New Scientific Achievements of Iranians

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Compiled By: Firouzeh Mirrazavi
Deputy Editor of Iran Review

*Iranian Inventors Top Seoul Fair Award

A team of three Iranian inventers has won the top award of the 2011 edition of Seoul International Invention Fair (SIIF) held in the South Korean capital.

The three-member team ranked first winning one gold and one silver medals in development and environment categories, IRNA reported.

About 700 inventors from 32 countries took part in the international event.

Iran topped the contest followed by South Korea, the United States and Taiwan.

The 2011 Seoul International Invention Fair (SIIF) was held in the COEX Korea Exhibition Center from December 1 to 4.

*Iranian scholar wins ASCE Award

An Iranian scholar Dr. Saied Yousefi, a faculty member at the University of Tehran, won 2011 best peer-reviewed paper award from American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

His paper titled "attitude-based negotiation methodology for the management of construction disputes" was published in the "ASCE Journal of Management in Engineering." The paper was jointly written by Saied Yousefi, Keith W. Hipel, and Tarek Hegazy.

Saied Yousefi: Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Systems Design Engineering, Univ. of Waterloo, ON, Canada
Keith W. Hipel: Professor, Dept. of Systems Design Engineering, Univ. of Waterloo, ON, Canada
Tarek Hegazy: Professor, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Univ. of Waterloo, ON, Canada

The paper presents an outstanding research that integrates attitude of human kind into an engineering negotiation methodology.

Scientific Award Committee selected Dr. Yousefi's paper due to the innovative modeling of a complex issue and excellent research presentation.

Dr. Yousefi received his Bachelor degree from Department of Civil Engineering at Sharif University of Technology in Iran. Having worked in Karun 3 Dam and Hydropower Project in Khuzestan Province in Iran for seven years, he got admission from University of Waterloo in Canada and received his MS degree in Construction Management, his PhD in Project Management, and his Postdoctoral degree in Decision Making Management from the Department of System Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo.

ASCE was founded 159 years ago and as an internationally well-known scientific organization owns 33 journals and publishes more than 7,000 papers yearly. Thus far only two Iranians have won this prestigious award.

*Iranians Develop Sperm Cells From Human Skin

Iranian researchers in collaboration with their Canadian colleagues managed to create early sperm cells called primordial germ cells (PGCs) from human skin.

“For the first time in the world, Iranian and Canadian scientists succeeded in creating PGC from the skin of an infertile person,” Karim Nayernia, an Iranian geneticist, told Fars News Agency on Sunday.

The project was conducted by Iranian scientists in cooperation with their Georgian and Canadian counterparts.

Nayernia noted that 17 Iranian students in different universities of the country are now working on the technology to produce PGC from skin cells and an essay has been written on the issue.

Earlier, a research team from Kyoto University succeeded in turning mouse embryonic stem cells into early sperm cells. When these were transplanted into infertile mice, the animal played ‘host’ as the stem cells developed into normal-looking sperm.

These eggs were then transplanted into a female mouse and healthy offspring were born. They grew into fertile male and female adult mice.

The team suggested that the same procedure could be carried out using stem cells derived from adult skin cells.

Nevertheless, Nayernia said the new discovery was the result of an earlier research project that he and his colleagues had conducted on mice.

Nayernia said he and his colleagues had “started reprogramming mouse stem cells to create sperm cells in research projects in Germany, England and Canada 10 years ago”, adding that the research project yielded fully successful results, “and we could for the first time produce mouse sperm in laboratory”.

*Robotic Companions For Older People

Researchers at Hertfordshire University are developing a robotic system that will be a suitable companion for older people.

Dr. Farshid Amir-Abdollahian, a senior lecturer in adaptive systems and expert in rehabilitation robotics and assistive technologies at the university, is coordinating a project called ACCOMPANY--Acceptable Robotics Companions for Aging Years.

It is reported that a robot named Care-o-Bot 3 will be used to carry out a wide range of studies with older people, in order to assess their requirements and acceptance of the robot as part of an intelligent home environment. Results will then be fed back to adapt the technology so that it better suits user demands and preferences.

“The envisaged relationship between user and robot is that of co-learner, whereby the user and the robot provide mutual assistance--so that the user is not dominated by technology, but feels empowered by it,” said Dr. Amir-Abdollahian.

“Our aim is to use the robot to increase independence and quality of life.”

The three-year project will be conducted in the university’s Robot House.

ACCOMPANY is a €4,825,492 project that began last month and is due to end by 30 September 2014.

*World's Tiniest Microphone Made in Iran

An Iranian researcher has invented the world's tiniest capacitor microphone that can be used in making small and invisible hearing aids.

Bahram Azizollah-Ganji, a faculty member of Noushirvani University of Technology in the northern city of Babol, has built a very small microphone which is only 0.5 x 0.5 mm big.

The device, which is the tiniest microphone in the world, is mainly developed for minute and invisible hearing aids, Ganji said.

The newly invented device can also be used to receive the exact sound of the heart for diagnosing heart problems and examining the health of fetus.

