Shiraz Ranks 1st in World Liver Transplant Surgeries

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Compiled By: Firouzeh Mirrazavi
Deputy Editor of Iran Review

*Shiraz ranks 1st in world liver transplant surgeries

Shiraz liver transplant surgeons are the busiest in the world as they had 500 such surgeries last year and will have over 600 liver transplant surgeries in the current Iranian year, member of Iranian High Transplant Council said.

Ali Malek-Hosseini said that on the average 300 liver transplant surgeries were carried in Shiraz annually in addition to 60 pancreas surgeries and other transplants, which have gained international reputation for the Shiraz surgeons.

Malek-Hosseini, who is also the head of Shiraz Medical University's transplants department expressed delight that training specialists in the field is professionally underway in Shiraz, adding that students from Sudan, Tajikistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries come to Shiraz for gaining high expertise in transplant field.

*Elsevier keeps Iranian as juror

Hamed Moradi from Iran was selected for the second consecutive year as a juror of Energy and Buildings journal by the worldˈs leading academic publishing company Elsevier.

Moradi, a faculty member of Sharif University of Technology, received his MS and PhD from the university in mechanical engineering in 2008 and 2012.

He served as one of the 25 jurors of the prestigious journal in 2013.

Moradiˈs major research interests focus on modeling dynamic systems, process control applications, energy analysis in buildings and industrial units, nonlinear dynamics/oscillations, biochemistry and biomedicine and advanced machining.

Energy and Buildings is an international journal publishing articles with explicit links to energy use in buildings.

The goal is to present new research results and new proven practice aimed at reducing the energy needs of a building and improving indoor environment quality.

Architects, mechanical, civil and lighting engineers, energy researchers, policymakers and applied climatologists are main readers of the journal published by Elsevier.

*IOAA crowns Iran as 2015 world champion

Iranian high school students won the championship title at the 9th International Olympiad of Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA) held in Indonesia.

Hassan Saei Dehghan, Deputy Director of National Organization for Development of Exceptional Talents and Young Researchers, told MNA the Iranian Astronomy and Astrophysics team managed to claim the world championship title by winning three gold, four silver and three bronze medals at the 9th edition of the International Olympiad of Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA).

Fatemeh Zargarbashi, Arman Vasighzadeh, and Ali Zareh each won a gold medal, while Saeid Hojjatinejad, Seyyed Morteza Sadat, Mohammad Hadi Sotoudeh and Alireza Arjmand-Shakouri each grabbed a silver medal. Ali Chegini, Parsa Norouzi and Seyyed Ali Hadian-Emraei were awarded a bronze medal.

In addition to the medals, Arman Vasighzadehn was awarded the special prize of best score for data analysis; Fatemeh Zargarbashi was awarded the special prize for most creative student and Ali Zareh claimed the special prize for best score for theory.

The 9th International Olympiad of Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA) with 41 participating countries was held from 26 July to 4 August, 2015 in Semarang, a city on the north coast of the Island of Java, Indonesia.

International Olympiad of Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA) is an annual event for highly performed high school students from all around the world.

Established in Thailand 2006, it was initiated by five countries including Iran, Thailand, Indonesia, China and Poland with the aim to proliferate Astronomy among high school students. Iran hosted IOAA in 2009.

*Iranian scientists target children brain cancer by medicine

Two Iranian scientists Maryam Fouladi from Texas Tech University and Javad Nazarian Associate Professor at George Washington University studied targeted therapy of a specific type of brain cancer in children were published by Nature Medicine showing specific progress in cancer treatment.

Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) may be one of the lesser-known forms of cancer, yet may be one of the most diabolical.

DIPG is a cancer of the brain stem that affects mostly children, 200-400 per year in the United States, and has less than a 1 percent survival rate five years after diagnosis. Radiation treatment provides only temporary relief.

“We treated the tumor like an engineering system, like a computer,” scientists said.

“You can push different components inside a system and block different paths and see how a computer reacts. This study is similar to that where we can try different drugs to look at the output and how much sensitivity there is to that drug and generate a model for the tumor.”

