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Iranians & Sci-Tech Achievements

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Compiled By: Firouzeh Mirrazavi
Deputy Editor of Iran Review

*Iranians Develop Tumor Cell Lines

Iranian researchers have succeeded in producing two tumor cell lines dubbed “Giant-cell tumor” and “Retinoblastoma.”

The researchers studied eyes and bones’ tumors with locally-made cell lines--permanently established cell culture that will proliferate indefinitely, ISNA reported.

Iran is now importing the required cell lines from foreign countries and is keeping them in cell banks for propagation.

Retinoblastoma is a rapidly-developing cancer that develops in the cells of retina--the light-detecting tissue of the eye. It is caused by a mutation in a gene-controlling cell division, causing cells to grow out of control and become cancerous. Giant-cell tumor of the bone is a relatively uncommon tumor of the bone. It is characterized by the presence of multinucleated giant cells. Giant cell tumors are normally benign with unpredictable behavior.

Most researches carried out inside Iran are efficiently working on foreign genome, whereas the effect on indigenous genomes are different, but if cell lines are locally produced like separating retinoblastoma tumor cell line, the tumor will enjoy Iranian genome so the effects of the drugs will be consistent with Iranian genome.

The researchers identify tumor-causing factors in the country through locally-made cell lines. The effects of different medicines will be studied by the researchers using the cell lines. After making similar tumors and testing them in animal phase, all efforts will be made to use them in new treatments.

A stem cell line is a family of constantly dividing cells--the product of a single group of stem cells. They are obtained from human or animal tissues, and can replicate for long periods of time in vitro (“within glass”; or, commonly, “in the lab”, in an artificial environment). They are frequently used for research relating to embryonic stem cells or cloning entire organisms.

Adult stem cell lines isolated from mature tissues are commonly used in stem cell research, as are cells isolated from umbilical cord blood. However, these cells have a genetic imprint of the host they were taken from, thus limiting their therapeutic use in genetic disorders.

Also, adult stem cells are not totipotent or pluripotent like embryonic stem cells, but rather more specialized cells that are multipotent.

Another source of stem cells is the iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cell. This process involves reversing the differentiating cell signals that cause a stem cell to specialize. In this way, a somatic cell can be worked backwards into a stem cell.

One added advantage of this type of stem cell is that the pluripotent cell has the same DNA as the donor and can be used therapeutically toward that end without painful bone marrow and spinal cord extraction techniques. It also contributes to pain relief.

*Iranians Simulate 3D Proteins in HIV

Iranian researchers have succeeded in simulating the three-dimensional structure of proteins effective in the entry of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) into body.

Iranian researchers could simulate membrane proteins that play a key role in the entry and connection of HIV to the victim’s cells, ISNA reported.

The entry of the virus will be prevented after the protein is inactivated. Membrane proteins are placed in cell membranes and the construction of their three-dimensional structure with experimental methods is a difficult job. Therefore, alternative methods like molecule dynamic simulation is applied so that they can be used for designing medicines efficient in restraining proteins and treating different disease in future.

Simulation of CCR5 membrane protein has been performed in Iran for the first time. The protein plays a key role in the entry of HIV into the victim’s cells and the virus is unable to enter the cell, if the protein’s activities are restrained. The simulation of protein will help researchers find out more about its performance.

Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus (a member of the retrovirus family) that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive.

Infection with HIV occurs by the transfer of blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculation or breast milk. Within these bodily fluids, HIV is present as both free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells.

*Iranian Scientist Finds Universal Sherwood Equation Formula

Iranian scientist Dr. Kaveh Sookhak Lari has established a universal formula for Sherwood equation thought to be an impossible mathematical formula, Press TV reported.

Almost all Formulas are usually applicable in specific conditions, known as boundary conditions.

Since 1950s, several empirical and numerical correlations have been proposed for Sherwood number that works for specific boundary conditions.

Sookhak Lari’s current breakthrough formula, possessing unique specification, is applicable for any desired boundary conditions.

