New Science-Technology Achievements

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Compiled By: Firouzeh Mirrazavi
Deputy Editor of Iran Review

*Endoscopic Treatment Of GERD Successful

For the first time in the country, endoscopic treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) resistant to medicine was performed by local physicians by using the most effective method in a Tehran clinic.

GERD is a condition in which the stomach contents (food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach). This action can irritate the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms, IRNA reported.

The person leading the team, Mohsen Amini, said the treatment does not involve any cutting or making holes on the body and the stomach.

“The damaged opening of esophagus is treated in a clinical operation without any bleeding or use of stitches. One day after the operation, the patient is released and returns to his/her normal life,” he added.

Amini noted that the decision of using the said method for each patient is taken by a treatment team, consisting of peptic, surgery and anesthesia experts.

“At present, in limited centers of the world, there are dyspepsia and GERD clinics that have the capability of carrying out diagnosis and treatment, including the use of medicine, surgery, endoscopy and even paramedical methods. Upon the launch of such a clinic at Sa’adatabad Surgery Center, it has become possible to render related services to our compatriots and even patients of neighboring countries,” he said.

Amini noted that endoscopic surgery utilizes modern technology and creates the least change in structure of an organ with maximum results.

“People who have chronic GERD can make use of this method and be rid of long-term use of medicine … Since patients become dependent on medicine, non-medicinal treatment of GERD is favored worldwide,” he said.

Amini cited inactiveness, incorrect diets and excess weight as factors that intensify GERD.

*Facebook Hires Amin Zoufonoun, Google’s No. 2 Corp Development Exececutive

Facebook has hired a member of Google's corporate development team to lead its fledgling merger and acquisition efforts, as the world's No. 1 Internet social network shows a growing appetite for deals. As Facebook builds up its M&A team, the company could increasingly vie with Google, which acquired more than 40 companies in 2010, for deals to snap up hot Internet start-ups.

Amin Zoufonoun, a director of corporate development at Google, will join Facebook. The move — the latest high-profile defection from the search giant to Facebook — underscores the growing rivalry between the two Internet powers. And it comes as Facebook steps up its acquisitions, which to date have primarily been small start-ups it has bought for engineering talent rather than actual products.

"I think for sure over time they expect to do bigger and bigger deals," said a source familiar with the matter. "They've certainly got the stock and cash to do those kinds of things. So I expect them to be more active." As Facebook builds up its M&A team, the company could increasingly vie with Google, which acquired more than 40 companies in 2010, for deals to snap up hot Internet start-ups.

Amin Zoufonoun joined Google in 2003, and is a senior member of its Corporate Development team, which is responsible for evaluating, negotiating and executing Google’s mergers, acquisitions and investments. He has led several of Google’s key strategic acquisitions and investments both in the U.S. and internationally, including Google’s first acquisition of a publicly traded company (On2). Previous to Google, Amin was a practicing attorney, both in-house and at a number of Silicon Valley law firms. Amin holds bachelors degree in electrical engineering as well as a Juris Doctor (law) degree. He has spoken at a number of conferences on topics relating to mergers and acquisitions, investment, corporate finance and valuation, digital media and strategies/exits for startups.

*Iran Builds Multimode Aeronautical Radio

Iranian scientists have developed high performance VHF and UHF aeronautical band radio for various purposes in tough electromagnetic environments.

The digital radio, which complies with known international standards and recommendations, provide air-to-air and air-to-ground communication and can be installed on all types of fighter jets, cargo planes as well as helicopters to facilitate excellent audio performance, ISNA news agency reported.

Civil aviation authorities can employ this radio in analog mode and utilize its amplitude modulation (AM) or frequency modulation (FM) capabilities. This will enable the radio to be used in most severe environmental conditions and to serve as a navigation aid in automatic direction finder (ADF) system.

While in VHF mode, the high performance radio can maintain its high sensitivity even while strong, locally-generated signals are present on neighboring channels.

The radio is equipped with built-in test (BIT) and free channel scan (FCS) to facilitate efficient and convenient service as well as upgrades.

*Iran Students Unveil Solar-Powered Car

Iranian students from the vehicular research department at the University of Qazvin have designed an entirely solar-powered vehicle named “Havin.”