One study revealed the FDA-approved drug Panobinostat showed prolonged survival in mice with DIPG. However, some DIPG samples showed resistance to the drug, meaning Panobinostat combinations or new drug combinations will need to be identified for some patients.

Using a method invented in Pal’s laboratory in the last three years called Probabilistic Target Inhibition Maps (PTIM), Pal and Berlow generated mathematical models for anti-cancer drug sensitivity prediction from drug screen and gene expression data. This allowed researchers to determine which drugs were most effective, either by themselves or in combination, in killing or limiting the growth of cancer cells.

“This article reports the result of an international collaborative initiative of medical and computational modeling research laboratories working with families and foundations to study DIPG and suggest potential new treatments using targeted drugs,” the researchers said.

“If we know the targets of the drugs and we know their sensitivity, from that we can come up with a model.We apply individual drugs to the tumor and look at the output, then come up with a mathematical model that is predictive of combining two drugs and seeing whether they work.”

The scientists were involved in the design and interpretation of the experiments and the results related to the computational modeling aspects of the project.

“Chemotherapy is the nuclear option because it hits everything. But that doesn’t mean it kills all the cancer cells,” they said. “If chemo doesn’t work then you have stronger chemo-resistant cancer cells ready to grow again. And using chemo is extremely damaging to the human body. The idea with targeted therapy is to do significantly less damage. The ability to precisely target cancer cells with the right kind of drugs is the next step, and you’d have a hard time finding anyone who wouldn’t want that.”

The current study is an unprecedented collaborative effort of scientists from 13 institutions working toward a common goal of identifying promising therapies for DIPG, a fatal brain tumor with limited therapeutic progress.

“The result is highly significant as there are limited therapeutic options for children with DIPG,” they said, “and the current research shows that Panobinostat alone or in combination with other drugs could have substantial therapeutic activity.”

The research results paved the way for a clinical trial currently being designed for single-drug therapy with Panobinostat, which will likely begin enrolling patients later this year. However, the observed resistance to Panobinostat in some DIPG cell lines suggests a combination of two or more drugs might be required to effectively tackle DIPG.

*Iran improves status in global university ranking

Three top Iranian universities improved their status in the new global ranking for the world universities.
The new global ranking for the world universities ranked Iran higher by giving the country seven points, according to the Islami World Science Citation.

Iran's new ranking comes after analyzing the overall performance of Tehran, Sharif and Amir Kabir universities, as three top universities in the Islamic Republic.

Tehran University is ranked as the best university in Iran. It has improved its performances significantly each year to be ranked among 300 world universities in 2015.

Sharif University of Technology ranks the second university in Iran, following Tehran University.

For the first time, Sharif University of Technology has been included in the Shanghai Ranking of 500 world top universities.

*Roger Taylor Award for Iranian chemist

Mandana Amiri, an Iranian chemist and a faculty member of University of Mohaqeq Ardabili, northwestern province of Ardabil, received Roger Taylor Award of the British Carbon Group.

Roger Taylor Award is given annually to an individual with valuable studies on carbon by British Chemistry Association, Physics Institute and Islamic World Science Citation Center, which are leading institutes in the world, ISNA wrote.

“I won the award for presenting article in the Advanced Nanostructure Conference in St. Petersburg in Russia,” Amiri said.

She has published 32 articles in ISI and taken part in 60 national and international conferences so far.

Amiri has also won Young Researcher Award in the international Nano Sciences and Technology Conference in Japan in 2011.

*Iran ranks 8th in IMC

Iran’s mathematics team, comprising six students from Sharif University of Technology, participated in the 22nd International Mathematics Competition for University Students (IMC) in Bulgaria. They managed to rank eighth in the international event, Mehr News Agency wrote.

They have won three gold and three silver medals in the 22nd IMC. 

Pouya Honaryar, Mohammad-Amin Nejat-Bakhsh and Tina Torkaman each won a gold medal at the event, while Hassan Gharedaghi, Mohammad-Hossein Salehi and Amir-Hossein Ekhlasi each bagged a silver medal.

The IMC is an annual mathematics competition which is open to all undergraduate students of mathematics.

The IMC 2015 was held from July 27 to Aug. 2, 2015, in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.