The Sherwood number (Sh), also called Nusselt number is a dimensionless number used in mass-transfer operation.

The number, which is named after Thomas Kilgore Sherwood, a noted American chemical engineer represents the ratio of convective to diffusive mass transport.

Sookhak Lari’s finding has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals, with collaboration of Dr. Marteen Van Reewijk from the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of the Imperial College in London.

Sookhak Lari who has a PhD in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering from London Imperial College, is a lecturer at Isfahan University of Technology.

*NASA Telescope Confirms Iranian Astronomer’s Findings

Data from NASA’s Hubble Telescope have confirmed findings of an Iranian astronomer Andisheh Mahdavi who had discovered a clump of dark matter five years ago.

The result could challenge current theories about dark matter that believe galaxies are anchored to the invisible substance even during a collision, ISNA reported.

Abell 520 is a gigantic merger of galaxy clusters located 2.4 billion light-years away. Dark matter is not visible, although its presence and distribution is found indirectly through its effects. Dark matter can act like a magnifying glass, bending and distorting light from galaxies and clusters behind it. Astronomers can use this effect, called gravitational lensing, to infer the presence of dark matter in massive galaxy clusters.

Mahdavi, assistant professor in San Francisco State University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, observed an unexpected dark core at the center of Abell 520, reaffirming a mystery first noted in 2007. It was called ‘unreal’ by scientists since there was insufficient evidence and the dark matter were anchored to other galaxies.

This technique revealed the dark matter in Abell 520 had collected into a “dark core”, containing far fewer galaxies than would be expected if the dark matter and galaxies were anchored together. Most of the galaxies apparently have sailed far away from the collision.

*Top Regional Ranking In Ophthalmology

Iran ranks first in ophthalmology among both regional and Middle East countries.

Faculty member of Shahid Beheshti University, Dr. Siamak Moradian, made the announcement while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Seventh Annual Seminar of the Eye Research Center of Martyr Beheshti University in Tehran, Fars News Agency reported.

“Both in conducting eye surgery and in curing eye diseases, Iran now ranks first both in the region and in the Middle East, and we are indebted for this scientific achievement to the activities and research of Iranian technicians and ophthalmologists,” he said.

Moradian said Iran is no longer a backward country in ophthalmology fields and has managed to rank first in the technology of advanced ophthalmology equipment.

“Interactions between Iranian ophthalmology technicians and international technicians in the field have increased and the field of ophthalmology is among the top world majors and has a lot to say in scientific gatherings around the globe,” he said.

Stem cell transplant has played a great role in curing eye diseases and the advancement in pharmacology has been achieved thanks to the efforts made through establishment of links between the remedial medical discipline and pure science fields.

Referring to group therapy by genetic science experts, the Iranian ophthalmologist said it is now over five years that Iranian ophthalmologists have been conducting research on genetic eye diseases, and at present stem cell growth and their application in retina cell generation is under study.

“Stem cells have the potential of being transformed into the cells of any organ, and controlling the proliferation of stem cells is among the most important works on which our genetic experts are working and they have already achieved good and satisfactory advancement.”

Iran’s scientific community remains productive, even while economic sanctions make it difficult for universities to buy some of the most advanced equipment or to send talented Iranian students to Europe or the United States for attending scientific meetings.

After the Islamic Revolution in Iran, successes in various scientific fields have augmented Iran’s scientific output. Currently, Iran’s national goal is self-sufficiency in all scientific arenas.

The Comprehensive Scientific Plan, comprising 51,000 pages of documents and 224 scientific projects that must be implemented by 2025, has been devised.

*Dr. Mehrdad Hedayatnia Selected For Patients' Choice Award 2011

Dr. Mehrdad Hedayatnia of Brooklyn, NY has been ranked among the top physicians in the nation based on patient reviews.

A select few physicians were honored with the prestigious 2011 Patients' Choice Award, and this year they include Dr. Mehrdad Hedayatnia.