Ganji said his invention could also be used for other purposes such as fishing, underwater surveillance systems and to measure sound waves and ultrasound waves for identifying different marine animals.

Telecommunications systems, information collection devices and defense systems can also benefit from the tiny microphone.

Now preparing for world record, the microphone is not visible with naked eyes. High sensitivity, low cost, low power and voltage consumption are among the advantages of the device.

*Iranian Inventors Awarded in Kuwait

A team of young Iranian inventers have been awarded at the 2011 edition of the International Middle East Inventions Exhibition held in Kuwait.

The Iranian team won three gold medals, four silver medals, and two bronze medals at the 4th edition of the event, IRNA reported.

Masoud Tajbakhsh, Mohammad-Reza Shaqaqi and Zahra Shabani are among the Iranian team members who were granted gold medals.

Tajbakhsh was awarded for designing a crisis management simulator in oil and gas industries.

Shaqaqi won the medal for producing a pneumatic device to disconnect gas flow during earthquake outbreaks.

The third gold winner, Zahra Shabani was honored for designing smart sweeping robot.

The 4th International Middle East Inventions Fair was held from November 21 to 24, 2011.

*Iran Builds Multipurpose UAV

Iranian scientists have built an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that can be used in reconnaissance, imaging, military and non-military observation missions.

Managing Director of the company that built the vehicle, Ehsan Rahmanian, said the drone enjoys high potential and can carry out various military and non-military missions, including patrolling, reconnaissance and monitoring of forests and pastures.

“The drone is named ‘Shirdel’ (Brave-Hearted). It is taken from a mythological creature in Persepolis with the body of a lion, head of an eagle and the ears of a horse,” Rahmanian told ISNA.

“The drone weighs 30 kg. It is unique and built locally. We have built two prototypes so far and at present we are at the stage of installing autopilot systems and undertaking flight tests.”

Rahmanian said the drone can carry different imaging and information systems specified for UAVs.

“We are able to produce the vehicle in large numbers. We are willing to build them in larger sizes and in this regard we are signing contracts with different military and non-military centers. The final cost for Shirdel UAVs would be about $50,000.”

Iran unveiled its first domestically-manufactured UAV named Karrar on August 22, 2010.

The country also inaugurated the production line of two domestically-built UAVs with bombing and reconnaissance capabilities on the same occasion.

Iran successfully tested a homemade radar-evading UAV in June 2009.

*Iranians Produce Stevia

Iranian researchers at a company in Gilan Science and Technology Park have successfully produced Stevia.

Yousef Hamid-Oghli, managing director of the company, said since seed germination rate is very poor, it is propagated vegetatively.

“Though stem cuttings are used for vegetative tissue culture, plants have proven to be the best material for Stevia,” he said.

He stressed that tissue culture plants of Stevia are genetically pure, free from pathogens and have excellent vigor, adding that they can be planted throughout the year, expect summer.

Hamid-Oghli further said stevia, botanically known as Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni (Family- Asteraceae) is a sweet herb, pointing out that a perennial herb, Stevia is a member of the daisy family.

He said the leaves are mildly green and intensely sweet.

“The compounds in the leaves are called stevioside and rebaudioside, and they can be more than 300 times sweeter than sugar and the plant bears greenish cream flowers in autumn,” he said.

Stevia has grabbed attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar food alternatives. Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets.

The herb has a revitalizing effect on β-cells of pancreas, improves insulin sensitivity in rats and possibly promotes additional insulin production, and helps reverse diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Stevia consumed before meals significantly reduced postprandial insulin levels compared to both aspartame and sucrose.

Stevia has no calcium cyclamate, no saccharin, no aspartame and no calories. It does not have the neurological or renal side-effects associated with some of the artificial sweeteners.

The plant’s leaves can be dried and stored, and it can be used in raw form.

Stevia is a short duration crop harvested three or four times a year.

All cooked and baked food items like puddings; desserts can be sweetened with only very small quantities of Stevia leaf powder as compared to table sugar. Just 50 grams of Stevia leaf can replace 1000 grams of cane sugar. The sweetness of stevioside is non-fermenting and it does not display browning when cooked.

*Dr. Babak Larian Announces That The Micro Parotidectomy Minimally Invasive Surgery Technique Reduces Recovery Time & Scarring

According to Los Angeles ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Larian, the micro parotidectomy a minimally invasive surgery technique, provides patients with a significantly shorter hospital stay and recovery time, as well as minimizes scarring and trauma to the tissue.

The micro parotidectomy minimally invasive surgery technique pioneered by Dr. Babak Larian significantly reduces recovery time in scarring for patients suffering from Parotid gland problems.

Dr. Babak Larian, of the CENTER for Advanced Head & Neck Surgery in Beverly Hills, routinely sees patients from Southern California, as well as nationally and internationally due to his expertise and pioneering in minimally invasive surgery technique for the treatment of sinus, thyroid, parathyroid, salivary glands and throat disorders. His minimally invasive techniques are beneficial to patients because it speeds the recovery time and minimizes scarring, which is important for patients who need surgery on their face and neck. Furthermore, most procedures can now be done as outpatient, without the need for hospitalization. Dr. Larian specializes in all types of minimally invasive surgery and treatments for the head and neck region, including minimally invasive thyroidectomy, minimally invasive parathyroidectomy, and minimally invasive parotidectomy.