Havin, or shining sun, is five meters long and two meters wide and is capable of reaching speeds of over 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour, according to ISNA.

The students unveiled the fiber glass vehicle at the Tehran Permanent International Fairground.

The vehicle weighs 160 kilograms (352 lb.) and is fitted with six square meters of silicon solar cells.

The environmentally-friendly project comes in line with Iran's greater policy to reduce energy consumption across all sectors.

In October last year, a hybrid car also designed and built by Iranian students ranked third in the 2010 Formula Electric and Hybrid Italy (EHI) held in the city of Turin.

The automobile has a composite body, weights 600 kilograms and can travel up to 90 kilometers an hour. It is nearly noiseless and emission-free.

*Iran Unveils 3rd Solar Car

Iran has unveiled Iranian Gazelle 2, the country's third solar vehicle completely designed and developed by Iranian scientists and experts.

"The vehicle weighs 150kg, which is 100kg lighter than its predecessor Gazelle 1,” project manager Dr. Karen Abrinia said during the unveiling ceremony held at Tehran University.

Iranian Gazelle 1 and Iranian Gazelle 2 were designed and produced in 2004.

Head of Iran's Fuel Management Committee Mohammad Rouyanian, managing director of Iran's Fuel Optimization Organization Abbas Kazemi and Tehran University Chancellor Farhad Rahbar participated at the ceremony.

"The Brushless DC engine used in this car gives it a 97 percent efficiency, which means that the vehicle wastes the minimum amount of energy," Fars News Agency quoted Abrinia as saying.

"Road tests showed that Gazelle 2 can reach the speed of 120km/h, but we believe that it can be increased to 150km/h," he added.

The veteran mechanics expert also said that the solar cells used in the car have 22 percent efficiency enabling Gazelle 2 to travel a distance of 600km at the speed of 80 km/h if the weather is sunny.

Iranian university students also unveiled a solar car earlier this month which they claim can travel at more than 130 kilometers per hour.

Designed and made by the students of the vehicular research department at the University of Qazvin, the car is named 'Havin' meaning 'shining sun'.

Havin is five meters long and two meters wide and is another example of attempts made by Iranian scientists to reduce energy consumption by producing more environment-friendly devices in all sectors.

Iranian Gazelle 2 is due to compete in the 2011 World Solar Challenge competition in Australia this October, according to Rahbar.

The competition challenges over a hundred of the world's best Technical Universities and Colleges to design and build a car capable of crossing Australia on the power of the sun.

The Challenge, which begins on October 16, crosses the center of Australia - stretching 3,000 kilometers from Darwin to Adelaide.

*University of Tehran Among Top 200 Engineering Universities

The University of Tehran has been ranked 151-200 in the 2011 QS World University Rankings by Subjects for civil and structural engineering.

The QS World University Rankings category of engineering and technology consists of five subjects: computer science and information systems, civil and structural engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical, aeronautical and manufacturing.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) tops the QS World University Rankings for engineering and technology in all subjects.

Academic reputation, employer reputation (employability of the university graduates) and citations are three criteria for the evaluation of the engineering universities in the QS ranking system.

*Iranians Produce Medicines From Saffron

Researchers at Tehran Medical University produced two medicines from saffron for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

The medicines will be marketed in the first half of the current Iranian year (started March 21), IRNA reported.

Iran, the world’s largest producer of saffron, has been researching saffron’s potential medicinal uses. Much of the work surrounds its traditional application for alleviating depression.

The group conducting saffron research is headed by Shahin Akhoundzadeh at the Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital affiliated to Tehran Medical University.

It has studied the use of several drugs and herbs for mental disorders, such as depression, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, opiate dependence and epilepsy.

The clinical findings suggest that saffron is a safe and effective antidepressant. For example, in a randomized, double-blind study, 30 mg of saffron extract (in capsules) given for 6 weeks resulted in significant alleviation of depression compared to those on placebo, and did so without evident side-effects. This study was a follow-up to a preliminary trial in which the same saffron preparation performed as well as imipramine for treating depression in a double-blind trial.