*Iran’s initiative on artificial organs

Iranian researchers at a research center, affiliated to University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Sciences (USWRS), have developed a prosthetic hand which moves by brain waves and commands.

Farhad Tabatabaei, the head of Medical and Rehabilitation Equipments Technologies Institute, said the institute has implemented several research projects, ISNA wrote.

The device is made for people without hands, he said. When an individual needs to move his/her hand, he starts thinking about it which leads to creation of brain waves ― transferring the waves to the prosthesis.

The system, designed on the basis of smart technology, works by receiving brain waves. It processes brain waves by a processor, sends it to a driving motor, which helps the hand to move. The USWRS researchers have also improved prospects of walking for people with poliomyelitis.

People with poliomyelitis would walk more normally with the new powered knee-ankle-foot orthosis developed by Mokhtar Arazpour, a researcher and faculty member of the university.

The prototype of the powered knee ankle foot orthosis was developed to provide restriction of knee flexion during the stance phase and active flexion and extension of the knee during the swing phase of walking.

The tests on volunteer persons resulted in an 18-percent reduction in walking speed and 18-percent shorter step length compared to walking with the traditional locked knee ankle foot orthosis. There was also a 16-percent increase in percentage of stance phase when walking with the new orthosis. The volunteers also demonstrated near-normal peak knee flexion during swing phase and decreased hip hiking when they used the powered orthosis.

The results demonstrate that the new orthosis provides a more normal gait pattern compared to a locked knee ankle foot orthosis and knee flexion and extension during swing ― promising a more natural walking experience for people with poliomyelitis.

*Iranian scientist develops guidelines for early management of acute stroke patients

An Iranian researcher Arash Khalessi along with a group of scientists at the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has issued updated guidelines for the emergency treatment of patients with acute ischemic stroke, recommending endovascular treatment using small mechanical devices known as stent retrievers that grab and allow removal of large clots from a blocked artery in the brain.

The new guidelines follow the results of five randomized clinical trials of endovascular treatment in the last year.

Dileep R. Yavagal, M.D., associate professor of neurology and neurological surgery, was part of the elite panel issuing the updated guidelines that add mechanical thrombectomy to the treatment regimen.

“The overwhelming efficacy of endovascular therapy with these devices, demonstrated in an array of ischemic stroke patients around the world, led us to make this highest class of treatment recommendation,” said Yavagal, who is also Director of Interventional Neurology at UHealth – University of Miami Health System.

“These guidelines usher in a revolutionary change in the treatment of stroke nearly 20 years after approval of the intravenous clot-busting medication tPA. For the first time, we have recommended with the highest level of scientific certainty that patients with disabling strokes should be treated as soon as possible at stroke centers with endovascular clot removal. This treatment will vastly improve their chances of not being disabled from the stroke.”

The standard treatment has long been tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a clot-busting drug that must be given intravenously within 4.5 hours in order to be effective. However, tPA does not always dissolve blood clots in larger arteries. In this type of stroke, endovascular therapy, similar to that used for heart attacks, is better in restoring blood flow in the brain and thereby leads to significantly less disability. Stroke is the nation’s number five cause of death and the number one cause of serious disability.

The American Heart Association guidelines now recommend performing a mechanical thrombectomy within six hours of acute stroke symptoms. This is preferably done in conjunction with a patient receiving intravenous (IV) tPA but can also be beneficial if the patient is not a candidate for IV tPA. To remove a clot, doctors thread a catheter through the groin artery up to the blocked artery in the brain under specialized X-ray guidance. The stent opens up and grabs the clot, allowing the physician to remove the stent with the trapped clot.

Five studies, all published in the New England Journal of Medicine in the past six months, demonstrated that this new treatment benefits patients having a stroke due to blockage of a large artery in the brain. Yavagal led the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital site of one of those studies, called the SWIFTPRIME (Solitaire With the Intention For Thrombectomy as PRIMary Endovascular treatment) study, which examined the use of Solitaire, a stent-retrieval device made by Medtronic. He was also on the data safety monitoring board of another study, ESCAPE, in that group of studies.