Only doctors who have received top scores by their patients and pass other quality measures are awarded the Patients' Choice Award. In fact, of the nation's 720,000 active physicians, just 5 percent were accorded this honor in 2011.

Every month, millions of patients across the U.S. access websites like Vitals (http://www.vitals.com) to share feedback about their experiences with their doctors. Patients rate various components of the care they receive, such as the accuracy of their diagnosis, the amount of time they spent with the doctor, and the doctor's bedside manner and follow-up care. Patients' Choice ranks the top reviewed physicians and looks at other quality measures to compile its yearly list.

Dr. Mehrdad Hedayatnia commented on the recognition: "This is quite an honor for me. I am very pleased to have been selected and grateful to my patients who went out of their way to rate me and give me positive reviews."

Following the publication of Dr. Mehrdad Hedayatnia's selection for the Patients' Choice Award, American Registry seconded the honor and added Dr. Hedayatnia to The Registry(TM) of Business Excellence. An exclusive recognition plaque has been designed to commemorate the honor. The doctor's custom wall plaque is shown here.

*Iranian Scientists Produce Osteoporosis Medicine

Iranian scientists have produced the main material for Zoledronic acid which is used to cure osteoporosis patients and several cancers.

The Iranian research team produced the basic material for Zoledronic acid from the family of Bisphosphonate known in the markets under the brand name of Zometa, explained project manager and Organic Chemistry professor at Khaje Nasir Toosi University of Technology Saeed Balalaei.

The newly produced drug would be available at a price, one eighth of the imported one’s, Balalaei added.

The medicine is used in cases of osteoporosis, and prostate, breast and Hyperglycemia cancers.

Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time with no symptoms in the early stages of the disease.

The Zoledronic acid material is applied in the form of injection and can curb activities of osteoclasts in bones and cartilage.

The material has been approved by the FDA since 2007 and is now used as the most efficient drug to cure osteoporosis.

Iranian scientists recently obtained great achievements in producing biosimilar and biotechnology drugs as well, which are among the most expensive medicines.

With a record of over 400 medical research facilities and 76 medical magazine indexes in the country, Iran is estimated to be one of the world's top 10 countries in medical research.

*Iranian to Head Asia-Pacific Toxicology Body

Dr. Reza Afshari has been elected as the president of Asia-Pacific Association of Medical Toxicology for 2012.

Dr Afshari is an assistant professor and consultant physician of clinical toxicology from Mashhad Medical University, Mehr News Agency reported.

The Asia-Pacific Association of Medical Toxicology (APAMT) in an international association established by a group of medical toxicologists in 1989. Its goal is to promote chemical safety, poison control and treatment in the Asia-Pacific region.

To achieve this goal, the organization embarks on activities with the purpose of establishing and maintaining cooperation with government organizations, professional bodies and individuals concerned with poisoning and poisoning-related issues and the gathering of relevant and essential data, for the further understanding of poisoning situations in the Asia Pacific region.

The association also promotes the conduct of scientific research on poison in clinical toxicology individual and the exchange of poison information among the different poison centers in the region. It fosters professional education in the field of toxicology and collaborates with international institutions, particularly the World Health Organization.

Also the head of the Department of Research and Education Development, Dr. Afshari has published over 50 articles and abstracts in the field of clinical toxicology.

He graduated from Mashhad University of Medical Sciences (MUMS) in medicine (MD, natural toxicity, 1995). He obtained his MPH from Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran in Toxo-epidemiology (2001) and an MSc in epidemiology from the University of Edinburgh (UK, 2002). He received his PhD in cardiovascular toxicity from the University of Edinburgh (UK, 2005). He used to be a clinical fellowship in clinical pharmacology and clinical toxicology during 2003-5 (Edinburgh, UK). Dr. Afshari has worked as a biostatistician and head of Research & Medical Statistics Division of Khorasan Health Board, MUMS, with a population of 5 million (2000-1).

