Monday, April 13, 2015

Proteomic Technologies Fueling Market Potential of Biofuels like Switchgrass

A new generation of fuel crops—plants designed specifically to serve as feedstocks for fuels—would provide a clean, green and renewable alternative to the burning of fossil fuels, but only if their production is cost effective. These biofuels would require, among other developments, plants whose sugars are readily extracted and fermented into fuels by microbes.
Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have demonstrated that proteomic technology may offer a way to harness this exciting potential. Proteomics, a branch of the life sciences that studies proteins or peptides, particularly their functions and interactions, specifically considers technologies suited for large-scale, multiplexed analysis of proteins and peptides. Proteomics differs from conventional protein analysis such as immunoassay because it measures more than one protein or peptide simultaneously from a single sample.
Benjamin Schwessinger, a grass geneticist with JBEI’s Feedstocks Division, and his colleagues conducted the first proteomic analysis of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), a North American native prairie grass widely viewed as one of the most promising of all the fuel crops.
“Plant cell walls or biomass are costly to deconstruct for sugar release for downstream applications such as biofuels, but genetic modifications to plant cell wall structure could result in significant downstream economic impacts,” Schwessinger explains.
In profiling the switchgrass endomembrane from 10-day old dark grown shoots, Schwessinger and his team identified 1,750 unique proteins in shoots of the hardy perennial crop.
“That we were able to identify such a large number of proteins in our samples shows that proteomics will be useful when we start digging for proteins that will enable us to manipulate switchgrass for increased biofuel production.”

The global proteomics market is expected to more than double its $5 billion value in 2014 to more than $11.6 billion in 2019, reflecting a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18%. The main proteomics market segments include research, drug discovery and development, diagnostics and applied (agricultural, environmental and forensics).

The research/drug discovery and development segment of the market is forecast to reach almost $6.8 billion in 2019, up from almost $4 billion in 2014, corresponding with an 11.4% CAGR.

Rapid changes in technical fields such as biochips, mass spectrometry, single cell analysis and multi-omics are driving new products and applications in proteomics, creating unique market opportunities.

For our BCC Research report on proteomics, visit the following link:

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Research on Malaria Vaccines Showing Positive Results

A discovery of how the body’s immune system protects against malaria may hold promise for a vaccine against the disease, which kills as many as 600,000 people each year, mostly children. Currently, no effective vaccine exists for the mosquito-borne disease, which infects the bloodstream and red blood cells, leading to fatigue, headaches, and in severe cases, death.

Antibodies play major roles in immunity to malaria, but a limited understanding of mechanisms mediating protection long has been a barrier to vaccine development. Researchers have known antibodies alone were mostly ineffective at targeting the malaria organism, leading them to believe the antibodies in people resistant to malaria must be getting help from other parts of the immune system.

Professor James Beeson, who heads Burnet’s Centre for Biomedical Research in Melbourne, Australia, said he and his research team discovered that antibodies “needed to recruit other proteins in the blood” in order to block malaria infection. This mechanism, known as a complement,” helps the antibodies coat the malaria organism, according to Beeson. “By working together,” he adds, “these two things are a double-hit that stops malaria from infecting red blood cells.”
The findings represent a major advance in understanding immunity to malaria and provide a much-needed strategy for the development and evaluation of vaccines.
Beeson says Burnet’s researchers will now apply this new knowledge to their strategies to create new and more effective malaria vaccines.

“Exploiting this malaria-blocking activity is a new approach in developing a vaccine. We have shown that it is possible to effectively generate this protective immune response by immunizing humans with a candidate vaccine,” Beeson says.

Historically, vaccines were developed to protect against bacterial and viral diseases that plagued the world population through the 1950s and 1960s. Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, smallpox and malaria, among others, were produced in mass quantities to treat large populations.

The advances in immunology, biochemistry, microbiology and biotechnology during the past four decades have opened up the possibilities of creating vaccines for a variety of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, certain cancers, HIV, multiple sclerosis, various tropical diseases, and autoimmune disorders such as diabetes, lupus erythematosus and arthritis.

