decay has adversely affected the environment, especially marine life. Even though the presence of MPs in the marine environment is well-reported, a legitimate and authentic analytical technique to sample, analyze, and quantify the MPs is still under progress and testing stages. Among the characterization techniques, vibrational spectroscopic techniques are largely adopted in the field of polymers. And the ongoing miniaturization of these methods is on the way to revolutionize the plastic recycling industry. In this scenario, the capability and the feasibility of a miniaturized near-infrared (MicroNIR) spectroscopy combined with chemometrics tools for qualitative and quantitative analysis of urban plastic waste collected from a recycling plant and microplastic mixture fragmented in the lab were investigated. Based on the Resin Identification Code, 250 plastic samples were used for macroplastic analysis and to set up a library of polymers. Subsequently, MicroNIR spectra were analysed through the application of multivariate modelling. Principal Components Analysis (PCA) was used as an unsupervised tool to find trends within the data. After the exploratory PCA analysis, a supervised classification tool was applied in order to distinguish the different plastic classes, and a database containing the NIR spectra of polymers was made. For the microplastic analysis, the three most abundant polymers in the plastic litter, PE, PP, PS, were mechanically fragmented in the laboratory to micron size. The distinctive arrangement of blends of these three microplastics was prepared in line with a designed ternary composition plot. After the PCA exploratory analysis, a quantitative model Partial Least Squares Regression (PLSR) allowed to predict the percentage of microplastics in the mixtures. With a complete dataset of 63 compositions, PLS was calibrated with 42 data-points. The model was used to predict the composition of 21 unknown mixtures of the test set. The advantage of the consolidated NIR Chemometric approach lies in the quick evaluation of whether the sample is macro or micro, contaminated, coloured or not, and with no sample pre-treatment. The technique can be utilized with bigger example volumes and even considers an on-site evaluation and in this manner satisfies the need for a high-throughput strategy.

Keywords: chemometrics, microNIR, microplastics, urban plastic waste

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3 Hygro-Thermal Modelling of Timber Decks

Authors: Stefania Fortino, Petr Hradil, Timo Avikainen

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Timber bridges have an excellent environmental performance, are economical, relatively easy to build and can have a long service life. However, the durability of these bridges is the main problem because of their exposure to outdoor climate conditions. The moisture content accumulated in wood for long periods, in combination with certain temperatures, may cause conditions suitable for timber decay. In addition, moisture content variations affect the structural integrity, serviceability and loading capacity of timber bridges. Therefore, the monitoring of the moisture content in wood is important for the durability of the material but also for the whole superstructure. The measurements obtained by the usual sensor-based techniques provide hygro-thermal data only in specific locations of the wood components. In this context, the monitoring can be assisted by numerical modelling to get more information on the hygro-thermal response of the bridges. This work presents a hygro-thermal model based on a multi-phase moisture transport theory to predict the distribution of moisture content, relative humidity and temperature in wood. Below the fibre saturation point, the multi-phase theory simulates three phenomena in cellular wood during moisture transfer, i.e., the diffusion of water vapour in the pores, the sorption of bound water and the diffusion of bound water in the cell walls. In the multi-phase model, the two water phases are separated, and the coupling between them is defined through a sorption rate. Furthermore, an average between the temperature-dependent adsorption and desorption isotherms is used. In previous works by some of the authors, this approach was found very suitable to study the moisture transport in uncoated and coated stress-laminated timber decks. Compared to previous works, the hygro-thermal fluxes on the external surfaces include the influence of the absorbed solar radiation during the time and consequently, the temperatures on the surfaces exposed to the sun are higher. This affects the whole hygro-thermal response of the timber component. The multi-phase model, implemented in a user subroutine of Abaqus FEM code, provides the distribution of the moisture content, the temperature and the relative humidity in a volume of the timber deck. As a case study, the hygro-thermal data in wood are collected from the ongoing monitoring of the stress-laminated timber deck of Tapiola Bridge in Finland, based on integrated humidity-temperature sensors and the numerical results are found in good agreement with the measurements. The proposed model, used to assist the monitoring, can contribute to reducing the maintenance costs of bridges, as well as the cost of instrumentation, and increase safety.

Keywords: moisture content, multi-phase models, solar radiation, timber decks, FEM

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2 Experimental and Simulation Results for the Removal of H2S from Biogas by Means of Sodium Hydroxide in Structured Packed Columns

Authors: Hamadi Cherif, Christophe Coquelet, Paolo Stringari, Denis Clodic, Laura Pellegrini, Stefania Moioli, Stefano Langè

Abstract:

Biogas is a promising technology which can be used as a vehicle fuel, for heat and electricity production, or injected in the national gas grid. It is storable, transportable, not intermittent and substitutable for fossil fuels. This gas produced from the wastewater treatment by degradation of organic matter under anaerobic conditions is mainly composed of methane and carbon dioxide. To be used as a renewable fuel, biogas, whose energy comes only from methane, must be purified from carbon dioxide and other impurities such as water vapor, siloxanes and hydrogen sulfide. Purification of biogas for this application particularly requires the removal of hydrogen sulfide, which negatively affects the operation and viability of equipment especially pumps, heat exchangers and pipes, causing their corrosion. Several methods are available to eliminate hydrogen sulfide from biogas. Herein, reactive absorption in structured packed column by means of chemical absorption in aqueous sodium hydroxide solutions is considered. This study is based on simulations using Aspen Plus™ V8.0, and comparisons are done with data from an industrial pilot plant treating 85 Nm3/h of biogas which contains about 30 ppm of hydrogen sulfide. The rate-based model approach has been used for simulations in order to determine the efficiencies of separation for different operating conditions. To describe vapor-liquid equilibrium, a γ/ϕ approach has been considered: the Electrolyte NRTL model has been adopted to represent non-idealities in the liquid phase, while the Redlich-Kwong equation of state has been used for the vapor phase. In order to validate the thermodynamic model, Henry’s law constants of each compound in water have been verified against experimental data. Default values available in Aspen Plus™ V8.0 for the properties of pure components properties as heat capacity, density, viscosity and surface tension have also been verified. The obtained results for physical and chemical properties are in a good agreement with experimental data. Reactions involved in the process have been studied rigorously. Equilibrium constants for equilibrium reactions and the reaction rate constant for the kinetically controlled reaction between carbon dioxide and the hydroxide ion have been checked. Results of simulations of the pilot plant purification section show the influence of low temperatures, concentration of sodium hydroxide and hydrodynamic parameters on the selective absorption of hydrogen sulfide. These results show an acceptable degree of accuracy when compared with the experimental data obtained from the pilot plant. Results show also the great efficiency of sodium hydroxide for the removal of hydrogen sulfide. The content of this compound in the gas leaving the column is under 1 ppm.

Keywords: biogas, hydrogen sulfide, reactive absorption, sodium hydroxide, structured packed column

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1 Phytochemical Analysis and in vitro Biological Activities of an Ethyl Acetate Extract from the Peel of Punica granatum L. var. Dente di Cavallo

Authors: Silvia Di Giacomo, Marcello Locatelli, Simone Carradori, Francesco Cacciagrano, Chiara Toniolo, Gabriela Mazzanti, Luisa Mannina, Stefania Cesa, Antonella Di Sotto

Abstract:

Hyperglycemia represents the main pathogenic factor in the development of diabetes complications and has been found associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress, which in turn increase cell dysfunction. Therefore, counteract oxidative species appears to be a suitable strategy for preventing the hyperglycemia-induce cell damage and support the pharmacotherapy of diabetes and metabolic diseases. Antidiabetic potential of many food sources has been linked to the presence of polyphenolic metabolites, particularly flavonoids such as quercetin and its glycosylated form rutin. In line with this evidence, in the present study, we assayed the potential anti-hyperglycemic activity of an ethyl acetate extract from the peel of Punica granatum L. var. Dente di Cavallo (PGE), a fruit well known to traditional medicine for the beneficial properties of its edible juice. The effect of the extract on the glucidic metabolism has been evaluated by assessing its ability to inhibit α-amylase and α-glucosidase, two digestive enzymes responsible for the hydrolysis of dietary carbohydrates: their inhibition can delay the carbohydrate digestion and reduce glucose absorption, thus representing an important strategy for the management of hyperglycemia. Also, the PGE ability to block the release of advanced glycated end-products (AGEs), whose accumulation is known to be responsible for diabetic vascular complications, was studied. The iron-reducing and chelating activities, which are the primary mechanisms by which AGE inhibitors stop their metal-catalyzed formation, were evaluated as possible antioxidant mechanisms. At last, the phenolic content of PGE was characterized by chromatographic and spectrophotometric methods. Our results displayed the ability of PGE to inhibit α-amylase enzyme with a similar potency to the positive control: the IC₅₀ values were 52.2 (CL 27.7 - 101.2) µg/ml and 35.6 (CL 22.8 - 55.5) µg/ml for acarbose and PGE, respectively. PGE also inhibited the α-glucosidase enzyme with about a 25 higher potency than the positive controls of acarbose and quercetin. Furthermore, the extract exhibited ferrous and ferric ion chelating ability, with a maximum effect of 82.1% and 80.6% at a concentration of 250 µg/ml respectively, and reducing properties, reaching the maximum effect of 80.5% at a concentration of 10 µg/ml. At last, PGE was found able to inhibit the AGE production (maximum inhibition of 82.2% at the concentration of 1000 µg/ml), although with lower potency with respect to the positive control rutin. The phytochemical analysis of PGE displayed the presence of high levels of total polyphenols, tannins, and flavonoids, among which ellagic acid, gallic acid and catechin were identified. Altogether these data highlight the ability of PGE to control the carbohydrate metabolism at different levels, both by inhibiting the metabolic enzymes and by affecting the AGE formation likely by chelating mechanisms. It is also noteworthy that peel from pomegranate, although being a waste of juice production, can be reviewed as a nutraceutical source. In conclusion, present results suggest the possible role of PGE as a remedy for preventing hyperglycemia complications and encourage further in vivo studies.

Keywords: anti-hyperglycemic activity, antioxidant properties, nutraceuticals, polyphenols, pomegranate

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