In further preliminary work, saffron was compared to the drug fluoxetine (known by the brand name Prozac); it was found that saffron performed as well as the drug in treatment of both depression and epilepsy. Pharmacology studies conducted in Iran and Japan have confirmed an anti-convulsant activity in the extract of saffron.

Adding saffron to your diet may help reduce plaque buildup in the brain stem, which is a cause of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the study led by Akhoundzadeh.

The herb is thought to reduce the rate of cognitive decline during the disease’s onset.

Saffron is a herb most people are unlikely to utilize, either for medicinal or culinary purposes, primarily because the material has a justified reputation for being extraordinarily expensive. Bulk quantities of relatively low-grade saffron can reach upwards of $500 per pound, while retail costs for small amounts may exceed 10 times that rate.

However, avoiding this valuable spice might be unnecessary because of the small quantity needed: in medicinal use, 1–3 grams in decoction, 0.5–1.5 grams ingested as powder, or 30 mg of its dried extract per day is considered adequate in standard applications (described below). For culinary use, just a few strands are sufficient to flavor food (about 2–4 strands per person; there are about 70,000–200,000 strands per pound).

In Iran, Spain and India, people know that saffron is worth its price and make good use of it. World annual production is about 265 tons per year, which is grown on about 90,000 acres of land (if efficiently cultivated, each acre produces about 6 pounds of saffron a year). It takes about 170–200 hours of work to collect the flowers and remove the stamens for drying in order to produce just 1 pound of saffron, which is a large part of the expense for the spice. Saffron mainly grows in arid territory with sandy soil, under hot and dry summers, often requiring irrigation.

*Herbal Medicine For Cancer Patients

Iranian researchers have produced herbal anti-cancer medicine that has no side-effects and will improve cancer patients’ quality of life.

After cardiovascular disease, cancer is the most common cause of death, ISNA reported.

The aim of this study was to investigate the beneficial effects of HESA-A in patients with end-stage metastatic cancers. HESA-A is a natural product of herbal and marine origin.

In this clinical trial, 30 patients (18 men, 12 women) with end-stage cancers and liver metastasis at the Cancer Research Center of Tehran Medical University were studied.

Patients received 50 mg/d of HESA-A orally in 2 to 3 doses for 3 months. At the start and end of the 1st, 4th, 8th and 12th weeks of the study, the patients were assessed and hematological and hepatic biochemical indices were measured.

Also, the Karnofsky Performance Scale questionnaire was completed for each patient.

The mean age of patients was 56.23 +/- 12.10 years. The scale scores of the patients increased from 48 +/- 14.36 to 78.42 +/- 15.37 after 12 weeks of treatment.

A total of 90.4 percent of the patients who remained in the study were alive for 12 weeks. No significant hepatic or hematologic adverse effect was seen during the study.

HESA-A appears to be an effective and safe anti-cancer compound that may increase the survival of end-stage patients and can be used in selected cases.

Further controlled clinical trials with a large sample size and longer follow-up are warranted to understand the mechanisms of HESA-A and evaluate its long-term effects on the survival and quality of life of patients with cancer and as well as its unfavorable side-effects.

Amrollah Ahmadi, who created the medicine, died on January 15, 2010.

*Iran Study Presents New Method for Cancer Diagnosis

Researchers at Imam Khomeini International University in Qazvin have proposed a new method for diagnosing cancer with an infrared spectroscopy.

One of the researchers Amir Baqeri Garmaroudi said in a study the illness can be diagnosed by examining the sample of tissue or blood through infrared spectroscopy.

“To be assured about the effectiveness of this method, samples of both healthy people and people with malignant tumor were tested. The global norm is that tissue samples are prepared by biopsy and pathologists observe and examine it. Later on the basis of structure of tissue and the cellular model pathologists diagnose whether or not the person tested has cancer. It should be said that the appearance and structure of cancerous cell is different from healthy cells,” he said according to ISNA.

In one of the sections of the study it was attempted to assess the capabilities of infrared spectroscopy in distinguishing between tissues of healthy people and those with malignant tumors.

“Sample tissue spectroscope obtained from people who have colon, abdominal and pancreatic cancers were examined separately to get better results.”

Garmaroudi said in order to be able to take samples more conveniently so that the body would not be stressed, taking blood samples was proposed as an option in the study.