Vaccines are also being developed against new targets, including Japanese encephalitis, meningitis, certain pollen allergies, metastatic melanoma, Type I diabetes, oral rotavirus, hypertension, and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli infection.

Currently, researchers are conducting more than 640 clinical trials around the world on a wide variety of vaccines. The World Health Organization estimates there are 120 new vaccines in pharmaceutical/biopharmaceutical company pipelines.

In the United States, the FDA will approve a vaccine if there exist an adequate immunological response, patient safety and established effectiveness of the vaccine at controlling the disease. Vaccine development, approval and production are a costly and long-term venture for any pharmaceutical company. It demands separate, dedicated facilities, equipment and staff. This requires that there be potential revenue and large, diverse patient populations to allow a company to enter into a vaccine venture.

For our BCC Research report on vaccines, visit the following link:

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A New Perspective on Autism Spectrum Disorde

Two teams of researchers from Bucknell University and its Geisinger Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute (ADMI) are conducting different studies to explore the same thing: how to diagnose autism earlier. Ultimately, the researchers hope their work will lead to earlier clinical and therapeutic interventions for children with neurodevelopmental disorders like autism.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social and communication skills, and by abnormal coherence to repetitive behaviors. Experts claim that ASD, which typically manifests before age three, is the fastest-growing childhood development disorder (13% to 15% annual growth).

Scientists aren’t certain about what causes ASD, but it’s likely that both genetics and environment play a role. Because of the unknown and complex nature of this disorder, effective diagnosis and treatment of ASD has proven challenging.

In one of the studies, Aaron Mitchel, assistant professor of psychology at Bucknell, and his research partners will investigate how two genetic causes of autism spectrum disorder impact children's abilities to integrate visual, auditory and other stimuli. They will examine multisensory integration, or the ability to connect stimuli perceived with different senses.

"Previous research on multisensory integration has studied dyslexia, ADHD, autism. It was focused on behavioral diagnoses," Mitchel said. "We're going to the heart of matter, to the genetic diagnoses to see if there is commonality."           

Rich Kozick, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Bucknell, and Andrew Michael, director of ADMI’s neuroimaging analytics laboratory, are studying methods for capturing the work of brain networks using functional MRI technology. The researchers hope their work will lead to a more accurate tool for diagnosing ASD.

Their project draws upon the deep database of brain-imaging data available through the ADMI, Michael's knowledge of brain imaging and Kozick's expertise in signal processing, which he has previously applied to military and robotics projects.

For our BCC Research report on autism spectrum disorder, visit the following link:

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Make Way for Pizzicato—The New Wireless Technology on the Block

The world’s first fully digital radio transmitter promises to improve the wireless communications capabilities of everything from 5G mobile technologies to the multitude devices aimed at supporting the Internet of Things, or IoT (a proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity that allows them to send and receive data).

Dubbed Pizzicato, the prototype radio consists of an integrated circuit that outputs a single stream of bits, an antenna, and not much else. It has no conventional radio parts or digital-to-analogue converter. Algorithms perform the necessary ultra-fast computations in real time, thus enabling standard digital technology to generate high frequency radio signals directly.

"Our first trial of the technology has created 14 simultaneous cellular base station signals," says Monty Barlow, director of wireless technology with Cambridge Consultants, the product development and technology consultancy firm which created Pizzicato.

But it’s the digital technology of the Pizzicato-based radio that excites Barlow. Like mainstream processing, he explains, the device should benefit from Moore’s Law (the observation that processor speeds, or overall processing power for computers will double every two year), thus shrinking in cost, size and power consumption with each new generation of silicon fabrication.

“We believe that, in the same way that microprocessors went from being expensive to being cheap enough to be installed in many everyday items, our technology can do the same for radio systems,” he adds.