A member of the European Association of Poison Centers and Clinical Toxicologists (EAPCCT), and APAMT, Dr. Afshari was awarded as the Young Affiliate of the Academy of Science in the Developing World (TWAS) in 2007.

*Iranian Scientists Develop Leukemia Diagnosis Method

A team of Iranian researchers from Isfahan University have successfully developed a method to diagnose leukemia in less than 20 minutes.

The scientists have designed and developed a leukemia DNA biosensor based on modified gold nano particles, which can diagnose the disease in less than 20 miniutes.

Leukemia is a type of blood cancer characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells that can affect the blood, bone marrow, heart, and lymphoid system.

Although the exact cause of leukemia is still unclear, the disease can induce failure in multiple organs.

Like many other cancers, Leukemia results from DNA mutations that may happen spontaneously or as a result of exposure to radiation or carcinogenic substances.

“As mutation of genes is one of the key factors causing leukemia and DNA biosensors possess high sensitivity in diagnosing the cancer, the newly found method which is based on DNA analysis can be very useful,” said Isfahan University Professor Ali-Asghar Ensafi.

"We parted one sequence of the DNA which has caused the disease in the biosensor and put it on gold nano particles as a bed and then the sequence could easily identify its pair in the blood sample,” Ensafi explained.

Ensafi emphasized that as DNA sequences are all unique like fingerprints, the new method can be very accurate.

Air pollution, stress, fear are among the factors that can cause gene mutation and consequently cancer. While laboratories are not able to diagnose cancer at the early stages of the disease, the biosensor can detect it even in low densities.

*Iranian Builds Smallest Radio Station

Iranian scientists have succeeded in building the world’s smallest radio station by which two molecules communicate through a single photon.

Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (German: Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule Zurich) or ETH Zurich (ETHZ) and Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen led by Iranian Professor Vahid Sandoghdar have shown that even one flying photon can interact with a single atom or molecule, ISNA reported.

Providing a suitable source of single photons with a proper frequency and bandwidth was the key challenge in the way of performing such an experiment. When an atom or molecule absorbs a photon, it makes a transition to a so-called excited state. After a few nanoseconds (one thousand millionth of a second), this state decays to its initial ground state and emits exactly one photon.

The group used two samples containing fluorescent molecules embedded in organic crystals and cooled them to about 1.5 K (-272 °C).

Single molecules in each sample were detected by a combination of spectral and spatial selection. To generate single photons, a single molecule was excited in the ‘source’ sample. When the excited state of the molecule decayed, the emitted photons were collected and tightly focused onto the target sample at a distance of a few meters. For ensuring that a molecule in that sample ‘sees’ the incoming photons, the team had to make sure that they have the same frequency.

Furthermore, the precious single photons had to interact with the target molecule in an efficient manner. A molecule is about one nanometer in size (100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair) but the focus of a light beam cannot be smaller than a few hundred nanometers. In this process, the molecule acts as an antenna that grabs the light waves in its vicinity.

This experiment opens many doors for further exciting experiments in which single photons act as carriers of quantum information to be processed by single emitters. Born on April 29, 1966, in Tehran, Iran, Vahid Sandoghdar, acquired his BSc in physics from the University of California in Davis (1987) and PhD in physics from Yale University (1993). He was a postdoctoral fellow at Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris and headed the Nano-Optics group in physics at University Konstanz. He is also the founder of the Network of Optical Sciences and the Zurich Center for Imaging Science and Technology at ETHZ.

*Iranian Discovers Nanoscale Energy Source

Iranian researcher Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh has discovered a new power source for energy storage and power generation.

Associate Professor Kalantar-Zadeh, from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at RMIT University in Melbourne, and MIT Associate Professor Michael Strano’s nanotechnology research team made the breakthrough in a joint project.

While they were measuring the acceleration of a chemical reaction along a carbon nanotube, they made the remarkable discovery. The reaction they were monitoring generated power.