“The SWIFTPRIME and other trials clearly showed that mechanical thrombectomy can reduce long-term disability in thousands of patients,” said Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., M.S., Professor and Chairman of Neurology, Olemberg Family Chair in Neurological Disorders and President-elect of the American Academy of Neurology.

“At UHealth, we have been pioneers in bringing this treatment to South Florida patients,” said Yavagal. “In issuing these guidelines, we’re able to expand this revolutionary approach to larger numbers of stroke patients and improve their outcomes.”

*Iran ranks 6th in Intl. Olympiad in Informatics

Iranian students have ranked the sixth at the 2015 International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI).

Top Iranian students participating in the 2015 International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) with teams from 75 other countries swept two gold, one silver and one bronze medal at this year’s IOI edition held in the Kazakh city of Almaty.

The Iranian Olympiad team ranked sixth after South Korea, China, Russia, the United States and Japan each occupying the first to 5th place respectively.

The two gold medals were claimed by Ali Behjati and Ali Haghani, with Amir-Keivan Mohtashami winning the silver and Peyman Jabbarzadeh-Ganji clenching the bronze medal.

27th International Olympiad in Informatics opened on July 26 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The event will conclude on August 2, 2015. IOI is an annual competitive programming competition for secondary school students. The first IOI was held in 1989 in Pravetz, Bulgaria.

The contest consists of two days computer programming, and solving problems of an algorithmic nature.

The International Olympiad in Informatics is one of the most prestigious computer science competitions in the world, with UNESCO and International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) as patrons.

*Iranians develop nanoparticles for treating Alzheimer’s

Researchers of Biomedical Engineering Department at Amirkabir University of Technology have developed 2 nanoparticles that can be used in treating Alzheimer's disease.

Mojtaba Ansari, the project manager, referred to the causes of this memory loss disease, saying “in cases of Alzheimer's disease, a kind of protein called Amyloid beta aggregates in the spaces between the brain's nerve cells, causing a loss of synapses - contact points via which nerve cells relay signals to one another - and a parallel deterioration in brain function in the ability to remember.”

“In this study we managed to develop a kind of nanoparticle that prevents the aggregation and toxicity of beta-amyloid proteins,” he said.

Noting that the results of the study can be used in two different fields, Ansari explained, “part of the results can be used to create a medicine and in another part, the nanoparticles can be used as blood purifier to remove the pathogens since the nanoparticles can attach themselves to the amyloid proteins and prevent their aggregation in brain's nerve cells.”

Ansari identified the two developed nanoparticles as 'Acyl-Polycaprolactone’ and ‘magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles modified by beta-Cyclodextrin.'

“We obtained good results at the laboratory phase and hope that the research can be effective in developing new therapeutic strategies for treating Alzheimer's,” said the Iranian researcher.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. It is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. Alzheimer's disease has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues.

*5 gold, silver medals for Iran in Intl. Physics Olympiad

Iranian students received five gold and silver medals and have ranked the 8th at the 46th International Physics Olympiad in India.

The Iranian team, consisting of Mohammad-Ali Khadem, Mohammad-Hossein Darestani, Ali Shirali, Mohammad-Javad Tabatabaie and Ali Fathi, was led by Ahmad Shirzad and Ayyoub Esmailpour.

The 46th International Physics Olympiad kicked off on July 5 in Mumbai city of India and wrapped up on July 12.

Mohammad-Hossein Darestani and Ali Shirali took the gold medals while Mohammad-Javad Tabatabaie, Mohammad-Ali Khadem and Ali Fathi received silver medals in the competitions.

Over 400 students from 86 countries participated in the event held at Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education.

*Iranian develops skin cancer-detecting smartphone

An Iranian researcher Maryam Sadeqi along with her colleagues at MetaOptima Company developed a new smartphone to control skin wounds.

Any cancer can be tackled better if it is detected early. The chance of survival from skin cancer can be 98 percent if detected early, ISNA reported.

Now, here is a device named ‘MoleScope’ that can attach to your smartphone and help detect skin cancer in its initial stage. The melanoma-detecting device is actually a tiny microscope which attaches to the camera on your phone.

It takes close-up images of moles, sends them to a dedicated analysis platform called the DermEngine, where they are studied by doctors.
If there is a hint of a problem, you will find out straight away.