Since Dr. Larian specializes in head and neck surgeries, it is important to him to provide his patients with the smallest scar possible. “The head and neck are the most visible areas on the body and patients are always concerned with the scar they will be left with after surgery. I take great pride in being able to minimize the resulting surgical scar through using the most advanced and minimally invasive surgery techniques,” said Dr. Larian. Minimally invasive surgeries have revolutionized the treatments for many head and neck surgeries, and result in less discomfort, quicker recovery and better outcomes than traditional surgery techniques.

To treat thyroid disorders, Dr. Larian performs a minimally invasive thyroidectomy. He uses endoscopic surgical techniques to perform the procedure through an incision that is approximately one inch long, leaving an almost invisible scar. The endoscope not only minimizes the scar and trauma to the tissue, but it also magnifies the tissue so the laryngeal nerve and parathyroid glands are highly visible.

Dr. Larian is one of the few surgeons in the country who has the expertise to perform minimally invasive parathyroidectomy surgeries to treat hyperparathyroidism, a parathyroid disorder. His surgical technique allows him to access the parathyroid through a very small incision, less than an inch. This approach significantly reduces the risk of surgical complications.

Additionally, Dr. Larian is an expert at superficial parotidectomy, a surgical procedure to remove a parotid gland. The superficial parotidectomy only removes the superficial lobe of the grand and presents less risk to the surrounding facial nerve branches. Since this procedure is so minimally invasive, it is performed as an outpatient surgery, allowing most patients to return home the same day.

Dr. Babak Larian, the Chairman and the Director of the CENTER for Advanced Head & Neck Surgery in Los Angeles, is a highly experienced and reputable, board-certified ear, head and neck surgeon, specializing in ear, nose and throat surgery. Dr. Larian is nationally renowned for his expertise in minimally invasive surgery techniques in the treatment of sinus, thyroid, parathyroid, salivary glands and throat disorders.

*Repurposing a Drug Develop Schizophrenia Treatment

Scientists at AviMed Pharmaceuticals are investigating whether a drug developed for a different disease can become a new treatment for schizophrenia. Research of this drug has shown fewer side effects and would treat symptoms that current medication for schizophrenia fails to target.

“There are many anti-psychotic drugs, but they suffer from too many side effects. They do not treat some major and important symptoms such as cognitive and social interactive problems,” said Behnam Ghasemzadeh, president and chief scientific officer of the New Berlin-based AviMed, WisBusiness reported.

“Schizophrenia affects 1 percent of the population, 2 million people, and current drugs have so many side effects that 70 to 80 percent stop taking the drugs after 18 months,” added Daniel Sem, the company’s CEO and vice president of drug development.

Current medications target hallucinations and hearing voices, referred to as positive symptoms. However, it is the negative symptoms such as anti-social behavior and social withdrawal that can be more debilitating to schizophrenics. There no effective current medication for them, according to Sem.

Ghasemzadeh and his research team are investigating a novel brain mechanism related to the cognitive and social problems relevant to schizophrenia. During the course of his work, he noted that an existing compound, AV115, is effective in targeting this brain mechanism.

“AviMed got really lucky. Rather than going around identifying or synthesizing new compounds, we recognized that there is already a drug that can do these pharmaceutical effects on the target,” said Ghasemzadeh. “We found a product already going through clinical trials and so we could be assured there was no side-effect or neurotoxicity or metabolic problems”.

AV115 was discovered by another pharmaceutical company for the purpose of treating a different disease. When it was found ineffective for that disease, the company decided to no longer pursue it.

AV115 is therefore considered an “Advanced Preclinical Candidate.” It has already been researched for clinical data and safety by the pharmaceutical company that created it. AviMed Pharmaceuticals is now repurposing this drug.

“Repurposing drugs has become very popular in the last five years. Nowadays, venture capitalists aren’t willing to put in $15 million to develop a new drug.

Repurposing is a way for investors to get an exit,” said Sem, who has experience as a venture capitalist and has invested his own money into AviMed.

Repurposing a current drug is much cheaper and therefore requires less venture capital funds and allows an easier exit strategy if investors decides to get out of the investment.

AviMed is seeking about $3 million dollars to perform preclinical studies on AV115 for their Investigational New Drug Application for the FDA. They are performing the research in collaboration with Marquette University and Concordia University. Concordia, in Mequon, has a new school of pharmacy and AviMed will use its facilities and expertise in pushing this drug through tests.

“AviMed Pharmaceuticals is a biotechnology company that focuses on the development of novel drugs for diseases that have a high unmet need,” Ghasemzadeh said.

The company was established in 2009. AviMed board members have extensive experience with repurposing drugs. AviMed has six patents related to developing drugs for other central nervous system diseases.

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