Kalantar-Zadeh said that the power generated relative to the energy source size is three to four times more than what is currently possible with the best lithium-ion batteries.

"By coating a nanotube in nitrocellulose fuel and igniting one end, we set off a combustion wave along it and learned that a nanotube is an excellent conductor of heat from burning fuel. Even better, the combustion wave creates a strong electric current,” he said.

The Iranian scientist added, "It’s the first viable nanoscale approach to power generation that exploits the thermoelectric effect by overcoming the feasibility issues associated with minimizing dimensions."

The initial results of their discovery were published in the December issue of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Spectrum Magazine, in an article entitled “Nanodynamite: Fuel-coated nanotubes could provide bursts of power to the smallest systems.”

Kalantar-Zadeh received a BS in telecommunications engineering from Iran’s Sharif University of Technology and an MS in the same field from Tehran University.

*Iranian Scholar Cancer Diagnosis System

An Iranian researcher has designed a Computer-Aided Detection (CAD) system which he says can be used for early diagnosis of breast cancer.

Developed by Dr. Nader Riahi, the CAD system provides doctors with a digital examination of mammography images and is an improvement on old methods which had a 10-20 percent error.

The system can be used in hospitals, policlinics, research centers, technical mammography centers and clinics helping doctors with examining abnormalities in cancer patients.

Breast cancer (malignant breast neoplasm) is a type of disease originating from breast tissue, most commonly from the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply the ducts with milk.

*Iranians Discover Cause of Stem Cell Disorder

Iranian researchers succeeded in indentifying the key factor that causes stem cell disorders.

The researches have studied mesenchymal stem cells or MSCs derived from mice bone marrow in cell culture and succeeded in identifying new division in cell latency, which can lead to chromosomal disorders in the cells, ISNA reported.

PhD student of hematology at Tarbiat Modarres University in Tehran, Nasser Ahmad Beigi, told ISNA that mesenchymal stem cells are powerful tools in cell and tissue engineering because of their special properties. For the same reason, stem cells derived from them are used effectively in experiments.

He added that during the procedure of separating mesenchymal stem cells from mice bone marrows, many researchers consider them to be dead and refuse to continue the procedure. This is because of the changing form of the cells and a reduction in their propagation at the beginning stage of the cell culture.

The researcher stressed that these signs show latency and that cells would be propagated without showing any signs for a long time, if the culture were to continue.

“An unknown division is the feature of the latency that leads to chromosomal disorders,” he said.

Beigi noted that the disorders can lead to the appearance of tumors inside the body and the inefficiency of non-carcinogenic drugs, pointing out that restraining mitosis is the only mechanism to prevent them.

“Identifying the mechanism of the new division can help produce a new generation of non-carcinogenic medicines with high efficiency in the near future,” he said.

*Iranian Researcher Designs Smart Rehabilitation Machine

Iranian researcher Mohammad-Javad Sadeqi has designed and made a rehabilitation machine to help patients suffering from hand disabilities.

The new machine can be used for patients who have difficulty in moving their fingers or suffer from Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

According to Sadeqi, the device can be easily used at home and is affordable.

The new product can assess the performance and reaction of the patient during the rehabilitation process and adapt its functioning mode based on the assessment, he added saying that such synchronization did not exist in similar previous products.

Experts suggest patients to use the machine after consulting with their doctors.

*Iran Among Top Ten Countries in Plastic Surgery

Remarkable achievements of Iranian experts in the field of plastic surgery have placed the country among the top ten nations with advanced surgery centers.

Many skilled plastic surgeons are now serving Iranians living in the country and abroad as well as foreigners who visit them for different purposes, said head of Iran’s 15 Khordad Ultra-Specialized Plastic Surgery Center Abdoljalil Kalantar-Hormozi.

Plastic surgery is a medical specialty concerned with the correction or restoration of form and function.

Although cosmetic or aesthetic surgery is the best-known type of plastic surgery, it includes many types of reconstructive surgery, hand surgery, microsurgery, and the treatment of burns.