The implication looms large because of the limited availability of radio spectrum bands, particularly in the more popular lower frequency ranges (less than 1 GHz). Good radio spectrum is a scarce resource. Only low frequencies (1GHz or lower) propagate well over distance or through walls, so they are in great demand. Analog circuits or even the more advanced analog-digital amalgams used in software-defined radio (SDR) are rapidly approaching their limits.

“Crowding 50 analogue radios together on one chip, switching their operational parameters every few microseconds and expecting them to work at 60GHz is an analogue designers nightmare,” Barlow says.

One way to improve efficiencies at these frequencies is the employment of dynamic switching capabilities to sense the radio environment and switch various settings as required, in real time. In other words, by using a type of "cognitive wireless" technique to intelligently control the way that signals are sent and received, therefore, make maximum use of the available spectrum. Cognitive radios are an evolution of software-defined radios. They implement baseband processing functions in software and use agile radio frequency (RF) front ends that can operate across a wide range of frequencies.

BCC Research, in its report on software-defined radios, forecasts a market size of $56.3 billion in 2019, up from $47.7 billion in 2014, across the military and public safety communications sectors.

Greater efficiency requires the use of dynamic or ‘cognitive wireless’ techniques to sense the radio environment and switch parameters on the fly. This could give access to more of the estimated 90% of the allocated spectrum which is not in use at any one time.

Barlow adds finally, "if we’re going to get high-speed broadband to every mobile phone in the world, we’ll need lots of tiny, high-performance radios in those phones. The radios will be squashed together in a way that analog just doesn’t tolerate, whereas a Pizzicato-like digital radio could also be programmed to generate almost any combination of signals at any carrier frequencies, nimbly adapting its behavior in a way that is impossible in conventional radios.”

For more BCC Research information technology, visit
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Combining Beauty with a Greener Tomorrow: Eiffel Tower is Now a Site of Wind Turbines

The Eiffel Tower is greener than ever. The 125-year-old structure is partially powering itself, thanks to two new wind turbines. The turbines will produce about 10,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power the iconic tower’s commercial activity on the first floor, which is home to restaurants, a souvenir shop, exhibits, and pavilions.

For the City of Lights, the turbines represent the first implementation of a series of sustainable refurbishment upgrades to reduce Paris’s ecological footprint. Other planned green enhancements to the world’s most famous tower include roof-mounted solar panels to help meet the water heating needs of the pavilions, LED lighting on the first floor to save energy, and a rainwater recovery system that not only supplies water to the toilet facilities but also helps power the booster pumps that pump water to the upper levels of the tower.

Urban Green Energy (UGE), a New York-based renewable-energy design firm, designed and installed the two VisionAIR5 vertical axis wind turbines earlier this year. Installing the twin 17-foot structures 400 feet above ground level was no easy task for UGE. Mounting the turbines required each component to be hoisted individually and suspended by rope above the tower’s second level. In addition, the installation unfolded at night to avoid interrupting the Eiffel Tower’s hours of public operation, which closes at 11 p.m. daily.

The new turbines are whisper silent—literally--generating about 40 decibels of sound when running at full speed.  Not only are the crescent-shaped turbines almost inaudible, they’re not readily visible, either. The tri-blade turbines were specially painted a grey-brown to match the hue of the iron lattice.

As one of the most desirable methods of renewable energy source in the world, wind energy and its development has spurred significant growth in the global wind energy market. In 2014, the market reached $165 billion, up more than $30 billion from the previous year. The market is expected to reach $250 billion in 2020, reflecting a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.2%.