Developed by Sadeqi during her PhD research several years ago, the MoleScope has finally become a reality.

It operates by using a specially designed app suitable for iOS. It is ideal for keeping track of how moles and skin condition can alter over time.

“As a patient, I do not have to wait 12 months to use a doctor’s phone or camera to look at my mole. I can do this from home. It enables patients to have access to the same system that doctors have in their clinic,” Sadeqi was quoted as saying.

Additionally, like many other examples of smartphone-based medical tech, it will be extremely helpful in regions where medical services are less specialized or in places where a skin cancer specialist is not available.

The high quality images indicate the effectiveness of MoleScope. According to Sadeqi, when the device was being tested, her PhD supervisor was assessing the pictures taken of her own skin and managed to self-diagnose melanoma. “We were fortunate that she found it at an early stage,” she added.

*Iran ranks 21st in biotech scientific productions

According to Scopus database, Iran has ranked 21st in the world in 2014 by producing 3,957 scientific articles in the field of biotechnology.

The Scopus data on the process of scientific production’s situation in the field of biotechnology shows that the Islamic Republic of Iran has had a desirable progress in the field.

According to the SCImago Journal & Country Rank, Iran has ranked first in the region in 2013 in the field of biotechnology.

Based on the reviews conducted on Scopus database by the deputy of monitoring, supervision and evaluation of science and technology of Iran’s steering committee of holistic scientific map, in 2013 Iran has managed to produce 4,424 scientific articles in biotechnology on the topics of biochemistry, genetics and molecular.

The reports also indicate that in 2014, the Islamic Republic of Iran has produced 3,957 scientific articles on biochemistry, genetics and molecular, and thus moved the ranking of the country up to 21st standing in the world.

Among the Iranian universities, Islamic Azad University, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, and the University of Tehran have the highest amount of scientific productions between 2013-2014.

*IAU Qazvin team crowned at 2015 RoboCup

RoboCup team of Islamic Azad University, Qazvin Branch, achieved the championship title in the technical competitions of 2015 RoboCup in China.

The team's achievement came from taking part at RoboCup Middle Size League (MSL) competitions.

Morteza Mousakhani, the head of Iranian RoboCup National Committee, said the MSL team from IAU Qazvin branch defeated teams from the Netherlands, Germany, China and Iran. They managed to rank first in the technical competitions of the RoboCup Middle Size League, he added, Mehr News Agency wrote.

The MSL team of the IAU Qazvin and Yazd branches managed to beat their American rivals and qualify for the next round.

The rescue robot team of IAU Qazvin branch also clinched the first place on the first day of the international event. IAU Yazd team together with teams from Thailand, Germany and Mexico qualified for the next round.

In the Nao Soccer League, IAU Qazvin team managed to defeat opponents from Sweden and the US.

The University of Shiraz also qualified for the second round in 2D Simulated Soccer League. In the Rescue Simulation League, teams from universities of Qazvin and  Amikabir, as well as Allameh Helli and Kherad high schools all qualified for the next round.

The 19th edition of RoboCup competitions was held in Hefei, China, from July 17 to 23, 2015.

*Iran ranks 5th in Intl. Biology Olympiad

The Iranian team finished in fifth place in the 26th International Biology Olympiad held in Denmark.

Mohammad Amin Sadeghi won a gold medal, Seyed Mohammad Navid Ataei and Nima Mosayebi each won a silver medal and Dina Mousavi won a bronze medal in the competition where some 200 students from 61 countries took part.

In the 25th IBO which took place in Indonesia, Iranian team managed to grab 1 gold and 2 bronze medals. The 2016 IBO will be hosted by Vietnam. Iran is scheduled to host the 29th edition of the international event in 2018.

The International Biology Olympiad (IBO) is an annual event where students from all over the world compete on their knowledge of biology. The participants are school students up to age 19. To take part in the IBO, the students must be in the top four in the National Biology Olympiad in their individual countries.

The 26th edition of the International Biology Olympiad took place in Aarhus, Denmark on 12-19 July 2015.

Source: ISNA, Iran Daily, Mehr News, IRNA