“If a tissue is cancerous, cells lose their adhesion and it is possible that cancerous cells spread from one organ or part to another non-adjacent organ and part. This phenomenon is called Metastasis. So we used blood samples which can be prepared more easily so that no harm would be done to the patient and analysis could be carried out sooner and more effectively.”

The research was printed in several specialized medical journals including in Trends in Analytical Chemistry.

*Controlling Cholesterol With Brewed Beverage

Researchers at the Medicinal Plants Research Laboratory in Lorestan province have successfully produced a beverage from Iranian medicinal plants, which can control cholesterol.

Dr. Ali Salehnia, CEO of the laboratory, said consumption of high-fat foods and low level of physical activity cause obesity, hypertension, headache and diabetes, ISNA reported.

“The beverage, which has been named ‘Saturex’, blocks fat absorption and regulates liver function.”

Salehnia further said the drink also reduce hyperlipidemia, which is the condition of abnormally elevated levels of any or all lipids and/or lipoproteins in the blood.

It is the most common form of dyslipidemia (which also includes any decreased lipid levels).

Lipids (fat-soluble molecules) are transported in a protein capsule and the size of that capsule, or lipoprotein, determines its density. The lipoprotein density and type of apolipoproteins it contains determines the fate of the particle and its influence on metabolism.

Cholesterol is a waxy steroid metabolite found in the cell membranes and transported in the blood plasma of all animals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes, where it is required to establish proper membrane permeability and fluidity.

In addition, cholesterol is an important component for the manufacture of bile acids, steroid hormones and Vitamin D. Cholesterol is the principal sterol synthesized by animals, but small quantities are synthesized in other eukaryotes, such as plants and fungi.

Although cholesterol is an important and necessary molecule for animals, a high level of serum cholesterol is an indicator of ailments such as heart disease.

According to the lipid hypothesis, abnormal cholesterol levels hypercholesterolemia)--that is, higher concentrations of LDL and lower concentrations of functional HDL--are strongly associated with cardiovascular disease because these promote atheroma development in arteries (atherosclerosis).

This disease process leads to myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke and peripheral vascular disease. Since higher blood LDL, especially higher LDL particle concentrations and smaller LDL particle size, contribute to this process more than the cholesterol content of the LDL particles, LDL particles are often termed “bad cholesterol” because they have been linked to atheroma formation.

On the other hand, high concentrations of functional HDL, which can remove cholesterol from cells and atheroma, offer protection and are sometimes referred to as “good cholesterol”. These balances are mostly genetically determined but can be changed by body build, medications, food choices and other factors.

*Iranians Produce CMA Deicer

Researchers at East Azarbaijan Science & Technology Park produced calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) deicer.

Dr. Abdolreza Mir-Mohseni, who led the research, said calcium magnesium acetate works by preventing snow and ice particles from adhering to each other and to the road surface, ISNA reported.

“Anti-icing chemicals can be applied on top of snow and ice like other deicers or 30 minutes to two hours before precipitation begins,” he said, adding that it can also be blended with salt as a corrosion inhibitor.

He further said CMA is used as a corrosion inhibitor and blended with road salt at rates greater than the 20-percent CMA by weight.

Mir-Mohseni added that it is available in 20 percent and 40 percent CMA blends as CMA20 and CMA40.

“CMA is also used in its liquid form, generally for anti-icing roads and bridges,” he said, adding that liquid CMA is available in 25 percent CMA solution, as CAM25.

He also said CMA and other anti-icing chemicals are extremely safer and environmentally sound.

“They are no more corrosive or damaging to concrete than tap water and they have low toxicity and are high biodegradability,” he said.

“In addition, because animals are attracted to salted roads, the use of anti-icing chemicals greatly reduces deer-related accidents.”

The official further said finally, CMA replenishes salt-damaged soils by replacing stripped magnesium and calcium.

“The primary limitation associated with the use of anti-icing agents is cost,” he said.

He explained CMA is used as a solid deicer for airport runways and like calcium chloride, CMA gives off heat as it dissolves but it works faster and better.

Mir-Mohseni said it also works longer, requiring fewer applications, adding that it is active down to -9 °C.

طراحی و توسعه آگاه‌سیستم