For our BCC Research report on wind energy, visit the following link:

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

2015 Flame Conference - The Complete Technical and Commercial Development Meeting on Flame Retardancy

World-renowned researchers will discuss their work and discuss the latest developments related to flame retardancy at the 26th BCC Meeting on Flame Retardancy, scheduled May 18–20, 2015, at the Sheraton Hotel in Stamford, CT.  This premier industry event, which includes participants from the United States, France, England, Italy, Hungary, Republic of Korea, and People’s Republic of China, offers an ideal blend of experts from government/academia and the commercial/industrial sectors.  
Conference sessions cover the entire spectrum of flame retardancy: Commercial Products, Foams and Fabrics, Nanocomposites, Phosphorus-based Flame Retardants, New Flame Retardants and Flame Retardants for Specific Polymers, and Instrumentation.
Experts in Commercial Products will discuss cutting-edge research on flame retardancy materials in products such as television sets, lithium ion batteries, furniture, airplanes and printed circuit boards. 
In Foams and Fabrics, one of the fastest growing categories of flame retardancy, experts will offer state-of-the-art information on all types of foams and fabrics, ranging from the layer-by-layer approach to how these materials burn. Ten sessions are offered in this vibrant category.
Experts in Nanocomposites, a category highlighted by the growing use of nano-dimensional materials, will discuss materials such as clays, layered double hydroxides, carbon nanotubes, POSS (polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxanes), and zirconium phosphate. Eight information-packed sessions are offered in this rapidly expanding category.
In the Phosphorus section, both academia and industry experts will discuss basic research findings on new compounds, along with information on how to market these products. Since legislation has restricted the use of bromine (and chlorine) compounds, once the most common flame retardants, phosphorus compounds have become one of the most researched and commercialized flame retardants. Seven sessions will address this dynamic category.
Experts in New Flame Retardants and Flame Retardants for Specific Polymers will cover topics ranging from intrinsically highly flammable retardant polymers to the flame retardancy of EVA and polyurea. Six sessions will present the latest innovations in this category.

In the Instrumentation section, experts will discuss how to develop flame retardants for polymers, and how to evaluate them using the required instrumentation. Five sessions are scheduled in this category.
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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Treating Cancer Tumors is One Implantable Device Away

Chemotherapy stops or slows the growth of cancer cells, but it also damages healthy cells. Researchers are exploring treatments that attack cancer cells with better precision, thus reducing the risk of harming healthy tissue. A team of scientists has developed just such a technique, called iontophoresis, which uses an electric field to deliver high concentrations of chemotherapy to select areas.

"A big challenge with many drugs is getting them where they need to go," said Lissett Bickford, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Virginia Tech and a co-author of the study. "(Iontophoresis) basically forces drugs directly to and through the tumor, allowing all cancer cells in the treatment zone to get that exposure."

Iontophoresis uses an electric field to push drugs into the tumor. A small device that generates the electric field is implanted in the tumor or placed on the skin. The device also contains a reservoir of chemotherapy. When activated, the electric field pushes the drug into the entire tumor.

In mice with human inflammatory breast cancer, treatment with both iontophoresis and regular intravenous chemotherapy increased survival time as compared with either treatment alone. Treating mice with iontophoresis after intravenous chemotherapy treatment boosted the concentration of the drug in the tumor, but barely raised the concentration in the blood plasma. This indication suggests there could be fewer side effects, an all-too-common complaint associated with chemotherapy.

The researchers say iontophoresis effectively delivered the drug despite pressure from the surrounding area of the tumor, a common complication in drug treatment strategies. This pressure, which is caused by leaks from the blood vessels of the tumor, often inhibits or complicates other drug delivery strategies.
Iontophoresis could allow doctors to use more potent cancer-fighting drugs by localizing their effects or pave the way for new multi-drug combinations by better aiming the more toxic compounds at the tumor and freeing the rest of the body from their harmful effects.

"This may ultimately lead to a reduction in the morbidity and mortality rates commonly found in different types of cancer," says James Byrne, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher and medical student at the University of North Carolina.

According to a BCC Research report (BIO048C), newer therapies like iontophoresis and others will surpass conventional cancer therapies and propel sales in the global cancer therapy market to $111 billion in 2019. The U.S. National Institutes of Health estimated the overall cost of cancer in the United States was $206.3 billion in 2006, with $78.2 billion in direct medical costs.

For our BCC Research reports on cancer, visit the following links:
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