Iranian scientists recently obtained great achievements in various medical fields and producing different kinds of drugs.

With a record of over 400 medical research facilities and 76 medical magazine indexes in the country, Iran is estimated to be one of the world's top 10 countries in medical research.

*Fertility of Young Boys Protected From Cancer

An Iranian scientist has developed a new method to propagate human spermatogonial stem cells from small testicular biopsies to obtain adequate number of cells for successful transplantation, leading to protection of the fertility of young boys suffering from cancer.

The research carried out jointly with Amsterdam University in the Netherlands is the first such method developed in the world, ISNA reported.

Hooman Sadri-Ardekani, PhD in reproductive medicine and a professor of Avicenna Institute-ACECR, told ISNA that young boys treated with high-dose chemotherapy often suffer from infertility once they reach adulthood and cryopreserving testicular tissue before chemotherapy and auto transplantation of spermatogonial stem cells can theoretically restore fertility.

He said the project was implemented from April 2007 to July 2009 using testis material donated by six adult men who underwent orchiectomy as part of prostate cancer treatment. Testicular cells were isolated and cultured in supplemented StemPro medium and germline stem cell clusters that arose were subcultured on human placental laminin-coated dishes in the same medium.

Sadri-Ardekani noted that the presence of spermatogonia was determined by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and immunofluorescence for spermatogonial markers.

“To test for the presence of functional spermatogonial stem cell in culture, xenotransplantation to tests of immunodeficient mice was performed and migrated human spermatogonial stem cells after transplantation was detected. The numbers of colonized spermatogonial stem cells transplanted at early and later points during culture were counted to determine the propagation,” he said.

Referring to the results of the study, the researcher said testicular cells could be cultured and propagated in 15 weeks and germline stem cell clusters arose in testicular cell culture from all 6 men and could be subcultured and propagated in 28 weeks.

 Expression of spermatogonial markers on both the RNA and protein level was maintained throughout the entire culture period.

In 4 of 6 men, xenotransplantaion in mice demonstrated the presence of functional spermatogonial stem cells, even after prolonged in vitro culture. Spermatogonial stem cell numbers increased by 53-fold within 19 days in the testicular cell culture and increased by 18,450-fold within 64 days in the germline stem cell subculture and finally long-term culture and propagation of human spermatogonial stem cells in vitro could be possible.

*Decoding Brainwaves To Eavesdrop

A group of neurologists in the University of California, Berkeley, including Iranian electrical engineer Nima Mesgarani, managed to decode brainwaves to eavesdrop on what human beings can hear.

Neuroscientists may one day be able to hear the imagined speech of a patient unable to speak due to stroke or paralysis, according to University of California, Berkeley, researchers, Newscenter.berkeley reported.

These scientists have succeeded in decoding electrical activity in the brain’s temporal lobe--the seat of the auditory system--as a person listens to normal conversation. Based on this correlation between sound and brain activity, they then were able to predict the words the person had heard solely from the temporal lobe activity.

“This research is based on sounds a person actually hears, but to use it for reconstructing imagined conversations, these principles would have to apply to someone’s internal verbalizations,” cautioned first author Brian N. Pasley, a post-doctoral researcher in the center.

“There is some evidence that hearing the sound and imagining the sound activate similar areas of the brain. If you can understand the relationship well enough between the brain recordings and sound, you could either synthesize the actual sound a person is thinking, or just write out the words with a type of interface device.”

Co-author Robert Knight, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience, said this is huge for patients who have damage to their speech mechanisms because of a stroke or Lou Gehrig’s disease and can’t speak.

“If you could eventually reconstruct imagined conversations from brain activity, thousands of people could benefit,” he said.
In addition to the potential for expanding the communication ability of the severely disabled, Knight said the research also is telling us a lot about how the brain in normal people represents and processes speech sounds.

Pasley and his colleagues at UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University report their findings on Jan. 31 in the open-access journal PLoS Biology.

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